The battle for 2022 starts in Virginia. Here’s how we keep it blue—and set the tone for next year

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Daily Kos is pleased to support this talented and diverse slate of Democrats in crucial Virginia races this fall. Running together at the top of the ticket, we have:

• Terry McAuliffe (governor): McAuliffe is running for a historic second term as Virginia’s governor. During his first term, he stood fast against attacks on abortion access against a GOP-controlled legislature, used his executive authority to protect LGBTQ Virginians from workplace discrimination, and restored voting rights to 173,000 citizens—more than any governor in American history. Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, who was “honored” and “pleased” to have Donald Trump’s endorsement, would take Virginia back to the bad old days of GOP rule with abortion bans, anti-democratic attacks on voting and elections, defunding schools, and so much more.

• Hala Ayala (lieutenant governor): Ayala currently serves as the representative for Virginia’s 51st House District, a position she has held since 2017 when she ousted a four-term Republican incumbent. She built a career as a single mother and went on to help lead the fight to enact criminal justice reform, raise the minimum wage, and legalize marijuana. Republican candidate Winsome Sears has backed Youngkin’s fearmongering about critical race theory and continues to oppose vaccine mandates that would make Virginians safer. And a critical side-note: The lieutenant governor breaks ties in the state Senate, where Democrats have just a 21-19 advantage.

In the House, Democrats are now mostly playing defense after two hugely successful cycles in a row. But there are still a few opportunities for Democrats to pick up seats in several Republican-held districts that Joe Biden won last year:

• Debra Gardner (HD-27, Richmond suburbs): Gardner is working to oust incumbent Del. Roxann Robinson, who has a history of extreme anti-abortion stances: Her past votes include defunding Planned Parenthood and supporting a so-called “personhood” bill that would ban all abortion. To say that Gardner would be a drastic improvement over this conservative ideologue is an extreme understatement. As a social worker, Gardner worked with veterans with PTSD, people recovering from addiction, and children in the foster care system. She was the first person in her family to attend college, and the daughter she adopted out of the very same foster care system in which she worked is in college now, too. Gardner is a staunch supporter of reproductive freedom, voting rights, and essential progressive values.

• Katie Sponsler (HD-66, Richmond suburbs): Sponsler is running to not only flip this open Republican seat, but also to prevent ultra-conservative Del. Mike Cherry from wielding power in the legislature and using it to gut reproductive rights in the commonwealth. Cherry has gone so far as to suggest that women who get abortions and doctors who provide them should be charged with murder. Cherry also supports personhood legislation, which could threaten commonly used birth control methods. Sponsler, on the other hand, has devoted her life to serving her nation in the Air Force and as a park ranger in the National Park Service. She understands the real issues facing Virginians and will work to advance healthcare equity, environmental justice, and workers’ rights.

• Kim Melnyk (HD-84, Virginia Beach): Melnyk is aiming to take down Del. Glenn Davis, yet another virulently anti-choice Republican who’s voted to restrict abortion rights half a dozen times. Want to know who is role model is? During a previous bid for office, Davis proudly declared, “I’m running to do exactly what Donald Trump did in Washington.” Melnyk, a former teacher and small business owner, is a huge contrast. As a member of her local school board, she helped increase teacher pay and implement full-day kindergarten. She believes in expanding access to health care and supports paid sick and family leave, and she’s dedicated to fighting climate change.

• Finale Norton (HD-100, Eastern Shore): Norton is seeking to unseat deeply entrenched Del. Rob Bloxom—no mean feat considering there’s an actual town in this district that bears his family’s name. But Bloxom is a conservative dinosaur who’s lost touch with Virginia values: He voted against repealing the GOP’s onerous abortion restrictions, providing paid sick leave to essential workers during the pandemic, and reducing the sales tax on menstrual products (the only House member to do so!). Norton, on the other hand, understands that health care—including reproductive health care—is a human right. In this coastal district, she also knows that combating climate change and attendant rising sea levels and flooding is a top priority.

Want to knock lazy pundit narratives about Democrats back on their heels? Donate $1 to these candidates to make sure Virginia stays blue!

Not only would electing this slate ensure Virginia stays on track, but it would also make the state’s government more diverse and reflective of its growing population: Five of these candidates are women, Gardner and Norton are both Black, and Ayala is Latina and Arab American.

It’s too easy, though, to lose sight of the fact that Democrats won full control of Virginia’s government just two years ago. It wouldn’t take much to undo that. If Republicans flip the governorship or take back the state House, they’ll gain an instant veto on every progressive priority. And in the closely divided state Senate, handing tiebreaking power to a Republican lieutenant governor could cause major problems.

You’ve seen the lies and thuggery that define the contemporary GOP. We just can’t let that prevail—and set the tone for the coming year. Please take action today.

Don’t let Republicans undo Virginia’s blue trend! Please give $1 to each of these fantastic progressives right away.

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