NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate provides the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, November 7th, 2023

Democrats and progressives roll to victory with key wins in Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia

Red state Repub­li­cans were singing the blues Tues­day night as Democ­rats and pro­gres­sives won two mar­quee races in an odd-year elec­tion seen as indica­tive of nation­al trends going into the 2024 pres­i­den­tial election.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Ken­tucky Gov­er­nor Andy Beshear won a sec­ond term in a state that ex-Pres­i­dent Trump car­ried by a twen­ty-six-point mar­gin in 2020.

In Ohio, twice car­ried by Trump, vot­ers enshrined abor­tion rights in the state con­sti­tu­tion, in an elec­tion that saw enor­mous turnout for an odd-year vote.

Beshear won over Attor­ney Gen­er­al Daniel Cameron, a pro­tégé of senior Blue­grass Sen. Mitch McConnell. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent rarely men­tioned Pres­i­dent Biden dur­ing the cam­paign, but ran on such Biden Admin­is­tra­tion achieve­ments as the Infra­struc­ture pack­age. A sym­bol of suc­cess is rebuild­ing a vital bridge that con­nects Cincin­nati with its Ken­tucky suburbs.

The abor­tion bat­tle in Ohio saw the state’s Repub­li­can rulers pulling out all the stops to secure a “No” vote. They put a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment on the bal­lot in August to require a six­ty per­cent affir­ma­tive vote to amend the state constitution.

It was reject­ed. They used bal­lot lan­guage bor­rowed from the right-to-life move­ment, imply­ing that the mea­sure legal­izes late term abortion.

The mea­sure makes a dif­fer­ence in the lives of Ohio women.

The Repub­li­can-dom­i­nat­ed state leg­is­la­ture passed a mea­sure ban­ning the pro­ce­dure after six weeks. Its imple­men­ta­tion was stayed by a state court.

Propo­si­tion One, the enshrin­ing amend­ment which passed, restores a stan­dard of fetal via­bil­i­ty of twen­ty-two to twen­ty-four weeks.

Abor­tion is per­mit­ted lat­er in a preg­nan­cy, on advice of a physi­cian “to pro­tect a patient’s life or health.” The mea­sure also enshrines the right to con­tra­cep­tion and fer­til­i­ty treat­ments. Oppo­nents raised a smoke­screen of issues, such as teenagers get­ting sex-change surgery with­out approval of parents.

Pro-repro­duc­tive rights forces have now pre­vailed in sev­en out of sev­en statewide votes on abor­tion rights held since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobbs rul­ing which over­turned Roe v. Wade and rescind­ed the nation­wide right to abortion.

Vic­to­ries have not only come in Demo­c­ra­t­ic-lean­ing states, Michi­gan and Cal­i­for­nia, but in deep red states of Kansas, Ken­tucky and now Ohio.

The pro-lib­er­ty cause is expect­ed to be on the bal­lot next year in states of Ari­zona, Flori­da and Mis­souri. The abor­tion care issue has spurred turnout, espe­cial­ly among Gen. Z and mil­len­ni­al voters.

Abor­tion was also a major issue in Virginia’s leg­isla­tive elec­tions, where the state’s col­leges saw line­ups of stu­dent vot­ers. Democ­rats were ahead in the ear­ly count, and even­tu­al­ly got the wins they were look­ing for. Not only will they retain con­trol of the state Sen­ate, they’ve also regained con­trol of the House of Delegates.

That means Gov­er­nor Glenn Youngk­in’s plans to enact a fif­teen-week abor­tion ban and gut envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion laws are kaput.

Repub­li­cans had tout­ed Youngkin’s abil­i­ty to “neu­tral­ize” the abor­tion issue, and spo­ken of him as a poten­tial late entrant into the 2024 pres­i­den­tial race.

Democ­rats retained a U.S. House seat in Rhode Island, giv­ing the D’s a 213th seat in the 435-mem­ber House. A Demo­c­rat, City Coun­cil mem­ber Cherelle Jack­son, became the first woman elect­ed may­or of Philadelphia.

Anoth­er Demo­c­rat, twen­ty-sev­en year-old Army Ranger vet­er­an Bran­don Sak­bun, unseat­ed a Repub­li­can may­or in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Beshear, in Ken­tucky, offered a kind of reprise of last year’s sur­pris­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic show­ing in the 2022 midterm elections.

He sup­port­ed abor­tion rights. He took a strong stand dur­ing the COVID-19 out­break and has led the state toward recov­ery from the pan­dem­ic. He han­dled major cli­mate cat­a­stro­phes of flood­ing and tor­na­do damage.

Beshear made a point, too, of court­ing rur­al con­stituen­cies which have desert­ed the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in recent years, rather on a mod­el seen in this state with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Marie Gluesenkamp-Perez.

Cameron was car­ry­ing rur­al coun­ties, but with a per­cent­age five to eight points below the Repub­li­can gov­er­nor unseat­ed by Beshear in 2019.

Beshear won that race by a paper-thin mar­gin of 5,000 votes.

Pres­i­dent Biden’s job approval rat­ings have hov­ered in the low for­ties, a poll rat­ing which has led to news­pa­per head­lines about wor­ried Democ­rats and FNC sto­ries from Rupert Mur­doch’s pro­pa­gan­da chan­nel on par­ty divi­sions. But the Democ­rats have done well when the vot­ers have had the chance to speak. A trio of big-tick­et achieve­ments – the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan, Infra­struc­ture and the Infla­tion Reduc­tion Act – have brought tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits, from rebuild of the Ohio Riv­er bridge to giv­ing What­com Coun­ty a new fer­ry to serve Lum­mi Island.

The Repub­li­cans’ lone sig­nif­i­cant vic­to­ry, as of mid-evening on Tues­day, was flip­ping the mayor’s office in Man­ches­ter, New Hampshire.

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