Virginia and more

As Monday’s post on the the Democrat race will have reminded you, next year is a presidential election year in the United States. But every year there is an election year of some sort.

The other even numbered years hold mid-term congressional elections (here’s a report on last year’s), and the year after each presidential election sees elections for governor and legislature in two large eastern states, New Jersey and Virginia.

The least interesting year in the four-year cycle is the one before the presidential year, but most of what there is of it has been happening overnight. I’m off at a conference today so I won’t be able to monitor the results, but here’s a quick rundown of what’s on.

Legislatures

The whole of the lower house of the state legislatures in New Jersey and Virginia is up for election, as is the state Senate in Virginia. New Jersey is not much contest; the Democrats currently have a large majority, which they will retain. But Virginia, which has been a swing state in recent years, looks like being very close.

In the last election for the lower house, the House of Delegates, two years ago, the Republicans lost 15 seats but held on by the narrowest of margins, 51 seats to 49, after winning one seat by a random draw after votes were tied. That was despite the fact that the Democrats outvoted them by about 230,000 votes, 53.2% to 43.8%.

This time, a number of seats have been redrawn after the courts struck down the old boundaries for racial gerrymandering. That should make it relatively straightforward for the Democrats to win control. However, Democrat governor Ralph Northam has had a bad year, and low turnout is expected to favor the Republicans.

The state Senate has four year terms, so its 40 members were elected in 2015 – a strong Republican year. Nonetheless, they only have a 21-19 majority, which the Democrats are strongly favored to overturn.

Governors

Two states, Kentucky and Mississippi, are electing governors and other executive officers. Both these days are solid Republican states, but the Mississippi governor’s race is shaping as a real contest.

Incumbent Republican Phil Bryant has served two terms so is ineligible to run again. Lieutenant-governor Tate Reeves narrowly won the GOP nomination to replace him, and the Democrats are running Jim Hood, the attorney-general (also a statewide elected office, as is common in the south).

Hood has won four elections straight, which for a Democrat in today’s Mississippi is a remarkable achievement. Reeves will start favorite, but polls say the race is too close to call.

Mayors

A number of major cities are holding mayoral elections. More than ever, the Republicans are out of step with urban America, so the favored candidates are nearly all Democrats – even when, as is often the case, the contests are officially non-partisan.

Here are some of the more interesting races.

  • Houston: Democrat Sylvester Turner is running for re-election against Bill King, the independent who almost beat him last time.
  • Indianapolis: Democrat Joe Hogsett won the job comfortably in 2015 and is now seeking a second term. Republican Jim Merritt is his opponent.
  • New Haven, Connecticut: incumbent Toni Harp lost the Democrat primary and is running as an independent against new Democrat candidate Justin Elicker.
  • Orlando, Florida: Buddy Dyer, four-term Democrat incumbent, is seeking re-election.
  • Philadelphia: Democrat incumbent Jim Kenney won’t be troubled.
  • Portland, Maine: incumbent Ethan Strimling is seeking re-election against a field of fellow-Democrats, to be decided with preferential voting.
  • San Francisco: incumbent London Breed (Democrat, of course) won the job in a by-election last year and is not expected to be troubled in her quest for a full term.
  • South Bend, Indiana: getting some attention only because its incumbent, Pete Buttigieg, is running for president. In a heavily Democrat city, James Mueller should have no difficulty taking his place.
  • Wichita, Kansas: the incumbent, Jeff Longwell, is a Republican, but he is facing a strong challenge from Democrat Brandon Whipple, whom he led by six points in the first round.

 

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