Counting the wins and losses of November 8

(l-r) Zaynab Mohamed, Erin Maye Quade, and Clare Oumou Verbeten
Submitted photos

With a big voter turnout, Minnesota Democrats scored a trifecta on November 8. Democrats kept control of all statewide offices and the Minnesota House of Representatives and won a majority in the state Senate.

Black elected officials and candidates won big in Minnesota and across the country. The “red wave” of Republican victories forecast by pollsters and pundits never materialized.

In Minnesota, Erin Maye Quade, Zaynab Mohamed, and Clare Oumou Verbeten will join Senator Bobby Joe Champion in the Minnesota Senate. The three are the first Black women ever elected to the Minnesota Senate. Mary Frances Clardy will join a handful of other Black Representatives in the Minnesota House.

In most midterm years, the president’s party loses significant numbers of seats in Congress. The only exception in recent memory was 2002, when, with the country still reeling from the 9/11 attacks, Republicans picked up seats. In every other midterm election of the past 44 years, the president’s party lost more seats than the Democrats did this year.

At press time, key Congressional races remain undecided, leaving control of the House and Senate uncertain. Before the election, Senate seats were evenly divided, with 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and two Independents who generally vote and are counted with the Democrats. A Senate majority is crucial for confirmation of presidential appointees, including federal court judges from district court up to the Supreme Court.

At this point, Republicans have 48 seats, Democrats have 46 plus the two Independents, and four races have not yet been called. Those are Alaska, which will elect one of two Republican candidates, and Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia.

In Georgia, Senator Ralph Warnock is battling the radical right Republican football star Herschel Walker. While Warnock is leading, that’s not enough in Georgia. Warnock has 49.42% of the vote to Walker’s 48.52%, with a Libertarian candidate holding 2.07%. Because neither Warnock nor Walker has more than 50%, they will have to go to a December 6 run-off.

Senator Warnock exemplifies the fierce advocacy for voting rights and civil rights that is the heritage of Black elected officials. Many Black candidates won “firsts” in this election, including:

Georgia’s Senate race between Warnock and Walker will head to a runoff
  • Wes Moore, Maryland’s first Black governor (and currently the only Black governor in the United States).
  • Maxwell Alejandro Fros, a Florida Afro-Latino, and the first Gen Xer  elected to Congress;
  • Anthony Brown, the first Black Maryland attorney general;
  • Stephanie Thomas, the first Black woman secretary of state in Connecticut;
  • Andrea Campbell, the first Black woman attorney general in Massachusetts;
  • Austin Davis, the first Black Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor; 
  • Summer Lee, the first Black woman elected to Congress in Pennsylvania;

To put these wins in historical context: since Reconstruction, just seven Black U.S. Senators and two Black governors have been elected. Three of those seven Senators currently serve: Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Tim Scott (R-SC).

While they lost their races, Stacey Abrams, running for governor in Georgia, and Val Demings, running for Senate in Florida, deserve a shout-out for their leadership, as they continue fighting the good fight for democracy, voting rights, and civil rights.

That fight is still crucial. For example, in North Carolina, Republicans took back control of the state Supreme Court, which will decide questions of voting rights, redistricting, and other issues of crucial importance to democratic government.

While the red wave fizzled, many election deniers did win important state and federal offices. The Washington Post counted victories of 167 election deniers in races for the U.S. House and Senate and key statewide offices. Most of the 291 election deniers previously identified by the newspaper ran in solidly Republican districts.

Minnesota election deniers running for statewide offices all lost. Win or lose, many election deniers will continue to mount attacks on the electoral process.

Countering their attacks, voters turned out in big numbers both for early voting and on Election Day. In many places, long lines showed voter commitment to participation in the democratic process. Election officials did their part, despite threats in the run-up to the election.

That widespread, grassroots participation was the biggest win of the 2022 midterm election.

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