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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The state and local elections on Tuesday brought in a new, diverse wave of politicians, many of whom have no prior government experience.Here's a rundown of some of the interesting stories of the big winners.Wilmot Collins, the first black mayor of Helena, MontanaWhen he arrived in Helena, Montana in February 1994, Collins was wearing layer upon layer of clothing, anticipating the freezing cold temperatures. What he was a little less prepared for was being the only black man in a majority-white community. A Liberian refugee, Collins noticed no one else in this rocky city looked like him.Read more about his story here.Ravi Bhalla, the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey"I think this victory represents the American dream," Bhalla said. "My father came here as an immigrant from India with no money in his pocket. He lived in a trailer park, but he had faith in this country and faith in that there is no conflict between religion and succeeding in this country. So I think this election in that way represents that, in America, if you work hard and you’re qualified -- the sky is the limit and you can do anything."Read more about his story here.Ashley Bennett, a novice who ran and won against a man who mocked the Women's MarchBennett never thought that she would run for political office, and when her first bid led to her victory against a male New Jersey county official who had mocked the Women's March, she said, "I was shocked."Read more about her story here.Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person elected to serve in a U.S. state legislatureThe former journalist defeated 13-term Virginia House Delegate Bob Marshall, who was the author of Virginia's "bathroom bill" that would have restricted the bathrooms that transgender people could use.Read more about her story here.Chris Hurst, who won on a pro-gun control platform after his girlfriend was shot dead on live TVHurst decided to run for office after his girlfriend, reporter Alison Parker, was fatally shot along with her cameraman by a former station employee in August 2015.Read more about his story here.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) -- In Minneapolis, a diverse, progressive stronghold, two African American transgender candidates were elected to the city council on Tuesday — a night of many firsts for LGBTQ and minority candidates across the country and amid a wave that some see as a rebuke of Trump-era policies.Andrea Jenkins became the first openly transgender African American woman elected to a city council in a major U.S. City, and Phillipe Cunningham, a black, openly transgender man, also won a seat on the council representing northwestern Minneapolis.Elsewhere, Danica Roem, a transgender woman was elected to the Virginia House of Delegate. And Seattle elected its first lesbian mayor, Jenny Durkan, and first openly gay school board member, Zachary DeWolf.While LGBTQ groups say they are still vastly underrepresented in local and federal governments, they also are optimistic that this week’s wins mark a turning point.“We really see 2017 as being a banner year for LGBTQ candidates and really sets us up for 2018,” said Eliott Imse, communications director for Victory Fund, a political group that supports LGBTQ candidates at the federal, state and local level, “We're thrilled about our victories across the country and think that it shows that the country is really embracing LGBQT candidates.”Minneapolis' election of two transgender candidates of color is especially notable.Cunningham said that Tuesday's results means that Minneapolis, a city that is also home to a large Somalian immigrant population, among other groups, has a city council that reflects its values."We're seen as whole and complete people rather than just a series of differences," he said. "Minneapolis is just full of folks who...just see us — see marginalized people as full and complete people and operate from there."Cunningham, who ousted the city’s sitting council president, a 20-year incumbent, said that his victory shows that the LGBTQ community is finding its political voice.“I think that Tuesday night is just the beginning of us really building our voice as a community,” Cunningham told ABC News, “On the local level, we're just a neighbor. We're just the person who lives next door who helps you find your dog, we're the people who look out for your house when you go out of town.”Jenkins said she hopes her victory can serve as as a message to all LGBTQ people, and a signal that their voices matters in the American political system."I hope that my message resonates with people. We can live our authentic lives, we can be our authentic selves and we can still contribute and participate in leadership roles and opportunities in every field of human endeavor," Jenkins told ABC News in an interview, "I believe that representation matters and that we have to be involved in these decisions and policies that impact us every day. If we aren't we're going to continue to be placed in oppressed situations and I refuse to accept that."Jenkins agreed that Minnesota can be a beacon of change and progress for the LGBTQ community, but added that there are still many barriers the community faces in today's society."LGBT people can still be fired from their jobs, can still be denied health insurance if their employer thinks that they don't deserve it," Jenkins said, "We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do, and I want to be a part of making that change."Tuesday’s elections happened almost a year to the day after the election of Donald Trump, and there are signs that LGBTQ candidates have and will continue to be a stronger presence at all levels of government in future elections, experts say.“Trump did not alter in any way or stop the momentum of integrating gay and lesbian, transgender legislators and citizens into the mainstream of American society,” said Howard Lavine, a professor of political science and psychology at the University of Minnesota, “There are definit
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  • Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct leveled at controversial Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore has many taking a more detailed look at the lawmaker’s past.The Washington Post reported Thursday that he allegedly engaged in sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl in the 1970s -- one of four women the newspaper included in its story. Moore, who has denied the sexual misconduct allegations, issued a statement calling the report a “completely false and desperate political attack.”Some prominent Republicans, including President Donald Trump, are calling for him to drop out of the race if the allegations are true.Moore is vying for the seat left open when former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions joined the Trump administration as attorney general. In September, Moore beat his Republican primary challenger Luther Strange even though Strange had the support of Trump.Here is a rundown of Moore’s political history and some of the issues he has championed – and been criticized for – in the past.Biblical battleMoore’s first appointment as a judge came in 1992 when then-Governor H. Guy Hunt appointed him to the 16th Circuit Court of Alabama. Moore quickly generated controversy by hanging a wooden plaque inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the wall of his courtroom and started the practice of beginning his court proceedings with a prayer.In 1995, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Moore, claiming his display of the Ten Commandments and courtroom prayers were unconstitutional.The suit was eventually dismissed after it was ruled the ACLU lacked standing in the case, and Moore was allowed to keep his plaque up and to continue praying in the courtroom.After winning the 1999 election for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Moore began designing a monument that he said was meant to depict “the moral foundation of law.” What was eventually unveiled in the summer of 2001 was a 5,280-pound, granite monument affixed with the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama state judicial building in Montgomery.That fall, the ACLU, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, sued Moore for violating “the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.”In November of 2002, U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson ordered Moore to remove the Ten Commandments monument within 30 days, ruling that its placement violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Judge Thompson’s ruling was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals in July of 2003, and in August, Moore was again ordered to remove the monument. He refused, appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case. In November of 2003, Moore was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for “willfully and publicly” defying the orders of a United States District Court.Protecting rights for some but not allReligion continued to play a big role in Moore’s political life, but critics said he focused on protecting Christian rights and not equally protecting members of all religions.After his removal from the bench in 2003, Moore turned his attention to the Foundation for Moral Law, a group he founded in 2002 in order "to restore the knowledge of God in law and government and to acknowledge and defend the truth that man is endowed with rights, not by our fellow man, but by God!" according to the group's website.In 2006, Moore penned an op-ed on the website WorldNetDaily.com in which he said that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress, should not be allowed to serve because of his religious beliefs.More recently, Moore told a Vox reporter in August that he believed there are communities in the United States that are currently living under Sharia law. When pressed for evidence, Moore was unable to substantiate his claims.Fighting against gay rig
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pushback against President Donald Trump helped lift Democrats to governorships in the two highest-profile U.S. elections since the 2016 presidential contest.Phil Murphy, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, is projected to win New Jersey's gubernatorial election, based on ABC News' analysis of the exit poll. Sweeping backlash to the deeply unpopular Chris Christie, a Republican, became a focal point of the campaign that pitted Murphy against the state's Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Based on ABC News' analysis of the vote, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, will win the Virginia governor's race.In Virginia, voters by a 2-1 margin said they were casting their ballot to show opposition to Trump rather than support for him. In New Jersey the margin was 3-1. And Trump’s weak approval rating among voters in Virginia, 40 percent, was weaker still in New Jersey, a dismal 34 percent.Relatedly, a surge in turnout by politically liberal voters boosted Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, as did a broad advantage on health care, which voters by a wide margin identified as the top issue in the vote.Trump’s approval rating in Virginia, notably, was 14 points weaker than that of the incumbent Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe. Further, 51 percent of voters expressed a favorable attitude toward the Democratic Party overall, vs. 37 percent for the Republican Party.The gap in the parties’ popularity was even more striking in New Jersey. And again turnout among liberals peaked, at its highest in New Jersey gubernatorial races since 1993. So did turnout among Democrats, who accounted for 44 percent of voters, vs. Republicans’ 28 percent.VIRGINIA – In the bitterly fought Virginia race, 34 percent of voters in the network exit poll said they were voting to express opposition to Trump, vs. 16 percent who said they were voting to show him support. Gillespie prevailed among those who said the president wasn’t a factor, marking the anti-Trump vote as critical to Northam’s victory.Turnout by liberals was up sharply from previous gubernatorial contests, to 28 percent of all Virginia voters, up from 18 percent in the 2009 race and 20 percent in 2013. (It was 26 percent in 2016, when Hillary Clinton notched her only southern-state win here.) Conservatives, at 30 percent of voters, were off their 2013 level, 36 percent, and their 2009 share, 40 percent of voters in the state.Northam won a remarkable 60 percent of women in the state – an even larger share than Clinton’s a year ago - vs. 48 percent of men. He won even more voters under age 30, 67 percent, as well as six in 10 of those age 30 to 44.Also helpful to Northam was that, given a list of five issues, Virginia voters by a wide margin picked health care as the top concern in their vote for governor; those who did so favored him by 77-22 percent over Gillespie. Other issues offered were gun policy (the two split voters who called it their top issue), and immigration, taxes and abortion (all wins for Gillespie, but not by enough).Gillespie won vast support from evangelical and working-class whites. Whites overall accounted for 67 percent of voters, the same as in the 2016 presidential race, and down from their 2013 and 2009 shares. They backed Gillespie by a 15-point margin, while Northam won nonwhites overwhelmingly.Gillespie prevailed on at least one issue: Virginia voters by 57-39 percent said Confederate statues in the state should be left in place, and he won by a wide margin among those who held that view. But Northam led in trust to handle race relations overall. And, perhaps above, all, the anti-Trump tide turned his way.NEW JERSEY – In New Jersey, the unpopularity of not one but two fellow Republicans doomed Kim Guadagno’s bid for governor: Trump and Gov. Chris Christie alike.Twenty-eight percent of the state’s voters said they were seeking to express opposition to Trump, nearly three times as many as said the
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  • ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Democrats are projected to score a pair of major gubernatorial victories Tuesday, based on ABC News' analysis of the exit poll and analysis of the vote, landing new governors in New Jersey and Virginia as they attempted to showcase party resilience one year after President Donald Trump's surprise election victory.In Virginia, which was expected to be the closer of the two races, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam is projected to prevail over former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, based on ABC News' analysis of the vote, while in New Jersey, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy is projected to beat Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, based on ABC News' analysis of the exit poll.The Virginia race, in particular, took on the air of a referendum on Trump throughout the campaign. The state's status as a swing state in presidential years and the stark divide between its suburban northern region and rural Appalachian southwest turned it into a representative test case on the country's response to the two major political parties a year after electing the former real-estate mogul.In New Jersey, sweeping backlash to the deeply unpopular Gov. Chris Christie became the driving force behind Murphy's election campaign. The former ambassador's first run for elected office found him tying Christie to his lieutenant governor, Guadagno.
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