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Virginia Democrats Launch Campaign For Statehouse, With Help From Northam

Democratic Sen. Mamie Locke, bottom left, alongside Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Gov. Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran at a press conference earlier this month.

Democratic Sen. Mamie Locke (bottom left) alongside Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Gov. Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran at a press conference earlier this month. Ben Paviour/WCVE News

Virginia Democrats have announced a coordinated campaign to flip the GOP-controlled state legislature in November’s elections in a coalition that includes the governor they once spurned.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s political action committee will participate in what the state Democratic Party called “the largest coordinated campaign in VIrginia history,” with field organizers coordinating efforts regionally across the state.

The campaign includes the House and Senate Democratic caucuses, the state party and national help from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. All of the groups called for Gov. Ralph Northam to resign in February in the wake of revelations of a racist photo on his yearbook page.

Democrats rallied around Northam’s call for a special session devoted to gun violence earlier this month, and have been increasingly willing to accept money from his PAC. Eighteen Democratic candidates accepted his contributions since the scandal, most of them in the past few months.

John March, a spokesperson for the Republican Party of Virginia, questioned what had changed since February.

“Are they hypocrites, racists, or both?” March asked. “This just proves, once again, that Virginia Democrats are more than happy to sell their morals and values for a couple campaign dollars.”

Democratic Party spokesperson Jake Rubenstein declined to comment on whether the party had rescinded its call for Northam’s resignation.

“All partners of the Take the Majority team are working together to end Republicans’ mismanagement of the General Assembly,” Rubenstein said.

Democratic lawmakers who have warmed to Northam say that accomplishing their goals inevitably requires his help.

Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), a veteran black lawmaker who heads the Senate Democratic Caucus, spoke alongside Northam at a press conference announcing the special session earlier this month.

“It’s not a matter of forgive and forget,” Locke said of the yearbook photo. “It’s a matter of, we have to work together to solve problems in our Commonwealth.”