This time out, we'll look at Congressional races, governorships in the Lesser 49, ballot measures of interest to Progressives, and a few other topics. I also invite you to spend 15 minutes with Mike Figueredo, who sums things up from his progressive viewpoint in this installment of The Humanist Report. (Content Warning: Much more than usual for him, Figueredo refers to the Democrats as "we." Although he despises corporate Democrats, he has the same inner-Democrat force-of-habit reflex that I have.)
There's something that I forgot to address in Part I: Thanks to the gigantic increase in turnout here in Texas, compared to 2014, minor parties other than the Libertarians have a much higher hurdle to surmount than, well, ever. The Libertarian Party secured its ballot line for 2020, thanks to the lack of a Democrat running for Court of Criminal Appeals Position 8.
Unless the law changes in the 2019 legislative session (possible, but unlikely), the Green Party and other parties not currently recognized by the state will need to collect more than 83,000 valid petition signatures in a 75-day period. That's 1% of the total vote in the gubernatorial race. "Valid" means from voters registered in Texas who have not voted in that year's primaries or signed any other party's petition.
I grieve still for my hundreds of friends here in Texas who loudly and fervently supported Beto O'Rourke. He and his team made it a close race, missing a Senate seat by only 2.68% in a state that appears to be on a trajectory toward purpleness. But, even surrounded by Betonians in a county that went 57-43 in his favor, I didn't envision him pulling out a victory, Texas being Texas. I'm so fucking proud of him for limiting Ted Cruz's share of the vote to just a smidgen over 50%.
Though I grieve, I'm hoping that all the talk about Beto's presidential run remains at the just-talk level. A reunion tour with his old band Foss is more likely.
There is so much to examine from OMG THE MOST IMPORTANT MIDTERM ELECTION OF ALL TIME EVERRRRR!!! that even if I leave out all the stuff you've already read about, I fear that I am reduced to a collection of bullet points. Any bullets that I neglect to include, I'll add in Part IV of this series.
- Flip That House: William Rivers Pitt of Truthout called it, by gum. He predicted a 30-seat swing in the US House of Representatives, and that's approximately what happened. (Sorry, can't find the link to the relevant entry. It may not even have been Pitt who posted it.)
- Diversity Dance: The House will also look more like the patchwork quilt of diversity that is the United States of America: browner, younger, gayer, more female, more indigenous, more Muslim than ever.
- CA Greens Show Improvement: Sadly (for me, anyway), the House will not be capital-G Greener. The three Green candidates who survived top-two primaries in California lost by wide margins: Laura Wells in CA-13, Kenneth Mejia in CA-34, and Rodolfo Cortez Barragan in CA-40. The charismatic 27-year-old Mejia broke the 25% mark in a district with abysmal turnout, with just over 95,000 votes cast. Even the large number of non-citizen immigrants in District 34 can't explain that.
- Senate Still Red AF: Not surprisingly, the 116th Senate will be a couple of seats more Republican than the 115th. There were more Democrat-held seats in contention, several of which were in red states, and whose occupants played to their conservative constituencies and got pasted: e.g., Donnelly in Indiana, McCaskill in Missouri, Heitkamp in North Dakota.
- Maine's First RCV Runoff: Maine has only one major race with more than two candidates where none won a majority, and which will be subjected to Ranked Choice Voting. RCV is supposed to be an instant runoff, dammit! They have computers that can figure this stuff out! So it's a bit disturbing that they're still sorting out the tally in Congressional District 2 (the northern 90% of the state's territory). Republican Bruce Poliquin is ahead in first-choice ballots by fewer than 2,000 votes; he had Democratic challenger Jared Golden each have about 46% of the vote. Three- and four-way races for the state House and Senate all had majority winners.
- A Question of Representation: Speaking of Maine, why does it have 151 state House districts, each with about 3-4 thousand people voting? I'll admit, there's something very New England about legislators who might literally know all their constituents by name. Neighboring New Hampshire's gigantic House beats that by far, with about 400 members.
- Michigan Voted to Legalize It, Ye-eah! My Detroit Green comrade Lou Novak worked on getting the recreational cannabis measure passed by popular referendum. Voters gave medical cannabis the nod in Utah and Missouri, reminding me of newspaper clippings, describing pot-grow busts and featuring photos of enormous ganja plants, that my grandmother used to send me when she lived in the Missouri Ozarks. Oklahoma gave medical weed the OK back in June.
- Bringing Florida out of the 19th Century: Thanks to the voters of Florida, felons who have served their time can finally get their voting rights restored, including those who were locked up just for possession of cannabis products.
- Speaking of Florida, WTF Y'all? It's not over yet, but it looks as though Rick Scott gets to take his goon show to DC, and overt racist Ron "Monkey It Up" DeSantis takes over the governor's chair from Scott. Their margins of victory over incumbent Senator Bill Nelson and Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum as of this writing remain razor-thin. I smell recount, but without the hanging chads this time. Gillum is not a fully fledged Progressive, but he did campaign on Medicare for All until he threw a Hail Hillary pass.
- Speaking of Overt Racists: Georgia's race for governor is still too close to call, but Brian Kemp currently has more than the 50% needed to avoid a recount. Some absentee ballots remain to be counted. In case you've forgotten, Kemp was Georgia's secretary of state until today, in charge of counting the votes and deciding who gets to vote. The potential for Democrat Stacey Abrams to become our nation's first female governor was exciting, sure, but her Progressive cred is subject to question. She's a consensus-builder in the Georgia House, not a fire-breathing Cynthia McKinney clone. Still, some lefties are sold on her, like Kai Wright at The Nation.
- Kobach Meets Karma: You've probably heard that being secretary of state was no help to Kris Kobach, of whom even Republicans in Kansas have had quite enough, in his race for governor of that very red state. His long association with Governor Sam "Close Schools, Save Money" Brownback probably didn't help either. Kansas will also have a Democrat in the US House for the first time since 2010, with Sharice Davids elected to represent KS-3 near Kansas City.
- Former NAACP President Ben Jealous lost his race for governor of Maryland in a strongly Democratic state because his party abandoned him for having the temerity to run as a Progressive.