History was made last night

November 8, 2017

In a stunning blow to Republican dominance in the Virginia House of Delegates, Democrats closed a 32-seat Republican advantage to split the chamber 50-50. There has never been such a major shift in the partisan makeup of the House of Delegates for over a hundred years.

While this shift is historic alone, history was further made last night by Danica Roam becoming the first transgender candidate to be elected to a U.S. statehouse and Dawn Adams becoming the first openly lesbian candidate to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly. Both Danica and Dawn received the LGBT Democrats of Virginia Grassroots Award last summer. We couldn’t be prouder of them.

Virginia Democrats also swept statewide races last night, electing Ralph NorthamJustin Fairfax, and Mark Herring as Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. Democrats again make history with Fairfax being only the second black candidate to ever win a statewide race in Virginia.

Democrats ran in a number of races unprecedented in recent history, challenging incumbent Republicans in 56 House races and winning 16 of those races without any incumbent Democrat losing their seat. Many of these candidates were new to politics and campaigning. In addition to a surge in the number of candidates, we were seeing a surge in the number of volunteers, many of which were also new. Virginia also saw a 5-point increase in voter turnout over the last gubernatorial race in 2013. It is likely many of these voters were did not vote in past gubernatorial elections. There is little doubt this surge in participation in the political process is rooted in Virginian’s rejection of the Trump administration and agenda.

There are 40 Democratic House candidates and too many Democrats who ran for local office to name who did not win last night. They deserve our appreciation. Many of these races were close and exceeded expectations. By challenging Republicans in virtually every corner of Virginia, the playing field was more level than we’ve seen in a long time. It’s a sacrifice and risk to run for public office, and every Democrat on the ballot last night contributed to the successes we are celebrating today.

If you gave a dollar, made a phone call, knocked a door, took a friend with you to vote, gave voters rides, greeted voters at the polls, or did anything to support Democratic candidates this year, it can’t be stated enough how valuable your effort was to the campaigns you supported. Thank you.

Take a moment, celebrate what was accomplished this year, but don’t get too comfortable. Next year are midterms.

About the Author

Joel McDonald
Joel McDonald served as the Vice-Chair for Technology and Communications of LGBT Democrats of Virginia from 2009 to 2019. He's served in a number of roles within the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee, including webmaster, treasurer, and precinct and elections director. He also helped start Hampton Roads Young Democrats, serving as their first finance director and then as vice president. In 2012, he was elected to the Virginia Beach School Board, was reelected in 2016, and served as vice chair in 2018. Joel holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Old Dominion University. Professionally, he is the webmaster and English content manager for Affirmation: LGBTQ Mormons, Families & Friends and provides web design, development, hosting, and maintenance services through his business, McDonald Web Works.