By Don Rippert
Massacre. The Republicans in Virginia have once again been shellacked at the voting booth. Republicans went from controlling both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates to controlling neither. It appears that Democrats will be the majority in the senate by a 21 to 19 count and will control the house with a 55 to 45 margin. There is still some uncertainty with a few races but nobody thinks the Republicans will emerge from that uncertainty with control of either chamber. The Democrats will control all aspects of the state government – Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, state Senate and House of Delegates. The fact that this rout occurred while the Democrats’ top leaders were mired in blackface scandals and forcible rape allegations only adds to the enormity of the Republican failure.
Blame game. The blame game has already begun. It was Trump’s fault. Or the Yankees in Northern Virginia. Or George Soros. Or the so-called RINOs who have infected the party. In short, blame is being placed on everybody and everything except where it belongs … on the leadership and policies of the Republican Party in Virginia.
Trump. Republicans have been losing ground across the state for far longer than Donald Trump has been president. In one state wide election after another the Republicans have lost. The last Republican to be elected governor won the election 10 years ago Virginia has only had one Republican governor in the last 20 years. Given that governors can’t stand for immediate reelection that record is truly dismal.
NoVa Yankees. This Republican fairy tale holds that people from the north have moved to Northern Virginia seeking federal jobs and tipped the political balance in the Old Dominion to the Democratic Party. The easiest rebuttal to that absurd notion is Henrico County (outside of Richmond). Once a hotbed of conservative Republicanism the county is now reliably Democratic. Even the dream weavers of Virginia’s Republican Party can’t blame the loss of Henrico County on transplanted federal employees in Northern Virginia.
George Soros. Under this fable George Soros and other evil “out of state” actors bought the election with a tsunami of campaign donations and other election funding tricks. Spare me. Virginia has been a hotbed for excessive and corrupt (though legal) political donations for as long as anybody can remember. Virginia’s status as one of a very few U.S. states with absolutely no limits on campaign contributions hardly began in this election cycle or the prior cycle.
RINOs. This hallucination holds that “Republicans In Name Only” have taken over the Republican Party and so watered down its policies that it no longer represents the majority of conservatives in Virginia. Presumably those disaffected conservatives either vote for Democrats or don’t vote at all. Hogwash. A real concern should be just the opposite. Rabid Tea Party people took the more centrist Republican Party of Ronald Reagan, Jim Gilmore and Bob McDonnell far to the right. In Virginia they used ridiculous conventions (as opposed to open primaries) to control the nomination process and then nominated completely unelectable candidates. E.W. Jackson anybody? Only two words are needed to refute the idea that centrist Republicans can’t win elections at the highest levels of state government … Larry Hogan.
Time to look in the mirror. The real failure of the Republican Party in Virginia is two-fold. First, the party stands for nearly nothing. Far from being fiscally conservative, Republican majorities in the General Assembly have presided over massive taxing and spending increases Among these are the transportation tax bill that seems to have solved nothing, conformance with federal tax legislation that provided a windfall of new tax money out of the pockets of Virginians, “taxing” hospitals to pay for Medicaid expansion, ridiculously high tolls, etc. Where is the fiscal restraint? The supposedly liberty loving Republicans have squelched legalized gambling (except for horse racing and the lotto), marijuana decriminalization / legalization, etc. Where is the sense of individual freedom and liberty?
The second problem with Virginia’s Republicans is the issues they have taken on. A woman’s right to an abortion was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1973. I don’t like it but it is what it is. Constantly scheming to overturn a valid Supreme Court ruling is not what I expect from the party of “law and order.” Opposing the “one handgun a month” law was another tone deaf action. Artlessly scuttling Northam’s special session on gun control in the wake of the Virginia Beach shootings was another. Guess what, geniuses, you won’t be able to stop anything now that you’ve lost control of everything! A few small and reasonable concessions could have made a difference but Tea Party zealots are incapable of compromise.
Going forward. First things first … Republicans must admit that they have failed. No more blaming northern Yankees in NoVa, George Soros, sunspot activity or anything but themselves. Republicans need to stand for something in Virginia. Being fiscal spendthrifts and social ogres is a losing proposition. Virginia Republicans need a new outlook, a new approach and new candidates. I’ll outline my specific thoughts on these points in a subsequent column.