As President Donald Trump is set on ensuring Republicans retain majorities in both houses of the Virginia General Assembly, Democratic presidential candidates seeking the White House in 2020 have also bought into the situation that the Commonwealth could possibly be flipped red in next year’s general election. Although no 2020 candidates have held campaign events yet in Virginia, one of a few of “Super Tuesday” primary states that has not been visited, that is set to change next week.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke will make appearances in the Commonwealth, with meet and greets, town halls, and other events scheduled in Norfolk, Hampton Roads, Williamsburg, Henrico, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Alexandria, as well as Prince William and Fairfax counties.
As the first declared 2020 candidate to visit Virginia, O’Rourke’s move is likely to entice more presidential candidates to visit and possibly work to influence the 2019 General Assembly elections when all 140 seats will be on the ballot November 5.
Republicans hold slim majorities in both the House of Delegates and State Senate, 51-49 and 21-19, respectively.
Late last month, Vice President Mike Pence met with key Republican leaders at a fundraiser in Northern Virginia to outline the first push of flipping the state in the upcoming 2019 elections. As President Trump looks to expand his 2020 reelection map to the Commonwealth, and plans to use the 2019 elections as a test of whether he can be competitive, he will be holding rallies and fundraisers for the Virginia GOP and deploying field staffers in the coming months, just like then-President Obama did during his reelection campaign in 2011.
Trump and Republicans will also capitalize on the racial and sexual scandals that have embroiled all three members of Virginia’s Democrat-led executive branch, which could particularly dampen enthusiasm at the ballot box among African-American and women voters.
Nevertheless, 2020 has not shaped the 2019 campaigns, at least not yet.
Currently, the GOP is building on this year’s legislative session that saw the promotion of “kitchen table” issues such as college affordability, school safety, teenage vaping and smoking, and foster care reform to prove to Virginians that Republican leadership is the way forward.