The midterm elections for the United States took place on Tuesday, Nov. 6. This election was for state governors, 35 Senate seats, and the entire House of Representatives, as well as many local and special elections.
Tom Wolf, the incumbent governor of Pennsylvania, was reelected. He ran against Republican Scott Wagner.
“Reelecting Governor Wolf is a huge deal for redistricting in 2020 after the census,” said Dr. Paul Adams, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science
Dr. Adams is also Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Westmoreland County.
“Within state politics of Pennsylvania, this election was meaningful on a lot of different fronts. I think people forget how important governors are. A lot of the day-to-day provision of services, social services, health care, unemployment benefits, the federal government funds part of them but the state is the actual provider and funds a lot of those things. Governor Wolf has in his first term and will continue in his second term to be fairly important and active in protecting things like Pitt’s budget,” Dr. Adams said.
Both the Senate and House were previously controlled by the Republican Party, but during this election Democrats took the latter. The Republican Party kept control of the Senate.
In Pennsylvania, the House flipped three of the eighteen seats from Republican to Democrat. The Senate candidates from Pennsylvania were Bob Casey, Democrat, and Lou Barletta, Republican. Casey won the seat.
“One of the advantages the republicans currently have is that the maps for State House and State Senate seats were just as gerrymandered as our congressional seats. In a few years that is not going to be the case, likely,” Dr. Adams said.
The Pennsylvania House elections led to an equal split between the Democratic and Republican Parties. Each took nine seats out of the 18.
“There’s going to be a lot of gridlock,” said Dr. Beverly Gaddy, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science. “The parties are so polarized, that they used to be able to find common ground, but the polarization of these parties means I think they’re not going to come together on too much. The division is going to get even worse. The finger-pointing to blame each other, it’s not going to be a good two years in that regard. It’s not an election that’s going to heal the nation.”
There was also a significant change in the diversity of people elected. Jared Polis, the new governor of Colorado, is the first openly gay man to be elected as a state governor.
Pennsylvania’s Malcom Kenyatta is the first openly gay person of color to win a House seat for the state. Brian Sims, another openly gay candidate, was reelected. This is the first time two openly gay candidates have been elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon, is the first openly bisexual person elected governor.
The first Native American women in Congress were elected as well. Sharice Davids of Kansas was elected to Congress with a 54% vote. She is also the first openly gay representative of Kansas. Deb Haaland of New Mexico is also the first Native American woman elected to Congress, both being elected on the same day.
“That’s pretty amazing. It just shows you what fairly drawn districts can do,” Dr. Gaddy said.
The youngest woman to be elected to Congress is now Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is 29 years old. She will serve New York’s 14th congressional district. She is a self-declared Democratic Socialist and was reported to be working as a bartender up until a year ago.
In Michigan, voters did not just elect officials on their ballots, they also voted on whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana. The proposal was passed with a 55.91% acceptance, making Michigan the tenth state to legalize marijuana. North Dakota had a similar item on their ballot, but voted against legalizing it for recreational purposes.
“It was an amazing, historic election.” Dr. Gaddy said.