This month’s election was a huge win for Virginia Democrats. Though the state has been trending blue for years, the November 5 election substantiated Virginia’s status as a blue state with Democrats now controlling the state House, Senate and governorship. One of the most highly-contested districts was the 40th District which represents parts of Fairfax and Prince Williams counties. Tim Hugo, the Republican incumbent and last Republican to represent Northern Virginia, lost to Dan Helmer who won 52.33% of the vote. Helmer’s win over Hugo is another example of Democrats increasing popularity over young suburban residents. Helmer is a young business strategist, Rhodes Scholar, and army veteran who served in Iraq.
One of the main issues Helmer ran on was education reform. Education reform has become a focus of Virginia Democrats and likely a direct result of Democrats increasing popularity among college educated suburban voters who realize good schools and affordable college tuition is necessary for economic mobility. Even Jim Dillard, a former Republican opponent of current Virginia House Speaker, Eileen Filler-Corn, endorsed her 2010 candidacy because of her opponent’s comments that funding for Fairfax County schools was “excessive.” Other common issues were transportation, ERA amendments and healthcare.
Whatever the reason for Democrats winning majorities in the state House and Senate, Democrats now being in control of drawing district boundaries means Democratic victories are likely to continue as long as Democratic candidates focus on appealing to young suburban voters.