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Editorial: Midterm winners and losers


Thursday, November 08, 2018

Record voter turnout in New Hampshire and across the country made democracy the big winner in Tuesday’s midterm election. Democrats were winners, too, locally and nationally, as were fans of divided government. The end of one-party rule in Washington means that House Democrats will serve as a check on President Donald Trump’s worst and most autocratic impulses. It also means more transparency, including, we believe, a look at Trump’s tax records.

One-party government in New Hampshire will come to an end in a few short months, too, which makes Gov. Chris Sununu the biggest loser on the home front. The genial governor’s first term has been a cakewalk – the economy strong, the money rolling in and Republicans in control of all the levers of government. His second term, now that Democrats have captured the House, Senate and the Executive Council, will be a test of whether he can truly bring people together and lead.

Another loser is Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, along with other staunch proponents of so-called school choice legislation that would transfer public money to private schools. That campaign will go nowhere for at least the next two years. The winner: public education, which will not see its paltry resources further diluted.

Family medical leave and the abolition of the death penalty are issues guaranteed to come before Sununu again in his next term. It’s too soon to say whether either will be capable of gaining a veto-proof majority, but it could happen.

Nationally, the biggest winners were women, starting right here in Concord with the election of 27-year-old former Afghani refugee Safiya Wazir to the state House of Representatives. A record number of women ran for office in 2018 and many of them won. For the first time in history, 100 women will serve in the U.S. Congress. Among them is New Yorker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. At 29, she will be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

Female candidates set a spate of firsts. In Maine, Janet Mills will become that state’s first female governor. Marsha Blackburn will be the first female U.S. senator from the state of Tennessee and Ayanna Pressley will be the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

Tolerance and acceptance were also winners on Tuesday. A record number of gay and transgender candidates were on the ballot and quite a few of them won, starting with Chris Pappas, who will represent New Hampshire’s 1st District. Congress will include its first Muslim women come January, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilahn Omar of Minnesota. Congress will also have its first female Native American members in Debra Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas.

America’s social safety net was a winner. With Democrats in control of the House, the Affordable Care Act, along with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, will be protected.

Divided government means that little or nothing will be accomplished without compromise. The next two years will be a test of how willing Sununu and Trump are to do just that.