As you know from our pre-election coverage, Virginia and New Jersey are notable this year because they held their gubernatorial and state legislative elections this week (except the Virginia Senate). Before Tuesday’s elections, many within both parties viewed the two gubernatorial elections as precursors for what 2022 may bring.
Virginia Results: GOP Victories End Democratic Trifecta
Virginia has gone from a democratic trifecta government to a divided one after Republicans have flipped the governor’s office and House of Delegates. In the gubernatorial race, former governor Terry McAuliffe failed in his bid Tuesday to become just the third former governor to be elected in a non-consecutive term in Virginia since 1830. Instead, Republican Glenn Youngkin will become the 74th Governor of Virginia.
At the time of this writing, Youngkin has 50.9% of the vote to McAuliffe’s 48.4%. Similarly, Republican Winsome Sears has defeated Democrat Hala Ayala, 50.9% to 49.1%. With over 95% of the vote counted, Republican Delegate Jason Miyares led incumbent Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring. The first Latino elected to the position, Miyares declared victory, with Herring conceded the day after the election.
Democrats came into Election Day with a 55-45 majority in the House of Delegates. That lead is now gone, as Republicans have flipped seven seats to give the GOP a 52-48 majority in the House.
New Jersey: Murphy Narrowly Defeats Ciattarelli and GOP Narrows the Legislature’s Democratic Majority
While Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli led in the race for Governor by the end of Election Night and into the morning, incumbent Governor Phil Murphy eventually took a narrow lead and has been declared the winner in the race.
While neither legislative chamber is poised to flip control like the Virginia House of Delegates, Democrats will have slimmer majorities in both chambers moving forward. Notably, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) is on the verge of losing his Senate seat, creating a race for Senate President.
With so many seats undecided at the moment, the Senate Democrats have postponed its leadership caucus initially scheduled for Thursday the 4th. Assembly Democrats still appear to be holding their leadership caucus on the 4th.
New Jersey voters also saw two questions on their ballots related to sports betting and nonprofits using proceeds from games of chance.
Voters appear to have defeated the question to permit betting on New Jersey college teams and sporting events, 57% – 43%. Voters also seem to have approved amending the state’s gaming rules to allow all groups to conduct games of chance (bingo, raffles, etc.) and use the net proceeds to support their groups, by a vote of 64% – 36%.
Pennsylvania Statewide Judicial Races and Legislative Elections and Upcoming Vacancies
This year, Pennsylvania voters had the opportunity to vote on statewide judicial races and various county and municipal races. Additionally, there were two special legislative elections, and some incumbent members of the legislature sought other offices, which will spur even more special elections over the coming months.
With open races for both governor and U.S. Senate next year in the Keystone State, Republicans swept four statewide judicial races. Republican Kevin Brobson defeated Democrat Maria McLaughlin, 52.03% – 47.97%, for a spot on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and Megan Sullivan (R) defeated Timika Lane (D) for a seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. There were two openings on the Commonwealth Court, which will be filled by Drew Crompton (R) and Stacy Wallace (R), who beat out Lori Dumas (D) and David Lee Spurgeon (D).
Moving to the legislature, the make-up of the Pennsylvania State House will remain the same as the Democrats will hold HD 113 and HD 164 via special election victories.
HD 113 (Lackawanna County) will welcome State Representative-Elect Thom Welby (D). This seat was vacated by Marty Flynn (D), who was elected to the State Senate.
HD 164 (Delaware County) will welcome State Representative-Elect Gina Curry (D). This seat was vacated by Margo Davidson (D), who resigned due to a legal issue.
Additional vacancies will open up in the legislature with Rep. Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny) being elected as the new Mayor of Pittsburgh, Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) winning a spot on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, and State Senator John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) winning a judgeship for the Philadelphia First Judicial District.
Maine Ballot Measures
Voters in Maine approved three separate ballot measures this week. The first measure, Ballot Question 1, prohibits the construction of electric transmission lines in a particular state region and requires a 2/3 vote in both legislative chambers to approve such transmission line projects. The second measure will issue $100 million in bonds for transportation infrastructure, and the third creates a state constitutional right to produce, harvest, and consume food.
Question 3 was a legislatively referred constitutional amendment that specifically provides that all individuals “have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of their choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.” Under the amendment, all individuals have such rights unless they commit trespassing, theft, poaching, or other abuses of private property rights, public lands, or natural resources in harvesting, producing, or acquiring food.