Ralph Northam ran a bland, unmotivated, and confused campaign without a trace of enthusiasm in the race for Virginia’s governorship. Who could have predicted the Democrat had such long coattails? Nobody.
While political analysts believed Northam would win Virginia’s governor race, they felt it would be a squeaker primed for a Republican upset. It was the Democrats’ race to lose, and the Republicans have to be very upset.
Ed Gillespie ran a very racist campaign that The Washington Post said, “has not been just a dog whistle to the intolerant, racially resentful parts of the Republican base; it’s been a mating call.” While racial animus and cultural grievances are strong among Republican voters, Democrats and Independents who outnumbered them on Tuesday were focused on conventional issues, like guns, healthcare, and the economy. The majority of people in the state favor keeping Confederate statues, but that turned out to be an issue of lesser concern to the voters.
While Gillespie didn’t speak of Trump or have him campaign on his behalf, he mimicked the Trump playbook. He ran ads in support of Confederate statues (and how Northam wants to take them down), Latino gangs, sanctuary cities (in a state that doesn’t have any), and accused his pediatrician opponent of supporting restoring gun rights to pedophiles.
Trump tweeted before the election how Gillespie was better for veterans than Northam, who is an actual veteran, and will turn around Virginia’s “poor economic performance,” where unemployment is under four percent. Seriously, does nobody ever give Trump Cliff Notes on anything?
After Luther Strange lost in the Republican primary for the vacated Alabama Senate, Trump deleted all his tweets endorsing the guy. Being on the other side of the planet didn’t stop him from throwing Gillespie under the bus either (you’re next, Jared). After the results came in, earlier than expected, Trump tweeted Gillespie failed because he, “did not embrace me or what I stand for.” While Virginians weren’t voting for or against Trump, they did vote against what Trump stands for which Gillespie fully embraced tighter than Don Jr. hugging a Russian lawyer with a briefcase full of dirt on Hillary.
In fact, Northam won by nine points, a larger margin than Clinton beat Trump in the state. Democrats ran wild Tuesday night sweeping all three statewide races, which was for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. They also knocked off several Republicans in the House of Delegates.
Democrats picked up at least 14 seats in the House, throwing out 11 incumbents and winning three open seats that were in GOP hands. A few seats will be recounted after which, control of the House may belong to the Democrats. They will hold every delegate seat in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William counties, and all but one in Loudoun County. Chris Hurst, a former television news anchor, whose girlfriend was fatally shot on live TV, ousted a Republican incumbent in Southwest Virginia.
Danica Roem will be Virginia’s first openly transgender person to hold elective office. In doing so, she ousted Bob Marshall, a thoroughly disgusting individual who has boasted he is the most homophobic person in Virginia, a title no one has ever challenged him for.
If they control the General Assembly, the Democrats will attempt to expand Medicare in Virginia and take the lead in redrawing Congressional districts in 2020.
While the GOP had the burden of Trump to deal with, the Republicans in New Jersey had the double whammy of Trump and Chris Christie, the least popular governor in the nation. It didn’t surprise anyone when the Democrats took that governor’s seat from Republicans.
Democrats have seemed rudderless, leaderless, and without ideas of late, but they gained significant momentum Tuesday night. They will now press forward to the 2018 midterms as they attempt to retake the U.S. House and Senate. They’ll need all the momentum they can muster as they’re defending more Senate seats than the GOP. If they can defeat Trumpism and a strong campaigner like Gillespie with a drab pediatrician with funky eyebrows, they may be able to win anywhere.
Republicans will have to figure out how to run away from Trump in swing states and districts as his popularity probably won’t improve within the next year. Do they mimic Gillespie’s losing campaign based on culture wars and white grievance, or do they run as far away from him as possible?
Maybe impeaching him would help.
Creative note: If you subscribe to the blog and receive an email for each new update, then I apologize for posting this before I added the cartoon and blog title. I’m sleepy.
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