Will Democratic Energy Translate into Local Elections?

Mar 7, 2017

 

A constituent of congressman Dave Brat, R-Va., gestures as she responded to the congressman during a town hall meeting with the congressman in Blackstone, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.
Credit Steve Helber / AP

Across Virginia, an unprecedented wave of candidates is emerging to take on Republicans this fall in elections for the state legislature. Those elections could be an early test on whether Democrats can harness the energy building against the Trump administration and focus it locally. 

 

Virginians are turning out in huge numbers for town halls. Democratic committee meetings are being swamped with new people. Then there are all those House of Delegates races on the ballot this year. Delegate Alfonso Lopez is political chairman for the House Democrats.

 

“There’s a district in the Richmond area that has not had a Democratic challenger in years but this year has five people who have approached us about running. We have four people running against Bob Marshall up in Prince William County and three who have announced against Scott Lingamfelter,” he says, referencing Republican members of the House of Delegates. 

 

Republican Delegate Todd Gilbert is about to become Majority Leader — if Republicans manage to keep their majority. He says all that energy on the left will pose a challenge for them.

 

“We have people who are energized because they do not like the fact that the president is acting on the very agenda that he ran on, and so they are mobilized and energized, and certainly that is going to represent a challenge for our candidates," Gilbert says. "But it’s not insurmountable.”

 

Not insurmountable because Republicans have held the majority in the House since 1999. Democrats would need to pick up about two dozen seats to take back control.

 

All 140 state lawmakers are up for re-election this November.