Not every General Assembly race has been decided, according to the data displayed by the Virginia Public Access Project, but enough votes are in to conclude that the Democrats won the election. They retained their control of the state Senate and won a narrow majority in the House. Some preliminary observations:
Bye, Bye White House. Governor Glenn Youngkin can stop entertaining fantasies about running for president. Give him credit for fighting hard to win GOP control of the state legislature. But he failed. He has not cracked the code on how to turn blue states red, and, therefore, he does not create a viable alternative to Donald Trump in the GOP presidential nomination contest.
Abortion, abortion, abortion. Youngkin staked his effort to retake the General Assembly largely on a platform of banning abortion after 15 weeks (with exceptions for rape and incest). It was a more moderate plank than what we’ve seen in other red states, but it was not what most Virginians wanted. The Virginia GOP needs to decide which is more important: abortion or… taxes, government spending, jobs, crime, parental rights, public-sector unions, salvaging K-12, reforming higher- ed, and every other issue they could make progress on if Democrats didn’t have the abortion issue to beat them with.
Speaking of running on abortion… Admittedly, it’s hard to know if the electorate really opposes Younkin’s 15-week abortion platform or it opposes an imagined total ban on abortion. From my vantage point in Henrico County, Democratic candidate ads and mailers were all abortion all the time, fanning fears that Republicans would end abortion outright.
Speaking personally, I’m fine with the abortion status quo in Virginia. I don’t see the need to make restrictions any tighter, and I don’t support making them any looser. It’s one of the very few issues where I’m more aligned with Democrats than Republicans. But I’m not blind. I can see how cynically Democrats distorted Youngkin’s plank. Banning abortion after 15 weeks with exceptions for rape and incest is NOT banning abortion altogether.
Unsurprisingly, the “progressive” mouthpieces that masquerade as independent media in Virginia declined to call the Dems on the distortions.
With control of both statehouses and the fourth estate, Democrats will be able to stymie Youngkin at every turn. He’ll be playing defense for the rest of his term. If Virginia Republicans want a prayer of winning the Governor’s Mansion two years from now, they had better start recalibrating their message and tactics. Now. Otherwise, we might as well adopt Neil Diamond’s classic, “Song Sung Blue,” as Virginia’s official state song.