Virginia was a different place in 2017.
Still coming to terms with the phrase “President Donald Trump,” the anger amongst the Democrat base in the Old Dominion was palpable.
Thus arrived the Freshman 15 — 15 House Democrats who flipped seats that had been held by Republicans.
The 15 Freshmen rode into the House of Delegates in 2017 because of one reason — President Trump.
That disdain for the President was so strong that it caught everyone — including Democrats — by surprise. Republican polls showed a loss of 5 or 6 seats headed into the day, and Democrat polls showed much the same.
That was then, this is now.
The Freshman 15 now have records, two years of accumulated votes. “Orange Man Bad” is no longer enough of a platform to win.
With no statewide campaign at the top of the ticket to drive the message or narrative, all 140 candidates for the General Assembly find themselves running in something that looks more akin to a city council or Board of Supervisors race.
What bills have the candidates introduced? What did they do with their two years? How have they worked to make the economy, schools, and transportation better? What have they done to keep neighborhoods safe?
The answer isn’t something voters want to hear. Many of them signed off on some of the most extreme legislation in recent memory.
Led by their Democratic leaders, the 15 also signed off on Virginia’s first outright effort in gun confiscation — legislation that would make simple possession of common rifles a felony.
Then there’s House Bill 1635,their version of the Green New Deal, which would close virtually every power plant in Virginia in just 8 years, has a roll call of Democrat Freshmen attached as patrons.
Freshman Del. Kathy Tran, D-Fairfax, carried this year’s Democrat effort to roll back restrictions on late term abortion — which was revealed to allow abortion until the moment of birth. The patron list features a significant number of the Freshman 15.
The rookies also made it known that they oppose Virginia’s Right to Work law and are running on a platform to repeal the law. This bedrock of Virginia labor law has had support from Democrats and Republicans for its entire 72 year life. No longer.
Economists have estimated that repeating right to work would cost Virginia more than $1 billion per year in economic activity, as businesses decide to forgo expansion or move elsewhere.
Other Freshmen go further. Del. Lee Carter, D-Manassas, has made no bones about being a socialist. He’s so committed to the cause, that he publicly eviscerated his adoptive party for supporting 1,000 new jobs coming to his district.
For the Freshman 15, their voters now see who they really elected.