2018 Midterm Elections Bring Excitement & Change

Hurelayn Abdu, Editor-in-chief

On November 6, midterm elections were held, and they generated some extraordinary results. Voter turnout was record breaking, with the United States Election Project estimating that 47% of eligible voters cast a ballot in this election. This was a major jump, as they state that only 36.7% voted in 2014, and 41% in 2010. Locally, the massive turnout was evident as polling places including the Marilyn J. Praisner Recreation Center had lines out the door.

However, the real excitement began in the evening when results started to come in. Leading up to Tuesday, Democrats were confident, with talk spreading about a predicted “blue wave” – a trend of Democrats winning local, state and federal elections across the country. On the other side of the aisle, Republicans were hoping to keep their majority in Congress, while staying in power in the swing states that they had won in the 2016 elections. As the evening went on, pundits and news outlets reported that the expected blue wave was not a reality.

It quickly became apparent that Republicans would keep their majority in the Senate as incumbent Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill lost to Republican Josh Howley, and the only Democrat in the Missouri legislature, Joe Donnely, lost to his Republic challenger, Mike Braun. Another major win for the Republicans was in Texas where incumbent two term senator Ted Cruz beat Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, a candidate who gained national attention in a close race.

But the Republicans did not get a chance to fully celebrate, as Democrats rapidly picked up house seats across the nation. Democrats unseated Republicans in places like Virginia, where incumbent Barabara Comstock lost to Democratic challenger Jennifer Wexton, and Oklahoma where incumbent Republican Steve Russel lost to Democrat Kendra Horn.

Up until the election it was evident that the Florida and Georgia gubernatorial elections would be close, and they did not disappoint. In Florida, Andrew Guillium, the Democratic challenger, initially conceded as polls showed that incumbent Ron Desantis was in the lead. Later on, Giullium withdrew his concession, stating that he would wait until every single ballot was counted before deciding. Things played out similarly in Georgia where Democratic challenger Stacy Abrams refused to concede until every vote was counted. According to Vox, Georgia law stated that a gubernatorial candidate must get 51% of the votes to be declared the winner or there will be a mandatory runoff. A separate Georgia law also states that if the margin of difference between two candidates is within a 1% margin, there will be a mandatory recount. Abrams ended her bid for governor on November 16th, as it was reported that Kemp was leading by 50.2%. Abrams used this opportunity to point out the circumstances leading up to her opponents win stating “You see, as a leader, I should be stoic in my outrage and silent in my rebuke. But stoicism is a luxury. And silence is a weapon for those who would quiet the voices of the people. And I will not concede because the erosion of our democracy is not right.”

This election was also filled with a lot of firsts, as it was an excellent night for diversity. According to The Hill there is now a record number of Hispanic-American, African-American, Asian-American, Jewish-American, and Muslim-American representatives in Congress.

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, with Omar becoming the first woman in Congress who wears a hijab. The election of both of these women represents the evolution of Congress to becoming an accurate representation of the nation, at least on the Democratic side. Omar is not only the first hijab – wearing congresswomen; but she is also a refugee for Somalia, giving her the ability to inject some personal experience into the current discussion on treatment of refugees.

Results on the local level weren’t as exciting on the national level. Maryland Democratic challenger Ben Jealous lost to incumbent Governor Larry Hogan, who became the first Republican governor to ever win re-election in Maryland. Hogan’s win did not come as a shock to many, as Jealous’s chances of unseating the popular Republican governor were slim. In other unsurprising results, Maryland Democrats Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin, Steny Hoyer, and Elijah Cummings were re-elected to the house, along with Republican Andy Harris. Democrat David Trone won the congressional seat that Presidential hopeful John Delaney previously occupied.

In Montgomery County, Democrat Marc Elrich won the county executive race, taking over for Ike Leggett, who has chosen to retire. Fellow Democrats Andrew Friedson, Craig L. Rice, Sidney A. Katz, Nancy Navarro, and Tom Hucker won county council seats, while Attorney General Brian Frosh was re – elected to a second term.