That didn’t happen. Even if Biden ousts President Trump from the White House, Republicans came out in force to support him. Also, with Trump heading the ticket, the GOP added seats in the House and did better than expected in Senate races. Exit polls showed most Republicans are enthusiastic about Trump.
That outcome effectively rules out the possibility that Republicans will be looking for a 2024 standard-bearer like Hogan, who has distanced himself from Trump. Hogan has embraced science in his response to the coronavirus, supported some environmental measures and called for bipartisan cooperation. He cast his presidential ballot as a write-in for Ronald Reagan.
“Hogan’s brand of politics just isn’t selling right now in the Republican Party,” said Melissa Deckman, a political science professor at Washington College. “We saw that very clearly with the election results.”
Loser: D.C. statehood. Democrats’ hopes of winning a Senate majority were set back, although the final result appears likely to depend on the outcome of two runoffs in Georgia. If the GOP retains control, then statehood advocates will have to wait until after the 2022 midterms to have a chance of achieving their goal.
“Georgia is on our mind,” said John Falcicchio, chief of staff for Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D).
On the other hand, if Biden emerges as president, D.C. statehood will have a supporter in the White House. Advocates say that will help the ongoing process of trying to educate the American public about the need to give full congressional voting rights to the District’s 700,000-plus residents.
Winner: Gambling and drugs. Maryland voters approved sports gambling. Four Virginia cities okayed opening casinos. The District voted to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms.
The results reflected a steady trend toward a libertarian approach on “sin” issues in our area and the nation.
The bitter debates in Maryland a few years ago over allowing gambling now seem quaint. Voters have consistently opted by large margins first to allow slots, then table games and now sports betting.
Virginia is well behind Maryland on this curve, but it moved ahead Tuesday, as Bristol, Danville, Norfolk and Portsmouth all endorsed casinos in referendums. It seems only a matter of time before Northern Virginia opens a casino to compete with MGM National Harbor just across the Potomac in Prince George’s County.
In the District, Bowser opposed the measure to decriminalize use of psychedelic mushrooms and similar “high”-inducing plants, which advocates say have important medicinal properties. Voters ignored her. She suggested the vote wouldn’t make much difference, as the law is rarely enforced.
Loser. Virginia GOP unity. The results will aggravate what already promised to be a brawl between the party’s Trump wing and more traditional conservatives as it tries to win races next year for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Big-margin victories for Biden and Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) suggested that Republicans should move to the center to have a chance of winning their first statewide election since 2009.
But the nationwide success of Trump-style candidates — apart, possibly, from Trump himself — will embolden the right in Virginia. Republicans also can point to the victory by hard-right conservative Bob Good in the race for a U.S. House seat in the 5th Congressional District in central and southern Virginia.
“The Republican deficit in statewide elections is growing, and that’s bad news for Republicans looking at the three statewide offices that open up in 2021,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.
“The Virginia Republican nomination process rarely offers up moderate choices, particularly in statewide elections, and that’s a recipe for failure,” he said. “Normally, political parties that lose a series of elections start thinking about retooling, but that doesn’t seem to be happening in Virginia.”
Winner: D.C. government diversity. Election of Christina Henderson (I) to an at-large seat on the D.C. Council means the body will have a majority of both female and Black members.
It’s hard to say yet what else it will mean. Henderson takes a seat previously held by David Grosso (I), whom she once served as deputy chief of staff. But some of her campaign positions, such as on budget issues, appeared to be to the left of Grosso’s stances.
Henderson, calling herself a “pragmatic progressive,” defeated strong challengers from both her left (Ed Lazere) and right (Vincent B. Orange).
Loser: Partisan gerrymandering in Virginia. Voters approved a constitutional amendment creating a bipartisan commission to draw congressional and legislative maps. It’s a significant victory for self-described “good government” advocates, although critics said the amendment doesn’t go far enough because party leaders will still have lots of control over the process.
The amendment’s passage also made losers of partisan Democrats in the state. They lost a historic opportunity to draw districts to their advantage when lines are redone following this year’s U.S. census. Opponents of the amendment said Democrats were suckers to relinquish that power after Republicans nationwide have out-gerrymandered Democrats for years.
Winner: Northern Montgomery County. Voters in Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction added two seats to the county council, which will ensure better representation for the growing population in northern Montgomery. Voters also opted to keep four at-large council seats, thus providing a buffer against excessive parochialism.
Loser: Future Maryland governors. Voters approved a constitutional amendment giving the General Assembly the power to add, reduce or move around spending in the state budget, as long as legislators stay under the overall cap set by the governor. That chips away at what had been Maryland governors’ unusually strong powers over the budget.
“It’s been a very one-sided budget approach, [so] this is sort of a corrective,” Washington College’s Deckman said. “Most state legislatures have policies where the legislators themselves are determining the budget.”
Hogan opposed the measure, but it won’t affect him. It takes effect in 2023, when he leaves office after serving the maximum two terms allowed under Maryland law.