By Dave Andrusko
Very few people intently watch politics in the “off-years”–the elections which take place in the two years between presidential elections. Even fewer will pay attention this year when only Virginia and New Jersey hold elections.
But those who follow political trends for a living are hyper-sensitive to what is going to take place in just two weeks in the the race for governor in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
While Republicans have controlled both state Houses (the Senate by the narrowest of margins), pro-abortion Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a BFF of Hillary Clinton, has been governor since he narrowly prevailed over pro-life Ken Cuccinelli in 2013. He has been a thorn in the side of pro-lifers.
The pro-abortion industry is pouring money in to try to carry pro-abortion Democrat Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam over the finish line. Pro-lifers and others continue to work feverishly on behalf of NRLC-endorsed pro-life Republican Ed Gillespie.
This is just the latest investment by pro-abortion organizations. Back in September, POLITICO reported
A slew of liberal groups are teaming up for a $2 million digital ad buy aiming to drive Virginia voters to the polls in November and back Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam for governor.
Planned Parenthood Votes and Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC, the Tom Steyer-backed Next Gen America, Priorities USA Action and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters PAC are all contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the effort, which will begin this week and run until Election Day. The ads will aim to reach and turn out more than 1.2 million voters.
“When it comes to women’s health in Virginia, everything is on the line, which is why we are doubling down to elect progressive champion Ralph Northam,” said Deirdre Schifeling, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Vote
All that being said, it would be nearly impossible to exaggerate how nervous Democrats are. We could cite any of dozens of stories.
Here’s one from yesterday’s Washington Post, a 1,500 word long opus that ran under the headline, “National Democrats are jittery about Va. governor’s race.” Here are the telling first two paragraphs written by David Weigel and Ed O’Keefe:
LAS VEGAS — The Democratic National Committee gathered here over the past week with one worry on every activist’s mind: We’d better not lose the Virginia governor’s race.
It’s a surprising case of the jitters over a place that hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office in eight years — and that voted resoundingly against Donald Trump last year. But nationally, Democrats haven’t won a marquee race since losing the presidency. They lag Republicans in fundraising. A loss for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie on Nov. 7 could stir doubts about message and strategy just as the party is gearing up nationally for next year’s all-important midterm elections.
There will never, ever be a shortage of Washington Post stories gloating over intra-party debates within the Republican Party. But the truth is that Democrats are riven by far deeper divisions–divisions over first principles–that many insiders fear means the party is close to implosion.
You can’t miss the signs. They are everywhere. Younger members of the United States House and Senate are close to a full-scale rebellion against aging leadership that has tightly held the reins of power for years and years.
Then there are the wounds left over from actions of the Democratic National Committee [DNC] which unabashedly helped Hillary Clinton secure the party’s presidential nomination over Sen. Bernie Sanders. They’ve not only not healed, they’ve worsened.
Worse the outcome in Virginia threatens to pave the way for a kind of all-out intra-party civil war. As Weigel and O’Keefe observe
Defeat in Virginia could also prompt another brawl between progressive activists and the party’s establishment. Northam, backed by most of Virginia’s elected Democrats, won his nomination over Sen. Bernie Sanders-backed former congressman Tom Perriello — a race that some activists saw as a replay of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries.
Northam’s defeat would let activists argue that the party that picked Hillary Clinton over Sanders (Vt.), and Tom Perez over Sanders-backed Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) for Democratic National Committee chairman in February, had once again bet against progressives and lost. It would set the stage for more infighting in 2018.
Yet to Weigel’s and O’Keefe’s credit, they subtly alert the reader to a danger almost as threatening. Even were Northam to win, some observers wonder whether it
gives Democrats any kind of road map for 2018.
Leaders and activists spent a lot of time in Las Vegas talking about Nevada and Virginia, two increasingly urban and diverse states that bucked 2016’s Trump wave, as models for what every state party could achieve if they organized and elevated their activist base.
They spent less time talking about Trump’s winning message on jobs and fairness, or the states where it was so effective, or how to win in those places with a sales pitch of their own.
In other words, there is this ferocious internecine battle between “progressive activists and the party’s establishment,” but none of whom have shown the slightest indication they understand why Donald Trump is now president of the United States.
Last thought about the governor’s election two weeks from tomorrow. Weigel and O’Keefe write about how
The DNC began pouring resources into Virginia in July, spending $1.5 million up front to hire 40 staff members. In addition, national staff members were loaned out to run communications for campaigns down the ballot. The party paid for direct mail to nonwhite voters; DNC Hispanic Media Director Francisco Pelayo and party operative Andrea Peoples were tasked with outreach to Latino and black female voters.
But there’s the critical “but”….
But they’re doing it with less money than the Republican National Committee [RNC]. The DNC raised $4.4 million in August and spent slightly more money than it took in. As of last month, its debt — $4.1 million — was almost twice the size of its cash reserves. The RNC, meanwhile, reported $45.9 million in the bank and no debt. With less fanfare than the DNC, it has spent $3 million in Virginia, helping fund 80 staff members on the ground for Republican campaigns.
“The RNC never left Virginia and has had field staff on the ground since 2013,” said RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens.