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Democrats Gain Significant Ground in Virginia, New Jersey and Washington State

© Krantz News Service, November 8, 2018


Democrats scored major gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey on Election Day 2017, and they also seized the majority in the Washington state Senate, giving the party control of all branches of state government on the West Coast.

In addition, voters in Maine approved an expansion to Medicaid for low-income residents, a rebuke to Republican Gov. Paul LePage, who had vetoed legislation to bolster this health care coverage.

In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by nine percentage points; the party also made substantial gains in the House of Delegates, which had been controlled by Republicans 66 to 34.

Medicaid expansion in Virginia is one of the policy goals for Democrats if they gain a majority in the lower chamber (no state Senate seats were on the ballot; Republicans have a 21-19 Senate majority).

In New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Kim Guadagno, the Republican lieutenant governor, by 13 points. Guadagno had twice been running mate for increasingly unpopular Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who had also appointed her to serve as Secretary of State. Murphy's win returns New Jersey to solid Democratic control.

And in Washington State Democrat Manka Dhingra defeated Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund in a special election for a state Senate seat; the position had been held through October 2016 by the respected Republican budget writer Andy Hill, who died of cancer. In recent years Republicans had held effective control of the state Senate with the assistance of a conservative Democrat.

That is expected to change now, giving Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and his party more opportunities in budget and environmental matters. For example, Inslee is expected to spearhead new efforts to curb carbon emissions both within Washington and elsewhere through cooperative programs with neighboring jurisdictions.

Democrats now control all three branches of government in California, Oregon and Washington.

Washington, along with California, Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia, are members of the Pacific Coast Collaborative. The regional partnership "aims to reduce greenhouse gases" and "decarbonize the economy," according to the PCC website.

"Pacific Coast leaders know that our work is more crucial than ever to fight against climate change," Inslee said at COP23, the climate change conference in Bonn, Germany. "This is our time to show we can innovate faster and better and seize the mantle of leadership in the clean energy economy."

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