Virginia Democrats are more than a little hopeful about their chances in the November elections, given what they say was a mistake by Republicans to push their conservative social agenda during this year’s legislative session.
“Politically, Democrats won because the Republican majority overreached and became the laughingstock of the nation,” Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran told the Richmond Times-Dispatch
He was referring to GOP efforts to impose tougher restrictions on abortions by requiring women to submit to an invasive vaginal ultrasound, and more relaxed regulations on handgun purchases.
Republicans assessed their performance, and public reaction to it, differently.
“We feel pretty good about how the session went overall,” said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who plans to run for governor next year.
“We had a lot of major initiatives in areas like economic development, government reform, education reform,” he noted, adding that the session shouldn’t be defined by just the ultrasound bill.
“It just generated a lot of attention because of the tremendous passion generated on both sides of the issue,” he said, adding that Democratic “intransigence” on the state budget should give voters more pause for concern.
According to the Times-Dispatch, Senate Democrats defeated two spending proposals and narrowly lost a third attempt to stop an $85 billion transportation bill because Republicans refused to include $300 million for a public rail transit program in Northern Virginia.
Still, Mary Washington University political scientist Stephen Farnsworth suggested Republicans could have more difficulty this year because of their focus on social issues and because they failed to approve transit money considered important to voters in Northern Virginia.
“Elections are won and lost in the ideological center, and governing in too extreme a fashion — too far left or too far right — triggers significant problems,” Farnsworth told the Times-Dispatch.
“A Republican Party focused on business and the economy is going to be a party much more appealing to the center,” he added.
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