[Sun Gazette editorials represent the viewpoint of Sun Gazette Newspapers, which provides content to, but is otherwise unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]
The calendar has flipped a page and, starting this week, Virginia Democrats will have unfettered access to the levers of power of state government.
Even so, it is worth casting an eye toward the jockeying that already is in the works for the next statewide election in 2021. And it’s getting, well, “interesting” on the Democratic side:
• Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is dropping broad hints he wouldn’t say no to becoming only the second governor in modern history to serve two (non-consecutive) terms. But unlike Mills Godwin, he almost assuredly wouldn’t be making a Democrat-to-Republican conversion to do so.
• Current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who may or may not be guilty of serial sexual impropriety (and who has decided that a good offense is the best defense in that regard), clings to the perhaps slightly dubious proposition that he’d be a viable candidate for governor, too.
• Also in the wings is Attorney General Mark Herring, who was teed up and ready to launch his own campaign for the top spot, but now may have to rethink it. There are rumblings Herring will be elbowed aside and will have to settle for yet a THIRD term in his current office – a humbling experience, indeed, for someone who, like all 50 state attorneys general across our land, in his heart believes he is just two steps away from the White House.
Given the dysfunction of the Virginia Republican ranks, Democrats go into the 22-month (!) election season with a decided advantage in the race for statewide offices. Should McAuliffe garner the nomination, he’d probably win going away against any Republican who could be fielded from the GOP’s denuded ranks.
And yet, having McAuliffe back for a second go would plug up the pathway to higher office for any number of ambitious Democratic office-holders across the Old Dominion, particularly given that Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
The result may be a level of disgruntlement in the ranks, and could lead some rising political figures to decide they are better off outside of elected office, rather than sticking around for openings that may – or may not – arise.