I go back and forth between being mildly optimistic to mildly pessimistic to “who the hell knows” about Democrats’ chances of taking back the Virginia State Senate and/or House of Delegates (and also winning important local races, in places like Loudoun County, Prince William County, Fairfax County, etc.) this November.
On the optimistic side, we’ve got a *very* unpopular Republican “president” (in air quotes) in the White House and a Virginia electorate that’s been trending strongly in the “blue” (not in air quotes – heh) direction for several years now, certainly since 2017. And, as an added bonus, Republican policy positions are highly unpopular in Virginia, while Democratic policy positions are highly popular. We’ve also got some major issues *we* can run on – the Republicans’ rejection of ERA ratification, gun violence prevention legislation, clean energy legislation, etc, etc. Finally, as Del. Toscano pointed out yesterday, “the redistricting case looks like it’s going to be resolved in favor of the Democrats, which means that a lot of districts that were racially gerrymandered around Richmond and around the Hampton Roads area [would be winnable for Dems].” So that’s all positive stuff.
On the pessimistic side, right now we basically have our starting quarterback (Gov. Ralph Northam), backup quarterback (LG Justin Fairfax), and other backup quarterback (AG Mark Herring) all off the “field” indefinitely (e.g., can’t really campaign or raise money for Virginia Democrats following the February from hell), heading into the “playoffs” (to continue the sports metaphor)…er, elections this fall.
Finally, to get a feel for the crap Republicans are going to throw at us this year, check out the following audio of VA GOP Chair Jack Wilson on Trumpster radio this morning. Here’s a sampling from the VA GOP Chair (bolding added by me for emphasis):
“The Democrats don’t want to debate the issues, because they know that their issues are more aligned with folks in New York and California than they are with the mainstream of Virginia. You mentioned third-trimester abortions; infanticide; raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would kill Virginia businesses and the Virginia economy; trying to trounce all over second amendment rights. The Democrats don’t want to debate those issues, because they’re losing issues for them in Virginia. If they try them in California or New York they probably prevail on it, but Virginia isn’t there yet and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t become that way…
…The Vice President of the United States is coming to an event to support both the Republican Senate caucus as well as the Republican House caucus, a big event up in…a private residence, location to remain undisclosed for security reasons until people decide they want to go, but I believe it will be in the Northern Virginia area. It’s coming this Wednesday, March 27th. And again, the vice president will be there…and the vice president and the White House as well as the Republican National Committee know how important retaining the Virginia Senate and the Virginia House of Delegates will be this November. And so they’re doing what they can to assist. And obviously, having the vice president come into Virginia to help raise funds so that we can maintain those majorities just shows how much they see it’s important that we win this November.”
On the first paragraph, obviously the “infanticide” thing is completely false and basically insane – there’s not a *single* elected Democrat in Virginia, probably in the country, who supports “infanticide,” and I presume that Jack Wilson *knows* that and is just lying through his teeth regardless. Still, this is meant to rev up the hard-right Republican base, in an “off/odd-year” election in which turnout has historically been HORRIBLE (29.1% in 2015, 28.6% in 2011, 30.2% in 2007). So yeah, this November will be all about each party turning out its “base” voters – or failing to do so and losing – and the “infanticide”/”third-trimester” stuff is all about boosting turnout for Republicans. Let’s hope it backfires on them and ends up boosting OUR turnout, as I suspect it might.
As for the running against Democrats for wanting to raise the minimum wage to $15, good luck with that, given that something like three-quarters of Virginians SUPPORT raising the minimum wage. And on guns, again, good luck with that issue, given that large majorities of Virginians support things like universal background checks (84% overall; 76% of Republicans) and banning “assault-style weapons” (65% overall) and opposing allowing anyone who owns a gun legally to conceal-carry that gun without a permit (76% overall). So basically, those are all terrible issues for Virginia Republicans to run on…as long as Democratic voters turn out in significant numbers this November.
More concerning to is the fundraising from the White House and national Republicans. With Northam, Fairfax and Herring all on the “disabled list” for the indefinite future, we’re going to have to make up for potentially millions of $$$ they would have raised, while the Mike Pences of the world run around holding high-dollar fundraisers for Kirk Cox, Tommy Norment and their respective caucuses. Of course, Democrats can counter the loss of Northam/Fairfax/Herring, at least to a degree, with the help of folks like Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, our veteran and rookie U.S. House members, 2020 presidential candidates, national gun violence prevention and women’s reproductive rights groups, etc. Still, I’d expect this fall’s elections to be a real battle, with the possibility for anything from Democrats taking back both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly, to Republicans holding both (or even gaining seats), to anything in between. Let nobody on the “blue team” be surprised at any of this…