Democrats and their progressive allies across the United States had much to celebrate on Election Day 2017, in addition to major victories in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races.
The elections Tuesday of two new governors, Ralph Northam in Virginia and Phil Murphy in New Jersey, were capped with the elections of two African-Americans as lieutenant governor, with Justin Fairfax winning a separate race for that post in Virginia, and Sheila Oliver becoming New Jersey's first black, female lieutenant governor as Murphy's running mate.
Exit polls in Virginia showed that perhaps a third of the voters cast their ballots, almost entirely for Northam, in what is seen as a sign of protest against Republican U.S. president, Donald Trump, just a year after he won a four-year term in the White House.
Statewide, Northam won by an unexpectedly large nine-percentage-point margin over a former national Republican Party chairman, Ed Gillespie, who was supported by Trump even though Gillespie did not ask the president to campaign with him.
Hours after his victory, Northam said, “There's been a lot of discussion over what this election meant. I don’t think there’s any question there’s some policies coming out of Washington that are concerning to Virginians and are perhaps detrimental to Virginians. But I think what this message was yesterday that Virginia said not only to this country but to this world that the divisiveness, the hatred, the bigotry, and the politics that is tearing this country apart – that’s not the United States of America that people love. It’s certainly not the Commonwealth of Virginia that they love."
As the outcome of the Virginia election became clear, Trump tweeted from South Korea, "Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats in special elections earlier this year), and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!"
Democrat Bill de Blasio won re-election to a second term as mayor of New York City, easily beating his Republican challenger, New York State Senator Nicole Malliotakis, in the longtime Democratic stronghold and hometown of Republican U.S. President Donald Trump.
In the northeastern state of Maine, voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative that expanded Medicaid, the federal-state government health insurance program for low income Americans. The initiative overcomes opposition from hardline Republican Governor Paul LePage, who has vetoed five previous legislative measures to accept the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, former U.S. President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement.
In the state of Minnesota, city of Minneapolis native Andrea Jenkins was elected to a seat on that city's governing council, becoming the first openly transgender person of color ever elected to public office in the United States. Jenkins made history alongside Danica Roem, who became the first openly transgender woman elected to the state of Virginia legislature, and the first openly transgender person to win a state legislative seat in the United States.
And Manka Dhingra won a special election to a state Senate seat in the northwestern state of Washington, giving Democrats complete control of both legislative chambers and the governor's office, a distinction it shares with western neighbors Oregon and California.