Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s deeply unpopular Republican governor, was defeated last night by his Democratic challenger Andy Beshear, the state’s attorney general. While Bevin has yet to concede, his defeat, given how closely Donald Trump tied Bevin to his own political fortunes, has dominated the national news headlines, as has Virginia Democrats’ triumphant takeover of both chambers of the legislature. But in cities, counties, and states around the country, there were a lot of other wins—victories for progressives that will have deep impacts on everything from criminal justice reform to affordable housing to strengthening public education.
Let’s fucking celebrate, because when times are bad, all we have is each other.
Remember Juli Briskman, the woman who gave Donald Trump the finger in 2017 while riding her bike and then lost her job? On Tuesday night, Briskman, a Democrat running for public office for the first time, won her race to become a Loudoun County, Virginia supervisor, defeating the Republican incumbent Suzanne Volpe.
“It’s feeling fantastic, it’s feeling surreal,” Briskman told the Washington Post. “The last two years have been quite a ride. Now we’re helping to flip Loudoun blue.”
And the Virginia State Delegate Danica Roem, the first openly trans politician to win elected office, won her re-election race in Virginia’s 13th District, defeating a notoriously anti-LGBTQ Republican. At her election night party, Roem told her supporters, “The way we won this race was by taking care of our constituents for the last two years. It was by doing what the people asked us to do. Keeping promises like expanding Medicaid…and while we were doing it we were raising teacher pay by five percent.”
In Charlottesville, Democratic Socialists of America member Michael Payne won his city council race. Payne, per VICE, is a long-time activist who has helped organize counter-protests against white supremacist groups.
Oh, and another side effect of the Democratic takeover of Virginia’s legislature? It has breathed new life into the Equal Rights Amendment.
In Tucson, City Councilmember Regina Romero won her election to become the city’s next mayor, becoming the first woman (and first Latinx) to lead the city, and the only Latinx to lead a major U.S. city.
Here’s what Romero had to say upon her victory, per the Arizona Daily Star: “At a time when our national politics have been sown with division, Tucsonans remain united by our shared desire to promote a safe, just and sustainable city that provides economic opportunity for our families and future generations. This movement is open to everyone—whatever your background, whatever your party, whoever you voted for—let’s work together! We will always be one Tucson—somos uno.”
One of her top priorities? Coming up with an ambitious plan to tackle climate change. “If we want to move our economy to a progressive place, if we want to continue investing in our infrastructure, if we want to continue creating high wage, long term jobs we have to tackle climate resiliency in our city,” Romero said on election night. “We are the second city that is heating up the most right after Phoenix and so we’ve got to work immediately on it.”
In Denver, several candidates supported by the teachers union won their races for the school board on Tuesday night, in what Chalkbeat called a “historic shift.”
More, from Chalkbeat:
This marks the first time in a decade that candidates supported by proponents of education reform won’t have the majority on the Denver school board. For years, Denver has been a national model for a certain brand of education reform. Tuesday’s election results could mean a departure from long-standing reform policies opposed by the union, including approving new independent charter schools and closing low-performing schools.
One of them is Tay Anderson, a 21-year-old high school restorative justice coordinator. “We have made history here today, not by just flipping the board,” said Anderson, who, according to Chalkbeat, “was told a young black man could not win a citywide race.”
These victories, said Tiffany Choi, the president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, will give teachers and the union the power to “change the conversation in Denver about what our public schools should look like.”
In Cambridge, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler won his race to join the city council. Sobrinho-Wheeler, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a tenants rights advocate, ran on a platform of housing and climate justice.
Nadia Mohamed won her election for city council in St. Louis Park, becoming the first Muslim woman and first Somali-American to serve as a councilmember. Mohamed, who is 23 years old, ran on a strongly progressive platform that included combating climate change to the need to build affordable housing.
A series of pro-democracy ballot initiatives passed in New York City. Two in particular were widely celebrated by progressive activists: one that introduces ranked-choice voting in city primary elections, and another that grants more power to the city’s police oversight board.
In Philadelphia, the Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks won her city council race, becoming, as the Philadelphia Inquirer put it, “the first candidate from outside the two major parties to win a seat in the 100 years since Council adopted a modern legislative structure.” Brooks, according to VICE, ran on a progressive housing platform, as well as support for a “Philadelphia Green New Deal.”
“For the first time in seven decades, we broke the GOP,” Brooks told her supporters. “We beat the Democratic establishment. They said a black single mom from North Philly wasn’t the right person, but we have shown them that we are bigger than them.”
And this, in Pennsylvania’s Delaware County, seems pretty great too.
What happened in your town and state that you want to shout out?