From repealing voter ID laws, passing California-like vehicle emission standards, to closing public schools to in-person learning, Democrats that have controlled Virginia’s government for the past two years have been busy.
“What we’ve seen come out of Richmond over the past two years is really something that has worked to muddy the waters and will get people out to vote,” said Ben Baldwin, a conservative Republican running for the 31st District Virginia House of Delegates seat.
The district includes a portion of eastern Prince William County in Dale City and stretches into Fauquier County. The seat is currently held by Elizabeth Guzman, a Democrat in the progressive wing of the party.
While mounting a Primary Campaign in a crowded field of Democrats vying to be the state’s next Lt. Governor, she’s simultaneously running to keep her seat in the 31st District, according to a campaign spokeswoman.
Roderick Hall, another Democrat, is also vying for the seat.
Virginia Democrats in recent years have been able to win, says Baldwin, because, under Donald Trump, much of the political conversation had been about national issues.
The pandemic–with its business lockdowns and forced school closures that have led to children failing courses or simply giving up altogether–has shifted the conversation, opening doors for conservatives like him.
“It wasn’t the Federal Government that [forced lockdowns and closed schools], that was Richmond, Baldwin told PLN this week during an interview.
“We’ve sacrificed our children’s education,” he added, noting children should return to the classroom for in-person instruction five days per week.
Baldwin, a political newcomer, will focus on winning every vote, he says, because of what happened the last time this seat was up for grabs in 2019. That’s when Republican DJ Jordan nearly the seat, losing by just 1,505 votes, a five-point loss.
“It’s only a handful of votes who decides who wins and loses,” said Baldwin.
A graduate of Virginia Tech, Baldwin was an officer in Marine Corps, where he served for 10 years as a F/A-18D Weapons Systems Officer.
Baldwin is married to his wife Nikki, of 11 years, and they have a 7-year-old son, Cameron. He is a member of the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, where he participates on the Veterans Council and Economic Development Committee.