In the marquee race of the night, Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia Governor’s race. The margin was narrow, but Cuccinelli’s inability to beat McAuliffe, whose favorabilty rating stood at a dismal 23 percent, is a testament to how far the Tea Party has fallen from grace since its 2010 glory days. Voters did not like McAuliffe one bit, but in the end they preferred him to the extremist alternative, represented by Cuccinelli. Down ballot, the Republican Lt. Governor candidate, E.W. Jackson, fared even worse, losing by double digits to Democrat Ralph Northam, who will now be able to cast tie-breaking votes in the Virginia State Senate which is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.
The news from New York City is even worse for Republicans. Bill de Blasio, a populist progressive Democrat, took the city by an eye-popping 73-24 margin over Republican Joe Lhota in the mayoral race. The New York City mayor ran on raising taxes on high income earners, on providing universal pre-kindergarten for New York school children, and on reforming city policing and halting racially discriminatory “stop and frisk” searches. Republicans could perhaps take solace that they kept the spread under 50 points, but they should take no small comfort even in that moral victory, because if de Blasio had not publicly identified himself as a Boston Red Sox fan, Lhota might have been beaten by 60 points.
Well perhaps nobody expected the Tea Party to be competitive in the Big Apple, but they also got thrashed in the South. In St. Petersburg, Florida Democrat Rich Kriseman stomped Incumbent Republican Mayor Bill Foster 56-44 percent. In Greensboro, North Carolina progressive City Councilor Nancy Vaughan trounced Incumbent Mayor Robbie Perkins 59-40. In an open seat race in Charlotte, North Carolina, Democrat Patrick Cannon won 53-47. Cannon’s story is especially inspiring since he was raised by a single mother in public housing, after his father was killed during Patrick’s early childhood. Charlotte had a Republican mayor for 22 years straight from 1987-2009, but the city is now firmly Democratic, and the new City Council will sport a lopsided 9-2 Democratic majority.
Even in an Alabama GOP primary the Tea Party got rejected as State Senator Bradley Byrne bested his Tea Party “birther” wing nut opponent Dean Young 52-48 percent in the Alabama District-01 Congressional primary. After getting thoroughly repudiated in the South, the Tea Party faithful may have to lick their wounds and plot their last stand in Utah or Wyoming, and hope for better luck there.
Bigotry took a beating at the polling booths, as Janice Daniels, the former mayor of Troy, Michigan who was recalled in 2012 in part for her anti-gay slurs, lost a comeback bid to take a seat on the city’s council. Seattle elected an openly gay mayor and Houston’s first lesbian Mayor, Annise Parker, easily coasted to re-election… in Texas.
On ballot initiatives, 61 percent of New Jersey voters approved raising the state’s minimum wage to 8.25 an hour and indexing it to inflation. in SeaTac, Washington, a measure to raise the city’s minimum wage over fifty percent to 15 dollars an hour was passing by a 53-47 margin with ballots still to be counted. Portland, Maine approved marijuana legalization by a landslide 2 to 1 margin, and throughout Colorado, marijuana tax measures to fund education passed overwhelmingly.