If you are a Democrat, do you remember how you felt on Nov. 9, 2016, and how you felt on Nov. 7, 2018? There’s no comparison, is there? But you can count on some local Republicans to try to rain on our parade. Don’t let them!
1. Livingston County Democrats helped flip a seat in the U.S. House from red to blue, unseating a well-funded incumbent (who beat our candidate last time by 21 points) and helping Democrats seize control of the U.S. House. We were one of fewer than 35 seats nationwide that flipped, although some are undecided.
This is a big deal. In addition to the national implications, it means that Livingston County will be represented by a Democrat in Congress for the first time since Debbie Stabenow gave up the seat in 2000 to run for the U.S. Senate. It would not have happened without the 37,769 votes from our county.
Sure, Elissa Slotkin won lots of votes in Ingham County and she didn’t “carry” Livingston County. But she didn’t need to. She just needed to keep the Republican margin down here. And she did, with the help of an army of volunteers who door-knocked, phone banked, and held house parties. It was an historic victory and one to tell your grandchildren about.
2. Livingston County Democrats held the Republican statewide ticket to less than 57 percent of the vote – 10 points below four years ago. Republicans know they can’t win statewide without a big haul of votes from Livingston County, and this time they didn’t get them. Again, it was because of the door-knocking and phone banking of volunteers. And it was not done in a vacuum. Republicans were hard at work, too, turning out their voters. But we still managed to get the votes Democrats needed from here by increasing Democratic turnout by 17,700 votes – or 82 percent! – over 2014.
3. Democrats swept statewide offices – from the governor’s office down to the education boards – and re-elected Senator Debbie Stabenow. This was the best showing for Democrats in 40 years in Michigan. What can Republicans crow about? They held on to county commission seats and elected two state reps and a state senator into a Legislature where their majorities are much diminished and where their extreme impulses will be held in check by the veto pen of a Democratic governor.
4. Livingston County Democrats fielded outstanding young candidates who weren’t afraid to work – and work they did, for months. They so got under GOP skin that the party sent out attack pieces on some of them. The Republicans may have won, but some of them barely eked out 51 percent against their Democratic opponents. Our Democratic candidates are still resting up from the campaign marathon, but my hope and my bet is that we haven’t seen the last of them. If you know them, worked for them, or voted for them, please encourage them to try again.
5. Livingston County Democrats’ work in off-years under the state party’s Project 83 paid dividends. Months of door-knocking and phone calling during 2017 and 2018 resulted in some 30,000 attempts to reach voters. Asking them what issues they cared about helped clarify that health care was going to be a major issue in the November election, as it proved to be.
The Slotkin and statewide ticket were able to build on that work. Talking to voters about their concerns matters. It helped us carry five precincts – three in Brighton, one in Howell, and one in Putnam, as well as being just a few votes short in several ones in Hamburg. Four years ago, we carried no precincts.
6. Livingston County voters have some liberal views and Democrats are more in touch with those views than Republicans are. All three proposals on the ballot – legalizing marijuana, reforming the way legislative and congressional district lines are drawn, and making voting easier and more secure – are liberal ideas.
Livingston County Democrats supported all of them while Republicans opposed them. Yet voters here approved them by 54 percent, 52 percent, and 58 percent, respectively.
Soon, voters will realize that even though they voted to legalize marijuana, the Republican officials in the county will do everything they can to prevent legal businesses from opening here, depriving the community of revenue and making it harder to purchase this legal product.
7. Lastly, yard signs did not determine the outcome of this election and never will.
Yes, Bishop blanketed the grounds of the Hartland Education Services Center with yard signs the night of his debate with Elissa Slotkin. He lost the debate and the election, even after moving those signs all around the county. Dennis Brewer put up loads of yard signs, too, right next to other Republicans. Yet Bishop will not be going back to our nation’s capital and Brewer is not going to be a judge.
In a few days, you’re likely to read a piece by a Republican pundit who will tell you that Democrats should fold up their tent and go away because we didn’t “win.” Remember these points when you tell him there are lots of ways to define winning and we aren’t going anywhere.