Nov 6 2018 Election Victories We're Celebrating
Democratic and progressive activists all across the country worked our asses off in this election, and achieved some really important victories. Here’s an inventory of just some of the highlights:
We took back the House. Let’s say that again because it sounds so sweet: We took back the House! This restores Democratic power to check the Administration, investigate its participants’ crimes, and initiate legislation. Even legislation that cannot pass the (still-Republican-held, unfortunately) Senate can make important statements about where our Representatives stand.
The diversity represented by the House has also reached historic heights, with 31 women newly elected to the House, including the first two Muslim Congresswomen, the first Latina Congresswoman from Texas, the first Black Congresswoman from Massachusetts, and the first two Native American Congresswomen.
CA-48: Harley Rouda, the candidate that Indivisible OC 48 endorsed, ran to oust longtime Republican incumbent and suspected Russian stooge Dana Rohrabacher from the 48th district. This seat was considered safe a year ago—now it may turn blue! But the margin is slim and votes are still being counted.
CA-49: Hitherto represented by Darrell Issa, who decided not to seek re-election, the 49th district is a similar state to that of the 48th: As of Tuesday evening, Democratic candidate Mike Levin was in the lead, and as of Wednesday evening, the race has flipped back to Republican candidate Diane Harkey. We won’t have a solid answer on either of these races until the county publishes the final counts.
IL-14: “Rep. Randy Hultgren, a four-term GOP incumbent, in a reliably red district” has been unseated by registered nurse and former senior adviser to President Obama Lauren Underwood!
MI-13 and MN-05: Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar (respectively) won their elections to the House, becoming the first Muslim women in Congress.
PA-17: Conor Lamb, a candidate we wrote postcards for, held onto a seat that had been flipped to blue earlier this year!
TX-32: Pete Sessions, longtime Republican representative for this district, sought re-election again—and lost, to Democratic newcomer and civil rights attorney Colin Allred, the first Democrat ever to represent the district!
We didn’t take back the Senate, but that was always a long shot—Democrats had more seats to defend than Republicans did. But we did take some seats, and if we keep this momentum up into 2020, we can take the Senate then.
Two of these are still undecided—they’re very close and final results aren’t settled yet as of Wednesday evening.
Mitt Romney won Utah’s race to succeed retiring Senator Orrin Hatch. Ordinarily, we might not be happy about a Republican defeating his Democratic opponent, but Romney had run in the primary on a notably “not like Trump” note. We hope other Republicans will follow his example and lead the Party away from Trump.
It’s still too close to call, but there’s a chance of Democratic candidate Krysten Sinema becoming Arizona’s next Senator.
Mississippi’s Senate race will go to a runoff as neither Democratic challenger Mike Espy nor Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith cleared the 50% threshold.
They say “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”, but fighting Ted Cruz’s re-election to within a hair’s breadth of victory is an impressive achievement, and we congratulate the Beto O’Rourke campaign and everyone who worked on it. A near-victory is not a victory, but it proves that victory is attainable.
The Republican strategy that got us here was to win state governments so they could gerrymander Congressional districts, suppress the vote, and (if they win enough of them) potentially even amend the Constitution as the right wing sees fit.
Our strategy must include running that in reverse: Winning state governments and restoring and expanding the franchise, and enacting independent redistricting commissions like California’s in every state that doesn’t already have them, whether legislatively or at the ballot box, to undo and prevent gerrymandering.
Consequently, we celebrate every flip of a Governorship or state legislative house, every breakage of a Republican trifecta (Governor and both houses), and every election of a Democratic trifecta.
Briefly, people elected six Democratic trifectas (CO, IL, ME, NM, NV, NY), broke four Republican trifectas (KS, MI, NH, WI), elected three Democratic supermajorities (CT plus two in OR), broke three Republican supermajorities (MI, both in NC, and PA), and elected seven newly Democratic governors (IL, KS, ME, MI, NM, NV, WI).
CA: Gavin Newsom defeated Republican John Cox here in California, preserving Democratic control over the signing and vetoing of bills. We won’t have to worry as much about a Republican Governor vetoing the important work of our legislature, much less supporting Trump from the Governor’s Mansion.
CO: In Colorado, Democratic Rep. Jared Polis will become the first openly gay governor of a state that in 1992 passed a constitutional amendment legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ residents. The state Senate also flipped from Republican to Democratic, giving the state one of 13 Democratic trifectas.
CT: Democrats won the majority in the Connecticut Senate and increased their majority in the state House.
IA: Zach Wahls first achieved national prominence when he spoke before Iowa’s State Senate in defense of marriage equality, as that body considered a bill on the subject. This year, Wahls was elected to the Iowa State Senate himself.
KS: Kris Kobach (he of Trump’s “election integrity” voter suppression commission), hitherto Secretary of State of Kansas, lost the race for Governor to Democratic candidate Laura Kelly.
NH: In New Hampshire, Democrats won both chambers of the state legislature.
NV: Steve Sisolak won Nevada’s open Governor seat, beating Republican Adam Laxalt and flipping the seat to blue.
NY: New York regained Democratic control over the state Senate (another trifecta) and elected their next Attorney General, Letitia James, who campaigned on resisting Trump in court.
WI: Scott Walker is no longer the Governor of Wisconsin, defeated by Democratic school superintendent Tony Evers.
Ballot initiatives can be important checks against government overreach and bypasses of political gridlock. They can also be tools of oppression—witness California’s Prop 8 back in 2008, and its (fortunately defeated) successor in Massachusetts this year, Question 3—but it’s important to remember and use their power to expand people’s rights when politicians in office try to do the opposite.
Three red states, Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah, voted to expand Medicaid, overruling their Republican politicians who had blocked expansion, and potentially covering healthcare for half a million Americans. Maine’s and Kansas’s new Democratic governors are likely to follow suit.
Colorado, Michigan, and Missouri—and possibly Utah, but votes there are still being counted—voted to take redistricting out of the hands of state legislatures and give the responsibility to independent commissions. California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission has ended gerrymandering in our state, and is the model for most of the redistricting measures that passed on Tuesday.
Statewide Proposition 5 would have expanded the portability of Prop 13’s property tax break for longtime homeowners, further defunding already-starved local governments. We’re glad to see it defeated.
Proposition 6 was largely a get-out-the-vote effort by the California Republican Party—the Party was the top donor and several Congressional candidates’ campaigns were among its top 10. It would have repealed the gas tax increase that was passed by the state legislature, and also restrict the legislature from ever increasing it again without a proposition. Hence the appeal to tax-cut-loving Republicans, but the tax increase was already funding numerous vital transportation repair and improvement work, which would have had to stop if that funding had been repealed.
Arkansas’s Issue 5 will raise the minimum wage from $8.50 to $11 per hour over three years; January 2019 will effect the first increase, to $9.25.
Colorado passed Amendments Y and Z, which create independent redistricting commissions for Congressional districts and state legislative districts (respectively).
Amendment 4 passed. It will restore the franchise to 1.5 million Floridians who had been disenfranchised due to felony convictions.
Idaho Proposition 2 passed, expanding Medicaid in the state.
Question 2 amended the state’s constitution to allow voters to register through Election Day.
Massachusetts chose to preserve transgender residents’ rights by passing Question 3. Equal rights should never be in question, but we’re happy about the voters’ answer.
Michigan voters also approved a huge transformation to their elections in Question 3, which includes automatic voter registration, a no-excuse-needed absentee ballot option, and voter registration through Election Day.
Missouri’s Proposition B will raise the minimum wage from $7.85 to $12 per hour over four years; January 2019 will effect the first increase, to $8.60.
Utah may have passed Proposition 4, which creates an independent redistricting commission.
I-1639, the only gun-regulation measure on the ballot in the country, won by a wide margin, making the state’s gun restrictions among the strongest in the country.
I-940, a proposition increasing police accountability, also passed. It “requires police training to de-escalate volatile situations and avoid the use of deadly force. It also requires police provide mental health intervention and first aid on the spot. Additionally, it removes the malice clause under state law, which would make it easier to prosecute police officers in situations where deadly force is used.” according to local CBS station KREM.
In San Francisco, Proposition C passed! We endorsed this, along with Prop 10 (which, unfortunately, failed, largely due to opposition elsewhere in the state). Prop C expands and funds existing programs that help get homeless people off the streets and healthy and housed.
SF’s Proposition A also passed. This is important funding to prepare our Embarcadero Seawall for the mounting effects of climate change.
Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, nationally infamous for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples, was defeated by Democratic candidate Elwood Caudill, Jr.
Harris County, Texas, voted out two Republican judges who incarcerated more than one-fifth of the entire state of Texas’s juvenile convicts in favor of their Democratic opponents.
These victories aren’t the end of anything. What we have won, we must defend. What we have lost, we will fight for again.
But as we take back state governments, we check the Republicans’ ability to suppress the vote. People can lobby their Democratic state representatives and Governors to protect the vote, expand the franchise, reverse and end gerrymandering, and ensure that people can hold their governments accountable.
And as we take back Congress, we check Trump and the Republicans’ ability to roll out oppressive policies and actions at the federal level. Democrats can launch investigations with all the powers of the majority, and set the legislative agenda with the Speaker’s gavel.
This is not the end. This is the beginning.