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Senate Wins and ALEC Defeats Highlight State Races

Wisconsin AFL-CIO photo

Here’s a look at a number of other key working family races and ballot issues from yesterday’s elections.

In several U.S. Senate races where Republican, corporate and super PAC cash looked like it would make the difference, union members’ get-out-the-vote activism and votes helped push working-family candidates to victory. Democrats now have 55 senate seats. Elizabeth Warren defeated incumbent Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Tim Kaine beat George Allen in Virginia. Rep. Tammy Baldwin overcame Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, incumbent Sen. Jon Tester defeated challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana and incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown won over Josh Mandel in Ohio. Other Senate wins include Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). 

In New Hampshire, state Sen. Maggie Hassan defeated tea party extremist Ovide Lamontagne for the governorship. New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie said:

Maggie will govern based on the Granite State’s needs, not a particular brand of ideology….Since the summer, workers have mobilized like never before to educate their friends, families, co-workers and neighbors about this election through real person-to-person conversations. We are looking forward to Maggie Hassan’s first term as governor.

In California, a huge union and progressive movement mobilization beat back a $50 million campaign from extremist right-wing groups and defeated Prop. 32 that would have silenced working families’ political voice. They also shepherded to victory Prop. 30 that provides $6 billion for education, funded by requiring the state’s wealthiest to pay their fair share. Read more about both propositions.

The Center for Media and Democracy reports several ballot measures backed by the extremist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) went down to defeat yesterday.

Most notable was in Michigan, where voters overturned the state’s emergency manager law. Known as “financial martial law,” it allowed Gov. Rick Snyder (R) to declare a “financial emergency” in a city or school district and appoint a manager with broad powers, including the ability to fire local elected officials, break contracts, seize and sell assets, eliminate services and even eliminate whole cities or school districts without any public input.    

In Minnesota, voters defeated an ALEC-designed voter suppression/ID initiative and voters in Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming beat back ALEC-inspired measures to block parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Marriage equality ballot measures won approval in Maine, Maryland and Washington State, while a ban on gay marriage was defeated in Minnesota.   

Proposal 2 in Michigan, which would have enshrined collective bargaining rights in the state Constitution, failed.

In state legislative races, Democrats took back control of the Colorado House, the New Hampshire House, the New York Senate, the Maine House and Senate, the Minnesota House and Senate and the Oregon House.

On the local level, Measure N in Long Beach, Calif., which requires the city’s 16 hotels with more than 100 rooms to pay workers a living wage of $13 an hour and also provide them with five-paid sick days a year, won voter approval. It means a pay boost for some 2,000 Long Beach hotel workers. Maria Patlan, a 10-year housekeeper in Long Beach's hotel industry, said last night:

I have said all along that the second thing I would do when Measure N passes is take my family off of public assistance. But the first thing I will do is a dance of joy.

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