Cross-posted to The Real Crystal Ball, the newest blog dedicated to tracking Virginia’s 2013 elections.
Demography is not destiny for Virginia Democrats. Short term increases in Virginia’s minority population will have only a minor impact on the state’s politics. Long term projections have focused on Virginia’s growing Hispanic and Asian-American populations, with little emphasis on Virginia’s large existing African-American community. Nationally, strong African-American support for President Obama and Democrats has been a linchpin for progressive victories. But it’s hard to look at Virginia and feel the same way. For now.
The current crop of black legislators in Richmond are disappointing, especially on the House of Delegates side. Jet-setting friend of the uranium industry Onzlee Ware, Republican gerrymander-defending Lionell Spruill, and Kenny Alexander, newly minted State Senator who’s vote can be bought with plum committee posts. And let’s not forget perhaps the worst offender, Rosalyn Dance, who openly considered backing the Republican gerrymandering of the State Senate following their takeover of the chamber on President Obama’s inauguration and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Now there’s a chance to get even and hold Dance responsible.
Dance is facing a strong primary threat from Evandra Thompson, who has secured the support of several prominent figures in the district. It’s already gotten ugly with complaints and accusations that only a political insider would care about.
Evandra Thompson faces an uphill battle, but her entire life story has been about succeeding against all odds. She’s a true American hero and a proud Democrat.
Rosalyn Dance has a history of working with Republicans. When she first ran for the House of Delegates in 2001, she ran as an Independent in the 63rd District against Democrat Fenton Bland with the open support of Republican Speaker Vance Wilkins. Her candidacy was a bid by the Republicans to strengthen their hold on the House. Bland went on to resign over criminal charges, allowing Dance to win the special election in 2005 as a Democrat. But you should never forget that Dance was first recruited by Republicans and encouraged to run by Republicans. In 2001, Dance only narrowly missed out in joining her Republican friends. She campaigned with the backing of Republicans like George Allen, Bob McDonnell, and a pro-school voucher front group called the Committee for Quality Education.
Progressive Democrats had to defeat corrupt, established but corrupt minority Democrats like Al Wynn in order to be taken seriously at the national level. In Virginia, progressive Democrats have tried and failed to defeat out of touch minority representatives like Algie Howell, who held onto his seat in 2011 despite the opposition of leading progressive groups like the Sierra Club and the VEA. That’s what could make this delegate’s race the most important one this year. Can progressive groups in Virginia show they have what it takes to win a Democratic primary and threaten other Democrats who openly side with Republicans on fundamental issues like education and voting?