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The Blue & Gray Press | November 20, 2017

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Virginia turns blue: a look at the 2013 election

electionBY STEPHANIE TIPPLE

The Commonwealth of Virginia elected Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam to serve as governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Virginia is awaiting a recount of votes for the attorney general race.

McAuliffe beat out former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the polls for governor, 48 percent to 45.5 percent, according to the New York Times website. Northam beat out E.W. Jackson in the polls for lieutenant governor, 55.14 percent to 44.49 percent.
The outcomes of this election were met with varied feelings.

“Obviously, Young Democrats are overjoyed with the outcome of the election. From the way it looks, we have a clean sweep in Fredericksburg and statewide,” said Benjamin Hermerding, president of the Young Democrats. “We couldn’t be happier.”

The College Republicans felt differently after election night.

“I’m disappointed that Cuccinelli lost for governor, and that we lost for lieutenant governor as well, but I have a sliver of hope since there’s going to be a recount for attorney general,” said Maxwell Reinhardt, chairman of the College Republicans

According to Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies, recent events relating to the Republican Party made it difficult for Cuccinelli to make progress in this election.

“This was an impossible environment for Cuccinelli. McAuliffe had a lot more money, the government shutdown in Washington harmed the Republican brand and the incumbent governor of the state is facing potential corruption charges,” said Farnsworth. “It’s really amazing that it was as close as it was.”

Issues with Republican campaign strategy was the focus of the message, according to Farnsworth.

“I think the Republicans stepped on their own message in this election cycle,” said Farnsworth. “If the Republicans had not forced a government shutdown the first three weeks of October, it would have been a time to focus on the healthcare rollout problems.”

There are two very close races in the process of a recount: the attorney general race between Mark Obenshain and Mark Herring, and the delegate’s race between Jeremy McPike and Scott Lingamfelter.

With the totals being so close, provisional and absentee ballots not yet counted could sway the outcome of these races.

“Until we have all the ballots counted, we don’t really know who won,” said Farnsworth.

While the Democrats swept through the top two big-ticket races, the Virginia House of Delegates maintained their Republican majority.

According to some, this could make McAuliffe’s term difficult.

“I think we can expect heightened gridlock in Richmond. For the last several years, Republican moderates have been replaced either by Democrats or Republican conservatives, and so there’s very little interest on the part of the current Republican majority of the House of Delegates, to work all that closely with a Democratic governor,” said Farnsworth.

Reinhardt agreed, saying, “After this election, Virginia is kind of like a little mini Washington D.C. I expect this to be a very unproductive governorship. [McAuliffe] ran on a very far left platform, and I don’t think that the Republicans can or should go along with his plans.”

Hermerding, however, disagreed.

“We don’t have the House of Delegates, so there’s that, but McAuliffe, as a Democrat, ran his campaign with bipartisanship and moderation, and I see him working together with the Republicans to do what’s best for Virginia,” said Hermerding.

McAuliffe and Northam will assume office in January and a special election will occur to fill Northam’s soon to be vacant Senate seat.