NewsVirginia Politics


Democrats rally at Blue Commonwealth Gala; gun rights protesters gather outside

Virginia emerges as South's progressive leader under Dems.
Posted at 11:44 PM, Feb 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-15 23:55:21-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg was one of the headline speakers at the Blue Commonwealth Gala at historic Main Street Station Saturday night.

The annual event is the Democratic Party of Virginia’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

Gov. Ralph Northam said Democrats’ past election wins mean Virginia will raise the minimum wage, protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination and pass gun safety laws.

However, some controversy surrounded this year’s event when one major donor withdrew after Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax was allowed to speak.

Fairfax became embroiled in scandal last year after two women accused him of a sexual assault.

Fairfax denied both allegations and said the encounters he had with the two women were consensual.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League organized a protest outside the gala in opposition to gun control laws championed by Democrats and Bloomberg.

"Tonight we're really here just to make sure Bloomberg, in particular, doesn't ever feel comfortable in Virginia,” Sarah Linden, a Virginia gun owner said. “He's not welcome here, we don't need his money. As one of the other protesters said, this is the land of milk and honey, and we don't need Bloomberg's money.”

However, by investing millions on state legislative races, Bloomberg helped Democrats take back the statehouse last fall.

As Democrats continue to advance gun safety bills party members believe will save lives, many gun owners see the measures as a violation of Second Amendment rights.

Ralph Northam, Eileen Filler-Corn, Justin Fairfax
FILE - This Wednesday Jan. 8, 2020 file photo shows Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, bottom left, as he recognizes House speaker, Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Farifax, right, while he prepares to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address as Lt. gov. Justin Fairfax, top left, applauds before a joint session of the Virginia Assembly at the Virginia state Capitol in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

The gala comes as Democrats in Commonwealth are using their newfound legislative control to refashion the state as the South's progressive leader on racial, social and economic issues.

Legislators are rewriting laws at a breathtaking pace, with landmark legislation on guns, LGBTQ protections, abortion and other key issues advancing nearly every day in a state that was once synonymous with the Old South.

Many of the Confederate monuments scattered around the state could soon be coming down.

The state holiday honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson is going away.

The legislature is set to give final passage to most pieces of landmark legislation ahead of the March 7 adjournment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.