Sabato: Trump is Biggest Reason for Democrat Takeover in VA House, Senate
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Democrats took control over the Virginia legislature for the first time in 26 years and Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia says President Trump is the biggest reason why.
Sabato calls it a blue wave and says Republicans lost the state house due to losing seats in the northern Virginia and Richmond suburbs. He says today's Democrats are far more to the left than many of the Democrats in the past, some of which were very conservative.
“If the Republican Party remains a Trump party, they can count on being a permanent minority in Virginia, if they continue the Trump philosophy after Trump,” Sabato said.
Sabato says many Democrats are aligned on issues like minimum wage and gun control. He says public support for gun control grew after the Virginia Beach shootings and increased regulations will be a Day 1 priority for Democrats.
“I know gun control will be at the top,” Sabato said. “The governor's already made that plain. He had a special session a few months ago that the Republicans shut down after one hour, well he's got a score to settle on this one."
Sabato says President Trump is the biggest driver of these changes, though Republican inaction on gun control and Virginia’s changing demographics are also factors.
“The population trends are going to continue for the foreseeable future,” Sabato said. “The suburbs, the ex-urbs, they're going to be gaining population, and when combined with the city, the central cities, they're large majority of the Virginia electorate so Republicans are only going to be able to compete if they change their views.”
Sabato is not surprised Democrats swept the Charlottesville City Council, but was surprised by one of the races in Albemarle County.
“Just four years ago, a Republican was elected Commonwealth's Attorney in Albemarle,” Sabato said. “It was a surprise that the Democrat beat him by such a whopping margin that I certainly didn't see coming and I didn't hear it from anybody else.”
Sabato says increasing the minimum wage will likely be another agenda item for Democrats. If they take it up, he says an increase of $15 or more is likely.