It was one year ago Wednesday that American politics were shaken to the core with the stunning upset victory for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Fast-forward 12 months and the Democrats have some renewed swagger, winning two governorships by big margins as voters thumbed their noses at extreme nationalism.
The Dems’ big night certainly could bode well as political junkies — and average Americans — start to look ahead to the 2018 midterm elections.
Ralph Northam clobbered GOP hopeful Ed Gillispie to win the Virginia state house tonight, cruising by a lopsided 54%-45%. The race to fill Terry McAuliffe’s seat had gained national attention as the Republican challenger campaigned on Trumpian nationalism and an anti-immigration stance, while never actually campaigning with Trump. Most news outlets expected a tight race that whose drama might stretch into the wee hours, perhaps not even being decided tonight. Turns out MSNBC and CNN called it for Northam about an hour after the polls closed.
Trump had stumped for Gillespie but quickly distanced himself from the also-ran via, of course, Twitter:
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
In fact, Democrats swept Virginia’s statewide races, with big-margin wins for attorney general and lieutenant governor among others. And in the night’s most significant and stunning victory, history-wise, transgender candidate Danica Roem beat GOP rival Bob Marshall — a 13-term incumbent and Virginia’s self-described “homophobe in chief” who authored its bathroom trans ban — for his seat on the House of Delegates. She becomes the country’s first openly transgender state lawmaker, in truly spectacular fashion.
Another Virginia House race that drew national attention saw a victory by Democrat Chris Hurst, who was living with fellow journalist Alison Parker when she and her WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward were shot to death by a former co-worker while Parker was doing a live interview in August 2015.
New Jersey’s gubernatorial race featured even less suspense than Virginia’s, as Dem Phil Murphy clobbered Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who also had run on a form Trumpified nationalism. That race was called by some outlets a minute after polls closed. Of course, they were running to replace two-term Gov. Chris Christie, who leaves the state house with among the highest disapproval ratings for a governor in modern American history.
Meanwhile, in New York City, Hollywood-friendly Mayor Bill de Blasio wiped out Republican Assemblyman Nicole Malliotakis by a nearly 2-to-1 margin to win a second term.