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Democrats are facing harsh realities the day after Tuesday’s election as they try to recover from a political gut punch from Republicans.
One key race went as predicted as Virginia has gone red after Republican Glenn Youngkin won his bid for governor over Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Virginia had been a blue state since then-Senator Barack Obama won it during his run for the White House.
“Last night begs this question of Democrats — Now do you get it? says former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, who spoke exclusively with theGrio.
“The gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, not to mention the double-digit loss on defunding the police in Minneapolis, make clear Democrats find themselves out of step with a broad coalition of voters, especially suburban white women,” adds Steele.
“So, how they decide to change their current narrative to focus on local issues will say a great deal about whether they are ready to punch back against Republicans and regain the ground Biden won for them in 2020.”
In the Virginia gubernatorial race, critical race theory was on the ballot as Youngkin and McAulliffe slugged it out over author Toni Morrison‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Beloved — which was vilified by the right — and McAuliffe notably said on the campaign trail that parents should not have a say in their children’s education curriculum.
Republican strategist Chris Metzler said he knew McAuliffe had lost the race after his comments about parents’ role in Virginia schools. “Never tell suburban moms who you are trying to reach that the state, and not parents, should decide what’s best for their children,” Metzler tells theGrio.
“The bloodbath in Virginia last night taught us Republicans did not win [but] Democrats lost,” he adds. “Democrats failed to deliver on promises made … Trump as the boogie man does not work when you are not listening to your voters. Republicans will seize this model but risk failing to replicate it if they over play their hands.”
On social media, the reactions to the Virginia election results were swift. Those opposed to the wins of Youngkin and Republican Winsome Sears — who made history as Virginia’s first Black woman elected as lieutenant governor — summarized the GOP victories as a win for the “party of hate” and supporters of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Despite distancing himself from former president Donald Trump, Youngkin has been accused of being a ”Trump acolyte.”
Former NAACP leader, Ben Jealous, who heads the People for the American Way, said Youngkin has “literally pledged allegiance to a flag carried in the insurrection.”
“His victory is a sign that Trump’s movement to take America backwards again is ascendant,” adds Jealous, who tells theGrio exclusively that he and others are planning a massive voting rights demonstration on Wednesday outside the White House, where many arrests are expected to take place.
Youngkin not utilizing Trump for his campaigning ultimately worked to his advantage — he received more votes in red Virginia counties than Trump did during his run for reelection.
On the opposite side of the aisle, McAulliffe in the 11th hour had the in-person support of political heavyweights — from Vice President Kamala Harris and former president Barack Obama to Stacey Abrams — and yet still was not able to pull off a win.
However, there were some November surprises. The big eyebrow raiser was in northern Virginia, where solidly blue counties saw lower turnout, and up Interstate 95 in what was once a solid blue New Jersey, where there is now a razor-thin close gubernatorial race that is yet to be called.
However, Democratic incumbent Governor Phil Murphy expressed confidence that he believes “after every vote is counted” he will be victorious over his Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.
In New York City, voters significantly bet on Black. The Big Apple will now have a Black state attorney general, district attorney for Manhattan, district attorney for the Bronx, a Black U.S. Attorney in Manhattan and a Black U.S. Attorney in Brookly/Queens and a Black mayor of New York in Eric Adams, who is a former NYPD officer.
Policing was also on the ballot in middle America. In Minnesota, the ballot measure to defund the police was not supported by voters at the polls. However, State Attorney General Keith Ellison was of the minority in support of the amendment on the public safety charter.
In an opinion piece for Star Tribune, Ellison wrote, “My fear is that a no vote extinguishes hope and leaves us with the status quo.” That status quo flies in the face of a continued fight against deadly police force and efforts to hold those police officers involved accountable.
In July, Eric Adams was at the White House along with other elected officials working on the issue of policing in American cities, as well as community gun violence, during a roundtable with President Joe Biden. He told theGrio at the time that he was “tired of seeing our babies being killed.”
Adams touted that he “brings a perspective that is probably different from anyone in politics,” referring to his experience of police brutality when he was a teenager. “I know what the calls for reform really mean,” Adams said.
Looking ahead, Democrats must be sober in their approach as Tuesday’s losses have a direct link to the national Democratic party in Washington as President Biden and Democrats in Congress have yet to strike a political win, all while President Biden’s approval rating continues to plummet.
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