In not many days, Virginians will go to the polls and decide who controls the Virginia General Assembly. If Republicans retain control, the obstruction we have seen for over a decade and slavish self prostitution to the gun lobby will continue and common sense gun control will be blocked - Virginia Republicans made this very clear when they shut down the special session called in the wake of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. Many other much needed progressive reforms will likewise be blocked if Republicans retain control. To move Virginia forward, it is essential that the Virginia GOP lose control of BOTH houses of the Virginia General Assembly. A piece in the Virginian Pilot looks at what is at stake. Here are column highlights:
Were the Democrats to win majorities in both chambers, it would give the party total control of state government for the first time in a generation. It would remove obstacles to long-sought policy priorities, such as stricter gun control, raising the minimum wage, passing the Equal Rights Amendment, and protecting access to reproductive care.
If Republicans can maintain control, expect the GOP to continue to stand firm against new gun laws, to hammer out the details on work requirements for Medicaid access, to reduce taxes and regulations, and to continue the fight against abortion.
Expect legislation about the future of marijuana, gambling, power generation and health care to find their way to the floor as well — their forms dependent on which party guards the gate.
Some items should proceed regardless of which party holds power, most notably the initial steps toward creating an independent, non-partisan redistricting process and to create the type of economic climate that drew Amazon to locate in northern Virginia.
Redistricting reform is key, as crooked past practices promise to have an effect on the races voters see on their ballots. Recall that earlier this year that a legal challenge to the House district maps adopted by the General Assembly in 2011 concluded with 11 districts invalidated as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders, including six in Hampton Roads.
Virginia has been operating under these illegal districts for years. And it’s imperative for the next set of maps to comport with the Constitution so the commonwealth can avoid the protracted legal battle that affected the voting landscape for far too long.
As well, both parties should be deeply concerned about the massive cost facing Virginia as a result of a changing climate and the resulting sea-level rise. Protecting this region will cost billions of dollars, as studies of resilience strategies for Norfolk and Virginia Beach aptly demonstrate.
The cities cannot pay for this infrastructure independent of Richmond, and the whole of the commonwealth has a vested interest in ensuring that Hampton Roads can mitigate the potential damage of recurrent flooding.
Hampton Roads could play the deciding role in who holds the levers of power in the halls of state government. The region has a number of closely contested races that have earned considerable attention.
Given that the outcome of these elections will chart a course for Virginia that will resonate for years to come, voters should turn out in droves on Nov. 5 — and we should be embarrassed if it does not. Commonwealth voters shouldn’t leave anything to chance, and instead spend time getting informed about local races, learning about the candidates and making plans to have their say.
What is striking from the political ads now running on television, the main GOP argument is that Democrats are lying about the records of incumbents (Chris Jones is one such liar) - hoping uninformed voters will fall for these lies - and pretending to be moderates and lying about the GOP candidates' real agenda: blocking progress on health care, pandering to the gun lobby, and blocking efforts to address climate change and rising sea levels. And yes, there is a strong anti-gay undercurrent that GOP candidates seek to hide from voters.
In 2017 long time anti-gay extremist Del. Bob Marshall at last was sent down to defeat. Other anti-gay, pro-gun extremist remain in office or are seeking seats in the legislature. One incumbent who needs to be defeated is Sen. Amanda Chase who wants unlimited access to guns and subscribes to the worst anti-gay lies disseminated by The Family Foundation, Virginia's leading hate group. Indeed, as Virginia Dogwood News reports, Chase supports electric-shock therapy on LGBT individuals to "change" them:
Chase says she opposes electroshock therapy and other torturous conversion therapy…But in 2019, Chase voted a bill that would have banned electroshock therapy because it “violates free speech, religious liberty, and endangers children who should be able to receive helpful counsel.”
Not surprisingly, she believes religious belief outweighs non-discrimination laws of all stripes.
Chase is not alone in her extremism. Locally in the 91st District, Republican candidate Colleen Holcomb is a far right whack job hiding behind a falsely moderate campaign website. In contrast, her opponent, Democrat Martha Mugler would be a voice of sanity. In the 13th District, Kelly McGinn is another anti-modernity, pro-gun, anti-gay extremist. These candidates and incumbents like Chase need to be defeated. It is urgent Virginians vote for progress on November 5th and send the GOP into minority status.