After a highly successful 2017 (swept the governor/LG/AG races, picked up a whopping 15 seats in the House of Delegates) and 2018 (Tim Kaine demolished Corey Stewart, Dems picked up VA-02, VA-07 and VA-10), Virginia Democrats have some important, unfinished business left to get done in 2019. Specifically, we need to pick up two seats in the House of Delegates and two seats in the State Senate to take control of both chambers. Is this doable? Based on how well Ralph Northam and Tim Kaine did in several Republican-held districts, I’d say “most definitely possible!” For more on which districts look shakiest for Virginia Republican incumbents heading into 2019, see Optimism for 2019: Tim Kaine Won 26/40 Virginia State Senate Districts, 61/100 House of Delegates Districts.
With that, let’s start with the State Senate and take a look, one at a time, at the most vulnerable Republican incumbents. #1 on the list is State Senator Glen Sturtevant (SD-10; Chesterfield County/Richmond City/Powhatan County – Kaine won with 60.4% of the vote, Northam won 57%-42%). How did this guy even get elected in the first place? It’s a long story, but basically it wasn’t a great year for Dems, and also the Senate Dems and Terry McAuliffe f’ed up big time, picking a terrible candidate to run, and generally making highly questionable tactical and strategic decisions in 2015. This time around, let’s see if we can do better with one of the Democrats running for the nomination – Eileen Bedell, Ghazla Hashmi or Connor Wood. O
Other than picking a strong nominee, the key is making it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR to SD-10 voters that Glen Sturtevant is hard right all the way, most certainly NOT – as some people erroneously/bizarrely seem to believe – some sort of “moderate Republican.” In fact, Sturtevant’s voting record is abysmal, and there was no sign in 2018 that he “moderated” in an way, even after the Democratic tidal wave of 2017. So clearly, this guy’s a right-wingnut true believe. Let’s go to the invaluable Project Vote Smart and see what I’m talking about.
- Sturtevant had an abysmal, godawful ZERO rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in 2018, indicating that he’s a diehard opponent of women’s reproductive health and freedom. For that reason alone, the guy needs to be outta there.
- But wait, there’s more! On guns, Sturtevant has received ratings of 96%, 93% and 80% the past three years from the even-more-extreme-than-the-NRA “Virginia Citizens Defense League” (VCDL). As for the NRA, Sturtevant was endorsed by that blood-on-its-hands group, and also received an “A” rating. ‘Nuff said.
- Oh, and Sturtevant also received a 100% rating from the hard-right “Middle Resolution” PAC.
- Just to add icing to Sturtevant’s rotten “cake,” he received a 94% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2017, and has received as low as a ZERO rating from the Virginia Sierra Club (in 2016). He’s also pathetic when it comes to labor, with a measly 21% AFL-CIO rating. In short, the guy’s about as hard-right as you can get.
- A couple key votes Sturtevant has taken give us more of an idea where he’s coming from, and why he BADLY needs to go: 1) voted to prohibit the establishment of “sanctuary cities” in Virginia, even though they don’t exist; and 2) he voted against the 2018 budget bill, including Medicaid expansion for hundreds of thousands of Virginians
In sum, Sturtevant is an abysmally bad, hard-right State Senator holding down a district that went 60% for Kaine and 57% for Northam. And no, Sturtevant’s calculated, cynical “support” for the ERA is absolutely NOT a sign that he’s “moderate” in any way; it’s just smart – albeit, again, VERY cynical – politics on his part, and something that no Democrat should fall for (or give him any cover on).
So, bottom line: if Democrats want to take back the State Senate in 2019, hard-right Glen Sturtevant is our #1 target. Let’s all keep our eye on the ball and don’t fall for whatever tricks Sturtevant tries to pull. And, of course, we’ll need to nominate a strong candidate and really focus on winning this district, which alone would get us to a 20-20 tie, where LG Justin Fairfax could break ties on many matters. Let’s do it!