Virginia is one of two states that have elections every year. Every six months or so, Virginians from across the commonwealth head to the polls to vote in primaries and general elections, with everything on the ballot from House of Delegates to U.S. president. A few pundits and pollsters treat our off-year elections as referendums on current events, but until Donald Trump rocked the political world in 2016, very few outside the commonwealth even knew we had elections.
That has all changed.
I became worried and confused when last week I read of Tom Steyer’s push to indoctrinate our college campuses. Worried because elitist Democrats are attempting to use our youth as pawns in their political games, and confused because the people losing their minds over unsubstantiated claims of “Russian collusion” in our elections are the same people applauding outside influence from rich Californians.
One can make the argument that because Steyer is a U.S. citizen, he is justified spending millions in Virginia. However, U.S. citizen conservative billionaires are, surprisingly, less welcome on college campuses. In fact, students at George Mason actually sued their school over donations taken from the Charles Koch Foundation. I won’t hold my breath for a similar lawsuit over Steyer’s money.
Imagine a headline that reads “National Rifle Association to Invest $2 Million in Virginia’s 2nd and 10th District Congressional Races.” Indivisible would break out a call-your-congressman script within 24 hours. For at least a week, our GOP members would be inundated with angry calls from a very vocal minority. Signs would appear that read “NRA Owns the GOP,” and rancorous mobs would protest outside of district offices across the commonwealth.
Instead, the headline is “Billionaire from California to Invest $2 Million in Virginia Elections.”
This isn’t even the first time Steyer and his group have had an interest in our elections. Just last year, he dumped $2 million into Ralph Northam’s campaign. But there was no public outcry, no protests, and no clever signs.
I could pretend to ponder the reason someone living more than 2,000 miles away would invest in a statewide election, but the answer is very simple. The Democrats are still reeling from perhaps the biggest loss in their history. It was Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine’s turn. We were supposed to get more welfare spending, open borders, and a Planned Parenthood on every corner. Instead, Donald Trump exploded onto the political stage and destroyed the left’s hopes for a dynasty.
If we are actually worried about outside meddling in our elections, we should first look internally. Many have accused Republicans of, for example, being owned by the NRA. The NRA has donated about $685 thousand to Republican groups in Virginia all told (and $91 thousand to Democrats). Planned Parenthood has given nearly $4 million to Democrats in Virginia. The League of Conservation Voters has given $6.25 million to Democrats. Who really answers to whom here?
Steyer’s appearance should be a warning to all Virginia conservatives. The left doesn’t care who you are or what you stand for; it wants to beat you into extinction.
John Whitbeck is chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.