Washington, D.C., Nov. 19 – Key senate and gubernatorial candidates from both sides of the political aisle who support opportunities for people with disabilities won big this election, showing that disability rights is a winning issue.
There are 56 million people with disabilities (one in five Americans), more than 35 million of whom are eligible voters (one-sixth of the electorate). According to a recent survey, 74 percent of likely voters have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. Voters are more likely to support candidates who prioritize ensuring that children with disabilities get the education and training they need to succeed as well expanding job and career opportunities for people with disabilities.
“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the chairman of RespectAbility.
Several candidates responded earlier during the campaign season to a disability issues questionnaire for Senate and gubernatorial candidates put out by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit national organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Candidates from both sides of the aisle completed the questionnaire, showing that disability rights is a bipartisan issue. The responses also are geographically-diverse, coming from states around the country, as politicians are paying more attention to the disability community. RespectAbility is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.
Others submitted proclamations for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to RespectAbility. This year, people with disabilities and employers have clear reason to celebrate. More than 343,000 Americans with disabilities got new jobs last year, a fourfold improvement in job gains compared to the previous year. Expanding employment opportunities is bipartisan, as both Democrats and Republicans are quick to recognize the abilities of what people with disabilities can accomplish.
“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said RespectAbility’s President, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”
Of those who responded to the national questionnaire or provided NDEAM proclamations, 20 candidates have worn their election. These include Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR), Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ), Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD), Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), Gov. David Ige (D-HI), Gov. Kay Ivey (R-AL), State Sen. Laura Kelly (D-KS), Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Businessman J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak (D-NV), Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) and Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA), all of whom won races for governor; Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who won their senate races.
Please follow the links in the tables below to read more about each of these candidates’ disability policies that affect 56 million Americans.
Also in New York, several candidates who responded to RespectAbility’s New York City candidate questionnaire won their races:
- Harvey Epstein, New York State Assembly District 74
- Richard Gottfried, New York State Assembly District 75
- Robert Jackson, New York State Senate District 31
- Jessica Ramos, New York State Senate District 13
- Andrew Gounardes, State Senate District 22 (note: results are not yet certified and his opponent has not conceded, waiting until all absentee ballots are counted)