Pro-worker forces gain strength in states

By Mark Gruenberg
PAI Staff Writer

Washington (PAI) — While political pundits on TV and cable concentrated on Congress, the real gain for workers may have come in the states — and that’s a reversal from prior off-year balloting.

The gains took two forms. One is adding and holding what are called “trifectas,” where the same party controls both the governorship and both houses of the legislature. The other is in cases of one-party dominance, gaining enough legislative seats to prevent majorities from destroying progress for workers, by upholding gubernatorial vetoes.

As of Nov. 10, pro-worker forces had gained trifectas in Minnesota, by adding the state House, and by a complete sweep in Michigan. They also retained trifectas in New York, Illinois and California. And by adding governors, they gained trifectas in Massachusetts and Maryland.

In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was re-elected by 10 percentage points and Democrats won both houses. The sweep was particularly impressive in the State Senate, where 19 seats flipped Democratic.

The Minnesota win opened new avenues for workers. Gov. Tim Walz (D), a union member with Education Minnesota, had seen the Republican State House majority either stymie his pro-worker measures or force him to compromise. Walz beat physician Scott Jensen (R), infamous for doubting anti-coronavirus measures, by 12 percentage points.

Pro-worker Democrats Wes Moore in Maryland and Maura Healey in Massachusetts created two more trifectas by winning governorships in both deep-blue states. For the last eight years, non-Trump Republicans Larry Hogan (Maryland) and Charlie Baker (Massachusetts) ruled in Annapolis and Boston.

In both states, extreme election deniers won Republican gubernatorial nominations — and got clobbered on Nov. 8. The legislatures in both stayed heavily Democratic.

In other cases, notably North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, there was no trifecta but workers won anyway by preventing total extremist takeovers.

  • In the Tar Heel State, Carolina voters refused to give Republicans veto-proof majorities, thus retaining Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s leverage.
  • In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers (D) won re-election, and thus can veto crazy measures from the GOP-gerrymandered majorities there. That includes renewed Republican efforts to skew future elections by abolishing the non-partisan oversight board which runs them.
  • In Pennsylvania, the State House flipped Democratic, while Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) handily kept the governorship. The State Senate stayed Republican but a split legislature gives pro-worker Shapiro more leverage than pro-worker Gov. Tom Wolf (D), had.

The House flip in Pennsylvania was a dual defeat for election denier Doug Mastriano (R). He had used his legislative seat to repeat Donald Trump’s lies about vote fraud in Philadelphia’s Black community — and whose win would have given him control of the swing state’s election machinery. Even Mastriano’s own legislative Republican colleagues in Harrisburg had shot his planned probes down. Now, Shapiro will control the machinery.

All this, and more, led Democratic President Joe Biden to conduct a relatively glad assessment of the results, and once again pledge to work with both sides of the aisle. And in his post-election press conference, Biden said he’s strongly leaning towards seeking a second term, thus pre-empting his Republican Oval Office predecessor, Donald Trump who promised a big announcement this week on his decision.

Biden read the results, especially the huge turnout, as a reaffirmation of democracy.

“I said we’re going to restore the soul of the country, begin to treat each other with decency, honor, and integrity. And it’s starting to happen. The conversations are becoming more normal, becoming more — how can I say it? — decent.

“Second thing I said is I want to build a country from the middle out and the bottom up. And that way, everybody does fine. I’m tired of trickle-down. Not a whole lot trickles down when you trickle down to hardworking folks. And the third thing,” which he admitted “is still very hard,” is to continue to try to “unite the country. It’s hard to sustain yourself as a leading democracy in the world if you can’t generate some unity” at home.

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