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Democratic supporters cheer at a party in Richmond, Virginia on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. (Photo: Steve Helber/AP)

'This Is the Roadmap': Running on Green New Deal, Virginia Democrats Take Full Control of State Government for First Time in Decades

"Tonight showed that running on the Green New Deal is a key part of how Democrats can win elections."

Jake Johnson

The Virginia Democratic Party took full control of the state government for the first time in nearly three decades Tuesday night by winning majorities in both chambers of the legislature, a massive shift progressives celebrated as a testament to the electoral power of bold policy proposals like the Green New Deal.

Democratic candidates—including Green New Deal backers Joshua Cole, Ghazala Hashmi, and Dan Helmer—flipped at least five Republican seats in the House of Delegates and at least two in the state Senate, overcoming the GOP's thin majorities. Additionally, Green New Deal champions like democratic socialist Del. Lee Carter, Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler, and Del. Elizabeth Guzman won reelection.

"When Nancy Pelosi and corporate Democrats try to argue otherwise, it's nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to shut down progressive policies and protect the interests of corporate donors."
—Varshini Prakash, Sunrise Movement

In a statement, the youth-led Sunrise Movement noted that Virginia Democrats' historic victory comes just months after the state's Democratic Party unanimously endorsed a Green New Deal for Virginia.

"Tonight showed that running on the Green New Deal is a key part of how Democrats can win elections," said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement. "The polls and election results tell a clear story: the Green New Deal is a winning issue."

"When Nancy Pelosi and corporate Democrats try to argue otherwise," Prakash said, "it's nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to shut down progressive policies and protect the interests of corporate donors."

According to Data for Progress polling conducted ahead of Tuesday's election, progressive policy proposals like the Green New Deal, free insulin, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, and expanding Medicaid were widely popular across the state.

Delegate-elect Cole flipped a district President Donald Trump won in 2016 by running on a bold policy platform including a Green New Deal and ending cash bail.

"Rethink your 'electability' assumptions," tweeted Nick Tagliaferro of Data for Progress in response to Cole's victory.

Evan Weber, the Sunrise Movement's political director, said Tuesday's election demonstrated that "when candidates reject corporate money and run on ambitious plans to tackle climate change, lower utility costs, and create good jobs, they win—despite right-wing attack ads trying to paint them as too radical."

"This is the roadmap Democrats need to follow in the years ahead," said Weber.


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