The sense of déjà vu suffusing the scope of Democratic victories on Tuesday was hard to ignore for anyone old enough to remember how a recently elected president inspired a roiling wave of opposition in his first year in office that culminated in surprisingly strong showings for opponents of the new administration.
Just as the Tea Party began its takeover of the GOP in 2009, buoyed by Americans who felt that their voices and way of life were being lost and ignored by both political parties, an unwieldy – and, at times, unruly – coalition of the Democratic Party and Democratic grassroots organizations put aside their struggle to determine the party’s identity long enough to demonstrate that far from being a gradually suppressing force, the Trump presidency proved to be a galvanizing one across the country, including in Pennsylvania.
Among the notable accomplishments by Democrats on Election Day, one stood out: the success of women candidates. In the Commonwealth, this was amply demonstrated by victories in statewide judicial races, and city and county races. In Philadelphia, the top overall vote-getter was Rebecca Rhynhart, who easily won the City Controller race. Emerge PA, the accelerator for women running for office, scored a perfect six out of six for its candidates, most of whom had never run for office before.
There’s a long way to go before this Democratic movement can be considered to be in the same class as the Tea Party, which is still going strong and challenging the GOP establishment some eight years later – it remains to be seen whether 2018 will be Democrats’ version of the 2010 midterm GOP shellacking.
One thing is clear: This week’s mobilization and turnout shows that events like the Women’s March and the explosion of groups like Indivisible and Emerge PA aren’t aberrations; it now appears that as long as Donald Trump remains president, he will also remain a rallying cry for the opposition.
Pennsylvania Democrats: Statewide judicial races. Mayoral races. County races. City races. School board races.
Bill DeWeese: The former Speaker of the House got the good news that the state Supreme Court will hear his appeal to overturn his 2012 conviction on corruption charges.
Gerrymandering opponents: The US Supreme Court ruled that a lawsuit challenging the state’s 2011 gerrymandering of Congressional districts can proceed. Even more promising for redistricting advocates: Commonwealth Court should issue a ruling by the end of the year.
Gina Cerilli: While not as bad as the Cleveland Browns managing to blow a trading deadline deal for a desperately needed quarterback, Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Carilli failed to add her supporters to the selection process for deciding which Democrat will run for Tim Murphy’s Congressional seat early next year. Insult to injury: her lawsuit to reinstate her reps to the deciding committee was thrown out of Commonwealth Court.
Timothy Dougherty: The former district judge was sentenced to at least six months in jail for stealing money from the firehouse where he served as treasurer and for mishandling funds from his court office.
Philip Ahr: Already facing a child pornography charge that led to him stepping down from his role on the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners, Ahr’s situation actually got worse when “suspicious or concerning” images were found on the township-owned iPad he returned. It’s not currently known if the discovery will result in additional charges.