Election Day: Bevin wins in Kentucky, Ohio rejects pot
(CNN)Matt Bevin, the controversial Kentuckian who attempted to dethrone Sen. Mitch McConnell last year, orchestrated a remarkable political comeback on Tuesday to win the state's governorship.
Bevin bested Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, in the contest.
Bevin, a Republican often at odds with more mainstream elements of his party, managed to solidly beat Conway in a race that Bevin was not expected to win by any significant margin.
In Mississippi, incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Bryant easily won his re-election against Democrat Robert Gray, a truck driver. The contest was pushed to the background, however, by a clash over a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to sue the state to boost funding for public schools.
In Virginia, Democrats are seeking to capture the state Senate, which Republicans now hold narrowly. And there are notable elections for mayor in Philadelphia, Houston and Salt Lake City.
Meanwhile, heated debate surrounding an effort to defeat a LGBT rights law in Texas could become hot fodder for the presidential candidates, a billionaire is backing a major effort to protect Big Game, and voters in Seattle are weighing a unique answer to the problem of money in politics.
Here are some of the issues being decided Tuesday and that are sure to be dissected in the aftermath as pols, pundits and the press look for clues to what the results all mean in the 2016 contest for the White House:
Ohio votes against legal pot
In Ohio, which was weighing a series of ballot initiatives that could have paved the way to the legalization of recreational marijuana, voters turned down the measure, CNN projects. Issue 3 would have effectively given a few businessmen a monopoly on cultivating the drug, which would have been sold at a limited number of places for sale in the state.
Nick Lachey, the onetime lead singer of 98 Degrees, and other investors are behind ResponsibleOhio, the group that was pushing an initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the Buckeye State.
"The people of Ohio have understandably rejected a deeply flawed, monopolistic approach to marijuana reform that failed to garner broad support from advocates or industry leaders," said one of those advocacy groups, The National Cannabis Industry Association. "This debate has shown that there is a strong base of support for legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana."
The amendment would have permitted anyone 21 and older to hold up to an ounce of pot for personal use. With a $50 license, they could have housed eight ounces of harvested pot and four plants.
Also on the pot front, Colorado voters are deciding what they want to do with the millions in revenue raised from its sale -- return the funds to taxpayers or use it to pay for school construction and other things.
Houston: LGBT rights on the line down south
"No Men In Women's Bathrooms" — that's the rallying cry from opponents of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), a law passed by the city last year to protect lesbian, gay and transgender people.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Clinton campaign joined the fray, responding to a baiting tweet from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, that urged Houston to "vote Texas values, not @HillaryClinton values."
Abbott, the Clinton campaign shot back, is "right about one thing: equality is one of Hillary's values."
In recent months, the campaign to undo HERO has become a focal point for the right, which has spent millions and recruited an assortment of local celebrities to their cause, including former Houston Astros star outfielder Lance Berkman.
"My wife and I have four daughters," Berkman says in an ad paid for by the Campaign for Houston PAC, which is seeking to repeal HERO. "Proposition One would allow troubled men to enter women's public bathrooms, showers and locker rooms."
Supporters of the ordinance have bristled at the claim, calling it fear-mongering against transgender men and women.
Seattle: Trying to make elections more "honest"
How would you like a coupon to spend on your favorite candidate?
That's what's on the table in Seattle with the "Honest Elections" referendum to diminish the influence of money in politics.
Backers of "Initiative 122" are seeking to radically remake how local campaigns are financed. Under the measure, voters would each be given $100 in "democracy vouchers" — four each, at $25 per — to be shelled out to the candidates of their choice.
It would also lower donation caps, ban contributions from corporations with significant city business interests, increase transparency and increase fines for electoral wrongdoing. Officials who leave office would also be required spend three years on the sidelines before becoming eligible to register as lobbyists.
Washington: A push to save endangered animals
This one's for Cecil the Lion, the big Zimbabwean cat killed in July by a dentist on safari from Minnesota.
This statewide ballot measure would criminalize "selling, purchasing, trading, or distributing certain animal species threatened with extinction," raising the bar beyond where laws already on the books in New York, New Jersey and California have previously gone to protect Big Game.
The measure is the brainchild of billionaire Paul Allen, a Microsoft co-founder, who has sunk millions of dollars of his own money into the campaign.
Opponents, including the "Legal Ivory Rights Coalition," say the proposal goes too far. "It's Not What They Say It Is!" blares the group's website, which warns that grandmas looking to pass along their "antique" ivory will be made into criminals.
Not complaining: Elephants and rhinoceroses -- often hunted for the ivory in their tusks and horns -- along with lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, marine turtles, and sharks that are among the threatened species that supporters say would be helped by the referendum.
Texas: The NRA is on the hunt
On the other hand, Texans with a taste for "hunting, fishing and harvesting" could get a constitutional boost on Tuesday, as the state goes to the polls to weigh in on its Proposition 6.
The amendment would make it more difficult for activist groups to push through new legislation or regulations aimed at expanding protections for animals or delicate ecosystems. The NRA is leading the way in lobbying for its passage with groups like the "Dallas Safari Club" also boosting the cause.
If the measure passes, Texas would become the 19th state to guarantee its residents a constitutional right to hunt and kill almost all manner of wildlife and the freedom catch and "bag" as many fish as they can haul back home.
Will Airbnb be kicked out of its hometown?
The vanguard of the so-called "sharing economy" is locking horns with the left again, as affordable housing activists in increasingly unaffordable San Francisco are angling to deal a blow to Airbnb.
This measure would impose a citywide ban on what's known as "short-term rentals." If approved, it would effectively cripple Airbnb, the profitable hub for homeowners and renters who profit from leasing out rooms or houses to travelers for, in most cases, below market rates.
The problem: Rent and home sale prices in San Francisco are skyrocketing, along with evictions, and critics say the fault lies, at least in part, with wealthy buyers who purchase housing for the express purpose of leasing it out for a quick profit.