Democratic control of Virginia’s legislative and executive branches after Tuesday’s election will allow the Jewish community to advocate on gun control, reproductive health rights for women and mental health parity to willing legislators.
That’s according to Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. Halber said on Thursday that his agency has been able to work with the outgoing Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly, but that Democrats will have more of an open ear on issues of concern to the Jewish community.
“I do think that the new legislature will lend itself to enabling JCRC to push forward,” Halber said. “We’ll have greater receptivity.”
Democrats now control the Senate 21-19 and the House of Delegates 54-43. Gov. Ralph Northam is a Democrat. This is the first time since 1994 the Democrats have had full control of state government.
Halber said the JCRC will advocate for the commonwealth to increase its support of nonprofits. He said current support is “miniscule.”
“We’re looking for the state to become a much stronger supporter of the nonprofit community in terms of dollars,” Halber said. “We know that nonprofits do a better job of delivering services than the government can.”
Virginia voters reelected two prominent Jewish members of the General Assembly, Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-District 35) and Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax).
Filler-Corn is running to become speaker of the House, facing three Democratic opponents. House Democrats will on Nov. 9 to elect a speaker.
“I don’t know if it’s happened before in history that both branches are led by members of the Jewish community,” Halber said. “There’s a pride in that, they’ve both been very active in the Jewish community for many, many years.”
Tuesday’s elections in Virginia and elsewhere are being look at as bell weathers of the 2020 election.
Halber said the Democratic victories this week can’t necessarily be used to predict a shift away from the Republicans the 2020 elections. He said Democrats face a challenge in appealing to their progressive base while not stepping “so far out of line that they are kicked out of power in four years.”