Josh Shapiro, governor-elect of Pennsylvania
Josh Shapiro, governor-elect of Pennsylvania (Campaign photo)

The lead­up to Elec­tion 2022 was a peri­od of self-induced intox­i­ca­tion for politi­cians and pun­dits of the Amer­i­can right, cit­ing Repub­li­can polls pre­dict­ing a “Demo­c­ra­t­ic blood bath” come elec­tion day. With the votes being count­ed, how­ev­er, much blood on the floor comes from the GOP’s inter­nal battles.

As well, the “red tsuna­mi” pre­dict­ed by the likes of Don­ald Trump and Newt Gin­grich hasn’t even turned out to be a red tide.

The elec­tion will hope­ful­ly stir the blood of Democ­rats and inject new blood par­tic­u­lar­ly in the party’s lead­er­ship in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The mass media has had a fix­a­tion with Don­ald Trump and his poten­tial GOP rivals. It’s high time they devote some atten­tion to emerg­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic talent.

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Josh Shapiro was elect­ed gov­er­nor of Penn­syl­va­nia in a land­slide. Okay, he beat an ultra MAGA extrem­ist aban­doned by the Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors Asso­ci­a­tion, but Shapiro court­ed Penn­syl­va­nia vot­ers who had turned away from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

He won over blue col­lar work­ers, promis­ing that a col­lege degree will no longer be pre­req­ui­site for a state gov­ern­ment job. Look at his big mar­gin in Erie County.

An obser­vant Jew, he talked of his faith and faith issues. He held down Doug Mastriano’s mar­gins in con­ser­v­a­tive coun­ties that were big for Trump.

We know Shapiro in the North­west, as col­lab­o­ra­tor with our Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son in dozens of law­suits against excess­es of the Trump Administration.

Com­ing from a bat­tle­ground state, he was not afraid to do bat­tle with a Pres­i­dent who had car­ried Penn­syl­va­nia in 2016.

Gov­er­nor Gretchen Whit­mer of Michi­gan has been a tar­get, of Trump and armed demon­stra­tors protest­ing COVID-19 restric­tions, and of a botched kid­nap­ping and assas­si­na­tion plot.  She proved fear­less before the wrath of the right and won a 170,000-vote vic­to­ry on Tuesday.

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mau­ra Healey was elect­ed gov­er­nor of Mass­a­chu­setts by a land­slide margin.

Sure, the Bay State leans Demo­c­ra­t­ic, but has a habit of putting Repub­li­cans in the state­house. Healey was anoth­er Bob Fer­gu­son com­pa­tri­ot in thwart­ing Trump regime bids to roll back envi­ron­men­tal and work­er pro­tec­tion laws.

Healey is the first “out” les­bian to win a guber­na­to­r­i­al election.

Defy­ing pre­dic­tions of a Repub­li­can break­through in New Eng­land, Democ­rats appear to have swept all twen­ty U.S. House seats from Mass­a­chu­setts, Con­necti­cut, Rhode Island, Ver­mont, New Hamp­shire and Maine.

Sen­a­tor-elect John Fet­ter­man of Penn­syl­va­nia is a larg­er-than-life fig­ure, with his hood­ies and tat­toos and pop­ulist politics.

What a fight­er he turned out to be, over­com­ing a stroke and best­ing celebri­ty Dr. Mehmet Oz, despite a $30 mil­lion injec­tion of mon­ey by Mitch McConnell. If McConnell is to remain Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader, it is because of Fetterman.

Fet­ter­man is unabashed­ly of the pro­gres­sive wing of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. He does not, how­ev­er, come from a sol­id “D” dis­trict, and stress­es eco­nom­ic jus­tice over self-defeat­ing cul­tur­al caus­es. He took his pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics to coun­ties that had turned away from the par­ty. He also won in afflu­ent coun­ties around Philadel­phia, despite a del­uge of adver­tis­ing by Dr. Oz and Repub­li­can PACs.

Sen­a­tor Michael Ben­net of Col­orado has now won elec­tions in three dif­fi­cult years for the Democ­rats. He went nowhere as a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2020, but has been a major force in turn­ing a pur­ple West­ern state blue.

If Ari­zona Sen­a­tor Mark Kel­ly wins reelec­tion – he’s 220,000 votes ahead at this writ­ing – he deserves a nation­al spotlight.

Kel­ly and his wife Gab­by Gif­fords (a for­mer U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive) have been fre­quent North­west vis­i­tors boost­ing our gun safe­ty ini­tia­tives. Kel­ly is a for­mer Navy offi­cer and astro­naut who has won tough elec­tions in 2020 and 2022.

Class acts and wor­thy pub­lic ser­vants, all.

It’s dis­ap­point­ing that can­di­dates Cheri Beasley (North Car­oli­na) and the bold Tim Ryan (Ohio) won’t be join­ing them in the Senate.

In the House, keep an eye on Hakeem Jef­fries, D‑New York, as Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi’s prob­a­ble suc­ces­sor as House Demo­c­ra­t­ic leader.

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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