Election Year Intensifies With Abortion Rights at Forefront: Key Contests to Monitor on Tuesday

by Ethan Kim
Abortion rights election

The pivotal races in the upcoming Tuesday off-year general election have been notably influenced by the intense debate surrounding abortion rights.

Campaigns ranging from a gubernatorial reelection campaign in Kentucky to a statewide referendum in Ohio, through to legislative races in Virginia, have all seen abortion access as a central theme in political discussions and electoral advertisements, ever since the landmark decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade in June of the previous year.

Below is an examination of three significant electoral battles and the role the abortion debate has played in each.

Kentucky’s Gubernatorial Race

Governor Andy Beshear of the Democratic Party is campaigning for a second term in a state that has shown strong Republican tendencies, demonstrated by Donald Trump’s double electoral success there. The Republican candidate is Daniel Cameron, who followed Beshear in the role of state attorney general.

Governor Beshear has criticized Kentucky’s stringent abortion legislation as “extremist,” noting its lack of exceptions for rape and incest. He also vetoed a bill that would prohibit abortions past the 15-week mark. On the other hand, Cameron supports the existing law and has expressed his willingness to endorse amendments that would introduce exceptions for rape and incest, though he has occasionally struggled to specify which exceptions he supports.

Beshear, whose father, Steve Beshear, also served two terms as the state’s Democratic governor, narrowly won the 2019 election against the then-incumbent Republican, Matt Bevin, by less than 0.5%. Cameron, having served as an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell and carrying Trump’s endorsement, would make history as the first African American Republican governor since the Reconstruction era if elected.

Ohio’s Abortion Constitutional Amendment

The electorate in Ohio will cast their votes on a proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution concerning abortion access.

The proposition aims to enshrine the right to independently make reproductive decisions, including those related to abortion, contraception, and fertility treatment. Furthermore, it permits the prohibition of abortions at the point where fetal viability outside the womb is determined, except in cases where the patient’s life or health is at risk, as certified by a doctor.

A previous measure that would have imposed greater difficulty in passing the current abortion proposal was defeated in August. That vote was widely viewed as a preliminary skirmish over reproductive rights and attracted nationwide attention.

Virginia General Assembly Elections

The battle for control of Virginia’s legislative body is closely contested, with the Republicans currently holding a slim majority in the House and the Democrats leading in the Senate. Outcomes from these races could tilt the balance of power, potentially granting Republicans full control over state governance. This would empower Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin to enact a 15-week abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest, and threats to the mother’s life. Democratic contenders have made this a significant focus of their campaigns.

Beyond these highlighted contests in Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia, Big Big News will provide detailed coverage of election outcomes and winners across 346 contentious races in a dozen states. Here are additional significant races to pay attention to:

Mississippi’s Gubernatorial Race

Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, is campaigning for a second term, facing off against Brandon Presley, a Democrat serving as a state utility regulator and a relative of Elvis Presley. Democrats have historically dominated this position through most of the 20th century, but Republicans have held it for the past two decades. Presley, with substantial financial backing from the national Democratic Party, has managed to exceed Reeves in fundraising this year, nearly equalling him in campaign expenditure, although Reeves enters the final campaign phase with more funds.

Reeves won his first term in office in 2019 with 52% of the vote, and the state’s legislative body also faces reelection.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Vacancy

The candidates vying for a vacant seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court are Republican Carolyn Carluccio and Democrat Daniel McCaffery. This seat is of particular importance, as it could significantly influence voting-related cases in the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

Rhode Island’s U.S. House District 1 Special Election

Democrat Gabe Amo and Republican Gerry Leonard are competing in a special election to fill the vacancy left by Democrat David Cicilline, who resigned after serving seven terms. The district is a Democratic stronghold, with Cicilline and previously Patrick Kennedy securing significant victories in past elections.

Mayoral Elections

Houston’s mayoral race features 17 candidates, including U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. John Whitmire, both Democrats, who are vying to succeed Mayor Sylvester Turner.

In Uvalde, Texas, the mayoral candidates include Kimberly Mata-Rubio, a former news reporter whose daughter was tragically lost in the Robb Elementary School shooting, alongside ex-mayor Cody Smith and teacher Veronica Martinez.

Bridgeport, Connecticut’s mayoral election has faced legal complications, with a new Democratic primary ordered due to allegations of ballot stuffing. The re-run is set to occur post-Tuesday’s election, with the AP withholding the declaration of a winner until all legal matters are settled.

Derby, Connecticut’s incumbent Mayor Richard Dziekan is running independently for a fourth term after losing the Republican primary. His opponent, alderman Gino DiGiovanni, Jr., is contending with legal issues stemming from charges related to the January 6th Capitol riot.

New York City Council District 9 Election

Yusef Salaam, a criminal justice reform advocate known for his wrongful conviction in the Central Park Jogger case and subsequent exoneration, is running unopposed for the council seat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Abortion rights election

How have abortion rights influenced the 2023 off-year general election?

Abortion rights have emerged as a central issue in several key races, particularly after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Candidates’ stances on abortion have heavily shaped campaigns and voter decision-making in gubernatorial, legislative, and constitutional amendment contests across multiple states including Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia.

What is at stake in Kentucky’s gubernatorial race?

In Kentucky, the gubernatorial race is focused on abortion rights, with Democratic Governor Andy Beshear opposing the restrictive state law and the Republican nominee, Daniel Cameron, supporting it but showing willingness to allow rape and incest exceptions. This race could affect the state’s legislative direction on reproductive rights.

What does the Ohio constitutional amendment propose regarding abortion?

Ohio’s proposed constitutional amendment seeks to protect the right to abortion and other reproductive services, with the provision that abortions could be banned when a fetus is viable outside the womb unless the pregnancy endangers the patient’s life or health.

What are the implications of the Virginia General Assembly elections?

The Virginia General Assembly elections could potentially shift the balance of power. If Republicans gain control, they could back Governor Youngkin’s push for a 15-week abortion ban with limited exceptions, making abortion rights a significant campaign focus for Democrats.

What other notable elections should be watched?

Besides the highlighted races, closely contested elections for Mississippi governor, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court seat, Rhode Island’s 1st congressional district, mayoral races in various cities, and New York City Council District 9 are of interest, each with implications for local and national political dynamics.

More about Abortion rights election

  • Supreme Court Decision on Roe v. Wade
  • Kentucky Governor’s Race
  • Ohio Constitutional Amendment on Abortion
  • Virginia General Assembly Elections
  • Mississippi Gubernatorial Election
  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court Race
  • Rhode Island Congressional Special Election
  • Houston Mayoral Election
  • Uvalde, Texas, Mayoral Race
  • Bridgeport, Connecticut, Mayoral Primary
  • Derby, Connecticut, Mayoral Election
  • New York City Council District 9 Race

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Michael Chen November 6, 2023 - 11:58 am

so if Cameron wins in KY, he would be the first Black Republican gov since reconstruction? thats huge but the article doesn’t seem to make a big deal out of it.

Lisa Adams November 6, 2023 - 12:48 pm

I think there’s a typo in the section about the Ohio amendment, shouldn’t it be ‘rights’ not ‘right’? also, can someone clarify what ‘viable outside the womb’ actually means.

Emily Rogers November 6, 2023 - 9:34 pm

wow, politics is messy, that stuff about ballot stuffing in Bridgeport… how common is that? makes you wonder about the rest of the elections too.

Alex Johnson November 7, 2023 - 1:12 am

Daniel Cameron’s stance on abortion seems a bit wishy-washy, he supports the law but also wants exceptions? i guess politics is all about the compromises but still…

John Smith November 7, 2023 - 3:10 am

Interesting to see how big an issue abortion has become this election I mean its literally shaping the entire political landscape in some of these states like Kentucky and Ohio.


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