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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor's Notebook: Relax - divided government is good government

Editor’s Notebook: Relax – divided government is good government

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Political partisans across Virginia are probably waking up with hangovers (albeit for different reasons, depending on whether one is a Republican or a Democrat). But for the typical Virginian, leaving aside the politics, good times are ahead.

As a Sun Gazette editorial a couple of weeks ago opined, the best possible outcome of the now concluded election would have been a division of power between the two parties. And the electorate provided it: The three statewide positions went to the GOP, it seems, but both the House of Delegates and state Senate (that latter body not being on the ballot this year) will be narrowly divided.

Republicans have claimed a majority in the House of Delegates, and that may indeed be the case. But this wasn’t a “wave” election in support of the GOP; had it been, Democrats could have lost another half-dozen seats. As it stands now, a number of Democrats’ most imperiled delegates did eke out victories.

As one who has been around long enough to remember the eras when there was divided government in the Old Dominion, I welcome its return. Once Republican score-settling and Democratic petulance over the outcome subsides, the two parties hopefully will come together in Richmond and work out common-sense measures, rather than the extreme legislation each side has emanated when their side had unfettered control.


For Democrats, the night proves a reminder that you ignore rural areas at your peril, and that you can’t take the outer suburbs for granted. For Republicans, keep in mind that your success is fragile and can be taken away in a heartbeat given the political composition of the commonwealth, particularly considering redistricting is coming.

For those of us who prefer a government that does only the basics, and as little of those as possible, division in Richmond is not such a bad thing.

CAN’T CATCH A BREAK: One has to feel a little bit sorry for Mark Herring, who seems to have been a victim of the GOP tide.

Herring, remember, first ran for attorney general (and won) as a moderate Democrat. He then kept moving left and left to try to keep pace with the activists in his party, but never could seem to catch up, as his 2021 primary challenge from the progressive side proved.

While he wasn’t moving left enough for his party’s outer flank, Herring clearly was moving too far left for Virginia as a whole. And so the voters appear to have sent him packing after 8 years on the job.

Ah well: He can now put all his energies toward the bid for governor he clearly covets but as of yet has not found a way to launch.

  • Scott McCaffrey

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