You thought there would be time to rest after Election Day? C’mon. There are some big special elections coming down the pike already!
In Virginia, Democrats could take the State House of Delegates and win a state government trifecta if they can pull off an upset in the special election for HD-24. It’s a historically very red seat, but remember that Democrats flipped a ton of red seats in the Virginia legislature in 2017 and won big in congressional elections there this year, so the party is motivated and firing on all cylinders.
The Democratic nominee, chosen yesterday, is Christian Worth. The Republican nomination is a bit cloudy right now, as two candidates are separated by a single vote and there’s been no concession. Perhaps Democrats can take advantage of the division and grab the seat. The election is December 18th.
There’s also a special election in the State Senate, for the seat being vacated by Congresswoman-elect Jennifer Wexton. SD-33 definitely leans blue, but given the close divide in the Virginia legislature, it’s important to help Democratic Del. Jennifer Boysko, who won the nomination yesterday. The election is on January 8th.
I know it can be hard to fully care about these local elections, especially after such a draining national election cycle. But they really do make a direct difference in the lives of tens of millions of people, which then goes on to impact national politics, as we’ve learned these last few years. This story on all the progressive initiatives being put forth in states where Democrats took back power gives a nice peek at what the candidates we helped will be doing this year.
Right away, we’re likely to see some gun control in Nevada, worker protections in Wisconsin, environmental regulations in Colorado, and Medicaid expansion in a number of states. New York has a more progressive legislature that is fighting hard against the Amazon swindle (or at least make politicians pay the price for it). New Jersey is going to raise its minimum wage (we’re coming for you, Sweeney). In Illinois, Nevada, and New Mexico, Democrats have full control over redistricting. These races all really matter (especially if we keep the pressure on after Democrats take power).
The two most high-profile races are taking place down south, in Mississippi and Georgia. These are new battleground states, with far more than the individual election outcomes at stake.
In Mississippi, a special election for the state’s second US Senate seat pits Mike Espy, a former Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture, against Cindy Hyde-Smith, a mean-spirited and unrepentant racist who was appointed to the position earlier this year.
With the focus squarely on this race, Hyde-Smith’s nastiness has been on full display. She enthusiastically endorsed public hangings and “joked” that voter suppression was a good thing. She says that those comments were jokes; local media says otherwise.
But debates over just how serious she was about these particular comments are almost irrelevant; the fact is that Hyde-Smith is an automatic vote for Trump — she’s sided with him a whopping 100% of the time, and that says it all.
With Republicans defending 20 seats in the 2020 election, there are likely to be some Republicans trying to distance themselves from Trump and the national party (hey, Susan Collins is up for re-election). Even if Democrats don’t have the majority this time around, one seat could be crucial to blocking judges and other confirmations in the Senate. And of course, winning this race will bring us one step closer to a majority next time around.
Mississippi is also a state that, despite its deep south heritage, should not be a lock for Republicans. Its population is 40% African-American, and as we saw in Alabama last year, when black voters are motivated — and more importantly, treated properly and valued by national Democrats — they can make all the difference in a statewide race. Progressives Everywhere is devoted to empowering Democratic grassroots voters everywhere, which makes this Mississippi race a perfect focus for our efforts.
The Mississippi race may depend on overcoming voter suppression, which has been a common theme this election cycle. It was especially prominent in Georgia, where Stacey Abrams just ended her campaign for governor. It will go down as a bitter election loss but perhaps, in the end, a crucial victory for free and fair elections. Abrams’ fight for every vote exposed the true breadth of the damage done to the state’s democracy by her opponent, former Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
We knew about the 1.6 million voters he erased from the system over his two terms, the largest such purge in American history. We knew about the ridiculous lawsuit he filed days before the election. We knew about the over 50,000 people he wanted to ban from voting with trapdoor inanities. And on Election Day, we saw how he abused voters by throttling the number of voting machines in largely minority districts. Then came revelations of the absentee ballots sent out late by his office and his efforts to throw out provisional ballots, followed by Kemp’s continued public legal battles against counting votes.
Democracy is on a respirator in Georgia and just about everything has to change if we’re going to bring it back to life ahead of the 2020 election. That starts with replacing Brian Kemp as Secretary of State with Democrat John Barrow, who will compete in a runoff election for the position on December 4th.
Barrow, a former Congressman from 2005-2015, was initially bumped from office due to the last administration’s gross gerrymandering of Georgia, so he knows full well just how much power the state government can wield. His platform is a stark contrast to that of his GOP opponent, Brad Raffensperger, who wants to keep on purging voters and forcing others to conform to strict ID laws that make it so tough to cast a ballot (and even tougher to have it actually count). Barrow would make it easier to vote; Raffensperger wants to disenfranchise everyone he can.
“It shouldn’t be easier to get kicked off the rolls if you’re a registered voter, a citizen entitled to vote, than it is to have your water turned off,” Barrow told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution late last month. “It’s just as bad to kick somebody off the rolls who has a right to participate and has done nothing wrong as it is to let somebody in who has no business voting.”
Georgia is in the middle of a massive population shift, making it more likely to vote in Democrats than ever before — it already provided several big upsets in this year’s Congressional elections. But that can’t happen if citizens aren’t allowed to vote. Even without the partisanship angle, an assault on democracy is an assault on us all, and Georgia has a chance to stand up to anti-voting goons next month. Let’s help them out and stand with them as they fight for their future — and ours.