Election 2017

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On the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump being elected President, it appears the Democrats can finally point to an electoral repudiation of Trump.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) won the Virginia governor’s race in a blowout Tuesday, fending off a potential gut punch for his party and giving Democrats a badly needed jolt of momentum ahead of the 2018 midterms.

Democrats had grown nervous about the race, fearing a devastating loss that could deal a blow to the party's momentum. But that anxiety gave way to celebration as Northam cruised to victory and Democrats took the New Jersey governor's mansion and posted gains in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie by nearly 9 points in the race to succeed Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), in what has become the only competitive statewide race of the year. Northam’s win gives Democrats their first major victory since President Trump took office after a string of high-profile special election defeats in GOP districts earlier this year.

Gillespie's task was very formidable from the outset given that Virginia has become an increasingly blue state over the past decade (the Dem POTUS candidate has won there each of the past three presidential election cycles). Combine that with the fact that Northam supporters were lumping Gillespie in with Trump (who, in modern history, has the worst approval rating of a sitting president in his first year), any Republican candidate would have been dead man walking.

Of course the President didn't quite see it that way.

"Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!" Trump wrote.

While losing the Virginia gubernatorial race shouldn't necessarily panic Republicans ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, what happened in the state's House of Delegates should absolutely set off alarm bells. Going into Tuesday, the Virginia GOP held a 66 to 34 majority in that legislative body. As I write this, the Dems made a significant gain as they reached 48 seats to 47 for the Republicans (The remaining five are too close to call, thus likely triggering a recount). If the five outstanding races go to those candidates who currently lead, the HoD would be a 50-50 split. There can be little doubt that a 16-seat gain is a message that is being sent to the GOP nationwide.

Another ominous sign for Republicans ahead of the midterms is the Generic Congressional Ballot has the Dems up +9. Such a big number this early out is a terrible sign for the GOP, as it likely means the majority in the U.S. House will be gone. I've been saying for some time that the U.S. Senate will probably remain in Republican control given that 25 of the 33 seats up in '18 are occupied by Democrats/Independents. However, that may even be in peril given the Senate GOP has done virtually no substantive accomplishments outside of appointing Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sorry, but that's not enough to sway voters to keep you in power. Having already bungled the Obamacare repeal and, thus far, immigration reform, not coming through with a significant overhaul of the tax system would assuredly spell doom for Republicans next year.

As far as the local level is concerned, there was nothing happening in my home city of Ramsey outside of two referendums:

SCHOOL DISTRICT QUESTION 1 (ISD #11)
Approval of School District Referendum Revenue Authorization

The board of Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District No. 11 has proposed to increase its general education revenue by $226.20 per pupil. The proposed referendum revenue authorization would increase each year by the rate of inflation and be applicable for ten years unless otherwise revoked or reduced as provided by law. Shall the increase in the revenue proposed by the board of Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District No. 11 be approved?

BY VOTING "YES" ON THIS BALLOT QUESTION, YOU ARE VOTING FOR A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE.

If School District Question 1 is approved, shall the school board of Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District No. 11 also be authorized to issue its general obligation school building bonds in an amount not to exceed $249,000,000 to provide funds for the acquisition and betterment of school sites and facilities, including the construction and equipping of new school facilities; the construction and equipping of additions to and the remodeling and upgrading of various school sites and facilities to replace existing portable classrooms at elementary, middle school and high school facilities, to address safety and space issues resulting from student population growth and to provide safe and secure learning environments; and the construction of secured entrances and security and safety improvements at various school facilities?

BY VOTING "YES" ON THIS BALLOT QUESTION, YOU ARE VOTING FOR A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE.

I voted "No" twice but each passed with about two-thirds of voters answering "Yes." I guess I've grown weary of throwing millions of dollars at these various projects without seeing tangible results. Let's just say I'll be watching this closely.

As far as the Twin Cities is concerned, both cast votes for mayor.

In St. Paul, Melvin Carter becomes the first African-American mayor elected in Minnesota's capitol city. I know little to nothing about him, but my friend, Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague and St. Paul resident Mitch Berg has some insights.

Over in Minneapolis, it appears the insufferable virtue-signalling incumbent mayor Betsy Hodges is on her way out. As of Wednesday morning, Jacob Frey held a slight lead with Tom Hoch in second and Hodges in third.

With that, the 2018 campaign officially starts in earnest.

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