Both sides de­clare win, but nei­ther re­ally did

Post-elec­tion crow­ing by state par­ties masks that as­sem­bly is lit­tle changed

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY JIM NOLAN

How is it pos­si­ble for Repub­li­cans and Democrats to both de­clare vic­tory in Vir­ginia’s Gen­eral As­sem­bly elec­tions when nei­ther side wins? Wel­come to Vir­ginia’s post­elec­tion spin zone.

In the Sen­ate, Repub­li­cans held on to the same slen­der 21-19 ma­jor­ity, in the very same seats, that they had be­fore Elec­tion Day.

The Democrats’ net gain of one seat in the House of Del­e­gates means Repub­li­cans ac­tu­ally lost their ve­to­proof ma­jor­ity, as their com­mand­ing num­bers in the 100-mem­ber cham­ber dipped from 67 to 66. But you’d never know it. “With to­day’s elec­tion re­sult, it is clear that Repub­li­cans in Vir­ginia have all the mo­men­tum and this bodes ex­tremely well for 2016 and be­yond,” said Repub­li­can Party of Vir­ginia Chair­man John

Whit­beck in an elec­tion night email.

“The Repub­li­can Party of Vir­ginia come­back in the com­mon­wealth of Vir­ginia is un­der­way.”

Not to be out­done, Democrats acted like the elec­tion was a game of horse­shoes, in which you get points for be­ing close.

“We came within 1,500 votes of pick­ing up a VA Sen­ate seat that been un­der Repub­li­can con­trol for 30 years,” wrote Brian Zuzenak, head of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Com­mon Good Vir­ginia PAC, in an in­ter­nal memo to McAuliffe and top leg­isla­tive lead­ers.

Democrats failed to win that seat — in sub­ur­ban Rich­mond’s 10th Dis­trict — de­spite big-dol­lar in­vest­ments. That meant that the party was un­able to take con­trol of the Sen­ate, the gover­nor’s goal head­ing into the last two years of his term.

“In 2015, Democrats again bucked the na­tional trend as both a South­ern state and a pres­i­den­tial bat­tle­ground state,” the memo con­tin­ued, boast­ing that the party can now up­hold a gover­nor’s veto in both cham­bers be­cause of “Demo­cratic gains” in the House.

Those “gains” amounted to the net pickup of one seat in the 100-mem­ber cham­ber.

Democrats picked up seats held by two re­tir­ing Repub­li­cans — Dels. Thomas Davis Rust, R-Fair­fax, and David I. Ra­madan, R-Loudoun. Repub­li­cans picked up the seat of Del. Michael Futrell, DPrince Wil­liam, who is leav­ing the leg­is­la­ture af­ter he un­suc­cess­fully sought a Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for the state Sen­ate.

The memo even found a sil­ver lin­ing in the loss of a fel­low Demo­crat in the gover­nor’s race in Ken­tucky, not­ing that McAuliffe is now the “ONLY Demo­cratic gover­nor in a South­ern state.”

Per­haps all the spin­ning proves is that the more things change in pol­i­tics, the more they stay the same — even in elec­tions that change noth­ing.

Not sur­pris­ingly, each party claims it is now even bet­ter po­si­tioned to win in 2016.

Did you ex­pect any­thing less?

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