Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 36 (August 25, 2022)

August 25, 2022

In this issue: Primary results from Florida and New York and a look ahead to September

Primary results roundup

Florida and New York held statewide primaries Tuesday, while Oklahoma held a statewide primary runoff. We were watching four battleground Democratic primaries in Florida and New York. Here’s how those races unfolded:

Florida gubernatorial: Charlie Crist defeated Nikki Fried and two other candidates in Florida’s gubernatorial primary.

Crist had 60% of the vote to Fried’s 35%.

Crist, a U.S. Representative, won a single term as governor in 2006 as a Republican. Fried was elected state agriculture commissioner in 2018.

Crist will face incumbent Ron DeSantis (R) and six other candidates in the general election. Forecasters rate that election as Likely Republican.

New York’s 10th District: Dan Goldman defeated incumbent Mondaire Jones in New York’s 10th District.

Goldman was first with 26% of the vote, followed by Yuh-Line Niou with 24%. Jones was in 3rd place with 18%. 

Jones was elected to the 17th District in 2020 and ran in the 10th because of redistricting. The new 10th District does not overlap the old 17th District.

Goldman is a former prosecutor who was lead counsel during the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump (R). Niou has been a member of the state Assembly since 2017.

New York’s 12th District: Incumbent Jerrold Nadler defeated fellow incumbent Carolyn Maloney and two others, 55%-25%.

Nadler, who represents the 10th District, was running for re-election in the 12th following redistricting. This was the sixth and final incumbent v. incumbent primary of the year.

Both Nadler and Maloney were first elected in 1992 and campaigned as progressives. Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee, and Maloney chairs the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Nadler’s endorsers included U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D) and Elizabeth Warren (D), while Maloney’s included the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC and EMILY’s List.

New York’s 17th District: Incumbent Sean Maloney defeated Alessandra Biaggi, 66%-33%.

Maloney was first elected to Congress in 2012 and chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Biaggi was elected to the state Senate in 2018 and was deputy national operations manager for Hillary Clinton’s (D) 2016 presidential campaign.

Maloney currently represents the 18th District but is running in the 17th due to redistricting.

Biaggi cast herself as the progressive candidate in the race. Maloney’s endorsers included former President Bill Clinton (D) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D), while Biaggi’s included U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and the Working Families Party.

Media analysis

The New York Times wrote that incumbents had performed better last night than in recent cycles:

Not long ago, New York was a haven for young insurgent candidates who defeated powerful, well-funded incumbents up and down the ballot.

But despite clamoring among some Democratic voters this summer for generational change, and simmering frustrations with Democratic leadership after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Tuesday was a strong night for the establishment, at least toward the top of the ticket.

In a newly redrawn New York district that includes parts of Westchester County and the Hudson Valley, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, 56, who chairs the Democratic House campaign committee, easily dispatched a challenge from State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, 36, who ran to his left.

In Manhattan, Suraj Patel, 38, a lawyer, ran an underdog campaign against Ms. Maloney and Mr. Nadler, two septuagenarians who were elected to Congress three decades ago. But his efforts to press a message that it was time for a new generation of leadership fell short against two established leaders. He came in third.

Politico wrote about the effect of the Dobbs decision on the Florida gubernatorial primary:

Everything we know about the overturning of Roe v. Wade is that it will likely be a major motivator for Democrats in the fall.

What abortion does not appear to be — given Nikki Fried’s wipeout in the Florida gubernatorial primary on Tuesday night — is singularly determinative.

Fried, the state agriculture commissioner — once heavily promoted as the future of the Democratic Party in the state — had spent much of the primary campaign casting her opponent, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), as at best untrustworthy on the issue. Crist, a former Republican governor of the state before morphing into an independent and, eventually, a Democrat, said during his U.S. Senate run in 2010 that he would advocate for “pro-life legislative efforts.”

Even days before this year’s primary, when asked if he was “pro-life,” Crist responded, “I’m for life, aren’t you?” before adding, “I’ve been pro-choice in every single decision I’ve made that affects a women’s right to choose.

So, what’s more important to Democrats than Roe?

Electability, it seems.

State legislative incumbents defeated

The figures below were current as of Wednesday morning. Click here for more information on defeated incumbents.

Three state legislative incumbents—two Democrats and one Republican—lost primaries in Florida and New York on Aug. 23. One incumbent faced a contested primary runoff in Oklahoma and won. Overall, there are 11 uncalled state legislative primaries featuring incumbents: four Democratic and seven Republican.

Across the 42 states that have held statewide primaries so far, 202 incumbents, 4.8% of those running for re-election, have lost, continuing an elevated rate of incumbent primary defeats compared to recent election cycles.

Of the 42 states that have held primaries, 11 have Democratic trifectas, 21 have Republican trifectas, and 11 have divided governments. Across these states, there are 5,479 seats up for election, 87% of the nationwide total.

Incumbent Delaware Auditor trails party-backed primary challenger following misdemeanor convictions

Last month, Delaware Auditor Kathy McGuinness (D) was convicted on three misdemeanor charges: conflict of interest, structuring, and official misconduct. The charges stemmed from McGuiness hiring her daughter to work in the auditor’s office as other employees’ hours were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This was the first instance of a sitting statewide elected official in Delaware being convicted of a crime. McGuiness faces maximum sentences of up to one year in prison for each misdemeanor count. Her attorney said they would appeal the case to the Delaware Supreme Court.

Following the conviction, leaders in both chambers of the state legislature called on McGuiness to resign. The Democratic Party of Delaware endorsed McGuinness’ primary challenger, Lydia York, in July. Party chairwoman Betsy Maron said, “We saw Ms. York’s candidacy as an opportunity to restore the Auditor’s office to its intended function and do away with the political theater that has kept the incumbent at center stage for all the wrong reasons.”

Campaign finance reports filed last week showed York having raised $47,000 since January to McGuinness’ $24,000.

The primary is Sept. 13.

Another poll shows McKee and Gorbea within margin of error in Rhode Island gubernatorial primary

A few updates since we last wrote about the Rhode Island governor’s race: 

A 12 News/Roger Williams University poll released on Aug. 16 showed incumbent Gov. Dan McKee at 28% and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea at 25%, within the 4.9 percentage point margin of error. Helena Foulkes, who has held a number of executive positions with CVS Health, came third at 14%. Twenty-one percent of poll respondents were undecided, and 42% said there was a good chance they might change their minds before the election. 

McKee and Gorbea have been similarly close in other polls released over the past few months.  

WPRI’s Ted Nesi and Tim White wrote, “With just a three-point gap separating the two frontrunners, Rhode Islanders are likely to see an intense four-week sprint to the Sept. 13 primary[.] … Multiple campaigns are revving up their paid media this week[.]”

Forward Rhode Island, a group affiliated with the Laborers International Union of America, is spending $500,000 supporting McKee. According to The Providence Journal’s Katherine Gregg, the group is airing an ad “saying [McKee] is a known quantity in the gun control, voting and abortion-rights arenas.” A new McKee ad highlights his tax policy. 

According to Nesi and White, Gorbea is tripling her spending on ads heading into the primary. Gorbea recently began airing an ad in which she says, “As your governor, I will protect abortion rights no matter what.”  

Nesi also reported that Foulkes’ campaign intends to spend $1.2 million in August and September. Her latest ad focuses on her healthcare background. 

Former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who received 8% support in the 12 News poll, spent $50,000 on his first ad last week. In the ad, Brown and unofficial running mate Cynthia Mendes dance while their daughters speak to the camera, highlighting their parents’ support for progressive policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. 

Five candidates are running in the Sept. 13 primary.

Competitiveness data: New York

We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive New York’s primaries were compared to recent cycles. The state legislative numbers include figures for both the state Senate primaries held earlier this week and the state Assembly primaries in June.

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.

Nevada voters to consider implementing top-five primaries

Nevada voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would implement a top-five primary system in their state on this year’s November ballot.

Earlier this year, Alaska became the first state to hold top-four congressional primaries. 

The Nevada proposal would allow five candidates to advance from the primary. It would adopt the new voting system for state executive and state legislative elections as well as congressional races. The measure would not affect presidential or local elections.

Alaska is not the first state to end the use of partisan primaries for congressional nominations. California and Washington use a top-two system in which only two candidates advance from the primary, eliminating the need for ranked-choice voting in the general election. 

Louisiana uses a majority-vote system which is similar to the top-two system but allows a candidate who wins more than 50% of the primary vote to win the election outright.

Although Maine still uses partisan primaries, it uses ranked-choice voting for general elections for Congress.

Supporters of the initiative include the Institute for Political Innovation and Vote Nevada. Opponents include Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D), and the state branch of the AFL-CIO.

Nevada requires that initiated constitutional amendments win approval twice before taking effect. This means voters would need to approve the measure again in 2024 if it passes this year before the new system is adopted. 

Between 1985 and 2020, 73% of citizen-initiated constitutional amendments that made the ballot in Nevada won approval after voters passed them twice.