Category Archives: Elections

What If They Gave an Election, and Nobody Came?


by Joe Fitzgerald

This is the most open Harrisonburg City Council election in a generation, and nobody seems interested.

Barely 300 people turned out Saturday to choose the Democratic nominees, and the Republicans have been silent. Only one obscure independent has emerged. If nothing happens between now and June 21, the race effectively ended this weekend. There are no incumbents on the ballot for the first time since 1994.

This would be the year for strong and determined independents to take the field. There are several reasons for that.

One is that the Democratic Party in Harrisonburg suffers from the same problem as James Madison University and the city government. We grew too fast. It wasn’t that long ago that we were a chicken town with a teachers’ college and the Democratic Party still had Byrd-era holdovers. The party’s nominating processes are well run and fair, but not big enough. The party’s nominees come out of the gate with an advantage in a city that votes 60% Democratic, but 300 people is not enough to decide representation for 25,000 voters. Continue reading

The Defense Production Act as a Political Tool to Boost Solar Farms

Courtesy Dominion Energy

by James C. Sherlock

We have had multiple discussions, good ones, on the issues surrounding solar farms in Virginia.

Jim Bacon wrote an excellent column about it in February of 2021 titled “The Political Economy of Solar Farms.” It was good then and prescient as of yesterday.

He wrote another one two days earlier.  From that piece:

With the enactment of the (Virginia Clean Economy Act) VCEA, Freitas wrote in the press release, Virginia is experiencing extensive land leasing and acquisition by solar developers. More than 180 solar projects accounting for 140 million solar panels are in various stages of approval or construction. Full implementation of the ACT would consume 490 square miles of Virginia’s forests and farmland, an area twenty times the size of Manhattan.

Thanks to President Biden’s new political/industrial policy, those solar farms just got cheaper. And Chinese solar stocks just got more expensive.

Both of which were made to happen because the President removed the tariffs on Chinese solar panels. Readers rationally can be for that action or against it. But the left has settled on the Defense Production Act as a favored service animal.

So, the President, in addition to removing the tariffs, invoked that act as a national emergency response to mandate additional domestic production of solar panels.

Let’s try to pin down the nature of the emergency and the unintended consequences. Continue reading

It’s Easy to Love an Insurgent Without a Voting Record

GOP candidates in the 10th who lost the nomination to Hung Cao (in dark blue jacket) show unity at a rally for him last week.

by Ken Reid

Leave it to GOP primary voters in Virginia to support the no-name insurgent candidates over incumbents who have demonstrated an ability to win elections. A case in point – the 10th congressional district GOP firehouse primary May 21.

The supposed frontrunner, Prince William Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, lost badly despite raising more than $900,000 in donations and key endorsements — Delegate Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, former state senator Dick Black, and former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Hung Cao, a Vietnamese immigrant and retired Navy captain with a distinguished career and life story, was nominated with about 7,700 votes, Lawson, 5,000, Brandon Michon, 2,000 or so, as of the ninth ballot, in rank-choice voting.

Cao ran a superlative campaign, and got Asians, veterans and parishioners in Leesburg megachurch Cornerstone Chapel (where he belongs) to vote for him. He raised about $500,000, largely from Vietnamese across the nation. I think he can beat incumbent Representative Jennifer Wexton; but Lawson, a female with a solid base in Prince William County, would have been the stronger nominee. Continue reading

A Rebuttal Regarding Changes in Election Laws and Changes in Turnout

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Putting aside the comparison with Georgia, I want to take issue with James Sherlock’s comparison of turnout in earlier Virginia gubernatorial elections with the turnout after significant recent changes in the Commonwealth’s elections laws. First of all, comparing the 66.5% turnout in the 1989 election, in which Doug Wilder became the first Black person in the nation to be elected governor, to any other election is misleading. That was an historic event; of course there would be massive turnout.

More importantly, however, in this type of analysis, one needs to look at the relative levels of registration. Research has shown that increases in registration, especially some variant of automatic registration such as Motor Voter, do not translate into a comparable rise in turnout. In fact, they may result in a decrease in the turnout rate. If registration is relatively low, as it has been historically in Virginia, it is likely those registered are the most committed and the most likely to vote. (See here and here for more discussion of these findings.)

Comparisons of registered voters, population size, and relevant percentages provide strong evidence that recent changes in election laws helped expand the number of people participating in the 2021 gubernatorial election. Continue reading

Progressive Dogma Untethered to Results – Voter Laws Edition

by James C. Sherlock

The armies of the progressive left are what the great political scientist George Edwards called “Prisoners of Their Premises.” Many persons and institutions are captives, to a greater or lesser degree.

Lesser is better in this case. Mistakes flow from the best of intentions. You can learn from them or repeat them.

The United States military late in the Vietnam war mandated and then made a science out of analyzing its mistakes in order to learn from them.

At the unit level, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines debrief after every training and combat mission. At higher levels the reviews are periodic, but also professionally honest. Combat training schools capture, but do not enshrine those lessons. Because there is always a next time, newer equipment, newer force compositions, newer enemies and newer lessons.

It is the only way to improve systematically.

Many progressives, in solitary confinement with their dogma, are often wrong but always certain. When their policy prescriptions fail to provide the predicted results, which is most of the time, outcomes are ignored or blamed on outside factors beyond their control. Core beliefs, unchallenged, are undisturbed.

Consider for illustration recent voting law changes. Continue reading

George Orwell Call Home

Nina Jankowitz

by James C. Sherlock

This blog, while proudly based in individual research, often offers controversial ideas.

Uniform agreement is not expected. Debate is encouraged. We learn from one another and even occasionally change a few minds on both sides.

Yesterday the Biden administration announced the establishment of a federal “Disinformation Governance Board” in the Department of Homeland Security to “combat online disinformation in the 2022 midterms.”

Seriously. It was disclosed yesterday afternoon by Secretary Mayorkas in his testimony on Capitol Hill.

You will not be shocked to learn that neither The Washington Post nor The New York Times has yet covered the story. I just checked. Yet it represents a bigger threat to our nation than Russia and China. And it lives within the Department of Homeland Security. Continue reading

Was Virginia’s 2021 Election a Parental Pulse or a Silver Surge?

Walmart greeter Mikki in South Dakota is 99 years old.

Yes, education was a big deal but how about inflation’s impact on fixed income retirees?

by Chris Saxman

Results of a newly released study by TargetSmart, “a Democratic political data and data services firm,” suggest that we should rethink the conventional wisdom and push back on the social media/cable news narratives about the 2021 election.

NOW before everyone hits the reply button that because this is a Democratic firm and they are just trying to improperly turn the 2021 narrative to benefit Democrats in the upcoming midterms — just stop.

The news here is WORSE for Democrats for the midterms, but kudos to TargetSmart for following the data. As the old saying goes — in order to solve a problem, you first have to admit you have a problem.

Today’s Richmond Times Dispatch ran a Bloomberg editorial which provides context: “Piecemeal reform won’t solve U.S. retirement crisis.”

Yet many Americans face the prospect of great financial strain and even poverty in old age, because they lack the resources to support themselves after they stop working.

Continue reading

The Relentless Push for Child Gender Transition

Dr. Rachel Levine, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health

by James C. Sherlock

On the odd chance you missed it, the Biden administration announced a flurry of new measures today, designated the Transgender Day of Visibility. (I need to keep up.)

The Washington Post reported on the festivities. What that story did not report is the celebration’s most important “feature.”

HHS today announced Biden administration support for gender transition  for children.

For transgender and nonbinary children and adolescents, early gender-affirming care is crucial to overall health and well-being as it allows the child or adolescent to focus on social transitions and can increase their confidence while navigating the healthcare system.

Happy to know that HHS defines this as “gender-affirming” care — “affirming” and “care” are cute terms — “at any age or stage” of development. Continue reading

A Knee-jerk Reaction and Changes in the Wind

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

There has been a kerfuffle over another one of Governor Youngkin’s appointments. Late last week, the Governor named Susan Beals to be Commissioner of the Department of Elections.

In contrast to Chris Piper, whom she will replace and who had never worked on a campaign nor donated to a political candidate, Beals has a history of working on Republican campaigns. More to the point, she previously worked as a legislative assistant to controversial Senator Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, and donated to her campaigns.

Democrats exploded. Because Chase had introduced legislation (SB 605) calling for an audit of the 2020 presidential election, a spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Virginia charged that Youngkin had embraced “the fringe, far-right conspiracy theories of Donald Trump and The Big Lie.” Continue reading

The Rioters Among Us

Jacob Fracker (left) and T.J. Robertson at the U.S. Capitol

by James A. Bacon

I’ve not given much attention to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol because this is a Virginia blog, not a blog about Donald Trump and the 2020 presidential election. But maybe I should. Many of the rioters came from Virginia. We have U.S. Capitol rioters among us. How dangerous are these people? Do they, as CNN implies with its “Democracy in Peril” tagline, represent a threat to our democratic republic?

Some truly bad guys might have been involved in the riot.  Several members of the right-wing Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy. I withhold judgment until I see the evidence presented in court. But none of the Oath Keepers claim Virginia as their home. What about our rioters? Two news stories today give us some clues to the level of danger they pose.

Paralyzed-arm guy. Two Virginia Beach brothers — Eric and Paul Von Bernewitz — have plead guilty to charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds. According to WAVY-TV, Eric wanted to attend the rally for President Donald Trump that day and his brother Paul agreed to go along because he wanted to watch after his brother, who has a paralyzed right arm. They told investigators they got caught up in the excitement of the crowd as they marched to the Capitol after the Trump speech. Continue reading

Del. Jay Jones Quits Before He Starts

Sorry, Delegate, I don’t buy it.

I’m delighted that you and your wife are expecting your first baby. And your determination to be a good dad is admirable. Every child should be so lucky.

But you’re quitting your job because a child is on the way? You’re gone in two weeks? You’re not even going to finish your current term, let alone begin your next one?

Huh?

None of this makes sense. Continue reading

Voting Nullification

by Michael Fruitman and Jim McCarthy

Other than the continued inanity of conspiracy theorists and theories about the theft of the 2020 presidential election, we may be grateful in this post-Thanksgiving moment that our ballots in that contest mattered and prevailed.

Virginia turnout was 75% of registered voters (4.375 million). The Democrat garnered 2.413 million votes and the Republican 1.962 million, the largest and most significant result in the Commonwealth’s history and testimony to the vitality of citizen participation in the electoral process.

Nationally, the results were not dissimilar to those in Virginia, with 81.3 million popular votes for the Democrat and 74.2 million for the Republican. However, for a small handful of voters who happened to be members of the U.S. Congress, the popular results were not acceptable. On January 6, 2021, and into the early morning of the 7th, members of Congress conducted another vote to overturn the popular results by legislation, rejecting the Electoral College vote count. Continue reading

Finally, There Are Redistricting Maps Up for Final Consideration

Congressional district map proposed by Va. Supreme Court special masters (The bubbles represent comments made by members of the public on Supreme Court interactive map)

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The two special masters appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court to assist in redistricting have accomplished in about a month what the Virginia Redistricting Commission (“the Commission”) was unable to do in about nine months:  produce single draft maps for the Congressional districts, the Senate districts, and the House of Delegates districts.

The draft maps and a long memo from the special masters explaining the process they used and the reasons for their recommendations can be found here.

An objective examination of the maps will lead to the conclusion that they are significantly more logical and sensible than the current maps or ones considered by the Commission.  The districts are compact to the extent practicable and follow lines that make sense from a communities-of-interest perspective. There are no odd-shaped districts that really stand out. Any bulges or sudden incursions into adjoining districts are the result of the population equality requirement. Splitting of counties and cities is kept to a minimum. Continue reading

Cuccinelli Gives His Take on Youngkin’s Election

Ken Cuccinelli. Photo credit: USA Today

by Bruce Majors

Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2013, spoke to a breakfast of conservative activists Wednesday, and expressed glee about Terry McAuliffe’s election loss.

“Terry beat me by two and a half percent in 2013, and Glenn Youngkin beat him by two and a half percent this year,” Cuccinelli said. “When I ran against McAuliffe he had no record, having never held office, and he hid, making the minimal amount of campaign appearances. He was the fresh face. This time his opponent Glenn Youngkin was the fresh face, and McAuliffe spent the campaign whining that he was releasing hundreds of pages of White Papers, but no one paid any attention. Except journalists, who are Democrats, but even they fact checked McAuliffe and said he was lying about his record.”

Cuccinelli’s most interesting remarks were in reply to a question from an Arlington first responder, who wanted to know what Governor Youngkin or the Virginia GOP would be doing about county vaccine mandates for government employees. Continue reading

Redistricting: Partisan Fighting Continues

Virginia Supreme Court Building

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

The diabolical person who came up with the framework for the state constitutional amendment establishing a redistricting commission was not content with designing it so that it would fail due to partisan wrangling. He also injected partisan politics into the phase in which the state Supreme Court must come up with the plans.

If the commission cannot agree to plans to be submitted, the task falls to the Supreme Court. State law requires the Court to choose two special masters to assist it in developing the plans, one each from lists of three submitted by the leaders of each of the two political parties in the General Assembly. Among other requirements, the persons appointed by the Court shall have the “requisite qualifications and experience to serve as a special master and shall have no conflicts of interest.” The Republican list includes the following: Continue reading