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Abortion rights in focus in Ohio and Virginia elections

Ohio and Virginia voters decide on abortion rights, impacting 2024 elections. Kentucky and Mississippi also elect governors. High stakes for both parties.

Abortion rights will be a key issue in Ohio and Virginia on Tuesday, as voters decide whether to guarantee abortion rights in Ohio and potentially give Republicans the power to impose new limits on the procedure in Virginia. These elections will provide insight into the political landscape ahead of the 2024 campaign for both the White House and Congress.

For Democrats, the outcome of these races will determine the political potency of abortion as an issue, following the 2022 midterm elections where voter anger over the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to eliminate a nationwide right helped the party avoid a Republican landslide. Meanwhile, Republicans are looking to identify a winning message on the subject after struggling to do so last year.

In addition to the abortion-related measures, Kentucky and Mississippi will also hold elections for governors, and voters across the country will select mayors and other local officials.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat leading a state that voted for Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, is defying his state's conservative lean in his re-election campaign. His Republican challenger, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, would be Kentucky's first Black governor. In Mississippi, Republican Governor Tate Reeves is seeking re-election, facing a challenge from Democratic candidate Brandon Presley.

The focus on abortion in Ohio and Virginia comes after abortion rights advocacy groups scored victories with similar referendums in conservative states last year. The Ohio amendment would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, while in Virginia, Democrats are warning that a Republican victory could lead to a ban on the procedure. Republicans, on the other hand, have focused on public safety and crime in their campaigns.

These elections will have implications beyond the local level, with national implications for both parties. President Joe Biden has issued endorsements for Democratic candidates in Virginia, while Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin's rising national profile has led to speculation about a potential late entry to the 2024 presidential race. These races will provide valuable insights for both parties as they prepare for the upcoming presidential campaign.

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