I think we’re all glad that Georgia race is over, but what’s the next big race? Virginia Republicans are looking to break out of a slump and elect the next Governor. Here’s how the race looks.
The Democrats have been overperforming in Virginia. They’ve won three of the last four elections for governor and four of four elections for Senate. That’s a bad run statewide for the Republicans.
The state isn’t lost to Republicans though, contrary to wishful thinking by northeastern Democrats. Some of the elections have been close. Conservative Ken Cuccinelli lost by only two points to Terry McAuliffe in the 2013 election dominated by the Bob McDonnell gifts scandal, and Ed Gillespie lost by less than one point to Mark Warner in 2014.
Gillespie’s result was unexpected against an incumbent, so he’s been given a chance to run for Governor this time. His opponent is Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. Despite the one term limit, it’s actually been unusual for the Lieutenant Governor to win election to the next job. Only one of the last six did so (Tim Kaine in 2005). Northam is running against history here, though he did beat the Bernie Sanders- and Elizabeth Warren-endorsed Tom Perriello 55-44 to win the nomination.
Northam may have a hard time exciting the hard-left base he just beat, too. He twice voted for George W. Bush for President, only becoming a Democrat to run for office in 2008. However since his votes for Bush, Northam himself has taken a hard left turn: extreme pro-abortion up to the moment of birth, anti-Right to Work, pro-car tax.
Meanwhile, Ed Gillespie is basically the Generic Republican in the flesh. He’s never won elective office before, but served as RNC chairman and RPV chairman consecutively. After that he was Counselor to George W. Bush, the position Kellyanne Conway now holds in the Trump administration. He’s entirely an establishment Republican, not at all a Trump Republican or a TEA Party Republican. He’s inoffensive, and that’s important when reaching out to moderate Republican voters in the north of the state.
Gillespie can win, but it’s important to watch whether he will get national support. Northam can also win, but can a two-time George W. Bush voter unite his party?