Democrats lose momentum; Virginia goes red
GOP makes gains on Election Day, reshaping the American political landscape.
By Matthew Royer, Political News Editor
Virginia has a new governor, New Jersey is too close to call and NYC turns a corner after electing their second-ever African American mayor.
A year after Americans arrived at the polls to elect their next president came an Election Day that echoed recent historical responses. With a Democratic trifecta holding the executive and legislative branches of the national government, voters had their first chance to give input on how President Biden’s governing has affected them. With gubernatorial elections in both Virginia and New Jersey, two states Biden won handily last year, GOP candidates made headway, running on education and vaccine mandates, among other issues, sparking parental rights activists across their regions. Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate for Governor in Virginia, won a tightly contested race against former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. After the upset, Youngkin displayed how his campaign left a path for Virginians and Republicans running in the subsequent 2022 midterm elections.
“The challenge of overcoming a culture where the state overwhelms self-empowerment is all too common,” said Youngkin in his victory speech. “For far too long, we have been expected to shelve our dreams, to shelve our hope, to settle for low expectations… But, friends, all of that has changed tonight.”
Voters echoed similar calls in New Jersey, where incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faced off against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. While Murphy is on pace to outlast the former state assemblyman, the election is much closer than pollsters expected. Leading up to the election, Monmouth University had Murphy up as much as 11 percent. However, election night painted a different picture for the governor. While currently pictured to squeeze out reelection, the race is still too close to call as vote tallying enters its second day.
In neighboring New York, the story was different. Eric Adams, Democratic nominee for mayor in NYC, defeated Curtis Sliwa (R) by a significant margin, becoming the second African American to hold the position in the city’s history. A former police captain, Adams represents a pace of change for the town, which progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio has governed since 2014.
The races in the Eastern United States show the opposite of what happened in the California recall election a few months ago. While Youngkin and Ciattarelli paint a path for family-oriented conservatives, Larry Elder, who has yet to announce his plans for 2022, ran a more aggressive campaign aligning closely with former President Donald Trump. While it has yet to be seen, movements closer to Youngkin’s could see new results for the California GOP.
“Parental frustration is not necessarily unique to Northern Virginia,” said California-based GOP strategist Lance Trover to the SF Chronicle. “Parents are clearly concerned about schools.”