Ten Incredibly Wonderful Things That Happened On Election Day!

( 1 )  Oregon Voters Rock!


Love this state!  


Governor Kate Brown turned back Knute Buehler by more than 100,000 votes.  74% of the vote in Multnomah County and 55% in Washington County were the big numbers. Benton, Clatsop, Hood River, Lane, and Lincoln Counties all delivered for Kate.


This makes nine straight elections (36 years in office) in which Oregon has chosen a Democrat for governor. 


This is a solid mandate to protect our environment, stand up for workers, support local small businesses, invest in vocational education, make community colleges more affordable, connect more Oregonians with quality healthcare, ensure women’s reproductive rights, protect minority communities from discrimination, and expand access to the ballot!


We have tough challenges – fully funding our schools and mitigating homelessness chief among them – but I have confidence we will go about that work creatively and diligently.


All four of our Democratic House members were reelected easily. Rep. Peter DeFazio will now become chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He will be the nation’s leading Democratic voice in the one area I think Democrats, Republicans, and the President might find common ground for significant action.


Democrats now have supermajorities in the state House and Senate.  And Republican Julie Parrish lost!


Oregon voters gave us progressive victories on all five state measures, approving 102 (affordable housing help) and rejecting 103 (Big Soda’s trickery), 104 (conservative chicanery on taxes), 105 (anti-immigration), and 106 (anti-choice).


P.S.  For all the years Lars Larson has been spouting his right-wing nonsense and demagoguery, Oregonians have been moving steadily in the opposite direction.  His batting average is woeful.  Values expressed on KPOJ (when it was a progressive station) are ones that guide our state.



( 2 )  We Took the House!


This was THE PRIZE on Tuesday.  Congratulations to our Democratic candidates, victorious or not, who stepped up big-time for us at this critical juncture in American history.  And thank you to all who supported them with words and actions.


With this majority, the Democrats need to do three things:


First, they must advocate for and pass legislation that helps ordinary Americans and our democracy.  For starters, more access to quality healthcare, lower drug prices, stronger public schools, more affordable higher education and loan repayment, a cleaner environment, real investment in renewable energy, infrastructure investment, a comprehensive immigration bill, and sweeping ethics reform.


This should be a blueprint for all Democrats to run on in 2020.


If the Senate and / or Trump reject a Middle Class agenda, they will be held accountable in two years.


Second, the new House majority must protect Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and other vital federal programs from GOP sabotage.  


Per Article I, Section 7, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives” (the “Origination Clause”).  This gives us enormous power to shape budgets and funding priorities.


Third, the House must reassert oversight of this corrupt presidency.  Trump’s firing of AG Jeff Sessions today, along with his combativeness at the press conference, indicates again how desperate he is to avoid accountability (or indictment). 


Democrats must not be shy about thorough, transparent investigations and, if warranted, impeachment.


HIGH FIVES to these states that flipped congressional districts:


Arizona - 1

California – 6

Colorado – 1

Florida – 2

Georgia - 1

Iowa – 2

Illinois – 1

Kansas – 1

Maine - 1

Michigan – 2

Minnesota – 2

New Jersey – 4

New Mexico - 1

New York – 3

Oklahoma – 1

Pennsylvania – 4

South Carolina – 1

Texas – 2

Virginia – 3

Washington – 1


 ( 3 )  More Women, More Diversity


According to exit polls, women voters chose Democratic candidates over Republicans by a whopping 20 percentage points.  


Come January 3, at least 100 women will be in the House – 84 of them Democrats.  


Dems Sharice Davids (KS) and Deb Haaland (NM) are Native Americans.


I love that Lauren Underwood, a 31-year-old African American, won in IL CD-14 campaigning on healthcare and bread and butter issues.  I was in CD-14 in Woodstock, IL, in August for a comedy festival.  That’s a district that is generally Republican and went for Trump by 4 points.


Firsts for Connecticut and Massachusetts as they send African American women to the House.  Teacher Jahana Hayes, supporting single payer and more effective gun laws, took 56% of the vote in CT CD-5 and Boston City Council member Ayanna Presley was unopposed in MA CD-7.


In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici were reelected. In Washington, Senator Maria Cantwell, Rep. Suzan DelBene, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal were reelected. And Kim Schrier looks to have defeated Dino Rossi in CD-8 (poor Dino loses again!).  Gary’s brother Zack and Zack’s partner Matt campaigned door-to-door for Kim.


Carolyn Long is to be congratulated for a vibrant run against Jaime Herrera Beutler in WA CD-3.  Long’s 47.7% was the best Democratic result against Herrera Beutler since Denny Heck’s 47% in 2010.  Thank you to all who worked so hard on this campaign across the Columbia.


Similarly, in OR CD-2, Jamie McLeod-Skinner’s nearly 40% was the best Democratic showing ever against Greg Walden.  Previous best was Kevin Campbell’s 34.8% in 1998.


New Democratic women governors include Laura Kelly (KS) Janet Mills (ME), Gretchen Whitmer (MI), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM).


And Democrat Lourdes “Lou” Leon Guerrero was elected the first woman governor of Guam!


New York has its first African American AG in Letitia James.


Colorado’s Jared Polis will become America’s first openly gay governor.  (David I. Walsh, elected governor of Massachusetts in 1912, and a longtime U.S. Senator thereafter, was a closeted gay man.  There were likely many others.)  Wisconsin voters rewarded Senator Tammy Baldwin with a second term.  If Kyrsten Sinema can win her race in Arizona, she will be the second openly LGBT member of the Senate.


Reporting on yesterday’s “Rainbow Wave,” The Advocate writes, “The big takeaway is that 152 LGBTQ candidates endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund won nationwide at federal, state, and local levels.”


Those include Angie Craig (MN) and Chris Pappas (NH) -- their states’ first out candidates elected to Congress.  


Finally, Georgia’s Stacey Abrams and Florida’s Jim Gillum were glorious warriors.  They embraced progressive values, energized tens of thousands of new voters, and gave us a glimpse of America’s best future.  We owe them a great debt.  I know they will continue to lead and serve.



( 4 )  Suburban and Younger Voters Go Blue


Suburban voters, especially women, fueled the takeover of the House. They tell pollsters they are revulsed by Trump and his rhetoric.


It’s too early to predict 2020, but in presidential elections, all things being equal, Democrats win big in urban areas, Republicans do the same in rural America, and the suburbs decide the outcome. 


This is a positive sign.


Data so far shows that young people voted in higher percentages than in previous midterm elections and voted overwhelmingly Democratic.



( 5 )  More Democratic Governors!


Democrats will provide a critical check against Republican attempts to gerrymander after the 2020 census.


In gubernatorial races, these states flipped from red to blue:


Illinois – J.B. Prtizker

Kansas – Laura Kelly

Maine – Janet Mills 

Michigan – Gretchen Whitmer

Nevada – Steve Sisolak

New Mexico – Michelle Lujan Grisham

Wisconsin – Tony Evers  (He can begin to repair the damage Scott Walker did to education, workers, and the environment.)


These Democratic governors were reelected:


Hawaii – David Ige

New York – Andrew Cuomo

Oregon – Kate Brown

Pennsylvania – Tom Wolf

Rhode Island – Gina Raimondo


These governorships remain in Democratic hands:


California – Gavin Newsom

Colorado – Jared Polis

Connecticut – Ned Lamont

Delaware – No election this year

Louisiana – No election this year

Minnesota – Tim Walz

Montana – No election this year

New Jersey – No election this year

North Carolina – No election this year

Virginia – No election this year

Washington – No election this year


Democrats began the night with 16 governorships.  They ended with 23.


Moderate Republicans won races in Maryland (Larry Hogan), Massachusetts (Charlie Baker) and Vermont (Phil Scott).  I don’t worry too much about this because all three states have Democratic majorities in both houses of their legislatures.


As our divided federal government remains at a standstill in addressing comprehensive reform (healthcare, climate change, guns, voting rights, immigration), it is essential that states lead the way.



( 6 )  Bluer State Legislatures


Democrats had at least six flips in state legislature (results so far):  


Colorado Senate 

Maine Senate

Minnesota House

New Hampshire House AND Senate

New York Senate


Republicans flipped only one chamber, the Alaska House.



( 7 )  Key Ballot Measure Wins


Florida finally ditched a Jim Crow-era voter suppression tool.  Amendment 4 restores voting rights for former felons not convicted of murder or sexual offenses  (63%).


Colorado passed independent redistricting for state legislative districts (71%).


Michigan established an independent redistricting commission (61%) and passed automatic, same-day voter registration (67%).


Maryland passed same-day voter registration (68%)


Nevada followed Oregon’s lead and passed motor-voter registration (60%).


Massachusetts upheld transgender protections (71%).


Idaho voters (61%) and Nebraska voters (53%) expanded Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare.  Funny how POPULAR the Affordable Care Act has become!   Republicans used to claim it was America’s ticket to hell.


Michigan legalized recreational marijuana (57%), Missouri allowed medical marijuana (65%) as did Utah (53%).


North Carolina rejected a Republican attempt to transfer some judicial appointment powers from the governor to the legislature (67%). 


Arkansas (68%) and Missouri (62%) voted to raise the minimum wage.


California rejected efforts to repeal gas taxes (53%) and rent control (63%).


Washington enacted important new gun regulations (60%).  I-1639 raises the age from 18 to 21 to purchase semi-automatic rifles, with background checks and training required.


Washington also passed I-940 (60%).  The Seattle Times explains:

“I-940 removes a 32-year-old barrier in state law that has made it virtually impossible to bring criminal charges against police officers believed to have wrongfully used deadly force, has passed with strong support.  Passage of the measure means that prosecutors will no longer have to prove law-enforcement officers acted with “evil intent” — or so-called “malice” — when considering whether to file criminal charges such as manslaughter.”



( 8 )  State and Regional Trends


Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada continue their march to solidly blue strongholds.  In populous Northern Virginia, independents and moderate Republicans long ago left the far-right GOP.  But now, we are seeing Dem inroads in many other parts of the commonwealth.


Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada have seen demographic shifts, most notably a younger, more Hispanic electorate.  We are now seeing evidence of this in Arizona (Sinema’s Senate run and House vote totals).


These states, combined with deep blue California, Oregon, and Washington, have really expanded our map in the West.


Mid-Atlantic and New England voters remain in the Democratic column. Look what Pennsylvania did without the gerrymandered Republican map!


Georgia and Florida are coming alive for our party – much more competitive in statewide races.  Achingly, we are not there yet, but hope was rekindled yesterday.


The key to defeating Trump in 2020 is the Midwest.  (If our nominee wins Hillary’s states + PA, MI, WI, he or she wins the White House).  We had major victories yesterday in those three states – winning every governor and Senate race.  Plus, Senator Sherrod Brown won in Ohio. 



( 9 )   Look Who’s Gone!


Say goodbye to Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Kris Kobach, Dana Rohrabacher, Darrell Issa, David Brat, and anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.


That Republicans returned a white supremacist (Steve King) and two indicted congressmen (Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter) to Washington further besmirches their reputation.  



( 10 )   We Know the Task Ahead


As we celebrate victories and positive trends, we understand the seriousness of the moment and the urgent need for systemic change.


Undivided Democrats, strong women, African Americans, Hispanics, young people and first-time voters flooded the polls yesterday.  That is fantastic, but we should understand this is only a beginning.


Voter suppression ballot measures passed in Arkansas and North Carolina.  Alabama voted (71%) to amend its constitution to allow the display of the Ten Commandments on public property – and for some “religious liberty” provisions.  Alabama and West Virginia added anti-choice provisions to their constitutions.  There were missed opportunities to encourage renewable energy in Arizona and Washington.


Just as cities and suburbs primed a Blue Wave, “Trump Country” pushed back with a Red Wave.  Trump’s lies and extremism turned off women and suburban voters, but, tragically, it enthralled much of rural America.  Our political divide today is, in some ways, starker.


While we celebrate voting trends in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada…Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee seem all but lost.  


I am especially heartsick about Tennessee, where I lived from 1970 through 1979, and knew Republicans like Howard Baker to be moderate and Democrats like Al Gore to be visionary.  Nashville and Memphis seem the only oases.  For the state to have rejected Phil Bredesen, who made Nashville the great city it is today, and exchange Bob Corker for the detestable Marsha Blackburn – well, it makes my skin crawl.


I think this is largely the effect of decades of hate radio and Fox and right-wing evangelicals who seem to have no idea what Jesus preached.  And Trump has jumped on it.


He remains both a potent political force in rural states and districts and a danger to democracy.


But, take heart.  Take great heart from yesterday. He and his isms will fall, and we will prevail.