2022 was certainly an eventful year in the world, country, and here in Virginia. For Virginia Democrats, it was a year during which the State Senate, with a narrow (21-19) Democratic majority – led by Dick Saslaw, Louise Lucas, Mamie Locke, etc. – served as a mostly (but not completely) effective “brick wall” against Glenn Youngkin’s right-wing policy ideas. As far as the midterm elections were concerned, there were no statewide races in 2022, and only two truly competitive U.S. House races (in VA02 between Democrat Elaine Luria and Republican Jen Kiggans, and in VA07 between Democrat Abigail Spanberger and Republican Yesli Vega), with Democrats narrowly losing one Congresswoman (Elaine Luria), but holding on otherwise.
A few other big news items in 2022 included (just a very short/quick/non-comprehensive list here):
- The sudden, unexpected, tragic death of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA04) on November 28, with Gov. Glenn Youngkin calling the special election for February 21, 2023, necessitating that Rs and Ds pick their nominees by December 23.
- The overwhelming nomination last week of State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D) for the vacant VA04 seat, with her victory in this solid-blue district highly likely in the February 21, 2023 special election against far-right-extremist Republican Leon Benjamin (also note that McClellan crushed her fellow State Senator, Joe Morrissey, in the Democratic “firehouse primary”).
- The victories in the 2022 midterms by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA07) and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA10), both of whom are in competitive districts; and the narrow loss by Rep Elaine Luria (D-VA02) to Republican Jen Kiggans.
- With Jen Kiggans’ unfortunate win over Rep. Elaine Luria in VA02 (in large part thanks to the disastrous redistricting amendment and failed redistricting commission – great job, everybody who supported that! LOL) and with Kiggans’ resignation from her State Senate seat, we now have a vacancy in the SD07 seat, with an election coming up on January 10, 2023 between pro-choice Democrat Aaron Rouse and hard-right/anti-reproductive-freedom-Republican Kevin Adams.
- Several months after Democratic election losses in November 2021 (including loss of the House of Delegates majority), there was a surprise shakeup in Virginia House of Delegates Democratic leadership, with Del. Don Scott being elected Minority Leader over former Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn.
- Glenn Youngkin really showed who and what he is – most certainly NOT a “moderate” or “normie Republican” or whatever the dumbasses in the media falsely claimed he was – by pushing a rightwing agenda on a wide variety of issue and by campaigning for a slew of extremist candidates like Yesli Vega (“celebrated her July 4th with a notable insurrectionist who attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021“), Jen Kiggans (wouldn’t say that Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 elections, literally running away from a reporter who asked her!), Hung Cao (After the January 6th insurrection, Hung Cao defended violent insurrectionists saying “these are my people, set them free”) in Virginia; Paul LePage in Maine (“met eight times with members of the sovereign citizen movement between January and September 2013″); Tudor Dixon in Michigan (“in a May 2022 debate, when asked ‘do you believe Donald Trump legitimately won the 2020 election in Michigan?,’ Dixon responded ‘Yes.’”), Derek Schmidt in Kansas (“brought Kansas into an unsuccessful lawsuit after the 2020 presidential election seeking to overturn the results in battleground states as Trump and other Republicans spread baseless claims of widespread voter fraud”), Heidi Ganahl in Colorado ( “refuses to denounce John Eastman, former CU professor and author of the fraudulent legal memo used to justify the Jan 6 plot), Tim Michels in Wisconsin (said “that illegally decertifying the 2020 presidential election will be ‘on the table’ if he becomes governor, and wouldn’t say whether he would certify the 2024 election”); Kari Lake in Arizona (“repeatedly pushed the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen – even going further casting doubt on the 2022 elections“); etc. Sensing a pattern here? Also note that Youngkin’s candidates lost most of these races, which doesn’t exactly do wonders for Youngkin’s claims to be some sort of Republican rising star.
- As DPVA Chair Susan Swecker put it, after she was reelected in March – “[Youngkin] signed executive orders causing chaos and confusion in our schools…he sought to tear us apart, he tried to intimidate teachers, heck he even bullied our own @ethanclynne on Twitter”
- On a related note, how about Youngkin’s horrendous appointments to his administration, such as: By Far, Glenn Youngkin’s Worst Cabinet Pick Yet: Trump’s Appallingly Bad, Anti-Environment EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler; Video: Virginia Senate Privileges & Elections Committee Votes to Kill Andrew Wheeler Nomination; Glenn Youngkin Tries *Really* Hard For an Even Worse Pick Than Andrew Wheeler. That’s Right: Faaar-Right Elizabeth Schultz for Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction!; “Bryan” Slater for Labor Secretary, Dr. Marty Makary to head up Youngkin’s medical advisory team; Audio: Gov. Youngkin’s New Appointee to the VA Board of Historic Resources Says Robert E. Lee Was a “Morally Fine Human Being”; “Secession Was NOT Treason”; the North’s “Invasion” of the South Was “just like we see Russia invading Ukraine”; UVA Students Rip Gov. Youngkin Pick of Bert Ellis to UVA Board of Visitors as “either negligent or willfully rewarding behavior that endangers students”; etc.
- We witnessed a major backlash to Youngkin’s anti-LGBTQ policies, including: Over 12,000 Virginia Students Walk Out Over Glenn Youngkin’s Hateful LGBTQIA+ Guidelines, ACLU of Virginia Explains, in Detail, Why It Opposes Youngkin’s Proposed “Model Policies” on the (Mis)Treatment of Transgender and Non-Binary Students; 10s of 1000s of comments – mostly against – Youngkin’s proposed anti-transgender-students policy; etc.
- We also saw significant backlash against Youngkin’s war on public education, including: Video: On The ReidOut, VA Sen. Louise Lucas Calls Youngkin Administration’s Proposed New History Standards “racist, historically and factually incorrect… and reflect explicit political bias”; Virginia NAACP Opposes Youngkin Administration’s History Curriculum Revisions, Calls Them “attempt to rewrite history to a narrower, whitewashed perspective”; Gov. Northam’s Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni, Rips Gov. Youngkin for “Lying,” “Spreading Misinformation,” “Beating Up on Public Education”; Former VA Sec. Education Atif Qarni Says Board of Education Has a Choice on Youngkin’s “whitewashed, false and inaccurate” History Education Standards; “Their reputations are on the line”; Audio: Gov. Northam’s Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni, Rips Youngkin Education Report as “Weird,” “Unethical,” “Political Stunt” Using “Cherry-Picked,” “Manufactured” Data
- Disgracefully, but not surprisingly, we saw Youngkin wage war on the environment and on clean energy, including: Youngkin’s Anti-Environment Air Pollution Control Board Votes to “imperiously shred standing law,” for “deliberate Trump-style chaos…aimed at a popular program like RGGI”; A Few Reactions to the Youngkin Administration’s Dishonest, Not-in-Good-Faith “Argument” for Why Virginia Supposedly Should Pull Out of RGGI; Superb op-ed by Del. @RipSullivan48 on Glenn Youngkin’s godawful, brain-dead energy “plan.”; Gov. Youngkin Cancels Gov. Northam’s Common Sense Plastic Reduction Plan via Executive Order;
- Perhaps not surprisingly, given how divisive Youngkin’s been – pandering almost exclusively to his Trumpist base – his net approval rating is the lowest, and his disapproval rating the highest, by FAR compared to his three predecessors at this point in their respective terms. And despite all that pandering to the far right, Youngkin’s been showing up at ZERO, or maybe 1%, in polls of 2024 Republican presidential preference. Pathetic.
- Right-wing AG Jason Miyares has also been really bad (not to mention a MASSIVE downgrade from superb AG Mark Herring). For just a few examples, see Virginia NAACP Demands Attorney General Jason Miyares Disband His “Elections Integrity” Unit; VA Senate Democrats Call Out AG Jason Miyares’s Waste, Lies; AG Jason Miyares Stiff-Arms FOIA Request by James Abrenio, Refuses to Supply Any Evidence to Support His Claim of Supposed Threats by Pro-Choice Activists to Disrupt Virginia Churches on Mother’s Day; Virginia Democrats Rip Far-Right AG Jason Miyares For “divisive parroting of fictional right-wing bot accounts,” “pushing right-wing propaganda,” Twisting the 1st Amendment, etc.; After Firing Tim Heaphy as UVA Counsel Back in January, AG Miyares Names as His Replacement Cliff Iler, Who Hosted “Remarkable Event” with Iran-Contra-Scandal Figure, Former NRA President Oliver North; Attorney General Miyares Breaks the Law…Again; etc.
- Then there’s far-right Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears: Donald Trump Says He’s “Never felt good about Winsome Sears” (Who Used to Chair “Black Americans Making America First”), Calls Her “Phony”; Audio: Virginia LG Winsome Sears, Who Was a HUGE Trump Supporter, Now Says “He bailed on US”; “I think it’s YOU who’s sanctimonious”; “I didn’t join the Trump Party, I joined the REPUBLICAN Party!”; Audio: VA LG Winsome Sears Says What Happened in Highland Park, IL Shows That “there are laws about how murder, murder, murder, murder, murder, murder and yet we have murders”; Video: On Abortion, Virginia LG Winsome Sears “the mother is not having a lizard, she’s having a human being” and “The blood running through the veins of the baby don’t [sic] belong to her, it’s not her blood”; VA Del. Candi King Rips LG Winsome Sears For Her “silence on the racist and dangerous comments of [ VA’s Chief Public Health Official] Colin Greene”; Video: Virginia Dems Say It’s “Utterly Disgusting,” “Shameful,” and an “Abomination” That LG Winsome Sears Is Speaking at the NRA Convention in Texas Just Days After the Mass Shooting in Uvalde; Audio: LG Winsome Sears Comments on SCOTUS Abortion Opinion, Says “All of a sudden we know what a woman is now?” and “the KKK could not be happier about so many Black women not having their babies”; etc.
- On a positive note, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine accomplished a GREAT deal of great things in 2022. For more detail on that, see Video: Sen. Tim Kaine Touts Long, Impressive List of 2022 Accomplishments, Calls for Additional Progress; Sen. Mark Warner Applauds Inclusion of Key Priorities in Draft of Annual Defense Bill; Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine Secure Nearly $135 Million for Virginia in Senate FY2023 Budget Bills; Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine Celebrate Passage of Inflation Reduction Act; Senators Warner, Kaine Celebrate Passage of PACT Act Bill to Expand Benefits for Toxic-Exposed Veterans; President Biden, Virginia’s Congressional Dems Celebrate Passage of “job-creating, cost-cutting, national-security-strengthening” CHIPS and Science Act; Video: Sen. Mark Warner Says Passage of “CHIPS” Bill a “Sputnik Moment” for USA; Favors “targeted [student loan] debt relief”; Says “having Medicare negotiate for drug prices is a huge deal”; etc.
- The January 6th House Select Committee had one Virginian – Rep. Elaine Luria – as a member, and another Virginian – former Rep. Denver Riggleman – working on the committee’s staff. On the former, see Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA02) “releases unseen video of depositions and exhibits showing Trump crossed out line in prepared remarks on 1/7 that he would call on DOJ to prosecute Capitol attack rioters”; Video: Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA02) Co-Leading the 1/6/21 House Committee Hearing at 8 pm Tonight; etc. On the latter, see Video: On CNN, Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA05) Talks About the “Horror” He Found in 1/6 Investigation; “QAnon and other conspiracy theories had inundated the Republican Party all the way up to the top levels”; Video: Former Rep. Riggleman (R-VA05) Says 1/6 Committee Could Produce “Hell of a Report,” Showing Insurrectionists “marching to the tune of one drummer…Donald Trump”; Video: Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA05) Says Attacks on Cassidy Hutchinson Like “The Godfather”; People Trying to Disparage Hutchinson’s Testimony “need to remember that ones and zeroes are pretty irrefutable”; etc.
- A few other noteworthy election results include: Democrat Catherine Read elected Fairfax City Mayor; Arlington County Board member Matt de Ferranti overwhelmingly reelected; Loudoun County School Board candidate Nick Gothard narrowly losing his election; Phillip Jones elected mayor of Newport News; etc.
- We’re starting to gear up for critical 2023 elections for Virginia General Assembly, with announcements by many candidates, including Danica Roem for State Senate, Elizabeth Guzman for State Senate, Sally Hudson for State Senate, Creigh Deeds for State Senate, Russet Perry for State Senate, Laura Jane Cohen for House of Delegates, Kellen Squire for House of Delegates, Amy Laufer for House of Delegates, Schuyler VanValkenburg for State Senate, Ben Litchfield for State Senate, Lashrecse Aird for State Senate, Jennifer Carroll Foy for State Senate, Hala Ayala for State Senate, Joshua Cole for Delegate, Zach Cummings for State Senate, Angelia Williams Graves for State Senate, Andria McClellan for State Senate, Adele McClure for House of Delegates, Makya Little for House of Delegates, and many others.
So what were you focused on regarding Virginia politics in 2022?