Politics and Poker by
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Fiorello! is a wonderful musical about New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (yes, he’s the one for whom the airport is named). It ran on Broadway from November 1959 through October 1961. I went to see it with my mother on Election Day 1960. One of the songs in the musical, “Politics and Poker,” contains the lyric “if politics seems easier, it’s because you can’t stack the deck.” Now, of course, we have learned that you can.

Here are the things I want to remember about the 2018 midterms:

The results were better than I feared, but not as good as I hoped.

The Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives. This is huge, because it will impede Trump on everything except judicial appointments. Assuming Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker, we can only hope that both Trump and Pence either go to prison or die, and then she will become President.

More than 100 women have been elected to the House, including two Native American women and two Muslim women.

The Senate results were another story. Dems didn’t gain any seats, in fact they lost seats. Even though Democratic Senate candidates nationwide got 45 million votes, and Republicans got 33 million, the result was a Republican gain of 3-4 seats. Something is out of whack with the whole electoral process.

I am the most sad about Beto O’Rourke losing in Texas, I really thought he could beat Ted Cruz. We gave him money and then more money, and I did phone banking for him . . . it’s hard not to think that maybe if I had just done a little more he would have won. I know there were volunteers on the ground in Texas who did a lot more than I did, so obviously it’s ridiculous to think that I could have made a difference. But still . . . .

In the races for Governor, the Democrats picked up seven seats, which is great. These include the first openly gay Governor in Colorado, and four new women Governors in Maine, Michigan, Kansas, and New Mexico. It is very satisfying that Scott Walker and Kris Kobach were defeated. Andrew Gillum losing in Florida (by 0.6 %) was sad, and in Georgia the outcome is still unknown, so I’m holding out hope for Stacey Abrams.

Best line of the night?  After Ann Coulter tweeted “Kansas is dead to me,” someone replied “You’re just mad because that house landed on your sister.”

It’s nice that the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples was defeated.

As of Wednesday morning, in the Arizona Senate race Republican Martha McSally was leading Democrat Kyrsten Sinema by about 16,000 votes. A Green party candidate received 39,000 votes. Even though she dropped out a few days before the election, she may have caused a Republican victory. However, they are still counting ballots, and say that it may be a couple of days until the final results are known.

All in all, it’s a relief, and I feel pretty good. Certainly a lot better than the way I felt the day after the election two years ago.

But there is still a lot of work to do!

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Characterizations: been there


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Suzy, you wisely waited until after Election Day so that you could give your perspective on the results. And, not surprisingly, our great minds think alike about them. You have done a terrific job in summarizing the ups and downs of Tuesday. Happily, I agree that there were more of the former than the latter. But we better hold onto our hats with the Mueller investigation, with Sessions now out. Saturday Night Massacre, Part the First?

    Also love your remembrance of “Fiorello” and “Politics and Poker,” which I also fondly recall. Sadly, your point about the song being quaintly out of date is all too true.

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks, John. Yes, a possible Mueller firing is scary. And now RBG has fallen and broken her ribs, but I’m sure she will get back to the Court even if she has to do it on a gurney. Can’t let Trump get another appointment!

      Glad you remember Fiorello! It’s one of my favorite musicals, I don’t know why it has fallen into obscurity. Great music, great plot, great slice of history. And it’s about an honest and honorable politician! Definitely time for a revival.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Thank you for this wonderful recap, Suzy. We gave money to everyone this cycle. Our son in London gave us a great list and through “ActBlue”, we donated and donated. I held my breath all evening (and almost turned blue myself). As I wrote last Monday, it always amazes me (though, I suppose, no longer should) how ill-informed great swathes of the American public are and they can fall for the Orange Monster’s line of BS. (Great Krugman op-ed piece in today’s NYT about how the Senate no longer reflects the realities of today’s American population because every state has two Senators, which gives huge influence to less-densely populated states.)

    Trump used his fear-mongering about the desperate asylum seekers, miles and a month away in Mexico to stir his followers’ nasty hearts and get them to the polls in the states he visited over and over again.

    The Senate (and hence, the judiciary) is a huge disappoint, but, like Elizabeth Warren, we will persist. I loved Steven Colbert’s line last night. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is too precious to be walking around her office alone at night. She should be bubble-wrapped and carried on a litter!

    • Suzy says:

      We started an ActBlue account in 2016, and this year it automatically filled in our information. We also gave and gave. Although I couldn’t help thinking that people like Oprah and other celebrities, who can easily give five-figure amounts, should be doing more.

      I saw Colbert last night too, and liked his bubble-wrap line. He offered to give RBG some of his ribs if she needed them! He is the one I have turned to for most of my political news in the past two years, since I can’t bear to watch the actual news.

  3. Great summary, Suzy! You covered the bases extremely well! I caught that wicked witch line, too! Now we CAN go back to Kansas, where the wicked witch is dead! I feel very excited about the outcome. We opened up the flank in the dictator’s three-part stranglehold and more bricks continue to tumble from the wall with shifting results like Kirsten Sinema’s expanding lead in Arizona, recounts in Florida, and Stacy Abrams’ continued challenge to Kemp.

    Many of my students were disappointed that Beto didn’t take Texas but, as I assured them, he’ll be around in 2020! And, with the same blind faith that carries me through much of life, I don’t think Mueller’s going anywhere. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

    • Suzy says:

      Thanks for your comment, Charlie. Nice to know that you feel very excited about the outcome of the election. And you’re right, Beto will still be around in 2020, and there’s another Senate seat up then in Texas. Still, it’s disappointing that we didn’t get rid of Ted Cruz.

      Hoping to see a story about your take on the election before the week ends.

  4. John Zussman says:

    I like your tally of the pluses and minuses of this election cycle. I think the races that you were hoping Democrats would win but didn’t were those where they were flying into deep-red headwinds. As one commentator pointed out, cultural shifts don’t always happen in one election cycle. In the Senate, in particular, the Dems faced a difficult map in which most GOP seats were solid and many Democratic seats were in play. That map shifts in 2020, although as Krugman points out, the Senate will remain tilted toward small, rural, red states.

    • Suzy says:

      Thank you John, I always appreciate your comments. And now Florida, where I thought Gillum and Nelson had lost, will go to a recount. so maybe they will prevail. And in the California 10th CD, where it seemed on election night that Josh Harder (for whom I volunteered ) had lost to Jeff Denham, it looks like Harder may have won after all.

      Somebody said that this election is like Chanukah, rather than Christmas, for the Democrats, because each day they get one more gift.

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