Ballotpedia's Top 15 Elections to Watch, 2023

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2023 Elections
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October 23, 2023

We've compiled a list of 15 elections we watched in November 2023, including races for state supreme court judgeships, state legislatures, governors and other state executives, mayor, school boards, and special elections to the U.S. House.

The Ballotpedia editorial department selected these elections based on past election results, unique election-specific circumstances, and election race ratings. The final selections include a mix of federal, state, and local races in mind.

Here's a list of the 15 elections we're watching. Click on a link to learn more about each election.

See more of our 2023 election analysis by visiting our Election Analysis Hub.

Top 15 elections to watch

Gubernatorial races

See also: Gubernatorial elections, 2023

Kentucky and Mississippi held elections for governor on Nov. 7. In Louisiana, Jeff Landry (R) was elected governor on Oct. 14 after winning the primary outright with more than 50% of the vote. Heading into the 2023 elections, 26 states had Republican governors and 24 states had Democratic governors. Of the three offices up for election in 2023, Democrats held the governorships in Kentucky and Louisiana, and a Republican held the governorship in Mississippi.


Incumbent Andy Beshear (D) and Daniel Cameron (R) ran. Beshear was first elected in 2019, when he defeated incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin (R) 49.2% to 48.8%. He is the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear (2007-2015) and previously served as attorney general from 2015 to 2019. Cameron had served as attorney general since 2019, when he defeated Gregory Stumbo (D) 58% to 42%. The state's first Black attorney general and the first Republican elected to the office since 1943, Cameron previously worked as a law clerk and as legal counsel to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R).

Beshear campaigned on his record and his administration’s handling of a number of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of natural disasters. Cameron criticized Beshear’s policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted lawsuits he’s brought against the Beshear and Biden administrations in his capacity as attorney general.

Abortion was also a central issue in the race. At an Oct. 16 debate, Beshear and Cameron said:

  • Beshear: "My opponent’s position would give a rapist more rights than their victim. It is wrong. We need to change this law. We need to make sure that those individuals have that option."[1]
  • Cameron: “I'm the pro-life candidate and I've said that Andy Beshear is the abortion candidate. I've also said that if the legislature were to give me a bill with exceptions in it, I would certainly sign it. But Andy Beshear wants no limits on abortion.”[2]

The outcome of the general election determined the state’s trifecta status until at least 2024, when the next state legislative elections will be held. Kentucky had a divided government: Democrats controlled the governorship, and Republicans controlled both legislative chambers.


Incumbent Tate Reeves (R) and Brandon Presley (D) ran. Reeves was elected in 2019. He previously served as state treasurer, the first Republican to be elected to the position in Mississippi's history. In 2011, he was elected lieutenant governor and served two terms. Presley represented the Northern District of the Mississippi Public Service Commission since 2008 and was the mayor of Nettleton, Mississippi, from 2001 to 2007.

Reeves has highlighted his record as governor, including the state’s low unemployment rate, the largest tax cut in state history, and a record increase in teacher pay. Presley said he would cut taxes, including car tag fees and the grocery tax, fight government corruption, lower the cost of healthcare, expand Medicaid, and create jobs. A third candidate, Gwendolyn Gray (independent), withdrew on Oct. 9 and endorsed Presley. Her name still appeared appear on the ballot.

Mississippi had been a Republican trifecta since 2012.

U.S. House

See also: Special elections to the 118th United States Congress (2023-2024)

Two special elections to the U.S. House took in November 2023: Rhode Island 1st Congressional District and Utah 2nd Congressional District.

Rhode Island 1st Congressional District special election, 2023

The special election for Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House took place on Nov. 7. Former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Gabe Amo (D) and Marine Veteran Gerry Leonard (R) ran. The previous incumbent, Rep. David Cicilline (D), resigned on May 31, to run the Rhode Island Foundation.

Amo listed "preventing gun violence and ensuring safe communities ... protecting social security and medicare and lowering the cost of prescription drugs ... ensuring access to safe, legal abortion for all" and "fighting climate change" among his top issues.[3]

Leonard said the "national debt is the biggest issue that is going to affect our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren" and said the country needs to grow the economy by "enacting pro-growth policies, reducing red tape, and incentivizing small and mid-size businesses.".[4]

Utah's 2nd Congressional District special election, 2023

The special election for Utah's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House took place on Nov. 21. The previous incumbent, Rep. Chris Stewart (R), resigned on Sept. 15 to focus on his wife, who was ill. Kathleen Riebe (D), Celeste Maloy (R), and five other candidates ran.

Riebe was elected to the Utah Senate in 2018. Riebe said she ran for Congress "to fight for the working families of our state, solve problems with common sense, and to represent folks who have had enough of one-party control."[5]

Maloy worked as Chief Legal Counsel in the office of Rep. Stewart. Maloy said she would "fight to secure our border, protect our religious freedoms, defend the 2nd amendment, stop out of control spending, rein in inflation, and fight the abortion agenda."[6]

State legislatures

See also: State legislative elections, 2023

Four states—Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia— held elections for eight of the country's 99 state legislative chambers. Elections for those eight chambers represented 578 of the country's 7,386 state legislative seats (7.8%). This was the most seats up for election in an odd-numbered year since 2011.

Heading into the election, Democrats controlled three of the chambers holding elections, while Republicans controlled five. Republicans were guaranteed simple majorities in the House and Senate of both Louisiana and Mississippi.

Virginia House of Delegates

The 2023 election determined control of the Virginia House of Delegates and Virginia's trifecta status. All 100 House districts were up. Ahead of the election, Republicans had a 49-43 majority in the chamber, with five vacances.

There were 54 contested and 46 uncontested districts. Democrats were guaranteed to win 33 of the 46 uncontested districts, while Republicans were guaranteed 13. Thirty-two House incumbents did not run for re-election in 2023. This was the largest number of retirements since 2011, and a 244% increase from the average of 9.3 retirements per cycle between 2011 and 2021. Of the 32, 17 were Democrats and 15 were Republicans.

Ballotpedia identified seven battleground elections in this chamber. Republicans represented four, while Democrats represented three. Click here to learn more.

Virginia State Senate

All 40 districts in the Virginia State Senate were up for election. Ahead of the election, Democrats had a 22-18 majority in the chamber, while Republicans controlled the House and the governorship. If Republicans had won control of the Senate and had maintained control of the House, Virginia would become a Republican trifecta. If Democrats had won control of either chamber, the state would have remained a divided government.

Thirty-two Senate elections had major party competition. Eight were uncontested. Democrats were guaranteed to win six of the eight uncontested districts, while Republicans were guaranteed two. This was Virginia’s first election under new state legislative maps following the 2020 redistricting cycle, and the number of open districts tends to increase after redistricting.

Ten Senate incumbents did not run for re-election in 2023. This was the largest number of retirements since 2011, and a 113% increase from the average of 4.7 retirements per cycle between 2011 and 2019. Of the 10, five were Democrats and five were Republicans.

Ballotpedia identified eight battleground elections in this chamber. Democrats and Republicans represented four each. Click here to learn more.

Municipal elections

See also: United States mayoral elections, 2023

Ballotpedia covered 40 mayoral elections in 2023, including 18 taking place on Nov. 7. These elections include all mayoral elections in the 100 largest U.S. cities by population and all mayoral elections in state capitals. As of October 2023, Democrats held 63 top-100 mayoral offices, Republicans held 25, independents held four, and nonpartisan mayors held six. Two mayors' partisan affiliations were unknown.

Wichita Mayor

Incumbent Brandon Whipple and former reporter Lily Wu ran in the Nov. 7, general election for mayor of Wichita, Kansas. Both advanced from a field of nine candidates in the city's top two nonpartisan primary on Aug. 1. Though the race was officially nonpartisan, Wu—a former Republican— was a Libertarian. Whipple was a Democrat. He defeated incumbent Mayor Jeff Longwell (R) in 2019.

Wu was a reporter and news anchor for two Wichita-area television stations for 12 years and also served as a board member for three Wichita-area nonprofit organizations. At her campaign announcement, she said: "Restoring trust in city hall really has to do with a change in leadership. I think what we need right now is a leader and an ambassador, like I mentioned, that helps bring back the trust (between residents and city representatives)."[7]

Whipple was a Democratic state legislator from 2013 to 2020. He said Wichita's most pressing issue was improving public safety: "As Mayor, we must continue to build a safer city. This includes rebuilding trust, investing in programs that address youth violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, and embracing best practices for addressing mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness.[8]

Wichita has a council-manager system of government where the elected city council—which includes the mayor and serves as the city's primary legislative body—appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council's policy and legislative initiatives.

State supreme court elections

See also: State supreme court elections, 2023

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Carolyn Carluccio (R) and Daniel McCaffery (D) ran in the partisan election for one seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Nov. 7. The winner of the general election succeeded Justice Max Baer (D), who died on Sept. 30, 2022. As a result of Baer's death, the court went from a 5-2 Democratic majority to a 4-2 Democratic one.

Carluccio had been a judge on the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas since 2010. Before that, she was an assistant U.S. Attorney and Montgomery County’s Chief Public Defender. McCaffery was elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2019. An Army veteran, he worked as an attorney and assistant district attorney in Philadelphia. Partisan control of the court could not change as a result of the 2023 election. If Carluccio had won the general election, the balance of the court would have changed from a 4-2 Democratic majority to a 4-3 Democratic one. If McCaffery had won, the court's balance would have changed from a 4-2 Democratic majority to a 5-2 Democratic one.

The next scheduled state supreme court elections in Pennsylvania will take place in 2025 when three Democratic justices first elected in 2015—Kevin M. Dougherty (D), David Wecht (D) and Christine Donohue (D)— will be up up for retention. If any of the three justices are not retained, the governor will appoint an interim successor who must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Pennsylvania Senate. The interim justice will serve until an election to fill the seat takes place concurrently with the next municipal election occurring more than 10 months after the vacancy occurred.

Other state executive elections

See also: State executive official elections, 2023

Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi also elected lieutenant gubernatorial, attorney general, and secretary of state offices in 2023. Including down-ballot races, there were 36 state executive offices up for election.

Louisiana Secretary of State

Louisiana held an election for secretary of state on Nov. 18. Nancy Landry (R) and Gwen Collins-Greenup (D) advanced from the Oct. 14 primary after receiving 19.2% and 19.4% of the vote, respectively. Incumbent Kyle Ardoin (R) did not run for re-election.

According to Louisiana Illuminator's Greg LaRose, the winner of the 2023 election “should expect a fairly intense spotlight" since they would be responsible for "replacing the voting machines the state uses, a process current office holder Kyle Ardoin has had to restart twice.”[9]

Landry, a former state representative, served as Louisiana’s First Assistant Secretary of State since 2019. Collins-Greenup, a private attorney, ran for secretary of state in 2019 and in the 2018 special election. She advanced to the general election in both years, losing to Ardoin 59-41% on both occasions. Landry emphasized her experience as First Assistant Secretary of State and said that she “gained the critical experience needed for the upcoming elections and beyond” while serving in that role.[10] Collins-Greenup said she ran "to strengthen [Louisiana’s] businesses, secure our elections, and protect every eligible Louisiana citizen's right to vote."[11]

School board elections

See also: School board elections, 2023

On Nov. 7, Ballotpedia will cover school board elections in 16 states—including all school board elections in seven of them - Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.

Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minnesota

Seven candidates ran in three districts in the nonpartisan general election for Anoka-Hennepin School District school board in Minnesota. The districts up for election were District 1, District 2, and District 5. Classroom safety, parental rights, and the academic achievement gap were among the issues coming up in the elections.

Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, and the SEIU Minnesota State Council endorsed incumbent Erin Heers-McCardle (District 1), Susan Witt (District 2), and Michelle Langenfeld (District 5). The Senate District 35 Republican Party (which overlaps with the school district) and the nonprofit Anoka-Hennepin Parents Alliance—which described itself as promoting academic excellence, school safety, and "parental rights on political, religious, and moral issues"—endorsed Linda Hoekman (District 1), Zach Arco (District 2), and Scott Simmons (District 5).

The school district was located in Anoka and Hennepin County, Minnesota. It served 38,764 students during the 2017-2018 school year. The school board consisted of six members elected by district to four-year terms on a staggered basis in November of odd-numbered years.

Central Bucks School District, Pennsylvania

Ten candidates ran in the general election for Central Bucks School District school board in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 7. Five districts were up for election: Central Bucks Board of Directors Regions 1, 2, 3, 6, and 8. The district had approximately 17,570 students during the 2021-2022 school year.

Heading into the election, the board had a 6-3 Republican majority. Of the five regions up for election, Republicans represented three, while Democrats represent two. Republicans needed to win at least two of the five regions to maintain a majority. Democrats needed to win at least four of the five regions to secure a majority.

  • Incumbent Karen Smith (D) and Stephen Mass (R) are running in Region 1.
  • Incumbent Dana Hunter (R) and Heather Reynolds (D) are running in Region 2.
  • Dana Foley (D) and Glenn Schloeffel (R) are running in Region 3.
  • Rick Haring (D) and Aarati P. Martino (R) are running in Region 6.
  • Susan M. Gibson (D) and Tony Arjona (R) are running in Region 8.

The Democrats ran as the Neighbors United for School Board slate of candidates. They ran against the school board's book and neutrality policies. The slate opposed "book banning, anti-LGBTQA+ policies, and 'culture war' politics."[12]

The Republicans ran as the Central Bucks Forward slate of candidates. The slate listed the following priorities: "employ School Resource Officers to protect schools and build bridges with students; launch full-day kindergarten and STEM Academy; reverse Covid learning losses by shifting from controversy to classroom excellence; design and deploy curriculum focused on preparing students for tomorrow's jobs; and nurture civil debate to protect the voices of students, parents, and teachers."[13]

Douglas County School District, Colorado

Heading into the election, the board had a 5-2 conservative majority. The board's two liberal members, Susan Meek and David Ray, held two of the seats up for election this year. Conservative member Jason Page held the third.

Seven candidates ran for Districts A, C, and F:

  • Incumbent Meek, first elected in 2019, and Andy Jones ran in District A.
  • Incumbent Page, David DiCarlo, and Brad Geiger ran in District C. The school board appointed Page to the office in June 2023 to replace former Board member Elizabeth Hanson. Hanson resigned during a school board meeting in May while the district debated revisions to its equity policy.
  • Maria Sumnicht and Valerie Thompson ran in District F. Incumbent Ray is term-limited.

Jones, Page, and Sumnicht ran as the "Best DCSD" slate of candidates that aligns with the existing conservative majority. On the slate's website, the candidates say they were "passionate about our public school district and everything we do will focus on academic excellence and alternative pathways to student success."

The other four candidates did not run as part of a slate:

  • DiCarlo said he would be a "conservative anchor who will represent and be accountable to the citizens and taxpayers of Douglas County."[14]
  • Geiger said he ran "to help the board work together to address...important concerns without rancor and avoiding outside political influence."[15]
  • Meek said her top priorities were supporting "safe and welcoming schools, stable teaching and learning environments, locally-driven innovation, and equitable learning opportunities."[16]
  • Thompson said she ran "to provide stability for our district through informed decision-making, following processes and protocols, and operating in a manner that welcomes an engaged community.”[17]

Candidates must live in the district they represent, but every voter in the school district votes in every race, as if each is an at-large election. The Douglas County School District served approximately 63,000 students as of the 2020-21 school year and is located south of Denver.

Richland School District, Washington

Six candidates ran for three school board seats on the Richland School District school board in Benton County, Washington. The district had approximately 14,100 students during the 2022-2023 school year.

The nonpartisan general electiontook place nearly three months after voters recalled three of the five school board members during the Aug. 1 primary. Two of the seats involved in the recall—Position 3 and Position 4—were up up for election on Nov. 7. Position 5 is also up for election:

Chelsie Beck and Nino Kapitula ran for Position 3. Katrina Waters and Kari Williams ranfor Position 4. Incumbent Jill Oldson and Gene Nemeth ran for Position 5.

The Washington Education Association (WEA) PAC endorsed Chelsie Beck (Position 3), Katrina Waters (Position 4), and incumbent Jill Oldson (Position 5). WEA "recommends and helps to elect pro-public education, pro-labor candidates to office."[18] The Benton County Republican Party endorsed Nino Kapitula (Position 3) and Gene Nemeth (Position 5).[19]

Prince William County School Board, Virginia

Nineteen candidates ran for seven districts and the chairmanship on the Prince William County Public Schools school board in Virginia on Nov. 7. The school district, located south of Washington D.C., had approximately 90,070 students as of the 2020-21 school year.

Board members are elected to four-year terms. One member—the board’s chairman—is elected at large. Seven members are elected by district. The board’s chairman and incumbents in five of the seven districts ran for re-election. Jennifer Wall, the Gainesville district incumbent, is the only candidate running unopposed.

Candidates emphasized school safety, test scores, instructional topics, and parental engagement as central campaign issues. Another key focus was teacher compensation.

The Prince William Democratic Party endorsed a candidate in all seven contested elections—including all five incumbents who ran in those races. The Democratic-endorsed candidates were: Incumbent Babur Lateef (Chairman), Incumbent Adele Jackson (Brentsville), Incumbent Lisa Zargarpur (Coles), Incumbent Justin Wilk (Potomac), Incumbent Loree Williams (Woodbridge), Tracy LaMar Blake (Neabsco), and Richard Jessie (Occoquan).

The Prince William Republican Party endorsed a candidate in six of the seven contested elections: Carrie Rist (Chairman), Erica Tredinnick (Brentsville), Stephen Spiker (Coles), Ryan Wilson Kirkpatrick (Occoquan), Mario Beckles (Potomac), and Jaylen Custis (Woodbridge). The party did not endorse a candidate in the Neabsco district.

Woodland Park School District, Colorado

Six candidates ran for three seats in the general election. While school board elections are nonpartisan, a slate of conservative candidates won four of the five seats on the board in 2021.

The three seats up for election this year were District A, District C, and District D.

Incumbents Mick Bates, Dave Illingworth II, and Cassie Kimbrell (District D) ran as a slate. Illingworth is one of the four conservative candidates who won in 2021. Bates and Kimbrell were appointed to replace board members who resigned in 2022. Local Republican elected officials have endorsed all three incumbents.

The slate’s campaign priorities included: academic achievement, parental involvement, teacher wages and benefits, history and civics, school choice, and education in trades.

Challengers Seth Bryant, Keegan Barkley, and Mike Knott are also running as a slate. Their slate's campaign priorities include: quality education, safe schools, removing personal political agendas, removing untested educational standards, ensuring access to state-mandated resources, fiscal responsibility, teacher training and retention, and counseling and mental health services. The challengers are also campaigning against the board's adoption of the American Birthright social studies standard and the board's media relations policy.

Election coverage by office

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Election coverage by state

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Election resources


  1. Associated Press, "Candidates wrangle over abortion policy in Kentucky gubernatorial debate," October 16, 2023
  2. Courier Journal, "Here's what Kentucky governor candidates said was ‘crazy vs. normal’ during a debate," October 17, 2023
  3. Gabe Amo, Democrat for Congress, "GABE'S PLAN TO FIGHT FOR YOU," accessed October 20, 2023.
  4. WPRI, "Meet the Candidates: Gerry Leonard," October 6, 2023
  5. Riebe for Congress, "Home," accessed October 20, 2023
  6. Celeste for Congress, "Meet Celeste," accessed October 20, 2023
  7. "The Wichita Eagle," "Lily Wu announces run for Wichita mayor, flexes broad coalition of business support," April 3, 2023
  8., "Brandon Whipple – Wichita mayoral candidate," July 18, 2023
  9. Louisiana Illuminator's, "Why you shouldn’t sleep on the Louisiana secretary of state’s race this fall," August 17, 2023
  10. Nancy Landry for Secretary of State, "Home," accessed August 25, 2023
  11. Gwen Greenup-Collins for Secretary of State, "Home," accessed August 25, 2023
  12. Central Bucks School District Neighbors United for School Board, "Home," accessed October 2, 2023
  13. Central Bucks Forward, "Home," accessed October 2, 2023
  14. David DiCarlo for Douglas County School Board, "Home," accessed September 15, 2023
  15. Douglas County News Press, "Susan Meek announces re-election bid on Douglas County School Board, will face Andy Jones," June 2, 2023
  16. Re-elect Meek for DCSD," "About Susan Meek," accessed September 13, 2023
  17. Douglas County News Press, "More candidates join the Douglas County school board election," July 13, 2023
  18. Washington Education Association, "2023 Endorsements," accessed September 26, 2023
  19. Benton County Republican Party, "Endorsements," May 25, 2023