With 2015 being an off year election, closely watched races were far and few between on Tuesday. For liberals trying to get up to speed, here is what happened on election night 2015.
First the bad news:
Races where Democrats/Liberals Lost:
Kentucky Governor: In the marquee race of the night, tea party Republican Matt Bevin trounced Democrat Jack Conway by nearly 9 percentage points, 52.5 to 43.8 unofficially, with all the precincts reporting. Conway had led in nearly every political poll of the race. However, with no public polls released in the final week, it isn’t clear whether Bevin had a late surge or if the polls had been methodologically flawed across the board.
Bevin promised in February to repeal Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, even though Kentucky’s health care program has been one of the most successful of its kind in the country. Kentucky voters decided rather than continue with what is working, to roll the dice with Bevin.
Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO): In a huge blow to LGBTQ activists and supporters, Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance was losing by an overwhelming 61-39 margin with 95 percent of precincts counted. Although the ordinance was a pretty straightforward anti-discrimination ordinance, opponents used fear tactics to manipulate voters into defeating the ordinance. They argued that protecting trans-gendered residents would allow sexual predators to stalk women in ladies rooms around the city. Sadly, voters seemed to swallow the propaganda, and they rejected the anti-discrimination ordinance.
Races Where Democrats/Liberals Won:
Pennsylvania Supreme Court: In the Keystone State, Democrats swept all three Supreme Court seats up for grabs, giving them a decisive 5 to 2 majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court majority will almost certainly give Democrats the upper hand when redistricting is done in 2020. The implications of the Democrats’ trifecta win could be felt in years to come, as heavily gerrymandered GOP legislative seats may be redrawn, potentially putting several GOP Congressman in jeopardy after the 2020 census.
Indianapolis Mayor: Democrat Joe Hogsett scored a decisive victory over Republican Chuck Brewer, winning the Indianapolis Governor’s race by a 63-37 margin. Hogsett will replace outgoing Republican Mayor Greg Ballard. Hogsett’s victory was part of a huge night for Indianapolis Democrats as they now hold every major city and countywide office as well as a majority on the Indianapolis City Council.
Charlotte Mayor: Democrat Jennifer Roberts became Charlotte’s first ever female Democratic Mayor, winning a competitive race over Republican Edwin Peacock 52.2 to 47.7. Peacock had hoped to win over conservative “Reagan Democrats” to defeat Roberts, but in the end his support was largely confined to the conservative Southeastern portions of the city, while she ran up the margins in most of the rest of the city.
Jefferson County, Colorado School Board: In perhaps the most satisfying race of the night for progressives, the Jefferson County, Colorado School Board recall effort was a smashing success. All three right-wing members facing recall, were bounced out of office by nearly identical 64-36 percent margins. Board members John Newkirk, Julie Williams and Ken Witt were recalled and replaced by Susan Harmon, Brad Rupert and Ron Mitchell.
The three ousted school board members clashed with teachers, administrators and students during their tenure in office. They tried to revise the school curriculum to highlight the positive aspects of American History, and to censor material that referred to anything negative about America’s past. Their controversial right-wing agenda prompted students and teachers to stage school walk outs in protest. On Tuesday night, the tea-party board members were voted out with resounding authority by the voters of Jefferson County.
For Democrats, election night began poorly with Matt Bevin’s surprise victory over Jack Conway, followed by the disappointing defeat of HERO in Houston. However, Democrats and liberals scored several significant victories on November 3rd. The Colorado recall of three conservatives on the Jefferson County School Board was a nice way to cap off the evening, as the races out West began reporting their returns. If 2015 was a dress rehearsal for 2016, Democrats need to get all hands on deck in every region of the country, to make sure that Election Night 2016 becomes an unambiguous cause for celebration.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.