10 Races to Watch This November | Sarah Stook

On the 8th November, our rebellious former colony, the United States, will be heading to the polls for their midterms. Americans will vote for Governors, Senators and Representatives in an election that will be sure to impact the Biden presidency.

Not every seat is up for grabs, as they often alternate. All House seats are being contested, 35 Senate seats are and thirty-nine gubernatorial/territorial seats. Local and other state elections will also occur.

Governors serve four year terms and in most cases are term limited to two. Others do not allow consecutive terms, allow them to wait another four years after consecutive terms or are only allowed to have two terms. Rules vary state to state.

Members of the House of Representatives serve two year terms. There are no term limits. The longest serving representative who is still in office is Republican Hal Rogers of Kentucky-5, who has served since 1981. The longest serving of all time is Democrat John Dingell of Michigan-12, who served for fifty-nine years until his 2015 retirement.

Members of the Senate serve six year terms staggered between the two Senators of each state. There are no term limits. The longest serving Senator who is still in office is Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who has served since 1974. The longest serving of all time is Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who served for fifty-one years until his 2010 death.

With high inflation rates and debate over abortion rights dominating conversation, it’s going to be an election that means a lot to many Americans. Joe Biden is deeply unpopular and that is leaking into the Democratic Party as a whole. It’s highly likely that the Republicans will win the House and the Senate will surely be a toss-up.

Here are the ten races to watch:

  1. Governor of New York

Incumbent: Kathy Hochul (D)

Democrat: Kathy Hochul

Republican: Lee Zeldin

Home to America’s most populous city, New York has become a solid blue state over the years. This has been due to the domination of NYC as an electoral bloc and the inability of the GOP to hold onto the more conservative upstate voters.

Kathy Hochul was Lieutenant Governor of New York until August 2021, when she replaced Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo had been forced to resign over sexual assault allegations. Her own Lieutenant Governor resigned earlier this year when he was indicted on bribery and fraud charges. Hochul’s new running mate is former Congressman Antonio Delgado. She is a moderate candidate.

Lee Zedelin has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2015. Zedelin is a huge Trump supporter and moderate on social issues such as abortion. His running mate is Alison Esposito, a former police officer.

Two key topics have come up in the race: crime and COVID. Crime in NYC is seeing a sharp uptick. There are daily videos of brutal crimes against every type of person, from children to the elderly. The media portrays a city where criminals lack fear. In regards to COVID, Hochul stated that all workers must be fully vaccinated and boosted. These businesses aren’t permitted to let unvaccinated workers stay. This mandate will finish for private businesses on the 1st November.

It’s going to be a lot closer than previous gubernatorial elections. Zedelin is gaining ground and Hochul’s lead is narrowing. I still think that Hochul will win, but narrowly. The state is still dominated by the very blue NYC. Still, there are indications on the ground that suggest that the Dems could be in trouble. I’m prepared to be surprised.

Sarah Predicts: Dem HOLD

  1. Governor of Georgia

Incumbent: Brian Kemp (Re)

Democrat: Stacey Abrams

Republican: Brian Kemp

Many were shocked in 2020 when the southern state of Georgia flipped blue in the presidential election before returning two Democrats to the Senate. The home state of Jimmy Carter has been pretty red for the past few years.

Brian Kemp is the incumbent. He’s a strong critic of Donald Trump, having refused to push for an overturn of the 2020 election in his state. Kemp criticised many COVID restrictions. His electoral reforms were seen by many on the left as an attack on voting rights. Nevertheless, voter turnout has increased.

His opponent is Stacey Abrams. She’s a voting rights advocate whose efforts are credited with flipping Georgia in 2020. Abrams is a former member of the Georgia legislature.

Kemp and Abrams faced off in the 2018 gubernatorial election, which saw Kemp win by the narrowest of margins, avoiding a runoff. Abrams and her supporters claim that the election was rigged and that Kemp had suppressed voters. To this day, Abrams maintains that she won. Issues in Georgia this election include inflation and employment.

Despite Georgia going blue back in 2020, I think Kemp will be re-elected. The opposing party to the President usually does well in off-year elections so that benefits Kemp. Georgia Republicans are making gains once again, though the Senate seat is anyone’s guess.

Sarah Predicts: Rep HOLD

  1. Governor of Arizona

Incumbent: Doug Ducey (Re), Term Limited

Democrat: Katie Hobbs

Republican: Kari Lake

Sunny Arizona’s traditional red status has changed in the past few years. The Democrats won the state for only the second time since Truman’s 1948 victory. Both Senators are Democrats. One of them, Mark Kelly, is up for re-election this midterm. He’s widely believed to be the favourite, but the polls are narrowing and his opponent Blake Masters is gaining on him.

Incumbent Doug Ducey is term-limited. He won in 2018 by a good margin. During the COVID pandemic, Ducey allowed the easing of restrictions very early on. He was critical of educational restrictions. Ducey is seen as generally very conservative.

The Democratic candidate is Katie Hobbs. She is the Secretary of State for Arizona. Hobbs has been criticised as an uninteresting candidate with not much spark. She’s avoided events and has refused to debate her opponent. Hobbs’ firing of a female African-American aide saw her accused of racist discrimination. She has since apologised.

The Republican candidate is Kari Lake. Unlike Hobbs, she has no political experience and has worked in media since college. She has switched party affiliation several times but has been Republican for a decade. Lake is very good with the media and has shown herself to be a solid communicator. She’s a huge Trump supporter.

Like everywhere else, Arizona has been hit by raised prices. This will no doubt be a key issue that voters will be considering when they cast their ballots.

I’m calling this for the Republicans. Kari Lake is an excellent campaigner whilst Katie Hobbs seems almost reluctant to put herself out there. Lake’s only major problem is that she’s a huge Trump supporter in a state that doesn’t like him. She’s also refused to say that she’d concede.

Sarah Predicts: Rep WIN/HOLD

  1. Governor of Oregon

Incumbent: Kate Brown (D), Term Limited

Democrat: Tina Kotek

Republican: Christine Drazan

The Pacific Northwestern state of Oregon has long been dominated by its largest city, Portland. Portland is an extremely left wing city stereotyped as an Antifa heaven filled with hipster cafés. The state only has one Republican amongst its Governor and Congressional members.

The incumbent is Democrat Kate Brown. Due to term limits, she is ineligible to stand. As it stands, Brown is the most unpopular governor in the country and has received that accolade twice. Brown came into power after the previous governor was discovered to be corrupt. Despite winning two elections, Brown has been the subject of a recall attempt.

The Democratic nominee is Tina Kotek. Kotek is a former member of the Oregon House of Representatives. She is a progressive candidate whose anti-police rhetoric and votes on homelessness have caused her to backtrack. Kotek is also closely linked to Brown.

Her opponent is Christine Drazan, also a former member of the Oregon House of Representatives. Since Oregon hasn’t had a Republican governor since 1987, Drazan is at a bit of a disadvantage. The polls, however, have been narrowing. Drazan is used to working in Oregon politics and is not associated with Brown.

Homelessness and crime are two issues that Oregon voters are most interested in. Both of these have skyrocketed in the past few years, with tents littering the streets. For some, it’s a public health hazard. For others, it’s a moral issue. No one wants to be living in a place where they feel unsafe.

I’m genuinely torn on this one but my heart is saying that Kotek will edge it very narrowly. Despite being associated with Brown, she lives in a very left wing state so that is to her advantage. Still, I’m prepared to be wrong on this.

Sarah Predicts: Dem WIN/HOLD

  1. Senator for Pennsylvania

Incumbent: Pat Toomey (Re), Not re-running

Democrat: John Fetterman

Republican: Mehmet Oz

One of the most historical places in America, Pennsylvania has long been a swing voter both statewide and nationally. Joe Biden was born there, but moved away at a young age.

The incumbent is Pat Toomey, who decided not to seek re-election. Toomey is a generally conservative Senator who is slightly more moderate on LGBT rights (but not abortion). He is one of few Republicans to vote to convict Trump in his 2021 impeachment trial.

The Democratic candidate John Fetterman is Lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. Fetterman has criticised his opponent’s lack of connection to the state and him being out of touch. Unfortunately for him, Fetterman is from an extremely wealthy family who financially supported him well into his 40s. His record is also controversial due to his pardoning and releasing of violent criminals. Finally, he had a stroke earlier this year, causing concern about his health.

His opponent is Mehmet Oz, more commonly known as Dr. Oz. He’s a well-known TV presenter who started out as an expert on the Oprah Winfrey show. Oz is a retired cardiothoracic surgeon. He’s sometimes been criticised for being a quack due to his unusual medical advice. Having lived most of his life in New Jersey, Oz has been accused of being a political carpetbagger. He’s been hammering Fetterman on his judicial record and health.

Crime is of particular interest to Pennsylvanians, as major cities see a rise in crime. Like in New York, there are many videos circulating of heinous attacks on innocent people.

I’m going with Oz on this occasion. He’s at an advantage due to Biden’s unpopularity and the economy anyway. Fetterman has refused to debate Oz for the majority of the campaign, only agreeing to have one in late October. His health concerns voters who are inclined to think it’s impacted him too much.

Sarah Predicts: Rep WIN/HOLD

  1. Senator for Georgia

Incumbent: Raphael Warnock (D)

Democrat: Raphael Warnock

Republican: Herschel Walker

Another long time red state, the home of Jimmy Carter fell to the Democrats in 2020. A contentious Senate election that failed to produce a clear victor saw a runoff in 2021 and two Democrats returned.

Raphael Warnock is the incumbent and Democratic candidate. A long-time preacher, Warnock had no political experience when he unseated Republican Kelly Loeffler. He’s a progressive candidate whose pro-choice views have courted controversy.

The Republicans have chosen former NFL star Herschel Walker as their candidate. Despite his popularity and charisma as a footballer, Walker has a very controversial past. Despite being extremely pro-life, he’s been accused of paying for an ex’s abortion. He’s also been accused of domestic abuse and deserting his family.

Georgia has not escaped the inflation and gas price rises that its other states have seen. That’ll be something Walker leans into when campaigning.

I’m calling it for the Dems. Walker is too controversial a candidate in a state that’s recently turned blue. Warnock has the incumbent advantage despite the poor economy.

Sarah Predicts: Dem WIN/HOLD

  1. Senator for Ohio

Incumbent: Rob Portman (Re), Not re-running

Democrat: Tim Ryan

Republican: J. D. Vance

A perennial swing state, Ohio always holds the nation’s eye when it comes to elections. Ohio is second only to Virginia in the number of presidents it has produced. Republicans hold the majority of political seats in the state.

Rob Portman, the incumbent, has chosen not to run for a third term. He won both of his elections handily with a plurality of the vote. Portman is a traditional Republican who is nevertheless known for his bipartisanship.

The Democrats have chosen Tim Ryan, a congressman, to be their candidate this election. Ryan ran for President in 2020 but dropped out over a year before the election took place due to low ratings. He also tried to replace Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader in 2016. Ryan is a political moderate who is anti-China. He’s distanced himself a lot from Biden.

J. D. Vance is the Republican candidate. He’s a veteran who has made a living as a lawyer and venture capitalist. Vance is well known for his memoir ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ detailing his upbringing in the Appalachians. It’s a controversial book and the film was poorly received. Vance started out as a Trump critic but has fallen in line with him over time.

Jobs and inflation are concerns in Ohio as much as they are anywhere else.

I’m calling it for the Republicans this time. Ryan has run a particularly invigorating campaign and his independence has stopped Democrats from coming to his aid. Vance is by no means a compelling candidate either but he is benefitting from a lonely Republican wave.

Sarah Predicts: Rep WIN/HOLD

  1. CA-22

Incumbent: David Valadao (Re)

Democrat: Rudy Salas

Republican: David Valadao

California is stereotyped as a very blue electorate, but the Western state is more than just LA and San Francisco. After all, Reagan and Nixon both represented the state. Redistributing means that the incumbent is no longer Connie Conway, who decided not to run for re-election.

The incumbent is David Valadao who holds CA-21 at the moment. Valadao has held the seat since 2013, save for a two year period between 2019 and 2021 when he was beaten by a Democrat. Redistricting means that the seat is now one that Biden won in the Presidential election. Valadao voted to impeach Trump, one of few Republicans to do so.

Rudy Salas is the Democratic opponent. Salas is a member of the California State Assembly and worked on the fields with his father growing up. The agricultural sector is hugely important to Salas and is one of his areas of interest going into the election.

California has seen record high prices in recent months, even higher than other states. Their electricity rate is one of the highest in the country. Californians are surely going to vote on easing the burden on their pocket.

Despite the redistricting, I think the Republicans have a hold. It’s a genuine tossup according to the polls and it will be close, whatever the result. Valadao has the incumbent advantage and benefits from being from the opposing party to the president.

Sarah Predicts: Rep WIN/HOLD

  1. AK-At Large

Incumbent: Mary Peltola (D)

Democrat: Mary Peltola

Republican: Sarah Palin/Nick Begich III

The most northern state and by far the largest in size, Alaska enjoys an entertaining range of politicians. Deeply red for the most part, the victory of Democrat Mary Peltola in the special election earlier this year was a bit of a shake up in the frozen state.

Mary Peltola is the incumbent and first Democrat representing Alaska in Congress since the Nixon administration. She’s more conservative than other Democrats in her support for gun rights and fishing. This is necessary in the rural state where only 12% of the electorate are Democrats.

Due to Alaska’s rank-voting system, there are two Republicans in the race. The first is Sarah Palin, a name you will certainly know. A former Governor and VP candidate, Palin’s kept a high profile since 2008. She ran in the special election earlier this year but lost to Peltola. A Tea Party member, Palin has caused controversy by announcing she’d vote for Peltola over fellow Republican Begich as her second choice.

The other candidate is Nick Begich III. He’s a scion of a political dynasty. His grandfather is Nick Begich Sr, who served as Alaska’s congressman for two years until his disappearance after a presumed plane crash. Two of Begich’s uncles were in politics. Unlike his family, Begich is a Republican. He’s a former businessman.

Energy is a hugely important industry in Alaska so all candidates are pushing the issue. The fishing industry is also a big one. With only one representative in the House, it’s important that Alaskans get their voice.

I’m calling it for Peltola. She’s pro-gun, energy and fishing in a state where that is very important. The ranked voting choice means Republicans will be split between Palin and Begich. Palin said that she’ll vote for Peltola as a second choice whilst Senator Lisa Murkowski has said that the Democrat will be her first choice.

Sarah Predicts: Dem HOLD

  1. TX-34

Incumbent: Mayra Flores (Re)

Democrat: Dan Sanchez

Republican: Mayra Flores

Only one hundred miles from the Mexican border, Texas’s 34th Congressional district holds a large Hispanic population that makes up a majority of voters. A special election earlier this year returned Mayra Flores, a conservative Republican, in a seat that is usually very Democratic.

Mayra Flores, the Republican candidate, is the first member of the House of Representatives to be born in Mexico. Her win earlier this year was an upset. She’s a former respiratory therapist, deeply pro-life and a populist. Flores focused her campaign on the usually blue Hispanic population of South Texas.

Her opponent is Democrat Dan Sanchez. Sanchez has been the Representative from Texas’ 15th district since 2017. Redistricting meant that the 15th district had become more Republican, so he switched to the more Democratic 34th. Sanchez is considered a fairly conservative Democrat.

Much has been made of the Republican’s gains with Hispanics across the nation. Flores winning was a huge surprise. The result here will surely be representative of demographic changes in voting. They’re not a monolithic bloc, however, so the Republicans and Democrats alike need to make sure they don’t take the voters for granted.

It’ll be a good year for the Republicans so I believe Flores will keep her seat. She’s been a vocal politician and enjoys the incumbent advantage. It’ll be very interesting to see how it compares with the rest of the country.

Sarah Predicts: Rep HOLD

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