And Last Night Georgia Democrats Clobbered Republicans Too
The big news out of Massachusetts today is that Republican governor Charlie Baker has decided to forgo running for a third term, likely to avoid an ugly MAGA primary (featuring Trump-backed neo-fascist Geoff Diehl. Baker, who is more popular among Democrats than among Republicans, has done a decent job as governor and guided his state through the pandemic more successfully than most governors. Massachusetts' population is now 71% fully vaccinated, one of only 5 states about the 70% mark. Trump lost every county in the state, but the two counties he did best in, Bristol (42.60%) and Plymouth (39.89%) and the two with the lowest vaccination rates-- respectively 59% and 64%.
Reid Epstein wrote that "Baker is a popular, even-keeled, nonideological New England Republican who has been a proponent of abortion rights, same-sex marriage and some gun control measures. He would have been the favorite had he decided to run. But he was also a relic of the pre-Trump Republican Party that now exists mostly in television green rooms and Washington think tanks."
But I found a more interesting-- and important-- piece of Massachusetts political news today. Ipswich is a coastal town in the extreme northeastern corner of Massachusetts (Essex County). In the run-up to the Civil War, Ipswich began voting for Republicans... and even though the GOP has transformed from the abolitionist party to a racist and fascist party, it wasn't until yesterday that the town kicked the 163 year old habit of sending Republican state legislators to Beacon Hill. Republican Rep. Brad Hill stepped down in September when Baker appointed him to the state gaming commission and the special election was yesterday. The latest party registration figures aren't exactly indicative of a red district:
Last night Democrat Jamie Belsito bested Republican Robert Snow 2,504 (55.4%) to 2,016 (44.6%) in a low turnout election, typical for a special. In a legislature where Democrats already held 129 of the 160 seats it doesn't really seem that consequential. However, in terms of Democratic Party polling and pessimism over a building red wave, it does give a moment of hope in an otherwise bleak political landscape.
I spoke to an old college friend, Bonnie who lives in the district now. She's an unenrolled voter-- neither a Democrat nor a Republican. She told me that Hill was known for being great for constituent services and although she voted for Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, Charlie Baker and for Biden, she also voted for Hill. She said she didn't know much about Snow or Belsito and was inclined to just not vote. But in the end, she did-- and for Belsito. I asked her why and it was both simple and complicated. The complicated part: She worries that Trump has dragged the GOP into fascism although admires Charlie Baker for not going along for the ride. The simple part: She fears the extremist Republican Supreme Court is about to eviscerate Roe v Wade and feels she has to oppose every single Republican who runs for anything.
Bonnie can hike to New Hampshire from her house. She read what New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen said about the Roe v Wade fight a few days ago: "I think if you want to see a revolution, go ahead, outlaw Roe v. Wade and see what the response is of the public, particularly young people." That motivated her to vote and to vote for Belsito, whose platform says: "We cannot continue to leave questions of bodily autonomy in the hands of the courts. We need legislators who will defend the law and rights women helped establish, which clearly states the right to choose."
By the way, yesterday's election news wasn't just good for Democrats in Massachusetts. Georgians apparently haven't been hearing all the gloom and doom the media trumpets every day either. It was runoff night in Georgia yesterday and Democrats flipped at least 7 local races across the state and beat Republican challengers in races the media claimed the GOP would win. Good omen for Stacey Abrams and Senator Raphael Warnock! "In Warner Robins, voters elected LaRhonda Patrick to be the first woman and first Black mayor to lead the city. Patrick defeated incumbent Mayor Randy Toms... Democrats also picked up red-held seats in 5 other cities, on the heels of mayoral flips in November in Cairo, Stone Mountain, Hampton and McDonough and dozens of city council seats. And... a Democratic Socialist, South Fulton City Councilman Khalid Kamau ousted incumbent Mayor Bill Edwards. Last night was absolutely not good news for Trump's handpicked GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker.