What to Track in November 2021?

Daniel Nichanian’s Election Night Cheat Sheet

Here are more than 140 things to watch in the Nov. 2021 elections: Lawmakers, governors, judges, and powerful county and municipal officials like mayors, sheriffs, and prosecutors are on the ballot, in addition to high stakes referendums.

This cheat sheet contains races noteworthy for political or ideological stakes. and links to explore further. 27 states are represented. Hat-tip to Ballotpedia and Daily Kos Elections for their coverage, and all Twitter users who helped enrich this page.

Statewide offices

Executive Offices

New Jersey
Note: Both are Dem-held

Other exec. offices

Attorney General
Lieutenant Gov.
Note: Both are Dem-held

State Supreme Court

Note: This is for a GOP seat. Context here.

Other statewide judges (all in Pennsylvania)

Commonwealth Ct
Seat 1
Commonwealth Ct
Seat 2
Superior Ct
Seat 1
Note: Democrats would have a majority on the court if Timika Lane (a former public defender endorsed by the WFP in the primary) wins.

A bonus: there are 3 federal elections!

OH-11 (general)
OH-15 (general)
Dem primary
FL-20 Dem primary will likely decide member of Congress. See preview.


Will Democrats keep their trifecta?

New JerseyYes

Chamber control

NJ: Ass.52-28 D46-34 D
NJ: Sen.25-15 D24-16 D
VA: HoD55-45 D52-48 R
VA: Sen.21-19 Dnot up

Notable legislative districts: NJ

GOP-held districts carried by Biden: 2 (open), 16 (open), 21 (open), 25, 39
Dem-held districts carried by Trump: 3 (Senate president Sweeney)
GOP-held seats carried by Biden: 8, 21, 25, 39 (all 8 seats)
Dem-held seats carried by Trump: 3 (all 2 seats)

Notable leg. districts: Virginia HoD

No Dem-held seats won by Trump
Other Dem seats:
HD10, HD12, HD21, HD28, HD31, HD40, HD68, HD72, HD73, HD75, HD83, HD85, HD91.
+5 to +7 GOP
GOP-held, won by Biden (per Blue Virginia):
HH27, 62, 66, 81, 84, 100.
all GOP

Special elections for legislature

GOP-held in red districts

KY: SD22, HD51 & 89

MI: SD8 & 28
Dem-held in blue districts

GA: HD165

MS: HD29, SD32 & 32

NY: SD30, HD86

PA: HD164

Potentially tight districts
LA: SD27
MA: 4th Essex
ME, HD86
PA, HD113
TX HD118
See Daily Kos Elections’s math of lean.


Voting rights & election procedure

New York | Same-day voter registrationNo
New York | No-excuse absenteeNo
New York | Change redistricting rulesNo
FL: St Petersburg | Amendment on redistrictingNo

Minimum wage

AZ: Tucson | Raising to $15. Preview. Yes


CO: Boulder | Looser housing occupancy limits (preview)No
ME: Portland | Group seek lower capacity in future homeless shelters. Preview.No
MN: St Paul | Rent control (preview, preview, preview)Yes
MN, Minneapolis | Enable council to enact rent control in future (preview)Yes

Policing and CJ

MI: Detroit | Decriminalize mushrooms & entheogenic plantsYes
MN: Minneapolis | End MPD, set up Dept of Public Safety [Q2]NO
OH: Cleveland | Meant to increase oversight, give mayor & new board more control (#24)YES
Many towns voting on decrim. marijuanaMix
TX: Austin | Grow police force / funding (#A)NO

Taxes and budgeting

Colorado: Prop (#120) could cut some property taxes.NO
Colorado: Affects marijuana tax & education funding (#119)NO
Louisiana (Nov. 13): Centralizes tax levy, fought by NoLa mayor (#1) No
Louisiana (Nov. 13): Lowers max. income tax rate, changes tax system (#2)Yes
MA: Boston | Sets up a participatory budgeting process (#1)Yes

Governance structure

MA: Boston | An elected school board? PreviewYes
MI, Ann Arbor | On ranked choice, but would depend on leg.Yes
MN, Minneapolis | A “strong mayor” system? Preview. Yes
NJ: Montclair | An elected school board? Preview.Yes
Texas: Require more experience from judges, expand disciplinary commission (#4/5)

Energy & transportation

Maine | Very expensive campaign over whether to ban a power line corridor in upper Kennebec (#1)Yes
Maine | $100 million bond measure for transportation (#2)Yes
New York | “Environmental Rights Amendment” in state constitution. (Context)
IA, Polk Co. | A $65 million bond on water & land conservation.YES
OH, Columbus | Allocate money for genergy conservation; opponents warn where it’d deflect money is unclear. Preview.NO


Texas | Bar restrictions on religious services (#3)YES
NM, Albuquerque | $50 million stadium bondNO

Local and County offices


CT: Hamden, Bristol, NH

D/R race; Dem looks for “holistic approach” on crime. Note also: GOP challengers to Dem mayors in New Haven, West Haven, Bristol.
Hamden & New Haven D; Bristol R
CT: New Britain, Danbury

GOP mayors face Dem challengers (WFP-backed) in both NB and Danbury.
CT: Stamford

Bobby Valentine’s bid has made ths one of the most nationally recognized races.
FL: Miami

Francis Suarez is a somewhat rare GOP mayor of a top-50 city; seeks re-election. [Note: Many usual mayor powers are in Miami-Dade.]
FL: St Petersburg

Dems try to keep the mayor’s office with candidate K. Welch.
GA: Atlanta

14-person election very likely to head to a runoff. (Preview, preview)
KS: Overland Park

Open race with plenty of contrasts, with M. Czinege running further to the right of C. Skoog. Also mayoral races in Topeka, KC.
MA: Boston

Progressive Michelle Wu (profile) vs Annissa Essaibi George, who has taken more moderate positions on policing, etc..
MI: Dearborn

Abdullah Hammoud, now a Dem. lawmaker, could be the first Arab-American mayor of the city with the largest US share of Arab population.
MN: Minneapolis

Jacob Frey faces many challengers, some of which have allied in context of ranked choice, in a race defined by policing, aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, & ballot Qs on public safety.
MN: St. Paul

Mayor Melvin Carter, considered progressive, seeks a second term.
NC: Triangle

Durham will have a new mayor (it’s a runoff), and Chapel Hill’s faces re-elect. But in weak mayoral system, it’s the council that matters too. 
O’Neal (D) & Hemminger (CH)
NH: Manchester

Mayor Joyce Craig (D) faces Victoria Sullivan (R), with issues from crime to school fundings occasioning big fautlines.
NH: Laconia

Mayor Andrew Hosmer (D) vs GOP lawmaker Dawn Johnson, who among other things talks of CRT “indoctrination.”
NM: Albuquerque

Mayor Tim Keller faces a challenge from Sheriff Manny Gonzales, who has been decried by progressive activists for his actions on immigration or policing.
NM: Santa Fe

One issue in this 3-way race: Mayor Webber is criticized by challengers for making the police “stand down” during a 2020 protest that led to the toppling of a monumemt that described Native Americans as “savages.”

Eric Adams (D) is heavily favored against Curtis Sliwa (R). Dems watching the margin.
NY: Buffalo

The one you all know about: Socialist India Walton defeated inc. Byron Brown in the Dem. primary. Brown is now mounting a write-in bid.
NY: Binghamton

Open election for a GOP-held mayorship. (GOP nominee staked a police-boosting position, but Dem responds by touting support for increased funding.)
PA: Pittsburgh

Ed Gainey (D) beat incumbent in primary, by-and-large from progressive side, & is favored in general election. See also.
OH: Cincinnati

Aftab Pureval faces former mayor David Mann. Both Dems.
OH: Cleveland

Two Dems in an open race: Justin Bibb (see more here; prog. nods like Sherrod Brown & Our Revolution) vs Kevin Kelley.
SC: Columbia

Here Rep. Clyburn & the WFP are both supporting T. Devine, in what is an open 4-way race.
WA: Seattle

Lorena González is running further to the left, is more critical of police, and calls for higher business taxes; Bruce Harrell is closer to the business community and wants to hire more police. He’s also running in defense of single-family zoning.
Utah: statewide

More of a note, but this is the first Election Day Utah uses ranked-choice voting widespread. In 20+ cities.


NY: Manhattan

Alvin Bragg won a highly contested primary in June on a reform message, now should coast to a general election win.
NY: Suffolk

Hotly contested between parties, though does not feature a high rush to reform as both candidates likelier to be competing over who is tougher.
NY: Nassau

Similar as in Suffolk. One key contrast: Dem Kaminsky in Nassau voted for 2019 bail reform as a senator; now attacked over it by GOPer Donnelly
PA: Buck

A GOP DA is facing a Democratic challenger in a rare competitive general election in the state.
PA: Philly

Progressive Larry Krasner triumphed in the Democratic primary and now faces Republican Chuck Peruto, who’s been critical of his reform.
VA: Chesapeake

An open seat in this tightly divided city, & Shelly Wood (a Dem who’s worked as a public defender) faces GOP Matt Hamel.
VA: Portsmouth and Norfolk

Uncompetitive in general but noteworthy: Stephanie Morales (D) has been a prominent progressive; Ramin Fatehi (D) won a contested primary on reform message in June.
Dem (x2)
WA: Seattle

A candidate running on abolitionist proposals vs a Republican who argues for tougher-on-crime policies. Context. Incumbent lost primary.


NY: Erie

This here is why sheriff elections matter: Erie Co.’s jail has seen a string of deaths, and the (GOP) sheriff who has overseen the jail in that period is retiring. Tight election with policy contrasts.
LA: New Orleans

Sheriff Gusman has managed a jail decried by monitors, and yet he is seeking re-election. He faces 3 challengers, with reform on the table, with a possible runoff in December. Preview.
NJ: Bergen

GOP challenger to Dem sheriff contrasted “lily-white” area of county to “jungles” of other towns.
PA: Erie County

GOPer targeted by Everytown over misconduct allegations. Dem faced stories over comments on immigration. Preview.

Local judges

MT: Missoula

Slate of progressives ran on less punitive outcomes.
Progs win
PA: Allegheny Co.

5 of 8 candidates on progressive slate won judicial primaries in May after a concerted effort by activists to change the criminal legal system.
All 5 won again
PA: Philly

Candidates who ran on prog. promises with endorsements from the WFP won primaries, & could now shift court system.

County executives

PA: Erie

Open race (Dem-held), amid questions on GOP nominee and vaccinations. Dem (Titus) could be first trans county exec in country.
PA: Northampton

GOP challenger Lynch going hard on mandates & ed in challenge to Dem incumbent McClure. Preview.
NY: Nassau

Dem incumbent faces GOP challenger. Preview.
NY: Rensselaer

GOP incumbent faces a Dem challenger.
NY: Staten Island

Former US Rep. Vito Fossella is attempting a political comeback, after squeaking by GOP primary with Trump’s nod. Context from DKE.
WA: King [Seattle]
(Dem) incumbent Dow Constantine faes a challenge from the left by (Dem) Sen. Joe Nguyen. Preview

School boards

CO: Douglas Co

A clash beween the conservative “Kids First” slate (that talks of masks and “indoctrination”) and the “Community Matters” slate. More here.
Right sweeps
CO: Mesa Co

Right-wing groups are focusing on school board elections here; reporting on their slate.
Right sweeps
Other CO elections

CPR News and the Sun report on the statewide mobilization around many school boards.
Union-side wins in Denver, JeffCo
CT: Guilford

Slate of 5 Republicans run for school board vs discussions of racism.
IA: Polk

Like elsewhere, Right is making a push for school board in Polk.
Right wins
MN: Wayzata

A 3-person conservative slate ran vs ‘mandates’ and ‘ideologies like CRT’. Report.
Right loses
NM: Rio Rancho

Another school board where the right (and P. Brenner) is focused on its CRT-indoctrination playbook, as this article reports.
Dem (article)
PA: Montgomery Co.

“North Penn” school board: Well-funded GOP slate (ft a candidate in DC on 1/6) vs the now all-Dem board.
Dems; in fact Dems strong thru Montgo
PA: York County

“Central York” school board objected to ed. material that were suppoedly anti-white; students fought back. Now there’s a heated and $ election around the school board.
PA: Bucks County

“Council Rock” school board: Tensions around masks and COVID are boiling over in these elections.
GOP has wins
PA: Other school boards

A lot of heated elections across Pennsylvania, fueled in part by conservative money over COVID rules as Inquirer reports.
WA: Tahoma

One of many school board elections where a conservative is looking to win on warnings about CRT: See.
Right loses
WI: Mequon-Thiensville

Yet another hotspot for the right’s efforts to tip boards over race (and hire of “diversity consultants”). This is through a recall of 4.
Recalls fail

Other officials: council, commission, clerks

CO: Aurora

Priority of CO conservatives is to take over Aurora’s council (city already led by former GOP congressmember Mike Coffman)
GA: Atlanta

Many battles for city council seat, incl. more openings for progressives than they have in the mayor’s race.
IA: Des Moines

Indira Sheumaker running on a ‘Defund’ platform against inc. council member.
MA: Somerville

Left is putting a lot of attention for city council elections here, with a slate of candidates endorsed by DSA and gaining some national attention.
MA: Boston

District 6: Mary Tamer vs. progressive community organizer Kendra Hicks has drawn notice for contrasts over policing. Many other council seats; Ayanna Pressley has unveilied many endorsements.
MA: Lowell

These are the firt elections since it addresed a civil rights lawsuit against its at-large system.
ME: Portland

City gov. is up in the air, and an at-large council will go a long way to shaping it: see preview.
Decided by lot!
MI: Detroit

Tlaib staffer Denzel McCampbell is a voting rights activist, challenging incumbent Janice Winfrey.
MN: Minneapolis

City council here played a prominent national role in aftermath of George Floyd’s murder; now some council members are retiring, and many elections fought over policing & within Dem factions.
Moderate gains
MT: Missoula

A progressive push for local power.
Lots of prog wins
NJ: Bergen

Bridget Kelly (R), a Christie aide involved in the Bridgegate scandal, is attempting a comeback.
NY: Monroe

Democrats vie to flip the county legislature for the first time since 1980s. Results.
NY: Nassau

Battle to control the “county legislature” in this mega county: now Republican.
NY: Suffolk

Battle to control the “county legislature” in this mega county: now Dem.
NY: Queens

Rare city council seat held by the GOP in Queens could flip to Dems, as Felicia Singh (D) vs. Joann Ariola (head of the Queens County GOP and endorsed by NYPD unions). Preview.
NY: Broome

Clerk: GOP inc. Mihalko faces Dem challenger Weiss (endorsed by WFP/Schumer). One point of contrast: Mihalko signed on to lawsuit to block undocumented immigrants from getting licenses, while Weiss supports new law.
PA: Chester

Historically-red county has swung blue big under Trump, and Dem now control 9 county row offices. Four are up this year, can Dems sweep again?
PA: Delaware

Dems look to defend council seats that paved way to their gains in suburban PA.
WA: King County

King County District 3: Inc. Kathy Lambert (former GOP candidate) vs Sarah Perry (D) with many issues on the table, see preview
WA: Seattle

2 at-large seats on a city council split between a left & moderate factions.
WA: Seattle (Dec)

Seattle’s prominent socialist council member Kshama Sawant faces a recall effort, but it’ll be in December.
In Dec.

Thank you for reading!