With the multitude of primary elections, both Democratic and Republican, having been held this past week with an incredible mix of results, there may be a tendency to relax or to assume you can predict the outcome of the legislative session coming up in January. Beware of any feeling of complacency, however, because the general election in November will have tough contests in most every House and Senate district. The results of the general election will determine the course of Virginia for the next couple of years. We must work hard to ensure that candidates of our choosing are elected in November. As the old saying goes, “It is not over until it is over.”
The outcomes of the Democratic primaries brought some welcome news and will strengthen the House and Senate caucuses in the General Assembly. Congratulations to Karen Keys-Gamarra for her win in the seventh legislative district over three other challengers and to the many voters and helpers who elected her as the Democratic nominee. I am going to work hard to ensure that she is successful in November, and I am proud that she is the person who will succeed me.
There are many more retirements this year than usual, but the candidates coming forward will bring new energy and ideas to the legislature. For those who support term limits, there should be an assurance that term limits exist in Virginia — for the House of Delegates every two years and for the Senate every four years when voters can return the incumbent to office or elect someone to replace them. There was a natural evolution where senior members and others simply decided not to run again. My retirement after 44 years of service and that of Senators Janet Howell and Dick Saslaw remove the most senior members in the legislature. One political commentator estimated that more than 650 years of experience will be lost with the retirements and election losses this year. Mr. Jefferson believed in frequent elections for they represented “bloodless revolutions” that would bring new energy and ideas into the legislative process.
At the same time, elections can turn out incumbents for causes that are important to the electorate. Senator Chap Peterson had an explanation for his vote against banning assault weapons and some of his other votes, but his voters no longer agreed with him and voted him out of office. Senator Joe Morrissey’s conduct and behavior were so offensive to voters that they denied him the nomination for another term. Senator Amanda Chase who called herself “Trump in high heels” lost a Republican primary that would have given her a renomination to run for the State Senate.
Unfortunately the results of elections are not entirely predictable nor favorable to our perspective. The loss of Senator George Barker is a loss of one the most knowledgeable and hard-working members of the State Senate.
Keep working for democracy by supporting your candidate of choice. Always remember that it is not over until it is over!