Thursday, February 22

Ron DeSantis gets his moment — and an opponent: The Note


The TAKE with Rick Klein

Is Ron DeSantis the next George W. Bush or the next Scott Walker? Or might he be the next Donald Trump?

Florida’s governor is not on the ballot himself on Tuesday, since his bid for a second term as the GOP nominee drew no opposition. But his opponent of him gets nominated by Democrats, who are choosing between Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried – the state’s only statewide Democratic elected officeholder – and Rep. Charlie Crist, a former governor who held the office as a Republican.

Just four years after an exceedingly narrow victory — including a primary win he owes in large part to Trump’s endorsement — it’s remarkable how quickly DeSantis emerged as both a dominant force in the state and even as a national figure widely seen as a contender to take on Trump himself in 2024.

Of late, he has been taking his message to battleground states while also endorsing a slate of local board of education candidates back home. And the congressional districts Florida is using for its primary voters — districts expected to send three or more additional Republicans to Congress come January — would not exist if not for DeSantis’ efforts to strong-arm his own GOP allies in the redistricting process.

Bush used an easy reelection as governor in 1998 to vault to front-running status in the 2000 presidential primaries. Walker used a harder-fought 2014 victory, on the heels of beating back a recall attempt, to briefly become the early 2016 frontrunner — a title he surrendered relatively quickly to Trump.

The end of DeSantis’ story has yet to be written. But the next chapter effectively starts now, with his brash conservative moves to be tested statewide long before he has an opportunity to provide himself with voters elsewhere.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis throws hats out to a crowd of supporters in Sarasota, Fla., Aug. 21, 2022.

Matt Houston/Herald-Tribune via USA Today Network

The RUNDOWN with Find Harper

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Redistricting disputes and ultimately a court order have led to a nearly two-month delay in New York’s congressional primaries (June ballots were primarily for statewide offices). This second primary, now taking place on Tuesday during a popular vacation week, creates uncertainty for Democrats — including veteran incumbents — in high-profile races.

New district lines have drawn Manhattan Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler into the same district after each had served three decades in neighboring seats. After votes are tallied, either Maloney, chair of the House Oversight Committee, or Nadler, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, will be out of a job. Both have had important roles in efforts seeking to investigate former President Trump.

Nadler is bolstered by an endorsement from The New York Times and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren. He’s made his Jewish faith a focus of his campaign as the sole Jewish congressman representing New York City. Maloney has the bigger war chest and support from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Gloria Steinem. She’s leaned into her work de ella as a high-profile female lawmaker and the overturning of Roe. v. Wade as a means of mobilizing her supporters of her. Maloney also made headlines for questioning if President Joe Biden should run for reelection in 2024. She apologized shortly thereafter, but still said she didn’t think he would run.

Progressives are making noise in several other New York congressional races hoping to increase their influence in Washington. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, head of the House Democrats’ campaign efforts, is up against a state senator named Alessandra Biaggi, who is backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This is after Maloney opted to run in a new district that would have initially put him up against freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones, who represents a district that includes New York City’s northern suburbs.

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Jones instead moved to Brooklyn to a new district where he’s fighting to win in a crowded field with several diverse progressive candidates. State Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou and City Council member Carlina Rivera are both aiming to mobilize voters of color — though the moderate candidate, former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman, is considered the front-runner.

PHOTO: Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Jerrold Nadler are pictured in a composited image.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Jerrold Nadler are pictured in a composited image.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The TIP with alisa wiersema

Environmental issues are emerging on the campaign trail in at least two battleground states following the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act as candidates forge ahead with their policy platforms in the lead-up to November.

As reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, embattled Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker expressed opposition to the Democrats’ party-line climate and health care bill signed into law last week. It was unclear if Walker was referring to the landmark law’s expansion of “urban forests” in metropolitan areas.

“They continue to try to fool you that they are helping you out. But they’re not. Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?” Walker said at a Republican Jewish Committee event.

Across the country, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly championed the impact of the law as his state grapples with the potentially catastrophic effects of a regional drought causing the federal government to restrict Arizona’s supply of water from the Colorado River by 21%.

“We have got solutions: I was able to add $8 billion into the bipartisan infrastructure bill for more water storage and resiliency and settling tribal water claims. More recently, in the Inflation Reduction Act, $4 billion to deal with this drought,” Kelly said in an interview with CNN on Sunday while also calling on “other upper and lower basin states to step up and do their part.”

PHOTO: Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks with supporters at Women for Herschel event north of Atlanta, Aug. 17, 2022.

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks with supporters at Women for Herschel event north of Atlanta, Aug. 17, 2022.

Robin Rayne/Zumapress

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

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13. That’s the number of races we’ll be watching closely on Tuesday night in Florida and Oklahoma. (Check out Monday’s primary preview to read about the races we’re watching in New York.) In Florida, the big question is who will Democrats elect to take on Gov. DeSantis in the fall, in addition to a number of competitive House primaries. While in Oklahoma we have two runoffs: one for the GOP primary in the Senate special election to succeed Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, who will resign at the end of the current Congress, and one for the GOP primary in the 2nd Congressional District, which is open after Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin decided to run for Inhofe’s Senate seat (and looks likely to win). Read more from FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley on what to expect in Florida and Oklahoma. And please be sure to join us Tuesday as we live blog the results at FiveThirtyEight.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. “Start Here” begins Tuesday morning with a preview of the Florida and New York primaries from ABC’s Rick Klein. Then ABC’s Anne Flaherty discusses Dr. Anthony Fauci’s plans to step down in December. And, ABC’s Marcus Moore reports on the fallout from a violent arrest caught on camera in Arkansas. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Polls for primary elections open in New York at 6 am ET, in Florida at 7 am ET, and in Oklahoma at 8 am ET.
  • Polls for primary elections close in New York at 9 pm ET, in Florida at 8 pm ET, and in Oklahoma at 8 pm ET.

Download the ABC News app and select “The Note” as an item of interest to receive the day’s sharpest political analysis.

The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back Wednesday for the latest.




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