It's another bad day for Republicans as they just lost control of the carefully gerrymandered Virginia House of Delegates after a closely watched recount turned a 10 vote Republican lead into a 1 vote Democratic win for Shelly Simonds. That means the 100 seat House is now split evenly between both parties.
But it's worse than that for Republicans. Without the ability to unilaterally block everything put forward by Democrats, there might be a few unpleasant changes in the near future:
“The citizens of Virginia sent a big message that they’re ready for a change of pace, a change of heart on things like health care and things that really matter day to day to the families in Virginia,” Simonds said.
She hopes her win will mean that the state could expand the Medicaid program — long a policy goal of Democrats — and to push out of committee legislation that would create nonpartisan redistricting, the Equal Right Amendment and even increase the state’s minimum wage, she said.
The nonpartisan redistricting would be particularly devastating for Republicans since it's only gerrymandering that allowed them to hold onto power for so long in the face of Virginia's increasingly Democratic-leaning electorate. Republicans do control the state senate by a slim majority of 21-19 but they're all up for reelection in 2019 and there's no reason to believe they'll be spared the fate of their counterparts in the House.
Curiously, Republicans are signaling that they are not going to fight the results with their dying breath as so many other Republicans have been doing in other recent elections (Roy Moore still hasn't conceded). My guess would be that in a state as purple as Virginia, being a sore loser will not play well with the public that's going to be voting again in the not-too-distant future.
The bottom line here is that a single vote may have cost Republicans control of Virginia for decades. Without the ability to gerrymander elections to death, Republicans simply cannot win in a state this diverse. Trump's white nationalism may work in lily-white Kansas but not here. While the big take away from the election was that it was a referendum on Trump, it was also a repudiation of the entire "I'll throw a temper tantrum and not vote" strategy that put Trump in the White House in the first place.
If one single vote is enough to change the entire course of Virginia's electoral future, refusing to vote for the "lesser of two evils" becomes a morally unsustainable argument. Period.
There are 321 days left to the 2018 elections.
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