While the battle between Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin rages on and poll numbers indicate the race might be tighter than expected for the blue state, Democrats in the state legislature are vying to protect at least a dozen incumbents who are at risk of being unseated in Tuesday’s election.
Some of the endangered legislators on the ballot barely won their districts in 2019, such as Delegate Nancy Guy, who squeaked by with about 40 votes. Democrats’ entire control of the House of Delegates may be at risk of following the same pattern that other post-presidential election legislative elections have: giving the party that doesn’t control the White House a boost.
With just 1o seats more than their Republican counterparts in the state House, Democrats are fighting tooth and nail to defend their legislative body’s strong shift to the left over the last two years to Virginia voters. Even Politico noted the significance of the legislative election “that will determine how much statewide power the party will yield and reveal voters’ satisfaction with the crush of progressive laws enacted in the last two years.”
Some of these laws include bumping up the minimum wage, enacting gun restrictions through red flag legislation and carrying bans, legalizing marijuana, cracking down on what they labeled “police brutality,” and, shortly after winning control of the state legislature in 2019, repealing the state’s mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour waiting period for abortions.
Virginia lawmakers, like many others, also took advantage of COVID-19 to justify looser voting laws that eliminate security measures such as voter ID from the state’s election processes and expand voting by mail to anyone.
State House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn said Democrats are using their recently passed leftist laws as a campaigning point to win over voters and insisted “the majority is safe.” But Republicans have noted that policies passed with the intention of appeasing the far left do not address the issues plaguing Virginia voters such as education and rising crime.
“What we’re about to see is a referendum on, ‘Is Virginia as far left as the Democrats acted?’” Garren Shipley, a spokesman for the House Republican caucus, told the Associated Press.
Vulnerable legislators are struggling to appease their voters by pointing to President Joe Biden, who won the state by 10 points last year, but it’s a strategy nearly doomed to fail after the president’s approval rating has drastically tanked.
If Virginia voters are truly fed up with how their state has been going for the last two years, they have the potential to give Republicans control of both the governor’s mansion and the House, only leaving a narrow Democrat majority in the state Senate.