The first Tuesday in November, also known as Election Day in Virginia, has come and gone, and for the most part, the political prognosticators got it right. Democrats flipped both the House of Delegates and the state Senate, and for the first time in two decades will be the majority party of the legislative and executive branches of Virginia government.
One point that many pundits swung on and missed badly was the prediction that Kirk Cox will roundly and finally be defeated after 30 years in the legislature and the last two years as speaker of the House. Democrats had painted a big blue target on his back because he was the face and voice of Virginia conservatism who had stood between them and progressivism. They were quick to point out that Cox’s district had been inundated with Democratic voter influence thanks to the recent federal court redrawing of it. Democrats hitched their wagon to Sheila Bynum-Coleman, a Chesterfield business owner and two-time House candidate, and threw all the financial and political support they could muster behind her.
It almost worked. Yes, Bynum-Coleman did win in the areas that were new to the district.
However, in the midst of all the punditry and the in-advance writing of Cox’s political obituary, they forgot about one thing.
This tight-knit city of some 17,000 people had other ideas. Ity paid no attention to the pre-election polls, the political ads and the partisan sound bites. It went to the voting booth with one thing in mind: send their native son back to Richmond.
Cox took almost 80% of the Colonial Heights vote. That’s about four out of every five ballots cast. That more than offset any victories Bynum-Coleman might have logged elsewhere in the district.
Colonial Heights truly was the difference in the 66th House District election. It was the mouse that roared … and Virginia listened.
On the surface, Cox’s showing is not surprising because in Colonial Heights, Democrats basically are on the endangered-species list. Yeti sightings would be more common than Democrat sightings. For every Bynum-Coleman yard sign that might have popped up in Colonial Heights, there were tons more for Cox.
But when boiled down, Colonial Heights voters paid no attention to the whole political picture. They knew they could not control what voters elsewhere in Virginia would do Tuesday, so they did the only thing they could control. They turned out for Cox.
They were not voting for the next speaker of the House. They were not voting for the thorn in the Democrats’ side the past 10 years.
They voted for their friend Kirk … Julie’s husband … the Cox boys’ father … Mr. and Mrs. Cox’s son … Joe Jr.’s brother … their neighbor … their baseball coach ... their advocate.
The late Tip O’Neill got it right when he said, “All politics is local.” Colonial Heights is this year’s proof of that.