Democrat Sara Townsend, running for the Virginia state House
If you've heard this story before, you know just how outrageous it is: Even though Democrats won more votes cast in House races nationwide in 2012, Republicans managed to retain their majority on Capitol Hill. This manifestly backward outcome was a direct result of the simple fact that the GOP got to draw the lines. And that unfortunate reality was a direct result of the 2010 midterms, which saw the GOP knock off hundreds of Democratic state legislators around the nation.
It was the worst possible time for Democrats to get swept out of power: Coming right before the most recent round of congressional redistricting, this massive red wave gave Republicans complete control over the map-making process for an astounding 55 percent of the 435 seats in the House. Democrats, meanwhile, had full sway over just 10 percent; the remaining districts were in states with nonpartisan commissions or where the parties were forced to compromise.
With the cartographer's pen firmly in hand, Republicans carefully spread GOP-leaning voters across as many districts as possible while packing pro-Democratic voters into as few seats as possible. All that gerrymandering translated into the Republican majority we still see in the House today—one so crazy it just prompted Speaker John Boehner to resign.
But the good news is, we can fight back, and the way we fight back is very simple: We win back the legislatures we lost five years ago. That's no easy task, but it's a vital one, and with the next Census—and thus the next round of redistricting—just five years from now, there's no time to waste.
Fortunately, Virginia gives us a great place to start, and it's an excellent illustration of the worst sort of Republican gerrymander. Even though Barack Obama won the state twice, eight of Virginia's 11 members of the House are Republicans while just three are Democrats.
That's absolutely ridiculous, but that's why Daily Kos is endorsing three great Democrats who are running for Virginia's state House:
• Don Shaw (13th District, in Northern Virginia)
• Sara Townsend (31st District, in Northern Virginia)
• Shelly Simonds (94th District, in Hampton Roads)
All three of these Democrats are running in seats held by Republican incumbents, and all three of these districts were carried by Obama in 2012
, so we know Democrats can win here. In fact, in 2013, Democrats came incredibly close in all three seats, losing each race by just 1 to 2 percentage points. We can't let that happen again, which is why we're asking the Daily Kos community to step up and support these three solid candidates.
Make no mistake about it: Democrats are in a deep hole in the Virginia House, holding just 33 seats out of 100. But we have to begin somewhere, and if we can make real gains this year, we'll give ourselves a real chance to reach the majority by 2020. And if we do that, then we can stop the Republicans from gerrymandering Virginia, we can ensure the state uses a fairer map, and we can start thinking about winning back Congress.
It's a long-term plan, but there are no quick fixes, and we can do this thing. It starts today.
So please donate $3 to help Virginia Democrats make gains in the state House and thwart Republican gerrymandering.