Local Commentary

Editorial: After This Week’s Primary

The hard-fought victory, if by a narrow margin, of veteran State Senator Dick Saslaw, whose district includes the City of Falls Church, means the veteran lawmakers, as the Democrats’ current leader in that body, will stand an excellent chance of becoming the Senate Majority leader in Richmond, if Democrats statewide can win even just one more seat to obtain a majority there. This will give him enormous clout to provide for his constituents (that’s us) and the state as a whole. His positions articulated during the course of a rough campaign assure us that he will lead as a responsible progressive with the first opportunity in a long time to reform Virginia’s laws with respect to gun safety, women’s rights, education and the needs of the less advantaged, in a powerful way.

So the challenge for all Democrats in Virginia now is to come together with the requisite zeal and enthusiasm to give their party, and its values, control of both houses of the legislature to combine with the power of our Democratic governor to bring about some really constructive changes.

It is clearly time to clear the air after the Democratic primary campaigns of the recent months that became far more contentious, and in some cases downright nastier, than almost anyone anticipated. We are happy to accept the outcome of the election Tuesday, wishing Saslaw the best in another four year term and the same for our new commonwealth’s attorney, Parisa Dehghani-Tafti. Although she comes to the job lacking experience, the phalanx of supporters among leading and respected Democrats in the region will help to insure that she executes her duties diligently and well.

The danger of hotly contested primaries is that they can create frictions and animosities that are hard to overcome, even as they involve persons of the same party and general policy goals. It will be highly unfortunate if such differences harden into divisions in the coming period, and are not quickly overcome by some deft leadership and qualities of grace and wisdom to embrace a wide new coalition of same-minded persons to achieve wider, and very important objectives.

Remember, please, that everyone is not of good will in this process. If the Mueller investigation and report into the interference of the Russians in the last presidential election teaches us anything, it is in the manner by which they sought to achieve their desired results, and that had everything to do with sewing division and discord. It also had to do with stepping up their interference in upcoming U.S. elections, and we should all expect to see them deeply involved, yes, even this year in Virginia.

If nothing else, those who care about the outcome of elections going forward should read at least the first section of the Mueller Report to get a clear and impactful picture of the “modus operandi” that will be operative in the upcoming races. Know your enemy.