Among Democrats' victories on Tuesday night were the expected (but still very notable) gains: Repealing a measure in Ohio that curbed collective bargaining for public employees, winning reelection in a gubernatorial race in the red state of Kentucky and doing well down-ballot in the Bluegrass State, which will help the party develop a bench for future statewide contests.
But an unexpectedly decisive win elsewhere capped a successful evening. In Mississippi, an initiative that would have amended the state constitution to expand the definition of the word "person" to the moment of fertilization, was soundly defeated. Had the measure passed, the new definition of "person" would have banned abortions and set off a much larger national debate over the issue.
In some other elections that received less national publicity, there were more encouraging signs for Democrats. In Maine, voters restored Election Day registration and in Iowa, a Democrat won a special state Senate election, ensuring that her party maintains its slim majority in the chamber.
Even where a Republican appears to have won, Democrats can claim at least some measure of victory. Arizona Republican Senate President Russell Pearce faced a recall election on Tuesday, and results with all precincts reporting show that he is losing to Republican challenger Jerry Lewis by 1128 votes. Pearce was a key architect of SB 1070, the state's controversial immigration measure signed into law last year that angered many Democrats. A group that helped to organize the recall effort was co-founded by a former Democratic Senate candidate.
Mesa voters ousted Senate President Russell Pearce tonight, completing the first-ever recall of a state elected official in Arizona.
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