by Michael McCurry
The 2017 elections provided big wins for the Democratic Party. With the victories of Phil Murphy in the New Jersey Governor race and Ralph Northam in the hotly contested Virginia Governor’s race garnering a majority of the nation’s attention, a myriad of historic victories took place at the local level all across the country this election cycle.
A parade of barrier-breaking firsts came this season as cities in Minnesota and Montana elected their very first African-American mayors along with Charlotte, N.C., who elected its first African-American woman as mayor. Not to be forgotten, the Virginia House of Delegates will now see its first Latina and Asian-American delegates. Transgender candidates broke new ground by winning local posts in Virginia, Minnesota, California and Pennsylvania.
The most notable win was Danica Roem in Virginia, who became the first openly transgender citizen elected to a U.S. statehouse by winning in the commonwealth’s district 13. Danica Roem’s triumph came over incumbent seat holder Robert G. Marshall, who was known for introducing the controversial “bathroom bill” which, if not for it failing to pass committee approval, would have strictly defined transgender citizens’ rights to use public restrooms. When Roem was asked at her victory party if she had anything to say about former state delegate Marshall who openly referred to himself as Virginia’s “Chief homophobe,” the newly elected delegate, according to Vox, said, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”
Roem’s standout win was followed by that of Andrea Jenkins, whose election to the Minneapolis City Council marks the first victory for an African-American, openly transgender woman and the second win for transgender citizens as a whole.
Democrats all around did incredibly well this election by winning both this year’s Gubernatorial races along with narrowly losing out on taking a majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. The Democrats hope this year’s elections will translate into momentum for the 2018 midterms in which Democrats hope to retake the House and Senate. Despite progress, students Marina Mozak (‘19) and Luis Leroux (‘18) remain skeptical.
“Actions speak louder than elections,” said Mozak (’19). “It depends on what’s happening next year.”
“This is only good for the Democratic Party if they don’t let it go to their heads and get lazy in 2018,” remarked Leroux (’18). “They have a penchant for calling the game over way too early and laying back and losing races.”
Next year’s races are still up in the air since there is plenty of time left to go until next November. What is clear is that next year’s midterms will be tough for Democrats as 23 of the 33 Senate seats up for grabs will be for their party.