All hail the South! The goobers in Florida and Georgia make even Texas resemble a well-oiled example of electioneering efficiency by comparison. The midterms are mostly history, although a couple of races remain unsettled. A week after the polls closed, Florida ballot counters are still struggling to do the math. Georgia voters are wondering whether their votes were counted. The Republican contender for the open governor’s seat also happened to be the secretary of state overseeing the ballot boxes – and rejecting absentee ballots and making merit-less accusations of computer hacking by Democrats. That’s way worse than our Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who only starred in ridiculous political commercials that featured his bony Baltimore-born ass wearing cowboy boots and starched Western shirts and driving a vintage Chevy pickup out on a ranch and saying, “I won’t back down!” From what will you not back down, Dan? Transgenders needing to pee? Pretend tax cuts? Fake conspiracies?
Voters re-elected most of our conservative incumbents, such as Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, although punk rocker turned Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke achieved what many political pundits said was impossible by coming this close to unseating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in “Deep Red” Texas. Republicans rely on older voters to keep the Grand Old Party in play, and that formula is showing cracks. Or at least some serious wrinkles. A recent voting analysis by The Texas Tribune showed that voters in the Texas Republican primary were more likely over the age of 70 than under 50.
Prince and TCU football might be dead, but a purple rain is a-coming.
The oft-derided millennial and Generation Z voters arrived at the polls by the hundreds of thousands across the state, voting overwhelmingly for Democrats. In Travis County, home to Austin, 39 percent of registered voters this year are under 35, according to the county’s voter registration data. A younger voter base may have been key in turning Tarrant County blue for the first time since 1994.
Texas Sen. Konni Burton, whose District 10 represents a portion of Tarrant County, lost to Democratic newcomer Beverly Powell, a Fort Worth native who advocates for properly funding the public education system rather than diverting much of the available money to charter schools for the rich kids. Burton’s spanking at the polls might be payback for her early defense of SB 4, the so-called “show me your papers bill” that she co-authored.
“Two Democratic newcomers, Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher, beat out longtime Republican incumbents to earn seats in the U.S. House — part of a net gain of 32 seats for Dems. Allred, a former NFL player turned civil rights lawyer, narrowly ousted Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, who had thrown nearly $3 million into his re-election bid.
Still, Texas’ midterm results held few surprises. Abbott defeated Democrat hopeful (and former Dallas sheriff) Lupe Valdez, and along with Patrick and Miller, Attorney General Ken Paxton, who was indicted for securities fraud three years ago and is awaiting trial, was similarly elected back into office. Texas’ Republican leadership brought national condemnation from businesses and civil rights groups for a slew of anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant bills in 2017, leaving many locals to guess which vulnerable group will be the target of next year’s legislative session.
Nationally, Republicans gained one seat in the U.S. Senate, solidifying their majority. Democrats took control of the House, snagging 226 seats over the Republicans’ 198. Across the country, Republicans lost six governor elections while the Dems won seven.
With an admitted sexual predator in the White House whose list of alleged victims is at 22 and counting, female politicians fought back hard. And won. At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. Representing New York’s 14th Congressional District, the self-styled socialist was a former campaign organizer for Bernie Sanders’ recent presidential bid. Ocasio-Cortez ran on an unapologetic platform that called for the abolition of ICE, tuition-free college, universal Medicare, gun reform, and an end to private prisons. In another milestone election, Massachusetts gained its first black congresswoman, Ayanna Pressley. “Can a congresswoman wear her hair in braids? Rock a black leather jacket?” she asked a crowd of supporters during her recent victory speech. The answers: yes and yes.
Minnesota has a former Kenyan refugee representing its 5th Congressional District now. Ilhan Omar, 37, who shares the distinction of being the first Muslim woman elected to U.S. Congress along with Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, fled Somalia’s civil war with her parents at the age of 8 and spent four years at the Dadaab refugee camp in neighboring Kenya.
Talk of blue or red waves belies a voting reality obscured by our country’s gerrymandered districts, antiquated electoral college, and two-senators-per-state system. Americans have consistently voted left in national elections since the early 1990s. President George W. Bush is the only Republican president to earn the popular vote since 1992. A majority of Americans voted against Donald Trump. The stream of xenophobic rhetoric spewed from the White House appears to have galvanized a majority voting base that continues to favor tolerance, equality, and a fair playing field.