While the GOP Loses at the Polls, There’s Plenty of Reason Left to Worry

Voters in Arizona, Ohio, Mississippi and North Carolina all fought back against regressive conservative policies in Tuesday's elections. But the big battles aren't over. Here's why.

By Jorge Rivas Nov 09, 2011

Several key elections took place yesterday with two key wins for immigration and abortion rights activists. Most notably, an Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, who was key in development of the state’s controversial anti-immigrant SB 1070 law, was given the boot. In Mississippi, voters also beat a provision that would of outlawed abortion and birth control in the state.

Some analysts say the the results suggest that the strong conservative tidal wave that swept the country in last year’s elections is letting up a bit.

Below is a round up of key elections that happened across the nation yesterday.

Russell Pearce, architect of Arizona’s anti-immigration law SB 1070, lost an historic state senate recall election. The Arizona state legislature still remains a conservative stronghold.

Russell Pearce, the Republican state Senate leader who championed Arizona’s SB 1070 lost his office to Republican newcomer and charter school administrator Jerry Lewis, by 7 percentage points, 45.4 percent to 52.4 percent.

Election officials said the official results aren’t in yet because they’re still counting absentee ballots, but there was a wide enough margin for Pearce to concede his post.

"I intend to spend a little time with my God, my wife and my family and reassess where we need to go," Pearce said in his concession speech. 

Some are celebrating Pearce’s loss because it sends a message to politicians that immigration is not a top concern. Instead, Arizona voters chose education, jobs and the economy when they voted for Lewis. 

"The Legislature remains extremely conservative but with regards to making illegal immigration their top priority, this should be a warning shot across the bow," political analyst Chris Herstam, a Republican lobbyist and former legislator, told Fox News.

The race in the conservative Phoenix suburb of Mesa is believed to be the first recall election ever mounted against a state legislator in Arizona, according to Csmonitor.com.

Mississippi voters reject Amendment 26, the "Personhood" ballot initiative that would have banned abortions by defining fertilized eggs as people and .

The Guardian provides more details:

Supporters of the "personhood amendment", which declared that fertilised eggs are people, had been confident of victory in the conservative southern state. But 58% of voters rejected the measure after apparently being persuaded by critics who portrayed it as draconian because it made no exceptions for women who are raped, or in cases of incest.

It would also have opened the way for a ban on those birth control pills which work by preventing fertilised eggs from implanting in the uterus and may have led to a bar on in vitro fertilisation.

Felicia Brown-Williams, of the Mississippi for Healthy Families Campaign, which opposed the amendment, told CNN: "I think voters rejected a measure they understood to be dangerous. They really tried to manipulate values around faith and family."

The issue is far from dead: Today, a representative from Florida Personhood said they were "not deterred" by the loss in Mississippi.

Also, Mississippians approved by a wide margin a restrictive voter ID measure that requires voters to show government-issued photo ID at the polls.

Anti-union law falls by a landslide in Ohio.

Ohio voters rejected Issue 2, a measure that would have restricted collective bargaining rights for public employees, by a vote of 61 to 39 percent.

"Today’s defeat of (the Ohio union measure) is a major victory for working families in Ohio and across the country," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told Reuters.

More from the Huffington Post:

"One message rang loud and clear tonight in Ohio and across the country: those who spend their time scapegoating workers and pushing a partisan agenda will only strengthen the resolve of working people," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. "From the very beginning, it’s been clear that Gov. Kasich, and indeed many politicians, were pushing an agenda that was about politics, not about solving our nation’s problems or creating jobs."

"Even after John Kasich locked the doors to democracy and shut out everyday heroes from the Statehouse, in the cold, blister of February — working people never lost hope. We marched in the spring, circulated petitions in the summer and now, this fall, we delivered a win for all working people by defeating Issue 2, repealing Senate Bill 5," added Becky Williams, president of SEIU District 1199 in Ohio.

Kasich held a press conference shortly after the fate of Issue 2 had been declared, saying it was time for him to "take a deep breath" and figure out what to do next.

North Carolina democrats take control of Wake County school board, take away majority from Koch brothers backed Tea Party republicans that supported segregation.

In 2009, Americans for Prosperity, a group founded and funded by the Koch Brothers, funded the campaigns for the election of four Wake County school board seat candidates that supported the end to a program that integrated schools in the country’s 18th largest school district. Yesterday, democrats took back control. 

Education Week:

Democratic-backed incumbent Kevin Hill, a supporter of the old school assignment process, won a runoff election with 52.3 percent of the vote against Republican-backed challenger Heather Losurdo, who garnered 47.7 percent of voters. Voter turnout was high for a school board election; 20,412 voters cast a ballot, compared to 16,332 who cast votes in the race back in October. Hill, who led his challengers then, did not get 50 percent of the vote, forcing Tuesday night’s runoff. In October, a Republican-based incumbent lost, leaving the board evenly split with political control hinging on the Hill-Losurdo race.

So what does this mean for busing in the district? There will likely be no immediate changes. The change to the busing policy spawned widespread protests, including from the national media, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and the NAACP, though many parents supported the changes, saying they were tired of having their children shuffled from school to school as the district tried to manage growth and diversity.