There is generally not as much interest in off-year elections, but there are some races Tuesday that could provide a hint of things to come. Right now, Republicans have a huge 34-15 advantage in state governorships (Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska is Independent). The two races for governor are currently split, with Democrats holding Virginia and Republicans holding New Jersey. An upset in New Jersey by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) over former Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy (D) is unlikely according to polls.
Virginia Governor and House of Delegates
The most anticipated race in Tuesday’s elections around the country is between the candidates for Virginia governor. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie (R), and patent attorney Cliff Hyra (L) are competing. Three of the last five governors have been Democrats. Democratic presidential candidates have won Virginia elections in the last three elections. If Gillespie wins and Republicans hold the state House, Virginia will become a Republican trifecta. Democrats cannot obtain trifecta control if they win because the Republican-held state Senate is not holding elections this year.
Particularly notable is an ad, considered by some pundits as the ‘nastiest ad in American political history,’ against Gillespie. The Latino Victory Fund (LVF) produced a television advertisement depicting a Gillespie backer chasing and hunting down non-white children in truck. The ad was so controversial, the LVF hurriedly took it down.
Republicans today hold a 66-34 majority in their chamber forcing the Democrats working to win 17 seats to break the GOP strength held since 2000. All 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are at stake. The GOP only needs to win one seat to have a veto-proof ‘supermajoriy’ in the chamber. This is especially interesting to watch because three Democratic groups–Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Flippable, and the Forward Majority Action PAC (Political Action Committee) are working to take Democrat control at states level. Flipple is using this race to test their model for identifying ‘vulnerable’ state legislative seats.
Polls close at 7 p.m. EST and some localities will likely begin reporting around 8 p.m. Typically, the earliest areas to report are generally rural, Republican-leaning areas, so Gillespie should hold an early edge. But one early-reporting county, Chesterfield, is the fifth-largest locality in the state by population. South of Richmond, it’s traditionally a GOP-leaning area, but has become more competitive recently.
Fairfax, the largest county, is home to about 14% of Virginia’s population. They could be one of the later reporting counties because of its large absentee voting precincts. On Election Night in 2016, Trump still led in Virginia late into the evening, only to suddenly fall behind when Fairfax’s remaining precincts reported.
Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor
Republican City Council member Kenny Smith and Democratic City Councilwoman Vi Lyles are virtually tied, according to local polls, in the race to replace Mayor Jennifer Roberts (D). While the two remain neck and neck, 19 percent of voters were undecided last week. This places Smith within one poll’s 4.4 percent margin of error. If Smith wins, Charlotte would become the third-largest city in the U.S. with a Republican mayor after San Diego (Kevin Faulconer) and Jacksonville (Lenny Curry). Lyles beat out current Mayor Roberts in the Democratic primary on September 12 with a nearly 10 percentage point margin of victory, despite the incumbent holding a significant lead in June polling. Lyles and Smith debated the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, public transportation, housing, and taxation at candidate forums in the lead-up to the general election.
Ohio Drug Price Standards Initiative
What some are calling an election of citizens versus Big Pharma, Ohio’s Issue 2 is the state’s most expensive ballot measure in their history. The vote decides if the state agencies should be required to pay the same or lower prices for prescription drugs as do the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. By the end of October, the support campaign had a war chest of almost $17 million. But the opposition raised over $58.26 million, funded by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America (PhRMA) and a PhRMA subsidiary. Last year, these two sides fought over Proposition 61 in California, where voters rejected the measure by a 53-47 vote.
Utah 3rd Congressional District Special Election
The election will fill the open seat created by the departure of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. It will be contested again in 2018 as part of the midterm elections. The Republican nominee is the Mayor of Provo, John Curtis. The Democratic nominee is a physician, Kathie Allen. Curtis led by 27 points in a recent poll.