State Elections in 2023 may potentially impact the 2024 Presidential Race

As the 2024 Presidential elections dominate the news, most citizens are focused on who our next president will be. Will Biden be re-elected? Will we see Trump in office again? Will another Republican gain traction and get the nomination in the primaries? Time will tell. Gubernatorial elections, meaning elections for the Governor, just happened in the states of Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. These will be some very important elections and have large implications.

These states will have a potentially large impact on the 2024 election. If the Republican party is to get someone in office in all three states, that would add two government trifectas, a huge advantage for the GOP (Mississippi already has a trifecta). A political trifecta is when one political party controls the executive branch and both chambers of the legislature, in this case the state House and state Senate.

Mississippi hasn’t had a Democratic Governor in over 20 years. Gov. Tate Reeves has been under fire because of the infamous corruption scandals that took place while he was Lieutenant Governor, although efforts have been made to put better people in positions of power. The scandal involved government officials misusing millions of dollars of welfare money, putting it towards things like the University of Southern Mississippi’s new volleyball arena. Reeves’s challenger, Brandon Presley, second cousin of Elvis Presley, is a former small town mayor of Nettletown, Mississippi. He has run a campaign heavily focused on calling out Reeves on the issue of political corruption. Presley describes himself as an pro-life and pro-gun Christian Democrat who wants to expand medicaid, open more hospitals and cut the state’s 7% grocery tax. According to the Washington Post, Reeves still leads Presley by as much as 8 points in the polls, but it will likely be the tightest race for Governor Mississippi has seen in decades, although Trump has come out in recent weeks in support of Reeves.

According to the New York Times, Reeves is likely to keep his seat as 90% of the votes have been accounted for and he leads by more than 6 points. 

Kentucky has a different situation, as the Republicans hold one of the largest supermajorities in the country in Kentucky’s legislature. The GOP holds 80 of the 100 seats in the Kentucky House of Representatives and 31 of the 38 seats in the Kentucky Senate. However, Democrat Andy Beshear narrowly won the governorship election in 2019 by only 0.3%, beating widely unpopular conservative Matt Bevin. He has the highest approval rating of any liberal Governor in the country at 60%. 

His opponent Cameron gained traction by appealing to the state’s large population of Trump supporters, and Trump himself has endorsed the 37-year old conservative. He is openly in support of the state’s near total abortion ban, vows to not infringe on his citizen’s Second Amendment Rights, plans to cut the state income tax and support the state’s coal industry. Cameron’s election would create a trifecta that would be huge for the GOP going into a Presidential Election year. The incumbent Beshear is in support of making clean and renewable energy less expensive, making healthcare more affordable, fighting to keep pensions and diminishing voter disenfranchisement, especially amongst African Americans.

Officially, incumbent Beshear won the election by 5 points with over 95% of the votes accounted for. 

Former Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has been Governor for the past 8 years and because of state law, cannot seek a third consecutive term. He is a moderate Democrat and was the only Democrat Governor in the Deep South. Without Edwards in the race, the election was wide open.

Louisiana uses what is called the “jungle primary” in determining their Governor. The traditional primary system involves members of each party running against only members of their own party to gain nomination, then the top candidate from each party runs against each other. The jungle primary means one month prior to national election day every candidate runs against each other, regardless of party, and if one candidate is supported by over 50% of the population then they win the seat. If no candidate gains over 50% then the top candidate from each party will run off on election day. California, Nebraska and Washington use similar systems.

Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry won the Louisiana Governorship in October after gaining over 50% of the vote in a crowded field. He received 51.6% of the vote. “Today’s election says that our state is united,” Landry said during his victory speech. “It’s a wake up call and it’s a message that everyone should hear loud and clear, that we the people in this state are going to expect more out of our government from here on out.” The 52-year-old Landry is also backed by former President Trump and stands on a very conservative platform of banning gender-affirming surgeries for minors, supporting the state’s near total abortion ban, keeping “sexually explicit text” out of schools and expanded gas and oil production. Democrat Shawn Wilson came in second with 25.8% of the vote. He noted in his concession speech that he hopes Landry will continue to expand medicaid, increase teacher’s salaries and “educate our children the way they ought to be educated.”

With Landry’s win in Louisiana, the Republican party gained another government trifecta at the state level, making it 23 conservative trifectas to the Democrat’s 17. The remaining 10 states are split. Holding onto Mississippi will be another key for the Republicans if Gov. Reeves can hold off Presley. 

Since all three conservative candidates are backed by former President Trump, these elections may foreshadow how conservatives will vote in the Republican primaries, potentially closing the door on his Republican opponents like Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. Based on the recent polls, Trump is two for three in his endorsements. Will two thirds of conservative Americans vote for Trump in the primaries? 

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