It was a busy election day across the country on Tuesday. Democrat Bill de Blasio handed Republican Joe Lhota a 50 point “smackdown” in the New York City mayoral election. In New Jersey, popular Republican governor Chris Christie handily won re-election over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono. Christie then seized the moment to further his profile on the national stage and attack Washington dysfunction in a fiery victory speech.
And Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia gubernatorial election, because, well, someone had to.
These races were, in large part, well predicted by pollsters and political reporters. But there were a number of other issues voted on that did not get the same amount of press. Here are five election results from Tuesday that you may have missed.
New York Approves Gambling
While de Blasio was the big winner in New York, Empire State voters with a passion for blackjack and one-armed-bandits also have a reason to celebrate. New York voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that will allow up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos to be built in their state.
The measure was fervently supported by Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo, who sold the amendment as a way to revitalize parts of the state struggling economically and to better fund school districts. “The passage of Proposal One is a big win for local governments, school districts, and taxpayers across New York State,” Cuomo said in a statement.
De Blasio showed his pragmatism by supporting the amendment, arguing that there’s nothing contradictory about progressive politics and legalized gambling.
“I don’t accept the characterization [that legalized gambling is incompatible with progressive values], first of all,” de Blasio told New York magazine. “That may get back to my mother’s pragmatism. The industry exists. It’s state sanctioned when you call it Lotto. The money and the jobs are going elsewhere; we’re not in a position to let that kind of economic impact go elsewhere. And you know, since that is the reality, certainly the financial impact on a city, if we get $50 million, $100 million, whatever the final figure is each year for our schools, you know, that’s gonna do some good.”
Photo via Wikimedia
Minimum Wage Gets A Bump In New Jersey And Washington
Bill de Blasio’s victory wasn’t the only win for progressives Tuesday: Voters in New Jersey and a Seattle suburb voted for a minimum-wage increase.
Voters in SeaTac, Washington, a working-class suburb of Seattle, voted to enact a $15.00 minimum wage for some workers in the area. The initiative will increase the wages of over 6,000 employees of the Sea-Tac airport and surrounding hotels and car rental businesses. As a state, Washington leads the country in minimum wage rate, at $9.19 an hour.
Similarly, New Jersey voters approved a raise to the state’s minimum wage by $1.00 to $8.25 an hour. The initiative was a victory for Democrats in the New Jersey legislature, who put the issue on the ballot after it was blocked by Governor Chris Christie. The successful referendum has New Jersey progressives cheering, despite Christie’s big win in the gubernatorial election.
“It was definitely time. It’s not just about the dollar raise, it’s about helping workers move toward economic security. As the cost of living goes up, the value of the wage goes up,” Mary Gatta of West Long Branch told USA Today.
AFP Photo/Patrik Stollarz
Portland, Maine Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Use
In another local referendum, Portland, Maine became the first east coast city to legalize marijuana for recreational use. But the vote was largely symbolic — Portland is still subject to both state and federal laws that deem marijuana illegal.
Nevertheless, pro-pot advocates were encouraged by Tuesday’s results. “Most Portlanders, like most Americans, are fed up with our nation’s failed marijuana prohibition laws,” David Boyer of the Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana advocacy group, told the Huffington Post. “We applaud Portland voters for adopting a smarter marijuana policy, and we look forward to working with city officials to ensure it is implemented.”
The referendum signals a larger trend, according to Boyer, who told the Associated Press before the vote: “I think there’s national implications, keeping the momentum that Washington and Colorado started last November in ending marijuana prohibition.”
Photo via Wikimedia
Illinois Lawmakers Vote To Bring Gay Marriage To Their State
While there were no elections or referenda in Illinois Tuesday, the state legislature did cast a historic vote, narrowly approving marriage equality. Once Democratic governor Pat Quinn signs the bill into law — and he’s pledged to do so by the end of the month — Illinois will be the 15th state to allow same-sex marriage.
The bill’s sponsors include openly gay Illinois state legislators, who view the bill as an impressive step forward. “At the end of the day, what this bill is about is love, it’s about family, it’s about commitment,” said Rep. Greg Harris, one of the sponsors.
The bill’s passage even received praise from President Obama, who once served in the Illinois state legislature.
“As president, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” Obama said in a statement. “Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else. So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours — and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.”
Photo via Wikimedia
Detroit And Boston Elect New Mayors
Two other cities besides New York elected Democratic mayors: Boston and Detroit. Both freshly elected mayors deserve a close look. Here’s why:
Much like de Blasio in New York, Martin Walsh, mayor-elect of Boston, pushed a progressive- and labor-oriented campaign narrative. Walsh was able to pull votes from every neighborhood in Boston, and gain support from a racially and economically diverse voting bloc. His, the son of Irish immigrants, was raised in the city’s blue-collar Dorchester neighborhood. Walsh’s working-class roots and labor-based campaign made him a popular candidate to labor unions across the country, who donated to his campaign in unprecedented numbers.
It now seems that Walsh is prepared to expand his pro-labor platform and govern for all Bostonians. “For this kid from Taft Street in Dorchester, you’ve made Boston a place where dreams come true. Together we’re going to make Boston a place where dreams come true for every child and every person in every corner of this city,” Walsh said at his victory party at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.
For the first time in 40 years, Detroit voters elected a white mayor to lead their city, as Democrat Mike Duggan defeated Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon by 10 percentage points. While a Democratic victory in the Detroit mayoral race is not surprising, the fact that Duggan was able to get the votes in predominantly black Detroit perhaps shows a new era of race relations in the Motor City.
For Detroit voters, the issues were more important than the race of the candidate. “When you call 911 you want to know an ambulance is coming,” Paulette Warren, who is black, told the Washington Post. “It’s all about who can do the job. It’s not about color.”
Duggan even acknowledged the issue in his victory speech Tuesday night. “When I started on this campaign, I was not under any illusion about the racial division in this country,” he said. “And I said from the beginning that the only way I could get past it was to sit with you and get to know you one by one. At this moment what we have in common is much more powerful than what divides us. And now the real work begins.”
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