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Progressive victories you may have missed in Tuesday’s elections

The 42nd Democrat has just won a GOP-held state legislative seat since Trump's election.

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
A May 2017 photo of Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) . She was nominated Tuesday for New Mexico Governor. (CREDIT: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Voters in 8 states cast primary votes on Tuesday, and one state Senate district in a ninth state hosted a special election. The results included some big wins for progressives.

Lauren Arthur, a Democratic state representative in Missouri from Kansas City, won by nearly 20 points in a special election to fill a GOP-held state Senate seat. The Show-Me State’s 17th district had voted for Donald Trump by 4 points in 2016 and had re-elected its Republican incumbent state senator by a 61-39 margin at that time. This win brings the number of state legislative districts Democrats have won from Republicans since Trump’s election to 42.

In Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota, voters cast primary ballots. Some highlights included:

  • New Mexico Democrats nominated Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham to be governor. Should she beat misogynist Rep. Steve Pearce, the GOP nominee, in November, she’d become the nation’s first ever Democratic Latina governor. (In Texas, Democratic nominee Lupe Valdez would be inaugurated weeks later should she upset Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in November.)
  • Democrats in New Mexico’s solidly blue 1st Congressional District nominated Deb Haaland, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, to fill the House seat Lujan Grisham is vacating. She would become the first Native American woman ever to serve in Congress.
  • Progressives Democrats running on abortion rights and gun control defeated two conservative Democratic incumbents in New Mexico state legislative primaries. One of the defeated incumbents had joined with Republicans to kill automatic voting legislation.
  • In Iowa’s 1st and 3rd congressional districts, Democrats nominated state Rep. Abby Finkenauer and small business owner Cindy Axne, respectively. Both districts are highly competitive and either or both could become the first woman/women ever elected to the U.S. House from Iowa.
  • Small business owner Deidre DeJear won the Democratic nomination to take on Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R). Should DeJear defeat the voter ID advocate incumbent, she’d become the state’s first African American statewide elected official.
  • Iowa Democrats nominated Zach Wahls in the state’s solidly Democratic 37th state senate district. Wahls, whose 2011 testimony before the state legislature about the importance of marriage equality for his two moms and other families like his went viral, spearheaded Scouts for Equality, the successful national effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to drop their anti-LGBTQ policies.
  • Pro-choice Democratic women endorsed by EMILY’s List also won nominations in New Jersey and New Mexico House races.
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Perhaps the best news for progressives came from California. Many were worried the state’s “jungle primaries” and the large number of Democratic candidates running could split the vote in competitive U.S. House districts held by Republicans and lead to a GOP versus GOP November general election. While the votes are still being counted, it appears that that did not happen. With Democrats needing to win at least 24 GOP-held House seats in November to win back control of the chamber, this result makes that possibility much more likely.