While the top line election results on Tuesday were good for Democrats, the picture looks even better when you look further down at other races.
Right wing bigots have targeted school boards in their push to narrow down what is taught and the books that are read. Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin pushed the so-called ‘parental rights’ issue to win his election to the governorship in 2022. He and other Republicans thought that they had found the magic formula for winning elections and sought to use that same message to win control of both house of legislature and school boards. Youngkin was also being promoted to be the party savior by the anti-Trump establishment as Ron DeSantis’s campaign seemed to be flaming out. But both houses gained Democratic majorities and he lost even school board races, tarnishing his credentials considerably.
Loudoun county, Virginia, attracted national headlines in 2021, when parents outraged over the alleged instruction of critical race theory and policies regarding transgender students shouted down officials at school board meetings.
Republican Glenn Youngkin made the issue a central focus of his gubernatorial campaign in the months after, accusing Democrats of politicizing education to the detriment of students’ learning and blaming them for pandemic-related school closures. And he had hoped it would continue to work in Tuesday’s general election.
“No more are we going to make parents stand outside of the room,” Youngkin told a crowd in Leesburg, part of Loudon county, on Monday. “We are going to put them at the head of the table in charge of our children’s lives.”
But that message failed on Tuesday, as Democratic-endorsed candidates won a majority on the Loudoun county school board.
The elections, in which every school board seat was up for grabs on Tuesday, had been framed as a test of the resiliency of parents’ rights as a campaign issue. Republicans had hoped to replicate Youngkin’s success in Loudoun county, which serves more than 80,000 students in a wealthy area located about an hour outside Washington. Instead, Loudoun county voters delivered a six-seat majority for Democratic-backed candidates on the nine-seat school board.
As Democrats took a victory lap on Tuesday, some of them pointed to the results in Loudoun county as evidence that Youngkin’s message of parents’ rights no longer resonates with Virginia voters.
Another very good result is that the extremist group known as Moms for Liberty lost many of the school board races it contested.
Moms for Liberty (M4L), a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated extremist group that promotes book bans in schools and opposes LGBTQ visibility in education, suffered stinging losses in school board races across the country Tuesday night.
The Daily Beast reported that the group either directly endorsed or promoted school board candidates in six states — Alaska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia — yet lost a bulk of those races with the exception of two in Alaska. M4L had a slate of candidates win elections in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 2021, but the extreme nature of the group prompted most candidates seeking reelection to ask M4L to not explicitly endorse them. Still, the five Republicans running for the Central Bucks School District that M4L “recommended” voters cast ballots for were swept by Democrats, according to the Beast.
Here is more on the losses by Moms for Liberty.
You can read about other defeats of right wing candidates here
New Jersey is ostensibly a blue state that has been targeted by Republicans who had hoped to do well this time around. But on Tuesday, their hopes were dashed.
Facing political headwinds and what appeared to be a motivated Republican base, New Jersey Democrats not only managed to hold onto their state legislative majorities Tuesday night but expand them.
Republicans — benefiting from the unpopularity of President Joe Biden, the collapse of two major offshore wind projects and backlash to LGBTQ-friendly policies in public schools — had been hopeful at winning a majority in the state Senate or the Assembly for the first time in more than 20 years.
But New Jersey’s nearly million-voter Democratic registration advantage and a huge lead in fundraising helped the party prevail. Final counts could not be made late Tuesday night, but Democrats won or led in virtually every competitive district Republicans needed to have a chance at regaining control in either chamber. That included Democrats reclaiming the Senate seat won by Republican Ed Durr in a national upset in 2021, when he defeated then-Senate President Steve Sweeney on a shoestring budget.
The GOP had other losses elsewhere as well.
Philadelphia reserves two city council seats for nonmajority-party members, and those have typically been held by Republicans. But the Working Families Party launched an effort to seize them several years ago, picking up one seat when Kendra Brooks won. Last night, she won reelection and the WFP grabbed the second one, too, with a victory by Nicolas O’Rourke. They’ll represent the entire city in the at-large seats, and Republicans will now have just one seat on the council.
And back in Virginia where the governor had leaned in to the anti-LGBTQ stance, the state elected its first transgender senator.
“I’m grateful the people of Virginia’s 30th Senate district elected me to continue representing my lifelong home of western Prince William County and greater Manassas,” [Danica] Roem said in a statement shared on social media Tuesday. “The voters have shown they want a leader who will prioritize fixing roads, feeding kids and protecting our land instead of stigmatizing trans kids or taking away your civil rights.”
Roem wasn’t the only LGBTQ Virginian to emerge victorious this week: According to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, eight other queer candidates won legislative seats in the state Tuesday, including three who were not incumbents.
The success of Virginia’s LGBTQ candidates was part of a broader “rainbow wave” this year, according to the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund. The group said it has tracked more than 200 victories for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer candidates so far this year, including at least 148 wins Tuesday.
You would think that Republicans would rethink their strategy after this string of defeats. But if the past is any indication, they will double down and become even more strident in pushing their anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-social justice hate-filled agenda.