Turning the Virginia House of Delegates Blue in 2017
WHAT PROMPTED THIS POST?
I wrote a post yesterday morning detailing how close Republicans are to not only close to calling an Article V Convention of the States to propose any amendment they want, but they are close to being able to ratify ANYTHING that comes out of that convention.
All they need to do is flip 24 state legislative seats in 6 just six states to do that. I encourage you to read that diary in its entirety. I detail how Article 5 works, cover the Republican drive toward that goal, where the numbers stand, which states are vulnerable to flipping and which states we need to flip and close with 4 action steps to address the problem, flipping red state legislative bodies are definitely one of those action steps to be taken.
Here is the link:
Before moving to Virginia, it is important to stress the urgency of this. Breitbart is enthusiastic about calling an Article 5 Convention and the Koch Brothers, through ALEC, are promoting state legislatures pass a resolution calling for a convention of the states. They are serious about this, we should be too.
PLAN FOR THE WORST, HOPE FOR THE BEST
Given Trumps authorstarian tendencies, combined with his parties demonstrated ack of regard for precedent and norms, I think we need to plan for the worst case scenario. A convention called by Republicans that could declare Trump a dictator. That may not be their aim, but I do not think we ought to risk it.
Even if you do not believe the worst case scenario would happen, allowing them free reign to change our constitution to ban reproductive rights, end marriage equality, and gut the 14th amendment ought to be concerning enough.
BETTER YET, WORK FOR THE BEST — FLIP VIRGINIA IN 2017
Why Virginia you might ask?
The answer to that is simple:
- They are one of 32 state legislative bodies completely controlled by republicans. Flipping the Virginia House of Delegates would reduce that number to 31. The further from 38 states under complete Republican control the better.
- The Virginia House of Delegates is up for election on November 7, 2017. The electoral game is on this year, not 2018. They are the only legislative body in a state that Republicans control both legislative bodies up for election this fall.
- Looking at the numbers in Virginia, well it is madness, and we need to get to work now.
THE VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE FAST FACTS
- There is an upper and lower chamber in the Virginia Assembly.
- The upper chamber is the Senate.
- The Senate has 40 districts.
- Each Senate district is currently comprised of 200,025 people.
- Elections are held every 4 years for all seats.
- The next Virginia Senate election is 2019.
- Republicans enjoy 21-19 majority in the Virginia Senate.
- The lower chamber is the House of Delegates.
- The House of Delegates has 100 districts.
- Each district is currently comprised of 80,010 people.
- Elections are held every 2 years for all seats.
- The next Virginia House of Delegates election is 2017.
- Republicans enjoy a 66-34 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.
- This fall is also a Gubernatorial election.
SO HOW DO WE FLIP IT
I went into this project thinking I wanted to find out which seats represented the lowest hanging fruit to flip. Democrats seemingly have a huge deficit to make up needing to flip 17 seats. Then, I started digging into the numbers. It is a little concerning. It also explains why we might struggle so hard in rural America. So here is a summary of what I found:
VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES - SUMMARY OF PARTISAN MAKEUP
You see it right, Democrats failed to contest 44 of the Republicans 66 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates in the last election. That is simply a stunning, stunning number. Republicans basically need to only win 7 out of the remaining 56 races to secure a majority.
It is 10 more seats than double the 17 seats we would need to flip this state. I know that is a crazy way to say it, but it is crazy that so many seats go uncontested. This is the first State I have looked at in this level of detail. If this is in anyway near the norm, and I have a suspicion it likely is, then no wonder we struggle with rural America. We aren’t even talking to them. If we don’t show up it is not surprising we don’t get their support.
So action step number 1, if you live in Virginia run for the House of Delegates this fall. Go out and ask your neighbors to vote for you. You will be surprised at how few votes you may need to win it as well. Let's take a look at what it would take to win.
REPUBLICAN CONTESTED SEATS IN 2015 - SORTED BY VOTE MARGIN
So from the top of the list down are the 14 seats that were the most closely contested in 2015. These would make good targets for our support. In District 2, for example) we just need to attract 126 more votes to flip that seat if all things remain the same (I know they won’t, but knowing the margin tells us the vulnerability of that Republican Incumbent).
REPUBLICAN UNCONTESTED SEATS IN 2015 - SORTED BY VOTE MARGIN
I think if we could just recruit 44 people to challenge the uncontested seats, it will pay huge dividends, even if we lose. I was expecting to dig into some serious analysis, but in reality, we just need people to run. The list above are the 14 uncontested Republican races that got the fewest votes in 2015. I did go back to look at the last governors' election year and the participation rates do see a small bump up, but only slightly so this might be what you could expect to see if you were to run. Contested races, of course, will drive up those rates as well.
To venture just a guess, turnout this fall might be unusually high as well, Trump could either win big if we don’t contest these races, or Virginia House of Delegates could be the opening electoral shot in turning the tide against Trump. If Democrats commit to competing in all districts I believe we can turn the Virginia House of Delegates blue!
SEATS TO GUARD
MOST VULNERABLE DEMOCRATS - SORTED BY MARGIN
The Democratic delegates above have won with less than a 5,000 vote margin. That makes them the most vulnerable seats for Republicans to flip. We need to go after Republican seats, but we need to make sure these folks get some additional support to protect our rear guard as it were.
Honestly, I can not repeat this enough, if we are not running anyone in so many districts it is not surprising we see the sort of numbers we see even in Presidential elections in these districts. We need to be recruiting people to run in these races. If you are not comfortable running yourself that is fine, look around your community, is there someone you like and respect? Anyone you think might make a good representative? Talk to them, encourage them to run on the Democratic ticket. Tell them you will help them reach out to potential constituents.
If we can field a full slate of candidates that will lay down a serious marker to the residents of Virginia. They will flock to our banner if we just ask them to. None of these races clear 30% participation, that means they are ripe for the picking. As I note above, this is what we need to do to seize the moment and turn the electoral tide against Trump. If we truly want to stop Trump, competing in and winning elections is the best path to doing that.
HOW TO RUN
Full instructions can be found here:
Here is the candidate bulletin for the House of Delegates:
FILING DEADLINE = No earlier than March 13 and no later than March 30, 2017 at 5:00 pm
Email Full Slate Consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org