5 Races to Watch on Election Day 2019

Voters and pundits may have already set their sights on the 2020 presidential election, but today is Election Day for state and local offices across the country. Americans should vote — and pay attention to the election results this evening.

Here are five key races to watch:

1. Kentucky governor

Gov. Matt Bevin (R-Ky.) faces a stiff electoral challenge from Attorney General Andy Beshear (D-Ky.). The race is considered a toss-up and the two are tied in the polls. President Donald Trump has campaigned for Bevin. Trump won the state by 30 points in 2016.

Bevin has signed many pro-life measures in his tenure as governor. As LifeSiteNews reported, Kentucky instituted: "a ban on abortions sought specifically due to a child’s race, sex, or disability; a ban on second-trimester dismemberment abortion procedures; a ban on abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected; and a requirement that women be offered ultrasound images of their children before aborting them."

In 2017, Beshear, whose duty is to defend Kentucky law in court, refused to defend the ban on abortion after 20 weeks. He did agree to defend the ultrasound law, however.

Bevin accused Beshear of taking "blood money" from abortionists, saying this influence led Beshear to reject his duty to defend the law.

"This is a state where we value the sanctity of human life," Bevin said at a press conference, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. "It is the job of the attorney general to defend those laws, whether it’s a heartbeat law, dismemberment law, the eugenics bill, whatever they are."

Referring to Ernest Marshall, owner of the Louisville abortion facility EMW Women's Surgical Center, Bevin noted that "the Marshalls, Mr. and Mrs., maxed out to (Beshear) back in March ... in his primary. Four days later after they max out to him, he removes himself from the lawsuit. These people are funding their very profitable abortion clinic by funding Andy Beshear’s campaign."

"This is blood money, straight up," Bevin declared. "There’s no other term for it. This is the exact definition of it. They are using monies that they have earned from killing Kentuckians to fund a guy whose job it is to defend the laws of this state but refuses to do so."

2. Mississippi governor

The Mississippi election also pits two state-level politicians against one another. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R-Miss.) is polling three points ahead of Attorney General Jim Hood (D-Miss.). Trump won the state by 17 points in 2016, so Reeves is likely to prevail.

Importantly, the state constitution stipulates that in order to win statewide office, a candidate must win both the popular vote and the majority of the state's House of Representatives districts. If no candidate wins both, the state House will vote to fill the role. That body leans Republican, so Reeves would likely prevail.

Hood is running on an expansion of Medicaid, but he supports many conservative issues. The Democrat touts his gun ownership, has defended the state law restricting abortion, and has defended its ban on gay and lesbian adoption. Hood has also promised higher teacher pay, rebuilt infrastructure, and other spending while claiming he would not raise taxes. That's now how economics works...

While Trump has campaigned in Kentucky, Vice President Mike Pence has campaigned for Reeves in Mississippi.

The Republican is likely to win, but even if he wins by a close margin, Democrats will tout this election as proof that they can compete in deep-red states.

3. The Virginia state legislature

Virginians also go to the polls today, and Democrats have already touted the likely results. Virginia has been trending left in recent years, and Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 5 points there in 2016. The latest poll shows 53 percent of Virginia voters disapprove of the president while only 32 percent approve of him. Both the House of Delegates and the state Senate are up for elections. In 2017, Democrats flipped 15 seats in the House. In the Senate, Republicans have a 21-19 seat majority.

Democrats have suggested that if they prevail in Virginia it could signal a Democratic wave in 2020.

"I think Virginia historically has been a pretty good bellwether about what's going to happen," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told the Washington Examiner. "So, for example, definitely the election of '09, where Republicans, one year after Obama taking the state for the first time in 44 years. That was portentous. One year later, the Republicans sweep everything — complete Republican sweep and alarm bells should have been ringing up here."

Connolly added, "And no question, the '09 election portended what was going to happen in '10 and similarly in reverse, the 2017 election told you what was going to happen in the midterms with really a Democratic sweep across the board."

Democrats have far outraised Republicans in Virginia, raising $31.8 million compared to the GOP's $21 million.

However, radical Democrats have pushed an extreme abortion bill that would allow the killing of an unborn baby up until the moment of birth. The bill seems to have stalled, but it represents the Democratic agenda should the liberals take the House and Senate.

A trio of Democratic scandals also plagued the state, with a yearbook photo surfacing showing Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) either in blackface or wearing a KKK hood. Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.) also confessed to having worn blackface, while women came forward to accuse Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-Va.) of sexual assault.

These scandals and this radicalism may hamper Democrats in their efforts to win in Virginia, but their effect remains to be seen.

4. Ranked voting in New York City

Voters in the Big Apple will consider a ballot initiative on ranked-choice voting for local races like the mayoral and city council elections. Election reform advocates claim ranked-choice voting would increase candidate engagement with voters and give candidates who appeal to a minority of the electorate a better chance at winning.

"As the name suggests, ranked-choice voting lets voters mark their first-choice candidate first, their second-choice candidate second, their third-choice candidate third, and so on. Each voter has only one vote but can indicate their backup choices: If one candidate has an outright majority of first-place rankings, that candidate wins, just like a traditional election," Vox's Lee Drutman explained. "But if no candidate has a majority in the first round, the candidate in last place is eliminated. Voters who had ranked that candidate first have their votes transferred to the candidate they ranked second. This process continues until a single candidate gathers a majority."

This initiative could change the way elections are conducted in America's most populous city, and allow a test-run of ranked-choice voting.

5. School board

Some of the most important elections are local. As the Daily Signal reported, parents in Loudoun County, Va., are outraged after learning that local classrooms will be stocked with sexually explicit books in a "Diversity Classroom Library Initiative." Many of the books introduce kids to different cultures and ethnicities, but others are focused on "sexual diversity" and contain sexually explicit language and descriptions.

Even books at the kindergarten level promote transgender identity, which can be medically dangerous.

One race for Fairfax County school board involves far-left activist Karl Frisch. Frisch has condemned former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka as a Nazi sympathizer. Since Gorka spoke at an event for local school board member Elizabeth Schultz, Schultz has claimed that he was branding her a Nazi sympathizer as well. Frisch worked as communications director and senior fellow at the far-left activist group Media Matters. The openly gay Frisch has also volunteered with the LGBTQ Victory Fund and the Lesbian and Gay Congressional Staff Association.

Activists like Frisch represent more of the LGBT agenda in schools.

Even when there is no presidential or national candidate on the ballot — as in the case of Virginia today — very important issues will be decided in local elections.

Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.