Sunday, January 01, 2017

Most Democrats Want A Return Of The 50 State Strategy— A Test In Virginia In Just Over A Week


Ryant Washington

A few weeks after the Trump/Putin win, we talked about the special elections coming up in Virginia in January. It’s January. One of the three races is extremely hard— and extremely important. If the Democrat, Ryant Washington, wins, the GOP will be in no position to continue gerrymandering the state’s legislative and congressional districts regardless of who wins this year’s gubernatorial election. The 22nd senatorial district encompasses part of Lynchburg and all of Amherst, Fluvanna, Goochland, Prince Edward, Appomattox, Buckingham and Cumberland counties and a small sliver of Louisa County. It's very red. In 2014 Gillespie beat Warner 57-40% and in 2013 Cuccinelli beat McAuliffe 54-38%. Romney beat Obama 56-44%. State Senator Thomas Garrett beat Jane Dittmar for the open congressional seat 58.3% to 41.7%, Robert Hurt having decided to retire. Conventional wisdom predicts that the state Senate seat is probably a GOP hold.

The state Senate is split 20-19 GOP but if Washington wins, it will be a 20/20 tie, giving the Democratic Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam, a chance to break any ties. Blue Virginia is pumping heavily for Washington and last week lowekell reminded his readers that “Democrats have four things going for us here that could potentially result in an upset win.”
First, Ryant Washington is a very popular longtime Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff of Fluvanna County, a former Virginia State Trooper, and Past President of the Virginia Sheriff’s Association. All of which means that he’s well known in the district and also, by all accounts I’ve heard, very well liked and respected, even by Republicans.

Second, Washington has not one but TWO right-wing opponents: Lynchburg-based Republican Mark Peake and Farmville-based “Independent Conservative” (make that VERY conservative) businessman Joe Hines. This introduces potentially very interesting dynamics into the race, both in terms of the potential for these two conservative candidates to split the Republican vote, and also for some interesting geographic splits to develop.

Third, this is a special election, which means that turnout will likely be low and also heavily dependent on how good each campaign’s field/Get Out the Vote (GOTV) operation is. From what I hear, Democrats are very well organized on the ground and in terms of GOTV operations, which could bode well for January 10. As Democratic Party of Virginia Executive Director Rebecca Slutzky puts it:
We are very excited about our nominee Ryant Washington.  While traditionally this might look like a difficult district for us, Ryant’s law enforcement credentials and years of community leadership make him a perfect fit for the constituents of SD 22.  We are very proud of the ground game we have built here in VA. This election gives Democrats the opportunity to flip the senate if we show up big on Jan 10th.

Last but not least, the final variable is how motivated Democrats are relative to Republicans.To what extent, for instance, has Donald Trump gotten Democrats riled up, just as George W. Bush’s unpopularity – plus the disastrous war in Iraq, the Hurricane Katrina fiasco/tragedy, etc. – helped Democrats go on a massive winning streak from 2005 to 2008? Yes, it’s still very early, with Trump not even taking the oath of office yet, and yes he’s still in the “honeymoon” phase, but if Democrats focus on this race and what it could mean both substantively (Dems taking back the State Senate) and in terms of “message” (Dems telling Trump where to shove it), good things – from a Dem perspective – could certainly happen.

I mean, imagine the headlines the day after this special election if Washington wins: something along the lines of “Virginia Democrats Send Trump a Message, Win Special Election and Take Back State Senate.” Or maybe “Sign of ‘Blue Wave’ to Come? Fired-Up Democrats Take Back Virginia State Senate.” How do those headlines sound to you?

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At 4:13 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

These headlines sound wonderful. Fingers crossed.

At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wish I could vote there!


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