Politics

Kentucky governor GOP primary, other races to watch Tuesday

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(WASHINGTON) — It may be springtime in 2023, but it’s election night in America on Tuesday.

Kentucky Republicans Tuesday will choose their nominee to try to knock off Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in the state’s gubernatorial race in November, easily the marquee race of the year.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia will host a pair of consequential races, nominating a Democratic candidate for Philadelphia mayor — who will ultimately be the overwhelming favorite to win a general election in the sapphire blue city — and choosing who to fill a vacant state House seat, which could decide which party controls the chamber.

And in Jacksonville, Florida, a mayoral runoff is emerging as a test of just how strong Republicans — and GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis — are in Florida.

Here are the races to watch Tuesday night:

Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary

The top billing of the night goes to Kentucky, where state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft and Agriculture Commissioner Daniel Quarles are vying for the chance to take on Beshear, who has remained popular despite his state’s red hue.

The three are largely aligned on policies, but slight distinctions have helped define the race.

Cameron started off the primary as the frontrunner, boasting broad name recognition and deep ties to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s powerful network. He also entered the race with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement.

Craft has highlighted her support for Trump and her service in his administrations as ambassador in New York while dumping millions of her own money to buoy her campaign. Observers in the state believe that Cameron remains the frontrunner but that Craft’s millions spent on television advertising hammering Cameron have helped make the primary a real race.

Craft also won DeSantis’ endorsement Monday, offering an eleventh hour shot in the arm and shaping up the race to be a minor proxy war between Trump and DeSantis, who are soon anticipated to clash in the Republican presidential primary.

Quarles, meanwhile, has focused much of his campaign less on personality and more on having fleshed out policy platforms, releasing policy positions each week. Should it turn out that Cameron and Craft undercut each other with increasingly vicious attacks, Quarles could benefit.

The primary is anticipated to be a low turnout affair, with the secretary of state predicting turnout to hover around 10%, inserting an added level of uncertainty into the race.

Whoever the nominee is will face a challenge in unseating Beshear, who has garnered praise for his handling of natural disasters that hit Kentucky during his first term as governor.

Philadelphia Democratic mayoral primary

The Democratic primary to replace term-limited Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney is shaping up to be a gauge of whether progressives can keep up their momentum after clutch wins in Wisconsin and Chicago.

Former City Council members Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker and Allan Domb, former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and grocery store magnate Jeff Brown are the main contenders for the nomination.

Polling has shown a tight race among the five, with large percentages of undecided voters looming.

Gym, however, has become a favorite of progressives across the country, championing a “Green New Deal” for local schools and winning the endorsements of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Whoever wins the primary will be the overwhelming favorite given Democrats’ heavy registration advantage. The primary also has the chance to elevate who could be the first female mayor of the city — which has had 99 male mayors.

Pennsylvania House special election

Democrats narrowly won back the Pennsylvania state House in the 2022 midterms — but that one-seat majority is at risk in a special election Tuesday.

The Philadelphia-area race is featuring Democrat Heather Boyd and GOP candidate Katie Ford and normally would be a safe race after former state Rep. Mike Zabel won reelection with 65% of the vote last year before resigning over sexual harassment allegations.

However, potentially due to the stakes of the race or the aftermath of Zabel’s scandal, Democrats and Republicans are both investing big dollars over the seat.

Democrats have warned that a Ford win would let Republicans not only let the state legislature serve as a blockade to Gov. Josh Shapiro but also introduce a constitutional amendment scrapping abortion rights in the state, something state Republicans have denied.

Jacksonville mayoral runoff

A mayoral runoff in Jacksonville is set to serve as a check on Republicans’ strength in Florida after big wins in the 2022 midterms.

Donna Deegan, a Democrat, and GOP candidate Daniel Davis are fighting for the chance to succeed term-limited Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican.

The northeast Florida city, home to almost 1 million people, is the largest city in the country to have a Republican mayor. The city voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, but DeSantis won it convincingly last year.

Polling has been close in the race, which has been focused largely on crime and policing. However, it could also serve as a test of DeSantis’ strength before he launches an expected presidential bid after he came out in support of Curry.

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