by David Toscano
Foreword by U.S. Senator Timothy M. Kaine
The transformation of Virginia politics over the last two decades is an amazing story. And David Toscano was in the middle of it. While I was Governor, David worked with me to improve Virginia’s economic climate and make the Commonwealth a welcoming place for those pursuing the American dream. Bellwether tells the story of this transformation, and students of politics would learn much from its insights.
— Terry McAuliffe, 72nd Governor of Virginia.
Many think Virginia’s transformation from a ruby red state to a reliably blue one started with the 2017 wave following the 2016 election of Donald Trump. The transformation took much longer. Elected to the House of Delegates together in 2005, David and I had a front row seat. Bellwether captures how changing demographics, national politics, advocacy and organization, and new generations of leadership converged to transform Virginia.
— Jennifer McClellan, Virginia State Senator
Bellwether is a must read for people who want to understand Virginia government over the last several decades. His analysis of change in the culture and its impact on the political and policymaking climate of the state and the nation, provides unique strategic insights from a person who was witness to many of them as Mayor of Charlottsville and during 14 years in the Virginia House of Delegates. His perspectives and policies, while different from mine, are thoroughly researched, respectful of others, and clearly expressed. Those interested in what makes Virginia, the cradle of democracy, an exceptional place for innovation and debate, and those who relish a deep dive into the challenges we face ahead as a democracy, will be greatly enriched by reading this account from a thoughtful, civil state leader.
— Robert “Bob” McDonnell, 71st Governor of Virginia
From Hamilton Books
Throughout the early years of the 20th century, Virginia was viewed as a Republican state. Citizens in the Commonwealth had not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. In 2000, the GOP had just won the governor’s race, held both U.S. Senate seats, and had majorities in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate. By 2020, all of that had been reversed. During that period, Democrats won four of five governors contests, elected two US senators, and voted for Democratic presidential candidates in every year since 2008. In 2019, the House of Delegates, where Republicans maintained a 68-32 supermajority in 2011, flipped to Democratic control. With it, the state became a Democratic trifecta, where the party controlled all of the state’s levers of power. Bellwether tells the story of how this happened from someone who was “in the room at the time.” David Toscano began his service in the House in 2006 and became the Democratic Leader of the body in 2011. He examines the special nature of Virginia politics, the demographic changes that underpin much of its shifting political fortunes, and the policies and personalities at the center of the state’s dynamics for the last two decades.