You may have heard — we had a special election here in Delaware. To quote our favorite native son, Joe Biden, it was a “big f***ing deal.”
For those who may have missed the national coverage, this was an election to fill the state Senate seat vacated by our current Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. The Senate had been split 10-10 between Republicans and Democrats since Hall-Long began her new job in January. That split allowed Republicans to pull off some typical GOP shenanigans and use a trick to sink new Democratic governor John Carney’s pick for DNREC secretary, our version of the EPA. Even though Hillary Clinton won Delaware handily, the state GOP was feeling their oats, thinking they may be about to seize control of the Senate for the first time in 40 years.
The GOP candidate, John Marino, narrowly lost to Hall-Long in 2014 and there were many who were concerned that political newcomer Hansen might be easy pickings. But when the dust settled, Hansen waltzed to victory 58-42 percent, aided by hard work from Democratic activists and donations from Delaware and around the country.
This is the first of several important upcoming special elections and Hansen’s impressive victory has to buoy the spirit of Democrats who have been looking for some good news since God-Emperor Trump rolled into town. Next up, another special election in another “blue” state — Connecticut. The balance of power in the state Senate there will also be decided by election results.
One place where voters can upset the Republican status quo is in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Current Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price handily won reelection to Congress, but Donald Trump only carried that district by one point. A Democratic win in the special election there would send a message that goes well beyond just adding a member to the House Democratic Caucus. The field is packed on both sides for the April election, and while a Republican victory is expected the narrowness of Trump’s win in the heavily Republican district suggests a Democrat could pull off an upset.
In addition to the special elections dotting the landscape, New Jersey and Virginia will be electing new governors and legislatures in 2017. The people of New Jersey will finally be rid of the odious Chris Christie, and his successor needs to be a Democrat who will work with the legislature, which will almost certainly remain in Democratic hands. In Virginia, the task is more of a challenge, as Democrats have to try to hold onto the governor’s seat with a replacement for term-limited Terry McAuliffe, and at the same time recapture the state legislature, currently controlled by Republicans.
Hansen’s Delaware victory was important, but there is no time to rest. Activists who helped in Delaware will now be setting their sights on other elections in other states, for both state and federal offices. “States’ rights” and “local control” have been the rallying cry of conservatives for decades, to the chagrin of liberals who would prefer that the United States function as one country and not 50. But now our decentralized system is going to be the way we fight back against Trump and his allies, by solidifying our hold on state governments that we now hold, and taking back control in states where Republicans are running the show. If we can’t win in Washington in the short-term, we can certainly subject Trump’s despicable policies to death by 1,000 cuts, forcing them into legal defenses of their actions, state by state.
Delaware started this nation when our representatives became the first to ratify the Constitution. Let’s use what happened here on Saturday as the starting point of another great movement — to stop the damage to our great nation that is already being caused by the first (and hopefully last) un-American president, Donald J. Trump.