Category Archives: Elections

Baby Steps Toward Campaign Finance Reform

Del. Marcus Simon
Photo credit: Bob Brown/AP

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Virginia law prohibits a candidate for public office from converting “excess” campaign funds to her personal use when closing out her campaign finance account. However, there is nothing to prevent a candidate from using campaign funds for personal, non-campaign related, purposes during a campaign.

Ever since his first General Assembly session (2014), Del. Marcus Simon, D-Falls Church, has introduced legislation to prohibit any personal use of campaign funds. Year after year, the bill died, with no recorded vote, until the 2019 session, when subcommittee votes were required to be recorded. That year, the bill died, 4-3, in subcommittee, with the four votes against it cast by Republicans. Last year, the bill was carried over again. Continue reading

Election Law Transformation Continues Apace

The status of the National Popular Vote Compact, which goes into effect once enough states have signed on to let the national totals determine their electoral votes.

By Steve Haner

As I’ve explained too many times to people who won’t believe it, President Joe Biden won Nov. 3. While there remains no evidence of widespread fraud or error, election law changes achieved by Democrats in key states were a major contributing factor to that outcome.

That transformation started here in Virginia in 2020, was boosted by the pandemic, and is continuing into the 2021 General Assembly. Here are some of the key proposals pending which Democrats believe – with reason – will bolster their electoral successes. I also point to a good idea to restore public confidence, which they quickly defeated. These are just some on an incredible list of election bills this year, and that list seems to miss some.  Continue reading

There Is a God and He Has a Sense of Humor

President Biden. Credit: deadline.com

by James C. Sherlock

The Left won control of government in the most recent elections nationally and in Virginia. Elections indeed have consequences.

The focus on race instead of class by the newly victorious left will have major consequences here.

A combination of (1) Biden policies requiring antiracism training for federal workers and contractors; and (2) state requirements for biannual antiracism training for teachers and rewriting of syllabi to achieve antiracism together will be felt more heavily in Virginia, especially dark blue Northern Virginia, than anywhere else in the nation.

Virginia, because of its massive concentration of federal workers and contractors in Northern Virginia and military and contractors in Hampton Roads, will be the state most heavily effected by the new Biden administration policies.

Virginia’s education system is already in the midst of an antiracism transformation at the hands of the Governor, the General Assembly, the Department of Education, left-leaning school boards in districts like Albemarle County and left-wing schools of education in Virginia such as those of UVa and VCU.

I am going to use this essay primarily to offer commentary from the Left on what this means and whether it will work. Continue reading

Live by the Sword

Del. Jerrauld C. Jones. Credit: Washington Post

by James C. Sherlock.

This is a follow up to Jim Bacon’s story about Levar Stoney, his contributor and city statue removal contractor, credible accusations of corruption and Attorney General Herring.

From the Washington Washington Post:

“In what may become a heated Democratic primary contest for Virginia attorney general, state Del. Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones Friday attacked Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) Friday for authorizing an investigation into allegations of impropriety surrounding Richmond’s mayor — a standard move in an ongoing court case that Jones called a Trump-like abuse of power. “Using the office of the Attorney General to investigate your political opponents is the same tactic employed by Donald Trump,” Jones (D-Norfolk) said in a statement, referring to the fact that Richmond Mayor Levar A. Stoney has endorsed him, and not Herring, for the Democratic nomination for attorney general this year.”

Welcome to the quicksand of the left, General Herring.

You are now officially accused of abuse of public office for “authorizing an investigation” into allegations of corruption on Stoney’s part. Not indicting, investigating. As is your job. Continue reading

How Texas Gets Standing Next Time: NPV

By Steve Haner

When Texas went to the United States Supreme Court last month complaining about the election processes in four other states, the case was dismissed on the issue of standing. The Court correctly replied Texas had no right to complain about how the Electoral College votes were determined in other states but could only control selection of its own presidential electors.

But what if Texas had been part of an interstate compact that required it to choose electors based on which candidate won the highest number of votes in the entire nation? That is what the National Vote Compact does: States that join, once enough agree, ignore the will of their own voters. They will certify electors pledged to the candidate with the most votes overall, even if that person failed to win in that state.  Suddenly they have a larger stake in how those other states run elections.  Continue reading

Northam Leaves GOP Senate Seat Vacant to Ensure Progressive Dominance

Sen. Ben Chafin

by Hans Bader

Virginia’s state senate had a narrow Democratic majority, with 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans. Then, on January 1, Republican Sen. Ben Chafin died. Virginia’s Democratic governor has deliberately delayed filling the seat so that progressive bills will be able to pass the state legislature more easily, and without being moderated by the amendment process.

Keeping the seat vacant will make it easier to pass progressive bills even when not all Democrats vote for them — such as when a relatively moderate Democratic senator votes against a bill to release criminals earlier. That occasionally happened in 2020, such as when a Democratic senator voted against lowering the age of geriatric release for some criminals to age 50.

Keeping the seat vacant ignores the governor’s duty to call special elections to fill vacancies that result from a legislator dying. Virginia Code Section § 24.2-216 provides: “The Governor shall issue a writ of election to fill the [House or Senate] vacancy. If the vacancy occurs during the session of the General Assembly, the Speaker of the House of Delegates or the President pro tempore of the Senate, as the case may be, shall issue the writ unless the respective house by rule or resolution shall provide otherwise.”

(Update: A special election was announced this afternoon, for the ridiculously late date of March 23 — after the regular legislative session ends! That’s nearly three months after the seat became vacant. By contrast, Governor Northam filled a Democratic seat in Prince William County less than a month after a Democratic legislator resigned. Delegate Jennifer Foy resigned from the House of Delegates on December 8, 2020. Her successor was elected in a special election on January 6, 2021.)

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Virginia Republican Congressmen Support Coup Attempt

Photo credit: The Sun

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

After taking an oath on Sunday to support and defend the Constitution, four Republican members of the House of Representatives from Virginia supported an attempt to disregard the votes of about 5 million citizens in a vain effort to keep Donald Trump in office.

These Congressmen were Morgan Griffith (9th District), Ben Cline (6th District), Robert Good (5th District), and Rob Wittman (1st District).

The supporters of this attempt cited vague claims about election fraud and concerns about the integrity of the electoral system. Trump continued to stoke these baseless claims in the face of statements by his top Homeland Security official on the integrity of the election system and his Attorney General that there is no evidence of widespread fraud that would change the results of the election. He fired them both after they made such statements. He continued to air such claims despite being ruled against by numerous judges, many nominated by him. Continue reading

The New Face of Virginia’s GOP

Amanda Chase. Credit: Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

By Peter Galuszka

If ever one photo best describes what 2020 was like in Virginia, this shot, by the brilliant veteran photographer Scott Elmquist at Style Weekly, shows it.

The photo is of state Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, at a July 4 rally at the capitol. Her defiant expression, the assault-style rifle and the over-the-top elephant skirt tell you what has become of the Virginia Republican Party, which hasn’t won a statewide public office in about a decade.

Chase is a pistol-packing, foul-mouthed, tough-talking show girl who is running for governor and backs the dangerous authoritarian tendencies of outgoing President Donald Trump. Chase is so extreme that her county GOP kicked her out.

Republicans were still so frightened of her that they decided to hold conventions and not a primary to decide between her and Kirk Cox, a more moderate politician and perhaps anyone else who runs. Now Chase has announced she will run as a Republican. Doing so gives her a leg up. Continue reading

With Chase Vs. Cox, The Field Looks Complete

Senator Amada Chase, R-Chesterfield

By Steve Haner

Give credit  where it is due: Chesterfield Senator Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, had the wisdom and courage to reverse a bad decision. Virginia’s Republicans may be back in the game for 2021.

Both Senator Chase and Delegate Kirk Cox had expressed a preference for their party to choose a nominee for governor by holding a June primary, likely to draw several hundred thousand voters to make the choice. A week ago, party insiders in a smoke-filled Zoom chat made the bonehead decision to hold a convention, where fewer than 1 percent of those likely primary voters might participate.

The other 99.5 percent of the Virginians who probably would have liked to pick a GOP nominee – but not spend their money and time on a convention — were just told: You don’t matter, we don’t care what you think, those of us who live and breathe the insider game want to pick. But we sure hope you show up in November and help us then. Brilliant.

Chase’s immediate reaction was to announce she would simply gather petitions and get on the November ballot as an independent, although you could expect her to claim the title “independent Republican.” She saw and grabbed the high ground, claiming (correctly) that the GOP was once again behaving as insular, out of touch and disinterested in broadening its appeal.

The decision sparked a war within the GOP, with primary advocates even attacking State Central Committee members. Somehow, however, Chase realized that was not a path to victory for her, and in fact guaranteed the Governor’s Mansion to the Democrats. Who wants to be another Russ Potts? So now she is back in the hunt for convention delegates.  Continue reading

A New Low for Virginia Republicans

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Three Virginia Republican members of the House of Representatives joined a brief supporting the request from the state of Texas asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the election in four states. Think about it. The state of Texas was objecting to how four states ran their elections and was asking the Supreme Court to set aside the results of those elections and direct the legislatures of those states to select the electors. Never mind that the Constitution delegates the administration of elections to each state.

What happened to those Representatives’ concerns about activist judges? And federalism? They wanted the federal government to overturn the elections in those states and tell those states how they were to select Presidential electors. And these Representatives call themselves conservatives?

The three Virginians who joined in this farce:

Rob Wittman (1st District)

Morgan Griffith (9th District)

Ben Cline (6th District)

 

 

 

 

 

The Supreme Court summarily dismissed the request by Texas to file the suit, thereby saying that the case was not worthy of even being heard and considered by the Court.

Carbon Tax Advocates Who Lost in November

From the Collins-Gideon contest in Maine this year, won by Senator Susan Collins.

Editor’s Note:  A cautionary tale as the 2021 Virginia General Assembly prepares to debate another major carbon tax? 

By Paul D. Craney

One of the most overlooked stories on Election Day was the defeat of pro-carbon tax politicians across the nation and here in New England.

The most notable carbon tax proponent to seek office in New England was Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House who was challenging moderate incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. As speaker, Gideon in 2019 supported the imposition of a carbon tax that’s end effect on fuel prices bore a striking similarity to the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI, a regional effort to place a price on the carbon in vehicle fuels. The carbon tax proposal went nowhere in Maine and Gideon did not embrace it during her run for U.S. Senate.  Continue reading

Where Does Ralph Northam Go From Here with COVID-19?

Image by André Santana from Pixabay

by DJ Rippert

Marcel Marceau. Ralph “The COVID Mime” Northam dropped a bevy of increased Coronavirus restrictions on the state last Friday. Those new restrictions on Friday followed another rambling COVID press conference held by Northam the prior Tuesday. Anybody watching the Tuesday news conference could be forgiven for being shocked by The COVID Mime’s actions on Friday. Unlike governors such as Larry Hogan in Maryland Northam avoids any serious discussion of possible actions he might take to slow the spread of the resurgent virus in Virginia during his press conferences. Instead, Northam recites statistics about COVID-19 in Virginia and reminds people to wear masks, maintain social distance and wash their hands regularly. He also provides pithy commentary such as, “This is very concerning, especially because it is getting colder. The holidays are approaching and the temptation to gather with other people is high.” Then, as the news week winds to a close, Northam drops a COVID bomb. To say Jim Bacon was exasperated is putting it mildly. The virus has continued to spread internationally, nationally and in Virginia.  So, we get to play the next installment of the Bacons Rebellion game show “What will The Mime do next?” Continue reading

What Cox Brings to the Contest for Governor

Chesterfield Observer photo from a September interview, which you can read here.

by Steve Haner

Virginia’s 66th House District, basically Colonial Heights and part of Chesterfield County, was drawn by a federal court special master. The incumbent delegate, Republican Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, was not supposed to survive the 2019 election based on past partisan performance in those precincts.

But Cox ran nine points ahead of failed 2018 GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart’s result in those precincts, and five points ahead of failed 2017 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie. He won another term in the House of Delegates with almost 52%. Unfortunately, so many of his colleagues fell to the new map that he was no longer to be Speaker.

Being Governor is better than being Speaker. The effort to gerrymander George Allen out of Congress led to his term as Governor two years later. If a play works, wait a while and run it again. Only a Republican who can get beyond the hard core base – as Cox did in 2019 — has a prayer. Just improving the outcomes in nearby Chesterfield and Henrico counties, his back yard, would set the stage.

Any Republican faces daunting numbers. Donald J. Trump just lost the state by 450,000 votes, a full 10-point spread. Gillespie lost to Democrat Ralph Northam by just under 9 points and 230,000 votes. If you-know-who is not in the White House next year, which is how it now stands, Democrats have lost their best “get out the vote” magnet.  Continue reading

A Big Election Day for Marijuana

by DJ Rippert

Rolling stoned gathers no moss. Marijuana reform has been gaining momentum in the U.S. since California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. Today 36 states have either enacted medical marijuana access laws or are in the process of implementing such laws. In 2012 Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults. Today, 15 states have enacted recreational use laws or are in the process of doing so.

Continue reading

Outcome Disputes May Help Kill Electoral College

The status of the National Popular Vote Compact, which goes into effect once enough states have signed on to let the national totals determine their electoral votes.

By Steve Haner

The battle is now rejoined to kill the Electoral College and elect a U.S. President in 2024 based purely on the national vote total. The stubborn refusal of President Donald J. Trump and many other Republicans to accept the November 3 outcome is likely to become a new talking point for Electoral College foes.

Trump and his legal team see a path to victory if they can reverse votes in a handful of states he narrowly lost, by challenging votes or forcing recounts. Without the Electoral College process, the effort would be futile in the face of President-elect Joe Biden’s huge popular vote margin of victory. If the public grows tired of or even angry over the dispute, scrapping the Electoral College entirely may become more attractive.

With House Bill 177, the Virginia House of Delegates voted earlier this year to have Virginia join a compact of other states which have agreed to award their votes in the Electoral College to the highest national vote recipient, without regard to the outcome among their own state’s voters.

That bill was carried over to next session in a State Senate committee, but under Senate rules could be revived if voted on by early December. The chair of that committee, Senator Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, told Bacon’s Rebellion today he will not be calling that meeting to look at carry-over bills.   Continue reading