There are more than 275 mayoral races on the ballot around the country today, ranging from the Jersey Shore’s Point Pleasant Beach (population 4,828) to big cities like Houston and Philadelphia. I’ll be closely tracking the results in those two cities, but will also keep an eye throughout the night on local news for surprising outcomes in lower-profile races.
Former Philadelphia City Council member Cherelle Parker is highly favored to replace Mayor Jim Kenney, who is term-limited, after winning an expensive Democratic primary in May. Another former City Council member, David Oh, won the Republican nomination uncontested. A Republican victory would be a shocker here — we don’t have any public polling of the general election, but about three in four Philadelphia voters are registered Democrats, and the city hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1952. However, Oh has won over Democratic voters before, so it’s a race worth watching. Parker too is a moderate within her party, and made news when she beat out progressive primary opponents with a tough-on-crime platform including support for controversial stop-and-frisk policing tactics. Both candidates would make history with a win: Oh would be the first Asian American ever to serve as mayor of Philadelphia, and remarkably, Philadelphia has never elected a female mayor, so Parker is likely to be the first.
In Houston, the mayor’s race is more competitive, but tonight is likely just the first half of a two-part series. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two performers progress to a runoff election, which will be held on Dec. 9. And with 18 names on the ballot today, it’s going to be tough for any individual candidate to coalesce half of the vote. This race is technically a nonpartisan election, but the top two candidates are longtime Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire and longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Whitmire is by far the top spender in the field. The only public poll we’ve seen so far — conducted by the University of Houston Sept. 30-Oct. 6 — also found Whitmire leading the race with 34 percent of likely voters, followed by Lee at 31 percent. Although they’re both Democrats, Whitmire, who has framed his candidacy around working across the political spectrum, received more support from Republicans and independents in the University of Houston poll. Lee received more votes from Democrats, women and Black voters. In a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, Whitmire led 50 percent to 36 percent.
—Leah Askarinam, 538