What to track in the 2021 primaries and special elections? A week-by-week guide

Governors and lawmakers, judges and mayors, and powerful county officials like prosecutors and sheriff are on the 2021 ballot. Here’s what I’m watching as the elections unfold, with particular attention to races where I can identify some ideological contrasts.

By Daniel Nichanian: As in past years, this is my personal effort to chronicle the stakes of elections up and down the ballot. You can follow me on Twitter @Taniel for more! And use the navigation functions above to revisit past cycles, such as 2020.

May 4: It’s Ohio’s turn

Cincinnati mayorFirst round of the mayoral election, with 6 candidates taking various positions on urgent policing and housing matters. Preview.Pureval and Mann
Cincinnati: Issue 3A ballot initiative, supported by affordable housing activists & opposed by the mayor, for $50 million investment in affordable housing fund.NO

May 8: Virginia, part 1

Virginia Gov. (R)The GOP chooses its nominee for govenor in a convention. Candidates competing on who is more supportive of Trump.

April 24 & May 1: congressional specials

Louisiana’s 2nd DistrictSpecial election to replace Cedric Richmond. Runoff is a face-off between 2 Dems: Richmond-endorsed Troy Carter vs. Karen Carter Peterson, backed by some prominent progressives. Preview.Carter
TX’s 6th CDFirst round of a special election: top 2 candidates move to a runoff. Will one party be shut out? Will Trump-endorsed candidate move on? Preview.Wright vs. Ellzey: all-R

May 1: Texas local elections

AustinReferendum could recriminalize homelessness.YES
Fort WorthMayoral race to replace the outgoing GOP mayor. Only first round.Parker (R) vs Peoples (D)
LubbockReferendum on an ordinance banning abortion in city limits. ContextYES
San AntonioMayoral election; policing activists say no candidate is pushing enough change.Nirenberg
San AntonioReferendum would weaken police union. Preview.NO

April 6: There’s a statewide election in Wisconsin, and mayoral elections take center-stage


WisconsinThe state will elect its superintendent of education, in runoff between progressive Jill Underly (backed by labor unions) and Deborah Kerr (backed by Scott Walker & charter school advocates). Context. Also here on DeVos’s involvement.Underly
WITwo Court of Appeals elections, in red-leaning distrits: Conservatives boost Shelley Grogan & Gregory Gilll to strengthen power in state courts.Grill & Grogan
St LouisWhether to renew the earnings tax for 5 years. Context.YES
CA: AD79Open Dem seat. Assemblymember Weber’s appointment as SoS opened up this Dem seat to a crowded special; will go to a runoff if no one gets 50%.Dem
MO: HD45Open Dem-seat. Dems favored to hold this Boone Co.-area seat in a special.DEM
OK: SD22Open GOP seat. A special election will fill the seat of GOP Stephanie Bice, who was elected to the House in 2020.GOP
WI: SD13, AD89Open GOP seats. The GOP is defending two red seats, one in each chamber.GOP
See DKE for partisan lean of seats.

Mayors and city councils

Anchorage, AKMayor: An anti-homeless movement is trying to take over the city. Preview.Bronson, Dunbar (likely)
Jackson, MSMayor: Chokwe Lumumba seeks a new term in Dem primary. His progressive promises had drawn national attention. Context.Lumumba
Omaha, NEMayor: One of the bigger cities with a GOP mayor. The first round will determine who moves to the runoff. Preview of the stakes for policing and criminal justice.RUNOFF: Stothert vs. Neary
St. Louis, MOMayor: The two most progressive candidates in the first round moved to the runoff, but contrasts remain between T. Jones (who’s generally staked more progressive stances) and C. Spencer. On policing, issues like cash bail & sex work on the table.Jones
St. LouisCity council: Progressives are trying to take over the local board by flipping key council seats. Preview.Progs. gain at least 3
Also keep an eye on
School board elections in Missouri, with debates centered on equity
A vast slew of municipal elections in suburban Cook County (around Chicago), profiled here
6 city coucil elections in Colorado Springs: See this series on each