November has rolled around again, and no it’s not a presidential election year. But there are important elections both here and in other parts of the country this week you should be paying attention to.
Since Donald Trump was elected president just about a year ago (ugh), he has tried to ban Muslims from coming into the country, fired his own FBI director because of a growing investigation into his campaign’s Russian connection, threatened to leave the Paris Climate accord, forbidden transgender individuals from serving in the military, announced the winding down of the “dreamers” program for young immigrants, done his best to sabotage health care for millions, appointed one of the most backwards Supreme Court justices now sitting on the bench, escalated tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea, botched the hurricane recovery effort in Puerto Rico, defended white supremacists, and many, many other degradations of the highest office in the land. That’s not even including his “grab them by the pussy” remark from before he was elected.
Sometimes it can be disheartening to be in Democrat-controlled Massachusetts without any ability to flip seats in Congress, but Bay Staters can still make phone calls and offer monetary support to candidates running in other parts of the country. And sometimes that can be even more influential than casting a vote.
There are other important elections, both this year and next year, that can serve to slow or even halt much of Trump’s catastrophic agenda.
Both New Jersey and Virginia are holding their statewide elections on Nov. 7, and both governors are up for election. While the New Jersey race looks like an easy win for the Democrat (following the performance of Republican Chris “Bridge Scandal” Christie), the Virginia governor’s race looks like a close match between Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie.
The winner of the Virginia governor’s race will have a say in creating Virginia’s next congressional map, which is right now drawn to heavily favor Republicans. While Virginia went for Hillary Clinton in the last election, seven of the state’s 11 congressional districts are held by Republicans. Meanwhile Republicans in Congress are largely backing up and enabling Trump’s agenda.
Now is the time to call up friends and relatives in Virginia and asking them to get out on election day – Tuesday, Nov. 7 – to vote for Northam.
Virginians also have the opportunity to vote for more Democrats in their state legislature, called the House of Delegates. Right now it is about about two-thirds Republican. Our Revolution, the organization that has emerged out of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, has endorsed a diverse array of six candidates – three women and three men – looking to flip seats in the legislature: Jennifer Carroll-Foy for District 2, Will King for District 18, Joshua Cole for District 28, Elizabeth Guzman for District 31, Lee Carter for District 50, and Kimberly Tucker for District 81. Get informed about these candidates and support them, with donations or with phone calls.
An extremely important U.S. Senate election will be taking place in Alabama on Tuesday, Dec. 12, of this year. Roy Moore, who won the Republican primary saying he believes Christianity should order public policy and spouting strong anti-gay views, will be facing off against Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. Attorney with a strong civil rights record. Even though Alabama is heavily Republican, a recent poll put the two candidates tied with one another. Donations and phone calls from across the country could push Jones over the finish line, narrowing the Republicans’ Senate majority.
Back home a group of progressive political newcomers are working to upend the Greenfield Town Council that previously voted against a so-called “Safe City Ordinance” that would have prevented town employees from detaining people based on immigration status. At-large council candidates Penny Ricketts and Ashley Stempel, precinct candidates Timothy Dolan, Sheila Gilmour, Otis Wheeler, and Douglas Mayo, running for precincts 5 through 8 respectively, would need to sweep their races on Nov. 7, to have a shot at overturning the ban.
In Hampshire County, Northampton and Easthampton have mayoral races in which Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz is facing a challenge from political first-timer John Riley and Hillary Clinton delegate Nicole LaChapelle is facing longtime City Councilor Joy Winnie in an open Easthampton mayoral race. Hampden County has several races including mayoral races in Agawam, where former superintendent William Sapelli is facing off against City Council President James Cichetti, and in Holyoke where Mayor Alex Morse is running against challenger Jay Ferriera, a city councilor.
Get out and vote on Nov. 7, make phone calls and donations before then, and when the dust has settled on Nov. 8, remember that there’s still an Alabama U.S. Senate race and then the 2018 elections to get involved in. A highlight in 2018: Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan is experiencing a serious Democratic challenge from mustachioed iron worker Randy Bryce (Twitter handle: @ironstache). His motto: “Let’s trade places, Paul Ryan. You can come work the iron, and I’ll go to D.C.” He’s raised $1.5 million already.
Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at email@example.com.