Democrats looking for a silver lining after Tuesday night’s election have a hard search ahead of them.
After Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump on Wednesday morning, Democrats found themselves facing a Republican-held White House, House, and Senate. But in a few races and initiatives, liberals saw historic wins, a possible balm for an otherwise blistering night of losses.
In Arizona, one of Trump’s most reviled backers lost his long-held office.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona lost his reelection bid by 10 points, after a Latino-led movement to oust him. Arpaio, who has held office for six terms, led one of the country’s worst racial profiling campaigns and boasted of keeping inmates in degrading and inhumane conditions. The sheriff ran what he openly described as a “concentration camp” for inmates, which consisted of a “tent city” where temperatures spanned dangerous extremes and meals were restricted. His 24-year reign of terror will end when Democratic challenger Paul Penzone, a 21-year veteran of the Phoenix police force takes over.
While Republicans retained control of the House and Senate, Democratic challengers were able to unseat incumbents in a few closely watched races. In Illinois, Democrat Rep. Tammy Duckworth defeated Republican Sen, Mark Kirk. Kirk, who has served in the Senate since 2010, appeared to mock Duckworth’s Thai heritage during a late-October debate.
"I'm a daughter of the American Revolution," Duckworth, a National Guard veteran who was wounded in action said during the debate. "I've bled for this nation.""I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington," Kirk answered sarcastically. Duckworth descends from an American military family, members of which fought in the Revolutionary War.
Tuesday night also saw the first Latina woman elected to the Senate. Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto won retiring Senator Harry Reid’s seat. The senator-elect tweeted that she plans to use her seat to fight for diversity.
Meanwhile, Delaware elected its first black woman to Congress. Democrat Lisa Blunt Rochester succeeded outgoing Democrat John Carney for a seat in the House of Representatives.
In Oregon, voters elected an openly LGBT governor for the first time. Openly bisexual Gov. Kate Brown was an incumbent, but had previously taken office after her predecessor resigned over an influence-trading scandal.
Marijuana also moved toward widespread legalization. California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana, while a similar measure in Arizona lost by a narrow 2-point margin. Florida, North Dakota, Arkansas, and Montana voted to expand medical marijuana laws, making the drug more readily available for patients suffering from PTSD, cancer, epilepsy, and other ailments.