Democrats post big wins in first nationwide elections under Trump

Democrats won in Virginia, New York, New Jersey and New England -- while Republicans held onto the only congressional seat up for grabs.
By Ed Adamczyk  |  Nov. 8, 2017 at 7:40 AM
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Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Progressive Democrats were big winners in Tuesday's nationwide elections -- signaling what some observers say is a referendum on President Donald Trump's administration.

In Virginia, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in a race in which Gillespie, a lifelong moderate, adopted stances and tactics Trump successfully employed as a candidate.

Gillespie offered tough positions on immigration, supported the retention of Confederate monuments and made football players' protest campaigns an issue. Northam, a moderate Democrat, won the election by about 9 percentage points.

Trump, who supported Gillespie in the campaign, quickly hedged his endorsement after Northam's win.

"Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for," he tweeted. "With the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!"

Tuesday's were the first nationwide elections under the Trump administration.

Democrats also made gains in Virginia's legislative House of Delegates, where all 100 seats were up for vote.

Winners included Dawn Adams, the state's first openly lesbian delegate; Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, Virginia's first Latina delegate winners; Kathy Tran, the first Asian-American delegate; socialist Lee Carter; and transgender Danica Roem, who defeated social conservative Robert Marshall. Roem called Marshall "a mirror" of Trump, and Marshall had referred to himself as the state's "chief homophobe" throughout the campaign.

The progressive cause also succeeded in New Jersey, where Democrat Phil Murphy easily defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno -- possibly hampered by her association with outgoing Gov. Chris Christie, who saw historic levels of unpopularity toward the end of his tenure. He is also a prominent member of Trump's circle of advisers.

Democrats will also hold, if not increase, their majorities in both of New Jersey's legislatures.

Republicans didn't lose any grip on their control in Congress, however. In an expected win, John Curtis easily defeated Democrat Kathie Allen in Utah's 3rd House District, a seat vacated by Republican Rep. and oversight committee chairman Jason Cheffetz.

Elsewhere, Democrat Bill de Blasio was re-elected mayor of New York City, and New York voters overwhelmingly voted down a referendum calling for a new state constitutional convention. A wide assortment of groups, who often are at odds, recommended rejecting the referendum citing the potential to erode protections ranging from free public education to collective bargaining.

In Ohio, a measure to limit the price the state pays for prescription drugs, which was opposed with a major campaign by the pharmaceutical industry, was also rejected by nearly 80 percent of voters. It called for capping the costs at the price the Veterans Administration pays for the same drugs.

Some political observers say the net gains of the progressive cause Tuesday can be seen as a repudiation of some of Trump's policies, in which more moderate voters rejected the administration and embraced Democrats.

In Massachusetts, Democrat Martin Walsh was re-elected mayor of Boston; Flint, Mich., Mayor Karen Weaver survived a recall vote to serve the remainder of her two-year term; Democrat Vi Lyles was elected the first female African-American mayor of Charlotte and Mike Duggan was re-elected mayor of Detroit.

Maine voters approved a referendum to expand Medicaid for low-income adults, a key element of the Democrats' Affordable Care Act, after Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the plan.

Success of the Medicaid referendum is seen as a bellwether for continuing support of the ACA, despite the Trump administration's attempts to reduce its scope and impact.

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