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Voters yesterday enshrined abortion rights in the Ohio Constitution and legalized recreational marijuana, flipped the Virginia legislature to Democrats, expanded majorities in New Jersey, flipped the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and held the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. A Bernie-inspired candidate, Sara Innamorato, won the powerful Allegheny County executive seat in western Pennsylvania.
Broadly speaking, this is one of those moments where I think the conventional wisdom from the press was correct: Their take is that abortion as an electoral issue continues to power Democrats and drag down Republicans. It drove voters to the polls in Ohio, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and in New Jersey, the GOP’s unpopular position on abortion rights undercuts everything else they do on the culture front. The effort by Republicans in New Jersey to ride culture war anger at trans-related school policies also flopped, with Democrats expanding their majorities.
Even in Kentucky, where a GOP super majority means the governor can’t do much on abortion policy, Andy Beshear leaned into the issue, running this viral campaign ad of Hadley Duvall talking about being raped and impregnated by her step-father at the age of 12. One of the first people he thanked during his victory speech last night, for her courage, was Duvall.
Philadelphia reserves two city council seats for nonmajority-party members, and those have typically been held by Republicans. But the Working Families Party launched an effort to seize them several years ago, picking up one seat when Kendra Brooks won. Last night, she won reelection and the WFP grabbed the second one, too, with a victory by Nicolas O’Rourke. They’ll represent the entire city in the at-large seats, and Republicans will now have just one seat on the council. WFP also went all-in on Innamorato, who won by just 2 points, giving the group wins across the state.
Criminal justice reformers, meanwhile, took a loss in the Allegheny County district attorney race. Matt Dugan, the county’s former chief public defender, had beaten 25-year incumbent, Stephen A. Zappala, Jr., by 11 points in the May primary and became the Democratic nominee for county district attorney. But then Zappala ran a write-in campaign to win the Republican nomination, and yesterday he beat Dugan by 4 percentage points as a Republican.
In yesterday’s email, I noted that if Susanna Gibson could win her long-shot race for the House even after a sex-on-camera scandal that blew up in the Washington Post, Democrats would win both the House and Senate. In fact, Gibson, running largely in Henrico County, is winning there by 890 votes. The New York Times estimates about three-quarters of the vote has been counted. The problem for Gibson is that the district includes part of a rural county — named, apparently, Goochland County. Even though there were only about 5,000 votes cast in Goochland County, she’s losing it by roughly 1,900, which gives her opponent the lead by 966 votes overall.
Goochland and Henrico provisional ballots are outstanding, according to the elections department, but it’ll be difficult for her to make up her current gap. Still, her surprisingly strong showing was evidence of the Democratic surge that bucked Glenn Youngkin and delivered both Virginia chambers to Democrats, ending his threats to impose abortion restrictions.
My doppelganger in Mississippi, Tate Reeves, survived a challenge from Elvis Presley’s second cousin, Brandon Presley. He’s currently ahead by 5 percentage points, enough to avoid a runoff.
The effort in Maine to create a consumer-owned utility called Pine Tree Power was annihilated 69-31 percent.
Correction: November 8, 2023 1:25 p.m.
The article previously stated that Republicans held zero representation on the Philadelphia City Council; in fact, they have one seat. In addition, marijuana legalization was not enshrined in the Ohio Constitution, but rather passed as a law.