Multiple high-profile races around the country highlighted the 2023 off-year election cycle. Abortion was on the ballot in Ohio while Virginia Republicans looked to seize control of all chambers of their state legislature. The results could provide a preview of where both parties are headed for 2024.
Kentucky Democrat Wins Governor Post Again
In Kentucky, incumbent Democrat Governor Andy Beshear held on for a second term by besting Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
“Just look what we were up against. Five Super PACs. My opponent’s Super PAC. Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC. Rand Paul’s Super PAC. The Club for Growth (Action.) The Republican Governor’s Association. All running ads full of hate and division. And you know what? We beat them all at the same time,” Gov. Beshear said in his speech.
Cameron was looking to make history as Kentucky’s first African-American governor.
“And I ask that you pray for Governor Beshear and his team and for all of our commonwealth. Because at the end of the day, win, lose or draw, what ultimately matters, is that we know that Christ is on the throne,” Cameron said in his concession speech.
Beshear used his record of economic growth and his pandemic and disaster handling to win a second term over the Donald Trump-endorsed Cameron.
Ohio Enshrines Abortion
In Ohio, a crucial abortion vote known as Issue 1. Voters enshrined abortion rights into the state’s Constitution, preventing any outright ban of abortions in the state.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-life America responded to the results, saying in part in a statement:
“There have been many valuable lessons learned from Issue 1. Moving forward in states where abortion will be on the ballot in 2024, pro-life, pro-woman coalitions will need to devote more resources to compassionate pro-life messages for women and their children, combating the campaign of fear from the other side.”
Democrats Stymie VA Republicans
In Virginia, Republicans failed to take control of every branch of the state legislature. Democrats held the Senate and flipped control of the House. The wins mean that Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s agenda likely can’t proceed. He had campaigned heavily and promised a ban on abortions after 15 weeks if Republicans had control over the state legislature.
The results could mean voters are still very motivated by the overturning of Roe v. Wade, even when President Biden’s current poll numbers paint a bleak picture for Democrat prospects in 2024.
South Carolina Republican Nancy Mace posted on social media, “We can’t save lives, if we can’t win elections. If pro-life Republicans want to actually save lives, they have to learn to listen to women and talk about abortion and contraception.” Rep. Mace has been outspoken about how the ramifications of overturning Roe could impact Republicans in elections.
The off-year election cycle still proved to be expensive with Democrats outspending Republicans in almost every race, including more than $40 million combined being spent on the Ohio abortion issue.