Latest primaries force Democrats into painful matchups -- and decide DeSantis' opponent

Tuesday will offer likely the most visible display of redistricting's effects.

August 23, 2022, 5:05 AM

Democrats are trying to keep control of a House remade by the once-a-decade redistricting process.

Tuesday will offer perhaps the most visible display of the impact that post-census redistricting has had -- especially on their party and their chances of maintaining a mere five-seat majority.

Democrats initially saw New York state as an opportunity to wipe out GOP gains elsewhere in the country. But the courts said that they went too far, ruling their maps were unconstitutional and demanding the districts be redrawn.

As a result, the New York House races were pushed back two months, putting the primaries on the same date as Florida's, where Gov. Ron DeSantis also inserted himself into his state's redistricting process, proposing a congressional map that experts say was designed to elect as few Democrats to Congress as possible and guarantee a victory for Republicans. (Florida's redistricting had legal drama of its own.)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Broward County Courthouse, on August 18, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The new map in New York forced perhaps the most highly anticipated matchup of the primary season. Veteran Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are going head-to-head for the chance to represent the new 12th Congressional District, with a young progressive challenger, attorney and former Obama staffer Suraj Patel, also in the mix.

Nadler and Maloney have largely similar voting records. Nadler has highlighted his work as Judiciary Committee chairman, leading the committee during Trump's impeachments, while Maloney has chaired the Oversight Committee since 2019.

Maloney found herself in hot water earlier this month when she pooh-poohed President Joe Biden's stated plan to run for reelection. Maloney eventually walked back the comment, tweeting that she would support Biden if he decides to run again.

"Biden's leadership securing historic investments for healthcare, climate & economic justice prove once again why he is the strong and effective leader we need right now," she wrote.

Meanwhile Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee, upset progressives with his decision to run in the new 17th District, causing a chain reaction that has other incumbents imperiled, such as freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones, who is seeking reelection in the 10th District in what is expected to be a bitter proxy fight between moderate and progressives and has already drawn grievances from other Democratic members of Congress.

Rep. Jerry Nadler speaks at the NY-12 Candidate Forum Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in New York.
Frank Franklin II/AP, FILE

In Florida, DeSantis will find out which Democrat he will face on his road to possible reelection, which could then lead straight to a 2024 presidential run. Rep. Charlie Crist is seen as the favored candidate to challenge DeSantis for the office Crist himself once held as a Republican. But to make it to November, Crist must defeat progressive Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried, his biggest competitor.

In the Seventh Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy decided not to seek reelection -- which would have been a challenge: A few months after Murphy's announcement, the state legislature tilted her seat bright red, according to FiveThirtyEight. Even though several candidates are running in the GOP primary there, the race comes down to two candidates: Army combat veteran Cory Mills, endorsed by Sen. Ted Cruz, and state Rep. Anthony Sabatini.

And the Senate primary is setting up a battle between GOP incumbent Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Val Demings. Demings is expected to win her primary and go head-to-head with Rubio (unopposed in his primary) in the general election. Currently, FiveThirtyEight's Senate Forecast has Rubio favored to win the seat, keeping it in Republican control.

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