Thursday, November 05, 2015

Mixed Election Results In Virginia Actually Offer Some Hope For 2016


The headlines were that the Democrats didn't win back the Virginia state Senate. They needed a net of 1 vote to give Gov. Terry McAuliffe a working majority. In the House, though, the GOP's gigantic advantage was narrowed down-- to the point where they have lost their veto-proof majority-- with Democrats picking up 2 Northern Virginia seats where Republicans Tom Rust and David Ramadan retired
Having one chamber on McAuliffe’s side could have, at least in theory, led to the sort of bipartisan deal-making that allowed then-Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) to pull off a record tax hike in 2004. But Warner could appeal to a host of moderate Senate Republicans and a more closely divided House. McAuliffe faces a more conservative Senate Republican caucus and a House with a wide GOP majority.

...The two most hotly contested races were for seats being vacated by two of the Senate’s last moderates, both of whom are retiring: Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William) and Sen. John C. Watkins (R-Powhatan).

Democrat Jeremy McPike, a volunteer firefighter, beat Manassas Mayor Harry J. “Hal” Parrish II (R) for Colgan’s seat. According to unofficial results Tuesday night, Republican Sturtevant, a school board member, defeated Democrat Gecker, a Chesterfield County supervisor, for Watkins’s seat.

Now, remember that Donald Trump has never run for anything. But People for the American Way focused on one of the essential races in Virginia and made him an issue with an ad they ran (above) on 4 Spanish-language radio stations-- WKDV-AM, WDCN-FM, WTNT-AM, and WBQH-AM. The two weeks of airtime in Northern Virginia was key to electing progressive Democrat Jeremy Pike to the state Senate (SD-29) over the crazy right-wing, anti-Choice mayor of Manassas, Harry Parrish (AKA- "Hal") who campaigned against Obamacare and against gun safety efforts.

People for the American Way's work was meant to help register Latinos to vote, not just for Pike but in preparation for the 2016 elections as well and they felt Trump's racism and xenophobia would be a boost among Americans who are revolted how he has dragged the GOP into the ugly divisiveness that is at the center of his brand. As Heidi Przybyla wrote in USA Today, "The first signs of a major U.S. Latino voter mobilization are forming, and it’s Republicans turbocharging an effort likely to help Hillary Clinton... The primary force behind the efforts is rhetoric by some leading Republicans, especially real estate billionaire Donald Trump, who’s called undocumented immigrants rapists and wants to build a border wall. 'Don’t get mad, register, that’s the rallying cry,' said Peña, a former Energy secretary under President Bill Clinton and Denver mayor."
Hispanic Republicans have long warned that their party's recent rhetoric would be Clinton's greatest mobilization tool. Now the evidence is coming in, said Mario Lopez, a Republican and president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund. An ad sponsored by an outside group, People for the American Way, airs on Spanish-language radio programs in Virginia, urging Hispanics to vote to "shut Trump's big mouth."

Democrats, and Republicans such as Lopez, compare Trump to Pete Wilson, the former California governor whose 1994 ballot initiative to prohibit undocumented immigrants from using public services helped turn a purple state into a reliably blue one.

"This is what we’ve been warning Republicans about, that rhetoric, tone and policy positions matter on these issues," Lopez said.

...The challenge for Democrats is drawing enthusiasm among Latinos for their policies, particularly given a record level of deportations under Obama, said Frank Sharry, director of America's Voice, a pro-immigration group. "Do Democrats have a positive message, or is it all anti-Republican fervor?" he said. Clinton has called Obama’s policies "harsh" and pledged to go beyond his 2014 executive orders to protect certain undocumented workers from deportation.

Republicans remain her most effective mobilization tool, said Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., the House's highest-ranking Latino and chair of the House Democratic Caucus. "It’s coming from that other part of the brain that makes you have the adrenaline rush when you know you have to run from someone," said Becerra, a Clinton supporter, of how Latino voters are likely to respond to GOP rhetoric. "It’s the fight-or-flight thing."

The necessity of appealing to Latinos has become more pronounced since the last presidential election when Mitt Romney won 27% of the Latino vote. According to the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think-tank, Republicans would need to attract even more Latino support than they did in 2004, when George W. Bush carried 44% of Hispanics nationally, to win key swing states such as Ohio, given demographic changes.

That could be difficult, particularly if the nominee is Trump, whose favorability rating among Latinos is  11%, according to a recent AP/GFK poll.
Helping elect Pike wasn't the only good news PFAW had before they went to sleep Tuesday night. Lunatic fringe Republican Eugene Delgaudio, whose life his built around his obsession with anti-gay psychosis, was defeated in his reelection bid. He had made his mark as a county supervisor with crackpot statements claiming the "homosexual lobby" wants to make it legal to "rape and murder young boys" and has warned that allowing LGBT people to adopt would lead to gay men "skipping down to adoption centers to pick out a little boy for themselves." He also referred to his county’s growing Latino immigrant population as "hordes" that are exacting "a greater and greater toll."

All the Virginia results from Tuesday are here on the state Department of Election website.

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