Progressive Dreams On Pause In Virginia

Virginia ushered in electoral resistance to Trump in 2017 when it elected 15 Democrats to the House of Representatives, including 11 women, including one transgender and four blacks, and one Democratic socialist, along with a Democratic governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Two years later, they captured the General Assembly and gave full democratic control to the state that housed the Confederation’s capital. Progressives hoped Virginia would become a beacon for political change, and in some ways it did when the state expanded Medicaid, lifted restrictive abortion laws, expanded electoral access, and promoted anti-discrimination laws.

The election results on Tuesday evening somewhat ruined the progressive dream. Former Governor Terry McAuliffe brushed his opponents aside and won more than 60 percent of the vote; Progressive favorite Jennifer Carroll Foy, supported by Emily’s List, Higher Heights, and more unions than any other candidate, scored 20 percent. McAuliffe won every town and county in Virginia. In a way, it felt like a replay of the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, where a historically diverse field – including four Democratic senators, two black senators, a former Latino congressman, an Asian American, a gay mayor, and at least two solid progressives – made it difficult for voters to band together based on representation or ideology, and elderly white statesman Joe Biden eventually won.

Similarly, in a race with three black candidates – Carroll Foy, Senator Jennifer McClellan, and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax – and two progressives – Carroll Foy and Democratic Socialist Delegate Lee Carter – there was never a single strong challenger to McAuliffe. Like Biden, McAuliffe could count on the support of most black establishment leaders – he had about as many black elected officials in his corner as the three black candidates combined. He launched his campaign last year, flanked by black allies including Senator Louise Lucas and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. McAuliffe is credited with helping inspire democratic resurgence in the state and receives great credit for restoring the voting rights of Virginia criminals in 2017. Also, Black Virginians want a November winner and the well-funded former governor (and Democratic National.). Committee Chairman) may be the only one who can rival self-financing businessman Glenn Youngkin on fundraising.

Elsewhere in the state there were other disappointments. The moderate delegate Hala Ayala beat the progressive delegate Sam Rasoul in the nomination for lieutenant governor. Ayala once seemed quite progressive herself, but in that race she reversed course and took money from the Virginia energy monopoly Dominion. Another Muslim progressive, delegate Ibrahim Samirah, lost his seat to the wealthy moderate Irene Shin. The Democratic socialist Lee Carter lost twice, in the governor’s race and in a primary for his delegate seat, to the moderate Michelle Lopez-Maldonado. (It’s worth noting that the two male progressives lost to women of color.) But since Carroll Foy has been replaced in the House of Delegates with the moderate black Candi King, it’s hard not to notice that this body’s progressive wing has been cut off somewhat.


Leave a Comment