Victorious Democrats vow to take ‘ one election at a time’
WASHINGTON – Tuesday’s elections were a much- needed jolt for Democrats on the anniversary of Hillary Clinton’s loss last year. Jubilant Democrats say the election results are a rejection of President Trump and that they’re just getting started.
Democrats won the governor’s mansions in Virginia and New Jersey. They also flipped a massive number of seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, and Maine voted to expand Medicaid. And voters elected a slew of women and minorities along with several transgender candidates to government offices around the nation.
“The Democratic Party is back,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez announced on a call with reporters Wednesday morning. “We’re taking our country back from Donald Trump one election at a time.”
After a year with Trump in the White House and Republicans holding both the House and Senate, Democrats feel like this is finally their time — even if the wins were all in blue or blue- leaning states. But as election handicapper Nathan Gonzales wrote on his website Inside Elections on Wednesday, “Everyone take a deep breath.” A few nice wins in off- year elections does not guarantee a 2018 wave.
Anti- Trump sentiment
“There was an overwhelming thing that was looming large and I think that was the divisive rhetoric,” Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican, told CNN. “I think that last night was a referendum. I don’t think there’s any way that you can look at it in a different way.”
“I would say that the top four reasons are Trump, Trump, Trump and Trumpism,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told USA TODAY. “I’m not saying that the candidates weren’t good, but I am saying that plenty of good candidates have lost. What’s the difference? The difference is Democratic anger in Trump.”
Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, lost to Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam by 9 percentage points in Virginia. Gillespie had tried to run as a centrist while embracing some issues — such as being tough on illegal immigration and protecting confederate monuments — that the Trump base had embraced.
Sabato said the high turnout in an off- year, the clear margins of victory and the sheer volume of seats that flipped in the House of Delegates all while rain poured in Virginia could not be ignored. Voters “were determined to send Trump a message.” Republicans went into Tuesday with a 66- 34 advantage in the House of Delegates; by the end of the night, Democrats controlled 48 seats, Republicans 47 and the rest were still undecided.
Sabato cautioned Democrats shouldn’t get too confident yet. The wins were all in states that are clearly blue or leaned that way, and Democrats still had a long way to go if they were going to start flipping seats in purple or red states.
Ralph Northam greets supporters at a rally Tuesday in Fairfax, Va. Northam beat Republican Ed Gillespie to win the governorship.