Vic­to­ri­ous Democrats vow to take ‘ one elec­tion at a time’

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION - El­iza Collins Con­tribut­ing: Her­bert Jack­son and Ni­cole Gau­di­ano

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.

WIN MCNAMEE/ GETTY IM­AGES

Ralph Northam greets sup­port­ers at a rally Tues­day in Fair­fax, Va. Northam beat Repub­li­can Ed Gille­spie to win the gover­nor­ship.

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