The truth is I don’t know what to write. This has been a weird couple of days where the GOP has been able to display some sort of momentum heading towards the 2019 state elections. Todd Gilbert has arguably been the face of the Republican Party this session and he pounced on what the GOP viewed as an opportunity to magnify a bill that would fire up their base – abortion. You can watch in the incredibly high quality video from the committee hearing where Todd Gilbert (R) questions Kathy Tran (D)
The Democrats presenting the bill, along with the leaders of the Democratic Party afterwards, have failed to respond accordingly. Meanwhile the right has blasted the video across all media platforms racking up millions of social media views and minutes dedicated to it on Fox News.
Gilbert was interviewed on Fox and Friends Thursday morning to keep the conversation alive while helping to raise his public profile.
Governor Northam, the de-facto party leader in the state struggled with the bill on Wednesday. He also did not do the best job articulating the bill. He has a chance today with a press conference that he just announced alongside the Democratic leadership.
It is not hard to imagine how easily this happened. Who in the General Assembly could have seen this coming? This is not the first year this bill has been presented in this committee. Why should the Democrats have expected there to be this hard-line of questioning paired with high quality footage of the exchange that was quickly posted to social media.
I still make no excuses for the Democrats.
This hasn’t been handled correctly at any step. However, I can’t say I would know the correct way to try and walk this back. The Democrats may have lost this round, making it their first public relations loss in Virginia in a long time.
However, several political stunts will likely happen between now and November with all 140 state legislative seats up for re-election.
The Democrats still have the best weapon in their arsenal that they need-not-use heading in to the election – a Donald Trump presidency. Match that with potential for the Democrats to continue to focus on messaging and advocating for the legislation that benefits the state. If they continue that trend then they can easily take the majority in both chambers.
This abortion bill will still be around in November, Democrats just have to make sure that they have plenty of other pieces of legislation to talk about with voters.