Jamaica Gleaner / RICHMOND, Virginia (AP):
Democrats across America celebrated their party’s first major Trump-era victories yesterday, a day after Democrats seized wins in Virginia and New Jersey that tested the power of President Donald Trump’s fiery nationalism against the energy of the Trump resistance.
In Virginia, as in several contests across America on Tuesday, the Trump resistance won. And it wasn’t close.
The wins prompted some Democrats to look ahead to the 2018 midterm elections, and the possibility that they could claim the House majority.
“The door is certainly open for us,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, citing Trump’s dismal approval ratings. “That opens the door. That means we get fresh recruits, and they get the retirements.”
In Virginia on Tuesday, Ralph Northam, a paediatric neurologist and Army veteran, defeated long-time Republican operative Ed Gillespie in the hard-fought contest.
“Virginia has told us to end the divisiveness, that we do not condone hatred and bigotry, and to end the politics that have torn this country apart,” Northam said in a Washington-area victory speech.
Northam’s victory set off overnight recriminations and finger-pointing among Trump’s hardcore supporters. The pro-Trump website Breitbart News, which had earlier praised Gillespie as a “culture warrior,” derided him as a “Republican swamp thing”. Jerry Falwell Jr, president of Liberty University, said Northern Virginia’s voter-rich liberal suburbs should be annexed by the District of Columbia, “to return the governance of (Virginia) to Virginians”.
Democrats also scored victories in the race for New Jersey governor and in Maine, where voters slapped the state’s Republican governor, a Trump ally, by backing a measure to expand Medicaid coverage under former President Barack Obama’s health-care law. The Democratic mayors of New York and Boston, both vocal Trump critics, also won re-election easily.
And Virginia voters elected the state’s first openly transgender state representative, among more than a dozen state legislative pickups for Democrats.
The resounding victories marked the GOP’s most significant day of defeat in the young Trump presidency and a rebuke to the president himself as his party eyes a suddenly more threatening midterm election season next year.