The Washington Post’s Sept. 15 article, It’s on: VA. Voters flip switch for ‘off-off-year” elections, well captured the enthusiasm among Democrats in this year’s Virginia election. But the article overlooked how Democrats in this state have approached campaigning and governing since 2016 which will positively influence this year’s races. Virginia will provide a roadmap for current Presidential candidates and other states to win in 2020.
Beyond turn-out and hatred for Donald Trump, Virginia Democrats have worked with Republicans and other progressives on issues important to voters and rallied to support candidates who won their primaries. In 2017, Tom Perriello lost the primary for the Governor but still pledged to elect Ralph Northam.
One of Northam’s first accomplishments as governor was to work with Republicans to expand Medicaid, which has enrolled 300,000 low-income Virginians. On gun safety, practical solutions moved forward by Del. Kathleen Murphy when in 2016 she helped pass a law, which prohibits people under a permanent protective order from possessing a firearm. Murphy accomplished this in a Republican-controlled legislature and didn’t resort to dirty tactics such as when Republicans abruptly cut short a special session to pass gun legislation to quash debate.
Virginia Democrats are not perfect but bipartisan work and the party’s cohesiveness helped them win big in 2018 despite gerrymandered districts. Let us hope other candidates learn valuable lessons from Virginia’s election this November.