15 elections you should be watching
Gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia might be the marquee contests on ballots across the country on Tuesday, but there are plenty of other high-impact elections and referenda across the country with national implications.
There are key big-city mayoral races, pivotal state legislative contests and even a special congressional election, all of them providing some degree of insight into the political climate in the first Election Day of Donald Trump’s presidency.
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The immigration issues that Trump has championed are dominating much of the coverage and advertising in the Virginia governor’s race, but they’re also playing out in other contests, including a suburban county executive race on Long Island. A mayor’s race in Manchester, New Hampshire has attracted the attention of a half-dozen possible Democratic 2020 presidential candidates. A New Jersey teachers union is engaged in a raw display of power against a powerful longtime Democratic state legislative leader who crossed them.
Here’s POLITICO’s guide to the other elections to watch on Tuesday:
Florida: St. Petersburg Mayor
Former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee have all been involved in the effort to reelect St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman over GOP former Mayor Rick Baker. Obama issued a rare endorsement, while Biden has robocalled for Kriseman and the DNC is touting its financial investments in the race. A recent Baker TV ad highlighted the 2001 arrest of Kriseman’s chief of staff, Kevin King, on a charge involving underage girls when King was 22 years old. Both sides say the race is close.
— Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon, POLITICO Florida
Georgia: Atlanta Mayor
Atlanta’s nonpartisan mayoral contest on Tuesday could lead to the election of the city’s first white mayor since Sam Massell in the early 1970s. City Councilwomen Mary Norwood and Keisha Lance Bottoms appear to have the inside track to be the finalists in next month’s runoff, according to a poll last week. Bottoms garnered a valuable endorsement from term-limited Mayor Kasim Reed, who is interested in a future statewide bid. Norwood, who identifies as an independent, narrowly lost a mayoral bid in 2009. The campaign has taken on a racial tinge — if Norwood, who is white, makes the runoff, she’d likely be an underdog against Bottoms, or another African-American candidate.
— Steven Shepard, POLITICO
Maine: Question 2 (Medicaid expansion)
The Maine referendum is the first in the nation where the question of expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is being put directly to voters. The ballot initiative materialized after Gov. Paul LePage vetoed expansion bills five times. LePage, a Republican, has spearheaded the opposition campaign to the measure, which would provide coverage to roughly 80,000 low-income people, according to a nonpartisan state fiscal office. If approved, Maine would become the 32nd state to adopt the Obamacare provision. Liberal activists around the country are hoping that the ballot measure will re-energize efforts to expand coverage in the 18 states that remain opposed.
— Rachana Pradhan, POLITICO Pro Health Care
Massachusetts: Boston City Council District 1
A local city council race is squaring Boston’s old guard against the new face of the city. Lydia Edwards, a 30-something, up-and-coming immigration lawyer from East Boston is giving Stephen Passacantilli, a recovering addict with a longstanding relationship with Mayor Marty Walsh, and whose family has deep ties with the North End, a run for his money. It’s an open seat to represent the heavily Italian American North End, but also diverse, immigrant-rich East Boston. Passacantilli, initially the odds-on favorite to win, edged Edwards by only 77 votes in the primary. Walsh, whose city hall has employed both candidates, won’t endorse, but he did appear in a mailer distributed by the Passacantilli campaign in Spanish and Mandarin stating “I’m with Stephen.” Popular Democratic state Attorney General Maura Healey, who also lives in the district, came out in support of Edwards.
— Lauren Dezenski, POLITICO Massachusetts
Minnesota: Minneapolis Mayor/St. Paul Mayor
This is the third election in which Minnesota’s big mayoral races will be conducted using ranked-choice voting, in which voters will select their first, second and third choices when they fill out their ballots. But even though ranked-choice voting began in Minnesota in 2009, it’s taken on new relevance recently. Nationally, ranked-choice voting is used in a handful of well-known liberal enclaves: San Francisco and Oakland, along with Takoma Park, Maryland. Voters in Maine last year approved a ballot initiative establishing ranked-choice voting statewide, but that’s being held up by the courts and legislature over concerns it violates the state constitution.
— Steven Shepard
New Hampshire: Manchester Mayor
Manchester is a small city, but this year’s mayoral race there is attracting national attention because of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. While that’s more than three years away, a handful of prospective 2020 Democratic candidates have been to Manchester to campaign for Democrat Joyce Craig: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.), former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. (Former Vice President Joe Biden endorsed Craig in a video message last week.) As for the race, Craig edged in front of incumbent GOP Mayor Ted Gatsas in the initial vote in September.
— Steven Shepard
New Jersey: State Senate 3rd District