WASHINGTON — Roiling anti-Trump sentiment. A massive grassroots mobilization by new resistance organizing groups. Women’s anger at politicians and a record number of female candidates. To that list of contributing factors to last week’s bicoastal Democratic victories, add another that is certain to factor into the 2018 races: deferred accountability.
Voters weren’t just voting against Donald Trump, they were taking action on years’ worth of accumulated grievances that had no outlet in districts where the only candidates running were Republicans. And that has profound implications for Democratic organizing efforts in 2018.
Take the case of Virginia’s 73rd House of Delegates district, outside of Richmond.
In 2012, a proposed transvaginal ultrasound law in Virginia became a major issue in the presidential race and part of that year’s War on Women narrative. The bill, which would have required women seeking abortions to undergo an invasive and medically unnecessary test, eventually became law after it was revised to require external sonograms of women seeking abortions rather than internal probes.
But since 2009, and until this year, no one had challenged Republican Virginia House of Delegates Rep. John O’Bannon, who voted for the law.
In his 17 years in office, O’Bannon, a staunch social conservative, had only faced three challengers —and only one of them a Democrat.
This year, Debra Rodman, who runs the women’s studies program at Randolph-Macon College, decided to run for office.
“I think the silver lining in (Trump’s) election is that people like me, women like me … now the doors have opened for us,” Rodman said in May. “I think this movement of people, especially women like me, is not just about resisting. It’s about advancing,” she told a Roanoke paper.
She beat three other candidates in the June primary and then ousted O’Bannon in the district, despite being outspent by nearly $200,000. She ran on a platform of holding…