Category Archives: Politics

Ranked Choice Republican Recap

Image credit: The UP Lab

by Chris Saxman

Well, the Republican Party of Virginia actually pulled it off. Their Ranked Choice Voting Unassembled Convention Through the Legs off the Backboard with Twist (which lasted lemme see…one… two…three…no, FOUR days) finally ended and ended well.

Not only did RPV manage to pull it off, but their statewide ticket of Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares is the most diverse in the history of the Commonwealth. National Republicans are thrilled, but more importantly for the GOP, Virginia Republicans are united, well-funded, and energized for the 2021 campaign season. They also have a month head start on their Democratic opponents.

Since I attended the Phillies/Nationals game in DC yesterday, you’re probably going to read more than a couple baseball references. But since politics and baseball are so similar the references usually work, I offer no apology.

Like the movie Mr. Baseball starring Tom Selleck pointed out – every batter has a “hole in their swing.” That’s the place in the strike zone a pitcher looks to throw the ball because, for some reason or another, the batter just can’t hit a ball thrown there. Swing mechanics, stance, hands, hips, shoulders …. all create holes. The problem Selleck’s character had was not just a hole in his swing, but more importantly he had a hole in his attitude. His Japanese manager and the Japanese culture, filled those holes. It’s a fun movie with a nice storyline.
Anyway… Continue reading

Do Not Discount the Anger Over School Shutdowns

by James A. Bacon

Arlington County is one of the “bluest” localities in Virginia, exceeded in its propensity to vote Democratic (81% in the 2020 election) only by black-majority cities like Richmond and Petersburg and the Berkeley of the East Coast also known as Charlottesville. (The way things are heading, I soon may be compelled to refer to Berkeley as the Charlottesville of the West Coast.) But the level of dissatisfaction with the Arlington County School Board’s handling of the COVID-19 school shutdown has many Arlington parents up in arms.

I have issues with mainstreaming autistic children with major behavioral problems, but I think it’s a good thing to try if the children can exhibit a modicum of self control. Whatever one’s view of the matter, it is heart-breaking to hear what happened to Reade Bush’s autistic son when deprived of social interaction during Arlington’s fling with distance learning.

As Bush testified to the U.S. House Labor and Education Committee last week, the social isolation was devastating. His son lost sleep, lost social skills, lost his love of learning, and lost his grip on reality. He created an imaginary world with 52 friends. On his ninth birthday, he asked his father, “Daddy, can I die for my birthday?” In November Arlington schools began providing partial in-person learning for students with disabilities, and the lad’s situation has stabilized. But Bush says his son is a full year behind in reading, reports ArlNow.  Continue reading

Could Southlake Happen in Virginia?

Prairie fire

by James A. Bacon

If you ever doubted that school board politics can be a potent electoral issue, look no farther than what happened a few days ago in the Dallas suburb of Southlake. Voters delivered a “resounding victory” — about 70% of the vote — to a slate of school board and City Council candidates opposed to the school system’s implementation of Critical Race Theory under the guise of “diversity, equity & inclusion.”

After two high schoolers used a racial slur on TikTok, local school officials over-reacted by unleashing an “anti-racist” overhaul of the entire educational system. A proposed Cultural Competence Action Plan would weed out microaggressions, subject students to cultural sensitivity training, and infuse the curriculum with anti-racism doctrines associated with Critical Race Theory. The initiative sparked a strong reaction in the area, which, though conservative, had been trending in favor of Democrats in recent congressional elections. Local news outlets expected a close contest, but the results in an election with record turnout were lopsided.

Could what happened in Southlake happen in Virginia? Continue reading

Virginia Needs a Constitutional Amendment to Elect the Board of Education

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) is by far the most powerful and consequential public board in Virginia. It is the only one whose Powers and Duties are defined in the Virginia Constitution.

It was a mistake not to make the members of the Board with such vast and unconstrained powers constitutional officers who stand for election.

We are now seeing what the Board, once appointed and confirmed, can do. It has transformed Virginia’s educational system into a Marxist indoctrination system.  Board members know what they are doing is not only radically transformational, but intensely political and fiercely opposed.

Their work is not only dogmatic, but sloppy. Their use of the English language has been demonstrated here to be severely challenged. Not exactly a trait most look for in a Board of Education.

And they do not care. There is no constitutional reason they should.

The current Board has demonstrated like no other before it that it needs to face the electorate. Virginia will need a constitutional amendment to make the VBOE, who are together more constitutionally powerful than any elected official but the governor, constitutional officials elected by the people.

It is time. Continue reading

Fall Elections Threaten Northam’s Radical Education Team

Qarni

by James C. Sherlock

Politics is a contact sport, and the two people in the Northam administration most likely to be blindsided are Secretary of Education Atif Qarni and Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane.

I say blindsided — they won’t see it coming — because the hits will come from their own team. This isn’t about whether a reader thinks they have earned it or not. It is about politics.

Lane

I think it likely that Glenn Youngkin will be the Republican nominee for Governor and Jason Miyares the Republican pick for Attorney General.

If so, three things are likely to happen. First, both races will be competitive. Second, voters will turn out in droves in protest of the education policies of the Northam administration. Finally, If Terry McAuliffe, the presumptive Democratic nominee, feels threatened, he will flush Qarni and Lane one way or the other.

They should freshen up their resumes. Continue reading

CNU Polls — Post-Trump Shift Happening in Virginia

by Chris Saxman

Folks, we have a ball game in Virginia.

Christopher Newport University’s Wason Center released another poll today and VPM’s headline captured the catnip as their headline writer wrote, “New Virginia Poll Shows Support for Progressive Ideas, but Not Labels.” It should have read “Virginians are centrists but like free stuff.”

In that VPM report (VPM is PBS/NPR’s new label – irony noted) is this quote from CNU’s Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo:

“Americans as a whole tend to lean conservative in their ideology,” Bromley-Trujillo said. “And this usually is kind of based on broad values, like liberty or small government. But when you get into specific policy proposals, then you see more support for Democratic policies.”

This is not new. This is also why we put the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on our kids’ credit cards. This is also why we fight incessantly over health care — everyone wants Mayo Clinic level care on their street corner, but no one wants to pay for it. Continue reading

Virginia Voters Tilt Mildly Right — Why Can’t Conservatives Win More Elections?

Question: Overall, would you say things in the UNITED STATES are heading more in the right direction or the wrong direction?

by James A. Bacon

Virginia voters describe themselves as ideologically moderate, leaning conservative, according to a new poll by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership at Christopher Newport University. Asked to place themselves on a 0-10 scale (liberal to conservative) with 5.0 being middle of the road, the 1,008 voters polled rated themselves 5.83 on average. Independents, the swing vote, pegged themselves at 5.72.

An obvious question arises: Why can’t conservatives win statewide elections in Virginia?

One possibility is that voters perceive Republicans as more conservative than they see Democrats as liberal. Respondents rated the Democratic Party as 1.97 points off the middle-of-the-road 5.0 mark nor while they rated Republicans as 2.45 points off the norm.

This raises a subsidiary question: Is the perception of Republicans as more extreme based on objective fact, an artifact of the parties’ messaging, or a distortion created by media misrepresentation? Continue reading

“Virginia Students Will Never Get This Year Back”

Kirk Cox. (Photo credit: Roanoke Times.)

by James A. Bacon

I have no inkling whether Former House Speaker Kirk Cox will win the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but I do think he just latched on to a good issue and framed it just the right way. The headline of a press release issued today says, “Virginia Students Will Never Get This Year Back.”

Cox, who was a public school teacher for 30 years, can speak with some authority on the subject of K-12 education. And he taps into a deep reservoir of frustration at the slow pace with which Virginia’s educational establishment is returning school children to in-person education.

“We’ve got three to six months of learning loss in reading and math right now,” Cox said. “You’ve got kids who have missed an entire senior year. … You’ll never get that back. You’ll simply never get it back.” Continue reading

Chase Aide Pulls Gun in Self Defense

Screenshot from Chase attending the pro-Trump rally at the National Mall Jan. 6.

by James A. Bacon

Sometimes Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, goes out looking for trouble. Sometimes trouble comes looking for Amanda Chase.

Yesterday the Washington Post published an account of an incident in which Chase’s aide brandished an AR-15 pistol at a man whom Chase said threatened them during a road rage incident. My immediate reaction upon reading the story was, “Oh, no, here we go again. More bat-dung craziness from Trump in Heels.”

By the time I finished reading the story, I was thinking, “Wow, good thing they had a gun!”

The Republican gubernatorial candidate and two aides had departed a campaign event in Virginia Beach and were “somewhere around Norfolk,” heading home when the incident occurred. Continue reading

A Positive View of the Performance of Two Key General Assembly Members

Jason Miyares speaks on the floor of the General Assembly

Sen. Chap Petersen speaking on senate floor last year. Credit: Virginia Mercury

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia has some dreadful members of its General Assembly. We spend more time writing about them than we do on those who are exemplary.

I am going to focus on two that I truly admire, Senator Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Delegate Jason Miyares, R-Virginia Beach.

It is hard to relate in words the true impact of Virginia’s elimination of the death penalty.  Jason Miyares is a long-time friend of mine, a former prosecutor, my delegate and a candidate for Attorney General. He recently spoke to this issue on the floor of the House of Delegates in opposition to the bill.

He never mentioned either party, any other politician or his own candidacy. Continue reading

Did Joe Biden Just Cost Virginia Democrats 47,000 Votes?

by Chris Saxman

Full disclosure on this one: I hate cigarettes. I have never smoked one — ever. When I waited tables and tended bar, the worst part of the job was cleaning ash trays. And that includes the time I had to break up a bar fight after which the teeth swallowing loser had a tracheotomy performed on him.

Today’s front page of the Wall Street Journal had this article : Biden Administration to Seek Ban on Menthol Cigarettes Tobacco industry indicates court fight is possible over move, which would take years to implement. Going through the courts gets around the legislative process — again.

In the article one finds this nugget that should get the attention of any observer of Virginia politics:

In the U.S., 84% of Black smokers and 47% of Hispanic smokers use menthols, compared with 30% of white smokers, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health data. Continue reading

Cox First to Appeal for Second Choice Votes

Former Speaker Kirk Cox. (Photo credit: Roanoke Times.)

by Steve Haner

Former House Speaker Kirk Cox is the first of the GOP candidates for Governor to take the expected step of asking explicitly for second choice votes.

“Delegates, the Republican convention is fast approaching,” he says in new video message.

“The Republican nomination for Governor has been spirited. Look, I understand I might not be everyone’s first choice. If I’m not your first choice, I’d really appreciate you putting me down as your second.”   Continue reading

How Not to Build a Big Tent

Still working on that big tent

by James A. Bacon

American Jews belonging to the Reform and Conservative movements within Judaism back Democrats in overwhelming numbers. Ultra-Orthodox Jews skew strongly Republican. But there is a swing vote within U.S. Judaism: Modern Orthodox Jews. While a slim majority identify as Democrat, liberal or progressive, 37% describe themselves as Republican, conservative, or libertarian, according to Jacob Magid with The Times of Israel.

America’s 300,000 Modern Orthodox Jews comprise a swing vote. “You can’t assume a shul is completely Democrat or completely Republican,” Magid quotes  Maharat Ruth Balinksy of the Ohev Shalom Modern Orthodox synagogue in Washington as saying. “It speaks to the general identity of Modern Orthodoxy, whose members find themselves in both the religious and secular worlds.”

It is incomprehensible to me that the Republican Party leaders setting up the rules for the May 8 nominating convention spurned a pleas by four rabbis to let Orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists and others who observe the Saturday Sabbath vote absentee. Continue reading

GOP and Virginia Election Laws, Part II

Sunday “Souls to Polls” voting is legal in Virginia now? Impossible to predict which political party will benefit more from that.

by Steve Haner

With the 2021 General Assembly receding in the rear view mirror, the voting rules for this year’s Virginia elections are set. Republicans who are whining that the deck has been stacked against them are making a mistake. Every change the Democrats see as a benefit to them is of equal benefit to Republicans.  Continue reading

GOP and Virginia Election Laws, Part I

by Steve Haner

Let us elevate a discussion from the comment string to the main page:  Having examined Richard Hall-Sizemore’s offered examples of Virginia Republicans seeking to discourage voting in Virginia, I reject his assertion (part of a coordinated national campaign) that those bills “would result in fewer people voting.”

The broadest Republican bill he pointed to, Senate Bill 1459 offered by Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment, R-James City, basically returned voting rules to the situation in 2019.  It restored the requirement for photo identification, with the option of a provisional ballot.  With a provisional ballot allowed, how would that “result in fewer people voting?” Continue reading