While the elections of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley shone like beacons of light in a dreary landscape, I’m sorry to report that America shoveled in a ton of shit on Tuesday night, too.
Several bad men prevailed, as they often do. The list includes California Rep. Duncan Hunter, the incumbent Republican indicted on campaign finance fraud. Hunter beat 29-year-old Ammar Campa-Najjar for California’s 50th congressional district, banking on racism and Islamophobia. Hunter ran ads attacking Campa-Najjar, who is Mexican-Palestian American, as “a risk we can’t ignore,” saying that Campa-Najjar is attempting to “infiltrate” Congress. (Campa-Najjar, it feels worth pointing out in the midst of all this, is Catholic.)
In a potentially history-making election, where Democrat Andrew Gillum could have become Florida’s first black governor, the state instead elected extremely racist Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, who lead by around one percentage point. DeSantis is a particularly odious racist in a political landscape already saturated by racist white men: he has attended conferences frequented by white nationalists, accepted donations from someone who called Barack Obama racist and Islamophobic slurs. In the final weeks of the election, Gillum effectively summed up DeSantis’s views: “I’m not calling Mr. Desantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.” Gillum conceded on Tuesday night, saying, “I want to encourage you not to give up.”
Are you picking up on a theme yet? Well, I’m sorry to say, there’s more good news for white supremacists: In Iowa, white supremacist Steve King was re-elected to Congress for the eighth time, winning 50.7 percent of the vote. While the rest of the world sees a guy who fights for the advancement of the white race and espouses anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and other racist beliefs, local constituents say they just don’t see it. “He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body,” one city council member told the Des Moines Register, while a newspaper editor said, that while the “idea of racism disgusts” him, “I struggle with the idea that they’re describing the same person.” Sure!
Another significant political loss on Tuesday: North Dakota’s Senate race, in which incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp lost to Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer. Cramer, who believes that sexual assault survivors who dare to speak up are part of a “movement toward victimization,” benefitted from a voter ID law that suppressed North Dakota’s Native American vote. In 2012, Heitkamp eeked a narrow victory thanks, in large part, to Native American constituents.
I’m also very sorry to say that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a man who wants to end abortion and routinely stomps on the rights of the LGBTQ community and also has a weird and unpleasant face, retained his seat by a narrow margin against Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke.
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican most famous for systematically suppressing the black vote in his state, is poised to steal his election against Stacey Abrams with 50.5 percent of the vote. Given Kemp’s voter suppression tactics, and the fact that Georgia voters faced a series of hurdles at the polls, including broken machines at polling stations, resulting in hours-long wait times, Abrams has refused to concede. “I’m here tonight to tell you votes remain to be counted,” Abrams said on Wednesday morning. “There’s voices that are waiting to be heard.”
The results suggest that, despite record-breaking number of women being elected to the House as Democrats regain the majority, and despite some serious progressive gains across the country, the Republican Party continues to shovel its shit into the face of the rest of the country.