Between congressional midterms, gubernatorial contests and local ballot initiatives, the 2014 election season is likely to be chock full of drama, excitement, and intrigue. Here are five contests which could be extremely hot and crazy and, therefore, entertaining to even the novice political junkie.
California's 33rd District
This district became an election free for all when longtime Democratic firebrand Henry Waxman announced his retirement. Almost 20 individuals have openly declared themselves candidates and, considering no one person has stepped forward to galvanize voters, it is entirely possible this could come down to a messy, no-holds-barred slugfest between not Republicans and Democrats, but between Democrats, Greens and uber-libs who are bound and determined to take the torch Waxman carried and push it further down the leftist road.
Florida Governor's Race
Governor Rick Scott has repackaged himself as a more centrist executive, and at a critical time. Despite bouncing back from an absymal, sub-30 pct approval rating to pull to within six points of former Governor-turned-Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, Scott's own tarnished image of skirting Sunshine Laws, openly defying Supreme Court decisions and turning away federal funding which could have created new jobs are all issues Crist can make political hay with. Add to the fact that Florida's highly unpredictable electorate could turn on a dime and both parties will be pumping hundreds of millions into ad campaigns, this race should be running red hot seconds after the primaries are over and the nominees are announced.
Georgia's Governors Race
Incumbent Governor Nathan Deal was once a darling of the Republican Party, but two botched responses to winter storms later, and Deal is simply trying to survive a primary season. His own party opponents are publicly calling him out for refusing to engage them in debates. Making the waters even murkier is the rise of the first Democratic challenger since Zell Miller to a have a legitimate shot of winning the job: Jason Carter. In case you are wondering, he is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter who was - drum roll please - former Governor of Georgia. As the saying goes, if Atlanta comes out in big numbers to vote, the governor will be a Democrat. This doesn't look good for Deal, but Carter's campaign has been lackluster. Wait until after the primary for this race to shift into full mudslinging nastiness. Carter will pick at Deal's lack of leadership and ethics complaints, and Deal will nail Carter for, well, being a Carter.
Illinois Governor's Race
Pat Quinn is, easily, one of the most hated governors in America, and that's despite the fact he has told Chicago Mayor and former Obama Administration strongman Rahm Emmanuel where to go on numerous occasions. The Land of Lincoln is suffering a budget crisis of epic proportions, Chicago's murder rate is skyrocketing, and the state's economy is in a virtual tailspin. Businessman Bruce Rauner, who won the GOP primary, looks to do for Illinois what Rick Scott did for Florida. In Rauner's case, he may have a much easier road to Springfield than Scott had to Tallahassee, thanks in large part to Quinn's own baggage. Democrats are desperate to hold the President's home state, and will pull out all the stops to win this. Republicans smell blood and are ready to do whatever it takes to reclaim the governor's mansion.
Newark Mayor's Race
Give former Mayor Corey Booker credit - he knew when to hit the eject button. The Garden State's largest city has a ridiculous crime and poverty rates, and is consistently looked at as a joke. Still, with Booker's rise in the Democratic ranks, holding the top stop in Newark appears to be viewed as a fast-track to higher office. The question on everyone's mind is the same - who wants this job, in this city?