By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
Blacks, females, and political newcomers in several states won elections or helped Democrats win gains, despite news reports that suggest all of the victories went to Republicans.
For example, in Kentucky Jenean Hampton became the first African-American to be elected lieutenant governor. Hampton is a U.S. Air Force veteran. She ran on the ticket with Republican Matt Bevin, who beat state Attorney General Jack Conway for the governorship, according to news reports. Before the recent election, Democrats had controlled the governor’s mansion in every election but one since 1971.
Of the historic win in Kentucky, Pastor Jerry Stephenson who campaigned for Hampton with Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition said after the election in a WHAS-TV interview, “It says that there is no glass ceiling. You can become the lieutenant governor you can become anything you want.”
But the winner’s circle was not restricted to Hampton, 58, who grew up in inner-city Detroit.
In New York, Darcel Clark made history when she was elected Bronx District Attorney. She is the first African-American woman to be elected district attorney in New York State, according to the Amsterdam News.
Clark, beat Republican Robert Slano and won by 86 percent. Clark replaces former Bronx DA Robert Johnson who resigned in September to run for judge as a Democrat.
Clark grew up in a public housing project in the Bronx. She earned her undergraduate degree from Boston College and law degree at Howard University.
During a campaign stop before the election, Clark said in a New York Times interview on Oct. 1. “I am not afraid,” Clark said “I don’t care who it is. The case comes in, I’m going to investigate it; I’m going to make sure it’s properly investigated; I’m going to weigh the facts and then I will make my determination, and it’s not going to be based on whoever it helps or hurts.”
Clark, who resigned as an associate justice of the state appellate court to enter the race has also served as acting justice of the New York State Supreme Court Bronx County and as a criminal court judge in Manhattan and the Bronx.
About 550 miles away in Charlotte, Democrats won all four Charlotte City Council at-large seats when James “Smuggie” Mitchell narrowly beat Republican John Powell by 252 votes for the fourth seat, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Mitchell finished with 14.3 percent to Powell’s 14.2 percent. The loss continued a citywide losing streak for Republicans, who have lost the mayoral races and all at-large seats in the last three elections.
Democrat Jennifer Roberts defeated Republican Edwin Peacock in the mayor’s race. That means the Democrats have held the mayor’s job since 2009, when Anthony Foxx won his first term.
In Pennsylvania, a swing state, Democrats swept state Supreme Court elections. Of the sweep, the Washington Post reported, “That was a break from tradition. . .It was enabled by direct mail to Democrats featuring President Obama, a nationalization of the race – and a mirror image of Obama-centric ads that buried Democrats in Kentucky.”
“The worry behind this election was that Philadelphia would not turn out, or produce a very low turnout,” said Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), who made nearly a dozen campaign appearances for the Democratic candidates between Halloween and Election Day and who has endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for president. “As it turned out, Philly contributed more than 10 percent of the statewide vote. Hillary, who already has a very strong base, can look to that. Her potential in our state is strong because she’ll keep the Philly vote, do well in suburbs, and has a chance to exceed the president’s numbers in western Pennsylvania.”
Miles away in Indianapolis, urban turnout helped Democrats take back city hall. Democrats won a City-County Council majority for just the third time in 46 years by the surprising defeat of a favored Republican incumbent.
“People are calling it an underdog story, but I knew it was a race we could win,” said Evans, 31, who received no financial backing from the Democratic Party. “I grew up in the neighborhood, and I knew the people and knew they would vote on the issues rather than the party label.”
Here’s why people are calling it an underdog story. In 2011 Evans ran for District 13 of the Indianapolis City-County Council. He got crushed. Republican incumbent Robert Lutz beat the Democrat, 60 percent to 36 percent.
But in the recent election the story flipped on a dime. And in the recent election Lutz lost to first-time Democratic candidate Jared Evans in District 22.
The problem is Lutz was expected to win handily, the Democratic Party picked another candidate in the primary, and a newly drawn district map showed the Southwestside district comfortably favored Republicans.
Still, Evans beat Lutz 54.1 percent to 45.9 percent.