According to The Augusta Free Press, the local media outlet in Staunton, VA, the city has been a reliable Democratic stronghold for years. On Tuesday, however, the city voted overwhelmingly for Republicans. The GOP won four city council seats out of four, three of which had belonged to Democratic incumbents. The Free Press reported that “the slate of Andrea Oakes, Mark Robertson, Amy Darby and Steve Claffey took the four seats up for grabs in the 2020 local election, giving the Queen City a conservative majority for the first time in recent memory.”
Turnout on both sides was huge. Even the Democrats who lost received far more votes than they’d garnered in the previous election.
The Free Press‘ Chris Graham calls this result “a shocker, to say the least, and if people in Richmond are paying attention at all, this one should be a wakeup call times ten.”
I don’t want to read too much into this result (which is admittedly hard for me), but it is very encouraging. Buoyed after winning control of both chambers of the legislature in Virginia, Democrats pushed ahead with aggressive anti-gun laws. The state has also enacted some of the most draconian coronavirus restrictions in the country. To say that Virginia Democrats took advantage of their majority would be an understatement.
Graham also noted that two conservatives won in the neighboring city of Waynesboro on Tuesday, to “give conservatives a working majority.” He added:
“Bottom line is that the strategies worked, flipping both from D to R, but the change in Staunton is stunning almost beyond words. A city that voted for Barack Obama, twice, voted for Hillary Clinton, voted for Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam, even gave a solid majority to Jennifer Lewis in her 2018 congressional run against Ben Cline, is now controlled by Republicans.”
What it does tell us is there will be tremendous voter engagement in November on both sides of the aisle. And we just might see a backlash against the graceless and unwelcome Democratic overreach of the last few months.