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Election 2011: Democrats do well

Democrats claimed victories in a number of races Tuesday, including in Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi, where voters sided with their candidates or ballot initiatives backed by the party.

The off-year election saw voters in a handful of states weigh in on governors, state lawmakers, mayors and ballot measures that will be scoured for clues into next year’s presidential contest.

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a5358 get flash player Election 2011: Democrats do well

Democrats took the Kentucky governor’s race and won a controversial ballot initiative in Ohio to undo a restriction on collective bargaining, and another in Mississippi that would have redefined “personhood.”

Republicans notched their own wins, holding on to the governor’s office in Mississippi and passing a measure in Ohio designed as a public referendum on President Obama’s health care law.

Ballot measures

Lightning-rod questions on the ballot this year included one that divided even anti-abortion advocates.

Mississippi voters dealt a surprise defeat to a broad anti-abortion initiative on the state’s ballot. The initiative would have amended the state constitution to give fetuses the full rights of “persons” from the moment of fertilization. The measure failed 58 percent to 42 percent, with 96 percent of precincts reporting, according to the AP.

The initiative was originally expected to pass easily in the deeply conservative state, and it was endorsed by both the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates. But opponents gained ground before the election, making the case that the broad wording of the measure could have consequences that went beyond abortion, including outlawing some contraceptives and in-vitro fertilization, as well as possibly require criminal investigations of miscarriages.

Two amendments on the Ohio ballot were also being closely tracked.

Voters repealed a law backed by Republican Gov. John Kasich limiting public employees’ collective bargaining rights, according to The Associated Press. Issue 2 failed by a vote of 39 percent to 61 percent, according to The Associated Press, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Efforts to scale back the power of labor ignited controversy in states across country this year, prompting protests from Wisconsin to New York.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the results “a victory for middle-class families across the state of Ohio.”

“Voters in Ohio know that targeting public employees for political reasons will do nothing to create jobs or boost Ohio’s economy,” Shultz said in a statement.

In a letter to supporters, Kasich acknowledged defeat and cautioned that the measure was about job-creation efforts through local government savings.

“Though I would have preferred a different outcome tonight, the people of Ohio have spoken and I respect their decision,” he wrote. He added, “We won’t get Ohio back on track in a day, but our lives and our work aren’t sprints, they’re marathons, and we strive for bigger rewards than the fleeting praise of the here and now.”

Garnering less attention than the labor initiative, Ohio’s Issue 3, a constitutional amendment barring an individual mandate to buy health insurance, easily passed. Though symbolic, because the state can’t opt out of the federal law, it was widely seen as a state-wide referendum on the federal health care law, or at least on the unpopular mandate. It would also rule out a Massachusetts-style state health law that included a requirement that people buy insurance.

The measure passed with 65.5 percent support, with 99 percent of the precincts tallied, according to the AP.


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