In Choosing Leader, Virginia Democrats Fight Over Same-Sex Marriage | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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In Choosing Leader, Virginia Democrats Fight Over Same-Sex Marriage

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There are divisions among Virginia Democrats over the governor's pick to lead the party — a mayor who's spoken out against same-sex marriage.

Last fall, Democrats swept all three statewide offices and took control of the state Senate. Then they celebrated a major legal victory when a judge declared Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Now, there's trouble in paradise.

"Nothing triggers intra-party disputes like victory," says Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor with the University of Mary Washington. "When you are a minority, it's much easier to stick together. When you can taste power, well then the fights begin."

Now a new fight has begun over Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe's pick to be the new chairman of the state Democratic party: Dwight Jones, mayor of Richmond. Back in 2012, he issued a statement opposing President Obama's support of same-sex unions.

University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Geoff Skelley says that's causing a backlash in the party.

"It's strange, at least in the sense of messaging and the kind of message that Democrats have been sending," Skelley says. "For them to now do this is a little bit... it just seems counterproductive for what they are trying to do."

Members of the state central committee will have the final say over whether or not they'll select Jones to head the party.

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