Virginia's Congressional Representatives Respond to Last Week's Democratic Sweep

Nov 13, 2017

Credit AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Last week’s results on Election Day is causing some soul searching among Virginia Republicans. But members of the Congressional delegation are at odds over what the takeaway is.

Democrats are feeling the wind at their backs after maintaining the governor’s mansion in Richmond and picking up many long held Republican Assembly seats. The results have also left some national Republicans scratching their heads. For Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Taylor the takeaway was clear.

“I think that it’s important for Republicans to have a little self-reflection; that includes the president. To me it was a referendum on president, just like when Bob McDonnell won, it was a referendum on Obama, you have to be intellectually consistent.”

For one, Taylor says Trump needs to be more careful with his words.

“I think toning down on a lot of the divisive rhetoric, I think that, probably unlike anything else contributed to tapping into emotions, and information leads to the reason, but emotion leads to action, and that’s why you have Democrats coming out in droves.”

Other Republicans also sense a potential Democratic wave coming. Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett says things aren’t looking good for the GOP.

“So what you see is something I think best paralleled in 2009 with rising Tea Party, etc. I think the next step for Virginia Republicans and national Republicans needs to be some soul-searching.”

But for Garrett this isn’t a time to change the GOP agenda, rather he says it’s time for the party to get back to their roots.

I think that it's important for Republicans to have a little self-reflection; that includes the president.

“We need to focus on individual liberty. If we recognize that it’s not the role of the government to in anyone’s bedroom, unless they are with a child, that it’s not the role of the government to interfere between medical professionals and his patients as it relates if cannabinoids may be a treatment option.”

Other Republicans agree it’s time to double down on the party’s agenda. But for Congressman Dave Brat that means focusing more on President Trump’s agenda.

“Our side-failed to nationalize the election. So Democrats nationalized it, Ed Gillespie ran a good race on 21 rational public policies for Virginia. But national policy, and economics, health care, Trump’s all that.”

Despite Democratic wins on the state level, Brat and other Republicans are ploughing ahead on the federal level — like overhauling the tax code in a strictly party line way. They say success is essential to prove to voters they can govern. Brat says the GOP’s failure to repeal Obamacare is still fresh on voter’s minds.

“Then we did a face plant on health care. That’s the number one issue. The Senate failed, so we don’t have a solution, right? And so Obamacare is failing but on the other hand people want to see our solution like yesterday.”

But Democrats say the stunning election results should give the GOP pause. Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott says he doesn’t know why Republicans keep trying to ram through legislation that, he says, is unpopular with the American people.

“Oh, I hate to be a Republican trying to explain the 60th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, when the replacement has 30 million fewer people insured, and everybody else paying more and getting insurance that’s worse than one they’ve got.”

No matter the results of the election at the state level, Republican leaders in Congress are rushing ahead with their agenda. That starts this week as House Republicans will attempt to pass their massive overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

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