Democracy Alliance Blog / From The President / November 9, 2017

A Great Night for Progressives – Now Let’s Keep It Going

by Gara LaMarche

Tuesday night’s Election Day victories across the country were a referendum on Donald Trump, his enablers in Congress and state capitols, and their regressive and divisive policies. This sweeping repudiation at the polls demonstrates powerfully what the Democracy Alliance and its allies are working and hoping for: The translation of a burgeoning resistance movement into electoral strength. This is a key theme of the DA donor conference that kicks off in Carlsbad, California a week from today.

These victories cover both breadth and depth, from school boards and city councils to governors’ mansions. I can’t think of a single race that progressives had any shot to win where we did not prevail. We provide a handy chart below, but here are the highlights:


Democrat Ralph Northam far exceeded late polling to win a resounding nine-point victory for governor. DA partners contributed considerably to his campaign and DA state funds including the State Victory Fund, the New American Majority Fund, and the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund invested in issue and constituency organizations for capacity-building and mobilization across the state.

Led by DA partners Joan Huffer, the founding member of the VA Plus donor table, Shekar Narasimhan (DA Board member), and John Stocks (DA Chair), DA Partners and Committee on States members volunteered countless hours raising resources. Kelly Beadle, donor table director, along with the State Victory Fund team helped to ensure those resources went to fund programs on the ground that were aligned, strategic, and effective. A host of other DA Partner and community organizations—labor unions, NextGen, Planned Parenthood and PPFA Action Fund, LCV, CCC Action Fund, For Our Future, the Women Effect Fund, and a host of others—made critical investments into organizations such as New Virginia Majority and Virginia BLOC. Democrats swept other statewide offices, including newly elected Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax.

Down-ballot, Democrats picked up 15 seats in the gerrymandered legislature, effectively tying the House of Delegates, pending recounts. These incredible gains include the first transgender person to win a seat in the House of Delegates, and two Latinas and a former Vietnam refugee who will also serve in the capitol in Richmond for the first time.

Across the state, New American Majority Voters—people of color, unmarried women, and young people—participated in astoundingly higher numbers through absentee and early voting than in 2013. NAM voting through absentee and early voting was up 57 percent across the board, and among people of color, up 79 percent.

We look forward to learning more about these turnout figures in the coming days. But the strong year-round organizing, together with aligned voter contact plans across multiple organizations that were led by people in the state helped drive the Virginia victories. This is an affirmation of our State Victory Fund approach of aligning resources to fund state-developed collaborative plans.

New Jersey

Former DA partner and Ambassador to Germany, Phil Murphy, won a resounding victory for governor, giving Democrats control of the state for the first time in eight years. Murphy ran an unabashedly progressive campaign calling for a $15 minimum wage, marijuana legalization, and a state investment bank. Additionally, Sheila Oliver became the first African American lieutenant governor in the state’s history.


Democrats won a contested state Senate district in suburban Seattle, flipping the chamber and giving Democrats total control of the state. The entire West Coast now stands as a blue wall in resistance to the agenda of Donald Trump and the GOP. Manka Dinghra also made history, becoming the first Sikh American to hold elected office in the state legislature.


Democrats flipped two seats in the state legislature, and one in the state Senate breaking the GOP supermajority.


Voters overwhelmingly rebuked Trump-ist Governor LePage’s veto and approved Medicaid expansion.

And in municipal races across the country, new diverse leaders were elected to office. African Americans were elected mayors of Charlotte, NC, Statesboro, GA, and Helena, MT. A Latina is now mayor of Santa Barbara, CA, and a Sikh, who overcame a hate-filled campaign against him, will govern Hoboken, NJ.

Undoubtedly there are others we failed to mention or note here. Please let us know of other good news we should be celebrate and lift up at the DA conference next week.

Last night’s victories were not just for those who had their names on a ballot. They were for those who fought back against racist narratives about Hispanic gangs and sanctuary cities in Virginia, and those who had “terrorist” stamped over their pictures on fliers in small cities in New Jersey. And of course, for all who want affordable health care, good jobs, great schools, and healthy communities.

With new candidates surfacing all across the country, and critical midterms just a year away, the 2017 elections give us fresh hope and mighty incentives to step up support of the progressive candidates and infrastructure we need to get the country back on course.

I look forward to the discussions we’ll have about this next week in California.