Democrats are poised to take control of both of Virginia’s state legislative chambers on Tuesday, bringing the state under unified Democratic control for the first time in a quarter century.
The party needs to pick up three seats in the House of Delegates and two seats in the state Senate to take control of both chambers. Polling indicates that those margins are well within Democrats’ reach.
Democratic takeovers in both legislative chambers would have far-reaching implications for the state’s policies and politics. The party, which also controls the governor’s office, would have the chance to pursue a host of liberal priorities like an increase in the state’s minimum wage, laws protecting LGBTQ rights and abortion rights and tougher gun safety regulations.
It would also mark the culmination of Virginia’s yearslong transformation from a conservative state ― which once was the seat of the Confederacy ― to a progressive one that is not only reliably Democratic in presidential elections, but whose state politics are heavily influenced by a cohort of liberal Democrats that would have been unrecognizable even a decade ago.
“This could be a watershed election for Virginia,” said Quentin Kidd, director of the center for public policy at Christopher Newport University.
And don’t expect the Democrats in Virginia to be moderate quasi-Republicans. The state party has been winning its elections with candidates who are more progressive than the traditional Southern Democrats, touting policies like gun control.
“There will still be [Southern-style] Democrats in Virginia after November 5,” Kidd said, putting Gov. Ralph Northam (D) himself in that category. “But if Democrats win it will because of Democrats who are” more liberal. (more…)