State Politics

Published — October 9, 2015 Updated — Today at 3:55 pm EST

Redistricting, Obamacare, taxes hang in balance with 2015 state elections

What’s at stake in this year’s major races

Introduction

Elections aren’t just about choosing who wins the White House next year. Seven states face major elections in 2015.

Voters will be asked to choose governors and other top officials in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. They will decide the make-up of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the legislatures in Virginia and New Jersey.

Those officials will then shape the future of those states.

What’s at stake in the 2015 elections:

  • Kentucky: The state of Kentucky’s Obamacare. Kentucky’s health insurance marketplace, known as “Kynect,” hangs in the balance depending on who is elected governor. Republican candidate Matt Bevin wants to eliminate the program, which helped drop Kentucky’s uninsured rate by half, and instead transfer it to the federal government. If the state flips from having a Democratic governor to a Republican one, the GOP could control 32 of the 50 governors’ mansions.
  • Louisiana: Can Republicans keep control? The GOP currently holds all seven executive offices in Louisiana, as well as control of the legislature. Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Bel Edwards faces three strong Republican opponents, including U.S. Sen. David Vitter, for the open governor’s office. The Louisiana primary will be held Oct. 24, with a runoff general election on Nov. 21 if no gubernatorial candidate receives more than half the vote.
  • Mississippi: GOP fights for a supermajority in the House. Republicans have a firm hold on the House with a 67-55 majority. With seven additional seats, Republicans could control most taxing and spending legislation with a supermajority (three-fifths of the 122 seats).
  • New Jersey: Democratic control of the Assembly. Democrats have dominated the Assembly since 2001, but Republicans hope to pick up nine new seats to regain the majority in the 80-seat chamber.
  • Pennsylvania: Partisan control of the Supreme Court. Three of seven seats will turn over this election because one justice retired, another justice left amid scandaland a third lost the May 19 primary. Democrats need to win two seats to shift the bench in their favor, which currently consists of three Republicans and two Democrats. The court redraws political boundaries after the U.S. Census, so the winners could have a hand in what the future state legislature looks like.
  • Virginia: Control of the Senate on the line. Democrats need a net gain of just one seat to wrest control from Republicans. (While there are two more Republicans in the Senate, the Democrat lieutenant governor acts as tiebreaker under Virginia’s constitution.) Only half of the 40 Senate seats face opposition from a major party candidate.

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