Here are the four major electoral scenarios for 2023
That includes several big elections — three contests of governors and major US cities electing their mayors — as well as the fight over the Congressional maps used for 2024 that will play out in courts across the country over the coming year.
Here are the four main electoral scenarios to follow in 2023:
Kentucky Governor’s Wild Race and Two More CEO Contests
Kentucky’s gubernatorial contest has already gotten off to a chaotic start, with a slew of the state’s prominent Republicans lining up to challenge Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, who is seeking a second term.
The crowded Republican field already includes state Attorney General Daniel Cameron — who has long been rumored to be the pending successor to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — and Kelly Craft, who was the second and final ambassador. President Donald Trump’s standing at the United Nations. Other notable candidates include State Auditor Mike Harmon and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. There are persistent rumors that former Governor Matt Bevin could enter the race and even rumors that former pizza mogul “Papa John” Schnatter himself could make an offer.
Trump has already made an early endorsement in the race, backing Cameron in June.
The GOP senses a real pickup opportunity. Beshear only narrowly beat Bevin in 2019, and Republicans have been chomping at the bit for a chance to challenge him ever since. But Democrats will rally to his defense, with new Democratic Governors Association President Phil Murphy saying in an interview with POLITICO at the end of last year that defending Beshear would be the “number one priority”.
Two other states will also hold gubernatorial elections this year. In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is time-limited in the otherwise red-leaning seat. Only one notable candidate — Republican State Attorney General Jeff Landry — has declared his candidacy so far.
But that is expected to change in 2023. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), among others, has has expressed interest in running.
And in Mississippi, GOP Gov. Tate Reeves is expected to seek another term, though at least some other Republicans in the state have been kick tires during races of their own.
The three states will also hold statewide contests.
Redistricting battles continue
After a much-delayed redistricting process, states rushed to lock in their congressional maps ahead of the 2022 election. But those maps are anything but set in stone for 2024.
The Supreme Court is about to issue an opinion on a pair of cases about a redistricting by the end of June that could radically change the landscape. The first one, Merrill v. Milliganconcerns the Alabama map, where challengers sought to have it rejected on the grounds that it weakened the power of black voters in the state.
The tribunal – although apparently cold to the state’s argument that a key civil rights law should be read in a “racially neutral” manner – seems likely to rewrite the test used to determine whether a group’s voting power minority is “diluted”. This will likely result in less voting power for minority groups in Congress. Outside of Alabama, ongoing cases in states like Georgia and Louisiana likely hinge on the court ruling.
The second major Supreme Court case, Moore v. Harper, from North Carolina. There, the state Supreme Court dismissed the Republican-drawn map as an illegal partisan gerrymander, with a court-drawn map ultimately used in 2022. Republican lawmakers sought to have the nation’s highest court overturn the state court map, advancing a once- fringe legal theory called the “independent state legislature” doctrine which holds that state courts have little or no role verifying the power of state legislatures to set the rules surrounding federal elections.
The Supreme Court seems unlikely to adopt the most muscular version of the theory. But depending on where the judges land, it could reopen the redistricting process both in Tarheel State and elsewhere where state courts have floundered in the mapping process.
The 2022 elections in a handful of states will also likely impact Congressional lines in 2023. Republican-aligned justices won a majority in the North Carolina State Supreme Court, making the court much more likely in the future to support the party’s legislative decision. lines. And in Ohio, a Republican judge who had repeatedly ruled that rows there were illegal partisan gerrymanders favoring his party has retired and been replaced, also giving GOP mapmakers there more freedom. in these fights which should continue this year.
A big 2023 election that could have ramifications for future redistricting fights is a Wisconsin state Supreme Court contest in early April. That court currently has a narrow 4-3 conservative majority, with Justice Patience Roggensack sitting next year after choosing not to seek another term. She is part of the court’s conservative majority, so a victory by a liberal-leaning jurist would upset the court’s balance in a state where Democrats have challenged the cards as illegal gerrymanders in the past.
But there is great uncertainty surrounding the race. Two liberal judges — Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Claire Protasiewicz — run alongside two conservative judges, County Circuit Court Judge of Waukesha Jennifer Dorow and former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. All four are competing in a primary (the office is technically nonpartisan) in February, with the top two qualifying for the general election.
Pennsylvania will also host a state Supreme Court election in November to fill the seat of late state Chief Justice Max Baer, a Democrat who died in September.
Temperature check in Virginia
A handful of states will also hold state legislative races in 2023, with contests in Virginia as the likely headliners in November.
Both houses are in place in the Commonwealth, which will be the only state to have a split legislature in 2023. Republicans tightly control the state House, while Democrats have a slim majority in the state Senate. Democrats took control of both chambers in the 2019 election, only for Republicans – on the heels of the current administration. Glenn Youngkin’s victory – to roll back the State House in 2021.
The 2023 election is expected to serve as a temperature check as we approach 2024. It will also be the first election held under new map lines in the state, after a chaotic redistricting process led to the holding races at the State House in 2021 along the lines of the last decade. (The State Senate was not in place in 2021.)
A preview of the battle for control of the chambers will take place in January, where there will be a special election to fill the Senate seat of Republican Jen Kiggans. She left to join the House after beating Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in November, and the two parties are competing in the Virginia Beach district. President Joe Biden carried the district in 2020, according to data compiled by CNalysisbut Youngkin won the region in 2021. Republican Kevin Adams will face Democrat Aaron Rouse on Jan. 10, and the contest will run along the lines of the past decade.
Louisiana, Mississippi and New Jersey will also hold legislative elections next year, but partisan control of the State House is unlikely to shift.
The big city is hustling
Five of the nation’s 10 largest cities — Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Dallas — are holding municipal elections this year, according to Ballotpediasetting up battles for local control that will affect millions of Americans.
Chicago’s mayoral election is already incredibly controversial. Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot faces eight rivals in her bid for a second term. The election takes place on February 28, but if no candidate receives a majority of votes – which is likely, given the field – the top two advance to a run-off in early April.
The ballot which been made public, albeit sparse, showed Democratic Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia with an advantage, with Lightfoot and a few other candidates close behind. Crime will likely play an outsized role in the debates, and progressive politics and the power of black and Latino voters in the majority-minority city will also come into play.
Four years ago, Lightfoot campaigned as a progressive reformer. But in power, she drew criticism for opposing a finally successful push to elect the city’s school board and its handling of homelessness and crime — which has seeped into the same white enclaves that helped elect it four years ago.
Supporters credit Lightfoot with guiding the city through the pandemic, championing city legislation that led to a higher minimum wage, creating the city’s first elected civilian police watchdog, and working to pay off the city’s pension debt. And while crime persists, there are declines in some areas, including homicide rate.
In Philadelphia, 10 Democrats have already contested the 2023 election to succeed incumbent Mayor Jim Kenney, whose term is limited. The race will test how residents of Pennsylvania’s largest city want to handle the homicide rate: More police? More progressive policies? Somewhere in the middle?
With several prominent women in the running, including three former city council members and the former city comptroller, the contest could also give the city its first female mayor. Former city councilor Helen Gym, a progressive who advocated for the removal of a statue of the late Mayor Frank Rizzo, is widely seen as the early frontrunner. The partisan primaries take place in mid-May, with the eventual Democratic candidate being the big favorite in November.
Texas cities are a purse. In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner is on term and a crowded field has already begun to form to succeed him. Both Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Mayor of San Antonio Ron Nirenberg plan to seek another term.
All in all, the Democrats are expected to continue to dominate the nation’s largest cities. All five cities have an incumbent Democratic mayor, with the exception of Nirenberg, who is independent but generally seen as progressive.
Holly Otterbein and Shia Kapos contributed to this report.