Fired up by Donald Trump, Virginia Democrats aren’t just proclaiming themselves the “Resistance,” they are running one of the biggest slates of House of Delegates candidates of recent years.
The graphic above, taken from the Virginia Public Access Project, indicates that two-thirds of the House seats are being contested by either a major party candidate or “other” candidates (independents and Libertarians, for the most part).
What’s not clear from this snapshot is how many of these races are truly competitive. All “other” candidates are a long shots, and even some of the major-party nominees in gerrymandered districts are running kamikaze missions.
I’m heartened to see the heightened interest in state-level politics, but I’m concerned by the dearth of outsiders running for office. In this time of dissatisfaction and unrest, the two-party duopoly still has a stranglehold over the political process. Nothing much will change in an election that whittles down the Republican majority in the House by five or six seats. But just imagine the new political dynamic if five or six independents (preferably of a libertarian persuasion) won election.
Virginia’s political system is poised for an upheaval. As it stands, Virginians have a choice between economically liberal, socially liberal Democrats and economically conservative and socially conservative Republicans. Yet a majority of the electorate, I would argue, is libertarian — economically conservative and socially liberal. (That’s an oversimplification, but it holds true as a generality.)
Bottom line: It’s a good thing that Virginians will have more choices at the ballot box this year. But the range of choices is limited. Political competition is not nearly as robust as it needs to be.