Election Day, November 5, 2019—Demagogue Donald and Company Take “Bigly” Defeats November 7, 2019
Election Day, 11/05/22019, the day Demagogue Donald received his third political “report card.” Trump had first received a poor electoral “report card” in 11/2017, when his party, despite his campaigning for them, suffered key gubernatorial and state legislative defeats. Those losses hit Donald hard, especially in Virginia. In 11/2018, after again campaigning “big time” for them, Donald’s GOPers lost control of the House in the midterms and only managed to net two “Red” Senate seats in contests taking place on very Republican-friendly territory. Another awful “report card” for Trump. Now, one year before Campaign 2020, when Demagogue Donald will run for another four more years, he was once more hit with major defeats in gubernatorial, state legislative, and other local races. Again, for the third time, (no charm here), Donald received “bigly” failing grades. Some pundits and columnists, however, were surprised. They believed the threat of impeachment would bring out the “y uu ge” angry MAGA droves who would award Donald with A+ political “grades.” Again, Demagogue Donald vainly went all out on the political hustings for “Team Red.” IMHO, these losses are a poor sign for Demagogue Donald as he gears up for re-election in Campaign 2020. Let’s look at just what happened on Election Day 2019.
Exhibit A, Kentucky, the “Bluegrass” State, but politically a “super-Red Grass” one. KY-- the home of obstructionist Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and extremist libertarian GOP Sen. Rand Paul. Trump clobbered Hillary in KY by 30 points in 2016 and Romney thrashed Obama by 22 in 2012 (Cohen & Cook 2020 Political Almanac). In 2019,Trump and all his GOP followers went the extra mile and then some for controversial and mini-Trump GOP Governor Matt Bevin. Bevin had made many political enemies in this “Red” bastion. He had gutted the popular Obamacare/Medicaid expansion put into place by his Democratic predecessor Steve Beshear. He had waged war on teachers by trying to pare back public sector pensions. When the teachers, a group respected by many Kentuckians, went on strike to protest, Bevin crudely and falsely accused them of allowing children to be “sexually assaulted” because of their classroom absences (Cohen & Cook, 2020). The GOP falsely tried to tie Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andy Beshear, former popular Gov. Steve Beshear’s son, to “left-wing” national Democrats. Such tactics made this a very close race in rural-dominated KY. In a pre-election 11/04/2019 rally in Lexington, KY, Demagogue Donald told his MAGA crowd that a loss for Bevin would prompt people “to say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. You can’t let that happen to me (huffingtonpos.com, Marans, Baumann, & Hatch, 11/06/19).” Well, Donald, you suffered that “greatest defeat.” Own it. Sure, you lost in this “Red” state by a .4 percentage margin, or 5,189 votes (huffingtonpost, 11/06/19, cnn.com, Levy & Stark, 11/07/19, Louisville Courier Journal, 11/06/19). However, a loss is a loss. Just ask Hillary about nail-biting defeats in 2016 MI, WI, and PA. Bevin’s asking for a recanvass won’t change the result (See cnn.com, Levy & Stark, 11/07/19). With Beshear’s win, in 1/2020, there will be just 26 GOP Governors to 24 Democratic ones. When Donald took office, there were 34 GOP Governors, 16 Dem. ones, and one Independent. Democrats have since flipped a net 8 gubernatorial seats (@PGourevitch, Kos Good News Roundup, 11/06/19).
How did Beshear do it? Once again, it’s the “T”-word, “turnout.” When Democrats and sympathetic moderates vote in droves, we, the state, and the nation win. In the KY suburbs south of Cincinnati, OH, which Trump carried in 2016, highly-educated, upper-middle-class voters, many times in the GOP camp, went for Democrat Andy Beshear. They were upset with Bevin’s ties at the hip to Demagogue Donald as are similar voters throughout the nation. This affluent highly educated group gave the Democrats control of the House in 2018. Trump lost to Hillary in Jefferson County, which includes Democratic Louisville and its suburbs by less than 14 points. With high Democratic turnout, Beshear clobbered Bevin there by over 35 points. Clinton won Democratic Fayette County with Lexington and its suburbs by less than 10 points. Beshear romped here by over 32 points (huffingtonpost.com, 11/06/19). These areas provided Beshear with his margin of victory over Trump’s rural base. Of course, we can’t count on “ultra-Red” KY to go for “Team Blue” in the 2020 presidential race. All the other down races on the ballot, including Lt. Gov. and Atty. General, were won by GOPers. However, unpopular “Moscow Mitch” GOPer McConnell is in a very tight race for re-election to the Senate in 2020 and Bevin’s loss is not an encouraging sign for him. Beshear can now increase aid to education, allow teachers to keep their pensions, and reinstate the Medicaid/Obamacare expansion his father had put into effect. Even in a “Bleeding Red” state, controversial Trump candidates can be defeated.
Let’s turn eastward to neighboring Virginia, the other state political analysts were watching. VA, the Old Dominion, was once home to the Confederacy’s capitol, Richmond. VA enforced Jim Crow segregation laws against blacks for decades. Fortunately, the VA that voted for segregationist Dixiecrats like televangelist Pat Robertson’s Senator father and GOP Presidents is no more. Democrats have won the Presidency here the last three times, 2008, 2012, and 2016. Democrats have won governorships here two consecutive times and several other times since the 1990’s. VA elected Democratic African American Douglas Wilder in 1990, the first black to serve as Governor in a U.S. state since Reconstruction.
The VA Democrats elected to office at both the state and national level now constitute strong progressives, not conservative “Southern Democrats.” Hillary’s running mate, VA U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, won re-election to a second term by 16 points in 2018 (Cohen & Cook 2020). A growing racially and ethnically diverse population in Northern VA, as opposed to the decreasing “Red” areas in the west and the Confederate-loving Southside, has flipped the state from Dixiecrat/GOP to a swing state. After the 11/05/2019 results, VA has become a “Blue” state that votes like the Democratic Mid-Atlantic region. Modern VA has “seceded” from the Old South. The Old Dominion has become the “New Dominion.”
VA Democrats have also started to pay attention to organizing, registering, and turning out voters in state and local races. They correctly understand that it is not just the presidential race that counts, something the rest of us must also “get.” Democratic Governors like former Terry McAuliffe and his present successor Ralph Northam had been unable to pass many key progressive measures. These included expanding the minimum wage, fair redistricting, and pro-choice measures. They also wanted to enact gun control, more health care reform, and greater voting rights. Why couldn’t they do that? Because the GOP held both the State Senate and the House of Delegates (HD) and blocked these bills. They even stymied legislation to reduce the state’s horrible traffic congestion because some taxes might be needed. In 11/2017, after Donald went out to battle for Confederate-loving Ed Gillespie challenging Ralph Northam, Democrats turned out in droves to clobber Gillespie and show their antagonism to Trump. VA voters also flipped 15 House of Delegate seats from “Red” to “Blue,” the most since 1899. In 2017, the GOP only held on to the HD after a winner had to be decided by drawing a candidate’s name from a bowl (dlcc.org, 10/20/19, nytimes.com, 8/19/19). Going into the 11/05/2019 contests, the GOP controlled the HD by a 51-48 margin and the Senate by 20-19 “Red” edge. On 11/05/2019, unlike in 2017, all 140 Senate and HD seats were up for grabs. This time, unlike in 2017, 26 HD districts had been redrawn to throw out a GOP plan that was racially gerrymandered. The U.S. Supreme Ct. recognized that fact and allowed the redrawn maps to be used in 11/2019 (Wash. Post, 6/17/19).
After the 11/05/2019 elections, Democrats finally “finished the job” they had started in 2015 with the Senate, and in 2017 with the HD. Democrats have picked up at least two State Senate seats. In the HD races, “Team Blue” picked up at least another five (nytimes.com, Gabriel, T., 11/05-06/19). VA has now become the 15th Democratic trifecta in the country, where the Governor and both state house chambers are “Blue (See nytimes.com, 11/08/18 & 11/05-06/19).” They can now completely remove the GOP gerrymandering in time for the 2020 census and start passing the progressive legislation that had been blocked by the likes of former HD GOP Speaker Kirk Cox. Cox, known as VA’s “Mitch McConnell” for blocking progressive legislation, is now in the GOP minority. Unfortunately, in the Democrats’ Big VA 11/2019 win, Cox still won his race against Democratic challenger Sheila Bynum-Coleman in the 66th HD. However, VA Democrats have lots to celebrate. One of those VA Senate wins was an upset in a suburban Richmond district. In that race, Ghazala Hashmi, a native of India and a former college professor won one for “Team Blue.” She will be the first Muslim woman in the VA Senate. She ran this campaign, her first, because she was upset about Trump’s Muslim travel ban and his assaults on civil liberties. Remember Shelly Simonds? She was the Democrat who in 2017 was in a dead tie with GOP HD incumbent David Yancey. She lost that race because of a random bowl drawing required by law. This time, in a rematch, she beat Yancey. Chris Jones, the powerful GOP head of the HD appropriations committee, was upset by small-business owner Clint Jenkins. HD member Dem. Danica Roem, the first transgender lawmaker won re-election beating a homophobic “Red” candidate. GOP caucus chair and NRA ally Tim Hugo, the last GOPer left in the suburbs of multicultural Northern VA, lost to Democrat Dan Helmer. Helmer, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, pushed hard for sensible gun control, a big issue in this campaign. He fought for relief from traffic congestion. Helmer, who is Jewish and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, was attacked with anti-Semitic ads showing him holding dollars in his hands in ads put up on a Hugo website (See votesmart.org, nytimes.com, 8/08/19, 11/05-06/19, ggwash.org, Alpert, 9/10/19, huffpost.com, Marans, et al, 11/06/19, bluevirginia.us, Iowkell, 8/20/19).
Although Donald did not show up in VA this time, he was “bigly” on the voters’ minds. They are next door to D.C. as well as KY where Mr. MAGA struts around and blares his demagoguery. Although some GOPers tried to run away from Donald in VA, others embraced his xenophobic bigotry. Besides its multicultural makeup, Northern VA is full of educated professionals, horrified by Trump’s crudeness. The Democrats and their groups were well aware of the VA stakes. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) steered $200,000 to the VA Democratic Party for a coordinated campaign effort that comprised 108 field organizers and 16 other field staffers, its largest effort ever (AP, 11/06/19). In addition to the national Democrats, Democratic-leaning groups like the feminist pro-choice Emily’s list pumped more than $2 million into the HD races. Former NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his group Everytown for Gun Safety gave $2.5 million to help Democrats. The GOP had a blitz from Koch Industries, money from the NRA, and a $3.2 million contribution from the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national group supporting state-level GOP races. The DLCC, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which helps local candidates win state races, helped with get-out-the-vote drives. So did progressive groups like People for the American Way (See nytimes.com, Gabriel, 11/05-06/19). Turnout was superb in most VA districts. Again, when Democrats turn out, we all win.
The GOP did have a few “bright” spots on 11/05/2019. It won the governor’s race in racially polarized MS by 8 percentage points, actually, no surprise. “Team Red” also won a few state legislative seats in very “Red” MAGA areas in NJ, but the Garden State still has an overwhelming Democratic legislative margin and remains a “Blue” trifecta.
And there were even more great “Team Blue” wins. In Wichita, KS, the headquarters of Koch Industries, Dem. Brandon Whipple defeated GOPer Jeff Longwell for mayor in that state’s largest city (Kos, Singer, 11/01/19, Kos, Clawson, 11/06/19. Democrats maintained control of City Halls in Indianapolis, IN, and Manchester, NH. In the western area of St. Louis County, MO, in a special election, Democrat Trish Gunby flipped a GOP seat in an area that Trump had previously carried by 5 points. Again, Donald is losing the affluent suburban areas that helped carry him to victory in 2016, a bad sign (dlcc.org, 11/05/19). And let’s go briefly back to VA. Although this was not a state race, in “Blue”- trending formerly swing Loudoun County, Dem. Juli Briskman was elected to the Board of Supervisors. She was the woman who was fired in 2017 from her job when she flipped off Trump’s motorcade. She now represents the county where Donald’s VA golf club is located (Clawson, Kos, 11/06/19).
And here are more great results in the “Team Blue” 2019 wave. In Tucson, AZ, Dem. Regina Romero became the first Latina to serve as Tucson’s mayor. AZ is a state racked by anti-Hispanic sentiment among GOPers, but Latinos and moderates are turning there against Donald and his bigoted minions (See AZ Daily Star, @TucsonStar). In Columbus, IN, the hometown of VP Mike Pence, Democrats took control of the city council, the first time they have done that in four decades (newsweek.com). And then there’s PA. The suburban areas that were previously “Red,” Delaware, Chester, and Bucks Counties painted themselves “Blue” on Election Day, 2019. For the first time in generations, Democrats, bolstered by anti-Trump feelings, took control of the Delaware County Council, the controlling body of the historically “Red” Philadelphia suburb. In Chester County, PA, Democrats won control of the County Board of Commissioners and were projected winners in every county race. And in Bucks County, PA, “Team Blue” took control of the county Board of Commissioners for the first time in decades. These victories were straight down- the- line ones. They are in areas of crucial suburban Philadelphia. In 2016, these swing voters gave Hillary a very weak showing or voted for Donald, helping to flip PA “Red.” The 2019 election results show that Democrats and moderates in this important area have tremendous enthusiasm and energy and are out to defeat Trump and his rubber stamp followers. Again, as elsewhere, Donald is losing the highly educated and affluent voters, a very bad sign. This is to quote Joe Biden, a “BFD (See Dartagnan, Kos, 11/06/19, inquirer.com, patch.com).” In 11/2019, PA’s “Red” suburban Philadelphia area crumbled.
How do Democrats keep this trend going in 2020 for presidential, congressional, and state races? By emphasizing kitchen table issues --the economy, improving health care, and pushing for educational increases. Fighting against Trump’s attacks on our national values and his sickening corruption still remains essential. And, finally, I can’t say this enough-- it is all about turnout, turnout in droves plus. When Democrats and their moderate allies vote, this nation wins. Voting is the only way to defeat Trumpism. Staying home constitutes political malpractice.
A personal note. Today is the 15th anniversary of my starting this blog. I began this blog after John Kerry’s 2004 defeat to encourage Democrats to get out and vote while attacking GOP reactionaries at all levels of government. With Donald “running” our country, the need to write these blog posts to encourage Democratic voter participation remains even stronger. In 2020, we must take America back.
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