Virginia Surprise and New Jersey Squeeze: What you missed in the US November elections | Sarah Stook


Here’s what you missed on American elections 2021:

Gubernatorial

  • Virginia- Republican Glenn Youngkin v Democrat Terry McAuliffe

With incumbent Ralph Northam ineligible for re-election under Virginia rules that don’t allow consecutive terms, he was forced to sit this one out. Former Governor Terry McAuffle easily won the Democratic nomination. Former CEO Glenn Youngkin was the Republican’s pick, despite lack of political experience.

McAuliffe led the initial polling until a huge gaffe on his part during the second debate. He accused Youngkin of wanting to get rid of books such as Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved.’ After stating that he didn’t think parents should come in and take books out, McAuliffe said the following:

‘Yeah, I stopped the bill that I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.’

This was immediately controversial. Education had been a central issue in Virginia during the course of the campaign. Incidents over banned books, anti-Asian admissions and plans to get rid of accelerated courses popped up. The most controversial subject was that of CRT- Critical Race Theory. CRT, in simple terms, is an academic theory that teaches that race is a social construct embedded in legal and societal systems. Advocates state that it empowers previously silenced subjects of race and inequality. Critics say it is anti-white and relies on storytelling as opposed to fact.

McAuliffe called resistance to CRT ‘a dog whistle.’ The bill that he referred to in the quote above was one that would have let parents know if sexually explicit material was being taught and allow them to request alternatives. All of this combined clearly sparked fear in parents. Those who deemed education as their top priority now favoured Youngkin. The Republican saw polls go in his favour.

Still, the Republicans couldn’t get complacent. The Democrats had a tight grip on the state and Virginia had only returned three Republican governors in the past forty years. As the election results unfolded, it was clear: Virginia was going red.

Youngkin ended up winning by 50.8% to McAuliffe’s 48.4%. He managed to do well among white suburbanites in particular, as well as seeing a rise in Latino support.

  • New Jersey- Democrat Phil Murphy (Incumbent) v Republican Jack Ciattarelli

Had the Republicans actually fought this race, it could have been theirs.

New Jersey has seen a surge in Democratic dominance over the last few years. It was expected that they would easily win over the Republicans in a gubernatorial election. Shockingly for everyone, it was pretty damn close. As the votes were counted, the lead kept changing. It was Phil Murphy one minute and Jack Ciattarelli the next. Though Murphy eventually won, it was a lot closer than it should have been.

Yes, Murphy is the first Democratic Governor to be re-elected since 1977, but that’s not the point. The state as a whole has become very blue. Both Senators are Democrats. They make up the majority of the state legislatures. There are more Democrats registered. It’s voted Democrat in the US elections pretty consistently over the last few cycles. This should have been a given.

Ciattarelli managed to get a good turnout out of the Republican strongholds, whilst also turning a few blue areas red. The GOP hadn’t bothered with this election. Imagine if they had.

Virginia:

  • Lieutenant-Governor: Republican Winsome Sears v Democrat Hala Alaya

Running on the same ticket as the Governor, the Lt-Gov is essentially the state’s VP. Republicans selected the Jamaican-born Winsome Sears, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative. Democrats chose Hala Alaya, the incumbent representing Virginia’s 51st district in their House.

For the majority of the election, Alaya was winning. This changed in the last few weeks when Sears pulled ahead. A photo of Sears holding a gun was used by both parties. In the end, Sears won by 50.9% to Ayala’s 49.1% and became the first black woman in the role.

  • Attorney-General: Republican Jason Miyares v Democrat Mark Herring (Incumbent)

Unlike the other two, this race had an incumbent involved. Herring had won two back-to-back elections and had served in the role since 2014. His opponent was Cuban-American Jason Miyares.

This race was tighter than the other two, but Miyares managed to win by 50.7% to 49.3%. He is the first Hispanic in the role.

Virginia House of Delegates:

It was a good night in the Virginia House of Delegates. Democrats lost 7 seats and Republicans gained an equal number. The Republicans now have the majority in the house: 52 to 48. Yes, that number again.

New Jersey:

  • New Jersey General Assembly:

We’re still waiting for the full picture, but the Democrats look safe. The Republicans have gained at least four seats and could maybe gain another four.

  • New Jersey State Senate:

Again, still waiting, but it looks like the composition will be the same. We cannot, however, avoid the topic of the internet’s new favourite candidate.

New Jersey’s 3rd District has been represented by the same person for twenty years. Stephen Sweeney has been a strong force in New Jersey politics and had a lot of power. In 2010, he became President of the State Senate. Enter Ed Durr. The trucker decided to run this year. He believed that he could get the requisite number of votes, noting that Sweeney had never broke 32,000 votes in a single election. His expenses? About $153 in the primaries. He spent only $5K in the campaign overall, compared to the million Sweeney spent.

Special Elections

  • OH-11:  Democrat Shontel Brown v Republican Laverne Gore

After its incumbent Marcia Fudge resigned in order to join the Biden administration, OH-11 needed a representative. The congressional district is the most Democratic in the state and the most blue in the Midwest outside of Chicago. Shontel Brown won with 78.8% of the vote, compared to 21.2% for Laverne Gore.

  • OH-15: Republican Mike Carey v Democrat Allison Russo

Incumbent Steve Shivers resigned to become a CEO. The safe Republican district returned Mike Carey, who won with 58.3%.

Mayoral Elections

There were a number of Mayoral elections this November. Here are the major ones:

  • Boston elected its first female and POC mayor in Michelle Wu. The Republicans didn’t bother to field a candidate.
  • NYC returned a Democrat as expected. Retired police officer Eric Adams is mayor-elect. His Republican opponent was founder of The Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa.
  • Detroit’s mayoral election was officially non-partisan, but it was no surprise that the two major candidates were Democrats. The winner was Mike Duggan in a third consecutive win.
  • Miami’s incumbent Francis X. Suarez, a Republican, was re-elected with a respectable 78.16%
  • Minneapolis’ candidates were also all Democrats. Incumbent mayor Jacob Frey won in the final round, despite the George Floyd controversy.
  • Atlanta saw another full round of Democratic candidates. Incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms had decided not to run again. The new mayor-elect is Felicia Moore
  • Seattle is another non-partisan show with an all-Democrat list of candidates. The city has been in the news a lot due to riots, Antifa and the Seattle Autonomous Zone. Incumbent Jenny Durkan decided not to run. Bruce Harrell won.

Municipal Elections

There were municipal elections across the country. The one to talk about is in Seattle. Again, it’s technically a non-partisan position, but a Republican won. In Seattle. Ann Davison has won the race for City Attorney. This position is basically Seattle’s lawyer. Her opponent, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, is a police abolitionist. Even Seattle can change its mind apparently.

Ballot Measures

There were several ballot measures in cities and states across America this year. These included voting measures in NYC, bond issues in Rhode Island and tax rates in Louisiana.

Minneapolis takes centre stage again. The home of the George Floyd crisis, the city’s police saw a barrage of attacks from citizens and politicians. Minneapolis’ city council decided to dismantle the police force but a city charter prevented it. A cut to budgets and officers saw an increase in crime, which led to a planned ballot measure in November 2020 being cancelled. This measure was brought up again this election.

The measure is as follows:

‘This amendment would create a Department of Public Safety combining public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council. The department would be led by a Commissioner nominated by the Mayor and appointed by the Council. The Police Department, and its chief, would be removed from the City Charter. The Public Safety Department could include police officers, but the minimum funding requirement would be eliminated.’

The ballot failed by 56.17% to 43.83%. Jacob Frey had opposed the measure and two city council members who had supported it lost their seats on Tuesday. Black voters were less likely to support the ballot than whites. Polls showed residents were unhappy about the surge in crime and reticent about cutting police.


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