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Democrats hope for mid-term gains
in US cities, states and in Congress

By Andrew Stevens,  Deputy Editor

3 September 2006: This year’s scheduled mayoral contests in many American cities fall on 7 November, the same day as the 36 gubernatorial contests, where the Republicans are hoping to retain their 22 states, in spite of some projected gains for the Democrats.

Election day is probably more significant for the mid-term Congressional elections being used by many to gauge the state of play between the two parties, with attention likely to focus on the possibility of the Democrats gaining a majority in the House of Representatives and the re-election bid of Senator Joe Lieberman in Connecticut following his recent primary loss to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont there.

Of the polls being held on 7 November, the largest cities holding mayoral elections are San Jose, California, Louisville Metro, Kentucky, Providence, Rhode Island, Richmond, Virginia and the capital, Washington, DC. These cities are all currently held by the Democrats, arguably the party of urban America. San Jose’s first Hispanic mayor, Ron Gonzales, is retiring after suffering a stroke and more recently being charged in office on several felony counts of graft. City council member Chuck Reed and current vice mayor Cindy Chavez have gone forward as the two candidates vying to take control of America’s lowest crime city this November.

Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson is seeking re-election as first mayor of the merged Louisville-Jefferson County government following the decision to merge the two councils. Abramson, a prominent Jewish politician and former president of the US Conference of Mayors, has been mockingly dubbed ‘Mayor for Life’ having already served three terms as mayor and avoided term limits by dint of the creation of a new council. He is predicted to face a strong campaign by Republican opponent council member Kelly Downard though polls suggest Abramson remains popular with voters in the city. David Cicilline, mayor of Providence, RI, is America’s first openly gay city leader in a state capital. A Jewish liberal acclaimed for his reforming approach in a city previously beset by municipal corruption and decline, Cicilline is strongly tipped for re-election in the mainly Catholic city.

Anthony A. Williams, Mayor of Washington, DC, is retiring in 2006 and looks likely to be replaced by either Linda Cropp or Adrian Fenty, the two council members who go through to September’s Democrat primary which will ultimately determine the outcome of the mayoral election. Known for his trademark bow-tie and technocratic demeanour, Williams took over from the administration of Marion Barry, whose inept governance saw the city placed under federal oversight. Barry famously won re-election in 1994 not long after serving jail time for drugs offences following a sting operation by the FBI while he was in office. Williams himself won re-election in bizarre circumstances when in 2002 he ran as a write-in candidate following an election misdemeanour committed by his re-election campaign.

Of the 36 gubernatorial races, attention is most likely to focus on California, where Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping to retain the governorship for the Republicans following his infamous recall election win against the Democrat Gray Davis in 2003. Democrat challenger and current State Treasurer Phil Angelides is running a spirited campaign against the ‘Governator’, though the Schwarzenegger campaign has attracted endorsements from non-Republican Hollywood figures. In Maryland, Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley is standing against Republican Bob Erlich and is projected to take the governorship for the Democrats. Former Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell is running for a second term as governor of Pennsylvania on behalf of the Democrats and predicted to win there. Texan Governor Rick Perry is also predicted to gain a second term for the Republicans, though novelist Kinky Friedman’s independent campaign is polling higher than usual for a non-partisan candidate in the state.

World Mayor 20/21

The best Mayors for Stronger | Fairer | Greener cities. Elect your candidate for the 20/21 World Mayor Prize and Honours. The Prize has been awarded since 2004