Rewire: A Preview of 2018? Democrats Take Two More State-Level Seats
By Ally Boguhn
Democrats in Florida and New Hampshire flipped two state legislative seats in Tuesday’s special elections, the seventh and eighth state-level seats that have changed from Republican to Democrat since President Trump was elected.
Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) Executive Director Jessica Post said in a statement that Tuesday’s victories showed evidence of “Democrats’ winning momentum and increased engagement in the Trump era,” celebrating the win of Annette Taddeo in Florida’s Senate District 40.
The seat was left vacant after the resignation of Republican Frank Artiles in April following racist and sexist comments he lobbed against a fellow lawmaker. Taddeo won the seat with 50.95 percent of the votes while Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz—who once competed on Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice”—received 47.21 percent. The race had been highlighted by the DLCC as a “spotlight” election, which officials said would put the party “on the path to challenge Florida’s Republican trifecta by taking back the state Senate in 2018.”
Taddeo was backed by EMILY’s List, which works to elect pro-choice Democratic women. “Floridians will now finally have the voice of a Democratic Latina in the state Senate working to improve the lives of the families in her district,” said EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock. Taddeo had the support of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida, Latino Victory Fund, and Flippable.
Taddeo on her campaign website lists health care as a key part of her platform, writing that she will “work to expand healthcare access to all Floridians by advocating for Medicare-for-all and Medicaid expansion.” Florida’s GOP-held legislature has for years fought the expansion of Medicaid.
As Democrat Charlie Crist’s running mate during his failed bid for governor in 2014, Taddeo reportedly spoke out against Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s record on reproductive rights and health. Diaz supported giving funding to anti-choice fake clinics known as crisis pregnancy centers, according to a candidate questionnaire he filled out for the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire Democrats scored what they called an “unprecedented victory”on Tuesday when Kari Lerner flipped a Republican-held seat. Republicans have a distinct advantage in the district, as “39.7 percent of the voters [there] are Republicans and 19.3 percent are Democrats,” according to local news outlet WMUR.
Democratic Party officials in the state praised Lerner’s win as an indicator that New Hampshire voters are rejecting Trump’s agenda. “There’s something happening in this state and all across this country when the deepest red districts in New Hampshire are consistently turning royal blue,” Raymond Buckley, New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, said in statement. [Source] “This, our hardest-won victory so far, is the latest proof that voters are showing up when it matters to reject the dangerous and divisive agenda of Donald Trump and [New Hampshire Gov.] Chris Sununu.”