Overview of 2023 Elections
Traditionally, all of the attention to political campaigns goes to the congressional and presidential elections every two or four years, and understandably so. However, there are elections every year and at every time of the year. It is Vote Smart’s job to collect and track this information so voters are aware and informed of chances to elect and hold accountable their representatives.
Our elections team would like to spend some time breaking down all of the elections we have in November for state and federal offices. We will start with two special elections for the U.S. House of Representatives, and then go through all of the regularly-scheduled elections in states like Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. We hope you take some time to see the candidates running as well as the information we have collected on them, all in the hope that it makes your voting experience easier.
U.S. House Elections
In 2023, there are three special elections for members of the United States House of Representatives. One, in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, was set for earlier this year in February after the passing of Representative Donald McEachin last November. In this special election, Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan was elected over Leon Benjamin, who had previously run against McEachin last November.
Virginia’s 4th Congressional District
This coming November, there will be two more special elections. On November 7th, voters in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District will choose a replacement for former Representative David Cicilline, who resigned to take a position as executive director of the Rhode Island Foundation. The primary for this election will take place on September 5th, and the fields for both parties are fairly crowded. In the Democratic primary, we have candidates from the Lieutenant Governor to several members of state and local government in northeastern Rhode Island. To read more about the candidates running for this election, please click here.
Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District
Additionally, there will be a special election for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, to replace retiring Representative Christ Stewart. This district, which covers the southwestern section of Utah, will have a primary election on September 5th and a general election on November 21st. To read more about the candidates running in the primary election, you can click here.
Utah’s 2nd Congressional District
Most elections for governor are held in midterm or presidential election years. In fact, 45 of the 50 state governments hold elections for governor in either of those two years. The remaining five are either the year before or the year after a presidential election. This year, 2023, Vote Smart is covering three gubernatorial elections, in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
In Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear is seeking a second term in office with Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman as his running mate (Kentucky is one of several states where the nominee for governor chooses their running mate after winning the primary election). Governor Beshear is running against the Republican ticket of Attorney General Daniel Cameron and state senator Robby Mills. The election will be on November 7th along with other elections in Kentucky (see “Statewide Elections” below).
Andy Beshear Daniel Cameron
Louisiana’s governor’s race is the only one of the three to not have an incumbent running, making this an open race. Democrat John Bel Edwards cannot seek a third consecutive term and is thus retiring. Candidates seeking to succeed him include former Louisiana Secretary of Transportation Shawn Wilson (who is running as a Democrat), Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry, Republican Senate Majority Leader Sharon Hewitt, Republican State Treasurer John Schroder, Republican State Representative Richard Nelson, and Republican businessman Steve Waguespack, among many others. For lieutenant governor the incumbent, Republican Billy Nungesser, is also running for reelection against former state senator Elbert Guillory. Louisiana is a unique state in that it holds an all-party “jungle” primary on October 14. If no candidate gets 50% of the vote in the primary, then there will be a run-off election on November 18.
Lastly, in Mississippi, Republican Tate Reeves is seeking a second term in office. He will face off against Democrat Brandon Pressley, who is the former Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District of Mississippi. Gwendolyn Gray, a nonprofit executive, is also running as an independent. For lieutenant governor, incumbent Republican Delbert Hosemann is running against D. Ryan Grover. Like Kentucky, this election will be on November 7th and coincide with other statewide elections and elections for the state legislature (see both below).
Tate Reeves Brandon Presley
Alongside the elections for governor and lieutenant governor, these three states also have elections for other statewide executive offices. To start, Kentucky has elections for Attorney General, Secretary of State, Agriculture Commissioner, Auditor of Public Accounts, and Treasurer. With the exception of the Secretary of State election, all of these are open seats–there is no incumbent running. Click here to learn more about each of the candidates running for statewide offices in Kentucky.
In Louisiana, there will be elections for Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Commissioner of Insurance, and all eight seats on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). With the exception of the Agriculture Commissioner and BESE, all of these are open seats as well. Click here for more information about the candidates running in the October 14th, 2023 all-party primary.
Lastly, we have Mississippi. Here, the Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, Treasurer, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, and Commissioner of Insurance are all running. All of the incumbents for these seats are running for reelection. Click here to read more about the candidates running in the general election for these statewide offices.
State Legislative Elections
In 2023, four states have elections for their state legislatures–Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia. In each of these states, both chambers have elections, and only Louisiana and Mississippi have their entire legislatures up for election this year.
Let’s start with Louisiana. Currently, in the state’s House of Representatives, the Republican Party controls 71 of the 105 seats, and the Democrats have 33. In the House, there are 29 incumbents retiring, either due to term limits or due to running for another office. In the State Senate, Republicans control 27 of the 39 seats, and Democrats have 12. In the Senate, 10 incumbents are retiring, with most of them leaving due to term limits. To read more about the candidates running in the October 14th all-party primary, click here.
In the Mississippi House of Representatives, the Republican Party has 77 of the 122 seats, with the Democratic Party holding 42 of those seats. Independents also hold 3 seats. This year, 17 incumbents are retiring, with many of those pursuing another office. In the State Senate, Republicans have 36 seats and Democrats have 16. There are 5 incumbents retiring. To read more about the candidates running, click here.
Moving east to New Jersey, the Democratic Party controls the State Assembly, with 46 seats out of 80 to the Republican Party’s 34. In the Assembly, 21 incumbents are retiring, many due to redistricting (for all of these state legislatures, this is the first election held under the new legislative maps after the 2020 census results). In the State Senate, the Democrats hold 24 of the 40 seats, with the Republicans holding the remaining 16. Here, 9 incumbents are not running in the general election. To read more about the candidates running, click here.
To round out the state legislative elections, we have Virginia. In Virginia, the Republican Party holds a narrow 52-48 majority in the House of Delegates. Due in part to redistricting, 30 members of the House are retiring this cycle, with several opting to run for the State Senate instead. In Virginia, the State Senate is only up for election every four years (they are never up in the same election as Virginia’s governor), and here the Democrats hold a narrow 22-18 majority. Like with the House, there are several retiring incumbents, with 10 state senators–including both party leaders–retiring this cycle. To read more about the candidates running in Virginia, click here.
State Judicial Election
In 2023, there are two elections for state supreme courts. One, in Wisconsin, has already happened (click here for the results), and the other will be held on November 7th in Pennsylvania. This special election, called because Justice Max Baer passed away last year, will feature one Democrat, Daniel McCaffery, and one Republican–Carolyn Carluccio. Click here to learn more about the two candidates running.
Even though there aren’t as many elections this year, and most of the attention has gone to the 2024 presidential elections, the ones we have covered above will have important and lasting impacts on these states, as they have for the past four years or more. We at Vote Smart are committed to providing our users with the most up to date, unbiased, and factual information that we can, and part of that is covering as many elections and candidates as we possibly can. If you want to learn more or contact the candidates running to represent you, we have exactly what you need to ensure that they have your interests in mind.
Nick Israel (he/him/his) has been at Vote Smart since January 2022 and researched candidate issue positions before becoming Director of Elections Research last December. Prior to working at the organization, he studied political science and history at the University of Washington and American government at Georgetown University. In his free time, he likes to read political history.