Southern states are set to have dozens of local prosecutor elections in November, while state government moves to disempower or remove prosecutors cast a shadow over the elections, Bolts reports. Those moves are fueled in part by Republican anger over some prosecutors’ policies of not enforcing low-level charges and new abortion bans. Mississippi this year removed predominantly white sections of Hinds County, the majority-Black county that’s home to Jackson, from the control of its Black district attorney. Georgia reacted similarly to recent wins by DAs of color. Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Orlando’s elected Democratic prosecutor, one year after he replaced Tampa’s Democratic prosecutor with a member of the Federalist Society.
There will be 123 local prosecutor races across Kentucky, Mississippi, and Virginia, the only three Southern states voting on this office in 2023. The lion’s share is in Virginia. In three populous Virginia counties, Republican candidates are defying three Democratic prosecutors who joined calls to reform Virginia’s criminal laws in 2021 and 2022. These challengers are mirroring candidates who already ran—and lost—against other reform prosecutors in the June Democratic primaries. Mississippi also features challenges to three Democratic prosecutors. Kentucky has fewer elections to track this year: While there’s a strikingly large number of special elections, nearly all feature an unopposed incumbent. Across the 123 elections in these three Southern states, only 24 will feature more than one candidate on November’s ballot.