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Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear won a second four-year term on Tuesday, November 7, Edison Research projected, defying the conservative lean in a state that voted for Republican Donald Trump by more than 25 percentage points in 2020.
Beshear, one of only a handful of Democratic governors in Republican-leaning states, defeated state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who would have been the state’s first Black chief executive.
The contest was one of several across the US on Tuesday offering critical clues about where the electorate stands ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Abortion was again on the ballot, as Ohioans voted on whether to guarantee abortion rights and Virginians decided whether to hand Republicans the power to impose new limits on the procedure.
In early voting, the “yes” vote on Ohio’s abortion measure was ahead, though it was too soon to project a winning side.
Tuesday’s elections came less than 10 weeks before the Iowa presidential nominating contest kicks off the 2024 White House campaign in earnest.
In addition to Kentucky, Mississippi was also voting for governor, while voters across the country were choosing mayors and other local elected officials.
Republican Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves is seeking another four-year term. His Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley, a former mayor and the second cousin of singer Elvis Presley, raised more funds than Reeves, but faces an uphill climb in a state that voted for Trump over Democratic President Joe Biden by more than 16 percentage points in 2020.
Both Reeves and Cameron were endorsed by Trump, the frontrunner for his party’s 2024 White House nomination despite a litany of legal entanglements.
Despite his party affiliation, Beshear has maintained high approval ratings at home, buoyed by his leadership through the coronavirus pandemic and a series of natural disasters.
Ohio is the latest abortion battleground, nearly a year and a half since the Supreme Court decision.
Last year, abortion rights advocacy groups scored a series of victories by placing abortion-related referendums on the ballot, including in conservative states.
They have doubled down on that strategy. In addition to Tuesday’s amendment in Ohio that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, similar ballot measures are advancing in several states for 2024, including swing states Arizona and Florida.
Anti-abortion forces campaigned against the Ohio amendment as too extreme, while abortion rights groups warned that rejecting it would pave the way for a stringent ban to take effect.
Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature previously approved a six-week limit, but the law is on hold pending the outcome of a legal challenge before the conservative state Supreme Court.
In Virginia, all 40 seats in the Senate and 100 seats in the House of Delegates were on the ballot. Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate, while Republicans have a narrow edge in the House.
Democrats sought to make abortion the top issue. Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin said he would pursue a 15-week abortion limit if Republicans take control of the legislature. He has portrayed that proposal as a moderate compromise, a tactic that could serve as a blueprint for Republicans next year.
Republicans focused on public safety, running advertisements claiming that Democrats would cut police funding and go easy on criminals. Some 40% of respondents in a September Reuters/Ipsos poll said Republicans have the best approach to addressing crime, compared to 32% who picked Democrats on the issue.
A Republican sweep would boost Youngkin’s rising national profile; his political action committee invested millions of dollars in the legislative races. Some Republicans wary of Trump have floated Youngkin as a potential late entry to the 2024 presidential race, though the governor has said he has no plans for a White House run.
Biden added his weight to the race last week, issuing endorsements for 16 Democrats running in competitive races for the state House and seven in the Senate, while sending out a fundraising plea to supporters. – Rappler.com