In August, Nazis and white supremacists marched in Virginia, chanting that they would not be "replaced." On Tuesday, Virginia elected an African-American to the state’s second-highest office.
Three months ago, the commonwealth of Virginia, and decent people across the nation, were horrified as neo-Nazis bearing Tiki torches converged on the city of Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.
The protestors chanted “Blood and soil,” proclaimed they would not be “replaced,” and menaced local citizens with guns. The incident culminated in the murder of a counter-protestor in a vehicle-ramming attack.
It was made even more horrifying by the fact that local Republicans lent legitimacy to the racists’ cause. Charlottesville’s own Rep. Tom Garrett posed for a smiling photo with the white nationalist who organized the rally. Meanwhile, GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie fundraised off a promise to keep Confederate statues standing.
Fast forward to Tuesday, Nov. 7. Not only did Gillespie crash and burn at the polls, but Virginia elected Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor — the second ever African-American to hold that office.
A former U.S. attorney and federal district court clerk, Fairfax ran on a progressive agenda that included raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid, adopting universal background checks on gun sales, fighting climate change, and ending workplace and LGBT discrimination.
Fairfax clearly owes part of his victory to a general backlash against Trump. But he also owes it more specifically to the backlash against the campaign of hate being waged by the far right against Virginia.
Fairfax is not alone. Democrats made massive gains in the House of Delegates with a number of historically diverse candidates. Tuesday night saw the first Latinas, the first Asian-American woman, and the first transgender woman elected to that chamber.
After enduring three months of toxic hatred and fear forced on their communities, Virginians took a stand and hit back at the polls. The victory of Fairfax sends a signal that white supremacists do not own the state — and are not welcome in politics.