Mississippi and Philly Bright Spots in a Dark Day for the GOP

“A pretty lousy day for the GOP.”
That’s how historian and author David Pietrusza, who knows all things New York, summed up Nov. 8 in the Empire State.  He was right.  Erie County Executive Chris Collins, considered one of the brightest (and few) Republican stars in New York, was unseated.  In Suffolk County, once considered a bulwark of the Republican Party, Democrat and Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone won the open office of county executive with 57% of the vote over Republican Angie Carpenter, former county treasurer.
“And no Republican dent was made in the Westchester County legislature,” noted Pietrusza, “even with the big push to support [Republican County Executive Rob] Astorino.  And the [office of] mayor of Troy flipped to the Democrats, and Republicans flopped again to regain the Town of Colonie supervisor’s job [suburban Albany].”
But Pietrusza might easily have been speaking of the Republican Party in terms of the entire country on Tuesday.  It was a pretty lousy day indeed for the the GOP—from losing the mayoralty of Waterbury, Conn., to failing to decisively win control of the state senate in Virginia, in spite of a wealth of fresh opportunities.  Virginia Republicans fell far short of predictions they would easily capture control of the state senate. Should Republican Bryce Reeves, former U.S. Army Ranger and detective, maintain his 86-vote lead over Democratic State Sen. J. Edward Houck, the senate will be tied (20 seats each) between the parties and Republican Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling will cast the tie-breaking vote.
Other results with national interest were as follows:
California:  Listen to Lee
It really was no surprise that liberal Democrat Ed Lee, who became acting mayor of San Francisco when incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom was elected lieutenant governor last year, easily won a full term Tuesday.  The news is that Lee is spelling out the debt his city is wallowing in and proposing not-so-liberal solutions to cut spending and deal with the problem of city employees’ pensions.  As State Republican Chairman Tom DeBeccaro put it, “While Oakland protests, San Francisco goes understated.  Mayor Lee, using simple math, has plainly stated San Francisco’s budgetary and pension problems and gone about proposing solutions.  Apparently, normally liberal San Francisco has gone with math over mass protest.”
Indiana: Another Victory Ballad for Ballard
Four years ago, retired military officer and first-time candidate Greg Ballard made national news by coming out of nowhere to oust Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, one of the brightest of Hoosier Democratic stars.  Last week, Ballard won a tight (52% to 48%) reelection over Democrat Melina Kennedy.  However, Democrats appear to have won a 16-to-13 seat advantage over Republicans on the city council, only the second time that Democrats have won council control in the four decades since government was extended from Indianapolis city limits to Marion County government lines.
Mississippi:  How Sweet It Is
If there was any state in the union in which Republicans had an evening that could truly be called sweet, it was in Mississippi.  Not only did Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant sweep the governorship, but the GOP won all statewide offices save that of attorney general (Democrat Jim Hood was reelected).  Republicans also extended their majority in the state senate and won 63 seats out of 122 in the state house—putting the house in their hands for the the first time since Reconstruction.  Republicans are sure to elect a strong conservative as speaker—probably Rep. Jeff Smith of Columbus or Philip Gunn of Clinton.
Pennsylvania: Two for Philly GOP
To no one’s surprise, Philadelphia Republicans won the two seats a minority party is guaranteed in races for the at-large council seat last week.  The two GOP winners were former state House Speaker Denny O’Brien and attorney David Oh, who becomes the city’s first-ever Asian American councilman.  The only other Republican on the 15-member Council, Brian O’Neal, was reelected from his district.