The woman who lost her job after giving Donald Trump’s motorcade the middle finger in 2017 won a local government seat in Virginia in one of several major progressive wins for the state in the Tuesday elections.
Virginia also elected its first Muslim state senator and Democrats took control of both the state senate and house for the first time in more than two decades.
The viral photo of Juli Briskman giving the middle finger to Trump’s motorcade while riding a bike was a key part of her campaign to be on the county board of supervisors in the Virginia county that includes the Trump National Golf Club. Briskman will represent her district in Loudoun county, near Washington DC, after defeating the incumbent Republican.
Briskman lost her job as a government contractor after the photo went viral in 2017. She filed a wrongful-termination lawsuit, which was dismissed, but she successfully sued for severance.
“It was just sort of like, here I am on my bike. I’ve got nothing, right?” Briskman told the Guardian in November 2017. “This is pretty much the only thing I had to express my opinion. He wasn’t going to hear me through bullet-proof glass … So that was pretty much how I could say what I wanted to say, right?”
Also in Virginia on Tuesday, the first Muslim state senator was elected. Ghazala Hashmi, a Democrat, focused her campaign on improving education in the state to defeat the Republican incumbent. Hashmi said in a statement: “Thank you for all of you who, regardless of party, want to build a stronger, safer, and more equitable Commonwealth.”
Hashmi was also one of several candidates elected to state positions in Virginia who championed gun safety reform. The advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety said candidates who support stricter gun laws are now the majority in Virginia’s House and Senate, primarily because Democrats are now the majority in the state.
Virginia, which borders Washington DC, has traditionally been conservative – choosing Republican candidates in every presidential primary from 1968 to 2004, according to the Washington Post.
Overnight, Virginia’s Democrat governor, Ralph Northam, declared: “I’m here to officially declare today, November 5, 2019, that Virginia is officially blue.”