Virginia is in the final hours of a gubernatorial contest that none of its residents deserve. But it did not have to be this way.
Tomorrow’s election had the markings of a bonanza for the Democratic Party. The Republican gubernatorial primary was a knock-em-down-and-drag-em-out affair, with a cheap Sons of Confederate Veterans knockoff — from Minnesota! — coming with 5,000 votes of the party’s nomination.
The eventual nominee, former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie, is probably the worst candidate to have running in a year where his party is about as popular as head lice, syphilis, and root canals. He is a Washington insider, a Virginia outsider (from New Jersey!), and is emblematic of the worst elements of the current rendition of his party.
The Democrats even have history on their side: With the exception of 2013, the opposition party has won every gubernatorial election in the Commonwealth since 1977. Boosting the opposition party’s chances this year is a historically unpopular president who could not even garner the votes of his party’s only living presidents in last year’s presidential election. And people are not passively disapproving of Trump, either: they’re getting active, building movements, and running for office, giving the Democrats the kind of energy that has not been seen since 2008. The national media has helped in a way, framing this as the first statewide electoral test of Donald Trump’s presidency, and it is one that is happening in the administration’s backyard.
And, yet, here we are: in the final hours of this election, the Republican candidate is now even-money to become the Commonwealth’s 73rd governor.