What Messages Motivate Voters These Days? Ballots & Boundaries

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We’re a few days away from getting more data points to fill in the picture of what political messages are hitting their marks.

In Kentucky, we’ll watch whether Republican voters turn out on Tuesday for the gubernatorial hopeful with former President Donald Trump’s seal of approval, Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Or will they be swayed by rival Kelly Craft’s mix of positive ads, attacks, and praise for Trump?

Another possibility is that the other 10 GOP ballot options will disperse the vote so much that it’ll be hard to come up with many takeaways that might be applied to voter engagement strategies in other races and other states.

Maura Kelly Lannan previewed the primary for BGOV.

Source: Images from candidate advertisements compiled by AdImpact
State Attorney General Daniel Cameron and former Ambassador Kelly Craft are among 12 Republicans seeking the gubernatorial nomination in Kentucky.

Pennsylvania has multiple interesting contests on Tuesday. A lot of attention will be on special elections to fill state House vacancies, because the balance of power is at stake.

Democrats have a one-seat majority, and there are two seats being filled, so the math is easy and the stakes are high. Here’s a rundown from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

And don’t overlook the contest to choose nominees for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. One of the contenders briefly stalled that state’s certification of Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the 2020 presidential election. BGOV’s Jennifer Kay has the preview.

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Ballot Questions

OHIO: New Rules of Engagement
A big decision looms in Ohio, where the state legislature decided a fewer-special-elections law signed in January doesn’t apply when there might be a future vote on abortion.

It approved a measure setting up an Aug. 8 election on whether to make it harder to change the state constitution, acting in a hurry because abortion rights backers are working toward a November ballot issue.

Photographer: Eric Heisig/Bloomberg

That outcome had been telegraphed so well that a couple hours after the vote, BGOV’s Eric Heisig encountered advocates distributing flyers about the election to come and the possible vote after that. READ MORE

FLORIDA: Cannabis Question
The cannabis company Trulieve announced that advocates have enough signatures to get a legalization initiative onto the November 2024 ballot, reports Marijuana Moment. The state will need to verify 891,523 valid signatures to make that happen.


In briefs filed with the US Supreme Court, Democratic lawyers argued that since the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed itself, the Moore v. Harper redistricting case is now moot.

Lawyers for Republican state House Speaker Tim Moore said the US Supreme Court still has jurisdiction, and Common Cause said the Court “has jurisdiction to decide the vital constitutional question presented in this case.”

At stake is whether there’ll be a ruling on the so-called “independent state legislature theory” that says the Constitution’s Elections Clause gives state legislatures near-exclusive authority to regulate federal elections without interference from state courts.

The Republican-controlled legislature drew a map that would have favored Republicans in 10 districts compared with the court-drawn map under which seven GOP candidates won congressional seats. After Republicans won control of the state Supreme Court in November 2022, it ruled that partisan gerrymandering claims are nonjustifiable under the state constitution. — Greg Giroux

‘24 Senate

Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) kicked off his US Senate campaign with a TV ad buy including in the Baltimore media market, where no major candidate is well-known.

The self-funding Trone, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D), and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) all live in close-in Washington suburbs. So does Rep. Jamie Raskin, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee who’s taking this month to decide whether to join the race to succeed retiring Sen. Ben Cardin (D). There would be a Baltimore-area candidate in the race if Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski (D) enters. —Greg Giroux

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) racked up more party-bucking votes that he’d be able to brandish should he seek re-election next year in his Republican-heavy state.

Manchin voted with Republicans and provided deciding votes for a pair of resolutions the Senate passed through the Congressional Review Act. One (S.J. Res. 23) would reinstate a Trump administration rule that narrowed the definition of “habitat” under the Endangered Species Act. The other (S.J. Res. 24) would block a US Fish and Wildlife Service rule designating the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species. —Greg Giroux

NEW JERSEY: Potential Issue
NBC News reports that federal grand jury subpoenas went out this week in connection with the corruption investigation into Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) That’s one of the Senate seats that Democrats are defending in 2024.

LOOKING AHEAD: Fewer Odd Couples, Perhaps
The 2024 elections could wipe out the few remaining Senate delegations split between the two parties —unraveling one of the last remaining strands of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill in an era of increasingly tribal politics. BGOV’s Zach C. Cohen examined the handful of remaining odd couples.

‘24 House — New York

Esposito Gets an Opponent
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, who holds the most pro-Biden district of any House Republican, may face the same Democrat he defeated in an upset last November.

Laura Gillen, a former Hempstead Town Supervisor, said this week she’d pursue a rematch of a 2022 election she lost 52%-48%.

That defeat stung Democrats, who may have unexpectedly kept their House majority in a Biden midterm election had they not faltered badly in New York House races. Biden won D’Esposito’s district by about 15 percentage points in 2020, but it shifted in 2022 to elect D’Esposito and back Lee Zeldin over Kathy Hochul in the governor’s election. — Greg Giroux

Say What?
President Biden may have inadvertently provided a little political cover for Rep. Mike Lawler, one of the 18 House Republicans from districts the president won in 2020. “He’s not one of these MAGA Republicans,” Biden said during a visit to Lawler’s district designed to prod Republicans into striking a debt-limit deal.

Biden’s comment doesn’t align with Democratic messaging against Lawler, including a 2022 campaign ad that referred to Lawler as “MAGA Mike.” Lawler, who met with Biden, may highlight the president’s praise in TV ads next year as he seeks re-election against the winner of a Democratic primary that includes Liz Gereghty, a local school board trustee whose sister is Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). — Greg Giroux


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To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com; Bennett Roth at broth@bgov.com

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