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.
If expectations are any indication of reality, people pushing for legal marijuana in the Midwest have to be severely disappointed following the rejection of a proposal to do that in Ohio.
Proponents made the argument that as Ohio went, so would the rest of the Midwest, and they were confident of victory.
They were so optimistic that the only real argument seemed to be over which of several marijuana entrepreneurial cartels would win a voter-approved monopoly of the marijuana business.
They all lost. Voters rejected the idea of legalizing medical and recreational marijuana in Ohio.
Aaron Smith, the executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, speculated after the defeat the problem wasn’t with the idea of making the Buckeye State the Budeye State. Rather, he said, voters just didn’t like the idea of granting a monopoly to a cartel of suits.
“The people of Ohio have understandably rejected a deeply flawed, monopolistic approach to marijuana reform that failed to garner broad support from advocates or industry leaders,” Smith said in a statement after Tuesday’s vote.
It is true that hundreds of thousands of Ohio voters signed petitions supporting the idea of a public vote on legal weed.
”This debate has shown that there is a strong base of support for legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana,” Smith said. “Now the foundation has been laid for a potential 2016 effort that would put forward a more common-sense initiative and have a major impact on the presidential conversation in the process.”
Where else would this happen but Seattle? Voters who want to feel like they have more of a say in the political process did themselves a favor when they approved Initiative 122.
Now, Seattle voters will each be given $100 in coupons, so-called “democracy vouchers,” which can only be spent to back the political candidates of their choice.
The measure will also lower donation caps, prevent contributions from corporations that have a lot of money tied up in city business, and will require politicians who leave that life for the civilian world to wait at least three years before going to work as lobbyists.
An idea from one of Seattle’s richest tech tycoons, Paul Allen, a Microsoft co-founder, was approved by Washington voters statewide. Initiative 1401 is intended to protect endangered animals from hunters. It criminalizes “selling, purchasing, trading or distributing certain animal species threatened with extinction.”
Twenty-nine hours, 1,889 miles and a lifestyle away from the state of Washington, voters in Texas approved a proposal Tuesday that would sanctify the right to hunt animals.
Texans are not alone on the idea of making it tougher for animal rights and anti-hunting groups to push through bills aimed at expanding protections for animals or ecosystems, like voters in Washington did.
Voters in 18 other states have also approved proposals similar to what was passed by a wide margin in Texas.
Finally, the so-called “sharing economy” chalked up a victory in San Francisco as voters rejected the idea of limiting the rights of people to offer short-term rentals of their homes through companies like Airbnb.
Proponents of the ballot proposition argued that very profitable short-term rentals were putting rental units out of the price range of most middle- and low-income groups in San Francisco.