Whoever Wins Virginia’s General Assembly Elections Will Soon Have to Finish Old Business
Take courage, Virginia. The end of the 2019 campaign season is in sight.
No more of those gawd-awful TV ads, mailers, robocalls, door hangers (and door knockers). The campaign for control of the General Assembly will fade into memory, and we can all get back to ignoring the Washington Redskins.
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).