Many Republicans, elected last fall primarily on the economy and jobs, could face a backlash in their districts for pushing social causes
. And there is a special drawback in an election year in which many Republican candidates for president and the U.S. Senate will need to court independent voters in the swing state, said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington.
“What they’ve wanted, what they’ve dreamed of, is coming true,” Farnsworth said. “But in the larger electoral context, this may be a very painful course of action if it costs Republicans the presidency or what could be the decisive Senate seat for control of the upper chamber in Washington.”
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican who won decisively by downplaying social issues, has said he would sign the ultrasound and one-gun-a-month repeal measures.
Even with Republicans in control of both chambers, some of the most conservative bills have died.
A Senate committee has killed two high-profile gun-rights proposals that would have done away with state background checks and prevented colleges from banning firearms on campus. Another committee killed a bill to ban most abortions after 20 weeks after a woman testified that she terminated her pregnancy after medical problems.
On Friday, Democrats took to the House floor to bitterly complain about Republicans’ actions in the General Assembly.
“In four weeks, we have been distracted by divisive social issues,’’ House Minority Leader David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville) said. “There have been bills on abortion, bills on guns, bills on gays. . . . This is not what the majority of Virginians elected us to do
Republicans shot back in passionate speeches, saying bills on guns and abortion are just a small number of the hundreds of measures that have been debated.