Category Archives: Elections

Special Interests Behind the Anti-Interest Candidate

MONEY IN POLITICS

By Steve Haner

Welcome to the current state of politics, where an incumbent preens as being free from special interest funding and their sworn enemy, all while the special interests spend millions seeking to tear down the challenger.

House Bill 827, approved by the 2020 General Assembly, did not really provide additional employment protection for Virginia’s pregnant women. It created a new state-level bureaucratic shillelagh to use if they felt aggrieved, backed up by the threat of state lawsuits and punitive damages.  Continue reading

The Trojan Horse Amendment

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

I need some help sorting out a dilemma I find myself in.

I am strongly in favor of the concept of authorizing an independent commission to draw legislative district lines. On the other hand, I really do not like the proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution that would create such a commission.

During the debate last session, two objections were the most prominent. The members of the Legislative Black Caucus objected strenuously that the proposed amendment did not guarantee that minorities would be represented on the commission. I am not swayed by that argument. There is ample opportunity to have minorities appointed as citizen members. Furthermore, the voting rights of minorities are protected by the Voting Rights Act. If any redistricting plan produced by the commission unfairly violated the voting rights of minorities, it would be struck down by the federal courts. The Republicans found this out a couple of years ago. Continue reading

Virginia Needs to Prepare for November’s Election

by DJ Rippert

Chaos. Violent riots have become a nightly occurrence across America. Portland is now over 100 nights of protests and riots. Meanwhile, Portland’s mayor expresses his solidarity with the protesters while moving from his residence because of the number of violent protests conducted on his doorstep. You can’t make this up. People are dying in big cities and small. Kenosha has been a war zone recently and another inexplicable police shooting in Los Angeles has that city on edge. In Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently had an epiphany … the riots and looting were not protests. Rather they were “planned attacks.”  Sharp thinkin’ from the Land of Lincoln. Sadly, the Labor Day weekend saw 51 shooting and 10 killings in Chicago. Closer to home D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is talking about a possible “race war” stirred up by “outside agitators.” Charles Manson is getting his “Helter Skelter” 50 years late. Virginia has been no stranger to street violence as looting and vandalism have come to Richmond and Hampton Roads.

Continue reading

I Miss The GOP That Welcomed Bob Calhoun

The late Senator Bob Calhoun, R-Alexandria, with the very much still alive and kicking former Governor Douglas Wilder, in the Senate Chamber. Wilder might have been lieutenant governor at the time. Calhoun family photo attached to the obituary linked below.

Former State Senator Bob Calhoun’s death on August 6 at age 83 is apparently only Alexandria local news so far, but he was such a colorful and useful member of the Senate that his passing needs more notice. The family is delaying any formal memorial services.

Calhoun was funny, one very smart lawyer and an experienced government mandarin from the federal realm.  His expertise included transportation. He had a strong political base in Alexandria as councilman and then vice mayor, and when former Senator Wiley Mitchell told us he was stepping down, he strongly pointed to Bob as the next candidate. In his usual fashion I think he called me at the GOP Caucus office and said, “Bob or else.”  Continue reading

How To Lessen the November 3 Polling Train Wreck

By Steve Haner

If the state and the major political parties do not spend substantial time educating voters about how voting rules have changed, and what has not changed, the lines and delays on November 3 will be incredible.  This voter education must start now. The Northam Administration is not known for effective communication, sadly.

The Virginia Public Access Project has posted a useful illustrated “how to” on voting absentee by mail, pointing to some things which have changed. But even it glosses over something key that has not changed: To apply on-line for an absentee ballot by mail, you still need to provide formal identification.

The first request in the on-line application is for your Virginia driver’s license number. Lacking that, it seeks some other numbered state-issued identification. You must also provide your Social Security number. Requesting and actually checking the voter’s data provides some assurance ballots will be mailed to real persons at their actual addresses.

The additional safety procedure of requiring the signature of a witness to that ballot, however, is under assault in the courts again. It was waived in June and the pandemic is still with us. Waiving it again simply feeds the claims that the process cannot be trusted.  Continue reading

Libertarians Need Not Apply

By Peter Galuszka

The Virginia Republican Party had a big shock Saturday.

Far-right candidate Bob Good snatched the party’s nomination in the fifth congressional district from incumbent Denver Riggleman, who was backed by President Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of Liberty University.

The remarkable twist could presage an arch-conservative backlash against Trump’s populism in the run up to elections this November.

University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato tweeted early Sunday morning that “the Virginia GOP has gone so far to the right that a congressman backed by (Trump and Falwell) isn’t conservative enough to renominate.”

The 5th District includes the cities of Lynchburg and Charlottesville and covers broad swaths of highly socially conservative rural areas. Riggleman’s problem was that he had Libertarian tendencies and had officiated at a gay wedding. Continue reading

Our Gutsy Governor

By Peter Galuszka

On June 24, 2015, Nikki Haley, a Republican who was South Carolina’s first non-white governor, called for the removal of a Confederate flag that had been flying over the state’s capitol grounds for years.

“This flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state,” she said. Her action came a few days after an avowed white supremacist walked into an African-American church and opened fire, killing church members attending a service.

I was watching the news on TV when she made her gutsy move. I was deeply impressed.

And now, Ralph Northam, a Democrat who is governor of Virginia, has taken a similarly gutsy move. He has ordered that the state-owned statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee be removed from its stand on Monument Avenue in Richmond. It has been there for about 130 years, erected by white supremacists with deep sentiment for their romantic myths of Southern history.

“I believe in a Virginia that learns lessons from our past and we all know that our country needs that example right now,” Northam said. Continue reading

Beware Fake Tweets

The Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, Russia

By Peter Galuszka

Around midnight Monday, reporters in downtown Washington D.C., stood by ready to cover the next round of protests about the slaying of African Americans by police.

They started getting tweets marked #dcblackout suggesting that internet service was being interrupted because of a secret program presumably run by the government that would cut them off.

The curious thing, NBC News reported, is that the reporters’ cell phones worked just fine. Later Twitter was contacted and began to investigate. It was curious that the questionable tweet seemed to be coming from the left-wing ANTIFA group that is said to have helped organize protests around the country.

A tweet labeled as been sourced with ANTIFA proclaimed “Tonight’s the night, comrades. Tonight we say F&*^The city and we move into the residential areas, the white hoods and we take what’s ours.”

Twitter quickly uncovered the problem. The tweets were fakes put out by a far-right white nationalist group called Identity Evropa. Twitter took down the sites because they violated the company’s policy against using social media to incite violence, NBC reported. Continue reading

Staunton’s Election Lessons

by Chris Saxman

Virginia’s most accurate statewide election locality — Staunton — just swept off City Council three Democratic incumbents in favor of three Republicans.

Democrats go from a 6-to-1 majority to a 3-to-4 minority.

This made headlines around the Commonwealth and political news sites. “Virginia is going Red this fall!” “Will Trump win in November?”

No.

There are many reasons why this happened and several lessons to be learned (again).

The main reason — the incumbents lost.

But first, here is just how accurate Staunton has been over the last EIGHT statewide elections in Virginia and why you should pay attention to the Queen City. Continue reading

Trailing Candidates Should Bail Out, Void Primary

By Steve Haner

More often than not, the suspense in an election is over long before the polls open. That is the case with the two primary contests which will require me to sit in a polling place all day on June 23. The expected losers should just drop out now and save us all the risk.

The precinct where I work has both a Republican and a Democratic contest scheduled, which will require my co-workers and me to be at the polling station from 5 a.m. until 8 p.m. Based on what happened in the local elections yesterday, it will mostly be voting from cars – in a location with very little parking.  Continue reading

WTJU Podcast: COVID-19 and the Economy

By Peter Galuszka

Here’s is the twice-monthly podcast produced by WTJU, the official radio station of the University of Virginia. With me on this podcast  are Nathan Moore, the station general manager, and Sarah Vogelsong, who covers, labor, energy and environmental issues across the state for the Virginia Mercury, a fairly new and highly regarded non-profit news outlet. Our topic is how Virginia is handling the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Move 2020 Nomination Deadline To Late Summer

By Steve Haner

A week after the March 3 Democratic presidential primary I was sick, probably with a cold but I had to wonder. No fever developed and patent medicines got me through. But it could have been COVID-19 after checking in hundreds of voters in the Maple Street Firehouse.

There is no way I’m repeating that activity on June 9. Thank you, Governor Ralph Northam, for saving me from having to abandon the other nice folks who work that precinct. Even if we are on the infection down slope, holding a primary that day is a risk we don’t need to impose on those volunteers.

Republican officials exploded when the stay at home directive was advanced to June 10. A statement released by the Republican Party of Virginia whined:

“… the timeline seems all too convenient,” said RPV Chairman Jack Wilson. “We ask that Governor Northam show us the data that led to his decision. It is not our opinion that the Governor is purposefully engaging in voter suppression, but an explanation would help to mitigate any concerns.”

Did my statement mitigate your concerns, Jack? I bet thousands of poll workers feel the same way.

Let’s drop the debate over which elected official or cabinet agency is more hapless and focus on some truly clueless people – this state’s all but dead Republican Party. Yesterday the state party certified three candidates to run June 9 seeking the nomination against Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia. Don’t look at the story yet, can you name one of them? I cannot. And I would love to see somebody give Warner a race. People forget how close Ed Gillespie came to beating Mark-not-John six years ago.  Continue reading

How Virginia Would Fare Under President Biden, Part 1

By DJ Rippert

And then there were two. Today, Elizabeth Warren announced that she will withdraw from the presidential race. That leaves Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard (yes, she’s still running) as the remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination. Given that Tulsi Gabbard has exactly one delegate (from American Samoa where she was born), the odds of her prevailing are so low that the race can safely be considered a two- man contest. Two weeks ago Joe Biden’s campaign seemed deader than disco. Then came Super Tuesday. Now he’s the front runner.

It seems worthwhile, then, to consider how Biden’s announced policies would affect Virginia if he were elected president this November. Politico keeps an updated list of the candidates’ positions on the issues which you can see here. Politico records the candidates’ positions using fifteen categories. This blog post examines the first five categories — criminal justice, economy (excluding taxes which is a separate category), education, elections and energy (including the environment and climate change). The remaining ten categories will be examined in future articles.

Continue reading

Money Can’t Buy You Love (or Elections)

Source: FiveThirtyEight. Click to view larger image.

The 2020 election season has been fascinating to behold. Two billionaires, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, attempted to purchase themselves the Democratic Party presidential nomination through massive advertising buys. Bloomberg supplemented his television and online ad buys by hiring every party operative in sight and setting up campaign offices everywhere.

“It is an open question whether Bloomberg’s investment in Virginia — unparalleled among his Democratic opponents — will translate into votes,” wrote the Washington Post last week. It’s an open question no longer. All that money bought him 127,000 votes, or about 9.7% of the total.

According to Business Insider, Bloomberg dropped $18 million on television and radio ads in Virginia, about 50 times what Biden spent — “and got demolished.”

Steyer has spent loads of money on cable TV ads in Virginia (I can’t find a specific number, but I’ve seen plenty of the ads) but snagged 1,586 votes in Virginia, or about 0.1% of the total. Continue reading

Takeaways on Biden’s Big Win

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

By Peter Galuszka

Joe Biden prevailed in the Virginia Democratic primary Tuesday, showing that the state’s movement to the political left can go only so far.

The former vice president got 53% of the vote with Sen. Bernie Sanders snaring 23%,and Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg far behind. Nationally, Biden’s remarkable comeback on Super Tuesday has made him the leading Democrat, although Sanders isn’t gone yet. Here are some takeaways:

  • Political analysts in the state such as Steve Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington, have said that while changing demographics have made the state bluer, it is far from California. The analysts are right, despite what a number of conservatives claim.
  • The turnout was large. That’s significant because if it is likewise large in November, it’s bad news for Donald Trump.
  • A number of state Democrats supported Biden at the last minute, worried that Sanders would be a giveaway to Trump.
  • Democratic leaders know that they must hold on to the gains they made in 2018 and 2019. Two key bellwethers are U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger of the 7th District and Elaine Luria of the 2nd District, who defeated prominent Republicans in 2018. If either of those two loses in November, it would be a big symbolic blow to moderate Democrats.
  • Continue reading