You can thank us later for the hot flash in the title. But there are some important elections this year that merit attention and thoughtful analyses. Geoffrey Skelley has the skinny at FiveThirtyEight, and flags “a bevy of fascinating contests on the ballot this calendar year that will affect the lives of millions of Americans.” Skelley notes further,
“Three states will hold gubernatorial elections, four will decide the makeup of their state legislatures and two will vote for potentially critical seats on their supreme courts. Additionally, a host of large cities will cast ballots for mayor. With so much on the docket in 2023, we decided to take a look at the high-profile races you should be watching….Three southern, Republican-leaning places are voting for governor this year. However, Democrats currently control the governorships in Kentucky and Louisiana, while the GOP holds Mississippi via Gov. Tate Reeves. Republicans are hoping to flip the other two, as Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana is term-limited and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky is likely to face a formidable Republican opponent. Victories in these gubernatorial races would give the GOP full control of state government — a “trifecta” — in Kentucky and Louisiana (and maintain it in Mississippi).
Now, Beshear does have a decent chance of bucking Kentucky’s red lean to win a second term. In the last quarter of 2022, Beshear’s 60 percent approval rating made him the most popular Democratic governor in the country, according to Morning Consult….But Beshear is far from a shoo-in considering Kentucky ranks as the reddest state in the country with a Democratic governor, based on the 2020 presidential vote. And an array of Republican candidates are champing at the bit to take him on.
Republicans have a clearer shot of capturing a Democratic-held governorship in Louisiana, where Edwards is leaving office after two terms….no major Democrat has yet entered. But that could soon change….Democrats will need some things to go their way if they want to replicate Edwards’s success.
In Mississippi, “Reeves could face both a serious primary challenge and just about the strongest potential candidate the Democrats could have in the general election. …But considering Reeves fended off a popular statewide-elected Democrat in 2019, it will still be a tall order for Democrats to win this race.
Looking at the state legislatures, Skelley writes:
Four states have elections for their state legislatures this year, with Louisiana and Mississippi holding them in tandem with their gubernatorial elections, and New Jersey and Virginia holding legislative midterms. The dominant party in three of those states — Republicans in Louisiana and Mississippi, Democrats in New Jersey — are likely to retain full control, though there’s a question of whether the GOP can hold onto or win veto-proof majorities in Louisiana and Mississippi, in case a Democrat manages to win either governorship.
Skelley notes that Virginia is ” one of the only states where each party controls one legislative chamber. And with Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in office, the results will determine whether Republicans can capture full control of state government….Thanks to redistricting, Virginia’s elections will take place on new maps, which should produce a number of highly competitive races — although each party may have a slim edge in the chamber it already controls.1 The November environment is difficult to know, but Democrats did claim a pivotal 2-point victory in a Jan. 10 special election for a Senate district that Youngkin had carried by 4 points, in a race that centered largely on the future of abortion rights in Virginia.
As for the state courts, Skelley reports:
….”two states — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — also have elections for state supreme court in 2023″ and “12 of the nation’s 25 largest cities by population have mayoral elections this year. Most of these cities employ a “strong mayor” form of government — where the mayor is the city’s chief executive and can veto actions by the city council — so these elections could have major repercussions for millions of Americans….Chicago’s race is probably the headliner. There, Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces a difficult reelection battle amid high crime rates, and she has also faced potentially sexist criticism over her combative personal style.”
These are some of the important scheduled elections this year. Skelley has lots more to say about these races, and ballotpedia.org has more as well.