With next Wednesday serving as the official kick off to the 2017 general election, it’s now more clear than ever that Virginians will come together this fall to stand up to the Trump-Gillespie agenda by voting to elect a Democrat as the next governor of the Commonwealth.
Virginia Democrats are currently seeing a resurgence of excitement in the months following the November election. Right from the get-go, we knew that Democrats had to refocus and readjust to serve as the force and the opposition against the Trump administration. This year will be about strengthening and connecting our communities with the hope to spread the word about our progressive values. If we are successful, we increase our chances of electing a Democrat as governor and lieutenant governor, along with reelecting Attorney General Mark Herring and taking back the House.
Our competitive gubernatorial primary has meant one thing for Democrats -- more folks than ever before are stepping up, are engaging in our Democratic process and working to put the best foot forward as our party moves into a new era.
In recent days, absentee ballot requests for the Democratic primary race have skyrocketed in certain parts of the Commonwealth. Data released by theVirginia Department of Elections shows significant gains in areas like Charlottesville and Norfolk, with Democrats seeing huge increases in rural areas as well.
Communities are engaging at levels not often seen in non-presidential election years as well. Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello are activating a Democratic coalition that represents a full range of diverse supporters from across the Commonwealth. This increase in participation is a clear referendum on Donald Trump, Ed Gillespie and the Republican Party.
Over the past several months, one thing about this race has become clear: a vote for Ed Gillespie is a vote for Donald Trump. Within the last month, Ed Gillespie said he would accept President Trump’s help on the campaign trail if he were to become the Republican nominee for governor. He has agreed with the President on a variety of policy issues as well -- he supports the Trump’s efforts to repeal Obamacare, is considering raising premiums on those with pre-existing conditions, called the Muslim ban a “rational step,” and has been labeled as someone who is “mimicking Trump.”
Yet, Democrats are poised and ready to take on the Trump-Gillespie agenda this fall. The state party and the 2017 coordinated campaign have spent the last few months laying the groundwork for a successful general election. We have already set programmatic systems in place, hired organizing staff and kicked off our summer fellowship program. The organizing staff are ready on Day One to support whomever the Democratic gubernatorial nominee is, but will also be working to elect Democrats up and down the ticket in 2017. The rising tide of the resistance extends far beyond the top of the ticket -- don’t forget that Jackie Smith’s victory in Prince William County was largely seen as a referendum on Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Richmond.
The choice this fall will be clear. Given the current state of the race, we expect Virginians to stand up for a candidate that will continue the area of job growth and progressive values under Governor Terry McAuliffe, and elect a slate of Democrats to Richmond this fall.