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Election contests to watch Tuesday in Florida, New York and Oklahoma

Florida state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist lead the Democratic primary to try to defeat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Octavio Jones/Getty Images
Florida state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist lead the Democratic primary to try to defeat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Updated August 23, 2022 at 10:59 AM ET

The final primary day of August has some key election contests in Florida, New York and Oklahoma.

Florida and New York had their congressional maps scrambled by redistricting, boosting the number of notable races Tuesday.

But the biggest matchup in Florida is at the top of the ticket, where Democrats will pick a nominee to try to defeat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential presidential contender in 2024. (Rep. Val Demings will also aim to lock up the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.)

In New York, voters are finally casting ballots in congressional races, months after the state's top court scrapped the legislature's map, ruling it unfairly benefited Democrats. The newly drawn map led to intraparty battles, mostly within solidly blue districts, as incumbent House members had to run in new districts, compete against colleagues or face a handful of challengers. New York also has two special congressional elections.

And in the Republican stronghold of Oklahoma, runoff primary elections take place to fill a U.S. Senate term, and in the state's 2nd District.

Florida governor

Florida's Democratic gubernatorial primary will likely come down to who voters believe has the best chance of defeating DeSantis in November.

Rep. Charlie Crist is running against state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the only statewide elected Democrat. Crist lost his last gubernatorial bid in 2014. But he was elected to serve as governor in 2006 as a Republican.

Many state Democratic lawmakers, including some of the party's more progressive members, have expressed support for Crist. He also has endorsements from the Sierra Club and several labor unions, including the statewide teachers union. Fried has received endorsements from a handful of Democratic state representatives and the Florida College Democrats.

Crist has also raised more money than Fried. Most polls have shown Crist leading Fried — and DeSantis leading both in hypothetical matchups.

3 notable Florida U.S. House races

- FL-07: Eight Republicans are campaigning for a chance to fill outgoing Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy's seat, which contains parts of the Orlando suburbs and now skews Republican following redistricting. Leading among the GOP candidates are state Rep. Anthony Sabatini and controversial businessman Cory Mills — both of whom promote Donald Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

- FL-10: Progressive activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost leads among a slew of Democrats in fundraising and national endorsements in the race to fill the solidly Democratic, Orlando-based seat left open by Demings' run for Senate. If elected, Frost, 25, would be the first member of Generation Z to serve in Congress. The Democratic field also includes state Sen. Randolph Bracy and former Rep. Alan Grayson.

- FL-13: Florida's latest round of redistricting has also turned Crist's once-toss-up Democratic district, containing Clearwater and parts of St. Petersburg, into a competitive Republican playing field. Leading among Republican candidates is Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna, who's been endorsed by Trump. The winner of the GOP primary will go on to face former Obama official Eric Lynn in November.

New York's 12th Congressional District

Rep. Carolyn Maloney greets a voter while campaigning on the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan on Aug. 16. Maloney is running against attorney Suraj Patel and Rep. Jerry Nadler in New York's 12th District Democratic primary.
Mary Altaffer / AP
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AP
Rep. Carolyn Maloney greets a voter while campaigning on the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan on Aug. 16. Maloney is running against attorney Suraj Patel and Rep. Jerry Nadler in New York's 12th District Democratic primary.

Redistricting has forced two high-ranking Democrats into a bitter fight over a single, Manhattan-based seat.

Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler are both from New York City and were both first elected in 1992. They have largely voted the same, with a handful of key exceptions.

Now, Maloney is making a pitch based on her work on women's rights — arguing that she is the best candidate to fight for reproductive health care in a post-Roe world. Nadler highlights his votes opposing the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, as well as his leading role in the Trump impeachment hearings.

They're challenged by a third candidate, Suraj Patel, a former Obama aide who came within 4 percentage points of beating Maloney in 2020.

Maloney has outraised her opponents, but Nadler has received some key endorsements, including from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Tuesday's winner is expected to take the House seat, since the district leans so heavily Democratic. But no matter the outcome, Democrats will lose at least one of their senior leaders in Congress.

New York's 10th Congressional District

As Nadler takes on Maloney, a newly redrawn 10th District is open for the first time in nearly a decade.

Daniel Goldman, the former legal counsel to House Democrats who spearheaded Trump's impeachment in 2019, is a leading candidate in the race, as are U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones and state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou.

Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, left, and Rep. Mondaire Jones stand together during an Aug. 15 news conference to speak out against Dan Goldman's candidacy in the Democratic primary for New York's 10th District.
Mary Altaffer / AP
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AP
Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, left, and Rep. Mondaire Jones stand together during an Aug. 15 news conference to speak out against Dan Goldman's candidacy in the Democratic primary for New York's 10th District.

Out of a crowded field of about a dozen candidates, Goldman leads in recent polling, followed by Niou, Jones and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera — all three of whom are self-described progressives.

Goldman, a descendant of the family that owns Levi Strauss & Co., has been criticized for largely self-financing his campaign and vastly outspending his opponents.

Jones — a freshman congressman currently representing District 17, located in the suburbs outside New York City — has been endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. But other progressive figures, such as fellow New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have stayed out of the fray.

Special elections in New York's 19th and 23rd Districts

- NY-19: In New York's Hudson Valley, two county executives, Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Marc Molinaro, are locked in a close race to serve out the remaining four months of former Rep. Antonio Delgado's term. The Democrat Delgado resigned in May to serve as lieutenant governor.

The district is considered a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, and Ryan and Molinaro are ideologically divided along party lines, notably splitting on the issue of abortion, making the race a key contest to watch as November inches closer.

(A twist: Molinaro is running for a full term in the 19th District under the new congressional map, while Ryan is also running for a full term, but in the 18th District.)

- NY-23: Republican Joe Sempolinski will face off against Democrat Max Della Pia for the remaining months of former Rep. Tom Reed's term. But Sempoliski, a former aide to Reed, is not running in the primary for a full term, despite the district being solidly Republican and the term only lasting until January.

Instead, Della Pia, who is running in the primary unopposed, will go up against either state GOP Chair Nick Langworthy or controversial businessman Carl Paladino.

Oklahoma U.S. Senate runoff

Despite a first-place finish in June, Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin failed to get over 50% of the Senate GOP primary vote, forcing a runoff against former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon.
Alex Brandon / AP
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AP
Despite a first-place finish in June, Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin failed to get over 50% of the Senate GOP primary vote, forcing a runoff against former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon.

In Oklahoma, voters are one step closer to knowing who will finish the term of retiring Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe. And in a deep red state like Oklahoma, winning the GOP contest effectively seals the deal.

Despite a first-place finish back in June, Rep. Markwayne Mullin failed to get over 50% of the primary vote, forcing a runoff against former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. Mullin has the endorsement of Trump and has out-fundraised Shannon.

The winner of the runoff will face Democrat Kendra Horn in November. Both Mullin and Shannon have the potential to become the first Indigenous person to serve in the Senate since 2005.

Oklahoma 2nd District runoff

The contest to succeed Mullin in the 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses the eastern portion of the state, is also in a runoff on the GOP side.

Both former state Sen. Josh Brecheen and state Rep. Avery Frix tout their support for Trump — though the former president has not issued an endorsement. Frix marginally leads against Brecheen, according to recent polling, but 42% of Republican respondents polled remain undecided. The winner goes against Democrat Naomi Andrews.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: August 23, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story called Josh Brecheen an Oklahoma state senator. He is a former state senator.
Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.