The upcoming battle to flip the VA House of Delegates this November is a good preview of what is expected this time next year. What is happening right now is that the VA GOP is in full meltdown mode over the likely Democratic takeover coming Tuesday. The House of Delegates is only one shy of breaking the GOP majority (51-48), as well as the their majority in the state Senate (20-19).
Virginia has increasingly become a bluer state over the years, and their horribly gerrymandered map was thrown out in favor of a fairer one. Trump is deeply underwater in Virginia as well.
The GOP’s strategy over the summer has been to play it safe and turn their attention to local politics. Some politicians even pretended to sound like Democrats. However, that strategy has not worked because the GOP candidates and their consultants are clearly spooked.
So instead of distancing themselves from Trump, the VA GOP decided to pull a 180. Instead, they are embracing the Trump playbook of viciously attacking their opponents and just outright lying.
The Washington Post put it mildy:
In crucial swing districts, from Northern Virginia to Richmond to Hampton Roads, Republican candidates are trying to turn out GOP voters while hoping they can hang on to the centrist images they cultivated all summer. To pull it off, they’re casting Democrats as extremists — invoking hot-button issues such as abortion and immigration that Republicans had largely avoided as they attempted to soften their connection to an unpopular President Trump.
The Post greatly toned down the reality: the schemes and attacks have been gross, and reeking of despair.
In House of Delegates District 21, the GOP challenger to Democratic Del. Kelly K. Convirs-Fowler is someone named Shannon Kane. Her profile harks back to earlier this summer when she focused on local priorities and even sucked up to Democrats by saying she would work to help public school teachers and pretending to care about gun safety.
Well, that didn’t work; so she channeled her inner Trump. Kane recently sent an extremely racist mailer that put an image of the incumbent into a picture with MS-13 gang members.
The VA GOP grows desperate. The GOP candidate, Shannon Kane, authorized a disgusting mailer that photo-shopped the Democratic delegate in with MS-13.
It won't work, guys. https://t.co/8lLq18v0EY
— TheSeminoleDemocrat (@TheSemDem) November 2, 2019
Because in GOP-land, all Latin American and Mexican immigrants are violent gang members—ya see?
By the way, Virginia candidates can accept money all the way up to the last minute, so if you are appalled by any of this, help out the Dem delegates.
And we are just getting warmed up.
The GOP incumbent for House of Delegates District 40, Tim Hugo, has learned a thing or two from Donald Trump. He is the last GOP representative of the Washington suburbs, and he is currently getting the challenge of his life from Democrat Dan Helmer.
Helmer is the one who got the coveted endorsement from his district’s first responders and firefighters. Tim Hugo didn’t. The firefighters were clear about that. But that didn’t stop Tim Hugo from saying he did. So very Trumpian.
The VA House Dems even chided him about this:
— VA House Democrats (@VAHouseDems) September 9, 2019
Question: How do you not know who endorses you?
Also, just as Trump likes to send out anti-Semitic tropes, apparently so does Hugo. A mailer he sent out was highly offensive, and was condemned, but apparently only from the Democratic side of the aisle. Delegate Alfonso Lopez accused him of “copying the ugly and divisive Trump playbook”, and Delegate Marcus Simon reminded Hugo that Dan Helmer’s grandparents were murdered by Nazis.
In House of Delegates District 72, GOP candidate Gaydonna Vandergriff is running against incumbent Democratic Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg. Up until recently she ran a campaign trying to come across as someone who could bring people together. Yet last month, she flipped a switch and went full Trump. She came out as a climate change denier, calling climate scientists “dramatic” and went after the media outlets that feature them as “fake news”. She also accused her opponent of being a socialist, accused him of wanting to kill babies at birth, and said he prefers illegal immigrants over his constituents.
So, she sounds pleasant.
Bill Drennan is a Trump-loving Republican running against Suhas Subramanyam. Drennan believes that equal rights for women is a dead issue, declared that climate change is “not based on science”, and when asked if there was any kind of gun legislation he would support to end gun massacres, he equated shootings to women getting abortions.
That wasn’t even the craziest thing he came up with. To further emphasize his point comparing people who commit mass gun slaughter with women who terminate their pregnancy, he brought up ankle-bracelets for pregnant women. You see, you wouldn’t vote for that, right? So how can you vote for legislation to stop gun violence?
All races are up this year, and there are too many to mention, so let me just hit a few that I fear might be overlooked for the House of Delegates:
- District 76, Clint Jenkins: This should be a blue win, but Republican Chris Jones is the incumbent with a lot of power and money. People here vote for Mr. Jones who shouldn’t. This is a winnable race. clintonforvirginia.com
- District 97, Dr. Kevin Washington: The district race this year has a lot of drama, involving shadow conventions, backstabbing, a bitter write-in campaign, etc. You can read the whole thing here. Although this is a GOP-lean district, there is a huge fight between GOP candidate Scott Wyatt and write-in candidate Chris Peace. www.kevinforvirginia.com
- District 30, Ann Ridgeway: The GOP incumbent was so incompetent that he didn’t file the paperwork in time. Ann is the only name on the ballot. So….. yeah. We can totally win this one! www.ridgewayfordelegate.com
- District 66, Sheila Bynum-Coleman: How close is this? Kirk Cox is the Speaker, and he’s never sweated before. This is the first debate he’s agreed to do in decades. Seriously—not since 1989 has he agreed to debate his Democratic opponent because he admits this is a tough re-election fight. People in this district who lean Dem tend to vote for Kirk. They need to stop. www.sheilafordelegate.com
I focused on the House of Delegate races, because I’ve already covered the VA state Senate races HERE. The GOP candidates on that side are even worse.
Virginia deserves much better. In addition to repairing the GOP damage, how cool would it be if Virginia becomes the final state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment? 2020 could be the year, and the fact that it would occur under the Misogynist-in-Chief’s watch would make it all the more delicious.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.