Oct 2, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Dems flood Virginia with cash ahead of off-year elections

Virginia Gov.r Glen Youngkin addresses the Economic Club of Washington's luncheon event on Sept. 26 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is pumping another $1 million into Virginia's high-stakes legislative elections this fall, doubling its commitment for the year, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: For Democrats, abortion is on the ballot in Virginia's off-year election, when all 140 seats are up in the state House and Senate.

  • They want to prevent Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin from winning a majority in Virginia's General Assembly — deny him the ability to enact new abortion restrictions.
  • For Youngkin, the Nov. 7 election is an opportunity to demonstrate that his brand of conservatism — which includes a plan for a 15-week abortion ban, with exceptions — can appeal to suburban voters in a purple state.
  • A clear victory for Republicans would revive talk about Youngkin's presidential prospects, although the filing deadlines for some of the GOP's early primaries and caucuses in 2024 will have passed by Election Day 2023.

Driving the news: The DLCC's $1 million investment has been transferred to the state's House and Senate campaign committees. Both sides are focused on 15 to 20 races likely to determine control of Virginia's General Assembly.

  • "It is the first time a legislature is on the ballot post-Dobbs," DLCC president Heather Williams said, referring to the Supreme Court decision that overruled Roe v. Wade. "The stakes could not be clearer: Does Virginia lose access to abortion, or not?"
  • "If Youngkin is delivered a trifecta (control of the House, Senate and executive)," Virginia Republicans "will deliver an abortion ban," Williams said.
  • "Elections are won or lost on the doors," she added, suggesting that most of the DLCC's investment will go toward door-knocking and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The other side: Youngkin's political action committee raised a record $5.75 million last quarter and Virginia Republican candidates are running ads accusing Democrats of favoring "no limits" on abortions.

Nationally, Republicans have ample evidence that voters in swing states, and even deep red ones, are opposed to a total ban on abortion — which states can impose in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health.

The big picture: The 11th-hour deal to avert a government shutdown allows Republicans to stay focused on their message and not have to explain to Virginia's 140,000 federal workers why their paychecks are delayed.

  • Republicans and Democrats both acknowledge that this year's election in Virginia, with legislative districts drawn by a special master and approved by the state Supreme Court, is a jump ball.
  • Democrats hold a 22-18 advantage in the Senate. Republicans have a 49-46 advantage in the House of Delegates, with five vacancies.
  • Early voting began Sept. 22, with Youngkin borrowing a page from Democrats in trying to persuade supporters to cast their ballots before Election Day.

Go deeper: Last month, President Biden directed the Democratic National Committee to transfer $1.2 million to Virginia's Democratic Party to use in the legislative races, bringing the DNC's total to $1.5 million.

  • That's more than 15 times what the DNC spent in Virginia 2019, the last time all the seats in Virginia's legislature were up for election, the Washington Post notes.
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