Why One Black Democrat’s Win In Virginia Could Signal Trouble for Republicans In States Across the Nation

The Nov. 7 election night across several states was brimming with wins for Black candidates in multiple races.

Gabriel Amo won the special election for Rhode Island’s 1st District, making him the first Black person to represent the state in Congress. Amo, a Democrat, strives to fight gun violence and protect Social Security and Medicare.

Cherelle Parker, a former Pennsylvania state legislator and Philadelphia councilwoman became the first Black woman to be elected mayor of Philadelphia. While she sides with the Democratic party, she seeks to implement more tough-on-crime policies, including reviving “constitutional” stop-and-frisk tactics and hiring hundreds more police officers. Her policy agenda strongly resembles that of New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

Then there’s Yusef Salaam, an exonerated “Central Park Five” member who just won a seat on the New York City Council, representing Harlem in Manhattan. He advocates for prison abolition, environmental and economic justice, and empowerment of marginalized groups.

Virginia Beach Delegate Michael Feggans (Photo: AP/Bryan Woolston)

The one person whose name you might not have seen make many national headlines is Michael Feggans.

Feggans, an Air Force veteran, is one of Virginia’s newest state delegates, representing a district in Virginia Beach. He’s not the first Black state delegate, nor does he hold some distinct, national renown.

However, Feggans’ win cinched the Democratic majority in Virginia’s House of Delegates, which was formerly majority-Republican. Not only did Democrats take over the House, but they also maintained their majority in the state Senate. Their takeover in the state’s General Assembly spells doom for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s political agenda, part of which included plans to pass a 15-week limit on abortions.

It’s not that Feggans’ win is a unique sign foreshadowing some sort of poor political omen for all Republicans, but his party’s statehouse takeover does raise questions. How did a swing state regain a Democratic majority in its statehouse with a Republican governor? What efforts in this set of elections could give Democrats a leg up in other states?

It’s important to note that Virginia’s current governor, Glenn Youngkin, never ran his gubernatorial campaign as a Trumpist. It’s not unusual, but it distinguished him from the mass of political cronies that current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump boasts on the state and federal level. Virginia, in the first place, was never really MAGA country, which is likely why Trump never paid attention to the state’s most recent elections.

In any case, the former president was itching to get involved in the 2021 gubernatorial race, but Youngkin and the Virginia Republican Party chose to keep him at arm’s length and instead chose to concentrate on the issues Youngkin would work to focus on in his time in office. They were able to mobilize voters by denouncing statewide COVID-19 mandates, advocating for a more robust parental involvement in education, smearing critical race theory, and making pledges to combat crime.

Those tactics worked, and Youngkin was elected in 2021 by a nose in the race against former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Virginia Republicans thought they could maintain that same strategy for these legislative races but to no end. While other states across the South have passed abortion bans, Democrats were able to galvanize voters interested in preserving reproductive rights in Virginia.

Youngkin’s 15-week abortion limit proposal was portrayed as “reasonable” compared to other hardline bans in the South. He would have allowed exceptions for cases of rape and incest or when the mother’s life or health is at risk. Regardless, Democrats ran numerous TV spots declaring that a vote for their party would stop a ban in Virginia. Their statewide campaigns worked.

Legislative races in other states that are under similar circumstances could play out the same way, which could put a pin in Republicans’ election plans.

Read the original story here.

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