Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's weekly newsletter! Here is the latest on the news and developments worth knowing.
Spotlight On Progressive Leaders
State Legislatures In Virginia, Terry McAuliffe's decisive win as Governor creates veto power over proposals passed by the state legislature; currently Republican lawmakers are in the majority in the House of Delegates while the state Senate is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans (20 to 20). (The Republican incumbents who remain in office include the sponsors of deeply controversial right-wing measures like mandatory transvaginal probes and anti-voting restrictions.)
However, state Senator Ralph Northam'svictory to become Virginia's Lieutenant Governor has complex implications, as the Lt. Governor casts tie-breaking votes in the state Senate and Northam's own win triggers a special election to fill that now-empty seat. The race between state Senators Mark Herring (D-Loudoun and Fairfax) and Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) remains too close to call.
In New Jersey, Democratic legislators kept their strong majorities in the Senate and Assembly while Gov. Chris Christie won re-election. Barbara Buono's state Senate seat will now be held by Assemblyman Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex).
In Washington, the Republican candidate running for State Senate District 26 currently holds a lead over state Senator Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor). While the outcome of that race technically does not alter the balance of power in the chamber, it is viewed as crucial to the power exercised by the ruling majority. Voters weighed in on two other state Senate races as well, the 7th District and the 8th District, both of which are being contested only by Republican candidates. Washington is a mail-in ballot state, with ballots postmarked by Nov. 5 still coming in, which means that the final tallies may not be known for a while.
In Massachusetts, state Representative Marty Walshwon the first open race for Boston mayor in a generation. Backed by a broad coalition that "transcended geography, race, and ideology," the longtime labor leader and champion of workers will take office on January 6. His win sets up a special election for his 13th Suffolk House seat; currently Democratic lawmakers hold overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the Massachusetts General Court.
Minimum Wage In major victories for American workers, the city of SeaTac, Washington, approved a $15 wage for many employees in and around the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the voters of New Jersey overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour and to make it automatically keep up with the cost of living.
Freedom To Marry Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry after the Illinois legislature passed a marriage equality bill, which Gov. Pat Quinn intends to sign. Hawaii is close on Illinois' heels: the state Senate approved the measure last week and the House continues to debate it this week. Meanwhile, the New Mexico Supreme Court is expected to rule on same-sex marriage in the coming months.
Don't Miss It
November 11 is Veterans Day. Events in Washington, DC, and across America will be held to honor the brave men and women in our military and to renew our commitment to serving our veterans as well as they've served us. Among the recent policy impacts and proposals that affect veterans are SNAP (also known as food stamps) benefit cuts that kicked in on November 1 and the "chained CPI" proposal being debated in Washington to cut veterans' Social Security and VA benefits.
On December 12, the families of gun violence victims, including the Newtown families, advocates, and community leaders will join together for a National Vigil For Gun Violence Victims at the Washington National Cathedral.