A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News. Delivered to your inbox on Fridays.
Leading the week
With voting already having started in several states, debate season gets underway in earnest ahead of November’s midterm elections. Highlights next week include the Senate debates in Arizona and North Carolina on Thursday (October 6) and Wisconsin on Friday (October 7).
In Arizona, the Democratic incumbent, former astronaut Mark Kelly, will debate his Republican rival Blake Masters, a venture capitalist who has the backing of tech billionaire Peter Thiel, and Libertarian candidate Marc Victor. While Republicans had been hopeful that Kelly’s seat was flippable, Masters’ initial far-right views on a number of issues, including abortion, does not appear to have gone down well in the Grand Canyon state, where independent voters make up roughly a third of the electorate. And although Masters has since softened his stance on abortion and other topics, he now faces an uphill struggle to convince voters when it comes to his credibility.
In the open North Carolina race to fill the seat held by retiring Republican Richard Burr, polling suggests a close contest between former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, and her Republican opponent Rep. Ted Budd. Budd has avoided controversy during the campaign, despite voting against certifying the 2020 presidential election results and co-sponsoring legislation that would impose a nationwide ban on abortions after 15 weeks, likely wary of the Tar Heel state’s ‘purple’ status. Beasley will try to use the debate to highlight Budd’s more contentious positions as she seeks to become the state’s first Black Senator and put to rest disappointment over the Democrats’ loss in the 2020 Senate race.
The Wisconsin Senate race is a key target for Democrats to flip a Republican-held seat, with incumbent Ron Johnson viewed as vulnerable. And you can see why: Johnson’s full-throated and at-time outlandish embrace of MAGA positions on a host of issues seems to place him at odds with the majority of voters in the battleground state, which has a Democratic governor. But in recent weeks polls suggest Johnson, viewed as a canny campaigner, has all but erased an early seven-point polling lead for his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. While Johnson has softened his rhetoric to appeal to more moderate voters, Republicans have sought to paint Barnes as radical and dangerous in ads that have prompted accusations of racism. Barnes will attempt to regain momentum by using the debate to counter the depiction while reminding voters of Johnson’s own extreme positions, including on abortion.
The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is announced on Friday (October 7) to round off ‘Nobel Week’, which sees daily announcements of the big prizes in science, economics and literature. The deliberative process is extremely secretive, though we do know that this year there are 343 candidates, of which 251 are individuals and 92 are organizations. Nominations closed at the end of January, making Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky an unlikely – though not impossible – candidate given Russia’s invasion only began on February 24. Other high-profile possibilities include Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya or the jailed Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny. However, historically the Nobel Committee has not shied away from choosing less well-known figures. Henrik Urdal, the head of the Peace Research Institute Oslo who puts together an annual list of potential winners, has this year included Indian activist Harsh Mander, Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, and Serbian human rights activist Nataša Kandić in his list.
The UK’s ruling Conservative Party holds its annual conference following a tumultuous week which saw the pound tumble to an all-time low against the dollar and the Bank of England forced to intervene in an attempt to calm markets that had been spooked by a fiscal statement from Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng last Friday. Kwarteng is up first on Monday (October 3), aiming to convince colleagues he’s the right man to remain in charge of the country’s finances after his tax-cutting plans drew critical responses from opposition leaders, Tory backbenchers and the IMF. Liz Truss then steps up to deliver her first conference speech as prime minister on Wednesday (October 5) in what should be a welcome solo outing after a series of car crash interviews with local radio yesterday. Though Truss is already facing calls to sack her chancellor, the government apparently plans to stay the course on the policies announced last week, and she’ll make the case to the party and the nation that the market activity is merely a blip caused by global factors. With the country facing a worsening cost of living crisis, Truss is likely to push hard on a recent energy price freeze, billions in energy support payments and the forthcoming tax cuts as proof that her government is about putting more money in people’s pockets to spur growth.