Gubernatorial races in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York's mayor's race dominated the news last night, but while we were focused on things like humanoid Grumpy Cat Joe Lhota going down in flames, people were voting to legalize weed in Maine's biggest city and some secessionists voted to break free from Colorado. Here's a quick roundup of those "down ballot" contests that make local elections so much more interesting:.
The Other Portland Wants Legal Pot, Too
In Portland, Maine, residents there voted to legalize the possession of marijuana. And it wasn't even close. "With all 12 of the city’s precincts reporting just before 10:30 p.m., the legalization referendum held a 9,921-4,823 advantage. That represented more than 67 percent in favor of the measure," The Bangor Daily News reports.
Unfortunately for these folks, the state of Maine, unlike Oregon, still finds pot illegal and police there have still promised to enforce state laws. Still, advocates believe that Portland might have a Denver-like effect in the state and possibly the whole East Coast. Denver voters approved a similar ballot measure in 2005 before the state followed in 2012.
Secessionists Live in Colorado
Speaking of Colorado, there were 11 counties in the state where the "51st State Initiative" floating the idea of secession appeared. In five of those counties, the proposal to break away from the rest of Colorado failed, but "in six of the 11 counties where the secession question appeared on the ballot, the measure passed by strong margins," The Denver Post reported. The move was more of a political gesture as secession is almost impossible, since it requires approval of the state legislature and the U.S. Congress. The last time a state let a new one break away was when Maine left Massachusetts in 1820. (Although West Virginia did secede from Confederate Virginia in 1865)
The main push for secession came from rural voters upset by Democrat-backed measures coming from Denver, like gun control and green energy requirements. "The heart of the 51st State Initiative is simple: We just want to be left alone to live our lives without heavy-handed restrictions from the state Capitol," 51st state advocate Jeffrey Hare told The Denver Post.
Fracking Good in Ohio, Bad In Colorado
Still in Colorado, three towns passed anti-fracking initiatives that will ban the controversial gas drilling technique in their localities. However, a fourth town defeated the anti-fracking bill, as did two other towns in Ohio that will push for more drilling.
New Jersey Raised Minimum Wage by a Dollar
This vote wasn't close either. On Tuesday, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that amended the state's constitution to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour. "But it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. One late-September poll showed support at 76 percent with opposition at just 22 percent," The Washington Post reported last night. With that vote, Chris Christie's great state becomes the fifth in the country to raise the minimum wage using its constitution.
Massachusttess Resident Will Have to Go to New York to Gamble
Two Northeastern states tackled the question of adding more casinos to their lands, with one rejecting the idea and the other embracing it. New Yorkers agreed to an expansion of casino gambling (but only upstate, not in the big city), while two different casino plans were voted down in Massachusetts. The Suffolk Downs proposal in East Boston, will try another approach that keeps the casino solely in the town of Revere.
Washington Doesn't Care About Genetically-Engineered Food
Washington state voters on Tuesday denied a bill that would have required food containing genetically modified organisms (GMO) to sport a label saying as much. "The vote was 54.8% opposed to labeling and 45.2% in favor of it," USA Today reports. This is a victory for agricultural biotech companies and pro-GMO organizations like Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who donated heavily to the "No on 522" campaign. That effort raked in some $22 million in fundraising, the Seattle Times reported.