The Case for Virginia

Why Virginia? Why Now?

In November 2017, Virginians will have the opportunity to reconfigure their state government. This includes the entire 100-seat House of Delegates, a body so out of sync with the electorate that it faces a potential redistricting order from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Your support for Local Majority will strengthen the collective effort in Virginia and beyond, bringing this successful model to other winnable statehouses. The states we will be working with next will be determined in August of 2017. With your help, their local majorities will prevail in 2018.

Virginia voters will have a chance to rebuke their state representatives for their ill-advised consideration of a “bathroom bill” nearly identical to North Carolina’s disastrous measure, as well as their continued support for Virginia’s ultrasound requirement as a condition for obtaining an abortion. The latter law made headlines when enacted in 2012 because only at the last moment did the legislature drop a clause requiring that the ultrasounds be performed vaginally in many cases.
That’s the opportunity. The risk? Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, is being term-limited out, as are the Democratic lieutenant governor and attorney general. Since 2014, McAuliffe’s veto has been the only thing standing between Virginians and the state legislature’s increasingly bold attacks on civil liberties. The more than 108 bills he has rejected include further restrictions on abortion and a so-called “religious freedom act” that would have allowed widespread discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

Virginia’s governor and state legislature have essentially been locked in a stalemate for more than three years. The Democratic caucus has been large enough to sustain McAuliffe’s veto, but short of the majority required to repeal the ultrasound law. With so many elected offices up for grabs in November, the risks and opportunities for progressives are great.

One of the reasons so much attention is focused on Virginia in 2017 is that Democrats have good reason to be optimistic. In 2016 Hilary Clinton won the state with a higher percentage of the vote than Barack Obama did in 2012. She also came out on top in 17 districts currently being represented by Republicans at the state level—the exact number that Virginia House Democratic Caucus needs to retake the majority. Many of these districts are winnable by Democrats in 2017 if we can garner sufficient support for candidates and turn out the progressive vote.
Republican state and national leaders know this and money is pouring in from conservative PACs desperate to hold the line in Virginia. The national Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is sending money and personnel, as are other organizations such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the ACLU. But there remains a gap in both funding and strategic support.
Local Majority is helping to fill this gap, focusing our research and fundraising on specific and winnable state districts in a way that enhances—and does not compete with—the efforts of these other stakeholders.
By targeting the most winnable districts, we are building political strength from the ground up.
Local Majority is a critical partner to organizations working on the ground to support candidates and get out the vote in Virginia, including Mobilize 2020, Sister District, the Committee on States, and individual Democratic campaigns.
Our all-volunteer electoral research team provides these partners with detailed, expertly researched backgrounds on the candidates, voting history, demographics, and major issues at play in the most flippable districts. For the November 2017 election, our team has taken on research responsibility for 12 races in which the Republican incumbent is vulnerable to a Democratic challenger. Some of these districts have a Republican incumbent who announced in the spring they were not going to run again. In a few of these districts, Local Majority has also been able to provide video, including candidate interviews and other footage the campaigns haven’t the budget to buy for themselves.
The second essential aspect of Local Majority’s mission is to direct donors to viable candidates, Democratic organizations, and voter turnout efforts. In this manner, Local Majority plays a matchmaking role between donors seeking high impact opportunities and the most promising candidates and activities.
Strong ties with our Virginia partners and other progressive organizations operating in the state ensure that our financial and strategic support fills important gaps and avoids a duplication of efforts.