Virginia Democrat Issues Stern Wakeup Call: The Party 'Ought to Go to DEFCON 2'

Gerry Connolly DEFCON 2 Democrats Virginia Election
Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said Democrats "ought to go to DEFCON 2" after losing the Virginia gubernatorial election last week. Connolly is pictured during a House Rules Committee hearing at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., over the summer. Anna Moneymaker/Getty

U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) has urged the Democratic Party to go into "DEFCON 2" after Republicans swept elections in Virginia last week.

Connolly made the remarks during a Monday appearance on MSNBC's Deadline: White House. The congressman suggested that Republican Glenn Youngkin defeating Democratic former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe despite President Joe Biden easily winning the state last year meant that the party had reached "a serious moment."

"Somebody has to explain how a 10-percentage election margin of Joe Biden one year ago evaporated last Tuesday here in Virginia," Connolly said. "It was a 12-, almost 13-point swing. That means Democrats ought to go to DEFCON 2. You know, everybody on deck. This is a serious moment for us politically."

"DEFCON" refers to the U.S. military's defense readiness condition ranking system. Level 2 is the second highest level of readiness and indicates that forces are ready to deploy within six hours.

Although Connolly said that the election loss represented a serious challenge for Democrats, he said that the party could recover if it shows "unity." He also blasted the six progressive Democrats who voted against the infrastructure bill over concerns that moderates would not back the Build Back Better social spending plan in return.

"We can recover," said Connolly. "But we're not going to recover if we continue to show the kind of dysfunction that led up to the successful passage Friday of the infrastructure bill and what I hope will be a successful passage of the Build Back Better bill when we come back two weeks from now."

"Six Democrats actually vote[d] against the infrastructure bill because they didn't trust the assurances that were made that moderates would vote for the next bill," he added. "We can't have that, our margins are too thin. We've got to have unity and we've got to understand the old adage, 'if we don't hang together, we'll most assuredly hang separately."

Connolly went on to say that Youngkin's win in Virginia was explained by "huge turnout" in areas dominated by Republicans. The congressman said that Republicans winning by "catastrophic" margins in rural areas during the off-year elections played a significant role in Democrats losing.

"It was a narrow win by a Republican but if you look at what we did just a year ago, it was a huge swing," Connolly said. "And it's one that, if it's replicated nationwide, I think would spell enormous trouble in the midterms. That's why I say we've got to go to DEFCON 2."

Newsweek reached out to the Democratic National Committee for comment.