Category Archives: Politics

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

Virginia’s Splintered GOP

by James A. Bacon

Shaun Kenney a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, offers a useful perspective into the state of Virginia’s GOP in a post-Trump presidency. The Grand Old Party in the Old Dominion is so fractured, he suggests in a new post on The Republican Standard, that it soon may descend into a “five-way civil war.”

Of particular interest is Kenney’s typology of the ideological factions within the party (here I quote him directly):

  1. Nationalists are adopting the Donald Trump rhetoric and adapting it to their own cause. Their ideas … at the local or state level have yet to play out. While the leadership (sic) would prefer to tap into the energy of the alt-right, the rank-and-file are far from it. Most of them see the violence of BLM/Antifa and say “not here; not ever” and define themselves likewise — knowing that the America their values helped build is an America worth keeping. Whether they can find better champions remains to be seen.
  2. Libertarians have offered the most stout resistance to this idea. Call them the inheritors of the Tea Party or the modern-day Sons of Liberty, but their idea of the Republican Party is much more in line with the values of Ron Paul than Donald Trump. Classical liberals, lowercase-L libertarians, and Tea Party types all find their home here.
  3. Conservatives remain the 800-lb. gorilla in the room, if for no other reason than conservatives have identified the landscape for so long. Built in the mold of Ronald Reagan and Edmund Burke, the purpose of government is to set the rules and then get out of the way. A strong education system, good roads, and well paid teachers and deputies with as little red tape as possible.
  4. Moderates are a trickier bunch. They really haven’t had a champion since former Rep. Tom Davis — and Davis was in truth no slouch on taxes or economic freedom — but should the disaffected “law and order” moderate come back home to the Republican Party in a 2021 tidal wave, it will be through someone who is willing to set down Divisive Social Issues (TM) in order to carry home a fiscally moderate yet prudent agenda.
  5. Traditionalists are a more complicated bunch who are on the horizon and more prevalent a force than people realize. Restoring the dignity of human life, restoring marriage to its proper role in society, restoring a sense of self-reliance and self-worth, and restoring faith to its proper role alongside conscience are all necessary for the moral ordering of society. If the secular left can regiment our children to believe certain moral values, the religious right can do very much likewise.

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Virginia’s New Political Landscape

2020 presidential election map. Source: Virginia Public Access Project

by James A. Bacon

So, where do yesterday’s elections leave us?

We don’t know who won the presidential election, and we probably won’t know for days, if not weeks. Still, we can draw some meaningful conclusions.

Virginia remains a solid blue state. The Democrats’ political dominance has jelled. With 98.44% of votes reported, Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in the presidential election by 53.7% to 44.5% — a nine-point margin. Democratic Senator Mark Warner trounced his Republican opponent Daniel Gade by an eleven-point margin. And Democrats won, or were poised to win six of eleven House seats, with only the election between incumbent Abigail Spanberger and challenger Nick Freitas too lose to call.

Northern Virginia has transformed the demographic equation. Not only do a handful of Northern Virginia localities dominate Virginia’s electorate in the absolute number of voters, NoVa is lopsidedly blue. Biden’s margin of victory was 64.7% in Arlington County, 62.% in Alexandria, 41.9% in Fairfax County, 28.7% in Prince William County, and 24.7% in Loudoun County. Continue reading

Biden, Birx and COVID Lockdowns in Virginia

by DJ Rippert

Sine wave. The third wave of COVID-19 has been spreading across the world and has come to America.  As should have been expected it has also come to Virginia. Many European countries have enacted lockdowns that would be considered draconian by most Americans. Several U.S. governors have also dramatically reversed the re-opening of their states’ economies in order to thwart the spread of the virus. Federal infectious disease experts are sounding the alarm. “We are entering the most concerning and most deadly phase of this pandemic . . . leading to increasing mortality,” said the Monday report from Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. Birx predicts that the US will see more than 100,000 new cases per day this week.

In the Old Dominion, as WAVY reported yesterday, “Virginia’s [7-day] daily average of 1,306 cases per day is more than 100 cases per day above previous highs in August and May, mostly spurred by spikes in Southwest Virginia, and a notable increase in Northern Virginia. Virginia’s case incidence rate per 100,000 residents is now 15.3, which is considered especially high.” WAVY further reports that Virginia’s case per day total will reach 2,000 by the end of January per UVa’s COVID-19 model. Meanwhile, our governor is unconcerned, citing historical statistics that prove (to him) that Virginia has no real need for concern.

It seems that the stage is set in Virginia for a set of knee-jerk proclamations that will send our state’s economy back into the tail spin we experienced this spring.

Continue reading

Voters, Consider the Fate of the Bill of Rights

by James C. Sherlock

Before voters go to the polls on Tuesday, I think it a useful exercise to consider the future of the Bill of Rights with a Supreme Court “expanded,” as promised by Democrats if they control the Presidency and the Senate, to provide a leftist majority.

To enable that reflection, it is useful to remember that the current Bill of Rights is composed of 10 amendments offered as constraints on the national government and, by extension of most of them, to state governments.

As a general observation, the left wing of the Democratic party opposes any restraints on federal power.

We will examine the controlling Supreme Court decisions that affect the enforcement of these freedoms and would be put in jeopardy by a court that embraced critical theory.

What follows are the musings of a citizen who is not an attorney, albeit a citizen who can and does read and recounts the common understandings of the Court decisions below.

Continue reading

Senator Warner Is Missing in Action

by Emilio Jaksetic

As co-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, D-VA, was vociferous about the need to investigate allegations of Russian collusion by President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. But Virginia’s senior senator was silent in 2019 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General identified serious defects and failings with FBI and DOJ handling of the investigation of those allegations. He was silent when a former FBI attorney pleaded guilty in August 2020 to criminally altering a document used to support a request for a FISA warrant in the Russian collusion investigation. And he has been silent about the subsequent discrediting of the Steele dossier.

Now Warner seems reticent about the need to investigate allegations of foreign payoffs to Hunter Biden or question if former Vice President Joseph Biden knew about those foreign payoffs.

Multiple sources of information support the allegations against Hunter Biden:

  • Peter Schweizer’s books, “Secret Empires” (Harper, 2019) and “Profiles in Corruption” (Harper, 2020);
  • Various emails reported by the New York Post (October 2020);
  • A Senate report issued October 11 (“Hunter Biden, Burisma, and Corruption: The Impact on U.S. Government Policy and Related Concerns”) available here.

Continue reading

Time to Be Honest about COVID-19

By Peter Galuszka

Two remarkable stories dominate headlines this morning – Donald Trump has COVID-19 and some 5,000 Virginia college students also have the virus.

The infection of Trump throws an already chaotic presidential race into further confusion. State colleges are scrambling to find what to do about viral infections since the numbers have exploded from about 500 a month ago to 5,000 today.

This is no time to say, “I told you so,” but many on this blog really need to ask themselves about their efforts to minimize the worst health crisis the nation has faced. Already 205,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, but somehow that has not deterred the naysayers.

We have seen a steady and often snarky campaign to reopen Virginia Beach, send kids back to school too soon, reopen business and blame Gov. Ralph Northam for trying to take needed precautions that just about every other state governor has done. 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

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

Stoney Didn’t Comply with State Procurement Rules Either

No Department of General Services records that the City of Richmond filed documentation of the statue-removal contract with the state.

by James A. Bacon

The defense of Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s awarding of a $1.8 million statue-removal contract to a campaign supporter — that he followed state emergency procurement law, even if he didn’t abide by the City of Richmond’s law — has no basis in fact.

Stoney’s defenders have argued that the public health and safety were at stake when protesters were trying to tear down the statues, and the Mayor had to act decisively. Stoney executed the contract in compliance with state law that permits the local director of emergency management to forgo “time-consuming procedures or formalities” when awarding contracts during an emergency, Betty Burrell, the city’s director of procurement, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch two days ago.

“Were it possible to pursue a traditional procurement, the mayor would have done so, but circumstances required him to pursue a different legal avenue,” said the mayor’s spokesman Jim Nolan. “This decision was fully within his authority, and he stands by it.”

There’s just one problem with this line of argument: Stoney did not comply with state procurement law. The law does not give local officials a blank check; it requires them to leave a public record of their actions. Continue reading

Virginia’s Special Session: Political Theater

by Kerry Dougherty

Gov. Ralph Northam’s “special session” of the General Assembly that begins today in Richmond is quickly turning into political farce.

What began as an emergency convocation of lawmakers to address the budget catastrophe brought on by Northam’s shutdown of the commonwealth and was expanded to include law enforcement reforms, now threatens to become a legislative free-for-all.

Members are merrily introducing bills that do everything from honor notable Virginians — those couldn’t wait until January? — to bills that prevent police officers from stopping cars when they detect the smell of marijuana.

(Odd, I couldn’t find a companion bill that prevents cops from detaining drivers who reek of alcohol.)

On the eve of the session, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Louise Lucas of Portsmouth, was charged with not one, but two felonies in connection with the June protests that culminated in the toppling of a Confederate monument that nearly killed a man. Continue reading

Double Standards and the COVID Crisis

OK

by Kerry Dougherty

You want to know why some of us are so cynical about the Covid crisis?

It’s the double standards. The lack of consistency. The shifting goalposts. Officials saying one thing and doing another.

We saw a glaring example of the latter it here in Virginia in May, when the Governor — who’d been quick to order shutdowns, and who was nagging us about social distancing and wearing masks — was seen prancing down the Boardwalk and leaning in for selfies. Maskless. Clueless.

Then there’s been the thorny issue of funerals.

Not OK

Ever since crowd limits were imposed, thousands of Americans buried their dead without proper funerals. Yet those same grieving families could turn on the news to see hundreds turning out for the funerals of George Floyd in Houston and Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta. Continue reading

Brace Yourselves: Another Northam Presser Today

by Kerry Dougherty

Get ready, Virginia. Gov. Ralph Northam, the man who can’t stop the rioting in Richmond but thinks he can stop the spread of COVID-19, is holding a press conference.

No, he won’t be announcing strong measures to end the violence and lawlessness roiling the streets of the Capitol. Like most Democrats, the governor appears indifferent to anarchy.

Instead, he’s laser-focused on Tidewater, saying we’re a COVID-19 hot spot.

One thing you can count on: By this afternoon the Ruler of the Commonwealth will issue another decree restricting the rights of Virginians.

He’s been making little threats on Twitter about what’s coming:

He’s been making little threats on Twitter about what’s coming:

Continue reading

Virginia’s Special Session: Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure

by Kerry Dougherty

Get ready, Virginia. Bad things are brewing in Richmond.

On Friday, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he was bringing the General Assembly back for a special session on August 18.

Lucky us.

The mischief that the far-left majority — bankrolled by Michael Bloomberg — could get into should alarm every moderate Virginian.

There are only two topics that should be on the table for this extraordinary session:

1) How to plug the massive hole in the budget that occurred when Northam’s shutdowns wrecked the economy and 2) How to rein in a governor who used his emergency powers to take almost total control of the commonwealth in March and who seems determined to govern indefinitely by edict without legislative oversight. Continue reading

Gerald Smith: Richmond’s New Top Cop

By Peter Galuszka

FYI, here’s a piece I did for Style Weekly about Richmond’s new p0lice chief, the third in about a month, and his interpretation on the problems of law enforcement in this period of defunding.