Historic Victories Across the U.S. in 2017 Special Election
Democrats rose up from the dead, claiming huge victories up and down the ballot across the country this November. Candidates from New Jersey and Virginia won the top races, naming Philip D. Murphy (NJ) and Ralph Northam (VA) for governor, while candidate Manka Dhingra’s victory in Washington gave Democrats full control of the state’s government.
Here are the highlights from yesterday’s election around the country
Voters in Maine approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid, becoming the first state where voters, not governors or legislators, decided on the issue. “At least 80,000 additional Maine residents will become eligible for Medicaid as a result of the referendum,” Abby Goodnough wrote in The New York Times. Maine will be the 32nd state to expand the program under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The Garden State votes to end the Christie era
Murphy’s win shifts the governor’s seat to Democratic hands after eight years of Republican rule under Chris Christie, who leaves the office as one of the most unpopular governors in the United States with a 14 percent approval rating.
Though the state’s lieutenant governor tried to keep her distance from Christie throughout her campaign, his record-low approval rating likely influenced her loss.
Come January, New Jersey will join six other states that have Democrats controlling the legislature and executive.
But that’s not all the news that came out of New Jersey. The city of Hoboken elected Ravinder Bhalla as its mayor, making Bhalla the first Sikh American to be elected mayor of the city. He previously served as city councilman for eight years.
Last week, Bhalla was falsely linked to terrorism after racist flyers showed a picture of him with the words “Don’t let terrorism take over our town!” began circulating.
“Thank you, Hoboken,” Bhalla wrote on Twitter, “I look forward to being your Mayor!”
Virginia elects its first openly transgender legislator
Democrat Danica Roem, a former journalist, defeated incumbent Republican candidate Del. Robert G. Marshall, a staunch conservative who has served Virginia’s House of Delegates for 13-terms.
Earlier this year, Marshall introduced a "bathroom bill" — the Physical privacy act — which would ban transgender students from using the restroom of the gender with which they identify. The bill died in committee. Marshall also once referred to himself the state’s “chief homophobe.”
“Discrimination is a disqualifier,” Roem said in her victory speech. “This is about the people of the 13th District disregarding fear tactics, disregarding phobias . . . where we celebrate you because of who you are, not despite it.”
In a night of firsts, Democratic candidates Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala defeated Republican incumbents to become the two Latinas ever elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
“The two women not only beat long-term incumbents, but flipping their districts from Republican to Democrat,” Stephen A. Nuño wrote for NBC News.
Minneapolis elects first openly trans black woman
Andrea Jenkins made history as the first openly transgender woman of color elected to political office in the United States. Jenkins, a democrat, was elected to the Minneapolis City Council — another major win for transgender political candidates and the LGBTQ community.
Women lead the way in the state of Washington
Democrat Manka Dhingra won Tuesday’s special election to a Washington state Senate seat, giving her party control of the executive and legislative chambers.