Obama endorses 'outstanding group of Virginia Democrats' ahead of state elections

Obama endorses 'outstanding group of Virginia Democrats' ahead of state elections

Former President Obama is throwing public support behind more than a dozen Virginia Democratic candidates as the state prepares for elections that could have significant implications on next year's legislative agenda.

Obama on Saturday issued endorsements for what he called an "outstanding group of Virginia Democrats," saying the the candidates would "not only advance the causes of equality, justice, and decency, but help ensure that the next decade of voting maps are drawn fairly."

"That’s good policy—and good for our politics," Obama tweeted Saturday.

In total, Obama placed his support behind a combined 17 individuals running for seats in the Virginia state Senate and House of Delegates. Among those running for state Senate are Del. Cheryl Turpin, Missy Cotter Smasal, Amanda Pohl, Del. Debra Rodman and Del. John Bell. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Obama's endorsements in House of Delegates races include Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler, Larry Barnett, Josh Cole, Dan Helmer, Del. Hala Ayala, Sheila Bynum-Coleman, Nancy Guy, Karen Mallard, Alex Askew, Shelly Simonds and Phillip Hernandez. 

This year's elections represent a legitimate opportunity for the Virginia Democratic Party to obtain complete control of state government. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) oversees the executive branch, while Republicans currently hold slim majorities in the state Senate and House, though 40 state Senate seats and 100 House of Delegates seats are up for grabs on Tuesday.

Democrats appeared to gain better electoral prospects following a June 2018 federal court decision ruling that 11 state House districts had been improperly drawn in a way that illegally diluted the political power of African American voters. Eight of those districts are currently held by Republican legislators. 

A survey from Wason Center for Public Policy released last month also showed that Democrats were far more enthusiastic about the elections than Republicans. 

“Among likely voters statewide … we see a 13-point advantage for Democrats in terms of the generic ballot,” Rachel Bitecofer, the assistant director at the Wason Center, told WTOP, a local news station

Obama has made a habit of publicly endorsing federal and state Democratic political candidates since exiting the White House. The former president endorsed hundreds of Democratic candidates running in last November's midterm elections. 

Obama's nod to the elections and the impact they could have on the drawing of legislative maps comes as he makes a concerted appeal to combat partisan gerrymandering. Lawmakers in Virginia will begin the process of re-drawing the legislative maps following the 2020 census.