by Alexsis Rodgers
Delegate David Toscano recently announced he will step down as Leader of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus. As President of the Virginia Young Democrats, I want to thank him for his leadership for the past seven years and for all he’s done to represent the best interests of young people across the Commonwealth. Since the current House Democratic Caucus Chair is among those interested in the job, Tocano’s decision to resign creates an opportunity for House Democrats to make history and select a millennial for their next Leader or Caucus Chair.
Young voters consistently support Democratic candidates at significantly higher rates than any other generational voting bloc. Voter turnout in 2018 was up by 10% in millennial precincts and overwhelming favored Democrats at 83%, according to a VPAP analysis. In contrast, Democratic performance in precincts with high concentrations of older voters dropped to 44%. In Virginia last year, young voter turnout surged and 18-29 year old voters delivered Governor Northam’s margin of victory. We also elected the most diverse Virginia General Assembly in our Commonwealth’s history, including ten millennials.
The Virginia House Democratic Caucus should tap into young voters’ momentum by elevating a millennial delegate to the Caucus Leader or Caucus Chair post. Using the born in 1981-1996 definition, the Democratic House millennials are: Delegates Lashrecse Aird, Jennifer Carroll Foy, Lee Carter, Kelly Convirs-Fowler, Chris Hurst, Mike Mullin, Jay Jones, Sam Rasoul, Danica Roem, and Schuyler VanValkenburg.
The top caucus leadership positions require effective legislative skills and political clout. Both the Caucus Leader and Caucus Chair are key to negotiating policy solutions on behalf of all Virginians. Outside of session, they must be laser-focused on paving the way to a Democratic majority in 2019. Our Democratic millennial delegates bring a wealth of talent and experience to the table that would be put to good use in either caucus leadership role.
Our Democratic millennial delegates have already defied the odds by getting elected – often in competitive primaries. Most of our millennial delegates do not represent a college campus – or even a majority-millennial district. They earned their seat by bringing together diverse communities and presenting progressive policy solutions for their constituents. At the same time, they are using their platform to inspire young Virginians and to add their perspectives to pressing young voter issues like paid family leave, reproductive healthcare access and student loan debt.
Transgenerational leadership will ensure that Democrats continue to win electorally and deliver results legislatively for decades to come. While we must continue to build upon the legacy of ranking public servants, we should also begin promoting younger leaders within the Democratic Caucus. Our millennial electeds should be pushing to earn these leadership posts, and our older elected officials should be inviting them to the table. I urge our 49 House Democrats to name a millennial as Caucus Leader or Caucus Chair in their leadership election on December 8.