Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
For several decades, the Republican Party employed a very simple, yet effective approach to governance. Be obnoxious dicks, wrapping their dickitude in phony cloaks of concern and respectability. A mentality found at every level of governance; from the halls of Congress, to state legislative bodies, all the way down to local officials.
Something that the folks of Louisa County are familiar with after watching their Board of Supervisors resurrect a proposal for a “Business Park,” they voted against a few months ago.
Still, when it come to insufferable chutzpa, few things can top Dolt 45 proudly telling the world, “I’m gonna be a dick! I’m gonna be the biggest dick you ever saw! And I’m going to be so proud to be a dick that it’ll make me an even bigger one.” Knowing that every day that the government remained closed was another day Republicans could undermine our faith in government with disingenuous claims that “the government is the problem,” and “See? You didn’t need it.”
When in fact, government never was the problem, bad notions of governance, particularly ideologically based ones the Republican Party favors have always been the problem. Now that their shutdown is over and Republican controlled Senate and Dolt 45 have folded like cheap suits, their ability to spin their obstructionism with cheap platitudes became less creditable.
Of course, they will ignore this, throwing as much sand in the gears of government as humanly possible. For example, the House Intelligence Committee that our Congresswoman, Abigail Spanberger sits on can’t begin work until House Minority Leader Mike McCarthy selects the corresponding Republican Senate members. Since he has appointed Republican’s to virtually every other committee, except this one and the ones shown below, one has to ask what the holdup is?
Given his counterpart in the Senates role in prolonging the shutdown expect to see more “creative” obstructionism in the future.
With Virginia being the purplest of the five states holding elections this year, what happens in Commonwealth should indicate how the 2020 elections will unfold. More relevantly, whichever Party controls the House of Delegates and Senate after this year will be in the driver’s seat in establishing the States legislative boundaries during the 2020 redistricting process.
To illustrate the damage that such partisan gerrymandering has on the legislative process, look at what happened in Virginia after the 2010 redistricting. Where the subsequent 2011 state wide election saw Democrats lose 7 seats in the House of Delegates, and 4 seats in the Senate, with the Republican’s controlling both chambers and the Commonwealth’s legislative priorities from 2011 all the way to this years election.
That they were able to pass most of their donors, particularly Dominion Powers legislative priorities after the people of Virginia elected two consecutive Democratic Governors is a testament to the power of packing the General Assembly with partisan foot soldiers.
Beyond gerrymandering, one of the biggest reasons Republican’s why have been so successful in Virginia’s State legislative elections was because many seats, particularly in the House of Delegates went uncontested, and it’s a long term trend in the Commonwealth, and we are seeing it happen in other states as well.
And it’s something the people of Louisa County are quite familiar with after watching former Delegate Peter Farrell (56thHD) running unopposed in three consecutive elections.
If the results of Virginia’s elections in 2017, which saw the Democrats, turn a near Republican supermajority in the House of Delegates (66-34) into a 51-49 deficit is any indication Virginia’s voters are tired of politics as usual. The bad news is that Democrats will now have to hold most of the 15 seats they took in 2017, while picking up 2 additional seats.
The good news is that Democrats are favored to keep most of those seats, and assuming the court ordered redistricting takes place before the election, several more key Republican Delegates will be in danger of losing their seats.
While this begs the question of whether the General Assembly will ever allow a non-partisan independent panel to set those borders, and be allowed to submit their recommendations to the General Assembly for a straight yea/nay vote. It is safe to say that will never happen as long as the Republicans control either chamber of the General Assembly, and there are those willing to sacrifice principles for power.
Ordinarily, most voters little reason to pay attention to what happens in State elections outside of their district. Since these are not “normal” times, these graphics below highlight the seats the Democrats need to hold, as well as some of the most reprehensible Republican Delegates, many of which are long past their expiration date.
Which brings us to the 2018 Congressional election, which saw a 50-year high in voter turnout, and the Democrats taking 3 Congressional seats including, Abigail Spanberger knocking off the despised Dave Brat in the 7th CD.
With all 140 General Assembly seats on the ballot this year, both Party’s candidates are going to have their hands full, particularly since the 2017 House of Delegates elections came with a hefty price tag. With both sides burning millions more than in any other election over the past two decades. With roughly half of that going into the 15 races won by Democrats.
If the results of the 2017 House races were any indication, many of this years Senate races will also be trending blue.
Of particular interest to those folks living in the 7th CD, is the fact that the former Republican strongholds of Henrico and Chesterfield counties went heavily for Abigail Spanberger in her victory over Brat, and they encompass a large part of the 10th, 11th, and 12th Senate Districts.
Seats currently held by some of the Commonwealths worst politicians; Glen Sturtevant, “Church Lady” Amanda Chase, and Siobhan Dunnavant. The graphic below shows the most significant of these Senate races.
Virginia’s Republicans are keenly aware that in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential election that “2017 was a wake-up call,” and are desperately doing whatever they can to keep 2019 from being a repeat of the past two years. With state races increasingly supported by out of district money around the country, Virginia’s Republican will have no problem on that front.
Support that starts with the Koch Brothers multi headed hydra, providing untraceable amounts of money laundered thru Freedom Partners. To front groups, like American’s for Prosperity, providing them with all the “political advocacy” and attack ads their candidates need. Finally, database services (i360), to assist them with targeting the “right” voters.
What is different about this year’s election is that this will be the first year Virginia’s Republicans test their latest tactic, one that starts with building their "bench" by running candidates for all of County Constitutional officer’s positions, the Board of Supervisors and the school board. I’ve heard through multiple unofficial sources, that this is happening in Louisa, Goochland, and Hanover counties, and I suspect in many other counties around the state.
While it’s illegal to run for School Board as a member of any Party, that hasn’t keep many clandestine Republicans from governing as unaffiliated “independents” in other counties, nor is it likely to stop the Party of “the illegal we do immediately, and the unconstitutional just takes longer” from doing the same in Louisa.
Even though our local paper, the Central Virginian, and indeed many other local/regional papers are content to dismiss this recent development off as “conspiracy theory,” it doesn’t change the fact that Duane Adams received unprecedented levels of support from State Party and parties unknown, during his 2017 campaign for the Mineral District Supervisors race.
Nor is any coincidence that we’ve seen a marked increase in pointless bickering over the course of the past two years on the Board of Supervisors over the broadband project, and now the Industrial Park. While many suspect that Supervisors Adams, Williams and Wade are orchestrating this ideological takeover of local government, proof is hard to come by.
And we’ve seen similar things happen in year’s past in Fluvanna, Hanover, Goochland and Chesterfield County’s. Whether these efforts to take over government at every level represents quantity over quality, or whether even the Koch Brothers have enough money to finance them remains to be seen.
What we have seen in the past few years is a marked increase in civic participation in Louisa County, and other counties around the state. Take Sara Gaborik, chairwoman of the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee, observation that “The energy and enthusiasm are there because people recognize local elections matter,” and “We’ve allowed the Board of Supervisors and School Board to do what they’ve been doing with no checks and balances. Now people are showing up to their meetings and monitoring everything they are doing.”
Plain and simple more community involvement in civic affairs leads to greater government accountability. While the Republicans general message appears to be “We’ve been running this county well for a long time – and if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it.” Perhaps, but it's more likely that they haven’t made much if any effort to keep up with their communities values.
Kellen Squire who’s ran the 58th House District in 2017 noted at last weeks Indivisible Louisa meeting, that while Democrats don’t have as deep a bench as the Republicans, we do have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change that.
Given that this is an “off/odd election year” in Virginia, the biggest question for Democrats throughout the State is, will there be a drop off in turn out? Keep in mind that Democrats picked up 15 seats in 2017 largely because of a unprecedented surge of Democratic voters across the State, while Republican turnout didn’t appreciably change.
If we want to see all the progress we’ve made in the past few years continue, we're going to have to up our game in 2019. So make it your business to get out there and support your local and State candidate as well as candidates from surrounding jurisdictions. Otherwise, the Republicans will keep control of one or both chambers of the General Assembly.
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