How the ‘Resistance’ Helped Democrats Dominate Virginia

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Photo: Sage Ross / CC2.0
Media Outlet: The New York Times Magazine

Gideon Lewis-Kraus wrote a feature for the New York Times Magazine about how channeling energy and feelings from the aftermath of the 2016 election allowed for Democrats to sweep Virginia's elections in 2017:

On the morning of the Women’s March on Washington in January, Kathryn Sorenson was an hour west of D.C., en route to her new apartment, when a car broadsided her and broke her neck. She had been passing through a dangerous intersection — busy roads, no stoplights — and her first thought, as she waited for the ambulance to arrive, was about the inadequacy of local governance: In the Northern Virginia exurbs, rapid growth has long outstripped traffic oversight. Still, as a young Democratic campaign manager, it seemed to her vaguely unprofessional to have broken her neck on such a politically momentous day. “I wasn’t even out fighting the machine,” she said, “just coming back from the dry cleaners.” The first to arrive at her hospital bed — before her mother — were David Reid, a local businessman, and his wife, who had called around to every regional emergency room until they found her.
Even if she hadn’t broken her neck, she most likely couldn’t have taken even a few hours off work to attend the march: She was the manager, and sole employee, of the two-week-old David Reid for Delegate campaign. Sorenson met Reid on New Year’s Day for a mutual interview; Reid, a well-kept, goateed father of two in his mid-50s, was a latecomer to politics, and was relieved when Sorenson agreed to lead his campaign for the House of Delegates, the 100-member lower chamber of Virginia’s legislature. In her six years out of college, Sorenson had worked continuously on campaigns, all but one of them in Northern Virginia, and despite her youth, she exhibited the grim, sardonic cheer of the veteran operative.
Sorenson agreed to work with a novice like Reid because he seemed committed to real issues, and he made a sincere first impression. Also, she liked his odds. Virginia’s 32nd house district is part of Loudoun County, one of the fastest growing counties in the country and, by median income, the wealthiest. Verdant, indistinguishable subdivisions are laid out in self-contained loops between windowed blocks of strip mall and windowless blocks of data center. There are overpasses to nowhere; there are construction sites that look like Caterpillar sales lots as well as actual Caterpillar sales lots. The county and its schools are around 30 percent nonwhite, with a large immigrant population. (Sorenson’s favorite local lunch spot is an Afghan kebab joint.) The 32nd went for Hillary Clinton by 19 points. There was, Sorenson quickly got into the habit of saying, “absolutely no reason this district has a Republican delegate.”

Author:

Gideon Lewis-Kraus is a New America fellow. He is a writer at large for the New York Times Magazine, a contributing writer at Wired, and a contributing editor at Harper's, and writes regularly for a variety of other publications.