Expert: Virginia’s General Assembly could catch the attention of voters nationally

Updated: Jan. 8, 2020 at 8:18 AM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The 2020 General Assembly begins Wednesday. A day before the session kicks off, Governor Northam introduced leaders in the House and Senate and unveiled items he will be pushing for including women's rights and raising the state's minimum wage.

Now that Democrats are in control, political experts are weighing in on what this year’s session could look like.

"We’re really excited and ready to get off to a great 2020,” Northam said in a news conference Tuesday.

With Virginia’s new House and Senate leaders by his side, Governor Northam sounded off about changes he would like to see this session including banning discrimination in housing and employment.

I’m joining House and Senate leaders to announce our joint legislative priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session.

Posted by Governor of Virginia on Tuesday, January 7, 2020

"Virginia is a diverse and welcoming place where we want everyone to be treated fairly,” Northam added.

His fellow Democrats will control the General Assembly but experts don’t believe that will mean smooth sailing for the party.

"These are brand new Democrats. They haven’t been in office. They're very progressive. Some of them are very far to the left. Some have socialist platforms and that's going to create tensions within their own caucus," Chris Saxman said.

Saxman is a former Virginia delegate and now runs the non-partisan political group, Virginia Free.

"The Democrats are going to be under great pressure to make sure the narrative they’re trying to create and the legislation they want at the end of the day carries the day for them and it’s going to be very difficult. Republicans know what they’re doing on gun legislation and they’re going to ask difficult questions and offer amendments that might make it more difficult for them,” he suggested.

As the session begins Wednesday, Saxman believes eyes all over the country could be fixed on Virginia.

“Virginia is always the first legislature that convenes after the new year. We’re less than 30 days away from the Iowa Caucus. So if national voters start seeing whats going on in Virginia and can be inflamed by it on social media, it could set a narrative in place that Democrats don’t want nationally. How it plays in Sanders vs. Biden, I think could be very telling,” Saxman added.

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