It may be an off-year, but much is still at stake on Election Day 2023. This year, Democrats have overperformed their electorate’s partisan lean by an 11-point average in special elections. This overperformance is notable due to President Biden’s lackluster approval rating, which has been consistently underwater since mid-2021. The day’s results will be indicative of the political staying power of abortion and whether down-ballot Democrats can successfully distinguish themselves from the Biden Administration entering 2024. From federal to local races in Lancaster, here’s a look at some of what’s at stake this November 7th.
Lancaster County and Statewide Races
Note: Polls on Election Day will be open from 7 AM to 8 PM in Pennsylvania. As long as you are in line by 8 PM, you will be allowed to vote. You must return your absentee or mail-in ballot by 8 PM for it to count. Students registered to vote on campus (at 415 Harrisburg Avenue) should go to the Lancaster Theological Seminary’s Schaff Library to cast their ballot. The Lancaster Theological Seminary is on College Avenue, across the street from F&M. There should also be volunteers from F&M Votes at the College Center available to assist students.
Pennsylvania State Supreme Court
Democrat Daniel McCaffery goes head-to-head with Republican Carolyn Carluccio for a 10-year term on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the highest court in the state. Democrats hold a 4-2 majority on the court. Mr. McCaffery currently serves on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, a level below the Supreme Court. Mrs. Carluccio is a judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. McCaffery has made his support for abortion rights a large part of his campaign. The Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation endorsed Carluccio. Yet she told NBC10’s Lauren Mayk that she will enforce state law allowing abortion until 24 weeks. Polling on the race is sparse, but the current political environment and the results from 2022 suggest that McCaffery has a leg up.
Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court
Democrat Matt Wolf and Republican Megan Martin are running for a spot on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. The Commonwealth Court is one of two appellate courts directly below the state Supreme Court, alongside the Superior Court.
Pennsylvania Superior Court
Pennsylvania voters will have two votes for the state’s Superior Court. Democrats Jill Beck and Timika Lane and Republicans Maria Battista and Harry F. Smail Jr. are each vying for one of two open seats.
Pennsylvania Superior Court Retention
Voters will decide whether to retain two Superior Court judges for another ten-year term. The judges in question are Jack Panella and Vic Stabile. Although both justices will be labeled non-partisan, Jack Panella is a Democrat, while Vic Stabile is a Republican.
Lancaster City Council
Democrat incumbents Jaime Arroyo and Amanda Bakay, as well as John Hursh, are running for four-year terms on the city council. The only other candidate is Independent Willie Shell. Shell entered the race after no candidates from southeast Lancaster, where he resides, made it through the primary. The three Democrats are predicted to prevail.
Lancaster County Commission
The three-seat County Commission is up for election. By law, Democrats and Republicans nominate two candidates, with the top three vote-getters elected commissioners. Republican commissioners Josh Parsons and Ray D’Agostino are running for reelection. They have overseen an improvement to the County’s bond rating and a reduction of its debt. However, some Democrats have criticized them for being too partisan. On the Democrat side, incumbent John Trescot is not running for reelection. Instead, the party is putting forward Bob Hollister and Alice Yoder. Hollister was the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District in 2022, losing the Lancaster County-centered district to Rep. Lloyd Smucker. Hollister previously served as the superintendent of Eastern Lancaster County School District and was a registered Republican until the January 6th Capitol Attack. Alice Yoder is the executive director of community health at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. Parsons and D’Agostino will likely capture the top two spots, leaving Hollister and Yoder fighting for third place.
Magisterial District Judge Races
Thirteen of Lancaster County’s nineteen Magisterial District Judge (MDJ) positions are up for election, but only five are contested. MDJs preside over traffic, minor criminal, and civil cases under $12,000. They are also responsible for setting bail and conducting preliminary hearings for the Court of Common Pleas. The MDJ race to watch is District 02-1-02, which is coextensive with purple Manheim Township. Manheim Township voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. The Democratic candidate is Courtney Monson, a trial attorney for the Lancaster County Public Defender, and the Republican nominee is Christine Wilson, an assistant district attorney for the County. This race is a toss-up.
Incumbent Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, is running against Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron to lead Kentucky for the next four years. Despite Donald Trump carrying the state by more than 25 points in 2020, Beshear is highly popular and ahead in the polls, making him the favorite to win reelection.
Louisiana elected the state’s Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry to the governorship on October 14th. He earned 51.6% of the vote, almost double the amount of his closest opponent. The incumbent Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, was term-limited, rendering him ineligible to run for a third term.
In the Magnolia State, Republican governor Tate Reeves faces Democrat challenger Brandon Presley. Governor Reeves is highly unpopular, but in a racially polarized solid Republican state, Reeves’ party affiliation alone may be enough to carry him over the finish line. His opponent, Mr. Presley, is a moderate Democrat who is the second cousin of Elvis Presley and serves on the three-member Mississippi Public Service Commission. Major issues in this race include Medicaid expansion, which Presley supports and Reeves opposes, and corruption, as the state is in the midst of a scandal over the misuse of welfare funds. Presley suffers from low name recognition and is trailing in the polls, albeit some place him within the margin of error. If no candidate secures a majority of the vote, a plausible outcome, the race will progress to a run-off election on November 28th. As it stands, this election favors the GOP.
State Legislature Elections
Louisiana’s legislative elections occurred on October 14th. Coming in, Republicans held majorities of 71-33 in the State House and 27-12 in the State Senate. The GOP increased its Senate majority by a seat, while the final composition of the House will be known following run-off elections on November 18th. Nonetheless, Republicans will continue to hold substantial majorities in both chambers.
Republicans hold majorities of 36-16 in the Senate and 77-42 in the House. Both are considered safely Republican.
New Hampshire House of Representatives
In New Hampshire’s House of Representatives, Republicans are clinging to a 198-196-3 majority. The body is not up for reelection this year, but a special election on Election Day in a safe Democratic seat, which will trim the margin in the body to a single vote.
New Jersey Legislature
Democrats possess 25-15 and 46-34 majorities in the state Senate and General Assembly, respectively. Democrats will look to regain lost ground from 2021, particularly in South Jersey, while Republicans are keen to further encroach onto blue-leaning turf. New Jersey Democrats should maintain control of the State Legislature in 2023.
Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the Senate, while Republicans are clinging to a 49-46 majority in the House of Delegates. Although Joe Biden posted a more than 10-point victory in Old Dominion State in 2020, Republican Glenn Youngkin triumphed in the state’s gubernatorial election a year later by roughly 2 points. Youngkin’s hopes to pass a 15-week abortion ban hinge on the GOP capturing the State Senate to give his party a trifecta. Democrats’ chances are bolstered by the weight of abortion, coupled with the state’s new legislative maps, which are more favorable to Democrats than their prior iteration. Both bodies are competitive but lean Democrat, with the party narrowly ahead according to polling.
Other Notable Races Across the Country
Ohio Issue 1 and Issue 2 Referendums
Ohioans are voting on two referendums. Issue 1, or the “Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety,” would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. Issue 2, or the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol initiative,” would legalize recreational marijuana. Currently, the drug is only decriminalized and available for medical use in the Buckeye State. It is expected both amendments will pass.
Philadelphia Mayoral Election
In Philadelphia, Democrat Cherelle Parker is going up against Republican David Oh. Mr. Oh, whose campaign has focused on public safety, faces an uphill climb; Joe Biden won 81% of the vote in Philadelphia, and no Republican has been elected mayor of Pennsylvania’s most populous city since the Truman Administration.
Rhode Island 1st Congressional District Special Election
Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District encompasses northern and eastern Rhode Island, including parts of Providence, the state capital. Joe Biden captured 63.8% of this district’s vote in 2020. The seat became vacant following the resignation of Rep. David Cicilline in June. The contest for the seat is between Democrat Gabe Amo and Republican Gerry Leonard Jr. A victory for Mr. Leonard would make him the first Republican since 2019 to represent any of New England’s twenty-one seats in the House of Representatives. However, Mr. Amo is poised to become the first African-American elected to Congress from the Ocean State since this race is considered safely Democrat.
Utah 2nd Congressional District Special Election
Utah’s 2nd Congressional District stretches from southwestern Utah to Salt Lake City. The district’s previous representative, Republican Chris Stewart, resigned in September. The 2nd district is solidly Republican and would have given Donald Trump 56.7% of its vote in 2020. That is because Utah’s Republican legislature split Democrat-leaning Salt Lake County between the Beehive State’s four districts to dilute Democrat votes. This year’s special election sees Republican Celeste Maloy face Democrat Kathleen Riebe and various third-party candidates. Although Democrats have consistently overperformed in recent special elections, the second district’s partisan bent seems too big a hurdle to overcome. Polling from early October by Lighthouse Research had Maloy leading Riebe 43% to 34%.
Where to find Election Results
Pennsylvania will begin releasing election results after polls close at 8 PM on election night. Elsewhere in the country, poll closing times vary. The first polls to close in the country will be at 6 PM in eastern Kentucky and Indiana. Good sites for results include The New York Times, The Associated Press, Lancasteronline.com, Electionreturns.pa.gov, and the Lancaster County Website.
To see a sample ballot for Lancaster’s election (presented by our very own Editor-in Chief, Sarah Nicell), click here!
Senior Josh Dratler is a Staff Writer. His email is email@example.com.