After this week — a week that's not even half over — can anyone say there's a more fascinating state for politics than Virginia? First, Sunday night, a dramatic power shift in the General Assembly switched control of the evenly divided Virginia Senate to the GOP after a deal paved the way for a Democrat senator to resign so his daughter could get elected to a judgeship; a deal that seemingly brings to an end to an unprecedented budget standoff over Medicaid expansion that threatened a first-ever state government shutdown and damage to Virginia's prized AAA bond rating. The move was said to be a political earthquake. Then, there was last night. Only 48 hours after the the flip of the Senate, a move that still has people dazed and analysts scrambling, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor got clobbered by Randolph-Macon College Professor David Brat in the Republican primary for the 7th District House seat. It was the first time in history a majority leader lost a bid for renomination and only the first time since the late 1800s that one failed to get re-elected. Since when are the aftershocks bigger than the earthquake?
Virginia first shook the world as the leader in the fight for independence. We haven't replicated Henry's oratory against the king, Jefferson's Declaration or Mason's bill of rights since, but our primacy of politics among the states has never diminished. This week (thus far) substantiates it. What will happen next?
The idyllic railroad town of Ashland, where sits R-MC, in the middle of Hanover County, proudly dubs itself "The Center of the Universe." Hanover gave Dr. Brat the biggest margin of his 10-plus-point victory. Now, a colleague of his has stepped forward to be his Democrat opponent. Two professors from a college of about 2,000 students seeking the same high profile congressional seat? If not the center of the universe, it certainly is the center of the political universe. More than that, it's the epicenter of the largest political earthquake (or aftershock) in more than 100 years.