Our top 15 elections to watch in November

Welcome to the Tuesday, October 24, Brew. 

By: Samuel Wonacott

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ballotpedia presents 2023’s top 15 elections to watch in November 
  2. Two incumbents defeated in Louisiana legislative primaries, matching 2019 cycle

Ballotpedia presents 2023’s top 15 elections to watch in November

Nov. 7 is the biggest election day of the year—and we’ll be covering tens of thousands of races up and down the ballot. Our team has selected 15 of the most interesting elections to watch in November. Unless otherwise noted, the elections are happening Nov. 7. They include races for governors and other state executives, state supreme court judgeships, state legislatures, mayor, school boards, and special elections to the U.S. House. 

We’ve written about many of these races in Brew over the past few months. Below, we provide a quick two-sentence summary of each race and a link to our more extensive coverage on Ballotpedia.

To see our list of the top 10 ballot measures we’re watching in November, click here

We’ve grouped our 15 elections into different categories based on the level of government. Are:

Statewide elections

Eight of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers are holding state legislative elections this year—in Mississippi, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Virginia. Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia are holding general elections on Nov. 7. Louisiana’s general elections are on Nov. 18. Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi are holding gubernatorial elections. Louisiana’s gubernatorial election was decided on Oct. 14 in the statewide primary. 

  • Kentucky gubernatorial election: Incumbent Andy Beshear (D) and Daniel Cameron (R) are running. Kentucky currently has a divided government: Democrats control the governorship, and Republicans control both legislative chambers.
  • Mississippi gubernatorial election: Incumbent Tate Reeves (R) and Brandon Presley (D) are running. Mississippi has had a Republican trifecta since 2012.
  • Louisiana secretary of state election: Nancy Landry (R) and Gwen Collins-Greenup (D) are running to succeed Incumbent Kyle Ardoin (R), who did not seek re-election. The election is Nov. 18.
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court election: Carolyn Carluccio (R) and Daniel McCaffery (D) are running in the partisan election for one seat on the court. The winner will succeed Justice Max Baer (D), who died on Sept. 30, 2022. As a result of Baer’s death, the court went from a 5-2 Democratic majority to a 4-2 Democratic one.
  • Virginia Senate: Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the chamber. We identified eight battleground elections in Districts 4, 16, 17, 22, 24, 27, 30, and 31. Click here to read about these races. The Virginia governorship is not up for election in 2023.
  • Virginia House: Republicans have a 49-43 majority in the chamber, with five vacancies. We identified eight battleground elections in Districts 21, 22, 57, 65, 82, 89, and 97. Click here to read about these races. 

Special U.S. House elections

Three special U.S. House elections have been scheduled for 2023. A special election for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District happened on Feb. 21

  • Rhode Island 1st Congressional District: Former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Gabe Amo (D) and Marine Veteran Gerry Leonard (R) are running to succeed Rep. David Cicilline (D), who resigned to run the Rhode Island Foundation.
  • Utah 2nd Congressional District: Kathleen Riebe (D), Celeste Maloy (R), and five other candidates are running to succeed Rep. Chris Stewart (R), who resigned in September to focus on his wife, who is ill. The election is on Nov. 21. 

Local elections

Forty cities are holding mayoral elections in 2023. More than 9,000 school districts across 35 states are holding school board elections (we’re covering all school board elections in 10 states, along with elections in the districts in the 100 largest cities by population and 200 largest districts by enrollment). 

  • Mayoral election in Wichita, Kansas: Incumbent Brandon Whipple is running against former reporter Lily Wu. Though the race is officially nonpartisan, Wu—a former Republican—is a Libertarian. Whipple is a Democrat. Whipple defeated incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell (R) in 2019. Seventeen other cities are holding mayoral elections on Nov. 7.
  • Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minnesota: Seven candidates are running in three districts in the nonpartisan general election. Classroom safety, parental rights, and the academic achievement gap are among the issues in the elections.
  • Central Bucks School District, Pennsylvania: Ten candidates are running in the general election for five districts. Heading into the election, the board has a 6-3 Republican majority. Of the five regions up for election, Republicans represent three, while Democrats represent two.
  • Douglas County School District, Colorado: Seven candidates are running for three seats. Heading into the election, the board has a 5-2 conservative majority. The board’s two liberal members, Susan Meek and David Ray, hold two of the seats up for election this year. Conservative member Jason Page holds the third.
  • Woodland Park School District RE-2 school board, Colorado: Six candidates are running for three seats. While school board elections are nonpartisan, a slate of conservative candidates won four of the five seats on the board in 2021.
  • Richland School District, Washington: Six candidates are running for three school board seats. The nonpartisan general election is taking place nearly three months after voters recalled three of the five school board members in the Aug. 1 primary.
  • Prince William County Public Schools, Virginia: Nineteen candidates are running for seven districts and the chairmanship. Candidates have emphasized school safety, test scores, instructional topics, and parental engagement as central campaign issues. The Prince William Democratic Party endorsed a candidate in all seven contested elections—including all five incumbents running in those races. The Prince William Republican Party endorsed a candidate in six of the seven contested elections.

Click below to read more about these elections. We’ll return after the election to walk you through election results and post-election analysis. Click here to read our election preview coverage from 2022 and 2021. click here.

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Two incumbents defeated in Louisiana legislative primaries, matching 2019 cycle 

Louisiana held statewide primaries on Oct. 14, including for all 39 Senate districts and all 105 House districts. Last week, we discussed the gubernatorial primary and ballot measure results. Now let’s take a look at how incumbents fared in the legislative elections and how that compares to previous years.

Challengers defeated two Republican incumbents in Louisiana’s primaries—one in the House and the other in the Senate. Both incumbents are Republicans—and Republicans beat both of them:

Louisiana’s voting system differs from other states. Louisiana uses the majority-vote system. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, ran in the same primary on Oct. 14. A candidate who won more than 50% of the vote won the election outright. In the event no candidate crossed that mark, the top two vote-getters advanced to the Nov. 18 general election. 

Louisiana has a divided government—Republicans hold majorities in both chambers of the legislature and a Democrat holds the governor’s office (though that will change in January when Republican Jeff Landry assumes office). 

Historically, no more than three incumbents have lost in primaries since 2011 (and no more than 2.6% of all incumbents). 

  • Two incumbents lost in the 2019 primaries, one Democrat from the Senate and one House Republican. 
  • In 2015, three incumbents lost election — two House Democrats and one House Republican.
  • One Senate Democrat lost in 2011.

When it comes to incumbents defeated in this year’s state legislative primaries, Louisiana ranks third compared to the other three states. Seven incumbents lost in Mississippi, six in Virginia, and one in New Jersey.

Across all state legislative primaries this year, 16 incumbents lost to challengers. That’s 3.6% of incumbents running for re-election (between 2010 and 2022, an average of 3.3% of incumbents were defeated in primaries in even-numbered years). In 2021, when only New Jersey and Virginia held state legislative elections, 3.9% of incumbents lost in primaries. The 16 incumbents who lost to primary challengers is down 6% from 2019, when 17 were defeated.

Ten of the defeated incumbents in primaries this year were Republicans, while six were Democrats. 

In addition to the one incumbent defeated in the Louisiana state House, 31 incumbents did not seek re-election, meaning at least 32 newcomers will be elected to that chamber in November. Looking at the state Senate, 11 incumbents did not seek re-election, meaning at least 12 newcomers will be elected next month.

Click below to read more about incumbents defeated in state legislative elections this year.

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