The ink on the 2022 election cycle has barely dried, and the NBC News Political Unit is already looking ahead to 2023, a year that will feature some under-the-radar, yet important races.
Here’s a look at what we’re looking forward to on the election calendar for next year:
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana is term-limited and cannot run for re-election, providing Republicans with an excellent offensive opportunity. Despite the incumbent governor’s electoral success, this is a state that the Republican presidential nominee hasn’t lost since 1996, and one where Republican Sen. John Kennedy won an outright jungle primary last month with nearly 62% of the vote in a crowded field of more than a dozen candidates.
Former Republican congressman and current Attorney General Jeff Landry announced his candidature earlier this fall, but he could face a slew of GOP opponents eager to fill the vacancy. While Sen. Bill Cassidy has announced his intention not to run, other prominent Republicans such as Sen. John Kennedy, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, state Treasurer John Schroder, and others may do so.
It’s unclear who among the Democrats will enter the uphill battle, but whoever does will be fighting to keep the seat in their party’s hands.
Remember that in Louisiana, every candidate, regardless of party, is on the same ballot. If no one receives a majority of votes, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff.
Kentucky governor The Bluegrass state presents Democrats with another red-state challenge, though, unlike Louisiana, their incumbent is eligible to run for re-election.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear filed for re-election in early December, and Democrats hope he will be able to win another term by leveraging his record and deep family ties in the state.
Beshear, like Edwards in Louisiana, won his first term in part by running against an unpopular Republican candidate. As the Republican field grows, they hope to avoid a repeat of 2019.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron, former US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, and state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles are among the candidates.
Gov. of Mississippi
Because the state has shifted significantly toward Republicans in the last two decades, this race is not expected to be particularly competitive in the general election.
However, the fireworks may come in the Republican primary, where incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves may face opposition if he runs for re-election.
State House Speaker Philip Gunn is not running for re-election, which opens the door for a possible gubernatorial run (he did not rule it out in September). If he or another prominent Republican runs against Reeves, the race may become heated.
Supreme Court of Wisconsin
The first major race on the 2023 calendar may fly under the radar, but political junkies have long regarded Wisconsin Supreme Court races as key (and expensive) bellwethers in the state’s deeply divided political landscape.
The seat is open this year due to the retirement of Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, who wrote the majority opinion in the 2020 decision that ruled against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ Department of Health Services’ early Covid-19 public health emergency order.
According to Wisconsin Public Radio, the retirement shifts the balance of power on the court. This is likely to attract significant outside investment, with significant implications for the state’s direction in a state that not only re-elected Evers but also Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.
Nebraska Senate Special Republican Sen. Ben Sasse’s decision to resign early next year and become president of the University of Florida means there will be a new Senate opening soon.
The race to fill the final two years of Sasse’s term is a long way off, and the contours of that race will be determined in part by incoming Gov. Jim Pillen, who will appoint a successor to serve until the 2024 special election.
Outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts, who backed Pillen in his competitive primary, is seeking the appointment and, if chosen, would be the likely frontrunner in the special election.
CORRECTION (12:25 p.m., December 26, 2022): The name of Kentucky’s governor was misspelt in an earlier version of this story. Andy Beshear, not Steve Beshear, is his name.