Election Day is nearly here, and while off-year political races receive a fraction of the attention compared with presidential elections, some of Tuesday’s contests will be intensely watched.
At stake are two southern governorships, control of the Virginia General Assembly and abortion access in Ohio. National Democrats and Republicans, seeking to build momentum moving toward next November, will be eyeing those results for signals about 2024.
Here are the major contests voters will decide on Tuesday and a key ballot question:
Governor of Kentucky
Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, is seeking to again defy convention in deep-red Kentucky, a state carried handily by Donald J. Trump in 2020.
He is facing Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general, who was propelled to victory by an early endorsement from Mr. Trump in a competitive Republican primary in May.
In 2019, Mr. Cameron became the first Black person to be elected as Kentucky’s attorney general, an office previously held by Mr. Beshear. He drew attention in 2020 when he announced that a grand jury did not indict two Louisville officers who shot Breonna Taylor.
In the 2019 governor’s race, Mr. Beshear ousted Matt Bevin, a Trump-backed Republican, by fewer than 6,000 votes. This year, he enters the race with a strong job approval rating. He is seeking to replicate a political feat of his father, Steve Beshear, who was also Kentucky governor and was elected to two terms.
Governor of Mississippi
It has been two decades since Mississippi had a Democrat as governor. Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican in his first term, is seeking to avoid becoming the one who ends that streak.
But his job approval numbers are among the lowest of the nation’s governors, who has embodied his Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley, a public service commissioner with a famous last name: His second cousin, once removed, was Elvis Presley.
Mr. Presley has attacked Mr. Reeves over a welfare scandal exposed last year by Mississippi Today, which found that millions in federal funds were missing. Mr. Reeves, who was the lieutenant governor during the years the scandal unfolded, has denied any wrongdoingbut the issue has been a focal point of the contest.
Abortion access in Ohio
As states continue to reckon with the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court last year, Ohio has become the latest front in the fight over access to abortion.
Reproductive rights advocates succeeded in placing a proposed amendment on the November ballot that would enshrine the right to abortion access into the state constitution. Its supporters have sought to fill the void that was created by the Roe decision.
Anti-abortion groups have mounted a sweeping campaign to stop the measure. One effort, a proposal to raise the threshold required for passing a constitutional amendment, was rejected by voters this summer.
In just two states won by President Biden in 2020, Republicans have a power monopoly — and in Virginia, they are aiming to secure a third. The others are Georgia and New Hampshire.
Democrats narrowly control the Virginia Senate, where all 40 seats are up for grabs in the election. Republicans hold a slim majority in the House of Delegates, which is also being contested.
The outcome of the election is being viewed as a potential reflection of the clout of Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican with national ambitions.
An open-seat race for mayor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s foremost Democratic bastion, is down to two former City Council members: Cherelle Parker, a Democrat, and David Oh, a Republican.
The advantage for Ms. Parker appears to be an overwhelming one in the city, who has not elected a Republican as mayor since 1947.
It has also been two decades since Philadelphia, the nation’s sixth most populous city, had a somewhat competitive mayoral race.