Local Commentary

Editorial: Fast Starts to 2019 Races

The 2019 political season is well upon us now, and we’re only a few days in. It started, actually, on New Year’s Day, itself, with a very lively and animated annual potluck hosted by the Arlington Democrats in Falls Church’s neighbor to the east. There, excitement over today’s scheduled transition of power to the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and growing pressure to end President Trump’s federal government shutdown was eclipsed only by talk of the upcoming Richmond legislative session. No one seemed concerned for eschewing the annual Rose Parade or New Year’s Day college football games to be lingering there engaged in scores of engaged conversations.

It continues with the announcement in today’s News-Press that State Sen. Dick Saslaw, facing the prospect of a primary challenge for the first time since 1979, will campaign aggressively for re-election. Then, it proceeds today as Del. Marcus Simon hosts his own “Back to Richmond” town hall at 11:30 a.m. at the NVAR regional headquarters, 8407 Pennell St. near Gallows and Rt. 50. Virginia Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax has an event at F.C.’s Mad Fox Saturday at 3, and most legislators from this region will be attending the annual “Road to Richmond” brunch at the Westwood Country Club on Route 123 in Vienna on Sunday at 11 a.m. Yes, it’s a Democratic event, but virtually all the elected officials in this region are now Democrats.

On Tuesday, there’s the special election to fill the state senate vacancy created with the election of Jennifer Weston to the U.S. Congress from the 10th District in November. Now, State Del. Jennifer Boysko is running against moderate Republican Joe May, and the very next day, the action for all these state legislators kicks down to Richmond for the beginning of the new legislative session on Jan. 9.

While on the federal level, ending the shutdown and launching a whole spate of new investigative initiatives against the president will commence immediately, the buzz about Richmond centers on the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment at long last. With Democrats just short of the majority in the both houses needed to ratify it, making Virginia the 38th and final state needed to make the ERA part of the U.S. Constitution, something stalled since the mid-1970s but will be an explosive event when it occurs. Democrats are hopeful that there are enough Republicans in Richmond afraid of losing this coming November that they’ll find ways to support its passage, but not all are so optimistic about that. Everyone is more confident that big gains in promoting Democratic priorities for education, health care and gun safety will advance, however, with tax reform initiatives aimed at steering state economic surpluses (from the latest federal tax cut) in that direction are readied.

The challenge for the Democrats will be to stay focused on their core issues of helping middle class families and those in need.