Support 100 years of independent journalism.

Democrats opt for the tried and true candidates

New York and Florida primaries went well for longtime elected officials and middle-of-the-road prospects.

By Emily Tamkin

WASHINGTON DC – In the most closely watched primary elections on Tuesday 23 August, Democratic voters in New York and Florida decided to go with familiar faces and more comfortably moderate candidates over younger and more progressive choices.

In Florida Charlie Crist won the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Crist, now a Democratic congressman from Florida, has been the state’s governor before – its Republican governor. Democrats in the state appear to believe that Crist, who is running as a centrist and burnishing his nice-guy credentials, will beat Ron DeSantis, the present Republican governor, a hard-right figure who made a name for himself by lambasting “Covid theatre” and who banned schools from teaching students of a certain age about sexual orientation or gender identity. Crist, 66, handily beat Nikki Fried, 44, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, who tried to stand out as an outspoken DeSantis challenger. Florida Democrats also chose the moderate Congresswoman Val Demings, 65, to challenge Senator Marco Rubio for his seat in the fall. And, in fairness, Florida is also poised to send the 25-year-old Maxwell Frost, a progressive activist, to Congress; if elected, he will be the first Gen Z representative.

Republicans weren’t without noteworthy moments in Florida on Tuesday, either: the far-right candidate Laura Loomer lost her primary to Congressman Daniel Webster. She then falsely claimed it was the result of voter fraud.

Meanwhile, in New York, Congressman Jerry Nadler, 75, will continue his three decades in the House of Representatives. Nadler, of New York’s West Side, was pitted against Carolyn Maloney, 76, who has served for around the same amount of time, representing the city’s East Side. Their districts had been redrawn and both refused to drop out of the race, which meant they had to run against each other and Suraj Patel, 38, who had also run against Maloney twice before and was insistent that it was time for a younger representative in Washington. Ultimately, the voters of New York’s 12th district settled on sending Nadler back; though it was only a primary, the overwhelmingly Democratic nature of the district means he’ll be returning to Congress.

In the primary for New York’s 10th district Daniel Goldman, a former prosecutor who was heavily involved in both of Donald Trump’s presidential impeachment hearings (and is heir to the Levi Strauss & Co fortune), narrowly beat Yuh-Line Niou, a member of the New York State Assembly. In a crowded race, Niou stood out as a progressive choice but Goldman, described in the press as the most moderate of all candidates, managed a narrow victory.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

The results will be picked and pored over, and, certainly, all of these districts are different (as are Florida and New York). But one top line, at least, is that Tuesday was a good night to be a longtime elected official, a middle-of-the-road candidate, or both.

Content from our partners
How industry is key for net zero
How to ensure net zero brings good growth and green jobs
Flooding is a major risk for our homes

“Tonight, mainstream won,” said Sean Patrick Maloney, a congressman and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who won in New York’s 17th congressional district, defeating the New York State senator Alessandra Biaggi. Of his own district and elsewhere, he wasn’t wrong.

[See also: Everything you want to know about the US Midterms]