Democrats across the nation continue to worry about the Virginia governor’s race as the polls remain tight between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam.
Democrats continue to lag behind Republicans in fundraising ahead of the 2018 midterm election. Democrats continue to worry about what a potential loss for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie on November 7 could mean for the midterm election.
Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of the Democratic party of Virginia, explained, “We’re Ground Zero. All eyes are on us. I can understand that because last year broke my heart.”
Democrats amped up the Virginia governor’s race by bringing in former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden. Obama, at his first public campaign rally since leaving office, said that “democracy is at stake” in the Virginia gubernatorial race.
Other democratic operatives believe that Democrats have a branding problem, one that makes it more difficult to rally middle-class and rural voters who flocked to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
Ken Martin, the chairman of Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, charged, “From a branding perspective, we have a huge problem. It was the biggest challenge for us in the last year — and our biggest mistake was uniting around ‘Stop Trump.’”
Defeat could prompt increased tension between the Democratic Party’s establishment and the progressive activists. Northam, who was backed by most of Virginia’s Democratic establishment, beat the Sen. Bernie Sanders-endorsed (I-VT) Rep. Tom Perriello, a race that many believed to mirror the 2016 Democratic presidential election’s primaries.
Martin then suggested that Democrats’ overconfidence in the 2016 presidential election led to a stunning defeat.
Martin said, “That sense of complacency led people to take their foot off the gas. We saw a dip in volunteers in the last few weeks, turnout dropped. That cannot ever happen again.”
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) began dumping resources into Virginia since July, where it spent $1.5 million and hired almost 40 staff members, although that pales in comparison to the Republican National Committee (RNC).
The DNC raised $4.4 million in August, although it has a debt of $4.1 million, which remains almost twice the size of its cash reserves. The RNC has $45.9 million in its coffers and no outstanding debt. The RNC spent $3 million in Virginia and hired 80 staff members in Virginia.
RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens said, “The RNC never left Virginia and has had field staff on the ground since 2013.”
Republican candidate Ed Gillespie recently took the lead in the polls against his Democratic competition, Ralph Northam.
Gillespie’s rise in the polls coincides with his outreach to the Republican base. Gillespie barely eked out a victory over his populist primary opponent, Corey Stewart. Stewart is now running for Senate against incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA).
Gillespie made sanctuary cities, one of Trump’s staple issues, one of his own. In the third and final debate between Gillespie and Northam, Gillespie attacked his Democrat opponent when Northam refused to say whether he would sign a bill that bans sanctuary cities in Virginia.
Gillespie also said he will push for issues that will help rural voters to better rally Trump’s base amidst concerns that Republicans do not have the same enthusiasm towards Gillespie as they did towards Trump.
Local Virginian Kim McFall said that she had not been impressed by Gillespie, although she will probably vote for Gillespie. McFall said, “He’s wishy-washy.”
Gillespie stated that he seeks to improve rural Virginia’s economy with tax cuts and fewer regulations. Gillespie said, “We need industrial hemp, we need to have more outdoor recreation jobs, we need to complete the Clinch River State Park. All the detailed specifics I’ve put forward tonight I think are going to rally people here and they’re going to turn out to vote for me.”
Cliff Cauthorne, a local Virginia town council member, said that Gillespie only has one good option to rally his rural town’s voters: a Trump rally “or two.”