11/7/2014, 6 a.m.
Thousands of Virginians are exhaling in relief after U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s hand-wringing, nail-biter, brow-mopping squeaker of a victory on election night.
While we are buoyed by the fact that more than 1 million Virginians voted to return Sen. Warner to Washington for another six years, our celebration is tempered by the larger election view showing the national rush to the right.
A Republican flood at the ballot box ensures an overwhelming change in the makeup and dynamics of Congress beginning in January. With the election, Republicans have gained control of the U.S. Senate and strengthened their grip on the House of Representatives.
When the new Congress begins in January, the GOP will be in charge of both chambers for the first time since 2006.
Buckle your seatbelts.
Sen. Warner will find himself in a very different Senate than the one he is used to. Already, Republicans are talking about repealing all or parts of the Affordable Care Act and renewing attempts to impeach President Obama.
On Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who will replace Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada as Senate majority leader, gave lip service to working across the aisle to solve some of the nation’s problems and challenges.
We will wait and see.
During his first six years in office, Sen. Warner has spearheaded several bipartisan initiatives that have gone nowhere in a Congress that has been intent only on blocking President Obama at every turn.
We remind Sen. Warner and other successful Democratic candidates that they owe much of their re-election margins to the support of African-American voters who, unlike some Democrats, aren’t afraid to stand up for the president’s record on job creation, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, reducing the federal budget deficit and providing health care for more than 9 million of America’s uninsured.
This may be Sen. Warner’s time to shine if he can push his conservative colleagues to a more centrist position.
Otherwise, it will be up to President Obama either to put the brakes on Republicans’ legislative rollback attempts that are certain to reach his desk or to push the nation forward through executive orders.
Surely, the next two years will be the Republicans’ time to put up or shut up.
The 2016 presidential election awaits.