Election Night in America: Kentucky Governor GOP Primary and Key Races Unfold
As the calendar turns to spring in 2023, election fever grips the nation on Tuesday. The spotlight shines on Kentucky, where Republicans select their nominee to challenge Democratic Governor Andy Beshear in the highly anticipated gubernatorial race slated for November.
Simultaneously, Philadelphia takes center stage with two significant races. Democrats nominate their candidate for Philadelphia mayor, positioning them as the overwhelming favorite in the general election within the deeply blue city. Additionally, the race to fill a vacant state House seat in Philadelphia becomes crucial, potentially determining which party gains control of the chamber.
In Jacksonville, Florida, a mayoral runoff emerges as a litmus test for the strength of Republicans, including GOP Governor Ron DeSantis, within the state. It will be a closely watched contest to gauge their influence in Florida.
Kentucky Republican Gubernatorial Primary: Daniel Cameron Emerges as Winner
In the highly anticipated Kentucky Republican gubernatorial primary, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft, and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles competed for the opportunity to challenge popular Democratic Governor Andy Beshear. Despite the state’s predominantly red leanings, Beshear has maintained a strong approval rating.
The race unfolded with Cameron, who enjoyed significant advantages such as widespread name recognition and strong connections to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell’s influential network, leading the pack as the frontrunner. Furthermore, Cameron secured the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, solidifying his position.
Craft, highlighting her support for Trump and emphasizing her experience as his ambassador in New York, injected substantial personal funds into her campaign to gain momentum. Observers noted that Craft’s significant investment in television advertising, particularly targeting Cameron, made the primary contest more competitive.
Adding to the drama, Craft secured an eleventh-hour endorsement from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, setting the stage for a subtle proxy battle between Trump and DeSantis, who are expected to face off in the upcoming Republican presidential primary. Ultimately, The Associated Press projected Cameron as the victor, winning with approximately 48% of the vote, followed by Quarles with 23% and Craft with 17%.
Quarles, meanwhile, focused much of his campaign less on personality and more on having fleshed out policy platforms, releasing policy positions each week.
The primary was anticipated to be a low turnout affair, with the secretary of state predicting turnout to hover around 10%, inserting an added level of uncertainty into the race.
Cameron will face a challenge in unseating Beshear, who has garnered praise for his handling of natural disasters that hit Kentucky during his first term as governor.
Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Primary: Cherelle Parker Emerges as Projected Winner
In the closely watched Philadelphia Democratic mayoral primary, a field of contenders vied to succeed term-limited Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney. The primary outcome proved to be a disappointment for progressives aiming to maintain their recent victories in Wisconsin and Chicago.
Former City Council members Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker, and Allan Domb, along with former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart and grocery store magnate Jeff Brown, emerged as the main contenders for the party’s nomination. Polling indicated a tight race among the five candidates, with a significant number of undecided voters in the mix. However, The Associated Press projected Cherelle Parker as the winner of the primary.
Helen Gym garnered significant support from progressives nationwide, advocating for a “Green New Deal” for local schools. She secured endorsements from prominent figures such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders. Nevertheless, Parker, benefiting from the Democratic Party’s substantial registration advantage, was considered the overwhelming favorite.
This primary also presents the opportunity to potentially elect the city’s first female mayor, a historic milestone considering Philadelphia has been governed by 99 male mayors throughout its history.
Democrats Maintain Wafer-Thin Majority in Pennsylvania House Special Election
In a closely contested special election, Democrats successfully held onto their slim majority in the Pennsylvania state House. Despite narrowly regaining control of the House in the 2022 midterms, their one-seat advantage was at risk in this critical race.
Taking place in the Philadelphia area, the election featured Democrat Heather Boyd and Republican candidate Katie Ford. Typically, this race would have been considered safe for Democrats, as former state Representative Mike Zabel comfortably won re-election with 65% of the vote last year before resigning due to sexual harassment allegations.
However, due to the significance of the election and the lingering impact of Zabel’s scandal, both Democrats and Republicans made substantial investments in their campaigns. Ultimately, according to an Associated Press projection, Boyd emerged victorious over Ford. This outcome ensures that Democrats maintain their wafer-thin majority in the Pennsylvania House.
Democrats warned that a Ford win would let Republicans not only let the state legislature serve as a blockade to Gov. Josh Shapiro but also introduce a constitutional amendment scrapping abortion rights in the state, something state Republicans denied.
Democrat Donna Deegan Wins Jacksonville Mayoral Runoff, Testing Republican Strength in Florida
The mayoral runoff in Jacksonville served as a reality check for Republicans, following their significant victories in the 2022 midterms. Democrat Donna Deegan is projected by the Associated Press to have emerged victorious over GOP candidate Daniel Davis. Deegan will succeed Republican Mayor Lenny Curry, who is term-limited.
Jacksonville, a city in northeast Florida with nearly 1 million residents, is currently the largest city in the United States to have a Republican mayor. While the city voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis won it by a considerable margin last year.
The race was closely contested, with polling indicating a tight race primarily focused on issues of crime and policing.
This outcome marks another setback for DeSantis, who campaigned for Davis. Interestingly, DeSantis was absent from the campaign trail in Jacksonville as he made an appearance in Iowa over the weekend preceding the election.