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Virginia Republicans Are Trying To Beat Democrats At Their Own Electioneering Game. Will It Work?

The Virginia GOP is seeking to embrace a Democrat-favored election strategy in order to turn the state completely red this fall.

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Nearly two years ago, Virginia Republicans stunned the D.C. pundit class after mounting an electoral upset in the increasingly blue commonwealth. By capitalizing on issues like Covid lockdown policies and parental rights, the state GOP not only took control of the House of Delegates; it also swept in races for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

Now, with the state rapidly approaching its upcoming General Assembly elections, the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) is seeking to embrace a Democrat-favored election strategy in order to turn the state completely red this November. A few weeks ago, Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the state GOP launched Secure Your Vote Virginia, an initiative designed to assist voters in casting their ballots early by mail or in person.

“Secure Your Vote Virginia is a cultural shift for us as a party,” RPV chair Rich Anderson told The Federalist. “We believe that the Democrats have accrued an advantage … because they banked the vote early and so we’re pushing that very hard as a safe and secure method.”

While Democrats have made unsupervised, mail-in balloting a key electoral strategy in recent years, Republicans have largely relied on in-person voting on Election Day. Instead of focusing solely on getting their voters to the polls on Election Day, Virginia Republicans are hoping its newest initiative will allow the party to maximize its overall turnout by employing the state’s early voting system.

On Secure Your Vote Virginia’s website, state residents are provided step-by-step instructions on how to request, return, and track their absentee ballots. It furthermore allows residents seeking to vote early in person to sign up to receive notifications from the initiative on “when and where” to go once early voting begins to cast their ballot.

Republicans “can’t go into our elections down thousands of votes,” Youngkin said in a video message accompanying the initiative’s launch. It’s worth mentioning the governor’s 2021 campaign embraced early voting during his successful gubernatorial bid.

In addition to securing early votes ahead of the November contest, the Virginia GOP is also looking to ramp up its voter registration efforts throughout the state. Despite the geographic diversity of the commonwealth, Anderson says the RPV’s voter registration and get-out-the-vote (GOTV) strategy remains “fairly uniform around the state,” but that the party is enhancing such efforts in both the northern (urban) and southwestern (rural) regions of Virginia.

“We’ve stepped up [our voter registration] in the urban crescent to take a larger measure of the vote,” Anderson said. For context, Virginia’s “urban crescent” encompasses counties in Northern Virginia, as well as those in more southern areas around Fredericksburg and Richmond. The area also includes localities in the southeastern part of the state, such as the Hampton Roads region.

Regarding Southwest Virginia, Anderson noted how past GOP-led GOTV efforts have often taken the region “for granted” and further emphasized how registering these residents is critical in ensuring Republican victories.

“We took the view that we absolutely had to ramp that up and not take [these voters] for granted and that was part of the pathway to success for Governor Youngkin in 2021,” he said.

The Issues

While rare showings of bipartisanship from Virginia’s Democrat-controlled Senate have allowed GOP legislators to pass some key measures, the leftist-controlled upper chamber has largely stonewalled meaningful conservative legislation.

In February, for instance, Senate Democrats blocked a parental rights bill that would have required public schools to disclose to parents if their child “self-identifies” as something other than his or her natural sex. Known as “Sage’s Law,” the bill was named after a 14-year-old Virginia girl who became a victim of sex trafficking after her school concealed her gender dysphoria from her mother. The legislation passed the GOP-controlled House along party lines, with 50 Republican supporting and 48 Democrats opposing it.

Reminiscent of its 2021 strategy, the RPV is capitalizing on parental rights as a focal point of its messaging to voters ahead of November’s elections. During the 2021 elections, issues such as critical race theory and transgenderism in schools played a major role in Youngkin’s and other Virginia Republicans’ electoral victories.

The Virginia GOP is also making crime a big facet of its campaign messaging, specifically the role soft-on-crime commonwealth attorneys play in allowing criminals to go unpunished for breaking the law. Last year, for example, Fairfax County police arrested a man for beating a 63-year-old homeless woman to death. What’s notable about this case, however, is that the offender had previously been charged and then released by the office of the locality’s attorney, Steve Descano — a Democrat backed by leftist billionaire George Soros.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Descano’s office had previously charged Chante Antonio Jones with assault and battery in October 2021 “before releasing him on recognizance, slapping him with just a $212 fine and one-year period of supervised probation.” Notably, Descano’s office also has a history of going soft on individuals charged with child sex crimes.

“Even though our guts are telling us that we have an opportunity [to win this fall], we better campaign like we’re 10 points down. So, that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Anderson said.

In addition to education and crime, the economy and tax cuts are also focal points of the RPV’s 2023 messaging.


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