Virginia has gone dark blue.
For years, decades even, the commonwealth — “the Birthplace of Presidents,” as it is sometimes called — was a Republican stronghold (even former Sen. Bob Dole won the state as Bill Clinton won in a landslide in 1996).
Until the past few elections, the last time a Democrat won the commonwealth was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Even this century, Republicans controlled the state: George W. Bush thumped Al Gore there in 2000, then hammered Sen. John Kerry four years later.
But things have been changing ever since.
Barack Obama crushed Sen. John McCain in 2008, then won again in 2012, beating Mitt Romney by 3 points. And Hillary Clinton won the state by more than 5 points in 2016, even as President Trump went on to trounce her in the Electoral College, 304-227.
The party is now fully in control. Democrats currently hold majorities in both chambers of the commonwealth’s General Assembly — the House of Delegates and the Senate — and a Democrat dwells in the governor’s mansion. Both U.S. Senate seats are held by Democrats, and the makeup of U.S. House lawmakers from the state is tipped in the party’s favor, seven Democrats to four Republicans.
So it makes sense that the commonwealth — like the party that controls it — is moving hard left on the political spectrum.
Just last week, Virginia’s Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver vowed to force all Virginians to take a vaccine for COVID-19 once one is created and readily available. “It is killing people now, we don’t have a treatment for it and if we develop a vaccine that can prevent it from spreading in the community we will save hundreds and hundreds of lives,” Dr. Oliver said.
Virginia state law gives the commissioner “the authority to mandate immediate immunizations during a public health crisis if a vaccine is available. Health officials say an immunization could be released as early as 2021,” a local TV station said. “Dr. Oliver says that, as long as he is still the health commissioner, he intends to mandate the coronavirus vaccine.”
The Virginia General Assembly is currently weighing a bill in a special emergency session that “eliminates the authority of the Commissioner of Health to require immunization of individuals who object to such administration on religious grounds,” the bill says. But Democrats are in control, so that will likely fail.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the state Senate have passed a bill allowing the assault of a law enforcement officer to be treated as a misdemeanor, which carries less than a year in jail. The bill, which passed the Senate last week by a margin of 21-15, “would allow an assault against a law enforcement officer to a misdemeanor if the person attacked is not hurt,” according to another local station.
The bill, according to its summary, “Eliminates the mandatory minimum term of confinement for an assault and battery committed against a judge; magistrate; law-enforcement officer; correctional officer; person directly involved in the care, treatment, or supervision of inmates; firefighter; or volunteer firefighter or any emergency medical services personnel and provides that such crime can no longer be committed as a simple assault and must result in a bodily injury.”
The bill also removes the mandatory minimum six-month jail sentence for assaulting a police officer.
Virginia Democrats got right to work trying to move the commonwealth left after taking over both legislative chambers in January, moving to go after the guns — as they had promised to do.
In February, Democrats in the Senate passed the first pair of bills in a wave of gun-control legislation. One bill proposed restoring the state’s previous one-handgun-a-month rule, while the second proposed to allow local governments to ban guns in public buildings, parks and at permitted events — including political protests. The vote was a straight party line, with Democrats prevailing 21-19.
So Virginia may be lost forever to Republicans. With counties around Washington, D.C., filling with yuppie liberals, the commonwealth — which has produced eight presidents — might never go red again.
And that is making a lot of Virginians blue.
*Joseph Curl ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2014 and covered the White House for a dozen years. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter at @JosephCurl. A version of this article ran previously in The Washington Times.