The State of Virginia has some very important elections today as the balance of power could shift dramatically with a GOP take over of the state’s Senate. Governor Bob McDonnell has a split congress in the Commonwealth as it stands now, with Democrats holding the majority in Virginia’s upper house and Republicans controlling the lower as well as the Governor’s mansion. A shift to a Republican majority in the state Senate would basically give the Governor a new agenda for the remainder of his first and only term.
The Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Virginia Senate of 22-18. A mere 2 seat swing would give Republicans a technical majority with Lt. Governor Bill Bolling casting tie breaker votes if deadlocked in favor of the GOP. Three seats would give them outright control over committee assignments and chairs. Seventeen incumbent Democrats are running against an opponent compared to only 4 Republicans. Nine Republicans are running unopposed to only 3 Democrats. Many are speculating not if the Senate will turn, but by how much.
To put the Democratic concerns into perspective, Democrat favorite Barbara Favola, who should be a shoe-in to replace long time Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D) in the dark blue 31st district in Arlington, is facing a significant challenge from Republican Caren Merrick, who has surged in the polls as of late. Even though it is unlikely Merrick can pull off a victory, there mere fact that Favola has to break a sweat could be an indicator that other toss-ups in the state could end ugly for the Democrats.
On McDonnell’s unfettered agenda could come some badly needed tort reform and the full privatization of liquor stores and the phasing out of the state ABC stores. It could also help O’Donnell’s rising star on the GOP national level. His name continues to be mentioned as a possible ticket mate for the GOP presidential nominee along with Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Governors Bobby Jindal (LA) and Chris Christie (NJ) – all of which claim not to be interested. McDonnell has not made such claims.
It would also serve as yet another mini-referendum on the Obama administration. The President took the normally red electoral state in 2008 with ease, but his favorability has dropped dramatically in the state and is likely to stay down as long as the economy continues to flounder. Having a completely red legislature in the neighboring Commonwealth will also not bode well as many D.C. power players live in the state.