WASHINGTON (AP) – A brutal defeat in gay-prone Virginia and a race too close to comfort in New Jersey on Wednesday forced divided Democrats in Washington to battle for answers and call for new strategies to undo a stalled legislative agenda before than they will support more political damage.
Republican Glenn Youngkin beat former Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe to run for Virginia Governor, devaluing the 10 percent difference in President Joe Biden’s victory just a year ago. In New Jersey, much-favored Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy fought shoulder to shoulder with GOP political newcomer Jack Chiatarelli in a state that Biden supported by 16 percentage points.
The results were ominous for Democrats far beyond these states. The party’s declining support bodes badly as it clings to a narrow majority in the House and Senate ahead of next year’s midterm elections. An election without a presidential race has historically meant the loss of many seats, especially in the House of Representatives, for the party that occupies the White House.
WATCH: Republican Glenn Youngkin speaks after winning Virginia governor’s election
Congress leaders on Wednesday tried to back an appeal from Biden’s stalled domestic legislation and used the election results to call for action. Those two measures – a $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill and a $ 1.75 trillion 10-year package of social and environmental initiatives funded largely by taxes on the rich and corporations – have been slowed by several months amid struggles between progressive and moderate.
“I hope this clears up everyone’s perception of how important it is to leave these bills behind,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, Virginia, who represents some of Washington’s thriving suburbs. “The time for ketching is over.”
Senator Tim Kane, Democratic Republic of Virginia, lamented that some fellow Democrats “wanted to be conservative about their own goals – left, right and central.” He added: “Politics is largely time-dependent. And there was a time to do it, which would help in both of these states. “
Three-quarters of voters said the protracted negotiations in Washington over the Biden agenda were an important factor in their vote. According to preliminary results from the AP VoteCast poll for Virginia, those voters are more likely to support Yangkin.
Instead of swiftly accepting compromises on the table, the progressives used the moment to convince the party to restore liberal priorities that had fallen during the negotiations. They blamed the Democrats’ failure to get the bills bold enough for losing the election. Biden and congressional leaders cut what was a $ 3.5 trillion social and environmental package in half, cutting or eliminating provisions that are backed by the progressive but opposed to modest spending by the moderate.
“The lesson of 2022 is that Democrats need to use power to do big things for workers and then strive for those gains. Period, ”the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said in a statement.
Progressive Rep. Ro Khanna, California, said the Democrats’ continued delays in their economic accounts are hurting, but cited other factors as well.
“I think there is a general feeling of discontent, a tough year with the Delta option, supply chain problems, a sense that Washington is at a dead end. We cannot control external circumstances, but we can control the execution of things, ”said Hannah.
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Returning to the US early Wednesday morning from global summits in Europe, Biden planned to make comments on COVID vaccinations for children, but otherwise did not have a public timetable as he and his advisers took stock of what lessons could be learned from the Virginia vote and New Jersey.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California, and House Committee Chairman Richard Neal, Massachusetts, said they are preparing to add paid family leave provisions to the domestic policy bill. The proposal was a key priority for progressives, but was turned down after moderate Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., complained about its costs.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP campaigning organization, on Wednesday expressed its optimism, adding 13 seats held by Democrats in the House of Representatives to 57 seats it already planned for 2022.
“In a cycle like this, no Democrat is safe,” said NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer, R-Minn.
However, much could change in 12 months, Democrats said, including easing inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as adopting their party’s economic agenda.
“By the spring of next year, the political environment may have changed,” Connolly said.
AP reporters Farnush Amiri, Kevin Fracking and Amer Madhani contributed to this report.