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Virginia playing central role in high-stakes Nov. 6 election

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 10/25/2018, 6 a.m.
Call it a high-stakes referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency and the Republican agenda that includes proposals to slash spending on ...
Vice President Mike Pence arrives at Richmond International Airport last Saturday on Air Force One to campaign for several Virginia Republican congressional candidates, including 7th District Rep. Dave Brat, right, who is facing a close challenge from Democrat Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA operative. The vice president also attended a Downtown rally and private fundraiser for Ryan McAdams, an evangelical pastor who is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. A. Donald McEachin in the 4th Congressional District. Ava Reaves

Call it a high-stakes referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency and the Republican agenda that includes proposals to slash spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and anti-poverty programs to pay for tax cuts, appoint conservative judges to roll back voting rights and affirmative action, eliminate environmental protections and end abortions.

That’s the high-stakes reality that voters will face in the upcoming election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

In less than two weeks, voters in Richmond and across the country will have their chance to continue Republican rule or end one-party control of Washington in filling the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 seats in the 100-member U.S. Senate.

Virginia will be at the center of the decision-making to determine control of Congress.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine is running for re-election for a new six year-term in the Senate against archconservative Trump supporter Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors who has been tied to adherents of white supremacy.

Virginia also has several closely watched congressional races, although Richmond’s Democratic congressman, A. Donald McEachin, 4th District, now appears to be far ahead of challengers Ryan McAdams, a Republican, and Peter Wells, a Libertarian candidate.

In the closely watched 7th District that includes parts of Henrico and Chesterfield counties, former CIA operative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat, is challenging GOP Rep. Dave Brat, who is seeking a second term.

Dozens of governor’s mansions and statehouses also will be up for grabs on Nov. 6, with major attention on Florida, Georgia and Maryland where, respectively, progressive African-Americans Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams and Ben Jealous are vying to make history as the first people of color to lead each of their states.

In Richmond, voters in the Church Hill area also will be filling a School Board seat. And voters at city polls could run across people seeking to get petitions signed to get a new initiative to support public school funding on a future ballot.

Still, the focus is on the congressional races where Democrats, crushed in the 2016 election with President Trump’s victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, are working to win enough seats to retake control of one or both houses.

And for voters, this is their first chance to tell the president, who is spewing fresh falsehoods as he campaigns hard to keep Democrats out of power, how they feel about him since he took office nearly two years ago.

If Democrats do well and flip one or both chambers of Congress, they would be able to essentially serve as a block to President Trump’s and the Republicans’ legislative agenda — and possibly open serious investigations into the president, his administration and his associates.

But if the GOP retains control of both chambers, they’ll have a shot at introducing sweeping policy changes that could impact the nation for decades to come.

So far, the Republican agenda has been limited largely to deficit-boosting tax cuts. But some analysts believe the conservative to-do list may include a renewed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, that has helped millions of people obtain health care coverage.