2023 Elections Preview: The Big-City Mayors and Southern Governors’ Races on This Year’s Ballot

Even though the 2024 presidential election is on the horizon, a trio of southern governors’ races and several big-city mayoral contests are on the ballot in 2023.


Even though the 2024 presidential election is on the horizon, a trio of southern governors’ races and several big-city mayoral contests are on the ballot in 2023.

  • Democratic Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky is seeking a second term after narrowly defeating Republican Gov. Matt Bevin in 2019. A crowded field of Republicans are taking on Beshear including ex-U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft and state attorney general Daniel Cameron.
  • John Bel Edwards, the Democratic governor of Louisiana, is term-limited and Republicans are optimistic they can flip the governorship after eight years of Democratic rule.
  • Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, state treasurer John Schroder, and state Sen. Sharon Hewitt, all Republicans, are competing for the top-two spots in November’s jungle primary. Congressman Garret Graves may also join the fray.
  • Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, must fend off challenges from left and right to secure a second term. State public utilities commissioner Brandon Presley, Elvis Presley’s first cousin, is running for governor as a populist Democrat while several Republicans are weighing challenging the polarizing Reeves in the Republican primary.
  • After a controversial first term in office, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot must fend off several challengers to secure a second term leading the Windy City. The mayor has come under fire in recent days for soliciting public school teachers to recruit student volunteers for her campaign in exchange for extra credit.
  • Eight candidates are challenging Lightfoot, and Congressman Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia appears to be her leading rival according to recent polling. Ex-Chicago public schools chief Paul Vallas and several other local elected officials are also running in the Feb. 28 mayoral election, with a runoff scheduled for April 4 should no candidate win a majority of the vote.
  • Three Democratic candidates for mayor of Philadelphia, businessman Jeff Brown and ex-city officials Helen Gym and Rebecca Rhynhart, have each raised about $1 million for their campaigns to succeed outgoing Democratic mayor Jim Kenney.
  • Ex-city councilmembers Allan Domb, Cherelle Parker and Derek Green have also raised significant amounts ahead of May’s Democratic primary, which is tantamount to the general election in deep-blue Philadelphia.
  • A long list of candidates are running in Houston’s open mayoral election to succeed term-limited Mayor Sylvester Turner. State Sen. John Whitmire, 2020 U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Edwards and county clerk Chris Hollins, all Democrats, appear to be the leading candidates.
  • Republican Lenny Curry is term-limited as mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, the largest U.S. city with a G.O.P. mayor. A wide field of candidates is running to succeed him.
  • The leading contenders are Republican ex-state representative Daniel Davis and G.O.P. city councilmembers LeAnna Cumber and Al Ferraro. The top Democratic candidates are state senator Audrey Gibson and TV journalist Donna Deegan.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • In addition to the gubernatorial contests and mayor’s races, the New York Times featured the spring Wisconsin Supreme Court election in their 2023 elections preview. Conservatives have a one-seat majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, but a conservative judge’s retirement will put the court’s balance of power on the ballot when voters head to the polls on April 4.
  • NBC News covered a new poll that found Kentucky Gov. Beshear has a 60 percent approval rating as he seeks a second term, making him the most popular Democratic governor in the country. Independents approved of Beshear’s job performance by a 49%-37% margin, and even 46% of Republicans gave the Democrat a positive rating.
  • Vox highlighted the state legislative elections in New Jersey and Virginia in its writeup of the most important elections of 2023. Virginia’s legislative elections will be crucial to determining the balance of power in Richmond, while Democrats are favored to keep their legislative majorities in Trenton.



  • The American Civil Liberties Union criticized Lori Lightfoot’s “inappropriately coercive” student-volunteer request, according to National Review. The ACLU said the request “raises First Amendment concerns” and accused Lightfoot’s campaign of using “practices that harken back to the worst days of the Chicago political machine.”
  • Gov. Reeves Is making the “complete elimination” of Mississippi’s income tax the centerpiece of his reelection campaign, Fox News reported. Reeves just signed into law the Magnolia State’s largest income tax cut in April, and wants to continue his work in a second term.
  • The Wall Street Journal covered another consequential 2023 election with a much smaller electorate: the vote to determine the next chair of the Republican National Committee. Chair Ronna McDaniel is seeking a fourth term after presiding over three consecutive cycles of G.O.P. defeats. McDaniel and her main challenger, Harmeet Dhillon, need to win a majority of the RNC’s 168 committee members to win.


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© Dominic Moore, 2023