Leahy: Virginia Democrats Show a Surprising Weakness as the General Election Campaign Kicks Off

By Norman Leahy

There was no post-primary lull in Virginia’s statewide election contests. The nominees are campaigning like it’s early September. They are shaking hands, making speeches and, in the attorney general race, already debating.

Why the rush? Most voters aren’t paying attention. They have far more important things to do with their lives, like getting back to them after losing more than a year to restrictions, closures, distancing and uncertainty.

But politics grinds forward, and Virginia is still on track to give the nation its first look at politics and campaigning in a post-coronavirus environment.

What we’ve learned so far: As I wrote last week, pragmatism is the biggest winner of the 2021 campaign season. The major parties ignored their more vocal wings and picked candidates who represent the broad centers in both. It’s a bit like the statewide races in 2017, in which establishment favorites Ralph Northam (D) and Ed Gillespie (R) led their respective tickets. We know how that ended: Northam’s comfortable victory foreshadowed the Democratic resurgence that was capped in 2019 with the party winning trifecta control of state government.

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