Tuesday evening started with some good news.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear will lead Kentucky for another four years after defeating his Republican opponent, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, in Tuesday’s election. Beshear’s margin stood at 53-47 with approximately 80% of the vote counted when the Associated Press called the race.
In winning a second term, Beshear once again overcame Kentucky’s strong conservative lean, thanks to the high marks voters have given him for his sure-handed stewardship of the state through multiple emergencies. Republicans had sought to portray the incumbent, who is the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear, as a left-wing radical in cahoots with national Democratic figures, but the attacks failed to stick. Beshear, meanwhile, highlighted Cameron’s support for a total ban on abortion, an unheard-of topic for any Kentucky Democrat to center in a statewide campaign.
While Beshear will continue to face a hostile legislature dominated by Republicans, he’ll still have the considerable powers of his office at his disposal. In the past, he’s used his authority to issue executive orders permitting the medical use of marijuana and restoring the rights of some 180,000 citizens who had completed felony sentences. Beshear’s victory ensures that those orders cannot be rescinded, at least for the next four years.
That was soon followed by even better news.
Ohio voted to guarantee a right to abortion and other reproductive health care in the state’s Constitution, Decision Desk HQ projects, in the latest victory for abortion rights advocates at the ballot box.
The constitutional amendment, Issue 1, enshrines a right to abortion, contraception, miscarriage care and fertility treatment in Ohio. The amendment will take effect in 30 days.
Ohio was the only state voting directly on abortion in 2023, drawing national attention and tens of millions in outside spending. The passage of Issue 1 makes for a 7-and-0 ballot measure winning streak for reproductive rights advocates since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.
The victory of an abortion rights ballot measure in a state that twice voted for former President Donald Trump gives a boost to advocates seeking to put similar measures on the ballot in red and purple states in 2024.
“As it relates to passing Issue 1, the stakes could not be higher,” Democratic Rep. Shontel Brown, who represents Cleveland in the House, said Tuesday. “Ohio continues to be a barometer, a test case, if you will, for the rest of the country.”
There was another referendum to legalize marijuana in Ohio (Issue 2) as well, and it also passed, by roughly the same margin. Pot and abortion for the win, y’all.
And then the cherry on top:
I’ve seen enough: Democrats win control of the Virginia House of Delegates, flipping the GOP majority and giving them control of both chambers.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) 10:14 PM – 7 November 2023
That sound you hear is the Glenn Youngkin mystique crumbling.
A broader summary of the day:
For those not welded to their devices tonight (and how dare you), here is a recap of what has been, thus far, a very good Election Night 2023 for the Democratic Party and progressive causes:
- In deep-red Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who many conservatives dismissed upon his victory in 2019 of being blessed with an inept opponent in Matt Bevin, took on the rising star of the Kentucky GOP (state Attorney General Daniel Cameron) and defeated him by a solid margin. Right now, with only scant returns left to report, Beshear has defeated Cameron by a five point margin.
- In Ohio, voters have affirmed both abortion rights and legalization of marijuana in a pair of state initiatives. Both appear to have carried the state by double digits.
- In Pennsylvania, Democrat Daniel McCaffery appears well on his way to earning a spot on the state Supreme Court, strengthening that court’s Democratic majority. He leads Republican Carolyn Carluccio by a 53-47 margin with 83% reporting.
- In Virginia, Democrats have already apparently retained control of the state Senate, and are on their way to a potential reclaiming of the House of Delegates from the Republicans. If this holds, and the Democrats hold both houses of the legislature, another GOP rising star (Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin) will take a bruising defeat.
- In New Jersey (a state we have not referenced to this point, so let’s correct that now!), the Democrats not only appear to be holding their legislative majority, they may well be strengthening it. They have picked up at least one Assembly seat thus far, and are well on their way to picking up a Senate seat.
- Mississippi is holding its elections, but the counting has been slow going so far. In early returns (with very little of deep blue Hinds County in thus far), Republican incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves leads Democrat Brandon Presley by a 55-44 margin.
As noted, Dems won control of the VA Assembly, and they won that Pennsylvania State Supreme Court seat as well, though Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves held on. Overall, pretty nice.