State and local elections and proposition votes often signal political and ideological trends among American voters. Tuesday, Nov. 5, will provide another such opportunity as voters in multiple states cast ballots in gubernatorial races, state legislature elections, and for various propositions and constitutional amendments.
In Texas, the spotlight will be on ten proposed amendments to the state’s constitution, with one proposition standing out among them. One of seven U.S. states with no personal income tax, Texas may see its constitution amended to forbid the levying of such a tax. Currently, the Texas constitution requires a referendum to approve the imposition of an income tax. If approved by voters, Proposition 4 will mean that the state’s legislature will in the future need to repeal a constitutional amendment in order to introduce such a tax.
Colorado voters also will decide the fate of an income-tax-related proposition. The increasingly left-leaning state currently requires its government to refund to residents any excess taxes it collects, However, if Proposition CC is approved on Nov. 5, the state government will get to keep a large slice of that money.
Washington State’s Affirmative Action Fight
As The Hill reports, affirmative action – a hotly contested practice in Washington state – could make a comeback if voters approve Referendum 88. Affirmative action currently is banned in the state due to Initiative 200, approved by a significant margin of voters in 1998. This initiative “prohibited public institutions from discriminating or granting preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the areas of public education, public employment, and public contracting.”
In 2019, Initiative 1000 was approved by the state legislature, overturning Initiative 200. However, affirmative action opponents were successful in getting Initiative 1000 thrown out by referendum. That referendum will be overturned if Referendum 88 is approved. It all seems very messy, but in reality it is simply the workings of the democratic and legislative processes. In this case, it demonstrates how very divisive the question of whether or not to give preferential treatment to minority groups can be.
The Battle for Virginia
The purple state of Virginia faces a general election in which all 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be contested. Currently, Republicans have a razor-thin 51-49 majority after a historic 2017 loss, to Democrats, of 15 seats. Making the fight for delegates even more interesting is the fact that seven Republican and five Democrat incumbents are not seeking re-election. The 40-seat Virginia State Senate is also up for grabs. Republicans currently hold 20 seats and Democrats 19 seats, with one vacancy.
New Jersey voters also will head to the polls to cast ballots for all 80 seats in the state’s General Assembly, though the results are not likely to shift political power in the deep-blue Garden State, where Democrats currently hold 54 General Assembly seats, versus the Republicans’ 25 (with one vacancy).
Two Southern States Choose Governors
Sure to draw the most national attention are gubernatorial races in Mississippi and Kentucky. While President Donald Trump pierced the so-called “blue wall” of northern states, the “red wall” of southern states still holds, where Democrats occupy few senior posts at the state level.
Mississippi’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant, cannot seek another term, and the contest to replace him is between Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood. The latest NBC News/Survey Monkey poll gives Reeves a 47-40 lead over his rival, but other polls suggest the race could be much closer.
In Kentucky, Republican incumbent Matt Bevin is running for re-election. His Democrat challenger is the state’s current attorney general, Andy Beshear. A Mason-Dixon poll from mid-October put the two at a dead heat with 46% each. Kentucky, of course, is the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R).
Whether justified or not, these two southern gubernatorial races will be viewed by most as reflections of Trump’s job approval, even though both states have significant local issues with which to deal. The president has inserted himself into both races, though, holding a recent rally in Tupelo, MS, and tweeting his “Complete and Total Endorsement” of Bevin. Once the polls close on Nov. 5, political pundits will breathlessly predict Trump’s 2020 victory – or demise – based on the results.