Wednesday, November 9, 2011


It's an odd feeling, but a massive slate of victories for progressives last night:
Democrats romped, as expected, in Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear won a second term, and Dems carried all statewide races except agriculture commissioner (a Republican hold). The reverse was true in Mississippi, where GOP Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant was handily elected governor and Republicans retained every statewide post except attorney general (won by incumbent Jim Hood).

The good guys also won big on the three major ballot measures up last night: Ohio Issue 2 (repealing a bill that limited collective bargaining rights for public employees), Maine Question 1 (restoring same-day voter registration), and Mississippi Initiative 26 (turning back an amendment that would have defined personhood at the moment of fertilization). Not one of these three votes was even close, and the Ohio result in particular is a monstrous black eye for GOP Gov. John Kasich.

Democrats also held on to a crucial state Senate seat in Iowa, where Liz Mathis cruised to a double-digit win, ensuring the narrowly-divided chamber remains in Dem control. And two Republican state legislators were recalled: Sen. Russell Pearce in Arizona (who lost to fellow Republican Jerry Lewis), and Rep. Paul Scott in Michigan. (A special election will be held to replace Scott sometime next year.) In the OR-01 special primaries, Suzanne Bonamici cleaned up for the Dems and Rob Cornilles did the same for the GOP, as expected. They will face off on Jan. 31, 2012 for ex-Rep. David Wu's former seat.

The one big black mark appears to be the Virginia state Senate, where Democrats look to have lost two net seats to drop the chamber into a 20-20 deadlock. Though GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling would presumably break ties, some commentators are suggesting that a power-sharing agreement might be necessary.

Much of the talk will be how the Obama campaign responds to this result, and who honestly knows. After the 2010 elections, they thought that the country wanted a president who was friendlier to big business and Wall Street, and it's hard to see how that could have been a more colossal failure. In the last few month's the Administration seems to be at least publicly acknowledging that people care about not having jobs, so he's talking about those issues more, and he's flirting with using his executive power to do a few things, but who knows.

You'd think that this election would make the White House less squeamish around populist issues, but then again this is a president who thought getting further in bed with Wall Street was a good political strategy as recently as a year ago.

The most important message in these elections (particularly Ohio) is the warning shot other governors looking to attempt the same in other states. We will fight back, and the people are on our side.

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