Everything Good That Happened in America Tonight

It is not the nationwide repudiation many Democrats hoped for, but beneath a handful of high-profile, emotionally charged losses, liberals are having a very strong night — including the capture of the House of Representatives.

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks in S.F. on Tuesday, July 31, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume)

Feeling frustrated? Let us cheer you up at least a little.

But first, the hard news: In the end, the broad consensus bore out: Democrats will take the House, and they will see their Senate majority further erode. Projections have called for Sen. Ted Cruz to win a second term over challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and in Florida, it appears that polls showing Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum in the lead for the governor race were inaccurate. Gillum would have been the state’s first Black governor, but he has conceded to Ron DeSantis, a #FloridaMan who won an openly white supremacist campaign.

Several other governorships appear to have slipped out of Democrats’ reach, but the party is performing very well in House races nationwide and in a number of progressive propositions and ballot initiatives. Perhaps most importantly, that chamber took a huge step toward mirroring the nation’s overall demographic profile, with the first and second Native American women and first and second Muslim women winning federal office. And much of the gains occurred in the Midwest, a region that slipped out of Democrats’ grip in 2016.

 

Florida Man Ruins It — Twice — But Maybe Not For Long

The Sunshine State’s races for governor and Senate were bitter and ugly, but Florida passed a genuinely enlightened measure in Amendment 4, which will restore voting rights to as many as 1.4 million ex-felons. 

The First Gay U.S. Governor

Colorado Democrat and current representative Jared Polis succeeded outgoing governor and beer baron Bill Hickenlooper to become the first out gay man elected governor. (Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is bisexual, but she took office after her predecessor resigned. However, she won a full term in her own right tonight.)

And speaking of gay first, homophobic Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis lost her re-election bid to an openly gay man, Elwood Caudill.

Plus Several Other Democratic Governors

At least seven GOP-held states — Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin — elected Democrats as governor. 

Iowa Swings Left

Iowans, for personal reasons I hope you’ll vote Steve King out. I’m tired of being confused with this racist dumbbell.

The Hawkeye State swung hard for Donald Trump after voting for Barack Obama twice, but it appears to have swung mostly back. Democrats appear poised to pick up two the state’s three House seats. (They already held the fourth.) Unfortunately, Steve King, a neo-Nazi sympathizer who ran a financially half-assed yet thoroughly racist campaign for a ninth term, looks like will have pulled it off once again in a strongly Republican district.

While Kansas Avoids Crazification, Also Does Something Rather Wonderful

Kris Kobach, the vote-suppression extremist and former chair of President Trump’s since-disbanded commission to hunt out borderline-nonexistent voter fraud, lost the Kansas governor’s race to Laura Kelly. Yep, a Democrat won in Kansas. Better still, Sharice Davids, a Native American lesbian, has also unseated Rep. Kevin Yoder in the state’s second district. Yep, a Native American lesbian won a Congressional race in Kansas.

But She Wasn’t the First Native American Woman Elected to Congress — Because There Were Two

In New Mexico’s First District, Debra Haaland, who is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, won her race.

The First Two Muslim Women in Congress Got Elected, Too

Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota became the first two Muslim women ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Omar, a 36-year-old Somali-American from Minneapolis, replaced Keith Ellison — the first Muslim in Congress. In spite of facing some unsavory domestic-abuse accusations, Ellison fought off a spirited challenge from a deeply homophobic Republican to become Minnesota’s next Attorney General, an office that Democrats have held since the 1960s.

New England May Have Zero Republicans in the House Now

We might not know until next week because of ranked-choice voting, but Bruce Poliquin of Maine, the lone GOP member of the House in all of New England, may very well have lost his re-election bid. (Meanwhile, Ayanna Pressley will definteily become the first woman of color elected to represent Massachusetts.) Also in Maine, outgoing Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump-bef0re-there-was-Trump will be replaced with a Democrat and has vowed to move to Florida out of spite. (Seriously.)

Auntie Maxine Will Become the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee

HOT TAKE: Rep. Maxine Waters, Democrat of Los Angeles, is probably going to investigate the president’s tax returns.

The Nevada Assembly Is the First Legislative Chamber to Become Majority-Female

Even though the 72-year-old brothel owner and so-called “Trump of Pahrump” won in spite of having died, the Nevada Assembly now has a Democratic supermajority as well.

New Jersey Goes From Blue to Indigo, Pennsylvania Is a Lot Less Purple

Democrats made a serious run for four of the Garden State’s five GOP-held seats, and it appears they have won three and los the fourth by a single point. Oddly, however, Jeff Van Drew seems as though he will beat Seth Grossman in NJ-02 by a disturbingly narrow margin of six points, even though Grossman’s vile and racist rhetoric caused national Republicans to essentially triage him weeks ago.

Meanwhile, under Pennsylvania’s court-ordered, un-gerrymandered scheme, Democrats look to have picked up a net gain three House seats there.

New York Also Gets Bluer

Extremely famous Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her seat in NY-14 comfortably over token opposition, one year after her last bar shift. Meanwhile, Staten Island representative Dan Donovan, a Trumpy guy in a Trump-friendly district — the only GOP-held seat in all of New York City, in fact — went down hard. Democrat Max Rose won by five points in Shaolin.

Several State Governments Fall Under Total Democratic Control

Democrats captured the Illinois and New Mexico governorships and the Colorado State Senate to win trifectas — governor plus both chambers — in each state.

And for the first time in 10 years, the New York State Senate has fallen out of Republican hands. This is important for two reasons: 1.) Dems now have complete control of the state government and 2.) There had been a breakaway faction of “Independent Democrats” who long caucused with Republicans to maximize their own leverage. They were largely wiped out in the September primaries.

Massachusetts Rejects Transphobia

The state that first enacted same-sex marriage in 2004 has approved Question 3, which affirmed the state’s position against gender discrimination. Well done, Massholes!

The Biggest Upset of the Night Was in … Oklahoma

In what is likely the biggest upset of the night, statistically speaking, Democrat Kendra Horn won a House seat based in Oklahoma City. For what it’s worth, neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton carried a single county of Oklahoma in 2012 or 2016, because it is a seriously red state.

Another (potential) shocker looks to be South Carolina’s First District, where Democrat Joe Cunningham — who clobbered opponent Katie Arrington over offshore drilling — looks like he might win in a squeaker. Amusingly, SC-01 had been represented by Mark Sanford until Arrington beat him in the primary. Sanford used to be the governor of South Carolina until that incident where he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail” (but really vacationing in Argentina with his mistress). So his career is probably kaput.

Anti-Gerrymandering Measures Pass

Michigan’s Proposal 3, which will create automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, straight-ticket voting, and the ability to vote absentee without an excuse, passed by a two-to-one margin. Meanwhile, Colorado voters passed Amendments Y and Z, to reduce the power of gerrymandering in the Centennial State.

Even though Missouri bid adieu to Sen. Claire McCaskill, its voters passed Amendment 1, which would clean up the redistricting process for state races. (Congressional races would not be affected.) And in North Carolina, voters shot down two measures regarding partisan gerrymandering that critics alleged were deceptively written, and also backed Civil Rights crusader Anita Earls’ bid to sit on the State Supreme Court.

At Least One Terrible Person Lost

Steve King (Neo-Nazi of Iowa) clung to his R+11 seat, but in Virginia, Dave Brat — the Tea Partier who came out of nowhere to topple Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 — has gone down to defeat at the hands of Abigail Spanberger, 50-47. Brat is the guy who said of the flurry of activism in January 2017 that “The women are up in my grill wherever I go” and who recently whined to some incarcerated men battling substance abuse that his life is really really hard, what with all the ads attacking him.

Scott Walker Goes Down on the Fourth Try

Elected in 2010, the anti-union Wisconsin governor and 2016 presidential contender fought back a recall and won re-election in a harbinger of Wisconsin’s transformation into a reddish state. But Democrat Tony Evers narrowly defeated him tonight.

The House of Representatives Will Have a Record Number of Women

We won’t know how many for days, but it’s a lot — at least 86 and quite possibly more than 100. That would be a record, but it would still be less than one-quarter of the 435 seats in the chamber. We have a long way to go before reaching gender parity in the government.

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