2023 State Elections Update

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11/16/2023

2023 State ElectionsLast week, multiple states held off-year elections and voters decided on key offices and ballot measures. The elections provided a possible window into the key issues for the 2024 election cycle. Most of the races re-affirmed the status quo, but some states took significant policy leaps with voters directly deciding on courses of action with critical ballot initiatives.     

Virginia Democrats Flip the House 

Virginia Democrats flipped the state’s House of Delegates from red to blue. Commonly seen as a bellwether for national politics, Virginia’s off-year races have major implications for the subsequent national elections a year later. The General Assembly is currently split between the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House of Delegates, but before election night was even over, national media outlets had called the Senate and House for Democrats, dealing a blow to Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin's agenda. 

Youngkin’s rise to the Virginia Governor’s office in 2021 was due to a razor thin majority of voter support. Leaning into social issues for this round of races, Youngkin had hoped to garner more control of the state legislature to further his agenda. 

Gubernatorial Races 

In Kentucky, incumbent Democratic Governor Andy Beshear won reelection in deep red state. Beshear secured victory in a state Trump won by 26 points and beat back his opponent’s efforts to tie him to an unpopular President Biden. 

In Mississippi, incumbent Republican Governor Tate Reeves won reelection over Democratic challenger Brandon Presley. Presley raised over $11 million over the course of the campaign, more than $5 million over Reeves’ haul during the same time frame, but still came up short in the Magnolia State. 

While it was decided well before election day, Republican Jeff Landry flipped the Louisiana Governor’s office from blue to red. Currently serving as the state’s attorney general, Landry surprised many earlier last month, when he won over 50% of the gubernatorial vote and the race outright during Louisiana’s primary despite facing a crowded field with 14 other candidates, including seven other Republicans. Landry avoided an expected runoff under the state's "jungle primary" system.  

Maine Auto “Right to Repair” Passes with an Overwhelming Majority 

The “right to repair” movement scored a significant victory in Maine as Question 4 won over 84% of public support. The referendum was the result of a petition in support of a standardized access platform circulated by the Maine Right to Repair Coalition last year. The coalition chose to bypass the legislature and instead filed an application for a citizens’ initiative and a draft of proposed legislation with the Secretary of State’s Office in August 2022. 

The ballot measure was, “An Act Regarding Automotive Right to Repair. Do you want to require vehicle manufacturers to standardize on-board diagnostic systems and provide remote access to those systems and mechanical data to owners and independent repair facilities?” While the ballot measure sailing through is not surprising, the amount of support Question 4 received is. This could be a sign that those who oppose “right to repair” policy could be facing an uphill battle into the future for public opinion over this issue. 

Texas Passes Multiple Ballot Initiatives 

Voters in the state of Texas passed a multitude of ballot measures last week. 

One approved proposition to highlight was Proposition 1, or right to farm. Texas voters were asked to approve an amendment to the Texas State Constitution “protecting the right to engage in farming, ranching, timber production, horticulture, and wildlife management." 

Another approved proposition to highlight was Proposition 8. Proposition 8 asked Texas voters to approve a constitutional amendment “creating the broadband infrastructure fund to expand high-speed broadband access and assist in the financing of connectivity projects." Proposition 8 would create a special fund that lasts until 2035 to build out broadband infrastructure. The Legislature already set aside $1.5 billion for the fund in the budget, but voters had to approve the state spending that money. 

AEM will continue to monitor legislative activity on the state level, advocating for our industry’s best interests in capitols across the United States. For more information on our efforts at the state level, please contact the AEM Advocacy Team.

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Advocacy & Legislation, AEM Updates

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