Democrats reclaim House and Senate
Late Tuesday night, Gov. Northam jubilantly declared Virginia “officially blue.” There’s no arguing with that. For the first time in 26 years — or when Doug Wilder was governor — Democrats pretty much control all there is to control across the Commonwealth: the House of Delegates, Senate, and all three statewide offices (governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general).
What started two years ago when the Democrats picked up 15 seats in the House to reduce the Republican advantage from 66-34 to 51-49 was completed Tuesday as the Democrats did well where they usually do — i.e., Northern Virginia, where they toppled the last remaining GOP delegate in Fairfax County (Tim Hugo) and all down the so-called “Golden Crescent” to the outskirts of Virginia Beach, where Republicans managed to hold a number of critical seats.
Democrats also furthered their penetration of the once GOP-solid Richmond suburbs. A key victory in the retaking of the Senate: Ghazala Hashmi, a former college professor, upended Sen. Tim Sturdevant in the 10th District south and west of Richmond.
All told, the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project gave Democrats two Senate seats, thus flipping the GOP’s 21-19 edge, and a 55-45 margin in the House. This is good news for Gov. Northam: With two years remaining in his term, he may be able to push through long-sought elements of the Democratic agenda — for instance, more restrictive gun laws and, perhaps, a higher minimum wage.
How did this all happen? Looking solely at the time frame of this onslaught, many, if not most, analysts attribute it to President Trump’s unpopularity in a state he lost in 2016. Others, though, maintain a more localized outlook, noting state Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion (eventually approved with GOP assistance) and a crucial redistricting setback in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision that resulted, for example, in the defeat of powerful House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones in a redrawn district.
Finally, Democrats outraised (largely from out of state) and outspent Republicans, who also refused, apparently, to raise social issues not even a year old — namely Mr. Northam’s “blackface” photo on his graduation page in his medical school yearbook, and accusations of sexual abuse leveled against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
In fact, the GOP’s only fighting words came following their humbling Tuesday night when House Leader Todd Gilbert from just up the Valley in Shenandoah County said, “Make no mistake: radical liberals from out of our Commonwealth will soon demand a return on the tens of millions they invested to elect a far-left Democratic majority.”
The rub is that the Democrats lamentably have the numbers to assure a return on that investment. For at least two years, that is.