It's unclear why Trump decided to jump into the race for Virginia's 13th Senate District a day before the election.
Donald Trump took a brief break from tweeting about the impeachment inquiry on Monday morning to announce his "complete and total Endorsement" for Geary Higgins — a far-right Republican candidate running for a seat in Virginia's General Assembly on Tuesday.
All 100 seats in Virginia's House of Delegates and all 40 seats in Virginia's state Senate will be decided Tuesday. Republicans held just a single-seat majority in both chambers over the past two years, and Democrats are hopeful that they could flip both chambers.
If Democrats manage to win back control of the legislature, the policy ramifications could be huge, as the GOP majorities have stymied legislation to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, protect kids from gun violence, increase the minimum wage, ensure voting rights for all citizens, expanded reproductive choice, protect the climate, and guarantee equal rights for women.
It is unclear why Trump decided to jump into the race for Virginia's 13th Senate District a day before the election. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.
Trump lost in the 13th legislative district to Hillary Clinton back in 2016, by a 50 to 44 margin. The district has become more Democratic since, making Trump's decision to endorse Higgins especially curious.
Trump used his standard boilerplate language to praise Higgins on Monday, dubbing him "strong on Crime, the Border, our Military, Cutting Taxes, and protecting your 2nd Amendment," while recycling previous attacks on Democratic nominee and current Virginia state Del. John Bell, claiming Bell would "take your guns & raise your taxes."
Higgins is indeed a strong Trump acolyte. In his race-baiting primary campaign, he sent out mailers vowing to "build Trump's border wall" — a decision unlikely to be made by the Virginia General Assembly, which borders places like North Carolina and Maryland, but not Mexico. In his general election campaign, he ran ads centered on a disingenuous accusation that Bell "silenced women" because he didn't back House Republicans' strategy to hold unprecedented legislative hearings into rape allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D).
Matt Harringer, press secretary for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), said the Trump endorsement was great news for Bell. "The DLCC encourages Donald Trump to endorse as many Republicans in Virginia as he likes, as he can tweet at," Harringer said in a phone interview.
A Christopher Newport University poll last month found that about 60% of voters in the 13th legislative district said that they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports Trump.
Harringer noted that Vice President Mike Pence held a rally on Saturday at a middle school in Virginia Beach to support Republicans for the state legislature. "Most of the candidates running didn't even show up," he observed, "because they're deathly afraid to be seen next to this administration."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.