Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Occupy the Polls? Hardly!

People will complain today about the voter turnout, and it will be low. But the choices we face statewide – elections for the Virginia General Assembly – are unfortunately fewer than they should be.

Of the 100 members of the Virginia House of Delegates, only 26 seats have candidates from both major parties running. That means that only 26 districts in the entire state have races that might interest voters.

Percentage wise, the Senate is more competitive – 24 out of 40 seats have choices between the two major parties. (Additionally, a recent write in campaign has been mounted by a Republican against Senator Don McEachin (D-Richmond). Oh, goody, three fifths of Virginians will have a choice for their senator.

This is down from 2009: there are fewer rather than more competitive races for these seats.

When we look at women’s standing in the General Assembly, the record is even worse. Right now, we have 19 women in the 100-member House of Delegates, 13 Democrats and 6 Republicans. I haven't checked the polls statewide but I'm betting this will remain about the same after the election. I'm hopeful that Connie Brennan will get elected and raise this number to 14.

In the Virginia Senate, beginning with a female “surge” in 1996, we now have 8 women, all but one Democratic. Two of those veterans from the 1996 days, Patsy Ticer and Mary Margaret Whipple are not running for reelection, and their replacements will not be women. Oh well.

Hopefully Connie Brennan will be elected tonight in a very conservative district, but I suspect the race will be tight even though her main opponent has had a record of a number of law-breaking incidents (hardly the right person to write laws).

And Senator Edd Houck who has been very good on women’s reproductive rights as well as environmental issues faces a real challenge from a well funded opponent who has received much money from the Governor’s Political Action Committee. Fingers crossed on this one.

The polls have closed. Now we’ll have to wait for the count.

PS:  On Election night, I always miss the late great Emily Couric, who, had she lived, would have been our first woman governor.  Of that I am sure.  Wherever she is, I suspect Emily is with us night. 

This year also, I miss Mary Ann Elwood, former City politico and civil rights activist, who died this year, and Drewary Brown and Grace and Robert Tinsley, all of whom worked so hard for all Charlottesvillians and for the Democratic Party's sense of justice  -- we remember you always. Sphere: Related Content