This article was written by Heather Hogan and Natalie Duggins
Last night was a roller coaster of emotions as we watched the 2018 midterms results roll in, but the major story is one that allowed us to breathe a small sigh of relief for the first time in two years: Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives, which means Donald Trump will finally face some checks and oversight. Or, as Vox put it, “Democrats now have the power to make Trump’s life hell.” They can subpoena his tax returns, investigate everything from Russian election collusion to the ways his businesses are unethically benefitting from his presidency. And they will. They already have a list. It’s very long.
The House flip also means Republicans can’t try to ram through any more Obamacare repeals, cruel social services cuts, or enormous tax breaks for the wealthy. In fact, Republicans aren’t even going to get those bills to the floor for debate without the approval of the Democratic leadership. “Let’s hear it for pre-existing conditions [coverage],” presumed Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi cheered when she came out to give a speech after it was clear Democrats would regain control of the House.
A lot of other really exciting things happened.
Historic Wins for LGBTQ Candidates
It was a banner night for LGBTQ candidates. A rainbow wave, you might even say. More LGBTQ candidates won races across the country than ever before.
Sharice Davids toppled four-term incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder to win Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District. She’s the first LGBTQ person from Kansas elected to serve in the House and she joins New Mexico’s Deb Haaland, who also won her first election, as the first Native American woman to be elected to Congress. Senator Tammy Baldwin won reelection easily in Wisconsin, as did Oregon Governor Kate Brown. Angie Craig beat out notoriously homophobic Republican incumbent Jason Lewis in Minnesota’s 2nd District, which was a huge win for Democrats targeting suburban Midwesterners (who seem to have serious buyers’ remorse on Trump, according to the way they voted yesterday, including finally ousting Scott Walker from his Wisconsin governorship).
We also counted a record 47 LGBTQ women who won seats in state legislatures!
+ Georgia: Jennifer Webb, Park Cannon, Karla Drenner, and Renitta Shannon.
+ North Carolina: Deb Butler, Allison Dahle, Marcia Morey, and Bonnie Dawn Clark.
+ Ohio: Nickie J. Antonio
+ Connecticut: Beth Bye.
+ Maryland: Bonnie Cullison, Anne Kaiser, Maggie McIntosh, and Mary Washington.
+ Massachusetts: Kate Hogan, Elizabeth Malia, and Sarah Peake.
+ New Hampshire: Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker.
+ Rhode Island: Deb Ruggiero.
+ Illinois: Kelly Cassidy and Maggie Trevor.
+ Kansas: Susan Ruiz.
+ Oklahoma: Kay Floyd.
+ Texas: Jessica González, Mary González, Celia Israel, Julie Johnson, and Erin Zwiener.
+ Arkansas: Tippi McCullough.
+ New York: Deborah Glick.
+ Wisconsin: Marisabel Cabrera and JoCasta Zamarripa.
+ Colorado: Daneya Esgar, Sonya Jaquez Lewis, Joann Ginal, and Leslie Herod.
+ Iowa: Liz Bennett.
+ Montana: Kim Abbott and Andrea Olsen.
+ California: Susan Eggman.
+ Oregon: Tina Kotek and Karin A. Power.
+ Washington: Laurie Jinkins, Christine Kilduff, Nicole Macri, Emily Randall, and Claire Wilson.
(Some state races are too close to call at this point, so this list is likely to grow. We’ll update it throughout the day.)
In Colorado, Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected Governor, which, as many savvy Twitter users have pointed out, means Masterpiece Cake Shop homophobe Jack Phillips will now be governed by a gay. Chris Pappas became New Hampshire’s first openly gay Congressman. Key West’s Teri Johnson became the first lesbian mayor in Florida. And Beth Bashert became Ypsilanti, Michigan’s first lesbian mayor.
More Women Than Ever Were Elected to Congress
These midterms were historic for the number of firsts and for the overall number of women who ran for and were elected to office. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, a record 428 women ran for Congress or governor; 210 won their primaries and made it to general election day; and over 100 won last night. One-third of those were women of color. Among them, as mentioned above, are Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, the first Native American women elected to Congress. Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar will be the first Latinx women from Texas to serve in Congress. Ayanna Pressley will be the first Black woman from Massachusetts to serve in Congress. And Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who shocked the world when she won her primary earlier this year, coasted to victory; at 29, she’s the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Yes on 3
One of the biggest LGBTQ wins of the night came in Massachusetts, where voters overwhelmingly chose to protect a trans rights law that was passed two years ago to ensure trans people are able to use public accommodations that match their gender identity. It’s the first time a state has defended trans rights by popular vote, and it was an enormous victory. 19 other states have passed protections for trans people in the last few years, and if Massachusetts — one of the most historically LGBTQ-friendly states — had voted to overturn their relatively new law, activists feared a wave of similar steps backward around the country.
The National Center for Transgender Equality called Tuesday’s vote “a stunning rebuke of anti-transgender lies and prejudice.” Mason Dunn, the Yes on 3 co-chair, said, “Voters here in Massachusetts have sent a powerful, unmistakable message that this is a state that values, welcomes, and honors transgender people.”
Florida Amendment 4
Another huge victory on Tuesday came out of Florida, where voters approved Amendment 4 by a 60%+ supermajority, which will automatically restore voting rights to around 1.5 million people who were previously convicted of felonies. Obviously Black citizens, who are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated, will be most affected by this groundbreaking vote (as will the Democratic party).
Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that Florida’s Jim Crow era voting restoration policy — which has only approved 3,000 people since 2011 — was unconstitutional. “Elected, partisan officials have extraordinary authority to grant or withhold the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of people without any constraints, guidelines, or standards,” the judge wrote. “Its members alone must be satisfied that these citizens deserve restoration… The question now is whether such a system passes constitutional muster. It does not.”
Kentucky and Iowa are now the only states that completely ban people from voting, even after completing their felony sentences.
More to Come
Tuesday’s election results were not without their heartbreaks. Andrew Gillum narrowly lost the Florida Governor’s race, despite running a nearly perfect campaign. Beto O’Rourke, who looked like he really might unseat Ted Cruz in Texas’ Governor’s race for most of the night, lost by a slim margin. Alabama approved the most anti-abortion ballot measure since Roe vs. Wade; in a sweeping victory, voters agreed to add a state constitutional amendment to protect “the rights of unborn children.” (They also voted for an amendment to ensure public officials can display the Ten Commandments on public property.) West Virginia voters approved a similar anti-abortion amendment, which will change the state Constitution to read “nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion.” And Republicans maintained control of the Senate, which they were expected to do, and which will continue to empower them to stack the courts with Conservative judges.
There are still some races up in the air.
As of this morning, Stacey Abrams — whose supporters faced rampant, unmitigated voter suppression and gerrymandering — is losing the Georgia Governor’s race by less than 100,000 votes. She has promised not to concede to her vile opponent until every vote is counted; her team believes there are still enough votes out there for her to force a run-off.
LGBTQ candidate Gina Ortiz Jones is neck-and-neck with Will Hurd in Texas’ 23rd District. And in Arizona, bisexual candidate Kyrsten Sinema is in a near-tie in her Senate race; many forecasters think it will be later this week before we officially get those results.
The fight is going to be as fierce as ever in the coming years, but Tuesday’s results finally gave us some much-needed hope.
11/11/18 Update: In Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, Republican Will Hurd has claimed victory, but Gina Ortiz Jones has refused to concede until every ballot is counted.
11/12/18 Update: After a week of meticulous ballot counting, Cook Political Report has called the Arizona Senate race for bisexual candidate Kyrsten Sinema. She will be the first Democrat to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate in 25 years. She will also join Tammy Baldwin as the only other openly LGBTQ Senator.
We will continue update this post as more information becomes available.