Yes, Virginia, There Is Still Hope

Once a reliably red state, the purple trending state of Virginia became firmly blue last November after Democrats took control of the state legislature.

The three pillars of that victory were promises to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, expand Medicaid for the uninsured poor, and restrict gun rights for lawful citizens.

The murders last spring of 12 people at a Virginia Beach municipal office made the difference for many Virginians to support gun control and pull the lever for Democrats.

“Guns, that is the most pressing issue for me,” said Vijay Katkuri, 38, a software engineer from southern India, explaining why he voted for a Democratic challenger in Tuesday’s elections. He was shopping for chicken at the Indian Spice Food Market. “There are lots of other issues, but you can only fix them if you are alive. Mr. Katkuri’s vote — the first of his life — helped flip a longtime Republican State Senate district and deliver the Virginia statehouse to the Democratic Party for the first time in a generation.”

Similar to other states, if you looked at an electoral map of Virginia by county it would appear to be a solidly red state. President Trump won 93 of Virginia’s 133 counties, but similar to other blue-leaning states, the population centers are mostly Democratic voters.

There is still hope for Virginia:

“Dr. Charles Huh, a gastroenterologist, as he waited for takeout at the food court in Lotte Plaza Market, a Korean grocery store. “[Trump’s] the best thing Republicans have done for Democrats in a long time.” Still, that doesn’t mean people here love all Democrats. Dr. Huh usually votes for Democrats, but he hasn’t always. He voted for George W. Bush in 2000. He said Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are too far left for him and that he would vote third party if the Democrats nominated either one.”

Two things still give me hope for Virginia’s future and turnaround. One is the massive (and peaceful) Second Amendment rally held Monday at the state capitol.

This illustrates that the people will not sit idly by while the government declares states of emergencies while running roughshod over their God given rights.

The second thing that gives me hope is the U.S. Senate candidacy of Republican Omari Faulkner. The former Georgetown basketball player, State Department envoy, and current Naval reservist is very frank in his assessment of his Party’s performance last fall:

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Image taken from omariforvirginia.com

“Republicans got trounced on November 5th. There’s no way to sugar coat it.  The rejection at the polls now presents an opportunity to rebuild the Republican brand in Virginia. If we settle, retreat, and make excuses that Virginia is unwinnable, we do zero justice for our future. In 2019, our candidates worked hard, but we had stale talking points with no vision. We were grossly outspent. Democrats had many – albeit wrong – ideas and millions of out of state dollars to back them up.”

In a recent statewide sample of likely 2020 general election voters. (Margin of Error is +/-3.1%) A hypothetical general election matchup was tested using blind candidate biographies to determine candidate preference based on each candidate’s background and accomplishments.

The data showed Republican Omari Faulkner and incumbent Democrat Mark Warner in a STATISTICAL TIE:

Candidate A [WARNER] currently serves as a United States Senator. He has held political office for sixteen years and been involved in party politics even longer and is seeking another 6-year term. He led the U.S. Senate investigation into President Donald Trump’s connections to Russia.

Candidate B [FAULKNER] is an African-American from Northern Virginia with four daughters. He does not have much political experience but is a former Georgetown basketball player, former Sports and Cultural convoy for the U.S. State Department, and a U.S. Navy Reservist.

If the 2020 General Election were held today, would you vote for Candidate A or Candidate B?
Candidate A [WARNER]: 40%
Candidate B [FAULKNER]: 38%
Undecided: 23%

An incumbent polling under 50% and virtually tied with a political novice with little name ID is bad news – no matter how you slice it.

Faulkner again minces no words when it comes to Senator Warner’s effectiveness representing Virginia.

“It is time for Mark Warner to move on and stop wasting Virginia’s time. Yet he seeks a third term, equating to 18 years in the United States Senate. Warner claims our country and our state are in disarray and complete havoc since Trump has become president, but what has he done for Virginians over the past three years? In fact, what has he done for nearly 11 years? Let’s call this what this is: a career politician’s personal power grab. This does not represent the Virginia I want to live in or the one I want my four daughters to grow up in.”

According to the poll I cited above, many Virginians seem to agree with Mr. Faulkner.

Christopher Arps
 

Christopher Arps is a managing partner with the public affairs and communications consulting firm Red Tail Strategies, LLC. He is a national advisory board member for the National Center for Public Policy Research's Project 21. He's the co founder of Move-On-Up.org. President of Americans for Citizen Voting (ACV), a 501c4 dedicated to the belief that only citizens should vote in our local, state and national elections. He's a guest host and contributor on his local conservative radio station (KFTK 97.1) in St. Louis, Mo.

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