Democrats win battles: But Virginia Republicans win the war

Democrat vs. Republican on whiteWatching the State of the Commonwealth address with the sound down, one thing was obvious during the cutaway shots on applause lines during Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s speech.

There weren’t many Democrats to stand and cheer on cue in the chamber.

That’s a credit to Virginia Republicans, who hold 67 seats in the 100-seat House of Delegates and 21 in the 40-seat State Senate despite getting their clocks cleaned in the past few statewide elections.

Mark Warner is a two-time defending U.S. senator. (Barely won in November, but still won.) Tim Kaine held on to Jim Webb’s Senate seat in 2012. Barack Obama has won the past two presidential races in Virginia. Democrats swept the state races in 2013.

And yet Republicans run the legislature, and will have at least the House for the foreseeable future, that being the next decade, maybe two.

Decry gerrymandering if you want to, but it’s how the game is played, and Republicans simply play politics better than their Democratic counterparts.

We see the same thing in Washington. Democrats get more aggregate votes for the House, Republicans grow their majorities because they control at the state level how the lines are drawn.

Try to get anything done without having control of the legislative chambers. We’ve seen how little President Obama has been able to get accomplished since losing just the House in 2010. McAuliffe accomplished basically nothing in his first year working with the General Assembly, and year two isn’t looking much better.

McAuliffe will need to channel his inner Warner if he hopes to have his single term in Richmond have any effect.

Whatever constitutes the wing of the Virginia Democratic Party that includes the party architects might want to start working on some sort of plan to getting more folks in the House of Delegates and State Senate in the meantime, if only to have their governors playing to better audiences for future State of the Commonwealth addresses.

– Column by Chris Graham


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