Democrats Narrowly Take House of Representatives


Students gathered at watch parties on campus held by College Democrats and USG (Kevin Stoltenborg/The Fordham Ram).

By Eliot Schiaparelli and Theresa Schliep

While it was not the “blue wave” the Democrats had hoped for, the party has the opportunity to threaten President Donald Trump’s agenda for the next two years. Democrats took over the House of Representatives, winning 204 seats to the Republicans 187 at the time of publication, while the GOP maintained control of the Senate in this year’s midterm elections.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, cruised to his third term, defeating Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro with 59.1 percent of the vote at the time of publication. Letitia James, New York City public advocate, was elected attorney general of New York State, becoming the first black female attorney general of the Empire State. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also won reelection, easily defeating Republican challenger Chele Farley.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated her Republican challenger Anthony Pappas in the contest for New York’s 14th congressional district. At 29, she is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, winning a district that covers parts of the Bronx and Brooklyn.

The only Republican congressman in New York City, Representative Dan Donovan in Staten Island, lost to Democratic challenger Max Rose. Rose focused his campaign on opioid treatment and other local issues.

Other elections did not produce the results Democrats had hoped for. Representative Beto O’Rourke lost his challenge to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz for a Texas senate seat. Cruz, a former presidential contender, won by only a slim margin in a district that he had easily won before.

Republicans also got the upper-hand in an important race for governor. Republican Ron Desantis defeated democratic challenger Andrew Gillum in Florida’s governor race. Both contests received significant media coverage, and Democrats focused a lot of their energy on the two southern states.

The “blue wave” was evident at Fordham University even if it was not as obvious elsewhere in the United States. College Democrats held a watch party in Dealy Hall, where they screened election coverage to a crowded room. Students had Politico and FiveThirtyEight open on their laptops, and sported “I Voted” stickers.

Alana Murphy, secretary for College Democrats, said it’s important to her to have as many Democrats in Congress as possible. She’s from New Jersey, where Senator Bob Menendez kept his seat despite charges of corruption.

“I think win or draw, we here can be proud of the work we put in. I know people put in countless hours of phone banking and canvassing,” she said. “I think overall the increase in voter turnout is something we can be proud of, especially in younger voters. Hopefully there will be more to be proud about than voter turnout.”

Abby Govindan, FCRH ’19, from Texas, recalled attending the College Democrats watch party two years ago when Donald Trump won the presidency. She said despite that disappointment, she was still holding on to hope for Beto O’Rourke around 9 p.m.

“I did register in New York in 2016,” she said. “The reason I registered in New York was because I didn’t have any hope for Texas. I said I left for a reason. It’s always going to be red. There’s no use wasting my vote there. But Beto has really inspired and energized a lot of young people and that is why I rushed to register in Texas this year.”

Michael Myllek, FCRH ’19, president of College Republicans, expressed the club’s disappointment with Republican’s loss of the House. However, the turnout in the Senate gave College Republicans hope for the 2020 elections.

“Obviously disappointed about losing the House, but we statistically were expected to do that, so we understand that’s the way midterms go for the party in power,” said Myllek. “In regards to the Senate, we’re very excited about the turnout and results, however we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves since many of the wins were expected. We still have a lot of work to do if we want to perform well in 2020, but overall very pleased.”

Myllek expressed an overall satisfaction with the results of the election. He also congratulated Democrats for their success in rallying voters, increasing turnout and turning the tide through the democratic process.

“Overall the Republicans still control the Senate, the White House and had some very encouraging gubernatorial victories, so we’re still very excited about the direction of our government moving forward,” said Myllek. “And props to all the Democrats who wanted change and went out and voted for it. That’s what makes our democracy great; if you want change you have the opportunity to get out and affect it. ”

Reilly Dunne, FCRH ’22, from Missouri, was reserved about calling races for her state. She said it was a miracle Claire McCaskill had her Senate seat at all.

Sam Hardy, FCRH ’21, is the treasurer for the College Democrats. She said the club was happy with the turnout for the watch party. She also said they host a watch party every election.

“We really wanted to do a big club event for the midterms, especially because we’ve been phone banking for these candidates for a month now and we had our big canvassing trip on Saturday,” said hardy.
United Student Government also hosted watch party in McGinley’s North Dining hall where a few students trickled through.