It may be an off-year, but Tuesday brings us a big election night across America. The expensive Republican primary for governor in Kentucky takes center stage, but it's not alone: Pennsylvania will also host important races across the state, including a special election that could determine control of the state House, while competitive contests for mayor in both Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Jacksonville, Florida, are afoot as well.
Below you'll find our guide to all of the top races, arranged chronologically by each state’s poll closing times. When it’s available, we'll tell you about any reliable polling that exists for each race. However, if we don't mention any numbers it means no recent surveys have been made public (and there is in fact precious little hard data for this batch of elections). Note as well that there are no runoffs in any of these contests, so it will take just a simple plurality to win.
Polls close in the portion of the state located in the Eastern time zone at 6 PM ET. They close in the rest of the state an hour later.
• Kentucky governor (R) (62-36 Trump): Gov. Andy Beshear, who is the only Democratic statewide official remaining in Kentucky, is in for a tough reelection fight this fall, but Republicans first have to sort through a messy and pricey 12-way primary. Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who would be the state’s first Black governor, picked up Donald Trump’s endorsement last year. He began 2023 as the frontrunner to take on Beshear. However, his path to the nomination grew considerably tougher after self-funder Kelly Craft, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, massively outspent him on TV.
Craft and a PAC funded by her husband, coal billionaire Joe Craft, have deployed about $8 million on ads touting her as an conservative culture warrior and labeling the attorney general a “soft establishment teddy bear.” Cameron and his allied PAC have pushed back by going after the former ambassador, lambasting her for an ad she ran in which she seemed to falsely imply the “empty chair” at her table represented a loved one who had died from an opioid overdose. However, Cameron's side has spent less than half as much as Craft’s.
A third candidate, state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, went on the air in the final weeks of the primary to pitch himself as an alternative for the voters who have soured on the two frontrunners. Neither Cameron nor Craft have attacked Quarles, who is counting on a strong showing in rural Kentucky, but he has far less money to get his message out. The field also includes Auditor Mike Harmon, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck, and suspended attorney Eric Deters, who've all spent little, as well as six minor contenders.
Other Kentucky races to watch: secretary of state (R)
Polls close at 7 PM ET.
• Jacksonville, Florida, mayor (51-47 Biden): Democrat Donna Deegan and Republican Daniel Davis are facing off in an officially nonpartisan general election to succeed termed-out Mayor Lenny Curry in Jacksonville, the largest city in America that still has a GOP mayor. Deegan, a former local TV news anchor, outpaced Davis, a Curry ally and CEO of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, 39-25 in the March nonpartisan primary; altogether Democratic candidates notched a combined 48% in the first round, compared to 51% for Republicans, who’ve held the mayor’s office for all but four years since 1993.
Davis has enjoyed a large financial advantage for the second round, and he’s used it to run ads attacking Deegan for attending Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2020. The Democrat has pushed back on attempts to portray her as hostile to the police, but while she’s argued her opponent is trying to divide the community, she’s avoided airing commercials attacking Davis by name. An independent poll released the day before the election—the only public survey conducted this month—showed Deegan ahead 48-46.
Polls close at 8 PM ET.
• Pennsylvania Supreme Court (D & R) (50-49 Biden): Each party has a contested statewide primary for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that’s been vacant since Democratic Chief Justice Max Baer died last September. While control of the seven-member body, which retains a 4-2 Democratic majority, isn’t at risk in November, the stakes are high going into the 2024 presidential election. Democrats felt Baer’s absence keenly last year when one Democratic justice, Kevin Dougherty, sided with his two Republican colleagues on an important preelection case regarding mail ballots. A GOP win would make it easier for a similar thing to happen again and put Republicans one step closer to reclaiming a majority in 2025.
The Democratic primary, meanwhile, is a duel between two members of the Superior Court from opposite sides of the state: Philadelphia's Daniel McCaffery, who has the state party endorsement, and Beaver County's Deborah Kunselman. The GOP contest pits Montgomery County President Judge Carolyn Carluccio, who has the party’s backing, against Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough of Allegheny County. McCullough unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in 2021 for a different Supreme Court seat by pitching herself as "the ONLY Judge in America to order the 2020 Presidential Election results not be certified."
McCaffery and Carluccio have enjoyed large fundraising leads in their respective primaries, while national Republicans have also spent $500,000 to boost Carluccio.
• Pennsylvania State House District 163 (62-36 Biden): Democrats are waging a serious effort to defend the 163rd House District in suburban Philadelphia, which is hosting a competitive race that could determine control of the chamber despite looking like solidly blue turf on paper.
But the local Democratic brand has taken a hit due to a series of scandals in recent years, culminating with the resignation of state Rep. Mike Zabel in March after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. A second special election is also taking place Tuesday for 108th District in the rural central part of the state, but both parties are treating it as an easy hold for Republicans, so all the focus is on Zabel’s old seat in Delaware County.
Democrats have nominated former school board member Heather Boyd, while the GOP is fielding Army veteran Katie Ford. Democrats have spent at least $1 million, and their messaging, which includes TV ads starring Gov. Josh Shapiro, has largely focused on the threat a Ford victory would pose to abortion rights. Boyd also publicized an endorsement a day before the election from President Joe Biden, who declared that the stakes “could not be more important.”
Republicans have spent less than Democrats (albeit still in the six figures), but Ford and her allies are still hoping to score an upset by linking Boyd to Zabel. Libertarian Alfe Goodwin is also on the ballot.
• Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, executive (D) (59-39 Biden): Incumbent Rich Fitzgerald is termed-out as the leader of populous Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh and several of its suburbs, and seven fellow Democrats are on the ballot to succeed him. Most of the focus has come down County Treasurer John Weinstein, a well-funded moderate; Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb, who is Fitzgerald’s pick; and state Rep. Sara Innamorato, who has the backing of prominent local and national progressives. Also in the contest is self-funding attorney Dave Fawcett, a former Republican member of the County Council.
While a March survey for a business-labor alliance showed Innamorato in third, the same group's early May poll found her vaulting into first with 32% and with Weinstein and Lamb deadlocked at 20% apiece. Lamb and Weinstein seem to agree Innamorato is now the frontrunner–they both spent the final week of the campaign attacking her as inexperienced. Weinstein has even run ads dubbing her “Socialist Sara” and warning: “We can't allow the failed progressive agenda that's destroying our city to destroy our county.” The winner will be favored in November against Republican Joe Rockey, who has no intraparty opposition.
• Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, district attorney (D) (59-39 Biden): Twenty-five year incumbent Stephen Zappala, who is despised by criminal justice reformers, faces intraparty opposition from the left in the form of Allegheny County Chief Public Defender Matt Dugan.
The challenger has the backing of prominent progressives like Rep. Summer Lee and billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has contributed $760,000 to a PAC that’s airing ads attacking Zappala’s record. The district attorney, who retains the support of the powerful Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council, has pushed back by arguing he’s kept his community safe while running his own messages claiming Dugan is being aided by “shady dark money groups.”
But the district attorney may be on the November ballot even if he loses renomination because some Republicans, including former Gov. Tom Corbett, are encouraging GOP voters to write in Zappal's name. Because Republicans have no candidate of their own on the primary ballot, Zappala would only need about 500 votes to win the GOP nod. He very well may since he secured nearly three times as many write-on votes four years ago.
• Philadelphia, Pennsylvania mayor (D) (81-18 Biden): Democrats have a historically expensive and unpredictable primary to replace termed-out Mayor Jim Kenney as the leader of loyally blue Philadelphia. The main candidates in this nine-person race are former city council members Allan Domb, Helen Gym, and Cherelle Parker; former city controller Rebecca Rhynhart; and grocer Jeff Brown.
Rhynhart, who like Gym and Parker would be the first woman to serve as mayor, has the support of Kenney’s three most recent predecessors. Parker, who would be the first Black woman to lead Philadelphia, has the backing of the influential Laborers District Council, Reps. Dwight Evans and Brendan Boyle, and other members of the party establishment. Kenney also says he’s voted for her but in a sign that Parker doesn’t think his support would be an asset, her campaign hasn’t treated the news like an endorsement.
Gym, who would be the city’s first Asian American mayor, is backed by the American Federation of Teachers and its affiliates, as well as national progressives like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. One person who very much wants to stop Gym, though, is Republican megadonor Jeff Yass, a charter schools advocate who has financed a super PAC that's airing ads against her. Domb, a real estate developer nicknamed “the Condo King,” hasn’t attracted many notable endorsements, but he’s used his personal resources to far outspend the rest of the field.
Brown also has had a substantial TV presence thanks in part to his personal wealth, but the city’s board of ethics has accused his allied super PAC of improperly coordinating with the candidate. The PAC ultimately agreed to finance only general get-out-the-vote efforts rather than specifically aid him, though both it and Brown continue to deny any wrongdoing.
A late April poll showed Rhynhart edging out Parker 19-17, with Gym, Domb, and Brown respectively taking 16%, 15%, and 12%. A handful of other surveys also show a similarly tight race.
Other Pennsylvania races to watch: Montgomery County, PA Board of Commissioners (D & R); Northampton County, PA district attorney (D)
Polls close at 9 PM ET/7 PM local time
• Colorado Springs, Colorado, mayor (50-46 Trump): The nonpartisan race to replace termed-out Republican Mayor John Suthers as head of the longtime conservative stronghold of Colorado Springs is a duel between independent Yemi Mobolade and GOP City Councilor Wayne Williams. Mobolade, a businessman who has touted himself as a political outsider, took 30% in the first round last month compared to 19% for Williams, a former Colorado secretary of state. Nearly all of the remaining vote went to GOP-aligned candidates.
Mobolade, a Nigerian immigrant who would be the city's first elected Black mayor, has pitched himself as a moderate who can appeal to voters across party lines. To that end, he received an endorsement from conservative Sallie Clark, a former Trump administration official who took a close third in April with 18%. But Williams, who has Suthers’ support, has outraised his opponent thanks in part to right-wing dark money groups, and he’s aided ads labeling Mobolade a “liberal.”