Newswire : Democrats win governor’s races in Virginia, New Jersey; provide hope for Alabama special election – Dec. 12

By: John Whitesides, Reuters-Thompson

Fairfax and Northam
Justin Fairfax and Ralph Northam Celebrate Victory

16 WASHINGTON, Nov 7 (Reuters) – Democrat Ralph Northam won a bitter race for Virginia governor on Tuesday, beating a Republican who embraced some of President Donald Trump’s combative tactics and issues in a potential preview of next year’s midterm election battles.

Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor and a pediatrician, overcame a barrage of attack ads by Republican Ed Gillespie that hit the soft-spoken Democrat on divisive issues such as immigration, gang crime and Confederate statues. Justin Fairfax, an African-American, was elected as Lieutenant Governor in Virginia.
The Northam victory in a state that Democrat Hillary Clinton won by 5 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election was a boost for national Democrats who were desperate to turn grassroots enthusiasm to resist Trump into election victories.
Tom Perez, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, said, “We invested more in boots on the ground and grassroots and digital organizing than in any “off-year” before. Good old-fashioned organizing paired with the latest technology and tools helped put our candidates over the top.

“I am so proud of the campaigns run by Virginia’s Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax, and Mark Herring, New Jersey’s Phil Murphy and Sheila Oliver, and Democrats all over the country, up and down the ballot. These candidates worked hard day in and day out fighting to represent their states, and I know that they will take that same spirit and fight into their terms.

“We are going to keep investing in state parties and supporting Democrats from the school board to the Oval Office. And if we continue to channel our energy into powering this movement, there’s no doubt in my mind that we will see wins like this in 2018, 2020, and beyond.”

Perez and other Democratic leaders pointed to the upcoming Special Election in Alabama on December 12, as another race that can be won by Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, with strong grassroots support.
While Democrats had already lost four special congressional elections earlier this year, Tuesday’s results seem to signal a change in the national political mood.
In a sign of the high stakes, Trump took a break from his Asia visit to send tweets and record messages on behalf of Gillespie, a former chairman of the national party. Trump had endorsed Gillespie but did not campaigned with him.
The Virginia race highlighted a slate of state and local elections that also included a governor’s race in New Jersey, where Democrat Phil Murphy, a former investment banker and ambassador to Germany, defeated Republican Kim Guadagno for the right to succeed Republican Chris Christie.
Murphy had promised to be a check on Trump in Democratic-leaning New Jersey, and Guadagno, the lieutenant governor, was hampered by her association with the unpopular Christie.
In Virginia, Democrats had worried that if Gillespie won, Republicans would see it as a green light to emphasize cultural issues in their campaigns for next year’s elections, when all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 of the U.S. Senate’s 100 seats come up for election. Republicans now control both chambers.
In Virginia on Tuesday, grassroots campaigners fueled the victory of Justin Fairfax in his historic race for Lieutenant Governor — only the second Black candidate ever elected to statewide office in Virginia. Justin’s huge win was driven by a multiracial grassroots coalition, including DFA and Indivisible volunteers on the ground and on DFA Dialer — the largest national volunteer-led calling program in the country focused on mobilizing sporadic Democratic voters to the polls.
In a significant shift in power in Virginia’s House of Delegates, as of right now 14 out of 16 DFA-endorsed candidates — including progressive fighters like Jennifer Carroll Foy, Donte Tanner, Chris Hurst, Jennifer Boysko, and Hala Ayala — have defeated NRA-backed candidates in several critical races, setting the stage for Democrats potentially taking back control of the chamber.

Of particular note in Virginia are the history-making victories of Danica Roem, who will be the nation’s first transgender state legislator, and Elizabeth Guzman, who will be the first Latina and one of the first first-generation immigrants to serve in the Virginia General Assembly.

Obama: Court ruling won’t end immigration debate

By: Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

President Obama

 

WASHINGTON — President Obama all but conceded defeat on immigration Thursday following a Supreme Court decision that kept his executive actions on hold, saying it’s unlikely he’ll be able to accomplish his goal of giving millions of immigrants semi-legal status by the end of his presidency.

Obama called the Supreme Court’s deadlock a setback that “takes us further from the country we aspire to be.” But he also predicted that an overhaul the immigration system would come eventually.”Congress isn’t able to ignore America forever,” he said.

Obama spoke following the Supreme Court’s 4-4 deadlock in a closely watched case that considered whether the president has the power to delay deportations of millions of immigrants who don’t have the legal authority to be in the United States.

The unusual Supreme Court tie vote — caused by the vacancy created by Senate Republicans’ refusal to confirm a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia — means that a lower court ruling stands. That decision held that states have standing to sue the federal government over the executive actions, and put important parts of Obama’s immigration plan on hold.

The Obama administration has deployed more border agents to the southern border, and Obama said he’s cut illegal border crossings to their lowest levels since 1970s. But he lamented that success on that front did not break the logjam in Congress over an immigration reform package.

“It is heartbreaking for millions of immigrants who made their lives here, who raised families here,” Obama said.

Obama promised that little would change for most immigrants, saying his administration would continue to consider long-term unauthorized immigrants a low priority for deportation. “What is unaffected by today’s ruling, or lack of a ruling, are the enforcement priorities we put in place,” he said. “As long as you have not committed a crime, our limited law enforcement resources are not focused on you.”

But the decision means that immigrant families will not be eligible for get work authorizations and government benefits. Obama said he’s not considering any more executive actions on the issue before the end of his presidency.

Obama also used the occasion to once again call on the Republican- controlled Senate to confirm his nominee for a vacancy to the Supreme Court, which would provide for a more definitive — and likely Obama-friendly — decision.

“The court’s inability to reach a decision in this case is a very clear reminder of why it’s so important for the Supreme Court to have a full bench.”

Obama did praise a separate decision upholding affirmative action in college admissions. “We are not a country that guarantees equal outcomes, but we do strive to provide an equal shot to everyone, and that;s what the Supreme Court upheld today,” Obama said.