It’s hard to sugarcoat what happened on election Tuesday; Democrats won the House, which was a huge victory, but beloved candidates like Andrew Gillum, running for governor in Florida, or Beto O’Rourke, who was challenging Ted “I’m totally not the Zodiac killer” Cruz for a seat in Congress, lost. The verdict is still out on Stacey Abrams’ push to become America’s first black female governor because we all know that Brian Kemp, who just so happens to oversee votes in the election, is currently stuffing bags of votes for Abrams and putting them in a shipping container to Honduras.
The only real winner on Tuesday was racism. Texas proved that you could nominate a potato and as long as that potato can utter the phrase “build a wall” and confidently wear a MAGA hat, many are going to vote for that goddamn potato. Florida continues to be Florida, so on the same day that Florida residents voted to give former felons back their voting rights, they failed to elect the first black governor of Florida. For this I don’t just blame the time-warped Southern state of weirdness, I also blame Darcy Richardson, Kyle Gibson, Bruce Stanley and Ryan Foley. Who are these people? Oh, just some randos who were also on the ballot that collectively garnered close to 100,000 votes. As it stands Gillum only lost by less than 60,000 votes.
But all is not lost. There were still some huge victories happening across America; victories that were an absolute middle finger to the current dictatorship in the White House. Victories that couldn’t have been achieved without massive voter turnout. But first a shoutout.
I know I said earlier that racism was the biggest winner but that’s because Gillum and O’Rourke both lost and, fine, I was a little in my feelings. The biggest winner last night had to be black women. Across the country black women not only dominated on local, state and national levels, they motivated people to come out and vote. According to the Black Women in Politics website, some 608 black women ran for office all over the country and that isn’t just amazing, that’s awesome AF. Black women are not only America’s voting conscience, but they’re also leading the charge and doing the work.
Now, let’s look at the results of some of the races we were watching.
Mike Espy vs. Er’body for Mississippi Senate (cont’d)
Because Mike Espy was up against three other opponents—another Democrat and two Republicans (don’t ask, it’s Mississippi, and Mississippi is still stuck in the ’60s), the votes were split among the four candidates and no one reached the 50 percent mark to take over the seat vacated by retired Sen. Thad Cochran. Now Espy and Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith are poised for a runoff. Hyde-Smith took over Cochran’s seat in the deeply Southern state in which black people are still called colored.
The runoff will take place on Nov. 27.
Letitia James Owned Republican Keith H. Wofford to Become New York State’s Attorney
Remember the name Letitia James. Not only did the 60-year-old public advocate for New York City become the first woman in New York to be elected as attorney general, she’s also “the first African-American woman to be elected to statewide office and the first black person to serve as attorney general,” the New York Times reports. If that isn’t impressive enough, she’s also now at the frontline of pursuing several actions against Trump, which include, a lawsuit against the president’s charitable foundation.
Oh, and during the debate with Republican Keith Wofford, James refused to even look his way when talking about him, which means she’s not for a lot of foolishness.
Mandela Barnes Becomes First Black Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Mandela Barnes isn’t just black, he’s HBCU-certified black. The Alabama A&M graduate is now Wisconsin’s first black lieutenant governor. And Barnes didn’t just win the election; he had to overcome a news station claiming he’d died in a car crash and fake national anthem kneeling allegations from his opponent.
With this victory, Barnes becomes only the second black person elected to a statewide office.
Gretchen Whitmer Wins Michigan Governor Race
I know what you’re thinking ... Gretchen Whitmer is a white woman and you’d be absolutely correct. Her victory is monumental because her lieutenant governor, Garlin Gilchrist II, is a hot name on the political scene and since Michigan chooses their governors and lieutenant governors as a pair, a win for Whitmer is also a win for Gilchrist. Be on the lookout for this young, charismatic, former techie turned politico as he’s expected to make big moves.
Deidre DeJear Loses Her Bid for Iowa’s Secretary of State
Deidre DeJear, 32, was poised to become Iowa’s first African-American secretary of state and then it didn’t happen. She was hailed as a rock star by California senator and rock star Kamala Harris, who also campaigned for DeJear. Not to mention DeJear outraised her opponent, but in the end, Iowa decided to elect Republican Paul Pate for a third term. Pate was the architect of a voter ID law that “eliminated straight-ticket voting and will require Iowans to present a state-issued ID at the polls beginning next year,” a move many Dems noted would disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Although Pate won, he noted in his victory speech that he still has to go to court to fight for his voter-ID bullshit despite Iowa having damn near no problems with voter fraud.
Ben Jealous Loses Race for Maryland Governor
Despite a strong showing for what many called a damn near impossible race, Ben Jealous was unable to unseat incumbent Larry Hogan. Hogan is an anomaly in the Trump-era as he’s a likable Republican who seems to really care about all the people he governs. Jealous had a strong showing and even had Dave Chappelle campaigning for him, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough.
Jahana Hayes Crushes Trump Supporter to Take Connecticut’s 5th District
Jahana Hayes was supposed to have all these reasons why she couldn’t win—she’s a former teacher of the year turned politician, little political experience, blah, blah, blah—and then she just kept winning. Not only did she trounce longtime politician Mary Glassman to win the Democratic nomination, but she also beat Manny Santos, a Trump guy, who was all “Build the wall!”
With this victory, Hayes becomes the first black woman to represent Connecticut in the House of Representatives.
Keith Ellison Overcomes Domestic-Abuse Allegations to Become Minnesota’s Attorney General
When Keith Ellison announced that he wouldn’t be running for Senate in 2018, it seemed as if one of the Democrats’ brightest stars may have been bowing out of politics altogether. There were allegations of domestic violence from a former girlfriend but then he announced that he was running for Minnesota’s attorney general, a much tougher race to win, especially considering his seat in the House of Representatives was considered safe.
On Tuesday, Ellison pulled out a tight race to become the first Muslim to win statewide office.
Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar Become First Muslim Women Elected to Congress
Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib and Somali-American Ilhan Omar made history on Tuesday becoming the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
“Tlaib took Michigan’s 13th Congressional District in a race in which she was the sole major party candidate. Omar won Minnesota’s strongly Democratic Fifth Congressional District, replacing the first Muslim congressman, Keith Ellison, who vacated his seat to run in the state’s attorney general race,” Al Jazeera reports.
Close Call: Lucy McBath Hopes to Turn Tragedy Into Triumph in Race for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District
Lucy McBath didn’t want the spotlight. Six years ago, she was working as a flight attendant when her son was tragically gunned down. The death of her son, Jordan Davis, 17, during an interaction with a thug over the music playing in the teen’s vehicle was devastating. McBath took all that sadness and used it to fuel a Congressional run where she now holds a slight lead in a tightly contested race against Republican Karen Handel.