National media coverage of Tuesday’s elections has focused fairly overwhelmingly on the governor’s race in Virginia, which seems to be close and features some interesting storylines about Ed Gillespie’s race-baiting electioneering tactics, which, if successful, will likely prove to be a model for Republicans nationwide.
But the policy stakes outside Virginia — in the not-so-close gubernatorial election in New Jersey, a Washington state Senate special election, and a Maine ballot initiative to expand Medicaid — are equally high. These other races haven’t attracted as much attention because they’re less interesting from a horse-race perspective. The New Jersey race looks set to be a Democratic blowout, the state Senate special in the suburbs of Seattle is lightly polled but also seems to clearly favor Democrats, and the paucity of polling in Maine makes it hard to construct any kind of narrative.
Yet Democratic victories in these three races have huge effects. An expected Democratic win in New Jersey would create a Democratic trifecta in a blue state — potentially unleashing a wave of progressive policymaking that’s been stifled by eight years of Chris Christie. Flipping Washington’s state Senate from a one-vote GOP majority to a one-vote Democratic majority will also create a Democratic trifecta; a narrow legislative margin but one that creates new opportunities when combined with Washington state’s stronger fiscal position. Medicaid expansion in Maine would be a huge deal for the estimated 70,000 Mainers newly qualified for the program and a shot in the arm to rural hospitals.
And this is big news because Dems getting full control of New Jersey and Washington State back means they'll be much better equipped to battle Trump regime nonsense going into next year and in 2020 when redistricting and the White House are both on the line. Dems need all the help they can get.
Not to mention tens of thousands of Mainers getting access to health care, in a state that has been badly abused by the racist austerity idiocy of GOP Gov. Paul LePage. A vote to expand Medicaid in the Trump era would send shockwaves through all 50 states, period.
Here's hoping that I have good news to report tomorrow as well.