Tuesday was a good night for progressives. Nearly across the board, Democrats made gains and progressive ballot measures were approved by voters (the defeat of an Ohio initiative to cap prescription drug costs is a notable exception). These are some of the big stories:
- Democrat Ralph Northam was elected governor of Virginia by a 9-point margin, defeating Ed Gillespie, who utilized racist campaign tactics.
- Phil Murphy was elected governor of New Jersey, besting Chris Christie’s GOP lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno.
- With 5 seats left to be called (according to the NY Times), Democrats have a narrow majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, 48-47. Dems have so far picked up 14 seats compared with the last election.
- Among the Democrats to win in Virgina is Danica Roem, a transgender woman who defeated Republican Bob Marshall, the sponsor of that state’s notorious, transphobic bathroom bill. She will become the first openly transgender state representative in the US.
- Another newly elected Virginia Democrat is Lee Carter, who ran as a socialist backed by the Democratic Socialists of America. He defeated Jackson Miller, the House Republican whip. Carter is one of a wave of Democratic Socialists of America members and DSA-endorsed candidates to win Tuesday. For more, read here and here.
- Larry Krasner, who has vowed to end mass incarceration, was elected District Attorney of Philadelphia with 75% of the vote (98% of precincts reporting).
- Andrea Jenkins was elected to the Minneapolis City Council with 73% of the vote. She becomes the first openly transgender Black woman to win office
- New York voters rejected a ballot measure to hold a constitutional convention, which was opposed by labor and most progressive organizations due to the expected influence of corporations on the convention. With 99% of precincts reporting, the measure failed 83-17%. Every county voted “No.”
- In Maine, a referendum to expand Medicare through the Affordable Care Act passed 59-41% (99% of precincts reporting).
Off-year elections are strange things. The media doesn’t pay much attention to them ahead of time, but as the results roll in you realize how much is at stake. It’s impossible to separate Tuesday’s results from the backlash against Donald Trump. Although the seats in play this year favored Democrats, the electorate’s shift to the left is still a rejection of the White House’s hateful policies. Aside from a few special elections, this was the first opportunity for voters to express an opinion on the president’s job performance. It wasn’t a favorable verdict. Now activists can return to organizing and lay the groundwork for future progress.