More on a Blueing Virginia
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 11:55:29 AM EDT
Virginia hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades -- but who's to say that it's not on the verge of becoming a blue state (or at least a purple state that is slightly more blue than red)? Take a look, for instance, at the outlook for this fall's legislative contest in the state, courtesy of The Washington Post's Tim Craig.
Virginia Democrats are in a strong position to make substantial gains in the General Assembly in the Nov. 6 election, strategists in both parties say, setting the stage for an expensive battle this fall with Republicans, who are trying to keep control of the Senate and House of Delegates.
With the seats of all 140 delegates and senators up for election, Democrats say they are feeling increasingly confident that they can retake the Senate and pick up three to six seats in the House. Democrats need to gain four seats in the Senate and 11 in the House to grab power from the Republicans for the first time since 1999.
Democrats are energized by what they say was GOP leaders' slow response to the summer-long storm over abusive-driving fees and by President Bush's unpopularity in the polls. Shifting demographics in several GOP-held House and Senate districts have also improved their chances, Democrats say.
Republicans are hoping that passion over the illegal immigration issue will drive voters to back their candidates. GOP candidates will also make the argument that if the party retains control, it would mean lower taxes, controls on development and more education spending. Once voters "understand and hear that message, our candidates stand tall," said Senate Majority Leader Walter A. Stosch (R-Henrico).
We sure saw how well the immigration issue performed in saving the Republican majorities in the United States Congress last fall -- no wonder Virginia Republicans are banking on anti-immigrant sentiments to help them remain in control of the state legislature. (Just ask J.D. Hayworth and Henry Bonilla how tacking to the right on the issue of immigration did for them, or perhaps Vernon Robinson.)
But Virginia Republicans' problems extend far beyond just the state legislative level (which is certainly problematic given the possibility that a wave in state legislative elections can be an omen for things to come). With the retirement of longtime Republican Senator John Warner and the very real possibility that Mark Warner, the extremely popular former Democratic Governor, will jump in the race for the Senate, it seems that the Democrats may be poised to pick up two Senate seats in the state in as many cycles. This comes on top of the possibility that the Democrats will pick up two congressional seats in the state, as well. What's more, Democrats are talking about seriously contesting Virginia on the presidential level, hoping that 2008 could be the first year since 1964 in which a Democrat has carried the state.
So suffice it to say that we may be seeing a very different Virginia than the one many had become accustomed to.