On Tuesday, two states will elect governors and other state and legislative officials, and two others will elect only state legislators. The outcomes of these contests will almost certainly have an impact on major both parties and, very possibly, be interpreted as harbingers of the presidential election in 2024.
Virginia: Youngkin vs. Obama by Proxy
All 100 seats in the state House of Delegates as well as all 40 in the state Senate are up for election Tuesday — all of them in court-redrawn districts.
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has placed top priority on maintaining his party’s slim hold on the House (48 Republicans to 46 Democrats, with six vacancies) and turning the slim Democratic edge in the Senate (22 to 18) into a GOP majority. His Spirit of Virginia political action committee has poured big money into key races, and Youngkin himself has campaigned hard for candidates — several of whom he endorsed in contested primaries.
A Republican capture of both chambers will not only permit Youngkin to pursue his conservative agenda on issues from abortion to cutting the size of government but will almost certainly spark talk of him jumping into the Republican presidential race.
Clearly aware of this, Democrats are pouring big dollars of their own into the Old Dominion races. Democratic candidates themselves increasingly brought up the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade and leaving the legality of abortion up to the states.
Last week, they brought in their big gun: former President Barack Obama, who will be on robocalls to an estimated 100,000 voters in select districts.
Kentucky: Down to the Wire
Two weeks ago, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear held a double-digit lead over Republican State Attorney General Daniel Cameron and was considered a cinch for reelection.
But a just-completed Emerson College poll showed the two in dead heat, with Cameron — the Bluegrass State’s first Black attorney general — at 47% and Beshear at 47%. In a poll conducted Oct. 1-3, Emerson had Beshear at 49% and Cameron at 33%.
Why the sudden change? Much of it, observers say, has to do with Cameron underscoring his support from Donald Trump in a state carried by the former president with more than 60% in 2020. Recent Cameron TV spots feature Trump, who strongly reaffirmed his pre-primary endorsement of Cameron last week.
The two contenders have clashed in televised debates over the governor’s lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, abortion, and school vouchers (which Cameron refused to say he supported, despite having given his blessing to the premier irritant of teachers unions throughout the campaign).
This one will clearly go down to the wire on Tuesday and be watched nationwide.
Mississippi: To Be Continued in a Runoff?
With early voting in process and polling places just days from opening, all bets are off on the fate of Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.
An Oct. 23 Public Policy Polling survey conducted for the Democratic Governors Association shows Reeves edging Democrat Brandon Presley by 46% to 45%, with 10% undecided.
The DGA obviously takes the poll seriously, as it has already pumped an unprecedented (for historically Republican Mississippi) $3.75 million into the coffers of Presley — public utilities commissioner and cousin of Elvis Presley — and is expected to pump in more before Tuesday.
The X factor in the race is the recently withdrawn independent candidate, Gwendolyn Gray. In ending her statehouse bid, Gray endorsed Presley because of his promise to pump more money into public education and expand Medicaid in the Magnolia State. But Gray exited the race in early October, which was too late to remove her name from the ballot. Should she draw enough votes to keep either major party candidate from a majority on Tuesday, then state election law requires Reeves and Presley to meet in a runoff on Nov. 28.
New Jersey: A Few MAGA Republicans to Watch
The entire New Jersey Legislature will be on the ballot Tuesday, and no one expects the Democrat-ruled state Senate (25 Democrats to 15 Republican) or the state General Assembly (46 Democrats to 34 Republicans) to flip.
But there are some candidates for conservatives to watch. Sen. Edward Durr of District 3, a truck driver who unseated the Senate Democratic leader in the Cinderella story of 2023, is considered rough around the edges. But his reelection is a priority for Garden State conservatives.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon Jr. of District 13 is considered more libertarian than conservative, but he also has a working relationship with cultural and economic conservatives. Admirers expect him to run for governor in 2025 or 2029.
Former U.S. Rep. Mike Pappas, famed for singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Kenneth Starr” about the late independent counsel on the House floor, is running for state senate in District 16. Conservatives say he has a shot and are making his comeback bid a major priority for the right.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.