Yesterday’s elections returned some of the nation’s most anti-urban, anti-transit governors to power in races where they were supposed to be vulnerable. Pro-transit candidates were unexpectedly routed in some states, though a few did manage to hang on.
For more background on these races, check out yesterday’s election preview. Here’s what to expect going forward.
The biggest upset by far was in Maryland, where Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown was defeated by suburban real estate magnate Larry Hogan. Just a few weeks prior, Brown had been leading by double digits.
This stunning reversal has ominous consequences for transit in Maryland. Hogan opposes two major rail projects — the Purple Line Metro extension in suburban DC and Baltimore’s Red Line.
Transit advocates have their work cut out to convince Hogan to save both projects. But David Alpert, writing about the Purple Line in Greater Greater Washington, says the new governor has some incentive to let it proceed:
Now, it’s very close to actual construction, and the federal government supports the line. If Hogan kills the project, he’ll be turning down likely federal dollars that won’t go to other Maryland priorities, and he’ll be disappointing many voters in a much more visceral way than under [former Republican Gov. Bob] Ehrlich.
Governor Scott Walker’s reelection by a six-point margin is certain keep the state mired in a 1950s-era, highways-only approach to transportation. Under Walker’s watch, Wisconsin has plowed billions of dollars into the country’s most pointless highway-building bonanza, while shortchanging transit so much that federal courts recently intervened. Perhaps the best symbol of his “leadership” on transportation is a proposed double-decker highway, a useless boondoggle for any city, let alone slow-growing Milwaukee.
His challenger, Mary Burke, a former executive for Trek Bicycles, likely would have pursued a more balanced approach.