Virginia Democrats failed to capture the senate in the state legislative elections on November 3, though this would have required only one seat to change hands. Millions were spent against pro-gun Republicans in key races hoping for an upset.
Contrast this with the results in Louisiana. Hope remains that 300,000 Louisiana residents would be added to the Medicaid rolls because Louisiana elected a new Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, who said it would be his first agenda item once sworn in.
That has changed in the last few days as Edwards is now walking back that statement as state officials work on the details. State officials say the projected savings won’t add up. Edwards and his transition team say they are working to implement these reforms “early” during his administration rather than “immediately” after he takes over.
Observers are giving Edwards credit for naming state Sen. Ben Nevers as his chief of staff. Nevers is one of the strongest supporters of Medicaid expansion in the Louisiana legislature.
Edwards served in the state assembly. He’s pro-life and pro-gun, but campaigned on expanding Medicare as his Number 1 priority. His Opponent, U.S. Senator David Vitter, tried to make a big issue out of Syrian refugees immigrating to the U.S.
While Louisiana works on health reform technicalities, then, Medicaid expansion is dead for the time being in Virginia.
Virginia’s Democratic Governor. Terry McAuliffe had failed in his effort to woo Republicans to allow 400,000 Virginians to get health insurance. Republicans say Medicare is expansive and provides poor quality health care.
Tell that to someone who doesn’t have any health insurance!
What McAuliffe tried to do in the elections was zero in on a handful of legislative races: His strategy was to win a majority in the Senate and force Republicans to negotiate with him.
The problem? Democrats didn’t turn out. Only 26 percent of registered voters in Virginia voted. Virginia Democrats now have to figure out way to turn out their base, especially entering the 2016 presidential season.
“Not a single incumbent lost,” Quentin Kidd, director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, said. “No Senate seats traded control, and Republicans … maintain their control in the Senate.”
Now, health care reform in Virginia is in hands of a future Democratic governor, assuming they have the votes. McAuliffe will spend the rest of his term drumming up economic development and helping elect Hillary Clinton, with whom he is politically aligned.
There were some minor victories in Virginia, however. Democrats gained three seats in the House of Delegates. Democrats in this chamber can fend off a veto override vote if they stand together.
Photo: Governor McAuliffe announces more than 1,400 veterans housed in the past year, making Virginia is the first state in the U.S. to functionally end veteran homelessness. Governor McAuliffe’s website.