The People’s House—Our Check on Demagogue Donald November 11, 2018
The House of Representatives. It’s often called the “People’s House. and rightly so. The House, according to the original intent of our Constitution’s framers, was to represent the local interests of the American people with all their different economic, political, and social views. The House, unlike the Senate chamber, always has to pay more attention to its constituents most pressing concerns. Why? Because all House members, numbering 435 today, are constitutionally required to run for re-election every two years, unlike the 100 Senators. In the Senate, only one-third of its members, representing their entire state, not just one district, must run for re-election every six years. Bills involving taxes and raising revenue are also required to begin in the House, the body most attuned to voters fiscal concerns. When voters are upset about issues involving health care, wars, or a controversial President, House members are often the first to get an earful from their constituents.
From the start of Demagogue Donald’s administration, voters in House districts across the U.S. repeatedly voiced their strong opposition to Trump’s trying to repeal Obamacare, his top 1% tax cuts, his misogynistic views, his xenophobic rantings and actions, and his attacks on a free press. They wanted Donald’s campaign dealings with Russia and his tax returns investigated. And how did the “supposed” representatives in this “People’s House” respond? GOP House members repeatedly tried to duck face-to-face town hall meetings. Despite strong cries from their constituents, they refused to provide any check or oversight into Donald’s business dealings and alleged Russian ties. Their leaders, in fact, tried to cover up any misdeeds by Donald. Such behavior violated their constitutional duty to do proper oversight. When their constituents loudly told them not to repeal Obamacare or vote for the top 1% tax cut that could financially hurt them, they ignored their views and voted for both these reactionary bills. They repeatedly put Donald and party their over their own voters.
On midterm Election Day 11/06/2018, the voters responded loudly and clearly to their being ignored by their “supposed” representatives. From coast to coast, in the Midwest heartland, and even in some deep “Red” districts, voters elected a new “People’s House,” giving the current 115th GOP House majority its walking papers. To paraphrase Donald, they were “fired.” In order for Democrats to recapture the House, they had to flip a net 23 seats from “Red” to “Blue.” The Democrats have done that and then some. Before the 2018 midterms, the 115th Congress had 237 GOPers to 197 Democrats. When all the votes are tallied, it looks like Democrats will have gained, according to the Washington Post between 35-40 seats, the biggest pickup since the post-Watergate 1974 election, when “Team Blue” flipped 49 seats (washingtonpost.com, Balz & Scherer, 11/09/18). The 538 site is currently predicting Democrats flipping 38 House seats. In the new 116th Congress convening in 1/2019, the “People’s House” will truly look like the real America. Next year, the House will have more than 100 women, mainly Democrats, for the first time in its history (See nytimes.com, Martin & Burns, 1/06/18). One of those newly elected stars is former Navy helicopter pilot, federal prosecutor, and mother Mikie Sherrill who clobbered her GOP opponent to take the seat of retiring one-percenter Rodney Frelinghuysen in NJ’s 13th Congressional District (CD) (nj.com/expo/news, Brodesser-Akner, 11/07/18, vox.com, Nilson & Stewart, 11/07/18). Fake “moderate” Leonard Lance lost to former Obama official Dem. Tom Malinowski in the Jersey 7th. Dem. Andy Kim, a former Obama advisor, looks like he has defeated Trump buddy Tom MacArthur (NJ 3rd CD). MacArthur had helped push a repeal Obamacare vote through the House and was the only NJ Congressman to vote for the tax cut (Cooper @joncoopertweets, 12h, # RedToBlue, philly.com, Rosenberg & Hefler, 11/07/18).
In VA, Democrats took 3 House seats. Jennifer Wexton defeated 2nd -term NRA lackey Barbara Comstock in that state’s 10th CD, located in the D.C. suburbs. In the Richmond, VA suburbs, the VA 7th, former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger unseated wacko extremist hero Dave Brat. Brat had previously defeated House GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor. In the VA 2nd, which contains the Norfolk Navy base, Elaine Luria, a former Navy commander defeated scandal-plagued GOP incumbent Scott Taylor. Luria, like several Jewish Americans who won races in Congress, was proud of her faith and ethnic background (the only way to answer anti-Semitic wackos). She once organized a Passover Seder on an aircraft carrier (vox.com, Nilson & Stewart, 11/07/18, jta.com, Sales, 11/06/18). In the Utica, NY area (22nd CD), first-term GOP firebrand Claudia Tenney attacked Italian-American Anthony Brindisi for mob connections. She lost (see vox.com). In the overwhelmingly white NY 19th, African American Antonio Delgado defeated GOPer John Faso over his attempt to repeal Obamacare (vox.com). In GOP- leaning Staten Island, NY Dem. Max Rose defeated 2nd term GOPer Dan Donovan (11th CD).
Dems picked up several seats in fairly redistricted PA where the voters seem to have buyers’ remorse over electing Donald. One of those was in the Lehigh Valley where Susan Wild beat Marty Nothstein for an open seat (PA 7th CD). Connor Lamb, who previously won a special election in PA , now won in a new district, PA’s 17th . In IA, two Democrats, Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne won their races in the 1st and 3rd CDs. Finkenauer beat GOPer Rod Blum who had won in the 2014 “Red” tide. IA now has 3 Dems to one GOPer in the House. Unfortunately, that one GOPer is super bigot Steve King in the Hawkeye 4th who narrowly won his race. In Il’s 14th CD, the outer Chicago area, 4th term GOPer Randy Hultgren lost to African American Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse who helped implement Obamacare. Fake “moderate” 6th-termer Peter Roskam lost the IL 6th CD to Sean Casten (vox.com). In MN’s 2nd CD, in the Twin City suburbs, Angie Craig defeated former radio show host Jason Lewis. Lewis lamented that he could no longer call women “sluts (vox.com).”
In the Atlanta, GA suburban 6th CD, African American Lucy McBath, a gun control advocate whose son had been shot and killed in 2012, defeated GOPer Karen Handel. Handel had beaten Dem. Jon Ossoff in a very expensive 2017 special election race to replace former Trump Cabinet Secretary Tom Price (Barone 14 Almanac, Kelly, CNN, 11/08/18). In FL, Dems flipped two seats. Clinton Cabinet member Donna Shalala took the open seat of retiring GOPer Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in the Miami area FL 27th. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell took out fake “moderate” GOPer Carlos Curbelo in the Key West FL 26th region. In “lobster Red” OK, Democrat Kendra Horn upset GOPer Steve Russell in the Sooner 5th in the OK City area. In SC’s “ultra-Red” 1st CD, headquartered in Charleston, Democrat Joe Cunningham defeated Katie Arrington. Arrington had previously beaten Cong. Mark Sanford in a primary for not being “Trumpy” enough (vox. com). In the Dallas area TX 32nd , 11th term Pete Sessions, who formerly headed the NRCC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, was defeated by Dem Collin Allred, an African American and former NFL player (dallasnews.com, Jeffers, 11/06/18). The 22nd had gone for Hillary by 2 points (vox.com). TX attorney Dem. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher defeated ethically challenged 9th-term GOPer John Culberson in the Houston 7th (see vox.com).
In normally “Red” KS, Sharice Davids defeated 3rd CD 4th-term GOP Cong. Kevin Yoder. Hillary eked out a 1% victory in this KS City suburb. Davids will be the first Native American woman elected to the House. It is finally time to say “good bye” to wacky anti-Obama “birther” Mike Coffman. Coffman, a 5th-term Cong. in the Aurora, CO 6th, pretended to be a moderate and claimed he was no longer an immigration hard-liner. Dem. Jason Crow defeated him by 9 points in a district Hillary had won (vox.com). In the NM “Little TX” GOP leaning area, the 2nd CD, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small defeated her GOP opponent. The entire NM House and Senate delegation is now “Blue.” In at least three CA districts, Democrats have turned “Red” gold into “Blue.” In the Orange County/San Diego area, Mike Levin won retiring witch hunter Darrell Issa’s 49th CD seat. And how great this is! In the 48th CD, 15- term Dana Rohrabacher (R- Russia) will not represent Huntington Beach. In this district that Hillary carried, Dem. Harley Rouda has ended his career. Maybe Putin will hire Mr. Russia Caucus Rohrabacher next. In demographically changing Santa Clarita in northern LA County, rock climber Katie Hill climbed all over 2nd -term Steve Knight. She hit him hard for voting to repeal Obamacare and casting a “YEA” for the 1% tax cut (vox.com, CQ & Barone 14 Almanacs, 115th Cong. at Your Fingertips). In the rural Central Valley CA 10th , Josh Harder is now leading “moderate”(LOL) GOP incumbent Jeff Denham (LA Times, 11/10/18, Mozingo, Ulloa, & Sweedler). Although many more votes need to be counted, it looks like CA Dems could yet flip a few more seats into the “Blue” camp.
Many of these districts were ones Hillary had carried. They have many college educated people upset with vulgar Donald. The women in these areas were motivated either to run or volunteer to defeat Trump’s GOP. Democrats will now hold subpoena power under soon-to-be House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and will be able to investigate Donald’s tax returns and corrupt Russia dealings. Any attempts to get more tax cuts or repeal Obamacare will be DOA.
Democrat turnout was superb, including, it seems, among the younger generation. That’s why we won the House despite heavy GOP gerrymanders in many districts. We must always turn out this way in every election to keep and add to our gains. The Senate races were, however, the sole disappointment in this midterm. When all the votes are counted, it looks like the GOP will increase its 51-49 Senate edge by 1-3 seats. Why? Because Democrats were defending nine Senate seats in states that Donald handily won in 2016. Donald riled up GOP enthusiasm and turnout in the “Red” areas with his putting Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court and with his false in-the- gutter xenophobic 24/7 talk about an “invasion” by a Hispanic “caravan.” In “Red” MO, ND, and IN, such talk plays to rabid Trump supporters. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), after courageously voting “NO” on Kavanaugh, lost her seat. Valiant campaigner Claire McCaskill (D-MO) as well as Joe Donnelly (D-IN) were defeated. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is getting a recount and the results could possibly change in his favor, but who knows? Dems. couldn’t flip Corker’s seat in “Red” TN nor beat Ted Cruz in TX though charismatic El Paso Cong. Beto O’Rourke lost narrowly. There are still many votes to be counted in Democrat Kyrsten Sinema’s AZ race, but she is now leading as more votes get tallied. Fortunately, WVA’s Joe Manchin prevailed as did MT’s Jon Tester. The brightest spot, so far, was Jacky Rosen defeating spineless health care flip-flopper GOP Dean Heller in NV by 5 percentage points. NV went for Hillary in 2016 by 2 points, so that state, with great turnout, is turning “Bluer.”
The governor’s races were also a bright point for “Team Blue” in this election. Governors play a key role in making sure that their political party gets an advantage in redistricting. The Democrats had to get a huge turnout for their House victory and were limited in how many seats they could take because of previous GOP gerrymandering. Governors also sponsor legislation, which under Democrats is progressive, not reactionary. Democrats like CA Gov. Jerry Brown and now Dem. Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom will lead the opposition to Trump in many areas, including immigration and environmental reform. Democrats like VA Gov. Ralph Northam helped expand Medicaid under Obamacare in their states, which many GOPers would not do. Before the midterm, Democrats held 16 governorships to the GOP’s 33. After the 11/06/2018 midterm, Democrats retained all 16 of their governorships and gained 7 more, giving them 23 to the GOP’s 26. Democrats flipped gubernatorial seats in IL, MI, and WI (Good Bye reactionary Scott Walker), ME, KS, NV, and NM. We can now bid farewell to ME’s buffoonish Paul LePage and rejoice that KS vote suppressor Kris Kobach went down. Of course, we were disappointed by our losses in IA, OH, and probably FL and GA (washingtonpost.com, nytimes.com).
In addition to the House, Senate, and governors’ races, in Campaign 2018, 87 of the nation’s 99 state legislative chambers held elections for 6,073 seats. Nearly 82% of the state legislative seats were up for election. Under Obama, when Democrats failed to show up for midterms, they lost 29 legislative chambers and 968 legislative seats, the most significant loss since WWII. Prior to 2018, the president’s party usually lost an average of 350 legislative seats in midterm elections. Since Trump took office, Democrats have flipped 45 legislative seats across the country in special elections, including in deep “Red” OK (dlcc.org, latimes.com). After the 11/06/2018 midterm, “Team Blue” flipped 7 legislative chambers and at least 372 seats, adding 6 more trifectas, (governor plus both state chambers). NY finally has a trifecta (J. Post, dlcc.org, 11/07/18, 9:17 am, Alex Seitz-Wald @ aseitzwald, 3:45 am, Kos Fiddler, 11/07/18, CNN, Cillizza, 11/09/18 ). The total number of Democratic trifectas are now 14 (Kos, Fiddler, nytimes.com, 11/08/18, Covert, B.). State legislatures are the “farm teams” where talented lawmakers are recruited to run for higher state and federal offices. They also often write redistricting plans. In addition, they help push legislation, progressive under Democrats, reactionary under GOPers. Medicaid gets to be expanded under Obamacare with “Blue”-majority state chambers. Under “Red” state chambers, witness N. Carolina, anti-union and transgender “bathroom” laws are passed. Democrats also now have control of the attorney general’s post in 27 states representing 58% of the U.S. population. Attorney generals can challenge via litigation Donald’s reactionary environmental agenda (See huffingtonpost.com, Kaufman, 11/10/18).
A personal note. I have just celebrated my fourteenth anniversary writing this blog (11/07/2004). I have written nearly 700 blog posts dealing with politics. I encourage Democrats to always vote heavily in order to win elections at both the state and national levels. Hopefully, I will continue doing this. Democrats must keep “fighting the good fight” against Trumpism.