But Tuesday may bring more than an end to a low and dishonest campaign. If polling data from Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center is accurate, Election Day could spell the end of the GOP’s Senate majority.
If you’re a member of Team Red, that’s reason to stock up on canned goods and ammunition because the wild-eyed socialists will have taken the capital.
If you’re cheering for Team Blue, the Wason numbers mean the workers’ paradise is near. Time to dust off the policy wish lists, cost and effectiveness be damned — assuming the party’s long march on the House of Delegates ends in success, of course. The Wason Center will provide some insights on those races Friday.
But before anyone gets too excited, there are a few items that will immediately take center stage, regardless of which party prevails on Election Day.
Some are old business: Redistricting being one of the more esoteric, but politically important, issues on the list.
Virginia’s legislative and congressional boundaries won’t be adjusted until 2021 — after the 2020 census. But the next General Assembly will have to take up a constitutional amendment that would establish a nonpartisan redistricting commission to do the job rather than leave it to state lawmakers and their gerrymandering inclinations.
If the amendment is approved, it will go on the November 2020 ballot. It might even pass. That prospect has the resident political class preparing to disavow its good government promises.
That’s no surprise. Even so, whichever party controls the General Assembly in January will have to make the choice: to gerrymander, or not to gerrymander?
But how to apportion power is just the beginning of the old business facing the next General Assembly. There’s also an issue most Democratic members would prefer never to have to face: what to do about Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D).
The lieutenant governor filed a $400 million lawsuit against CBS in September, alleging the Tiffany Network “recklessly disregarded the truth” when it aired interviews with two women who accused Fairfax of sexual assault.
The suit also alleges Fairfax’s political rivals within the Democratic Party, including Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and former governor Terry McAuliffe, were behind the accusations.
The lawsuit sprang to life again Monday night as Fairfax began pushing an interview he did with Ronald Martin. In the interview, Fairfax says he has “proof positive” the allegations were a calculated political hit. Okay. But what’s this got to do with the General Assembly?
House Republicans have been calling for hearings into the Fairfax matter for months. Would it be an impeachment inquiry? It certainly could become one. Because of that, Democrats have ducked, dodged and dived their way around such hearings.
Fairfax’s insistence on pursuing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit may make it impossible for the next General Assembly to avoid such an inquiry — if for no other reason than to get the accusers and the accused on record and under oath.
And the big bit of new business the next General Assembly will have to face: the state budget.
The Northam administration is warning that spending is getting ahead of revenue, and state agencies should plan accordingly.
Which, if history is a guide, means there could be a fight over taxes in our future. They have always been big. Then-Gov. Mark R. Warner’s (D) package of tax increases in 2004 nearly broke the GOP. And then-Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s (R) transportation tax hikes of 2013 arguably finished the job.
So, a tax fight in 2020? If that occurs, then we may look back on the 2019 campaign as a golden age of civility and common sense.