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There Are Some Elections in the U.S. This Week...

We wrote it up prematurely, but this is the week that Kentuckians will actually head the polls to choose the candidates for this year's gubernatorial election. The Democrat is going to be Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY), while the early frontrunner on the other side, state AG Daniel Cameron (R), appears to have regained his lost momentum, and is expected to capture his party's nod. Cameron, readers will recall, is Black and Trumpy, and has gotten attention for using COVID to ban abortions in the state, and for deciding that no crime had been committed when the police broke into the wrong home and shot Breonna Taylor to death. Our guess is that Cameron is too far-right for even the Kentucky electorate, and that between that and incumbency, Beshear will be in good shape for a second term. But we should probably wait and see what happens on Tuesday first.

Meanwhile, there are also a couple of interesting elections taking place in Pennsylvania. To start, the seat representing Pennsylvania SD-163 is open right now, because Michael Zabel (D) resigned due to a sexual harassment scandal. The special election for his replacement will take place tomorrow. It's Heather Boyd (D) against Katie Ford (R); the dominant issues of the campaign are abortion and education, with Boyd taking left-center positions and Ford taking center or slightly-right-center positions.

In other words, there are no Trumpists here, but no AOCs, either. That may have something to do with the fact that PA-SD-163 is in the suburbs of Philadelphia. It broke pretty blue in the last two elections (Zabel won by a 2-to-1 margin), but before that it split pretty evenly, and was actually in Republican hands before Zabel was first elected in 2018. Also, even in a regular election, there are only 28,000 or so votes cast. In a special election? Anything could happen, even if you have to guess that the Democrat Boyd is the favorite.

The outcome of this contest is actually pretty consequential, as the party that wins will have a majority in the Pennsylvania state House. If that party is the Republicans, then they'll control both chambers of the legislature. The GOP-ers won't be able to get legislation past Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-PA), but they will be able to put referenda on the ballot in 2024.

And that brings us to the tricky question of exactly which party actually benefits from victory here. Specifically, if the Republicans are in a position to put referenda on the ballot, they are expected to quickly arrange for Pennsylvania voters to consider strong abortion restrictions in 2024. This would be in a year where there's a Senate race, and where the Keystone State is a key swing state in the presidential contest. A Pew Research poll suggests that 51% of Pennsylvanians want abortion to stay legal, while 44% want it outlawed. Other polls have given the pro-choice position an even larger advantage, while examination of the 2022 results suggests that pro-choice voters were extra motivated to cast ballots. In short, if the Republican Ford wins tomorrow, and that allows the GOP to put abortion on the ballot, it could well be a case of the red team winning the battle but losing the war.

There is also one other contest of interest. If you're looking for a Trumper, well, remember how he won just one of his election-related lawsuits, and lost the other 60 or so? The judge who sided with him is Patricia McCullough. And now, she is running in the Republican primary for the vacant seat on the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court. This is getting a lot of attention, albeit not as much as the state Supreme Court election in Wisconsin. That is because the Pennsylvania Court is currently 4-2 for the Democrats, so even if McCullough (or some other Republican) wins the seat in November, the GOP will still be in the minority. Still, the blue team would much prefer a dominant 5-2 majority over a slim 4-3 majority, particularly if one of those three is Samuel Alito, Jr. (Z)

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