Society

Democrats Win Seats In Trump Country

| by Robert Fowler

In a pair of special elections, Democratic candidates have won in two districts that had recently swung for President Donald Trump. The small victories have bolstered Democrats' confidence heading into two upcoming House races that are also firmly planted in "Trump country."

On May 23, Democratic candidate Edith DesMarais toppled GOP opponent Matthew Plache in a district race in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, adding her to the GOP-majority state Legislature. Trump had won the district by 7 percentage points in November, according to The Huffington Post.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party heralded the victory on social media, noting that DesMarais was the first Democratic candidate to ever win the Wolfeboro district.

"First seat to flip since 2016 election," the New Hampshire Democratic Party tweeted out.

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That same evening, Democrat Christine Pellegrino handily won over GOP candidate Thomas Gargiulo to represent the 9th District Assembly seat in Long Island, New York. Trump had taken the district by 23 percentage points.

New York state director Bill Lipton of the Working Families Party, who had helped Pellegrino's campaign, asserted that the election provided a blueprint for Democrats nationwide, Newsday reports.

"Bold populism that puts working families' issues front and center," Lipton said. "This is the lesson for Democrats around the country."

While both DesMarais and Pellegrino won races confined to their state Legislatures, two upcoming special elections could have broader implications.

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On May 25, Montana voters will choose between Democrat Rob Quist and GOP candidate Greg Gianforte for their state's sole House seat. Trump had won the state by 20 percentage points. Polling has indicated that Gianforte remains the front-runner in the race but without a comfortable lead, prompting the GOP to invest $7 million into his campaign.

"The fact that we're talking about Montana -- a super red seat -- is amazing," Democratic operative John Lapp told Politico.

“It's also amazing how much money Republicans have to pour into these seats to defend them," Lapp added. "It's still a steep climb in Montana, but we know that the reaction there means that there's a tremendous amount of Democratic energy across the country, a tremendous amount of fundraising that will then feed into races that are much fairer fights."

Meanwhile, the contest between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican candidate Karen Handel for the 6th Congressional District seat in Georgia has become the most expensive race for a House seat in U.S. history, with both campaigns raising over $18 million combined, The Hill reports.

Trump won the Georgia district by 1.5 percentage points. Ossoff is currently the front-runner in the runoff election, which will be held on June 20.

On May 22, a poll conducted by SurveyUSA found that Ossoff lead the race with 51 percent support, while Handel took 44 percent, with the remaining 6 percent of respondents up for grabs.

Democrats have set their sights on the 2018 midterms, when they hope to win back the House majority and have the power to halt Trump's policy priorities and investigate any of his alleged improprieties.

"When we take back the House in 2018, Democrats are going to hold this administration accountable," Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island told NBC News. "And we'll make sure there are real consequences for anyone who tries to use their elected office for personal gain...especially President Trump."

Sources: The HillThe Huffington Post, NBC NewsNewsdayNH Democratic Party/Twitter, Politico / Photo Credit: Matt Wade/Wikimedia Commons

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