Home Virginia Politics Top Virginia Political Stories of the Decade 2010-2019

Top Virginia Political Stories of the Decade 2010-2019

Democrats go from the dark, dark days of 2010 to...turning Virginia blue in 2017-2019.

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All kinds of craziness happened in Virginia politics during the decade 2010-2019. Have you already forgotten this stuff, given the deluge of new stuff happening? Did you just get involved with Virginia politics after Trump’s election in November 2016? Enjoy a short stroll down memory lane? If so, then check out the following…some of the top Virginia political stories of the past decade. As always, this list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, and I’m sure I forgot some stuff, so feel free to suggest additions. Other than that…enjoy – and celebrate how far Democrats have come since the dark, “Tea Party” days of 2010…

2010

  • Democrats lose three Congressmen: I mean, any year when a superb Congressman like Tom Perriello (D-VA05) is defeated by an utter loser/”stuffed shirt” like Republican Robert Hurt can’t be good. Throw in the loss of Rep. Rick Boucher in VA09 (to the climate-science-denying, far-right Republican Morgan Griffith) and the defeat of Rep. Glenn Nye (D-VA02) by Scott Rigell (R), and there’s really nothing good to say about the horrendous “Tea Party” election year of 2010. Miserable.
  • The Rise of Ken Cuccinelli and the Cuccinelli Follies: It’s almost endless, from his witchhunt against climate scientist Michael Mann to his crusade against the (originally Republican idea) “individual mandate” (a recent ruling by a Republican-appointed judge with a major conflict of interest notwithstanding) to his attempt to take us back to the pre-Civil War era in terms of “states rights” to laughable stuff like an uncovered “boob” on the state seal to….As I said, it’s almost endless, and most of it is deeply embarrassing for anyone who cares about Virginia’s reputation as a modern, forward-thinking, tolerant, inclusive southern state in the year 2010.
  • Bob McDonnell follies: Even before Bob McDonnell (aka, “Pat Robertson’s Manchurian Candidate”) is sworn in as governor, there was a controversy over his selection of Robert Sledd – despite massive conflicts of interest due his serving on the  boards of major corporations – for Secretary of Commerce and Trade. It went downhill from there, as McDonnell “balanced the budget” on the back of the Virginia Retirement System and federal “stimulus” money (which Republicans like McDonnell hypocritically claim to hate); employing the usual funny Republican math in the process. Don’t even ask about ABC Privatization, just grab a stiff drink! McDonnell also declared April as Confederate History Month, then was forced to quickly backtrack after a national uproar. His government “reform” commission, led by corrupt Nixon “Jew counter” Fred Malek, was a debacle, as predicted. His always-mythical plans for offshore oil drilling revenues to finance transportation went glub glub glub. Then, there was McDonnell’s disastrous Confederate History Month proclamation, which he later recovered from to some degree, but…wow, can we say “not ready for prime time?”

2011

  • The first election after the 2010 census and redistricting/gerrymandering is not fun at all. As if losing two State Senate seats (and control of the Senate, despite pro-Democratic gerrymandering) wasn’t bad enough, Democrats also get their butts handed to them in the Virginia House of Delegates, falling from 39 to 32 seats.
  • Among the Democrats losing their seats in 2011 were: House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong (despite spending more than $1 million on the race); long-time Senate Democratic incumbents Edd Houck and Roscoe Reynolds.
  • One of the Republicans elected is extremist, bigot, and all-around nutjob Dick Black to the State Senate. Another was neo-Confederate Corey Stewart, to another term as Prince William County Board Chair.
  • In Loudoun County, Democrats are completely wiped out, with Republicans winning *all nine* seats on the County Board. Looking back on this now, following the 11/5/19 elections…wow, what a difference eight years – and much, much higher Democratic turnout AND an anti-Trump backlash – makes, huh?

2012

  • Barack Obama once again carries Virginia in the presidential election, this time by four points (51.2%-47.3%).
  • Tim Kaine is elected to the U.S. Senate by a 53%-47% margin over George “Felix Macacawitz” Allen, replacing Jim Webb, who had announced he was leaving after one term.
  • Unfortunately, Virginia Democrats aren’t able to win back any U.S. House of Representatives seats. In VA02, Republican Scott Rigell beats Democrat Paul Hirschbiel 54%-46%. In VA05, Republican Robert Hurt defeats Democrat John Douglass 55%-43%. In VA07, Republican Eric Cantor defeats Democrat Wayne Powell 58%-41%. And in VA10, Republican Frank Wolf defeats Democrat Kristin Cabral 58%-39%. Not fun.
  • Brian Moran announces his resignation as DPVA Chairman, with Charniele Herring coming in as the next chair.
  • Del. Dave Albo (R) thinks that having the government force women to undergo mandatory “transvaginal ultrasounds” is a big joke, as he takes to the House floor to describe how his wife spurned his advances after seeing a story about the Virginia GOP’s efforts to mandate transvaginal ultrasounds.
  • See here for video and an account of “The First Skirmish in the War on Women – in Capitol Square, Richmond, Virginia March 3, 2012” – “31 women and men had been arrested while sitting on the steps of the capitol” to protest the “Republican War on Women.”
  • Gov. Bob McDonnell signs the Virginia mandatory ultrasound bill into law on March 7, 2012.

2013

  • The year of the Republican “extreme team,” which you’d think would be easy to defeat – because it was so out of the mainstream, because of the 16-day federal government shutdown, and because the Terry McAuliffe campaign outspent Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign by an enormous $17 million, nearly 2:1 – but is actually very difficult to defeat. Of course, there were also the struggles of the ACA website, healthcare.gov, which the Republicans pounded on relentlessly in the closing days of the campaign, and almost certainly helped them close the gap and almost win…
  • Virginia’s Beverly Hillbillies: Governor and Mrs. Rolex“: “Ruin for a Rolex? If that is what Governor McDonnell wants, then he is surely on the path to receive it.”
  • Gov. McDonnell says he’s “deeply sorry for the embarrassment…I brought upon my beloved Virginia.” Meanwhile, note that AG Ken Cuccinelli was buddies with the same slimeball, Jonnie Williams, as Bob McDonnell was. In addition, as Terry McAuliffe points out in a debate Cuccinelli “had a fiduciary duty to the people of Virginia to prosecute the tax claim against Star Scientific,” yet “at a time when [Cuccinelli] should have been taking them to court, they were taking [Cuccinelli] to New York City on their private jet.”
  • In the end, fortunately, Democrats sweep the three statewide offices – McAuliffe defeating Cuccinelli 47.7%-45.2%; Ralph Northam defeating EW Jackson 55.1%-44.5%; and Mark Herring, who won a tougher-than-expected primary over Justin Fairfax in June, going on to narrowly defeat (49.88%-49.87%) Mark Obenshain for AG after a recount.
  • The main disappointment of 2013? The Virginia House of Delegates, where Democrats had hoped to pick up as many as ten seats, just a week or two before the election. In the end, Democrats net just one seat, losing many races by very narrow margins (e.g., Democrat Kathleen Murphy loses to Republican Barbara Comstock 14,962-14,540; Democrat Jennifer Boysko loses to Republican Tom Rust 10,410-10,378; Democrat John Bell loses to Republican David Ramadan 10,274-10,087).

2014

  • In a June GOP primary, Tea Party challenger Dave Brat topples House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in one of the biggest upsets in Virginia history.
  • Gov. McAuliffe tells former State Sen. Phil Puckett (D) to “rot in hell…buddy,” after “Benedict Puckett” cuts a deal to quit and throw the State Senate to Republican control.
  • Virginia Republicans Ram through Unconstitutional Redistricting Bill on Party-Line Vote
  • Medicaid expansion does NOT happen, despite Gov. McAuliffe’s vows to get it done, thanks to Republicans and also to “Benedict Puckett” (see above).
  • The election in which Republican Ed Gillespie almost defeated Sen. Mark Warner, with Gillespie losing by just 0.81 percentage points, and with a Libertarian candidate (Robert Sarvis) getting 2.43% of the vote. This, after polls showed Warner leading Gillespie by an average of 9.7 points. Too close for comfort, no doubt.
  • Republican Barbara Comstock demolishes (57%-40%) Democrat John Foust in the VA-10 race to succeed long-time Rep. Frank Wolf, who was retiring. Clearly, VA-10 hadn’t turned “blue” yet…
  • Jennifer Wexton, who is now in Congress, is elected to the State Senate in a special election to replace Mark Herring.
  • After John Vihstadt (lifelong-R-turned-I) is elected to the County Board (over Democrat Alan Howze), Arlington  abandons the streetcar project.
  • Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA08) retires, with a huge field of Democrats running to replace him. In the end, former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer wins easily, followed by Del. Patrick Hope and State Sen. Adam Ebbin.

2015

  • Virginia Republicans hold the State Senate, despite a huge effort – and enormous cash infusion – by Democrats.
  • House of Delegates Democrats, despite having minimal resources, manage to pick up a seat (getting them to 34 out of 100).
  • Virginia Republicans continue their refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • Battle over state Supreme Court nominee Jane Roush. This one got super nasty, with utterly absurd charges of sexism and racism being thrown around. To the contrary, this was 100% about power, specifically a Republican power play to try and show Gov. McAuliffe who’s boss in Virginia – Republicans planning to boot Roush off the court and install their own pick.
  • Jim Webb tries, fails, in his run for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
  • Democrats regain some of their mojo in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. In Loudoun County, Democrats go from zero seats on the County Board to actually having the Chair of the Board (Phyllis Randall) as well as Koran Saines (who knocks off rabid homophobic nutjob Eugene Delgaudio).
  • 2016 presidential candidates start to gear up, organize for Virginia’s March 1 primary.
  • Dominion Power continues to corrupt Virginia government, get (almost) whatever it wants.
  • Battle over Dominion’s proposed natural gas pipelines, with Gov. McAuliffe basically acting as Dominion’s one-man PR firm.
  • Serious ethics reform gets nowhere.

2016

  • Hillary Clinton defeats Donald Trump in Virginia by over 5 points (49.8%-44.4%), so America certainly can’t blame us for the Trump disaster.
  • Other than that, it’s mostly bad news, including for U.S. House, where Democrats end up with just four seats out of 11 (Bobby Scott in VA-03, Donald McEachin in VA-04, Don Beyer in VA-08, Gerry Connolly in VA-11).
  • Perhaps the most frustrating U.S. House race is in VA-10, where Democrat LuAnn Bennett lost to Rep. Barbara Comstock (53%-47%), despite Hillary Clinton winning VA-10 by ten points. Ugh.
  • Also frustrating are the results in VA-02 (Republican Scott Taylor trounced Democrat Shaun Brown…yes, the same Shaun Brown who ended up embroiled in “Petitiongate” in 2018); VA-05 (Republican Tom Garrett crushed Democrat Jane Dittmar); and VA-07 (Republican Dave Brat beat Democrat Eileen Bedell by 15 points).
  • On March 1, Hillary Clinton easily defeats (by a 64%-35% margin) Bernie Sanders in the Virginia Democrat primary.
  • The 2016 Virginia General Assembly session is godawful on energy/environment and just about every other issue. That’s what happens, of course, when Republicans are in charge.
  • At least one good thing happens, with Gov. McAuliffe’s announcement that he would be restoring voting rights to 200,000 Virginia ex-felons.

2017

  • Tom Perriello surprisingly announces on January 4 that he’s running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against Ralph Northam.
  • Perriello goes on to wage a competitive primary campaign against Northam, but in the end loses 56%-44%.
  • In November, Democrats sweep the statewide races for governor (by 9 points), Lt. Governor (by 6 points) and Attorney General (by 7 points), in part due to a sharp increase in Democratic turnout compared to usual gubernatorial elections in Virginia. Thank you, Donald Trump?
  • Also in November, Democrats pick up a stunning 15 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates, with numerous longstanding Republican incumbents going down to defeat.
  • The era of corrupt, right-wing Virginia House Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell (R), who served as Speaker for 15 years, finally – mercifully – comes to an end.
  • Democrats/activists step up in droves (to run for office, door knock, phone bank, you name it) following Trump’s election.
  • The year of the woman in Virginia’s House of Delegates
  • The battle over the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline rages.
  • Chaos in Charlottesville during and after the white supremacist rally on August 11-12.
  • Faaaar-right, Roy Moore-loving Corey Stewart nearly upsets Ed Gillespie in the VA GOP gubernatorial primary, demonstrating the strength of the extremist, neo-Confederate right in Virginia.
  • Justin Fairfax elected as the second African-American Lt. Governor in Virginia history; is seen as a rising star in Virginia politics.
  • The power of a single vote is demonstrated in Virginia this year, with the House of Delegates contest in HD-94 (Newport News) tied – yes tied – and with control of the Virginia House of Delegates determined by the drawing of a name (The Republican, unfortunately) from a ceramic bowl.

2018

  • Sen. Tim Kaine crushes neo-Confederate Corey Stewart 57%-41% in his reelection campaign.
  • Democrats pick up three U.S. House seats (VA-02, VA-07, VA-10) and take a 7-4 advantage in House delegation starting in January 2019.
  • Virginia Democratic women romp in primaries yet again (just as they did in 2017). Great campaigns by Elaine Luria (VA-02), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10).
  • Continued strong opposition to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipeline, including tree sits by “Red” Terry, “Nutty,” etc.
  • Medicaid expansion finally, at long last, passes the Virginia General Assembly and is signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam.
  • “Petitiongate” in VA-02 ensares Rep. Scott Taylor (R) in a web of his own – or at least his own staff’s – making, with Taylor ending up losing his reelection bid to Democrat Elaine Luria.
  • AG Mark Herring announces in an exclusive Blue Virginia interview that he will no longer “accept contributions from state-regulated monopolies or their registered lobbyists or key executives.”
  • The Virginia GOP in disarray on many levels, including the resignation of its chair, John “Anti-Semitic ‘Joke’ Dude” Whitbeck.
  • Virginia House Democrats elect a new leader (Del. Eileen Filler-Corn) after David Toscano announces he’d be stepping down at the end of 2018.
  • Amazon HQ2 announces it’s coming to Virginia.
  • AG Mark Herring announces his intention to run for Governor in 2021.
  • The “Dominion Bill” boondoggle passes the General Assembly, highlighting basically everything that’s wrong with the “Virginia Way.”
  • General Assembly Republicans (mostly men) kill ERA ratification, for no good reason of course (and a LOT of crazy/bad “reasons”).

2019

  • In the Nov. 5 general election, Democrats take back the State Senate and House of Delegates
  • On the flip side…no more Speaker Kirk Cox or Majority Leader Tommy Norment.
  • Democrats also make significant gains in local elections in key counties, particularly Loudoun County and Prince William County – Democrats are now the majority on both county boards.
  • Trifecta of scandals (“blackface” involving Gov. Ralph Northam and AG Mark Herring), sexual assault allegations against LG Justin Fairfax) hit statewide Democrats in February 2019.
  • The “Kathy Tran bill” on late-term abortions.
  • Gov. Northam’s “the infant would be kept comfortable” comments on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor”
  • Del. Nick Freitas (R-HD30) screws up his paperwork, fails to get on the ballot, runs as a write-in candidate, wins anyway.
  • Virginia Democratic women do great yet again.
  • The year of the Commonwealth’s Attorney
  • After a mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Gov. Northam calls a special session on gun violence…which Republicans short-circuit in a few hours.
  • Second Amendment Sanctuaries
  • More than ever in its history, Dominion Energy faces serious political challenges.
  • Virginia House Democrats elect their leadership team, including historic firsts – Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, Majority Leader Charniele Herring, etc.
  • 2020 Democratic presidential candidates come to Virginia, 14 make the March 3, 2020 primary ballot