Virginia State Government Turns Blue

Implications of the election results


Credit: Courtesy of Chloe Kienzle

Local polls took place at Western on Election Day.

Eva Massarelli, Editor-In-Chief

November 5th, 2019 became a historic day for Virginia after Democrats won control of the state government. Talk of Virginia becoming a solidly blue state had never seemed more likely with the governorship already in the hands of the Democrats and with election results leaving the state House and Senate with Democratic majorities, albeit small ones.
“It is definitely significant that Democrats took back control of the General Assembly and State Senate for the first time in twenty years; it is going to have significant impact on policy and the state of Virginia,” AP Government teacher Molly Miracle said.

The Democrat majority in 2020 will have lasting effects on the state, especially when considering that the upcoming year signals a new decade, because the Democratic party will be able to redraw VA districts using the new census findings.

This is likely to make the GOP gerrymandering that has been in effect for the last two decades less apparent, potentially flipping VA. However, if the anti-gerrymandering amendment, which passed its “first read” earlier this year, becomes part of the Virginia Constitution, it will make this an irrelevant point, because districts will be redrawn to attempt to make districts that represent the demographics that make up the area proportionally.

The amendment is still an “if” though, because it must still pass its “second read” in the Virginia General Assembly in 2020. After the “second read,” the amendment will appear as a referendum on the 2020 ballot.

With the Democrats now controlling every part of the state government, they will be able to push forward major agenda points in Virginia. Governor Ralph Northam has said that gun control will likely be the first issue to be addressed. He wants eight “common-sense” bills that span from red-flag laws to banning assault weapons to be voted on.
In July, after the Virginia Beach shooting, the Governor called for a special session of the General Assembly to discuss gun control, which the Republicans ended after an hour and a half. Republicans asked the Virginia State Crime Commission to first make recommendations on criminal justice and the Virginia Beach shooting before they continued to address the issue. They asked the commission to present their findings on November 12th; a week after the election.

“I am definitely very interested to see where the Democrats go with gun control. After last year’s session in July, I think you are going to see some movement happening and that will be really interesting to watch and see how far the Democrats go,” Miracle said.

Additionally, some areas of the country have been stirring with excitement with the announcement of the election results, because the Equal Rights Amendment now has a significant chance to be ratified in VA. If the ERA is ratified in Virginia, it would be the 38th and final state it needs to become a Constitutional amendment. The ERA was killed in committee last year, as Republicans held the majority in the House of Delegates, but with a Democratic majority, ERA is now likely to pass. Even if the ERA becomes ratified by Virginia, it will face some obstacles in the future, considering that the amendment includes a ratification deadline that passed long ago.

The Supreme Court would likely have to make the decision whether the deadline would need to be upheld. There is no precedent for a situation like this because most amendments do not have deadlines.

Other legislation that will likely be emphasized by the new Democratic government will be raising the minimum wage, expanding preschool programs, and creating environmental policies.