Democrats have seized control of the House of Representatives, while the Republican Party expanded its grip on the Senate in Tuesday’s midterm elections. With some 20 House races yet to be called, Democrats have clinched a House majority for the first time in eight years, picking up more than the 23 seats they needed to retake the House. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who’s poised to reclaim her gavel as speaker of the House—barring a leadership challenge by Democrats—celebrated Tuesday’s outcome.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “Today is more than about Democrats and Republicans. It’s about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances to the Trump administration. It’s about stopping the GOP and Mitch McConnell’s assaults on Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and the healthcare of 130 million Americans living with pre-existing medical conditions. Let’s hear it more for pre-existing medical conditions.”
One of the nation’s most closely watched races of the year remains too close to call. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is holding a slim lead over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, who was vying to be the first black woman governor in U.S. history. But Abrams is refusing to concede, because thousands of absentee ballots have not yet been counted. Kemp is currently at 50.5 percent; if he dips below 50, the race goes to a runoff. The Georgia race was marred by widespread allegations of voter suppression carried out by Brian Kemp, who is Georgia’s secretary of state.
Meanwhile in Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum has conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis after a tight race. Gillum was attempting to become Florida’s first African-American governor but faced a string of racist attacks from outside groups and DeSantis, who told Floridians not to “monkey this up.” In other Florida news, the Senate race between the state’s sitting governor, Republican Rick Scott, and Democrat Bill Nelson remains too close to call, though Scott maintains a small lead.
In Maryland, Republican Governor Larry Hogan was re-elected, defeating Democrat Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP.
The Democrats won key governorships in a number of states, including Kansas, Maine, Wisconsin and Michigan. In Kansas, state Senator Laura Kelly defeated Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was a key architect of the GOP’s voter suppression efforts nationwide. In Wisconsin, voters ousted Republican Governor Scott Walker by electing Democrat Tony Evers. Meanwhile in Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis became the first openly gay male governor.
From coast to coast it was also a night of firsts for women, particularly women of color. For the first time in the nation’s history there will be more than 100 women in the U.S. House of Representatives. Among them were Deb Haaland in New Mexico and Sharice Davids in Kansas, who made history by becoming the nation’s first Native American congresswomen. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota became the first Muslim women elected to Congress. In New York City, 29-year-old Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “We were able to organize everyday people, knocking on our neighbors’ door. And despite being outspent $4 million, 18 or 13 to one; despite the fact that we were running against a 10-term incumbent; despite the fact that it was your first time running for office; despite the fact that we didn’t have the money; despite the fact that I’m working-class—despite all those things, we won.”
History was also made in New England, where two states elected their first African-American congresswomen: Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts and Jahana Hayes in Connecticut. And in in Texas, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia have became the state’s first two Latina congresswomen.
In other election news, voters in Florida approved a historic ballot measure to re-enfranchise 1.4 million people with felony convictions. Missouri and Michigan voters approved marijuana legalization measures. Massachusetts voters approved a measure to protect key rights for transgender people. Oregon voters overwhelmingly defended the state’s sanctuary laws from being repealed.
In El Paso, Texas, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials abruptly called off a so-called crowd-control drill planned for Tuesday near a Latino neighborhood, after voting rights groups warned the exercises were likely to suppress voter turnout. Lawmakers, activists and the American Civil Liberties Union said the timing of the drill appeared to be aimed at intimidating likely Democratic voters on Election Day. President Trump made anti-immigrant hysteria the centerpiece of his campaign in the midterm elections, making false claims about gang members, criminals and “unknown Middle Easterners” taking part in a caravan of migrants heading across Mexico toward the U.S. border.
In Yemen, troops with the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition are fighting pitched battles with Houthi rebels for control of the port city of Hodeidah. Residents say Saudi warplanes have dropped more than 100 bombs on civilian neighborhoods over the past few days. The fighting came as the head of the U.N.’s World Food Program said Yemen remains the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
Herve Verhoosel: “We call that 'pre-famine' for the moment. The situation is clearly dramatic. You know that WFP is feeding between 6 and 8 million people every month. Six to 8 million people—the number is amazing. I mean, if that’s technically a famine today or not, that doesn’t change anything to the gravity of the situation. That is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. That is the worst food security crisis in the world. Some things must be done.”
The Trump administration continues to support the Saudi-led coalition with weapons sales, intelligence sharing and midair-refueling missions for Saudi coalition bombers.
The United Nations’ chief of biodiversity is warning that nations have just two years to reach a broad global agreement to protect animal and plant species, or humanity will watch whole ecosystems collapse as species become extinct. The dire warning came ahead of a meeting by the U.N.'s 195 member states in Egypt this month, where they'll begin negotiating toward a new agreement to protect the world’s wildlife. In an interview with The Guardian, the U.N.'s Cristiana Palmer called the loss of biodiversity a “silent killer,” adding, “It's different from climate change, where people feel the impact in everyday life. With biodiversity, it is not so clear, but by the time you feel what is happening, it may be too late.” A pair of previous agreements since 2002 have failed to stop the planet’s worst loss of biodiversity since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Back in the United States, a federal judge in New York City ordered the man accused of sending pipe bombs to prominent critics of President Trump to be held without bail while he awaits trial. Cesar Sayoc, a Florida resident who frequently praised President Trump while threatening his opponents on social media, is accused of sending bombs to the Obamas, the Clintons, former Vice President Joe Biden, ex-CIA Director John Brennan, Congressmembers Maxine Waters and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, liberal activists Tom Steyer and George Soros, actor Robert De Niro and CNN’s main office building in Manhattan.
At the Supreme Court, newly seated Justice Brett Kavanaugh appeared receptive Tuesday to the arguments of a condemned Missouri prisoner who says he’s likely to experience extreme pain if he’s subjected to a lethal injection. Russell Bucklew was scheduled to be executed last March before the high court agreed to hear his appeal. His attorneys argued at the Supreme Court Tuesday that Bucklew’s rare medical condition could prevent a lethal injection drug from circulating properly through his veins, likely leading to a death so agonizing that it would violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court split 4 to 4 earlier this year on whether to allow the execution to proceed, meaning Justice Kavanaugh will likely cast the deciding vote in the case.
And in Wisconsin, where Republican Governor Scott Walker was defeated Tuesday in his bid for a third term in office, the Wall Street Journal reports the high-tech manufacturer Foxconn is seeking to bring in workers from China to help run a factory under construction near the city of Racine. Governor Walker backed a plan—with the support of House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump—to provide $3 billion in tax credits to Foxconn, claiming the taxpayer money would provide thousands of new jobs while renovating Wisconsin’s economy. But Foxconn has scaled back its plans, now saying it will hire just 3,000 workers in the short term—most of them in engineering positions, rather than the 13,000 manufacturing jobs Governor Walker had promised. And the size of the taxpayer subsidy has steadily increased to $4.1 billion. During two terms in office, Governor Scott Walker was known for aggressively busting unions and for his close ties to right-wing dark money groups.