2019 Election Results: Governor's Races, Sanctuary Cities, Mayor Pete's Successor, and More
Voters across the country went to the polls on Tuesday, handing Democrats some key victories but also electing the first black Republican attorney general in Kentucky. Voters also addressed a broad swath of issues from Airbnb to sanctuary cities.
In Virginia, Democrats took both the House of Delegates and the state Senate. Democrats nationwide interpreted the win as a sign of strength for their party, but the Commonwealth has increasingly favored Democrats in presidential elections and had been moving left in recent years.
"Woo-hoo! Congratulations to the people of Virginia for flipping both the state House and state Senate," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a leading 2020 Democrat, tweeted. "Voting is what our democracy is all about, and Virginia proved that today as they elected [Democrats] up and down the ballot."
While Democrats will rightly celebrate these victories, it is important to keep in mind that in 25 percent of the state senate races, the Democrat did not face a Republican challenger. I wrote in seven names on my ballot yesterday, voting for the two Independents on the ballot. I had no Republican option.
Karl Frisch, a far-left activist who once worked for Media Matters, became the first openly gay man elected to the Fairfax County School Board.
The two high-profile governor's races seemed to go in opposite directions. In Kentucky, Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat, enjoyed a close lead in early results and declared his victory while Republican Gov. Matt Bevin refused to concede. In Mississippi, Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves defeated Democrat Attorney General Jim Hood. Trump campaigned for both Republicans.
While Bevin seems likely to lose his race, Republicans won every other contest in Kentucky. Republicans won in elections for agriculture commissioner, attorney general, state auditor, the court of appeals, secretary of state, state Supreme Court, state treasurer, and the two statehouse races. Republican Daniel Cameron became the first black man to be elected attorney general in Kentucky history.
For this reason, President Trump predicted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "will win BIG in Kentucky next year!"
Kentucky is a deep red state that gave Trump a 30-point victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. While Trump may celebrate the other races, Bevin's impending loss is the big news from Kentucky — and it is particularly tragic because Beshear refused to defend state laws protecting unborn babies. However, Beshear is the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear, also a Democrat, who served from 2007-2015.
Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a leading 2020 Democrat, had decided not to run for re-election. South Bend voters chose Mayor Pete's hand-picked successor: James Mueller, his former chief of staff.
Voters across the country also made their voices known in a host of fascinating ballot initiatives.
In Tucson, Ariz., voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to make their city the state's first and only sanctuary city. The initiative was intended to challenge a 2010 state law directing local authorities to work with federal immigration authorities to combat illegal immigration. While liberals pushed the measure, Democrats in the city government were relieved it did not pass. As the Associated Press reported, "They worry the initiative would jeopardize millions of dollars in state and federal funding and put public safety at risk." You don't say!
Voters in New York supported a measure to adopt ranked-choice voting for several local races, giving the voting system a trial run. Under the system, voters will be able to rank up to five candidates for various races, starting in 2021. While Maine and San Francisco have similar systems, New York City will be the most populous place in the U.S. to adopt it.
Airbnb lost a key race in Jersey City, New Jersey. Voters there supported a ballot initiative imposing restrictions on Airbnb and other short-term rental companies. Tourists to New York City often find lodging in Jersey City to avoid the steep prices in the Big Apple. Locals have complained about absentee owners turning apartment buildings into de facto hotels. The regulations limit how often landlords can rent properties if they don't live on the site. They also forbid short-term rentals in buildings with more than four units if the owner isn't present and they forbid renters from serving as hosts.
This is a loss for the sharing economy and for New York City tourists, but the city is within its rights to do this.
Finally, voters in Washington State seem to have defeated a ballot initiative that would have reinstated the use of affirmative action in state employment.
Tuesday was a good day for Democrats, but Republicans had some wins as well.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.