This is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.
Thomas Jefferson’s election as President of the United States is referred to as a “bloodless revolution” because in the major shifts of power in world history it occurred without the violence that marked previous changes in who controlled government. While electing a president has caused some consternation over time, the rule of law has been followed rather than having a resort to physical engagement determine the outcome.
While I and others had hoped for a giant blue tsunami wave to occur with the outcome of the 2018 mid-terms elections, a more apt description of the outcome might be that a wave of blue change came upon the land. Leading that change was the first outcome announced by the media with the election of Democrat State Senator Jennifer Wexton to the House of Representatives defeating incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock by a landslide and flipped a district that had been Republican for nearly forty years. Not only did Congresswoman-elect Jennifer Wexton get an overwhelming share of the popular votes, but she assembled an army of volunteers like that seldom seen in elections. She won in the best tradition of the bloodless revolution with volunteers who carried her message door to door.
Downstate in Congressional District Seven an earlier voter revolution had swept the Republican House Majority leader out of office in a primary and replaced him with a true-blue Tea Party candidate. That candidate went on to win the general election only to find himself defeated this year by a first-time Democratic candidate Abigail Spanberger. The incumbent Republican Dave Brat has spent most of the campaign seeming to dodge any engagement with Spanberger who would challenge his right-wing economic theories that had left most people shaking their heads to understand him.
Joining Wexton and Spanberger as winning Democratic candidates was Elaine Luria who won in District Two in the Virginia Beach area against former Navy Seal and incumbent Scott Taylor. In a district that has a strong military presence, Luria was able to flip the district from red to blue.
At the end of the evening of vote counting, Democrats that had been outnumbered in Virginia’s congressional delegation seven to four found themselves in a majority of seven to four. A state that was once considered red has Democrats not only in all of its statewide offices but now as seven of its congressional representatives. A congressional delegation that had only one woman ended with three.
In the Senate, former Governor of Virginia Tim Kaine who represents Virginia along with Senator Mark Warner in the United States Senate easily defeated a strong Trump advocate, Corey Stewart, by landslide numbers. The next step for Democratic gain comes with the state elections in 2019. With the State Senate and the House of Delegates being controlled by a single vote in each, it is reasonable to expect that the blue wave will continue throughout the state.
The shift in power in the U.S. House of Representatives was a bloodless revolution with a major shift in power. Looking ahead, the Senate seats up for election in 2020 could bring the tipping point.
The strong positive response to my recent Staycation column caused me to think that I should write another one with travel suggestions for a different part of the Commonwealth. With the first column we went south through the beautiful Piedmont of Virginia.
For this trip I suggest that we go further west on I-66 to the Shenandoah Valley. Before turning south you might want to consider going north to Winchester on I-81 particularly during apple picking season. Also north is the wonderful Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (www.themsv.org) with its permanent exhibits as well as special shows.
Next door to the Museum is Historic Rosemont Manor, for many years the home of former governor and senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. whose machine ran Virginia politics for decades. It has limited lodging available to the public but can be rented for special events. Also in Winchester is the home of Patsy Cline, the queen of country music, which is open to the public.
There are many civil war sites in the Valley. A Civil War Trails map is available at www.civilwartraveler.com. You can also head south at Front Royal until you come to the entrance to the Skyline Drive. The views are beautiful; in the first segment you can see seven bends of the Shenandoah River. The Drive gets crowded during the fall foliage season, but the beauty of the drive makes it all worthwhile.
If you have not been to a natural cavern, get off the Skyline Drive at Route 11 heading west to Luray. Most people agree that the natural beauty of the Luray Caverns cannot be beaten. Luray is in Page County where I grew up as a youngster. Head further west on Route 211 until you get to I-81 that runs down the center of the Valley. For a more scenic drive consider going south on Route 11. It is a little narrower with slower speed limits, but remember–on a staycation we take our time to enjoy the sights.
The campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg is beautiful, especially the early limestone buildings. Stop on Court Square in town and have lunch at Capitol Ale House. Further south to Staunton a recommended stop is the American Frontier Culture Museum, an outdoor museum with homes from the seventeenth century relocated from England, Ireland, Germany and other countries to show the kind of housing the early settlers had. If you need a meal, stop at Mrs. Rowe’s (Mrs. Rowes Family Restaurant). You will think you are back in the 1960s. A slice of pie is a must, and you can buy Mrs. Rowe’s pie cookbook.
We have about reached our limits for a one-day trip, so we can head home. It will add to the time of your trip, but if you go east on Route 64 you can pick up the Skyline Drive at Afton Mountain. Heading north you can eat at Big Meadows Lodge or spend the night at Skyland Lodge where I worked in the summers during high school.
If you want, we can plan a longer trip where we go to beautiful Abingdon, home of the Barter Theater or further west on the Crooked Road of Country Music (Crooked Road). I have traveled around Virginia all my life and never get bored with it. Glad to have you along.