Virginia’s democratic omen

Tidings Editorial

Tuesday’s off-year election in Virginia offered highly troubling news for America’s Grand Old Party.

The tide of anti-Bush, anti-war sentiment that handed control of Congress back to the fumbling, bumbling Democrats in 2006, appears to have only gained momentum.

A state so dominated by Republicans that Mark Warner’s 2001 bid to become governor was also widely viewed as a last-ditch attempt to save the Democratic Party in Virginia, has reversed its course so fully that Democrats won back control of the Virginia senate Tuesday.

It is hard to properly illustrate how vast a change has occured since George II took office. Imagine Ashland suddenly voting 60 percent in favor of Bill O’Reilly for President and you are starting to get the picture.

In 2000, every statewide office was held by a Republican, as were both U.S. Senate seats. Republicans controlled both houses of the state Legislature and pushed forward a redistricting plan that seemingly guaranteed GOP control for years to come. In 2000, George W. Bush was so popular in Virginia that Al Gore, who hailed from nearby Tennessee, avoided the Commonwealth altogether.

Oh my, how things have changed.

Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine followed Warner to victory in 2005. Democrat James Webb swiped the U.S. Senate seat from previously unbeatable George Allen — a political rock star in the state who many thought would emerge as a 2008 presidential favorite — in 2006. And now in 2007, the state Senate has swung back under the control of the Democrats.

The failures of the Bush Administration are now painfully evident, as summed up by The Washington Post Staff Writer Tom Craig:

“For most of the year, Republicans have been worried President Bush’s unpopularity could become a drag on their candidates. Several Democratic candidates, particularly in Northern Virginia, sought to make their race, in part, a referendum on GOP policies in Washington.”

The Republican Party has seen its fears realized. If Democrats can make significant headway in Virginia, then the entire Red State stronghold is in jeopardy.

However, what should be troubling for the lackluster Democratic Party is that since seizing control of Congress, Democrats have shown little effectiveness in thwarting the president’s progress on key issues like troop withdrawal from Iraq, curbing war spending and passing health care initiatives.

But if we can learn anything from the test case of Virgina in 2007, it is that no matter what the Democrats lack in leadership, Bush and the GOP more than make up for it with an utter failure of White House policy.

Barring a significant change, 2008 could be a Blue State landslide the likes of which haven’t been seen since perhaps the Virginia Dynasty of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe.

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