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Election 2019: Dems Control Virginia, Win Governor’s Race in Kentucky

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Democrats had a banner night yesterday as candidates won back the state House and Senate in Virginia, and picked up the Governor’s seat in Kentucky.

Last night’s results show once again that Trump’s politics, and the politics of hate, don’t pay. Overwhelming turnout led to progressive victories, even in places where Trump had specifically taken a stand.

In Virginia, high turnout handed the state House to the Democrats for the first time since 1999, completing Democratic control of the state House, state Senate, and governor’s seat. Early voting numbers were up triple digit percentages from 2015. In the only Virginia race where Trump appears to have made an endorsement, Republican Geary Higgins lost to Democrat John Bell.

In Kentucky, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andy Beshear defeated Republican extremist Matt Bevin, after a turnout explosion exceeded 2015 numbers by close to 50%, with almost half a million more votes cast. The victory is huge news for Democrats considering that Trump won the state by 30% in 2016, and considering that Mitch McConnell himself is on the ballot (along with Trump again, presumably) next year).

Trump himself appeared in Kentucky on election eve, pleading with voters to represent him. If you lose it sends a “bad message,” he said. “You can’t let that happen to me.”

That didn’t work. Neither did the slate of anti-immigrant ads that Bevin and the Republican Governor’s Association ran against Beshear, as noted by our ad tracker. These ugly ads included:

  • One Bevin ad involving men climbing over a wall, heavily tattooed Latino men, with a voiceover saying “Andy Beshear would allow illegal immigrants to swam our state.”
    • Another Bevin ad claiming Beshear “won’t stop sanctuary cities” over images of people scaling a fence and running.
  • Putting Kentucky First PAC, which is aligned with the Republican Governor’s Association, put out at least three ads, including
    • An ad using the Sheriff of Grayson County to attack immigrants, saying “I have seen how illegal immigration is destroying families by bringing heroin into our communities.” The Sheriff called for a ban on safe cities and attacked Beshear for not supporting such a ban.
    • Another ad begins with footage from the first Democratic presidential debate with the raise-your-hand question about healthcare for undocumented immigrants. The ad then warns about giving “taxpayer-funded healthcare to illegal immigrants”.
    • A final ad attacks Democrat Andy Beshear for opposing safe cities as well as impeachment, socialism, and healthcare for those who don’t work.

Trump and the Republicans played out this anti-immigrant ad strategy in Virginia in 2017 and nationwide in 2018. The strategy failed both times. With the 2020 election less than a year away, it’s becoming clear that they are unwilling and unable to learn.

Check out some of our favorite tweets from last night, analyzing and celebrating victories from Kentucky, Virginia, and across the nation.