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From MAGA to Mini in Old Virginny (sorry)
In August of 2021 I wrote that the Republican culture war had fizzled in Virginia. I was wrong in the short term. After scandals entailing a rape of a girl in a high school bathroom by a falsely reputed transgender youth and fussing about Critical Race Theory and dirty books in school libraries, the Republicans flipped the lower house of the state legislature and took the governor’s office in November of 2021.
But I was right in the longer term, as the MAGA culture warriors got hammered in our local elections yesterday. Despite our wealthy governor pouring money into local races, Democrats flipped the lower house of the state legislature and retained control of the state senate. The transgender member of the legislature cruised to reelection. In Loudoun County, Democrats maintained strong majorities on the county board of supervisors and the school board, with substantially new rosters of candidates.
The old joke in economics applies. When giving a prediction, either predict a number or a date, but never both.
My favorite candidate for state legislature, one Susanna Gibson, was less than a thousand votes behind. Gibson became famous when it was discovered that she posts sex videos (with her husband, because this is Virginia) on the Internet in a quest for donations and, it must be presumed, self-expression.
The big MAGA themes in this election were “parental rights” and “abortion at birth.” Thanks to the bumbling of 2021 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, the parents’ rights rubbish still has some juice here. There has been nary a word about transgender rapists terrorizing our tender young womenfolk. As you have probably heard, the abortion issue isn’t working for the Republicans anywhere.
I’m sorry to say the gentleman who replaced me in the contest for delegate to the state legislature, former minister Rob Banse, lost pretty decisively to Geary Higgins. I doubt I would have done any better. I’m a terrible politician. I don’t like people and they don’t like me. Virginia is not ready for socialism.
Banse raised a ton of money and deluged the television airwaves and Internet with his advertisements. I rarely saw anything from Higgins. Banse was the most inoffensive candidate imaginable. Maybe some fire and brimstone would have worked better. I thought he should have pushed his party ID more heavily.
In my leafletting at the polls, I happened to encounter Higgins twice. He’s a nice enough fellow. He’s just from a different century (though six years younger than me). Where I live is still pretty red. Higgins posted a solid victory margin. A local lunatic who said that screen time causes autism in children will be on the school board, replacing another loon who is leaving.
Broadly speaking, however, as far as our state politics in the large goes, things don’t look bad. Perhaps some of the rubbish from mainstream media hyping “Democrats in disarray” and Biden’s poll numbers will let up.
I don’t know where the Republicans go from here. The landing place for them on reproductive rights in Ohio is the dodgy notion of “fetal viability,” which gives women six months to get abortions. Even with that concession, there will be unworkable efforts to regulate decisions pertaining to the health of the mother. It will not satisfy the pro-life purists. In addition, Democrats can point to the wacky views of the new Republican Speaker of the House, who thinks that you women don’t breed enough.
The image of the G.O.P. will remain all Trump, all the time, for the next two years. In a fair, orderly election, he’s a sure loser. Longer term, he’s going to prison. The steak dinners will be just a memory.
P.S. I just saw that the Democrats also swept the Fairfax County school board races. This was on the heels of another faux scandal regarding the renowned Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology (TJSST) that MAGA chuds tried to hype into a “war on merit” over alleged favoritism shown towards minority students.
A related casualty is Hung Cao, who was defeated in his race for Congress against Rep. Jennifer Wexton and has been flogging the TJSST thing in his campaign for the Republican senate nomination, to run against Senator Tim Kaine.