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“The Greatest Choice of My Life”: How Virginia Became a Democratic State – Politics

Plump orange pumpkins make fun of customers from the stands at the Farmer Market a few days before Halloween. In addition, there are piles of apples, cakes and jams in the “homemade” design.

On the opposite street corner, the Republicans have set up their campaign baton with a red rain cap, on the other side the Democrats have theirs with a blue rain cap. Red is the Republican color and blue is the Democratic color.

The Democrats have significantly more traffic. Passers-by take “yard signs” for the front yard with the inscription “Biden / Harris 2020”. Especially the “bumper stickers” for the car are popular: “DUMP TRUMP. Vote on Nov. 3 “and” Yes, Virginia, there are Democrats in Great Falls. “

The parish gets its name from the rapids of the Potomac River nearby. It is an affluent area in northeastern Virginia 20 miles west of Washington

It is a 15-minute drive to the CIA headquarters

“When I moved here in 2004, I thought I was the only Democrat here,” said Anne Whipple, a brunette in her 50s. Great Falls was then considered a Republican stronghold. People who have more faith in conservatives in matters of national security and economics. The CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia is only 15 to 20 minutes by car.

Lately Anne has been feeling a majority in Great Falls. Young families have moved here who can buy a spacious home with a large parcel of land for the same money as an apartment or a small townhouse in nearby Washington.

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When driving through autumnal brightly colored deciduous forests and hilly land with horse pastures, one might get a different impression: the large colonial buildings with saddleback roofs with columns dominate the picture.

But a look at the real estate office next to the Farmers Market confirms: in addition to the “Mansions” for several million dollars, there are a number of offers in the price range under a million or just over.

Republican Ulo Defends Trump: 100 Promises Have Been Fulfilled

73-year-old Ulo is in charge of the Republican position. The posters in front of it read: “No new taxes” and “No new national debt”. Ulo is wearing the red Trump cap that says “Make America Great Again”. He does not live in Great Falls, but in nearby Herndon and helps to make the GOP, the “Grand Old Party”, show his presence.

Ulo was born in 1947 in a refugee camp in Nuremberg. The parents are from Estonia and fled at the end of the war to avoid entering the Gulag. He grew up in Baltimore “in the German Quarter,” as he says.

“We spoke Estonian at home, German on the street, and when I went to kindergarten it was a shock that most of the others spoke English. But I learned quickly. “

Whenever someone stops at the red Republican booth, Ulo hands him a book with Trump’s “Top 100 Promises Made and Preserved,” from tax cuts to illegal migration to conservative judges.

He jokes that the last three pages have been kept blank so anyone who wants to can write down what Joe Biden has promised and kept. But there is nothing to write about that.

Republicans are now betting on African American voters

The radio just announced that US debt is up $ 3 trillion in 2020 alone. In 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan was elected because he called it a scandal that public debt was over a trillion.

The government, Reagan insisted, must learn to handle the budget. Under Trump, Republicans have strayed far from it. Ulo does not want to say anything about that. He quickly changes the subject: the new constitutional judge nominee Amy Coney Barrett is a wonderful woman.

She denied the Senate hearing without notes, purely by heart. And yet the Democrats wanted to prevent it. That’s mean of them.

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How does he see Trump’s chances in Virginia. “Trump wins Virginia,” he claims. Like the? “36 percent of African Americans will vote for Trump,” he predicts. When asked about it later, it brings a smile to the Democrats.

In the latest televised debate, Trump had vowed, “No president has done more for blacks than I have – with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” Lincoln ended slavery. And a Trump does no less than such historical comparisons.

Two hours in line to vote

A long line has formed in front of the public library on the corner of the street. There you can go to the “early vote” and vote in the days before Election Day on November 3. The people in masks are patiently two meters apart, almost two meters.

Anne estimates it takes one and a half to two hours. One of them wears the button, “Democratic Party. We’re not perfect. But they’re crazy.”

A button from the Democrats Photo: Tsp

Why do people do this to themselves and don’t vote by mail? Before she can answer, a young African American woman comes to the Democratic booth. “Can I vote here, even if I signed up for a vote by mail?” She asks a little nervous. “Yes, you can”, says Anne.

“Just take the voting papers with you by post, they will be canceled invalid and you can vote here.” The waiting time does not deter the young woman. “I want to make sure my vote counts.” The postal vote dispute sparked by Trump has left her unsettled.

Campaign manager Kiraly wants to get victory for the Democrats

30 kilometers south of Great Falls, in Fairfax City, the Democrats have their headquarters for the region. Jack Kiraly, her campaign manager, has a poster with a number in five colors hanging next to the constituency map: 355,133. The Fairfax County Democrats got that many votes in 2016, about 200,000 more than Republicans.

Democratic campaign manager Jack Kiraly Photo: Tsp

It was pretty much the margin Hillary Clinton took to win the state of Virginia. “As long as we get 200,000 or more votes in Fairfax County, Virginia will remain a blue state,” Kiraly said confidently. He is confident that he will exceed the 2020 target.

Virginia was a red state until the turn of the millennium. With Barack Obama that changed. He won here in 2008 and 2012. What’s more, since 2009, no Republican has won a statewide office, a state-level political office like governor or senator. Not only because of Obama, but also because of demographics, Kiraly explains.

After the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, government departments and security services in Washington were expanded. The newcomers hardly found affordable apartments in the capital. They moved to the surrounding area.

Adjacent Fairfax County has become Virginia’s most populous district. The 1.2 million inhabitants outweigh the conservative strongholds. Virginia was the political center of the Southern states during the Civil War, and Richmond was the Southern capital. Today, Virginia is a reliable blue state. North Carolina, the neighbor to the south, on the other hand, leans towards the Republicans.

“Nova” surpasses “Rova”

“One in seven Virginia voters lives in Fairfax County,” Kiraly said. “And one in five of those who vote for Democrats.” The capital, Richmond, has a population of only 600,000, but – like most major cities in the US – it is predominantly liberal.

It gets more conservative to the west, into the Blue Ridge Mountains and the rest of the Appalachian Mountains, for example, around the college town of Charlottesville. And towards the coast and Virginia Beach. The Navy’s Atlantic Command is in Norfolk.

At the Civil War slaughterhouse of Manassas, Prince Williams County, west of Fairfax, democratic preponderance is already on the wane. Likewise in Loudoun County to the north. But that doesn’t help the Republicans anymore. “Nova” (Northern Virginia) surpasses “Rova” (the rest of Virginia).

Throwing Trump out of office – a powerful slogan

Based on polls, Kiraly estimates that the “Early Voters” vote 75 percent for the Democrats. Participation is higher than ever before. “In 2016 we lacked a poignant message for Hillary Clinton. The Republicans had one: they wanted a turnaround after eight years of Obama. Today it is the other way around. Voting Trump out of office is a strong emotional motive for many voters. Or, shorter, as on the bumper sticker: “Dump Trump”.

Attempts to speak to someone at the Fairfax County Republican headquarters have failed. They have less staff, less money – and it’s probably not particularly appealing to explain to a media representative why Trump is more than 11 percentage points behind Biden in the Virginia polls.

How Republicans Become “Independents”

Back to Great Falls, to two men who have lived here for a long time and who have good contacts in the business world. With one of them – he worked for a long time in the management of an international airline group and describes himself as ‘a George Herbert Walker Bush Republican, so the father, not the son’ – we sit on the porch of his ‘mansion’ overlooking the lush green lawn sweeping treetops.

2020 is “the most memorable choice of my life”. Why? The point is whether “we will continue to be ruled by people who ignore reality”. Or from a moderate like Biden, who will “rally smart people around” and “bring the US back into international treaties”.

He wants a country back in which both sides compromise. But that will only be possible if the Democrats win all along the line and conquer the Senate as well as the White House and the House of Representatives.

With a razor-thin majority in the Senate, they would not unleash a leftist revolution, but work with the Republicans to modernize health insurance and infrastructure. On the other hand, if Republicans keep the Senate majority, he fears they will block.

The other man was a lifelong Democrat and is an economic adviser. Jeff Thinnes steered large German companies through compliance issues in the US.

And reports from his social networks and from the golf and country clubs: Many friends who used to be proud Republicans have recently introduced themselves as “independents,” as non-party. It’s her way of justifying to herself why it’s okay to vote for Biden in 2020 instead of the Republican candidate.

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