Election Day: what we’re watching

Bobby McMurtry reviews the list of candidates outside his precinct prior to voting in Ridgeland, Miss. (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP)
Bobby McMurtry reviews the list of candidates outside his precinct prior to voting in Ridgeland, Miss. (Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

Tuesday is “off year” Election Day in parts of the country. Legalizing marijuana is on the ballot in Ohio, Houston voters will decide on an equal rights ordinance and San Francisco weighs short-term rentals in what’s being called the “Airbnb Initiative.”

And eyes are on governor races in Kentucky and Louisiana, and whether Democrats can make any progress in the South.

Here’s a look at some of the races you should watch:

Houston

Houston voters will decide whether or not to keep an equal rights ordinance that was approved by the City Council last year. The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — criteria not covered by national anti-discrimination laws. The ordinance is hotly debated, particularly after some opposition ads were released. The ads claim that the ordinance would allow men who identify as women to assault women and young girls in bathrooms.

Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for the ordinance on October 29, writing: “No one should face discrimination for who they are or who they love – I support efforts for Equality in Houston & beyond. #HERO #YesOnProp1 -H”.

A White House spokesperson said that President Obama and Vice President Biden were “confident that the citizens of Houston will vote in favor of fairness and equality.”

Kentucky

Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway are running to replace retiring Dem. Gov. Steve Beshear. Although Republicans have aggressively been spending money in the hope of recapturing the governor’s mansion, Conway has outspent Bevin 4 to 1. This race has been characterized by both candidates accusing each other of lying about their records.

Louisiana

Louisiana has a gubernatorial election this year but it doesn’t work the way you might expect. Louisiana’s election system relies on what’s called a “jungle primary.” In a jungle primary, every candidate runs on the same ballot, which means you can have multiple candidates on both the Republican and Democratic sides. If no one wins 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates face each other in a runoff election.

John Bel Edwards, a Democrat and state legislative leader, earned roughly 40 percent of the vote. He now will face Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, in the runoff election on November 21. Vitter has had a tough race so far. His critics have continuously cited his involvement in a 2007 prostitution scandal, in which Vitter’s telephone number was found in the records of the D.C. Madam, Deborah Palfrey. Palfrey was accused of running a prostitution ring that made over $2 million over 13 years.

Maine

The “Clean Elections Initiative” would increase public funding for candidates to up to $3 million in order to make them more competitive against privately funded candidates, according to Reuters. The existing law makes up to $2 million available to candidates for state office. The ballot measure would also increase disclosure requirements and increase the penalties for campaign finance violations.

Mississippi

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is up for reelection and faces opposition from an unlikely candidate — truck driver and political unknown Robert Gray. According to The Associated Press, Gray didn’t even tell his closest relatives that he had signed up to campaign for governor. Bryant has spent roughly $2.7 million this year and reportedly has $1.4 million in the bank. Gray has spent about $3,000 on his campaign in the past three months.

Ohio

Ohio voters vote on two ballot measures that could dramatically change marijuana laws in their state. Issue 3, as one of these two measures is called, would enable landowners or operators of 10 predetermined sites the right to grow commercial marijuana. That’s in contradiction to the second measure, Issue 2, which would prohibit monopolies from being enshrined in the state constitution. If both measures pass, there’s sure to be lots of confusion.

(Read more from WKSU here)

San Francisco

San Franciscans heading to the polls today will get to vote on Proposition F, colloquially known as the “Airbnb Initiative.” The initiative is a ballot measure that would strengthen regulation on the short-term rental of houses and apartments. While Airbnb is likely the biggest company in that niche market, the Los Angeles Times points out that there are other vacation rental companies that would be affected. Right now, residents can rent out their apartment or home for 90 days in a year. Proposition F would limit that rental period to 75 days. The measure is viewed as attempting to discourage people from taking units off the housing market and using them as short-term apartment rentals.

Seattle

Seattle voters will decide on a campaign finance measure that’s being touted as a national model for campaign finance reform. Ballot initiative I-122, if passed, would create a public financing model in the city. Every resident would receive a $100 voucher to give to the candidate of their choosing. The measure would also limit election campaign contributions from entities receiving city contracts of $250,000 or more, or from people spending over $5,000 on lobbying.

Virginia

All 140 seats of Virginia’s General Assembly are up for election today. Republicans currently control the state Senate by a 21 to 19 margin. Expecting low turnout, both parties have been trying to drive their message home to voters. Republicans are expected to retain their majority in the GA. Democrats hope to take control of the state Senate.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Read Original Article – Published NOVEMBER 03, 2015 4:28 PM ET

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