Election 2017: Democrats get revenge after a year of GOP victories

UPDATE — 3:35 p.m. EST: Maine Gov. Paul LePage vowed Wednesday to block an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act as passed by nearly 60 percent of voters via ballot initiative on Tuesday. 

According to the Bangor Daily News, up to 70,000 Mainers would benefit from the expansion, but LePage says he will not authorize its implementation until funds are appropriated in a responsible manner.

“Credit agencies are predicting that this fiscally irresponsible Medicaid expansion will be ruinous to Maine’s budget,” a statement by the governor read. “I will not support increasing taxes on Maine families, raiding the rainy day fund or reducing services to our elderly or disabled.”

 

Following four straight electoral victories for Republicans in the wake of the 2016 election, Democrats came back with a vengeance Tuesday by sweeping four statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey.

The most revealing result was called by major media outlets relatively early in the night as current Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated Republican challenger Ed Gillespie in impressive fashion.

Northam, a former U.S. Army medical officer and pediatric neurologist, scored a nine point victory by running up the vote in urban and suburban areas of the commonwealth — most notably Fairfax County, just south of Washington, D.C.

Gillespie, former chairman of the RNC and political consultant, failed to garner the same enthusiasm among rural voters which made last year’s presidential election in Virginia a tighter race than expected.  While Gillespie received the same percentage of the vote as Trump in many sparsely populated southern and western counties, turnout was down significantly.

The soon-to-be governor-elect, Northam, ran a moderately liberal campaign, vowing to protect women’s and LGBT rights, expand Medicaid and continue Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s economic policies, but stopped short of embracing “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants.

In New Jersey, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy cruised to a 13-point election night victory over Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, as three major networks called the race as soon as polls closed at 8 p.m. local time for the former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. ambassador.

Murphy, a Massachusetts native, campaigned largely on a progressive agenda, promising to fully fund public-sector and teachers’ pensions, enact a $15 minimum wage, legalize the recreational use of marijuana, invest in transportation infrastructure and protect illegal immigrants from federal prosecution.

In addition to both gubernatorial races, Democrats also won statewide elections in Virginia for both lieutenant governor and attorney general, and picked up at least 16 seats in the commonwealth’s House of Delegates.

Two other significant non-statewide candidate races Tuesday included a special U.S. House election in Utah and New York City’s mayoral election.

Both votes proved noncompetitive, with Republican Provo Mayor John Curtis defeating Democrat Kathie Allen to replace former Congressman Jason Chaffetz, and incumbent Bill de Blasio brushing off three challengers in New York to earn a second term as mayor by garnering two-thirds of ballots cast.

 

[AP] [Richmond Times-Dispatch] [NJ.com] [Salt Lake Tribune] [Photo courtesy RTÉ]

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