They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Today, that definition applies to Republicans in Prince William County and Virginia.
Stunned by massive defeats in House of Delegates elections two years ago, Republicans thought 2019 would be different. With no statewide races on the ballot, these “off, off-year” elections usually bring light voter turnout, which generally benefits the GOP. After all, in 2015, the last such election, only about a quarter of Prince William’s voters bothered to go to the polls.
That year, Republican Corey Stewart won re-election as chair of the Board of County Supervisors with about 37,000 votes. On Tuesday, the Republican candidate to replace Stewart, John Gray, also received about 37,000 votes – and was summarily trounced by Democrat Ann Wheeler, who received over 58,000 votes.
The story was the same across the county. Democrats flipped control of the Prince William board and will have a 5-3 majority starting in January. They held on to all the House of Delegates seats they won four years ago, even in the 50th District, where socialist Lee Carter repelled a strong challenge from Manassas Councilman Ian Lovejoy. Democrat Amy Ashworth was easily elected Prince William commonwealth’s attorney, Babur Lateef was elected to a full four-year term as chairman of the county School Board, and even long-time Republican Sheriff Glen Hill is in a race with Democrat Joshua King with results too close to call.
Statewide, the story was generally the same. Republicans hoped that the Gov. Ralph Northam’s issues with racist photos and the sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would help them retain control of the General Assembly. Instead, that, too, flipped — Democrats will control both the House of Delegates and the state Senate for the first time in 25 years.
Maybe Republicans will finally realize that Prince William and Virginia have changed. We are a majority-minority community, and our representatives must reflect that diversity. We want reasonable gun control measures so our children are safe at school and so our workplaces, churches and shopping malls stop becoming killing fields. We believe women should have control over their bodies. We think everyone should have access to health care.
As long as GOP candidates can be labeled anti-gun control, anti-abortion and anti-health care, their important messages of fiscal responsibility, limited government and less regulation will never resonate. And results like this week’s will continue. Just ask former Del. Rich Anderson, who was a successful Republican legislator. He ran the same campaign in the same district against the same opponent as he did two years ago. And lost by the same margin.
2020 is a lost cause for Virginia Republicans. No matter who the Democrats nominate, it’s their race to lose against President Trump in the state.
But that gives the party time to find candidates who are more diverse and whose viewpoints on social issues better reflect majority opinions throughout the region and state. Otherwise, the GOP will become obsolete.