The last midterm primaries of August take place Tuesday with contests in three states: Florida, New York and Oklahoma.
High-profile races include the Democratic primary in Florida to take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and a GOP Senate primary runoff in Oklahoma, the winner of which is likely to be the state’s next junior senator. But it’s the House races that take center stage, with several competitive contests in Florida and especially New York that could be key to determining control of the chamber next year.
New congressional maps have scrambled races in both states.
In Florida, DeSantis unexpectedly seized control of the state’s redistricting process earlier this year and pushed through a more partisan redrawing of the state’s congressional boundaries that likely gives Republicans an advantage in at least 18 of 28 districts. The state gained a seat in reappointment following the 2020 census.
New York’s highest court in April blocked the state’s Democratic-drawn congressional map and ordered new lines that were drawn by a lower court-appointed “special master.” The decision postponed the House primaries from late June to August. While Democrats had initially hoped to gain up to 22 seats (out of 26), they are favored in 15 seats under the new map, with around half a dozen competitive seats. The state lost a seat in reapportionment.
In addition to the regular primaries, New York is also hosting two special House elections Tuesday for the remaining terms of congressmen who resigned earlier this year. These elections will be held under the current congressional lines.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma is holding runoffs Tuesday for races where no candidate took more than 50% of the vote in the June primaries. One of them is the GOP primary runoff for the open 2nd Congressional District. Unlike Florida and New York, Oklahoma saw no changes to its congressional seat count after reapportionment, and Republicans are favored to retain all of the state’s five seats under a GOP-drawn map.
Here’s a look at the House primaries we’re watching Tuesday:
DeSantis did not just make the state’s new map more advantageous for Republicans, he controversially blew up the North Florida district where Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, represented African American communities from Tallahassee to Jacksonville. An ongoing legal battle will someday determine whether DeSantis violated the state Constitution in drawing this district, but for now, Jacksonville – a city with the state’s largest Black population – is split into two Republican-leaning districts (the 4th and the 5th). Lawson, meanwhile, is challenging Republican Rep. Neal Dunn in the 2nd District but is the underdog in a seat President Donald Trump would have won by 11 points in 2020.
GOP Rep. John Rutherford is seeking a fourth term in the new 5th District, while the 4th District, which includes the west side of Jacksonville, is an open seat. Many elected Republicans have rallied around state Sen. Aaron Bean, a 16-year veteran of the state legislature. Also in the GOP race is Navy veteran Erick Aguilar, who unsuccessfully challenged Rutherford in 2020 and is running on an “Americans First” message. Trump would have carried the 4th and 5th districts by 7 and 16 points, respectively.
Several Republican incumbents in safe seats will have to overcome potentially competitive primary challenges Tuesday. That includes Rep. Matt Gaetz, who had spent more than $6 million as of August 3, the most of any House candidate in Florida, to defend his 1st District seat in the state’s western Panhandle against Mark Lombardo, a Vietnam veteran who has loaned his campaign more than $700,000. Despite reports that Gaetz faces an investigation into an alleged relationship with a minor, Trump has stood by the incumbent, who has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.
Freshman Rep. Kat Cammack of the 3rd District in North Central Florida is a rising star in her conference, but her recent vote for legislation that would codify same-sex marriage has opened her up to criticism from the right. Meanwhile, after losing a 2020 race for a Palm Beach-based seat, right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who has been banned from multiple social media platforms for incendiary comments, is now attempting to unseat six-term Rep. Daniel Webster in the 11th District west of Orlando, which Trump would have carried by 11 points in 2020. As of August 3, Loomer had outraised Webster, a rare House GOP incumbent in Florida not to have Trump’s endorsement before the primary.
Also in the Orlando area, the 7th District, a purple seat held by retiring moderate Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, now leans red and is a poster child for the kind of MAGA-on-MAGA battle royales the new DeSantis map has provoked. The race has attracted eight Republicans, including a retired Navy SEAL backed by Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw (Brady Duke); a weapons maker who boasts his products were used on protesters following the murder of George Floyd (Cory Mills); and a state representative who called for Florida to audit the 2020 election (Anthony Sabatini). At a recent debate, all of the candidates said they would impeach President Joe Biden if elected. The GOP nominee would be favored for November in a seat Trump would have carried by about 6 points.
Democrats are heavily favored to hold the deep-blue 10th District, an Orlando seat Rep. Val Demings is vacating to run for Senate. Among the contenders are state Sen. Randolph Bracy, former US Rep. Corrine Brown – who recently settled a federal corruption case after winning a new trial and serving more than two years in prison – and former US Rep. Alan Grayson. Generating considerable buzz as well is Maxwell Frost – a Generation Z candidate backed by progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – who this summer disrupted conservative talk show host Dave Rubin’s public interview of DeSantis with calls to end gun violence. He had raised $1.5 million through August 3, more than any other candidate, according to Federal Election Commission filings. With 10 candidates in the field, Democrats are bracing for a surprise result.
In the Tampa Bay area, the new version of the 13th District, which Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist is vacating to run for governor, is now a GOP-leaning seat that Trump would have carried by 7 points in 2020. Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna, whom Crist defeated in 2020, appears to be the front-runner for the GOP nomination as she runs with Trump’s backing. Other Republicans running include former pharmaceutical lobbyist Amanda Makki, who lost to Luna in the 2020 primary, and Kevin Hayslett, a Clearwater attorney and former prosecutor backed by the county’s popular sheriff. Hayslett is notable for another reason: He previously represented a short-lived candidate in this race whom Luna accused of plotting to kill her. The winner will face Eric Lynn, a former senior defense adviser in the Obama administration, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Florida gained a seat after the 2020 census, leading to the new 15th District, which connects the area between Tampa and Orlando. Trump would have carried it by 3 points in 2020. Laurel Lee, a former judge who most recently served as DeSantis’ secretary of state, a job that put her in charge of Florida’s 2020 election, led the GOP field in fundraising as of August 3 (including some self-funding). Other top GOP contenders include state Rep. Jackie Toledo from Tampa and state Sen. Kelli Stargel, a deeply conservative lawmaker who championed the state’s new 15-week abortion ban. On the Democratic side, Eddie Geller, a self-described comedian and activist, had raised the most money as of August 23, and for a time appeared to be the likely nominee. But the race is now up in the air after a late entry by former TV journalist Alan Cohn, an unsuccessful House candidate in 2020 who nevertheless quickly racked up endorsements from Florida Reps. Kathy Castor, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
There are competitive Democratic primaries in three South Florida seats – two that are safe for the party and one competitive district anchored in urban Miami.
Less than a year ago, businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick eked out a surprising five-vote victory over then-Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness in the 20th District Democratic primary to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died in 2021 from pancreatic cancer. She went on to handily win the January special election. Now an incumbent, Cherfilus-McCormick is seeking a full term but will have to first win a rematch with Holness in a district that is no longer a Black-majority seat.
Meanwhile, the upcoming resignation of Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch leaves an opening in the solidly blue 23rd District. The Democratic favorite is former state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, who helped usher a sweeping gun overhaul bill through the GOP-controlled legislature in response to the deadly 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland high school. Moskowitz went on to join the DeSantis administration as director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, where he was a key player in the Republican governor’s coronavirus response team. It’s a fact that his main opponent, Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Ben Sorensen, has repeatedly seized on in trying to tie Moskowitz to the state’s polarizing leader.
Until early summer, Democratic Party leaders worried they did not have a strong candidate to face freshman Rep. María Elvira Salazar in the 27th District – on paper, the most competitive seat in the state, which Trump would have carried by less than half a percentage point. But then state Sen. Annette Taddeo dropped out of the governor’s race to challenge Salazar, and she’s now in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program for top recruits. Taddeo will have to overcome a spirited campaign from Democrat Ken Russell, a self-described community activist and business owner who has proved an able fundraiser and demonstrated a knack for generating viral attention for his candidacy on TikTok.
In New York City, all eyes will be on the Democratic primaries in two deep-blue districts that have drawn national attention.
The race for the 10th District, which includes Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, has attracted a crowded field of Democrats, including freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones, who represents a seat north of the city but switched to the 10th District after the new map would have forced him to run against incumbents in either of two upstate seats. Other progressives in the race include state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou and New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera. But the more moderate Dan Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who served as Democrats’ lead counsel during Trump’s first impeachment trial, has emerged as top contender and recently earned the endorsement of The New York Times editorial board. Goldman, an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, had put nearly $4 million of his own money into his campaign as of August 10, according to FEC filings. Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a bid for the seat in May but dropped out last month.
There’s a member-versus-member primary in the new 12th District, which combines Manhattan’s Upper East and West Sides, as two powerful House committee chairs – Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney – face off. Attorney Suraj Patel, who lost two previous primaries to Maloney, is also running. While Maloney, the chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee, is the fundraising leader, Nadler, the chair of the Judiciary Committee, boasts recent momentum with endorsements from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Times editorial board.
In the 11th District, the lone Republican-leaning district in the city, GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis and her predecessor, Democrat Max Rose, both face primary opposition ahead of their anticipated rematch. Malliotakis faces conservative activist John Matland while Rose’s leading opponent is progressive combat veteran Brittany Ramos DeBarros. The district became slightly more Democratic in redistricting, but Trump would still have carried it by 8 points in 2020.
New York is also holding two upstate special House elections Tuesday.
Former Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado’s resignation to become New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s lieutenant governor opened up his 19th District seat in the Hudson Valley area. Two county executives are facing off in Tuesday’s special election to succeed Delgado – Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican who was the party’s unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2018; and Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, a Democrat who has made abortion rights a focus of his campaign in light of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. While Biden narrowly carried the seat in 2020, Republicans are optimistic about flipping it this year in face of favorable political tailwinds.
Molinaro and Ryan on Tuesday are also seeking their party nods for a full term – but from different districts. Molinaro is running unopposed for the GOP nomination for the new 19th District, which Biden would have carried by 5 points. Attorney Josh Riley and businesswoman Jamie Cheney are competing for the Democratic nod.
Ryan is running for a full term in the new 18th District, which Biden would have carried by 8 points. State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, who is in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns program for promising recruits, is unopposed for the GOP nomination.
In the current 23rd District, which includes the state’s Southern Tier region, Republican Joe Sempolinski and Democrat Max Della Pia, an Air Force veteran, are vying to fill the remaining term of former GOP Rep. Tom Reed, who resigned in May to join a lobbying firm. Reed had already announced last year that he was not running for reelection, following allegations of sexual misconduct. Sempolinski, the Steuben County GOP chair and a onetime Reed aide, is favored to win the special election. (Trump carried the seat by 11 points in 2020 under the current lines.)
Della Pia is also unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the contest for a full term representing the new 23rd District, which now extends to suburban Buffalo. Sempolinski is sitting out this race. The Republican primary will likely determine the district’s future congressman, given that Trump would have carried it by 17 points in 2020. Carl Paladino, a real estate developer with a history of making racist and sexist comments, faces New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy for the Republican nomination. Paladino, who had loaned $2 million to his campaign as of August 15, has House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik’s backing and name recognition from a 2010 run for governor.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who chairs the DCCC, caused an uproar in May when he announced he would run in the redrawn 17th District in the Hudson Valley, despite much of the territory he currently represents being located in the new 18th. His decision ultimately led Jones, who represents the current version of the 17th District, to try his luck in the 10th. Maloney defended his move, noting that his home was drawn into the new 17th District. The controversy inspired state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, a rising progressive star who was previously running for the 3rd District, to challenge Maloney. The congressman has dominated in fundraising and recently earned the backing of The New York Times editorial board and former President Bill Clinton. Republicans are targeting this seat, with state Assemblyman Mike Lawler running with the backing of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Stefanik. Biden would have carried the seat by 10 points in 2020.
In the 16th District, which covers parts of Westchester County and the Bronx, Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a member of the House “squad” of progressives, faces three primary challengers. They include Westchester County Legislators Vedat Gashi, a Kosovar refugee, and Catherine Parker, who lost a bid for Congress in 2020. Gashi is backed by former US Rep. Eliot Engel, whom Bowman defeated in a 2020 primary, and former Rep. Nita Lowey, who previously represented parts of the new district. The winner of the Democratic primary would be heavily favored in November in a seat Biden would have carried by 44 points.
In Central New York, Democrats are targeting the open 22nd District, seen as a successor seat to the one being vacated by retiring Rep. John Katko, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year. Katko has long beaten back Democratic efforts to unseat him in his blue-leaning seat – the new 22nd would have backed Biden by about 8 points – but Democrats see an opening without him in the race. Navy veteran Francis Conole, who is on the DCCC’s Red to Blue program, is making his second bid for Congress. Businessman Steve Wells, who has benefited from spending by the House GOP-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, and Navy veteran Brandon Williams are competing for the Republican nomination.
There are three open seats on Long Island that could potentially see competitive races in the fall.
In the 1st District, which Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is vacating to run for governor, the two leading GOP candidates, cryptocurrency executive Michelle Bond and Navy veteran Nick LaLota, have each attacked the other for earlier Democratic ties. Bond has benefited from significant outside spending while also partly self-funding her campaign; LaLota, the chief of staff for the Suffolk County Legislature, has the endorsement of the Suffolk County GOP. The winner will face Democrat Bridget Fleming, a Suffolk County legislator, who is unopposed in her primary and in the DCCC’s Red to Blue program. Biden would have carried the district by less than half a point, but Republicans are favored to hold the seat in the current political environment.
In the 3rd District, which includes parts of Queens and Long Island, multiple Democrats are looking to succeed Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi, who is leaving at the end of his term following an unsuccessful bid for governor. Top candidates include Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who has Suozzi’s backing; Democratic National Committee member Robert Zimmerman, who has Hillary Clinton’s endorsement; and former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman. Republicans are targeting this seat, which Biden would have carried by 8 points. Investor George Santos, who lost to Suozzi in 2020, is unopposed for the GOP nomination and in the NRCC’s Young Guns program.
There’s also a crowded field of candidates looking to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice in the 4th District, including former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett and Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages. Gillen, the top-funded Democrat in the race as of August 3, has the backing of Rice as well as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries. Voters in the 4th District would have backed Biden by about 15 points, but the seat is nevertheless on the GOP target list this year. Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who is in the NRCC’s Young Guns program and had outraised his Democratic rivals as of August 3, is unopposed for the GOP nod.
Also on Long Island, freshman GOP Rep. Andrew Garbarino could be heading for a rematch in November with Army Reserve veteran Jackie Gordon in the 2nd District. Gordon is unopposed in the Democratic primary, but Garbarino will first have to beat back challenges from his right, including from Army National Guard and Navy veteran Robert Cornicelli, who has the backing of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Garbarino beat Gordon by 7 points in 2020, but the district became more Democratic under the new map, going from one that would have backed Trump by 4 points to one he would have carried by about 2 points.
Republicans will pick their nominee in a runoff for Oklahoma’s 2nd District, which GOP Rep. Markwayne Mullin is vacating to run for US Senate. State Rep. Avery Frix and former state Sen. Josh Brecheen advanced to the runoff with just 15% and 14% of the vote, respectively, after no candidate took more than 50% in a June primary that featured 14 hopefuls. Both candidates have benefited from outside spending, and the winner will be heavily favored as the district’s next congressman in the deep-red seat that Trump would have carried by 53 points in 2020.