Because the Ohio referendum on Gov. John Kasich’s union legislation drew a great deal of attention in the weeks leading up to yesterday’s elections, it wouldn’t be surprising for some conservatives around the country to feel disappointed today. But they shouldn’t. There was far more on the ballot than one initiative in one state, and conservative candidates and causes did well in many areas. Even in Ohio, voters simultaneously approved a health-care-freedom measure in opposition to the mandates of the Obama health-care bill.
At the statewide level, there have been four gubernatorial elections this fall. None resulted in a change in partisan control. Democrats have retained the top jobs in West Virginia and Kentucky. Republicans maintained control in Louisiana and Mississippi. More interesting are yesterday’s legislative elections in Virginia and Mississippi, both states where Republicans have lately been gaining ground. The vote counts aren’t finished in several of the most contested races, but right now it looks like the GOP has achieved a 20–20 tie in the Virginia senate, which had been the last bastion of Democratic power in the capital. With Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling presiding, that would give the GOP operating control of the chamber. Republicans also widened their margin in the Virginia house, giving Gov. Bob McDonnell more opportunities to advance conservative reforms in the state.
In Mississippi, the defeat of the personhood amendment has disappointed pro-lifers, but state voters also give overwhelming approval to statewide measures that end the abuse of eminent domain for economic development and that require a photo ID to vote. As for the Mississippi house, Republicans made a big play this year to win a majority for the first time since Reconstruction. At this writing, the GOP appears to have made gains but control of the chamber is unclear.
As it happens, my own state of North Carolina didn’t yield much good news for conservatives. The school board of the state’s largest school district flipped back to liberal control after a conservative takeover two years ago, the conservative mayor of Greensboro lost his reelection bid, and voters approved sales-tax increases in four largely Democratic counties.
For the liberty-loving among us, another piece of good news came from Washington state, where voters approved a measure to privatize the state’s government-run liquor stores. From this teetotaler, I say to Washington voters: Cheers!