Recruit As Democrats run a record number of candidates, the GOP is playing defense
WASHINGTON -- Virginia Republicans, scrambling to defend their last vestiges of power in the Commonwealth, failed to recruit candidates for dozens of seats in this November's General Assembly elections.
"Virginia Republicans aren't just playing defense -- they're in full retreat," said Jessica Post, executive director of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. "Republicans' dismal recruitment numbers are symbolic of the party's steep decline in Virginia. The GOP is out of touch on health care, voting rights, choice -- and it's evident in their lack of candidates."
Republicans certified just 72 House candidates, out of 100 seats, and 25 Senate candidates, out of 40 seats. The GOP is hardly challenging Democratic incumbents and barely defending their narrow two-seat majorities in each chamber.
"Republicans have run out of enthusiasm in Richmond and their Washington backers are bailing," Post said. "Every quantifier, from candidate recruitment to fundraising, signals Democrats are going to flip the entire General Assembly blue this November."
The low recruitment numbers are part of a years-long trend for Virginia Republicans. The state party has been in precipitous decline for a decade. The GOP hasn't won a statewide election since 2009 and lost the majority of seats in the state's congressional delegation last year. In the most recent statewide election, Senator Tim Kaine cruised to reelection by more than 15 points against Corey Stewart, the reactionary face of Trump's Republican Party.
The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee pledged an early $1 million investment in Virginia allowing their state caucus partners to hire early staff, increase fundraising, and focus more on recruitment.
Democrats are charging toward November with clear advantages:
- Fundraising: Democratic candidates have outraised Republicans by millions of dollars in 2019
- Fair Maps: Democrats will be competing on new fair House maps, giving them an edge in districts that had been racially gerrymandered by Republicans
- Trump: The president continues to be an unmitigated albatross hanging around the neck of vulnerable Republicans representing districts won by Hillary Clinton, Governor Ralph Northam and Senator Kaine
"Republicans are out of touch with voters and it's reflected in their recruitment, fundraising and general lack of enthusiasm, " Post said. "Democrats are running on expanding health care, improving education and passing gun safety. We're going to continue building momentum through the year and deliver a staggering blow to Republicans this November."