Election Day Included Victory for Those Who Oppose Transgender Bathroom Use
Kentucky Republican Matt Bevin, who called for the elimination of the state’s Obamacare program and wanted to oust Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), upset Attorney General Jack Conway (D) on Tuesday to become the state’s next governor.
That was just one of the many GOP triumphs at the state level in the 2015 off-off-year election that prompted Republican celebrations.
But while Republicans were dancing in the aisles, businessmen who wanted to be the first legal marijuana entrepreneurs in a state known for the buckeye nut instead of the marijuana seed were mourning their Election Day defeat.
Gay rights activists and civil libertarians were even more despondent in Houston, where a ballot proposal that became known as the”Bathroom Bill” was defeated by voters.
Bevin’s victory in Kentucky was only one reason for a Republican celebration the night of the November elections. Voters also elected Jenean Hampton to serve as the state’s lieutenant governor.
A businesswoman and Air Force veteran, Hampton is the first African-American to win a statewide election in Kentucky.
Gov. Phil Bryant (R) easily won reelection in Mississippi over a truck driver who ran as a Democrat and only spent $3,000 on his campaign.
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves won reelection and voters returned strong GOP majorities to both the Mississippi House and Senate.
Other GOP Wins
Republicans also flipped a Democratic state Senate seat in Pennsylvania, Maine Republicans won both House special elections in that state, and the GOP majority remained intact in the state of New York as a Republican candidate won a special election.
It might have been an off-off-year election ignored by most voters and national pundits, but Republican State Leadership Committee president Matt Walter said it fit right into the GOP strategy.
“The Republican Party is remaining focused on building a party from the ground up, starting in the states, and is on a strong path heading into 2016,” Walter said in a victory statement.
“Meanwhile, Democrats are preparing for Hillary Clinton’s coronation while their showing in the states continues to crumble. It was an important night for the GOP.”
"Last night’s victories showed Democrats cannot expand the map in 2016 and that their campaign platform struggles to resonate even on their own turf," Republican National Committee political director Chris Carr wrote in a memo today. "Meanwhile, Republicans showed the ability to win races in highly competitive areas of the country that have presidential implications like Virginia’s ‘urban crescent.’"
Carr said the results "also prove that the RNC’s retooled approach to voter turnout that delivered historic victories last November is continuing to pay dividends."
"Among other contests, the RNC coordinated with 45 General Assembly races in Virginia and with the Republican ticket in Kentucky to help deliver last night’s big wins," he said. "Being a year-round, data-driven party is a winning proposition, and there is no other entity – Democrat or Republican – currently organizing get-out-the-vote efforts on the scale of the RNC anywhere in the country."
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which was intended to protect LGBT people from discrimination, dubbed the “Bathroom Bill" by opponents, was repealed by a ballot measure.
Opponents of the ordinance said it would have allowed transgendered men into women’s public bathrooms, and vice versa.
One of the campaign commercials featured a man slipping into a bathroom stall with a young girl, making the opponents’ point that even registered sex offenders would be allow to follow women into bathrooms.
Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly bisexual woman elected to office in Houston, called that TV ad one of the “ugly wad of lies” from right-wing and Christian organizations that fought against the proposal.
But at the end of the Election Day, HERO had been defeated by a margin of 3-2.