This column is being written before the results of Tuesday’s Democratic primary elections are known. With a crowded field of candidates running for several offices, there are bound to be some surprises: Democrats are looking for electable candidates that can help them keep their hold on statewide offices and the General Assembly, and Republicans are hoping that the candidates they recently chose through a modified convention process can give them an opening that will allow them to stop and/or reverse Democratic reforms. Regardless of the primary outcomes, there are certain to be hotly contested, well-financed general elections on Nov. 2.
The issues in the fall elections can be anticipated. We have heard them throughout the spring leading up to the candidate selection processes. Democrats who now control the statewide offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general and majorities in both the House of Delegates and Senate have been speaking with pride and some would say gloating over the reforms that occurred during the transformative 2020 and 2021 sessions and special sessions. Broadly these issues are ending discrimination in all forms including repeal of leftover Jim Crow laws, passing the most progressive election laws in the country, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment, repealing laws that created barriers for women’s reproductive health, repealing the death penalty, and enhancing public safety with common sense gun legislation and a redefinition of the role of police.
I have been honored to be a part of the legislative work that brought about these changes as I know other members of the majority party have been. I am aware, however, that these issues will be defined differently by the opposition. Anti-discrimination laws will be opposed by some who do not want the laws to apply to immigrants or persons who love someone other than someone they would approve of. The new election laws will be said to be open to fraud and to stolen elections. The ERA will be termed unneeded and counter to our culture as a nation. Reproductive health laws will be called baby killing and worse. Repealing the death penalty will be used as an example of the state getting soft on crime. Redefining police work to strengthen public safety will be called defunding police of which I am not aware of anyone in Virginia proposing. The gun safety laws will be called the first step to gun confiscation, again something I am not aware of anyone in Virginia proposing.
Fortunately, voters have become aware over the years that these arguments have been used for a party to regain power or to stay in power. The repeated social media and television ads will try to drive home the point, but I believe that the voters have been more sophisticated than falling for fear tactics. Democrats will be running grassroots campaigns to counter the misinformation and paranoia.
Why do I write with such certainty as to what will be happening this election year? I only need to look at what is happening in Georgia and Texas to see the playbook of the opposition. My message from what I am seeing there is to ask voters that we don’t Texas Virginia!