Democrats Didn't Always Pick The Most Progressive Candidate And That Might Help Them In November

Jun 13, 2018

Democrats now have a slate of candidates heading into the fall election that may not be as progressive as some would like.  But that might end up helping them in the fall.

One of the reasons state Senator Jennifer Wexton had five other Democrats running against her in the Democratic primary to take on Barbara Comstock was the feeling that she just isn’t progressive enough.

Geoff Skelley at the University of Virginia Center for Politics say that’s because of a growing resistance to compromise. “There are a lot of Democrats, and a lot of liberals who are sort of in hashtag resistance mode. And they don’t want anyone who has compromised.”

Now Wexton will be on the ballot in November as part of a slate of candidates taking on Republican incumbents. Abigail Spanberger will take on Dave Brat. Elaine Luria is the Democrat running against Scott Taylor. And Leslie Cockburn will face Republican Denver Riggleman after Congressman Tom Garrett unexpectedly terminated his campaign.

Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says progressives were just as frustrated last year. “This same sort of thing happened last year in the gubernatorial Democratic primary where Tom Perriello lost to Ralph Northam. A lot of progressives felt like Ralph Northam was too moderate," Kidd says. "But at the end of the day, those progressives turned out to vote for Ralph Northam.”

And, Kidd says, having Corey Stewart at the top of the Republican ticket could end up scrambling the dynamics across Virginia, potentially imperiling Republican incumbents in the House who would otherwise have safe seats.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.