Democrats Are Most Concerned About These Races on Election Day

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By NTD Newsroom
November 7, 2023Politics
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Democrats Are Most Concerned About These Races on Election Day
Supporters cheer for incumbent Democratic Governor of Kentucky Andy Beshear on his last campaign stop before the election in Louisville, Ky., on Nov. 6, 2023. (Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

News Analysis

This year, Nov. 7 is considered to be an off-year election with only a few special elections to Congress taking place. But there are still several state and local races the Democratic Party is keeping a close eye on.

The most-watched races are expected to be those that have all been dominated by the continuing debate over abortion access.

From reelection bids for governors in Kentucky and Mississippi, to state legislative elections in Virginia, access to abortion has been a frequent topic in campaign debates and advertising, since it was catapulted into relevance again when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in June last year overturning Roe v. Wade.

Virginia State Elections

This election, Virginia is being seen as a battleground for abortion policies, as it is the southernmost state that hasn’t passed a broad ban or restriction on abortion.

Control of both chambers of Virginia’s state legislature is up for grabs, with Republicans holding a narrow majority in the state House and Democrats leading the state Senate. Either or both chambers could flip and give Republicans full control of state government.

If that happens, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has pledged to push through a limit on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest, and if the mother’s health is at risk.

“I am supportive of a bill to protect life at 15 weeks,” Mr. Youngkin said. “And you can hear from every one of our candidates that’s what we’re going to do.”

Mr. Youngkin’s previous attempt to pass a 15-week cut-off on abortions was halted by Democrats who narrowly control the Senate. But this year, Republicans running for office have a massive war chest behind them. A political action committee called the “Spirit of Virginia,” which is backing the governor and other Republicans running for state offices, has raised more than $18 million in 2023, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Democrat campaign signs outside the Claude Moore Recreation Center, one of the early in-person voting sites, in Sterling, Va., on Nov. 4, 2023. (Terri Wu/The Epoch Times)

“Gov. Youngkin has dumped historic funds in Virginia in an attempt for MAGA Republicans to take total control of the legislature,” Democrat strategist Jared Leopold told The Epoch Times. “But, despite Youngkin’s cash, voters aren’t interested in his agenda of banning abortion, undoing voting rights, and giving massive tax handouts to corporations.

“If Democrats can prevent Youngkin’s takeover, it will send a clear message that the MAGA agenda is not selling in Virginia,” he said.

However, if Republicans gain control of both legislative chambers in Virginia, prominent voices in the GOP have said it could be a bellwether of what to expect in 2024 if restricting later-term abortion access becomes a winning issue.

Kentucky Race for Governor

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U.S. President Joe Biden greets Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear after speaking to the press in an area damaged by Friday’s tornado in Dawson Springs, Ky., on Dec. 15, 2021. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear seeks a second term in a heavily Republican state that former President Donald Trump carried twice. The GOP nominee is Daniel Cameron, who succeeded Mr. Beshear as state attorney general and was a faithful protege to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell early in his career.

Mr. Beshear has called the state’s abortion law that does not allow for exceptions in cases of rape and incest “extremist.” He also vetoed a proposal banning abortions after 15 weeks. Mr. Cameron says that as governor, he would support a bill amending state abortion laws to allow rape and incest exceptions. But at times, he has had difficulty clarifying what exceptions he favors.

In Kentucky’s last gubernatorial contest, Mr. Beshear won by roughly 5,000 votes and this year, the race for governor is expected to be tight again. A new poll from Emerson College Polling shows Mr. Cameron, who has trailed Mr. Beshear so far, tied with the incumbent at 47 percent each.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron stands on stage in an empty Mellon Auditorium while addressing the Republican National Convention in Washington, on Aug. 25, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“There’s no such thing as an easy race in Kentucky, but Gov. Beshear is heading into the final days with momentum and in a strong position. Gov. Beshear has a 60 percent job approval because he puts politics aside to get things done like attracting record economic projects, cutting taxes, and giving a pay raise to state troopers,” communications director for the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) Sam Newton told The Epoch Times.

If he’s victorious, Mr. Beshear’s campaign could be a blueprint for Democrats in 2024, as Mr. Newton says the governor has a record of working across the aisle and creating unlikely coalitions.

“That’s why he’s been endorsed by many Republicans, law enforcement officials and both coal miners and operators. Meanwhile, Daniel Cameron is a Mitch McConnell puppet who wants to dismantle Kentucky’s schools and rip health care away from working people,” he said.

Mr. Cameron’s campaign meanwhile has tried to paint Mr. Beshear as “just another Biden Democrat,” after the Ford Motor Company announced it is idling one of its new battery plants due to uncertainty in the economy.

“Another Andy Beshear promise is unraveling before our eyes,” Mr. Cameron said. “We aren’t becoming the battery capital of the world. We are becoming the failed promises capital of the world. Andy can’t deliver the jobs he’s promised.”

Mississippi Race for Governor

The gubernatorial election in Mississippi has made national headlines for several reasons but one of the most prominent is due to Elvis Presley’s cousin, Democrat Brandon Presley, being in the race. Mr. Presley, a state utility regulator, is facing off against Republican Gov. Tate Reeves who is running for a second term.

Democrats held the Mississippi governorship for almost all of the 20th century but Republicans have controlled the office for the last 20 years. With help from a sizable cash infusion from the national party, Mr. Presley outraised Mr. Reeves this year and essentially matched him in spending. But the incumbent entered the final stretch of the campaign with more money.

This is also Mississippi’s first gubernatorial election since the fall of Roe v. Wade and Mr. Presley supports the state’s 15-week limit on abortion, with exemptions for cases or rape, incest, and risk to the mother, which could create a problem for him in turning out the Democratic base on election day.

“Being pro-life is more than just the abortion issue,” Mr. Presley told WJTV over the summer. “Look, I’m pro-hospital. I’m pro-doctor. I’m pro-ambulance. I’m pro-emergency room. This governor is anti-every one of those things.”

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Mississippi Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley (right) greets a supporter at the AFL/CIO hall in Jackson, Miss., on Nov. 6, 2023. (Lawrence Wilson/The Epoch Times)

The governor’s race has become surprisingly competitive. A new poll from the firm Public Policy Polling, which was released by the DGA (pdf), shows Mr. Presley trailing Mr. Reeves in a head-to-head race by just 1 point (46-45), with 10 percent of voters still undecided.

“In Mississippi, there is a real chance for an upset. Governor Tate Reeves is unpopular because of his never-ending scandals like his deep involvement in the state’s massive welfare scandal, while hospitals are closing and Mississippi families pay the highest grocery tax in the country,” Mr. Newton said. “In contrast, Brandon Presley understands the struggles of working people.”

Mr. Reeves has denied any involvement in the welfare scandal.

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves speaks on COVID-19 testing in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on Sept. 28, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2019, Mr. Reeves won the four-person governor’s race with 52 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Democrat Jim Hood, a four-term state attorney general. As he campaigns against Mr. Presley, Mr. Reeves has linked his competitor to Democratic President Joe Biden at every opportunity, who is deeply unpopular in Mississippi.

“To support him [Presley], you’ve got to believe we are on the wrong track,” incumbent Mr. Reeves said. “You’ve got to believe that our culture is wrong and that our values are bad. You’ve got to think that the state would be better off run by Bennie, Biden, and Brandon.”

He was referring to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the only Democrat and the only black person in Mississippi’s congressional delegation. Mr. Thompson was chairman of the House committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He is publicly supporting Mr. Presley in the governor’s race.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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