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Florida and New York primaries: Abortion rights take center stage

Democrat voters chose Charlie Crist to challenge Ron DeSantis, while Pat Ryan won a special election against his Republican counterpart, Marc Molinaro

Charlie Crist, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Florida, speaks during a primary night party on Tuesday.
Charlie Crist, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Florida, speaks during a primary night party on Tuesday.Tristan Wheelock (Bloomberg)

The results of the Florida and New York primaries on Tuesday offered a clearer picture of what is to be expected from the midterm elections on November 8, when a third of the seats in the Senate and the entire House of the Representatives will be up for grabs. In both states, abortion rights took center stage, with Democrat candidates promising to protect women’s reproductive rights.

In Florida, Democrat voters faced a tough decision: Charlie Crist, a moderate who was governor between 2007 and 2011, and Nikki Fried, the state agriculture commissioner. Crist, who was the favorite from the outset of the race, spoke out against the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe vs Wade, the landmark ruling that established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973. In a statement, he described the decision as “shameful, harmful and wrong.” But Fried argued that Crist was against abortion when he was a member of the Republican Party. In the end, Florida voters picked Crist to challenge Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the midterm elections. DeSantis, who has been tipped as the Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, has received large donations for his re-election campaign. According to most polls, the Republican heavyweight will win against Crist. But the Democrats are hoping that Crist’s more moderate profile will help win over Republican voters who are unhappy with the party’s anti-abortion position.

In New York, Democrats came out the winners in Tuesday’s contest to fill a vacant seat in a US House of Representatives district north of New York City, as local county executive Pat Ryan won a special election against a Republican counterpart, Marc Molinaro. Ryan, an Army veteran, had campaigned on abortion rights, telling supporters that Republican attacks on abortion are an “existential” threat to US democracy. Molinaro, who opposes abortion, downplayed Ryan’s comments and tried to shift the focus to high inflation and rising crime rates.

US Representative Jerrold Nadler, a congressman of some 30 years, beat fellow longtime Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney in a rare incumbent-vs-incumbent primary in New York, NBC News projected on Tuesday. The contest between two leading US House of Representatives Democrats resulted from a court-mandated redrawing of districts in New York state, which turned two districts into one. Nadler, the only Jewish representative in New York, which has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, was the favorite to win the race. He is expected to hold the seat against a Republican opponent in the Nov. 8 midterm election.

Meanwhile, US Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the Democratic caucus’s fundraising arm in the House of Representatives, held off a progressive challenger for the party nomination in a New York congressional race, AP projected on Tuesday. Maloney beat Alessandra Biaggi, a left-leaning New York state senator endorsed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and will run in the general election on Nov. 8 for New York’s 17th congressional district.

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