Category Archives: Elections

The Cost of Not Voting

by Joe Fitzgerald 

If I were a more articulate man, I could explain what sorry shape the governments of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County are in right now.

Rational people have little doubt about the county. The biggest government expense, the school system, is currently being run by people who do not know what they are doing. That’s one possibility anyway. The other is that they’re causing randomly divisive chaos on purpose.

In the city the schools are being run well, but the city council approves housing as if it were free. The schools will be overcrowded soon enough. Five years? Ten? We can’t afford to build another one.

Relationships are being destroyed. The city flirts with leaving the Chamber of Commerce. The county board casually damages the shared technical center. Massanutten Pique would describe their behavior. Continue reading

GOP Clobbered Dems in Primary Turnout

by James A. Bacon

I’m no reader of the political tea leaves, and I will willingly defer to those better informed than I am, but it appears that the presidential primary vote in Virginia showed a greater level of enthusiasm for Republicans than for Democrats. That may simply reflect the fact that in the Republican primary Donald Trump had a credible (or semi-credible) challenger, while the Democratic primary offered no serious alternative to President Joe Biden. But I think there’s more to the story than that.

Top-line numbers: 690,000 votes were cast for Republican presidential candidates compared to only 346,000 for Democrat candidates.

Digging into the details, I replicate here two maps published by the Virginia Public Access Project. (Click here to view the interactive maps with a breakdown of turnout by locality.) The first thing to note is the scale used to measure the turnout in each locality — 1.9% to 20.9% for Republicans and 0.7% to 10.4% for Democrats. That alone tells you that Republican turnout was higher as a percentage of registered voters across the board.

Continue reading

Anti-Trump, Anti-Biden Votes in Super Tuesday Primaries:  Will They Sway the November Election?

by Ken Reid

Depending on what media you watch and read, the Super Tuesday primary results are the death knell for either presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or for incumbent Democrat Joe Biden, who is likely to be renominated, too. 

Both candidates had sizable votes against them in their respective primaries. I am not a pundit like Larry Sabato at UVA, but I am a Republican and Nikki Haley voter in Fairfax County (which she won), and just looking at polling data and ballot results, I am of the mind that the “defection” rate among “no more Trumpers” will be higher than defections of far leftists and anti-Zionists from Biden.   

As a result, Trump stands to lose electoral votes he got in 2020, like North Carolina, unless he can make up for the loss of “Haley voters” among African Americans and Latinos, who (according to polls) seem to be persuadable. Biden may get some Haley voters, but the Green Party and other left-leaning third party candidates could depress his electoral vote tally.

In the Virginia Democratic Primary, 7.8% voted for author/lecturer Marianne Williamson and 3.5% voted for Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, who withdrew from the race after Super Tuesday’s results.    

This means 11.3% of Virginia Democrat voters voted against Biden – and I believe that’s largely from Muslims and far Leftists who oppose the administration’s support for Israel in its war with Hamas, and perhaps some concerned with the president’s cognitive abilities.

But the anti-Biden vote in Virginia pales to what Trump might lose this fall with Haley voters who defect, particularly as Trump’s criminal trials move forward. Continue reading

A Never Again Trumper’s Take on Haley’s Event

Nikki Haley thanks Virginia campaign chair Susan Allen for her introduction this afternoon.

By Steve Haner

We’ve already voted, but my wife and I were in the Henrico County crowd today to hear Nikki Haley make her case for support in Tuesday’s Virginia GOP primary. Early voting continues through Saturday, but if you wait until Tuesday and come to Henrico’s Maybeury Elementary, I’ll be there asking which ballot you want. Identify yourself as a reader and I may sneak you two….

Remember, it is an open primary. No party registration is required, a fact that clearly irritates former President Donald Trump. He whined about it on WRVA this morning as he was interviewed by adoring host John Reid. But isn’t the point picking a candidate who can win in the general election, not just a party primary? Independents decide elections. Continue reading

Must Be an Election Year: Kaine’s Staff Is Answering the Phone!

Sen. Tim Kaine

by Scott Dreyer

Life is full of surprises, and I got one today when I called the Roanoke office of US Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)… and a real voice picked up! The receptionist was friendly and professional as I requested the senator help block the proposed Kroger buy-out of Albertson’s.

I then asked her why none of my calls to that office had been answered by a human being for quite some time. I told her, “I haven’t been marking my calendar, but I guess it’s been at least one year, maybe two, since I’ve called this office and gotten a human voice. For a long time, all my calls went to voicemail.”

She tried to assure me, “we listen to all the calls that go to voicemail and pass them along to the senator.”

I then replied: “That’s nice, but from a human point of view, it’s better to call and get a human voice than just voicemail. Besides, almost every time I call the offices for Sen. Warner or Congressman Cline, a real human answers the phone.” Continue reading

Swallow the Money, Part 3 of 3

by Joe Fitzgerald

VPAP and CFReports let you go from “How about that?” to “Oh, my God!” in 5.2 seconds. They’re attractive to the kind of nerds who used to go through the encyclopedia or the World Almanac. Yes, I did. Why do you ask?

One local PAC became a subject for a dive into CFReports and VPAP when someone asked if it was true they paid for health insurance for one of their principals. The answer is that with Virginia’s campaign finance reporting rules, it’s hard to say.

VPAP and CFReports are explained in Part 1 of this series. A PAC, as explained there, is a political action committee. It raises money from political donors and spends it on political candidates or causes.

That cause for Rural Ground Game, RGG, is electing rural Democrats. The perceived need for the PAC is the myth that the Democratic Party ignores rural areas and therefore doesn’t win rural elections. The actual case is that Democrats don’t win rural elections because rural voters vote overwhelmingly Republican, but the myth is popular among those who run better against their fellow Democrats than against Republicans. Continue reading

Swallow the Money, Part 2 of 3

by Joe Fitzgerald

There’s a donor in CFReports named “no name.” He, she, or it is listed on the report as “Name, No.” This same donor is called “Unknown Entity” in VPAP. Or perhaps “Entity, Unknown.” (VPAP and CFReports are described in Part 1.)

This donor’s address shows up as Matt Cross’s house on his campaign reports. (The address is public record, but it feels like doxing to use it here.) “No Name” gave Cross $170 for his 2021 campaign for the Rockingham County School Board, which he now chairs.

Cross’s reports demonstrate two things about Virginia’s system for campaign finance reporting. One is that it’s as easy to make at least a dozen mistakes as it is to make one. The other is that if a report is riddled with errors, it’s not clear what’s to be done about it.

Cross’s finance reports are good examples of the idea that the kind of campaign a politician runs can show us what kind of public official they will be. Cross’s reports show a candidate who appears to either not know how to fill out the reports or perhaps thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Maybe that’s what we should expect of a candidate who, upon taking leadership of a like-minded board, began banning books without regard for how they were chosen or what the process is for challenging a book. Instead they are banning books regardless of whether they’re in county schools, based not on any identifiable process but on vague parental complaints they have yet to produce.

The law on “No Name” at Cross’s house is that any campaign donor must be identified by name, address, and occupation. If that information is not available, the money is not supposed to be used for campaign purposes, but should be donated to charity. In the past, local candidates have given unidentified money as well as unspent funds to churches or non-profits. (Where the money goes is not regulated. One Harrisonburg City Council candidate, unopposed for re-election, gave $460 to his son for “campaigning.”) There is no report on VPAP of Cross donating any campaign money to charity, so it’s hard to say what he did with No Name’s $170.

As noted above, the donor’s occupation is supposed to be listed on CFReports. But that information does not appear on any of the donors in a particular group of campaign reports, defined further down. Continue reading

One Surprise on Virginia’s Primary Ballot

by Kerry Dougherty

I’d almost forgotten that last summer I signed up to be an absentee voter.

Until this arrived in yesterday’s mail, that is.

Yep, it’s a Republican primary ballot. Early voting starts Friday for Super Tuesday and Virginia is one of 15 states participating in what promises to be an essentially empty exercise on March 4.

Trump is building an insurmountable lead and his opponents are bowing out. Nikki Haley didn’t totally embarrass herself last night in New Hampshire, yet she lost by almost 12 points in the state many thought was most friendly to her brand of conservatism.

Her home state of South Carolina is next. Prospects for her are bleak there. It’s likely there will be a strike-out through her name too by the first week in March..

But one big question remains: who the heck is Ryan L. Binkley, the second name on Virginia’s GOP ballot? Continue reading

The Monster at the End of the Book

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

We have created a monster. The genie is out of the bottle. Whatever metaphor you want to use, there is no going back and the way forward poses great dangers. The monster or genie is AI.

The media are full of the promising possibilities of AI improving our lives—great leaps in medicine, science, technology, manufacturing, etc. There is less discussion of the effects of having leaders in business and government, as well as the bureaucrats in those spheres, who are incapable of composing a coherent paragraph on their own due to their reliance on ChatGPT through high school and college.

What really concerns me is the potential of AI for politics; elections in particular. Candidates, or, more likely, sympathetic groups, could release recordings having opposing candidates seeming to say what they did not say. For example, residents of New Hampshire recently received a robocall with what sounded like the voice of Joe Biden urging them to skip the primary election there.

For the upcoming election, think of the effect of a video surfacing that showed Trump doing what the Steele dossier alleged he did in Russia. There is no doubt this is possible. After all, last fall, a group of teenage boys in New Jersey, being teenage boys, circulated pictures of girls in their classes with nude bodies (not theirs). Experts say that all it takes is an iPhone and easily accessible AI software.

I have been mulling all this over for a while. It turns out that I was not thinking broadly enough. In addition to being a possible weapon, the existence of AI provides politicians “plausible deniability,” as one expert explained. FOX News recently ran an ad comprised of well-documented gaffes of Trump. He responded, “The perverts and losers at the failed and once disbanded Lincoln Project, and others, are using A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) in their Fake television commercials in order to make me look as bad and pathetic as Crooked Joe Biden, not an easy thing to do.”

I should not have been surprised at this response. After all, this is a man who insists, in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary, that the 2020 election was stolen. And millions of people accept his version. I expect that, at some point in the upcoming year, Trump or some group allied with him, will be claiming that all the footage showing the January 6 attack on the Capitol was AI-generated.

It used to be said, “Seeing is believing.” That is no longer true. We are entering a world in which we will not know what to believe. We will not know whether to believe that what we see, pictures, video, film, etc., is real or AI-generated. Truth will become elusive. Or, perhaps truth and reality will cease to exist as objective concepts and become whatever one defines it to be at that moment.

A Doggone Tale

State Sen. Tammy Mulchi (R-Mecklenburg)    Photo credit: Mecklenburg Sun

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

A recent special election in Southside Virginia is a stark illustration of  how a small special interest group can exercise out-sized power.

In mid-December, long-time state Sen. Frank Ruff (R-Mecklenburg), announced he was resigning from the Senate, shortly after having been re-elected to a seventh term.  He had received a diagnosis of cancer in October and was facing a strict regimen of treatment.  Gov. Glenn Youngkin set Jan. 9 as the date for a special election to fill the seat.

Ruff’s announcement caught most people by surprise.  According to the reporting of David Poole in the Mecklenburg Sun , two people who were not surprised by the announcement were Tammy Mulchi, Ruff’s legislative aide, whom he endorsed in his resignation announcement, and Kirby Burch, the leader of the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance.  Both got advance notice from Ruff of his impending resignation announcement. Continue reading

Virginia Bill Would Redefine Revenge Porn to Include Non-Porn, Making It Easier to Prosecute Politicians’ Critics

Susanna Gibson

by Hans Bader

Virginia’s revenge-porn law may soon be expanded to punish people for posting embarrassing, revealing images of public figures, such as politicians, if Virginia’s legislature approves HB 926. Doing so would violate the First Amendment, and invite lawsuits by civil-liberties groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression or the Institute for Justice.

In 2023, the media and blogs covered the fact that a Democratic legislative candidate performed live sex acts on the pornographic web site Chaturbate. That information was leaked to the media, including The Washington Post. Blogs posted images of the candidate showing that she was undressed, but not showing her private parts or anything pornographic. The candidate, Susanna Gibson, lost a close race for the Virginia House of Delegates, but not before arguing that the leak of her porn to the general public was a “sex crime” for which people should be prosecuted under Virginia’s revenge porn statute. “Daniel P. Watkins, a lawyer for Gibson, said disseminating the videos constitutes a violation of the state’s revenge porn law, which makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to ‘maliciously’ distribute nude or sexual images of another person with ‘intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate.’” But no prosecution was ever brought, perhaps because doing so would violate the First Amendment, and because it might be hard to prove the leak was done with the “intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate,” as opposed to educating voters about a candidate’s past.

Now, Delegate Irene Shin (D-Herndon) wants to rewrite the revenge porn statute so broadly that prosecutors will be able to prosecute not just the leaker, but also bloggers or journalists who posted publicly available images of Gibson showing that she was in a state of undress during her performances at Chaturbate. Continue reading

God Made Nikki Haley, Too

By Steve Haner

On or before March 5, I will cast a vote for former Governor and Ambassador Nikki Haley for the GOP nomination for president. She edges out Governor and former Congressman Ron DeSantis with me mainly on questions of temperament and foreign policy. I am not an isolationist.

There are six names on that Virginia ballot for the Republicans, and three for the Democrats. There is no reason at this point to believe, or even hope, that the outcome will be something other than victories here for Donald Trump and Joe Biden. If that is the matchup in November, the betting at this point would have to be Virginia’s electoral votes go blue again. Continue reading

Republican Rock Star Campaigns with Kiggans

Rep. Jen Kiggans in Virginia Beach. (Photo by Kathy Sargent)

by Kerry Dougherty

An enthusiastic, overflow crowd crammed into a ballroom at the Marriott Oceanfront on 42nd Street Sunday afternoon to kick off Rep. Jen Kiggans’ re-election campaign. I’m not good at crowd estimates – plus I’m short and didn’t have a good vantage point – but there had to be 500 or more people in the room.

Present was a who’s who of GOP Virginia politicians from former Governors George Allen – who introduced Kiggans – and Bob McDonnell to Attorney General Jason Miyares, former members of Congress Thelma Drake and Randy Forbes and former Del. Glenn Davis, who resigned his seat in the General Assembly to become Director of the Virginia’s Department  of Energy, Del. Barry Knight and Sen.-elect Danny Diggs.

Kiggans ticked off an impressive litany of bills passed by the slim Republican majority in the House, including one that would have stemmed the flow of immigrants entering the country illegally.

“We used to call it a crisis on our Southern border,” Kiggans said, “Now we call it a catastrophe.”

Kiggans noted that the 2nd District seat was one of just six that the GOP managed to flip in 2022 to take control of the House. The Democrats desperately want to flip her seat back into the D column next year and have been running negative ads against Kiggans since last summer. The congresswoman said she hates the “lies” that are told about her, but is willing to take the abuse to continue serving the 2nd District. Continue reading

Dem Shrouded in Controversy Announces Gubernatorial Run

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney

from The Republican Standard 

It’s official.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney (D) is running for governor of Virginia in what’s set to become a free-for-all primary.

Stoney has courted controversy in the past as former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s chief strategist. Critics, including former Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), accuse the ambitious politician of being a hatchetman. Continue reading

While Harrisonburg Slept, a Gadfly Arose

by Joe Fitzgerald

Laura Dent is not a stupid person. She’s probably an honest person. But those aren’t qualifications enough to help run a city. You also have to know what’s going on. Frankly, she’s missed that boat a couple of times.

Two issues I’ve written about repeatedly are uncontained school growth, which the Harrisonburg City Council has ignored, and Bluestone Town Center, where a majority of council members, including Dent, believed every flimsy rationalization from the Mississippi developers while dismissing without comment the measured, statistical, scientific objection by the citizens of Harrisonburg.

That last part is not surprising. Dent may live in the city, but too often she seems to be representing ideas and ideologies that are out of sync with the city. If the good of the city or the good of her ideology are at odds, it’s fair to ask which she’d choose, and it’s obvious which she chose in her votes in favor of  Bluestone Town Center.

There’s one thing ideological leftists have in common with the MAGA people, the Tea Party people, or whatever we’re calling them this year. They’re so certain of their positions that they meet any opposing ideas with dismissiveness, hostility, or bafflement. To Dent’s credit, she usually goes with the latter. Continue reading