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House swings blue; Republicans maintain control of Senate

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Democrats gained a majority in the House of Representatives while Republicans retained the Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections.

As of late Tuesday night, Democrats had gained 26 seats in the House, putting them at 228 total — well above the 218 needed to take control of the legislative body.

As of the same time, Republicans had gained three seats in the Senate, securing 53 out of 100 votes in the body.

In the two years since Republicans took control over both the House and the Senate, a number of issues have come down to the wire, including the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act (which failed 51-49) and the Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh (which passed 50-48).

However, the advantage Republicans gain from their stronger Senate majority will be tempered by the House’s flip to blue, which splits the bicameral legislature and ends what was — following Kavanaugh’s confirmation — an effective right-wing lock on all three branches of the federal government.

At the time of print publication, various West Coast races — as well as neck-and-neck ones elsewhere — had not been called for the House and Senate.

Notable victories in the Senate included those of Republican Ted Cruz over Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke in Texas and Republican Josh Hawley over Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Democrat Joe Manchin kept his contested seat in West Virginia, while Republican Kevin Cramer unseated Democrat Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, and former Florida governor Rick Scott — a Republican — seemed set to defeat Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson.

Senatorial victories in other toss-up states included those of Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mike Braun (R-IN). Matt Rosendale (R-MT), Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) also seemed the likely victors of their respective states at the time of writing.

In the House, Democrat upset victories included those of Max Rose in New York’s 11th district (near Staten Island) and Joe Cunningham in South Carolina’s first (around Charleston).

In California, two House districts seemed ready to flip late Tuesday night, both going from Republican to Democrat: the 48th in Orange County and the 49th in northern San Diego. Statewide, the night ended with a predicted 41 total Democrat representatives and 12 total Republican ones, maintaining the state’s strong liberal leaning.

With 36 governor’s races on the ballot, Democrats looked to have gained six, even in the face of two high-profile losses in the south.

One of those two was in Florida, where Ron DeSantis — an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump — beat Bernie Sanders-endorsed progressive Andrew Gillum.

“I’m not going to beat around the bush — this is definitely not the result I expected,” said Tatie Balabanis ’19, a registered voter in Miami-Dade County. “But I think it is almost reassuring knowing, one, how many people from Florida went and voted, and two, how close it was because I feel like as it was just within reach. There is so much opportunity for change at the local level, leaving a lot of potential for change in my county and local district.”

Meanwhile, Georgian Democrat Stacey Abrams seemed set to lose to Republican Brian Kemp in a race that garnered national attention amid claims of voter suppression by Kemp. As Georgia’s current Secretary of State, Kemp enforces voter registration policies, including the state’s controversial “exact match” law.

In a speech late Tuesday night, Abrams pledged to not concede the race until all votes had been counted, implying that a runoff for the seat is likely.

“Much like the Beto v. Cruz race in Texas, Kemp’s strategy was mostly to attack Abrams’ standpoint,” wrote Sean Hackett ’21, a registered Georgia voter, in a message to The Daily. “…To me it wasn’t surprising that he won, given that the state is highly conservative.”

In Texas, Republican incumbent Greg Abbott kept his seat as governor. However, after a neck-and-neck race that went on for much of the night, the Wisconsin governorship was taken from Scott Walker (a Republican) by challenger Tony Evers (a Democrat).

Balabanis applauded Stanford’s campus climate leading up to the midterms, citing the emphasis on voter participation and expressing hope that students “keep this momentum going for the 2020 election.”

Dauber’s activism in the midterms

Races beyond the Bay Area, and even beyond California, were in the sights of Stanford Law professor Michele Dauber as she sought to build upon the energy of the #MeToo movement and make sexual assault an issue for voters.

Dauber — who is also known for her successful campaign to recall former judge Aaron Persky ’84 M.A. ’85 — praised the defeat of candidates targeted by her recently-established political action committee (PAC), the Enough is Enough Voters Project, which aims to end the careers of politicians the organization believes are guilty of sexual misconduct or actions contrary to women’s issues.

“So long misogynist Jason Lewis,” Dauber tweeted Tuesday night, referring to a House of Representatives incumbent from Minnesota’s second district who was bested by Democratic candidate Angie Craig. “Looking like voters said no thanks to your misogyny.”

In 2011, Lewis said of women, “They don’t understand, they’re — they don’t handle finances. They’re guided by emotion, not reason. Why, that’s why they didn’t have the vote for a full century in the country.”

Dauber echoed similar sentiments toward Matt Rinaldi, a Texas state legislator who called the #MeToo movement a “crazy opportunistic political attack” and opposed legislation extending the statute of limitations for rape victims.

“Texas voters said #EnoughIsEnough to Matt Rinaldi,” Dauber tweeted.

Lewis and Rinaldi were among six candidates identified as being in “Featured Races” by the Enough is Enough website. Among the other four was Cruz, who the PAC targeted for voting against the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization and the right for victims of sexual assault to get abortions.

Speaking to The Daily in September, Dauber emphasized her efforts to subject leaders with questionable records to significant scrutiny through the ballot.

“There is a serious problem, particularly at the state and local level, with elected officials who have been credibly accused of these kinds of behaviors but have never been held accountable because the voters lack the information because [the elected officials] operate below the radar of the national media,” she said.

Contact Brian Contreras at brianc42 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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