Nanette Mees is a registered Republican and a textbook example of Virginia’s shift from red to blue.
Her last Republican vote for president was in 2004, which is also the last time a GOP presidential nominee – George W. Bush back then – carried suburban Loudoun County and the commonwealth.
In the nearly two decades since, Mees voted for Barack Obama twice, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.
“I mean, abortion, guns – those are two big things,” said Mees, explaining her choice to vote Democratic in the past four presidential elections.
She is prepared to extend that streak to five next November, but not without hesitation.
“I don’t think he is the perfect one,” Mees said of Biden. “But if I have to pick between him and [Donald] Trump, who I would never, ever, ever vote for, it would be Biden. I would just pray.”
That choice is a year away.
A more immediate choice will also have significant national ripples – Tuesday’s legislative elections in Virginia, where control of the state House and Senate is at stake. The outcome will impact America’s abortion debate, its broader political fight for supremacy in the suburbs and the ambitions of the commonwealth’s Republican governor, Glenn Youngkin.
“Hold the House, flip the Senate” has been Youngkin’s mantra campaigning for GOP candidates in the run-up to Tuesday. The governor, who is about halfway through his term and not on the ballot, sees himself as a Republican who appeals to both the GOP’s Trump base and suburban voters.
And he thinks he can maintain that appeal while pushing new abortion restrictions, promising that if Republicans take full control of the legislature, they will pass and he will sign legislation to outlaw abortions after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
His Spirit of Virginia political action committee has spent heavily, and Youngkin’s rallies across the state look very much like a presidential test run. The legislative candidates get a few minutes to make their case, and then Youngkin promises, if given a Republican legislature, to cut taxes, boost police spending and give parents more rights over school curricula.
“The other side is so afraid of losing Virginia totally because in 24 months we’ve turned this state from blue to red,” Youngkin said at a rally last month in Henrico County.
Missing from his rally speeches: any mention of abortion.
The governor rejects the idea that he omits abortion because of worries his proposal will alienate swing voters.