Del. Ken Plum: Bloodless Revolution

by Del. Ken Plum November 16, 2017 at 10:15 am 13 Comments

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

The recent election in Virginia brought about significant changes in the partisan composition of the House of Delegates. While the election of Dr. Ralph Northam as governor and attorney Justin Fairfax as lieutenant governor along with the re-election of Attorney General Mark Herring kept the executive branch of government in Democratic hands, election results in the 100 House of Delegates districts were dramatically different.

Republicans went into the election with a strong advantage controlling 66 of the 100 seats. It appears with some recounts to take place that they will end up with 51 seats or maybe even tied with Democrats at 50 seats each.

No one that I know predicted such a major shift; some refer to the outcome of the election as a political tsunami. It was not simply that Republicans lost 17 seats when the most optimistic prediction was that Democrats would gain maybe ten or so seats. The majority party went into the election with a 66 to 34 advantage; they ended the election with the possibility of only a one member advantage or depending on the recount of votes a tie with Democrats.

Beyond the number of seats lost, the majority party lost their caucus whip, chairs of three major committees and two members of the Appropriations Committee including one of its conferees. Their caucus chairman seemed to have lost until a transposition of numbers was discovered that allowed him to hang on by a thread.

I served during the term beginning in the year 2000 when a power sharing agreement was reached allowing an evenly split body to go forward with its business. I thought the system worked effectively as there was a process for working together. In such an arrangement there can be an emphasis on solving problems rather than simply getting credit.

Most encouraging during this election cycle was the gain in the number of people voting in the election. The experience over many decades was that about 75% of voters go to the polls in presidential election years and less than 50% in years when the governor is elected. That number increased to about 60% this year.Those people who decided to go to the polls made the difference especially in the House of Delegates races.

A further exciting outcome of this election was the dramatic diversification of the membership of the House that had been dominated by white men throughout its history. Most of the losses of incumbents came about by women candidates defeating them. Not only are there more women, there are two Latino and two Asian women, the first transgender woman, and a lesbian. There will be more diversity in the General Assembly than ever before in its history. The Commonwealth will be better for it.

The challenge will be to bring the new members quickly into the process and embrace the strengths that diversity brings. The institution can accommodate the changes that the bloodless revolution of 2017 brought about to the degree that the leadership will permit it.

  • Willie Reston

    Conservatives hate this.

    • Greg

      And libbies foam at the mouth over Kenny? The most ineffective legislator ever?

  • SuperCoop1280


    Congrats on the re-elect. What are your plans on how to handle the massive amount of new constituents you will have once the county passes its population density increase for Reston?

    Thank you.

  • drb

    I am sure them Dems are taking this as a sign of their support by the voters. Again, as did the Repubs, this is wrong. When you pubic servants fail us, your employer, you are fired. I know Liberals don’t hold their Democrat politicians to account but those with standards and ethics do.
    The Republican brand name is not so good since they seem to fail to do as promise.
    I know most of this is because of Washington Repubs and the Virginia Repubs may feel that it isn’t fair to be taken to task for what others of the party does else where. This is a warning shot across the bow for the future. I doubt it will be heard. They didn’t get the middle finger jester of voting in Trump and the Dems think they are the cat pajamas now.
    I was told long ago that if you want the mules attention you need to hit him between the eyes with a 2×4.

  • Kenny P

    Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States of America.

    • NotMineEither

      Even after Ken’s revolution: https://i.imgflip.com/1q8nut.jpg

    • Willie Reston

      That’s all you’ve got.

      • Kenny P

        Thats all I need to sleep peacefully tonight.

        • Willie Reston

          There’s no soft way to put this, but you are an incredibly simplistic person. Father Trumpy keeps us all safe, amirite!

  • Gridlocked

    Congrats Ken.

    Density is working: 800+ ppl/sq mile and the democrats are winning! So how will the state deal with the traffic tsunami that is to follow the “political tsunami”?

    Most of us too busy to even take a guess (stuck in traffic or stuck on a train). Regardless, you won so that’s all that matters.

  • RoadApples

    Curious question:
    If the Republican Party would have won the election; would you still use the obnoxious/divisive term ‘bloodless revolution’?

  • Mike M

    Congrats, Ken. Gerrymandering has ensured your unopposed re-election again. No pressure to serve your constituents for yet another term. Well done.

    • SuperCoop1280

      Just need to challenge in the primaries.


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