WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The first contender for the 2020 presidential election to visit Virginia is making his way across the Commonwealth this week.
Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke made stops in Norfolk, Henrico and Williamsburg Tuesday. He has more events planned for Wednesday. O’Rourke is one of roughly 20 Democrats who is running for the White House.
O’Rourke brought a message of inclusion, criminal justice reform and lowering healthcare costs to a room of about 600, mostly students, at the College of William and Mary.
“It will only be possible if we do it together, at this historic moment, of division and polarization and hyper-partisanship, that we don’t regard one another as Republicans or Democrats, that we care not to who you pray, who you love and how many generations you’ve been in this country or that you just got here yesterday,” the candidate explained, “but at the end of the day, all that matters is that we’re Americans first.”
Local mom Dina Smith brought her twin daughters, Skyler and Kirsten, to see what the former congressman had to say.
“I think that it’s really important to see how democracy works, and how this is part of our political process,” she explained.” And how the community comes together to support an individual.”
Over the years, Virginia has trended more blue in the polls. With so many people potentially running in the Democratic primary, Associate Professor of Political Science Rich Meagher, of Randolph-Macon College, says Virginia could play a big role in 2020.
“It’s a state that has a decent amount of votes in the electoral college, it’s a state that needs to be won. Democratic candidates want to win in Virginia,” Meagher said. “This state has become an important one in the sense that if you can’t win Virginia it’s going to be very difficult to win the national election. It does happen, it happened the last time.
With controversies surrounding the three top Democrats in state office, all eyes will be on the upcoming elections to see who rules Richmond. All 40 senate seats and all 100 house seats are up.
“Some folks in the Trump campaign, some folks in the Republican party wonder if the damage that’s been done to the Democratic party in the state of Virginia might bring Virginia back into play as a strong swing state,” Meagher said. “If Democrats do not do strongly in this fall’s elections, that suggests to the Republican party that maybe we can make a play for Virginia next year in 2020.”
O’Rourke said to the crowd that he’d be back in the Commonwealth to help Democrats get elected in the fall.
The June Primary is Tuesday, June 11. It’s an open primary, meaning if you can vote under any party for the candidate you want.