Voting began on Tuesday in the U.S. for the election of governors, state legislatures, and judicial positions. These elections are considered to be high-stakes elections as they can decide the trends for the 2024 presidential race for the White House. It is neither a win-win situation for the Republicans where legally beleaguered ex-President Donald Trump is the front runner for the GOP nor a win-win situation for the ageing Biden as the majority of young voters reject both of them, casting doubts over their cognitive functions for the highest executive post.
In the state of Kentucky, voters get to decide whether Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear wins a second term, while Mississippi is holding a surprisingly competitive race for governor. Both states will also hold contests for attorney general and secretary of state, the US News reported. Virginia is engaged in a high-stakes election to decide on who will control both the state Senate, where the Democrats have a thin majority and the state House which is narrowly Republican. New Jersey is also holding state legislative elections, although Democrats are favoured to retain control in both chambers in the Garden State.
In adjacent Pennsylvania, voters have to make a choice on whether to extend the Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court to 5-2 or narrow it to 4-3. In Ohio, measures to protect abortion access and permit recreational use of marijuana go on the ballot with voters making up their minds on these issues. Maine will decide through the ballot box the critical issue of whether the state’s electricity utilities should be publicly owned.
Here’s the scenario of the elections:
In Louisiana’s all-party primary for governor October 14, Republican Jeff Landry crossed the 50 per cent threshold, ensuring avoidance of a November 18 runoff.
Polls had earlier indicated that this was a safe Republican state. Now, this leaves two 2023 Governor elections yet to be decided. Both are more fiercely competitive than Louisiana’s. In Kentucky, Beshear – the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear – faces Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a protégé of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Despite Kentucky’s strong Republican leaning, Beshear has benefited from pro incumbency and strong approval ratings. His campaign against Cameron describes him as too conservative on abortion, even in a red state. Mississippi, generally a Red State (Republican), has shown it’s a tight race, closer than expected.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is in a face-off with Democrat Brandon Presley, an elected member of the state Public Service Commission (and a distant relative of rock star Elvis Presley). Presley has vigorously campaigned against the government on issues of corruption, advocated cutting the state’s grocery and car taxes, and said he would expand Medicaid, which Reeves has long fought against. A Democrat hasn’t won an election for Mississippi governor since 1999.
State Legislative Contests
Virginia is home to a high-stakes contest for both of its legislative chambers that could find the fissures in voters choices on major policies of the state affecting people for either endorsing GOP Gov.
Glenn Youngkin’s conservative agenda or a continued defensive role for Democrats. All 100 seats in the GOP-controlled House and all 40 in the Democratic-controlled Senate are being contested. To win control of the Senate the GOP needs to flip two Democratic-held seats, while retaining their own. That would force a 20-20 tie that would be broken by Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears. In the House, the results in about eight highly competitive districts will likely determine who wins the majority. Republicans currently have a 52-48 majority in the chamber. ’23 Governors Races Firm Up in 3 States:A poll survey found that 48 per cent of all voters see unified Republican control as a “bad thing” and 43 per cent as a “good thing.”
Other polls asking for voters’ generic partisan preferences in legislative races found the Democrats had an edge. So, the battlefield is open, with a toss up for any outcome, reports said. In New Jersey, democrats control both chambers of the state legislature. Democrats have a 25-15 edge in the Senate and a 46-34 lead in the Assembly. Democrats also control the governorship. But incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy is not up for re-election this year. State Supreme Court Races: Pennsylvania is the cynosure of all voters offering the biggest judicial race of 2023 for a safe supreme court seat, which became vacant when Justice Max Baer died in September 2022.
In party primaries, Republicans nominated Carolyn Carluccio, who was first elected as a judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in 2009, while Democrats nominated Daniel McCaffery, who was elected in 2019 to Superior Court, an appeals court, media reports said. Since Democrats currently have a 4-2 edge on the apex court, any loss can’t flip partisan control to the GOP. But it could make the court easier to flip Republican during the next couple of years, pollsters predict. Attorney General:The gubernatorial races in Kentucky and Mississippi are competitive, but the attorney general races are not that fierce. In Kentucky, voters will fill a vacancy created when Cameron decided to run for governor.
The favourite however is GOP nominee Russell Coleman, who served as legal counsel to Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority leader, and was appointed by Trump to serve as U.S. attorney for Kentucky’s western district. His opponent, Democrat Pamela Stevenson, serves in the state House and spent 27 years in the Air Force, including extensive legal experience as a judge advocate general. Coleman’s party affiliation, his background in rural Kentucky, and his tough-on-crime approach make him the favourite. In Mississippi, Republican Lynn Fitch is seeking a second term against Greta Kemp Martin, the litigation director of Disability Rights Mississippi. Fitch is the clear favourite. Meanwhile, Louisiana will hold its runoff for attorney general in November 18.
Secretary of State
Kentucky and Mississippi also have secretary of state elections this year. In Kentucky, Republican incumbent Michael Adams negotiated bipartisan electoral reforms with Beshear, a Democrat, which has given him some crossover appeal. Democratic nominee Buddy Wheatley, a former state representative, is considered a credible candidate. Still, incumbency and the state’s red tint should tilt voters for Adams. In Mississippi, Republican incumbent Michael Watson is seeking a second term who could easily defeat Democrat Ty Pinkins. Pinkins, an attorney and Iraq War veteran, replaced the original Democratic nominee, Shuwaski Young, after Young dropped out for health reasons.
Louisiana has a November 18 runoff to fill the seat of Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who decided to retire, citing the “pervasive lies” of election deniers. Former state Rep. Nancy Landry, who has worked in Ardoin’s office for four years finished first in the all-party primary, though only narrowly. She will face Democratic attorney, accountant, and small business owner Gwen Collins-Greenup, who finished second in the primary.