Both the House and Senate have now voted on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
In a column here last week, "Not Gretchen Bulova" criticized both Tim Kaine and Creigh Deeds for not coming out stronger against this.
I don't think Not-Gretchen's critique was totally fair. In fact, laying the issue itself aside, I think a few Democrats in certain districts have made their re-elections much more difficult because of this vote.
In Northern Virginia, Republicans voted 9 Yes, and 0 No (1 Not voting), while Democrats voted 1 Yes (Shannon) and 15 No.
So, Republicans are for this amendment. Shocker. But, the big change has come in districts outside the beltway held by Democrats.
Last year when this resolution came up, 3 Democrats represented districts outside the beltway, Chap Petersen, Steve Shannon in swing districts and Ken Plum in Reston which has always been the Democratic stronghold outside the beltway (about 70% for Gore, Kerry etc.).
Outside the Beltway Democrats voted 2 Yes (Petersen, Shannon) and 1 No (Plum) last year.
This year, with new Democrats added in even more historically GOP districts, there was a remarkable flip. Outside the beltway Democrats now voted 1 Yes (Shannon) and 5 No (Bulova, Marsden, Poisson, Caputo, Plum)
How did other groups besides NoVA Dems in the state vote?
Northern Virginia Republicans: 9 Yes, 0 No, 1 Not Voting
African American Majority Districts: 7 Yes, 3 No, 2 Not Voting
Republicans in White Majority Districts: 45 Yes, 1 No, 1 Not Voting
Democrats in White Majority Districts: 9 Yes, 3 No
The three Democrats voting no from white majority districts were David Toscano (UVA), Jim Shuler (VA Tech) and Shannon Valentine.
I'm not sure Valentine will survive re-election with this vote. Her opponent is going to say "The first thing Shannon Valentine did was vote to deny you your vote on marriage". No other Democrats voted for this bill from downstate white districts that don't have a major university. Even some that do have one like Barlow (William and Mary) voted for it.
The fact is this. Not-Gretchen was wrong to portray this vote as a "no brainer" for statewide Democrats. It's a very tough position for them, especially before seeing how this sudden influx of No Votes from outside the beltway is going to play in their districts.
Of the No Votes, here's the list of the most vulnerable from it:
1) Shannon Valentine- This one shocked everyone
2) David Poisson- Loudoun is still conservative, and this gives the Dick Black types a reason to discuss social issues, instead of the issues that got Poisson elected.
3) David Bulova- What makes David vulnerable on this vote is a comparison to former Delegate Chap Petersen. David had to use Chap to get himself elected, now Republicans can do a comparison piece, and show that David is moving the district left.
4) Chuck Caputo- Chuck has never planned to serve in the House a long time, so he'll do whatever he wants, re-election be damned. Most voters might actually like his George Burns like attitude.
5) Dave Marsden- The least vulnerable of the outside the beltway Democrats on this issue. Why? Jim Dillard was a Republican who opposed this, he will hide behind Dillard and say it was a "bi-partisan vote". The difference in his Dillard cover, while Bulova has none is striking.
Last year we had zero "NO" votes cast from swing districts, so 2007 will see this played out for the first time. What do you think will happen with this first time event? Will anyone lose on this issue?