The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.
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● Election Night 2023: Democrats all but ran the table on Tuesday night, scoring major victories in elections across the country at all levels of the ballot, with abortion a top issue in many of them.
In Ohio, it was the issue, as voters approved an amendment to enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution by a wide 57-43 margin. Given the state's typically Republican lean, the result once again demonstrated the broad popularity of abortion rights and will buoy activists in pursuing similar efforts in other states, such as Arizona, Nevada, and Florida.
Abortion was even salient in deep-red Kentucky, where Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear defeated Republican Daniel Cameron 53-47. While Democrats in the state normally avoid the topic, Beshear rans ads hammering Cameron's support for a near-total ban on the procedure, even thanking a woman who starred in an ad for him that centered the issue in his victory speech. Last year, Kentucky voters rejected an amendment that would have decreed that judges could not interpret the state constitution to protect the right to an abortion by a similar 52-48 spread.
Virginia Democrats, meanwhile, delivered a massive rebuke to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin by winning full control of the state legislature, holding on to the state Senate and flipping the state House. Youngkin had vocally promoted a 15-week abortion ban ever since the Dobbs decision and helped make it a centerpiece of this year's elections, betting it would help his party by rebranding it as a "limit." Democrats eagerly accepted that bet and won, ensuring that any GOP dream of restricting abortion rights is now over.
And in swingy Pennsylvania, Democrats also highlighted abortion in a key race for the state Supreme Court that saw Democrat Dan McCaffery defeat Republican Carolyn Carluccio 53-47. With Democrats currently in charge of the governorship and state House, Republicans are currently stymied in their hopes of limiting abortion rights, but should that change in the future, the 5-2 majority that Democrats just solidified on the state's highest court will serve as a bulwark against any such effort.
However, Republicans managed to avoid disaster in dark red Mississippi, where Gov. Tate Reeves fended off Democrat Brandon Presley 52-47. Presley, who ran ads touting himself as "pro-life," focused on corruption and repealing an unpopular grocery tax, but the state's heavy Republican lean was enough to protect Reeves.
Republicans also won a few notable victories further down the ballot, though many other Democrats pulled off big wins in several other contests.
● RI-01 (special): Democrat Gabe Amo beat out Republican Gerry Leonard 65-35 in the special election to replace former Democratic Rep. David Cicilline; Joe Biden won this constituency by a similar 64-35. Amo, who is the son of immigrants from Ghana and Liberia, will be the first person of color to represent Rhode Island in Congress.
● ME Ballot: Mainers rejected Question 3, which would have replaced the state's current investor-owned energy system with a publicly owned nonprofit, 69-31.
Central Maine Power and Versant, the utility giants that deployed at least $34.7 million to beat this referendum, also successfully passed Question 1 by a 65-35 margin. This measure bars the public nonprofit envisioned by Question 3 (and other entities like it) from taking on more than $1 billion in debt without first winning statewide voter approval.
● OH Ballot: Voters approved Issue 2, a statutory measure to legalize recreational marijuana, 57-43.
● NH State House (special): Democrat Paige Beauchemin beat Republican David Narkunas 61-39 to hold this seat for her party.
Beauchemin's win leaves the GOP with a tiny 198-197 edge in a 400-member chamber that also includes three independents. The final two seats are both in Coos County: The 1st District went for Donald Trump 53-45 in 2020, while the 6th voted 55-43 for Joe Biden.
● NJ Legislature: While Republicans went into election night arguing that they had a shot to take control of at least one chamber, Democrats decisively preserved their majorities in both the Senate and Assembly. One particularly satisfying result came from South Jersey where former Democratic Assemblyman John Burzichelli unseated Republican state Sen. Edward Durr two years after Durr defeated state Senate President Steve Sweeney in a shocker.
● Allegheny County, PA Executive: Former state Rep. Sara Innamorato overcame a huge spending disadvantage and beat Republican businessman Joe Rockey 51-49 in the contest to succeed her fellow Democrat, termed-out Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Innamorato, who campaigned as a progressive, will be the first woman to lead Pennsylvania's second-largest county.
● Aurora, CO Mayor: Republican Mayor Mike Coffman turned back Democratic City Councilmember Juan Marcano 55-38 in this nonpartisan contest. Conservatives also appear to have expanded their majority on the City Council.
● Bucks County, PA Board of Commissioners: Democrats maintained control of the three-member board of commissioners for this populous and competitive community outside of Philadelphia.
Because each party could nominate only two candidates, the body was guaranteed to have a 2-1 split. The two Democratic incumbents, Diane Ellis-Marseglia and Bob Harvie, respectively won 28% and 26%. Fellow Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo secured the third and final spot by beating out his Republican ticketmate, County Controller Pamela Van Blunk, 24-23.
● Chester County, PA Board of Commissioners: Democrats also will continue to hold the three-member board of commissioners for Chester County, a suburban Philadelphia community that swung hard to the left during the Trump era. Democratic incumbents Josh Maxwell and Marian Moskowitz finished with 28% each; former state Rep. Eric Roe led his fellow Republican, teacher David Sommers, 23-21 for the final spot on the commission.
● Dutchess County, NY Executive: Former GOP state Sen. Sue Serino beat Democrat Tommy Zurhellen 57-43 in the contest to replace unelected incumbent Bill O'Neill, who was sworn in after fellow Republican Marc Molinaro resigned to join Congress and did not run for a full term.
● Erie County, NY Executive: Democratic Executive Mark Poloncarz won a historic fourth term by beating Republican Chrissy Casilio 58-40.
● Houston, TX Mayor: State Sen. John Whitmire and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee advanced to the Dec. 9 general election to succeed their fellow Democrat, termed-out Mayor Sylvester Turner. Whitmire led the nonpartisan primary with 43% while Jackson Lee beat former METRO board chair Gilbert Garcia 35-7 for second.
● Indianapolis, IN Mayor: Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett secured a third term by fending off Republican Jefferson Shreve, a wealthy businessman who self-funded at least $13.5 million, 60-40.
● Manchester, NH Mayor: Republican Jay Ruais flipped control of New Hampshire's largest city by beating Democrat Kevin Cavanaugh 51-49 in a nonpartisan race for a two-year term. Ruais will succeed Democratic Mayor Joyce Craig, who is leaving to focus on her 2024 campaign for governor.
● Suffolk County, NY Executive: Republican Ed Romaine scored a pickup in this large Long Island community by beating Democrat Dave Calone 57-43 in the contest to replace termed-out Democratic incumbent Steve Bellone.
● Wichita, KS Mayor: Former local TV reporter Lily Wu, who is a Republican-turned-Libertarian, unseated Democratic Mayor Brandon Whipple 58-42 in the officially nonpartisan race. Wu, who had the support of the Koch family's Americans for Prosperity, will be Wichita's first Asian American mayor as well as the second woman elected to this post.
● Allegheny County, PA District Attorney: District Attorney Stephen Zappala won his rematch against former Allegheny County Chief Public Defender Matt Dugan 52-48 months after Dugan beat him in the Democratic primary. Zappala, a 25-year-incumbent who is despised by criminal justice reformers, says he still identifies as a Democrat even though he secured the GOP nod through a write-in campaign.
● Snohomish County, WA Sheriff: Susanna Johnson leads hard-right Sheriff Adam Fortney 52-48 with 108,000 ballots tabulated, though the race will not be resolved until more mail-in ballots are tabulated.
● AZ-Sen: The Messenger has obtained a late October survey from the GOP firm Cygnal conducted for an unnamed conservative group and shown to Republican "Senate chiefs of staff," and it argues that Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema's presence would harm her old party. Cygnal shows Republican conspiracy theorist Kari Lake leading Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego by a tiny 37-36 in a hypothetical three-way matchup, with Sinema taking 15%; when Sinema is excluded, though, Gallego leads 46-43.
Other surveys, however, disagree about Sinema's potential impact on the race even though they've also almost all found her taking third place. An early October Public Policy Polling internal for Gallego showed him beating Lake by the same 5-point margin with or without Sinema. A poll from the GOP firm National Research Inc. conducted around that time, meanwhile, showed Lake beating him by 4 in a three-way race but tied when the senator wasn't presented as an option.
● MT-Sen: Democratic Sen. Jon Tester has launched his opening TV spot almost a year ahead of Election Day, and AdImpact reports that he's reserved at least $771,000 so far.
The senator touts his deep roots in the small community of Big Sandy and tells the audience, "Some families are being forced to sell their farms they've had for generations. We're losing access to our public lands. Hell, even some of our favorite bars are closing." He continues, "I'm protecting our freedoms. Because Montanans don't like to be told how to live by anyone, especially the government."
● FL-05: Matt Boyle, who is a senior writer for Breitbart News, a far-right white nationalist site, says he's considering challenging Rep. John Rutherford in the GOP primary. Rutherford infuriated hardliners last month when he repeatedly voted against making Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan speaker, and Duval County School Board member April Carney quickly declared that she wasn't ruling out waging her own intraparty bid against the congressman.
Semafor reports that Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and other Trump apparatchiks are encouraging Boyle to run. Bannon, who co-founded Breitbart and has called it “the platform for the alt-right,” claimed, "Boyle has been with President Trump from the early days and gets the America First Movement like few others." Boyle, for his part, told Gorka's podcast audience, "It's a huge decision. I don't know if I would do that next year." Trump carried this seat, which is based in part of Jacksonville and its southeastern suburbs, 57-41.
● TX-12: Tarrant County Commissioner Manny Ramirez said Monday night that he'd stay out of the race to succeed his fellow Republican, retiring Rep. Kay Granger.