Last night was one for the books — the GOP took back the Senate, Congress made history by welcoming the 100th woman for the first time ever, and recreational marijuana use became legal in the nation’s capital.
Check out these stories below to see what you missed and who won big.
Republicans Seize The Senate:
Last night, the Empire State Building lit up a rosy shade of red when it was declared that the GOP had taken control of the Senate six years after losing their stronghold to Democrats. In what many political experts say is a response to economic dissatisfaction and President Obama’s approval rating, Republicans grabbed 7 new seats from Democrats in Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, South Dakota, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Montana.
From the New York Times:
The biggest surprises of the night came in North Carolina, where the Republican, Thom Tillis, came from behind to beat Senator Kay Hagan, and in Virginia. There, Senator Mark Warner, a former Democratic governor of the state, was thought to be one of the safest incumbents in his party, and instead found himself clinging to the narrowest of leads against a former Republican Party chairman, Ed Gillespie.
Those contests were measures of how difficult the terrain was for Democrats in an election where Republicans put together their strategy as a referendum on the competence of government, embodied by Mr. Obama.
House seats where Democrats had fought off Republican encroachment for years were finally toppled. Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, was easily re-elected in Wisconsin, a state that voted twice for Mr. Obama. In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, once considered endangered, finished the night on top. And states that had seemingly been trending Democratic, like Colorado and Iowa, fell into Republican hands.
In the end, House Republicans will have close to 245 seats — the largest Republican majority since the Truman administration. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid congratulated Republicans on their huge win and President Obama is expected to make a public statement Wednesday.
Read more here… [NYT]
GOP Governors Also Took Control:
Last night saw Republican governors holding onto their own mansions, but they also took a few in blue states as well.
Massachusetts will have its first Republican governor since Mitt Romney. Republican Bruce Rauner took Illinois Democrat Pat Quinn from his seat. And Maryland elected Larry Hogan over Democrat Anthony Brown.
All in all, the GOP owned election night. Except in Pennsylvania, where Democrat Tom Wolf booted Republican Tom Corbett from the mansion. Read more on GOP governor wins and see which blue states are now a hue of red here… [CNN]
Marijuana Wins Big…But Not In Florida:
Proponents of recreational marijuana can breathe easy in Washington D.C., Oregon, and Alaska — voters approved the legal use of the drug Tuesday night.
Florida is out, however. Voters rejected a proposal on medical marijuana in the state.
In the nation’s capital, those over 21-years-old are allowed to possess up to two ounces of weed for personal use and grow up to six cannabis plants in their home. The District’s Initiative 71 also allows individuals to transfer up to one ounce of marijuana to another person. Selling, however, is prohibited.
In Oregon, the voters legalized personal possession of the drug, as well as the manufacture and sale of marijuana for people 21 and up. Alaska’s law is similar to that in Oregon — the state would tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana, making the use legal for people over 21-years-old.
“It’s always an uphill battle to win a marijuana legalization initiative in a year like this, when young people are so much less likely to vote, which makes today’s victory all the sweeter,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance said about Oregon. “The pace of reform is accelerating, other states are sure to follow, and even Congress is poised to wake from its slumber.”
Wins in Washington, D.C. also have activists hoping for federal recognition.
“With marijuana legal in the federal government’s backyard,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, “it’s going to be increasingly difficult for national politicians to continue ignoring the growing majority of voters who want to end prohibition.”
Prop 47 Passes — Low-Level, Nonviolent Crime Sentencing To Change:
And here’s some good news. Proposition 47, also known as The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014, passed in California, paving the way to reform sentencing for low-level, nonviolent crimes.
Those include changes of simple drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors, and direct financial savings to K-12 schools, mental health treatment, and victim services.
Crimes covered by the measure include drug possession and the following offenses when less than $950 is involved: shoplifting, check and credit fraud, forgery, theft and possession of stolen goods.
As with other misdemeanors, the new maximum sentence will be one year in jail, down from a maximum of three years. Those with histories of violence or sex offenses will be ineligible for the lighter sentences.
Most offenders affected by this measure already serve their sentences in county jails, and many are released early.
Reductions in state prison spending as a result of Prop 47 will go to a fund for crime victims. The reform maintains the current law for registered sex offenders and anyone with prior convictions for rape, murder, or child molestation. For more information, visit ArtistsFor47.com.
Read more about last night’s win here… [LATimes]
Voters Reject Personhood…Again:
Personhood, the radical movement that defines a fertilized egg as a legal “person” from fertilization, was told to have a seat…again…by Colorado voters who dismissed it for a third time. Voters in North Dakota followed suit by defeating two ballot initiatives that would have redefined when life actually begins.
From Think Progress:
In Colorado, Amendment 67 — which sought to update the state’s criminal code to define fetuses as children — failed by a large 64 percent to 36 percent margin. It marks the third time that Colorado voters have rejected personhood.
Meanwhile, in North Dakota, an effort to overhaul the state’s constitution to protect “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development” looked like it was poised to pass. Personhood proponents were hopeful that the conservative state would hand them their first major victory, galvanizing the push for similarly restrictive laws in other states. But Amendment 1 was defeated by similarly wide margins as the initiative in Colorado.
Reproductive rights advocates were vocal about the win:
“We are relieved and overjoyed. This is a win for the families of North Dakota — but also for our entire country,” Sarah Stoesz, the president of the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund, said in a statement. “The Personhood movement took another major blow and it’s time for them to stop pushing this agenda on women and families in state after state.”
Read more here… [ThinkProgress]
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty