Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and anti-gun Democrats are yukking it up after President Donald Trump criticized the governor’s gun control agenda on Tuesday while discussing efforts to help the country’s farmers, who’ve been battered by the coronavirus closures of meatpacking plants across the country and massive disruptions to supply lines that helped bring food to schools, cafeterias, and other large scale operations.
Following an appearance from a Virginia potato farmer, the president said, “We’re going after Virginia, with your crazy governor. We’re going after Virginia. They want to take your Second Amendment away, you know that. You’ll have nobody guarding your potatoes.”
Potatoes are among Virginia’s top farming commodities, where production of the crop accounted for an estimated $17 million in 2018. Trump previously announced a $19 billion relief program for farmers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis in April, including $16 billion in direct payments and government purchases of meat, dairy, vegetables, and other goods.
Northam responded to Trump’s comment in a tweet on Tuesday, writing, “I grew up on a Virginia farm, Mr. President—our potatoes are fine. And as the only medical doctor among our nation’s governors, I suggest you stop taking hydroxychloroquine.”
Northam may think our potatoes are fine, but the farmers who plant them aren’t doing as well, in part thanks to ridiculous orders by the governor to shut down farmer’s markets across the state. More importantly, the fact that Northam tried to zing the president on hydroxychloroquine rather than respond to Trump’s jibe at Northam’s gun control laws is an indication that the governor knows his anti-gun agenda isn’t playing well in most parts of the state.
Earlier today, we reported on some huge upsets in local elections in Virginia on Tuesday. Voters in the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro ousted the incumbents in favor of new blood, and though the local elections are supposed to be non-partisan, the massive turnout on the part of gun owners flipped control of the city councils in both cities from blue to red for the first time in years. Conservatives also picked up seats on city councils in Chesapeake and Lynchburg, and while I haven’t had a chance to go through county supervisor races across the state, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few pro-Second Amendment gains in those elections as well.
There is still a lot of energy and engagement on the part of gun owners in the state, and Northam’s flippant reponse will only rev them up even more. So will snarky takes on the Second Amendment from anti-gun media outlets like the Washington Post, which ran a goofy piece by columnist Alexandra Petri on Wednesday mocking Trump’s reference to potatoes while completely ignoring his point about Northam’s attacks on the Second Amendment. Here’s a small taste of the stupid.
It is a cold February day, and the new crop of potatoes is just in the ground, an average of six weeks before the last frost. I am in Virginia, the well-known home of potato farming. To guard the potato is a sacred duty, which I have studied since my days at Au Groton, a boarding school for people who aspire one day to protect potatoes. I have my weapon, and I have my training. I settle at the edge of the field with my carbine on my knees and prepare for a long spring.
Okay, the Au Groton line is kind of amusing, but Petri’s column wears thin after just a couple of paragraphs. And while she’s goofing on the idea of farmers using firearms to protect their crops, Virginia’s farmers aren’t laughing about the new gun control laws going into effect on July 1st that could turn them into criminals for something as simple as loaning a gun to a neighbor. They also know that Ralph Northam is intent on bringing his bill to ban commonly owned rifles, magazines, and suppressors back before the Democrat-controlled legislature next year.
King Ralph and his anti-gun buddies may think that these local elections are small potatoes, just like our right to keep and bear arms, but I think they’re a portent of things to come. I’m not ready to declare that Donald Trump will carry the state in November, but if Virginia gun owners remain as engaged and involved as they were in local races, we could easily see more big upsets and changes to our congressional delegation on Election Day.