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As Goes Virginia…..

December 27, 2011 1 comment

UPDATE: Via Bearing Drift, it has been learned that Rick Perry has launched his own legal challenge. Actually, it’s beyond launched–the suit has already been filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Their argument seems to be that the requirement that voters be registered to vote or eligible to register in Virginia unconstitutionally restricted his ability to recruit signature gatherers. (Focus on seems to be–I’m not a lawyer) They cite a number of other cases in which registration requirements were struck down. We seem to finally have a number for Perry–6k signatures. This isn’t even close to the 10,000 valid required. We’ll see how this pans out–he may get relief from the court, but I imagine the jeers will be even louder from the blogosphere than they were before. Also, one correction–any legislative fix will require 80 delegates, not 60 as I wrote earlier. That means they’ll need 13 Dems to cross over (12 if Putney votes with the GOP).

This is a Virginia-centric blog, so of course, one would expect me to view the entire political landscape through the prism of the Old Dominion. And sometimes, that can be a rather jaundiced view. However, a funny thing happened over the weekend….Virginia became kinda important. Or at least we think we did, or maybe we became less important….at any rate, people were talking about us.

That came when, in the early hours of Christmas Eve, it became known that the ballot for the March 6th Republican Presidential Primary would feature only former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Volunteers at RPV’s Obenshain Center had been working since the morning of December 23rd. Paul and Romney got through easily, but on that evening it was discovered that Texas Governor Rick Perry wouldn’t make it. That pretty much left Gingrich for those who don’t much care for either candidate, and the supporters of those two to root for Gingrich to fail. Facebook and Twitter lit up with conversation rivaling election night itself. Granted, some of this was likely due to the fact that “Ron Paul” is something of a fighting word for both Ron Paul detractors and supporters, but it was still pretty amazing for the night before Christmas Eve. Ultimately, around 3 a.m., word came out that Gingrich had indeed fallen short. Huzzahs rang out from those who don’t much care for Gingrich, while everyone else who doesn’t much care for Romney or Paul found themselves rather disgruntled. To add tragedy to all of this, one volunteer died in an automobile accident after a day of working to verify signatures.

So what now? Well, let’s first look at this close to home. The very first reaction to this was the first thing that comes to the mind of any loser (or to the mind of any candidate too lazy/principled to fill out paperwork *cough*AlAsbury*cough*): Write-in Time! However, despite the fact that it is discussed every time a primary comes up, write-ins are not allowed in Virginia primaries. Newt Gingrinch, a Virginia voter, was out of the loop on this, along with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who suggested such a thing in his post-Christmas newsletter. What’s left for Gingrich? Well, there could be a legal challenge, but the Washington Post talked to observers who suggest this as unlikely. The other possibility would be an emergency change in election law that would allow write-ins. But the RTD notes this too is a problem: the GA doesn’t convene until Jan 11th, and ballots must be printed by Jan 21st. Emergency legislation requires a supermajority of (updated) four fifths–32 Senators, and 60 80 Delegates. Those are high barriers, and with a very slim Republican majority based solely on the fact we hold the LG’s chair, very unlikely to be reached.

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The Style Primary

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The problem with taking the time to gather your thoughts, at least in the blog world, is that there’s probably someone out there who’s quicker on the draw than you….you wanted to get all the facts straight, double check everything, but somebody else already has (or isn’t too bothered by those pesky “facts”). And so it was with this post, where I had the basic idea that Cuccinelli v. Bolling isn’t going to come down so much to the issues but as a pure contest of political style.

First, DJ over at the Right Wing Liberal:

Very little distances either man on issues: In the State Senate, both Cuccinelli and Bolling established low-tax, low-spending, and culturally conservative records. They even made the same mistake (backing the Howell version of HB3202), and walked it back during the critical but now nrealy-forgotten 2008 special session. We may see some dramatic magnification of miniscule differences, but I doubt it will be enough for any neutral (of which I am one) to go one way or the other.

……

As candidates, Bolling and Cuccinelli have very different skill sets. This is the political version of apples and oranges. Bolling is steady, predictable, and affable; all excellent qualities in a candidate running on a good record in an electorate generally favorable to him. Cuccinelli, by contrast, is dynamic, originial, kinetic, and on occasion hyperactive. Many more voters would be comfortable with Bolling than Cuccinelli (good for voter breadth). Cuccinelli forces voters to think, takes risks that could be game changers, and never backs down from a challenge, thus appealing to voters who are more focused and engaged (good for voter depth). To make things even more complex, each man’s traits could be strengths or weaknesses depending upon the political climate – and that means the political climate could be the one thing that determines which one would be the better candidate.

Chris over at Mason Conservative has much the same thinking, though he framed it more in regional terms:

Its a battle between Richmond and Northern Virginia.

 

The agendas of business interests, local governments, and even the citizens themselves of Richmond and Northern Virginia are different.  Richmond is old Virginia.  Its business interests are defined by old bankers, law firms, and tobacco companies that have been bankrolling Virginia elections since forever.  Northern Virginia is defined by developers, contractors, dot.coms, environmentalists, public servants that come from PTAs and HOAs and where education and transportation and the biggest issues.  And when you look and the needs of both regions of the state, then look at the relative small size of the state budget (compared to other states), there isn’t enough money for both of them.

………

You want to know why Bill Bolling is so outraged at Ken Cuccinelli?  Because Ken represents the biggest threat to the power of Richmond in this state it’s ever seen.  He’s charismatic, made a national name for himself, never was able to be controlled in the senate, and he cannot be pushed aside as a “moderate” someone downstate conservatives would be embarrassed to support.  Bolling has done things the Richmond way.  He’s paid his dues, worked hard, been loyal, said and done the right things, and waited his turn.  Just like all of them.  There isn’t much of a difference in politics between the two, which is a much bigger problem for Bolling.  Ken can’t be brushed aside like Davis was by the claim he’s some wishy-washy Fairfax moderate RINO.  That card is gone, and Bob Marshall proved in 2008 how strong a conservative with a NOVA base can be in a primary, and Ken only confirmed that in 2009 with his drubbing that he laid on two other candidates.

Ken is like Northern Virginia because he doesn’t play by the old rules, he doesn’t care about who’s turn it is, he doesn’t care about the old way of doing things.

And so goes my thinking. What we have here isn’t so much a fight over issues as a fight over style. Bolling comes from the political school of thought that you need to bide your time. Principles are important…you wouldn’t be bothering with this if you didn’t have something pulling you in, right? But what good are you going to be if every time someone challenges you your first move is straight for the jugular? Work the vineyards, move up….you’ll get your chance to make a difference. Cuccinelli doesn’t quite see things that way…..its all about principles, values. You’re either right or you’re wrong. You’re not doing it right if you don’t fight in the streets, leave no stone unturned, refuse to confront people. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Which I think is what makes all of this so disconcerting for so many activists. Let’s face it—RPV is predominantly conservative. Yes, there’s a few, just a few old hat moderates left, but their numbers are dwindling every year. And yes, there’s always someone right behind you saying that you’re not conservative enough……remember, it wasn’t even twenty years ago that George Allen and Ollie North’s people were looked upon with some distaste. It wasn’t so long ago that Allen was the outsider…..and Bolling was one of his guys. But things change. So who do you go with? The guy who takes no quarter on your issues and is willing to lose, so long as he’s right—or the guy who was there all along, used to even be more like his now opponent, but waited, worked for this moment?

A sidenote: A lot of people seem to be framing this in the context of “Republicans always go with the guy whose turn it is.” First off, this is largely based off of experience in presidential primaries—Bush ‘88, Dole ‘96, McCain ‘08. This is comparing apples and oranges. I’m not convinced that “its his turn” holds as much sway as it did prior to the Tea Party rise and their domination in primaries in 2010, nor that it ever really existed below the presidential level—ask former Delegate Clint Miller if he thought it was Allen’s turn in 1993. Secondly, these races are very different—yes, presidential primaries are a long slog, but there you’re dealing with contacting millions of voters in different states, each with its own nuanced system for choosing delegates to the national convention. Here, you’re dealing with getting voters in one state out on just one day (remember, the State Central Committee has already settled on a primary). Yeah, sure, you need to target your areas of the state, but they’re not weighted—whoever gets the most voters wins. Finally, the reason we’ve ended up with “the anointed one” in many past GOP Presidential primaries is not so much that they were always the front runner—Buchanan was whipping Dole hard before South Carolina, and Bush had lost more contests than he won up to South Carolina in 1988. McCain was in a similar situation, and even the Gipper lost Iowa to George H.W. Bush in 1980. The reason they ended up winning was because either they were prepared for the long slog or the new favorites of the activists withered under the hot lights of the media. Say what you will about Cuccinelli upending the order—fair or not, he’s been through this before, as has Bolling, but to a degree he’s had it tougher in no small part to his narrow re-election to the State Senate in 2007. Cuccinelli, love it or hate it, is ready for prime time.

To underscore just what’s going on here in terms of this being more a contest of style than issues, I decided to do a little more research—I decided to actually LOOK at both men’s records. Well, scratch that—I decided to look up where the two men have stood in the eyes of various groups, left and right, that dare to rate members of the General Assembly.

Two important caveats here. One, let’s keep in perspective that Ken and Bill only served concurrently for three sessions—2003 to 2005. If you follow the GA, you know that no one session is quite like the other. Sure there are perennial bills, but those are not the ones that define each session—those bills come up year after year because they always fail. The issues that define each session change. Secondly, just as both men are going to go over each other’s records with a fine toothed comb, so did these interest groups. The bills that each group takes into consideration are rarely, if ever, a complete record of every bill that touched upon that group’s issues, and those issues change from year to year—which is why one year you may get a 100% rating but the next 40%. But until I or some other intrepid blogger gets the time to examine every bill both men voted on (which will likely be around the time one of them or their Democratic opponent is sworn in), this will do.

This information is gleaned, largely from both men’s pages at ProjectVoteSmart (Ken here, Bill here). If either camp wants to correct the record here, I welcome it. So with no further ado:

Cuccinelli and Bolling: Interest Group Ratings

Key:

NS—Not Serving in the body that was rated

NR—Not rated (group did not issue ratings)

All scores are out of 100% unless otherwise noted

Abortion

Virginia Society for Human Life (Pro-Life)

1999

2000

2001

2002

2004-05

2004-2007

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

NS

100

100

Bolling

100

NR

100

100

100

NS

NARAL/Pro-Choice Virginia (Pro-Choice)

2002

2004

2005

2008

2009

Cuccinelli

NS

0

0

0

0

Bolling

0

0

0

NS

NS

Planned Parenthood (Pro-Choice)

2004-05

2009

Cuccinelli

0

0

Bolling

0

NS

Business
Virginia National Federation of Independent Businesses

1996-7

1998-99

2000-01

2006-07

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

100

Bolling

100

83

100

NS

Virginia Chamber of Commerce

1998

1999

2000-01

2002-03

2005

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

NS

82

Bolling

88

89

79

89

100

Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education
97 99 2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Cuccinelli NS NS NS NS NS 62 68 82 NR 61 94 89
Bolling 84 85 100 79 86 71 67 100 NS NS NS NS
LGBT Issues
Equality Virginia

2003

2004

2005

2007

Cuccinelli

0

0

0

67

Bolling

100

0

0

NS

Social Conservatism
The Family Foundation

1999

2001

2002-03

2004-05

2006-07

2008-09

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

100

100

92

91

Bolling

88

93

100

100

NS

NS

*Note: The Christian Coalition did ratings prior to Ken’s service. Bill received a 95% in 1997 and 100% in 1999.

Education

Virginia Education Association

1998

2002

2004

2005

2006

2006-07

2008

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

33/0*

67

80

78

75

Bolling

30

43

33/0*

50

NS

NS

NS

*Note: I found two different scores for 2004; both are included here
The Environment
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
99 2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Cuccinelli NS NS NS NS 17 11 0 43 50 57 10
Bolling 33 60 100 80 20 50 0 NS NS NS NS
Labor
Virginia AFL-CIO
99 2001 2002 2003 2004* 2005* 2006 2007 2008 2009
Cuccinelli NS NS NS 9 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bolling 0 0 50 0 6 11 NS NS NS NS
Gun Rights
National Rifle Association
1999 2003 2005* 2007 2009*
Cuccinelli NS A NR A A+
Bolling A A A NR A+
*Note: Bolling’s 2005 score is for his first LG run. Both men’s 2009 scores are for their respective statewide runs that year. The NRA assigns alphabetical grades that are based both on legislative work and survey responses
Virginia Citizen’s Defense League
I’m having trouble working out percentages here, since VCDL assigns one grade but VCDL-PAC is the one that hands out endorsements. Suffice it to say that both men, as far as I know, have been endorsed by VCDL in all of their runs throughout VCDL’s history. However, if I am wrong here, please let me know. Candidate surveys can be found here—figured I’d provide the source on this one because of the very nuanced nature of this exercise (or rather, the fact that too much nuance will earn you scorn from VCDL).
Conclusion
Obviously there’s a lot to chew on here, and again, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re highly interested in all of this, I suggest tracking down the actual scorecards for that year—again, something’s gotta be up for both men to earn over 50% from Equality Virginia once while pulling in zeroes the rest of the time—same with their wildly gyrating League of Conservation Voters Scores. This is the tip of the iceberg, and we have over a year and a half to go, but for right now—its pretty clear that the two men are relatively close when it comes to core issues for the Republican base. (As DJ pointed out, they both even made the same mistake by backing the miserable transportation plan in 2007, abuser fees and all). I have no commentary beyond that—just wanted to throw this out there.
Corrections, additions, and just plain criticism welcome.

26th District Update–Potential Candidates

March 17, 2010 9 comments

Well, it looks like Rockingham and Harrisonburg is settling in for its first special election since 2008 and the first one for the General Assembly that I know of (feel free to chime in if anyone has history on this). The timing is still very tentative on all this, as under state code it is the Governor that calls special elections for the House of Delegates, unlike with local vacancies where all sorts of timelines are dictated by law. Before anyone accuses me of jumping the gun, let’s face the facts:

  1. This special was triggered by a happy event, not tragedy, and Delegate Lohr has made clear his intention to leave the House
  2. Rockingham and Harrisonburg have very active and vocal committees
  3. Given the redness of the county, there are a large number of Republican elected officials who could conceivably run, to say nothing of former officials and candidates.
  4. Given recent performance by the Democrats in Harrisonburg, this seat will be viewed as at least somewhat in play by DPV, particularly given that redistricting will likely move the district inwards towards Harrisonburg and take away some of the most Republican territory in the district

If you still think I’m jumping the gun, forgive me. Sometimes you just can’t help yourself when it comes to intra-party intrigue. So what will the process look like? Well, from my reading of state law, primaries CANNOT be held in the event of special elections, so the nominee is going to be chosen using one of three party-run mechanisms: a firehouse canvass (which is essentially a primary except run by the party and generally not for the full 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. timeframe of public primaries), a convention (in which Delegates are elected by the units {in this case Harrisonburg and Rockingham} and the number of Delegates elected by each are determined by the unit’s relative strength in the District), or a mass meeting (in which all Republicans may participate but again is run for a much shorter period of time and according to the rules of parliamentary procedure). I think a mass meeting is highly unlikely given the district comprises two units. We may see some wrangling over the method itself–however, the vote on the method will fall to just two men–Dave Huffman, Rockingham County Chair, and Tracy Evans, Harrisonburg City Chair. A nominee must be selected either a) within five days of the writ being issued if the election is to be held less than 35 days from the time it was issued or b) no less than thirty days before the special election. The method of nomination may very well dictate who gets in and who doesn’t given that some methods will clearly not favor some candidates.

We will have continuing analysis of the district throughout the week, including the interplay of deeply red Rockingham and purplish Harrisonburg, along with the effect redistricting will have on the district as well as the campaign. However, for the time being I want to start by discussing the candidates in play. Again, this may seem to be jumping the gun, but let’s be honest–the jockeying has already begun. Additionally, the announcement comes just days before the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Lincoln Day Dinner sponsored by the combined Republican Women’s Club, so there will definitely be some jousting going on by that time. Below the fold is a blow by blow for the names floating around. For right now we’ll start with the Republican side for one simple reason–I know the players.

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BREAKING: Lohr to become Ag Commissioner, Leave House

Just was alerted to this by a friend of mine who works in the General Assembly–nearby Delegate Matt Lohr (R-26) has been appointed as Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Lohr has not yet resigned from the House and will not take the job until May 1st. However, from the tone of his letter (click read more below for the complete letter) he has decided to resign (and almost certainly has to under state law), meaning the move will surely trigger a special election in the district, which comprises Harrisonburg and parts of Rockingham County.

Lohr is a familiar face to those in the Valley, including Shenandoah County, as he often appears on WHSV, the main station for the area. Lohr previously served as a statewide FFA officer and runs his own family farm and pick your own pumpkin patch. I’ve worked very closely with the Delegate on several campaigns and worked with his staff during his first year in the House (he and Delegate Gilbert were both members of the class of 2005). Lohr is definitely an excellent pick for the position, as he brings both extensive knowledge and passion to the position. His letter to supporters is below the fold.

Of course, even with this happy news for the Lohr Family, this does mean that a special election will be triggered in Harrisonburg and creates practical political concerns. The seat went heavily for Lohr in the fall, scoring 73% of the vote and even carrying the city proper, which was the first time a Republican Delegate candidate had since 2001. However, Democrats currently control city council, and they won in 2005 (Kaine only), 2006 and 2008. The city makes up a slim majority of the district, so it could be in play. Still, the overwhelmingly Republican nature of the district makes me lean towards making this a likely Republican hold.

The field may already be cleared, but names to watch as the election develops, on the Republican side:

Chaz Evans Haywood, Clerk of Court
Tom Mendez, City School Board
Mike Meredith, former GOP Chairman
John Elledge, former LA to Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz
Tracy Evans, former city council candidate and City GOP Chair
Kerri Wilson, former City GOP Chair and City School Board Member
Pablo Cuevas, Board of Supervisors member

On the Democratic side:

Kai Denger, Mayor
Gene Hart, Democratic nominee in 2009
Lowell Fulk, Democratic nominee in 2003 and 2005

Wild cards (independents):
Rodney Eagle, 2003 State Senate candidate and former Mayor
Carolyn Frank, 2005 Independent Candidate for Delegate and Councilwoman
Myron Rhodes, local political gadfly and blogger

We’ll track this story as it develops. This may even be enough intrigue to convince me to attend the Rockingham-Harrisonburg LDD this Friday.

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Beating a Dead Horse

December 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Some people just can’t escape criticism. One of those unfortunates is Creigh Deeds. First, there’s a scathing editorial from Doug Wilder, who many waved off as a has-been when he predicted the inevitable. From the RTD:

Candidly, though, I will state that Deeds’ inability to resonate with the base of the party was not his only failure, as some have claimed. He also failed to connect with the overall root base of Virginia voters of all persuasions — particularly independents and crossover Republicans. If a candidate cannot attract the votes of a broad-based coalition, it becomes extremely difficult — if not impossible — to win any statewide election in this commonwealth.

That is Virginia Politics 101, but sometimes it does us all good to refresh ourselves about the lessons these past few decades of elections have taught us.

…..

With the concerns of the base about job losses, under-employment, health care, and resources for infrastructure improvements mounting on an almost daily basis, Democrats will have to start showing that the base — which has been so essential to so many of us having been elected and put into positions of leadership — has real reasons to believe that its votes matter, and that it will see tangible results, notwithstanding the present dilemma of the party.

Meanwhile, outgoing Governor Tim Kaine shows that a little loss like that on November 3rd is no cure for arrogance. From the Politico:

In an interview in Monday’s Danville Register & Bee, Kaine, who’s also chairmen of the Democratic National Committee, said that he would have run for re-election if Virginia governors were not limited to one term and that if he had run again he “probably could have won pretty easily.”

So you really think that the voters of Virginia would have just ignored your billion dollar deficits? Indeed, there was one candidate on the ballot that worked with the Governor and defended his fiscal policies tooth and nail only to get whomped just as bad. Can’t poor Creigh catch a break? Just like the incoming Governor he’s still got a job to do, and I’m sure he’ll be glad when session comes. Will he become a leading critic of the administration? Time will tell.

Of course, Tim Kaine also threw himself a lavish party at the Hat Factory in Richmond with over 1,400 guests. No word if this was on the government kitty….but its clear that His Excellency would rather us remember “the good times” like a boyfriend desperate to get back with a girl he mistreated.

Thoughts on the RPV Luncheon

December 5, 2009 1 comment

The snowfall in the Valley today cut my day at Belle Grove short–not short enough for me to catch the RPV Luncheon live, but enough for me to review the tape. Special kudos to the RPV New Media Committee for making this possible. New media has penetrated every aspect of the Advance moreso than any year (although I’ll note that many of the Commonwealth’s finest twitterers and bloggers have been a bit quiet today–though some of them may be fleeing back home to beat the snow). Here’s the feed for your purusal–I’ll note that a good chunk of the video is a a review of some of Tim Murtaugh’s greatest hits and other gootage from the campaign, so you may want to fast forward to catch the speeches from each of our statewide victors.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

My thoughts below the fold

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Advance Update

December 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Well, I’m not there, of course–but I may not be going much of anywhere today, with between 4 to 6 inches of snow forecasted for the Valley today. If I end up being home later today, I’ll try to live-blog my thoughts on the luncheon and the gala, which are being streamed via video by RPV (courtesy of help from Greg Leticeq, proprieter of BVBL). Greg hinted at bold proposals to come from Eric Cantor at the Dinner tomorrow evening, so it may well be worth your while.

What we’re hearing:

–Mark Obenshain’s suite featured only coffee and sweets and is getting a bit less attention than others (Edit: as someone who is over alcohol in politics, I find this to be a refreshing departure)

–Eric Cantor’s suite is packing them in. Other Congresscritters in attendance: Forbes, Wittman, and Goodlatte–wait a second–the whole dang delegation is there! (Edit: Forgot Wolf! Will verify if he was around) They’re all usual suspects….still waiting word on if any contenders from the 5th outside of Morton showed up

–Krystle’s post may have very little to do with the Advance, but it still makes me feel downright alright about occasionally “shopping” (read: buying Red Bull from the corner store) in flip flops and flannel pants. As long as it leads to you all enjoying this blog, I’m alright with it. I couldn’t agree more with her thesis (despite the fact that I am on the opposite end of both the gender and size spectrum from Lady Krystle)