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The elections we’re watching for in 2023

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The ink has hardly dried on the 2022 election cycle and the NBC News Political Unit is already keeping an eye on 2023, a year that will be home to some under-the-radar, yet important races.

Here’s a look at what we’re looking forward to on next year’s calendar of elections:

Louisiana governor

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is term-limited from running for re-election, giving Republicans a great offensive opportunity. Despite the incumbent governor’s electoral success this is a state the GOPs presidential nominee hasn’t lost since 1996, and one where Republican Sen. John Kennedy won a jungle primary outright last month with almost 62% in a crowded field of more than a dozen candidates.

Former Republican congressman and current Attorney General Jeff Landry announced his bid earlier this fall, but he could have a slew of GOP rivals all looking to take advantage of the open seat. While Sen. Bill Cassidy announced he wouldn’t run, other high-profile Republicans including Sen. John Kennedy, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, state Treasurer John Schroder and others could jump in too.

It’s unclear which Democrats will wade into the uphill battle, but whoever does so will be working to keep the seat in their party’s hands.

Remember: Louisiana holds a blanket primary that puts every candidate on the same ballot regardless of party. If no one wins a majority, the top two vote-getters move onto a runoff.

Kentucky governor

The Bluegrass state poses another red-state challenge for Democrats, although unlike Louisiana, their incumbent is able to run for re-election.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear filed his re-election bid in early December, and Democrats hope he will be able to lean on his record and deep family ties in the state to win another term.

But like Edwards in Louisiana, Beshear won his first term in part because he ran against an unpopular Republican candidate. So as the Republican field swells, they’re hoping not to have a repeat of 2019.

The already crowded field includes Attorney General Daniel Cameron, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft and state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.

Mississippi governor

This race is not expected to be too competitive in the general election as the state has shifted significantly toward Republicans in the last two decades.

But the fireworks could come in the GOP primary, where incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves could face competition if he runs for re-election.

State House Speaker Philip Gunn isn’t running for re-election, which opens him up for a potential gubernatorial bid (he didn’t close the door on it in September). If he or any other prominent Republican runs against Reeves, the race could get interesting.

Wisconsin Supreme Court

The first big race on the 2023 calendar might be a bit under the radar, but political junkies have long eyed Wisconsin Supreme Court races as key (and expensive) bellwethers in the narrowly divided state.

This year, the seat is open thanks to the retirement of Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, who wrote the majority opinion in the 2020 decision that ruled against the early Covid-19 public health emergency order issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ Department of Health Services.

Per Wisconsin Public Radio, the retirement puts the balance of power on the court up for grabs. That’ll likely draw big outside investment with some big implications for the state’s direction in a state that just re-elected Evers but also Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

Nebraska Senate special

Republican Sen. Ben Sasse’s decision to step down early next year and join the University of Florida as its president means there will be a new opening in the Senate shortly.

The 2024 race to fill the final two years of Sasse’s term is far away, and the contours of that race will in part be decided by incoming Gov. Jim Pillen, who will appoint a successor to serve until that 2024 special election.

Outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts, who endorsed Pillen in his competitive primary, is seeking the appointment and would be the likely frontrunner for the special election if he’s chosen.

CORRECTION (Dec. 26, 2022, 1:25 p.m.): An earlier version of this story misstated the name of Kentucky’s governor. His name is Andy Beshear, not Steve Beshear.

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