Democrats can breathe again. But taking a breath is a questionable proposition in the Trump era.
It’s hard to overstate what Tuesday’s sweeping victories mean for Democratic enthusiasm and excitement. The party that needed a win got a bunch of them with a night that replenishes the bench and rejuvenates the faithful.
The victories in Virginia and New Jersey were repudiations of Trumpism, in part, because all politics are national these days. A surge of minority, liberal and college-educated voters came out in force for Democratic candidates.
The forces of political gravity do apply to President Donald Trump after all – whatever ownership of candidacies he chooses to take. Any honest analysis has to point out, though, that this could mean any number of things for 2018 and beyond.
Ralph Northam, a physician who is now Virginia’s governor-elect, ran as a “healer.” Last night began to heal some Democratic wounds.
Yet, this is an era of political waves.
Democrats are peeking above water again.
Waves, however, wash in both directions.
The RUNDOWN with MARYALICE PARKS
The focus last night quickly shifted from big gubernatorial races to action further down the ballots.
First, Democrats beat expectations. In Virginia, they flipped at least 13 seats and put Republicans’ control of the state’s House of Delegates in play. Several of the state races are still too close to call. Democrats say it was the largest pickup for their party in the state since 1899.
Around the country, it looked like a pattern, with mayoral wins in North Carolina and state legislature seats flipping in New Hampshire, Washington and New Jersey.
Second, Democrats also landed some symbolic victories, sending two Latinas and an Asian-American woman to the Virginia statehouse for the first time, as well as a transgender woman.
Seattle elected its first lesbian mayor and openly gay school board member.
A Sikh American man was elected mayor of Hoboken, N.J.
And an African-American transgender woman was elected to the Minneapolis city council.
For a party that’s been in a slump, those local stories could boost morale on a national level and potentially suggest a backlash against Trump-era rhetoric on race and culture.
Third, 2020. Not the presidential, but redistricting.
After the 2020 census, statehouses will redraw the congressional map, and if Democrats learned anything from Republicans’ last go-around it’s that controlling local governments can have big payouts for this reason alone.
Last, some solid blue regions turned a deeper shade of navy, and there Democrats will see no reason to hold back. Having played defense during the first year of Trump’s presidency, Democratic strongholds will likely shift to the offensive and put some policy meat on their liberal bones.
In Washington, Oregon and California, Democrats now completely control the state government.
A blue wall out west could pass sweeping climate change legislation and significant universal health care or gun control bills.
In Maine, voters last night chose to expand Medicaid, perhaps an interesting harbinger of trends to come.
The TIP with JOHN VERHOVEK
After they take office, Sheila Oliver and Justin Fairfax will be the only two African-American Democratic lieutenant governors in the country.
Fairfax, 38, is the first African-American to win a statewide office in Virginia since 1989, when Douglas Wilder won the governor’s office.
As the winner of the lieutenant governor’s race, Fairfax will now be seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party and an immediate contender for the governor’s mansion in 2021. Governors can serve only one term in Virginia under state law.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
Vice President Mike Pence travels to Sutherland Springs, Texas today, the site of a mass shooting at a church Sunday that left 26 dead, according to police, who have included an unborn child in the count, and 20 injured. Pence will meet with law enforcement and the families of the victims and those injured.
Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was subpoenaed and will testify before the Senate at 10 a.m. EST regarding the 2013 data breach.
The new head of the Transportation Safety Administration David Pekoske faces questioning on Capitol Hill Wednesday with two different report cards saying that his agency’s screening process has “vulnerabilities.”
Hedge fund manager and activist Tom Steyer will join ABC News’ Rick Klein and Mary Bruce on the Powerhouse Politics podcast at 11 a.m.
Congress will hold a ceremony to honor American prisoners of war and “the nearly 83,000 servicemen and women missing in action” at 3 p.m. EST.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds a confirmation hearing today for Department of Homeland Security nominee Kirstjen Nielsen.
President Trump arrived in China overnight where he toured the Forbidden City with first lady Melania Trump, President Xi Jinping and Madame Peng Liyuan, took in a Chinese opera performance, and was treated to dinner inside the Forbidden City palace.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We won because I am a transgender woman … because of my inherent identifiers, not despite them. I never ran away from them. I championed them.” — Danica Roem, first openly transgender person elected to serve in a U.S. state legislature.
NEED TO READ
Democrats win governor’s races in Virginia, New Jersey in push back against Trump. Democrats scored a pair of major gubernatorial victories Tuesday, based on ABC News’ analyses of the exit poll and vote, landing new governors in New Jersey and Virginia as the party attempted to showcase resilience one year after President Donald Trump’s surprise election victory. (Adam Kelsey) http://abcn.ws/2AgMU8h
Danica Roem, a transgender Virginia candidate, makes history defeating conservative. Danica Roem shattered a political glass ceiling Tuesday night becoming the nation’s first openly transgender person elected to serve in a U.S. state legislature. (Paola Chavez) http://abcn.ws/2iEH6hl
Trump warns Kim ‘regime in grave danger … we will not be intimidated’. Invoking an alliance with South Korea “forged in the crucible of war,” President Donald Trump warned the nuclear-armed North Korean regime “not to underestimate us” and called on all nations to “deny it any form of support, supply, or acceptance.” (Devin Dwyer) http://abcn.ws/2yG3jXq
Trump administration accused of ‘decapitation of leadership’ at State Department. The United States’ ranks of diplomats are losing key leaders at a “dizzying speed” as the State Department struggles to recruit new talent amid a hiring freeze and sinking morale in the Trump administration, according to a new letter from a top ambassador. (Conor Finnegan) http://abcn.ws/2zrOHI4
Top Trump Pentagon nominee: It’s ‘insane’ that civilians can buy semiautomatic assault rifles. A Trump administration nominee for a top Pentagon job told Congress on Tuesday that it’s “insane” civilians can buy semiautomatic assault rifles — like the type used in Sunday’s deadly church shooting in Texas. (Elizabeth McLaughlin) http://abcn.ws/2zFbDa2
Former DNC chair says she was not involved in hiring of Fusion GPS. Donna Brazile said she was unaware the DNC had hired the investigative firm to dig up dirt on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Veronica Stracqualursi) http://abcn.ws/2j6wwDM
To tweet or not to tweet is the question as Trump visits China, Bloomberg asks. Of course, he will if he can, administration officials say — even at the risk of flouting the privilege in a nation that generally denies Western social media to its own people. So it’s not a small consideration. The answer has implications for cybersecurity, diplomacy, business and human rights. https://bloom.bg/2iE383W
CBS reports that Flake, Heinrich announced the introduction of the Domestic Violence Loophole Closure Act, in the wake of the Texas shooting. http://cbsn.ws/2m40Qjr
The New York Times compiled reactions to the Texas church shooting from across the political spectrum: http://nyti.ms/2hQYxvJ
Politico reports on “The Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault‘s raucous 39-person bridal party at the White House, where she now serves as a senior aide for the Office of Public Liaison. http://politi.co/2yeduOw