Abortion rights are on the ballot Tuesday as Americans head to the polls for state and local races that will set the stage for next year’s presidential election.
Fiercely fought contests in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio could offer a 2024 roadmap for both parties.
Democrats have largely succeeded in running on the issue in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade, which effectively punted abortion law to the states. For the most part, they have done so by framing the debate as one of personal freedom – and leaving Republicans to haggle over the politically painful particulars.
A victory for abortion rights advocates in Ohio – where voters could enshrine a constitutional amendment protecting abortion access – along with success in high-stakes races for governor, the state Supreme Court and control of the state legislature in other states, could further demonstrate the potency of the issue.
Meanwhile, the gubernatorial election in Mississippi asks a different question: Is it still possible for a Democrat to win a statewide race in the deepest of deep-red states?
Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who is seeking a second term, is knee-deep in a corruption scandal as the state faces another health-care crisis. Democrat Brandon Presley is banking on Reeves’ foibles, a famous name – Elvis Presley was a second cousin – and a promise to expand Medicaid while cutting regressive grocery taxes. (Both oppose abortion rights.)
Other intense – and expensive – campaigns will be decided in Pennsylvania, where abortion is again top of mind with a seat on the state Supreme Court in the balance, and in New Jersey and New York, where Democrats’ strength will be tested.
Philadelphia and Houston will also go to the polls to elect new mayors. Former City Councilmember Cherelle Parker is poised to become Philadelphia’s first female mayor, while Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is running neck-and-neck with state Sen. John Whitmire in Houston. That race could go to a run-off.
And in Rhode Island, favored Democrat Gabe Amo and Republican Gerry Leonard Jr. square off in a special election to complete the term of Democratic former Rep. David Cicilline.
Read more about what to watch for in Tuesday’s elections.