Category Archives: Politics

From Purple to Blue

by James A. Bacon

Virginia stopped being a red state a decade or two ago. Despite a Democratic sweep of all statewide elections (U.S. senators, governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general), one could maintain the pretense that Virginia is a “purple” state thanks to a Republican-dominated General Assembly. But it has been long apparent that Republican control will end with the 2019 elections. As further evidence for that proposition, as if any were needed, now comes a new Wason Center for Public Policy poll.

Key finding: Democrats lead Republicans by 13% on the generic ballot test among likely voters 40% to 36%. Ds have a strong advantage over Rs in voter enthusiasm: 62% to 49%. More Dems than Republicans say they “definitely” will vote” than either Republicans or Independents. As a general rule, polls are decreasingly trustworthy, but the Democratic advantage is so overwhelming that it cannot all be attributed to implicit bias in the polling methodology.

Come January Democrats will control all statewide offices and the General Assembly. Virginia, we now can say, is the southernmost Northern state — Maryland with a larger rural hinterland. Continue reading

Dems & Dom, RGGI Grows, Medicaid & Work

By Steve Haner

What Was Lost Is Found Again.  Couldn’t they wait at least another few weeks?  Anybody foolish enough to believe that Dominion Energy Virginia and the Virginia Democratic Party establishment have really parted ways (as Jim Bacon seemed to think a while back), take note of this from today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch:   Governor Ralph Northam’s new communications director, Grant Neely, is totally plugged into the Dominion Energy/Richmond’s Navy Hill/Mark Warner and Bob Blue nexus.  You can fool some of the people some of the time, but certain Democrats just about any time you want.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

The P in PJM Now Joining RGGI.  Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has signed an executive order that his state should be the next to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  According to this from The Philadelphia Inquirer, the executive order route comes after being rebuffed by the legislature.  It is a strong first step but not a done deal, with litigation one possible route for opponents.  Virginia’s on-hold membership will likely be determined by the General Assembly elected next month.

Continue reading

The Last of The Pistol Packin’ Mamas?

By Peter Galuszka

Part buffoon, part populist, state Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, has for years represented white resentment against modern times, Tea Party-style.

She’s picked up on every bad feeling out there and amplified it, including pent-up anger against minorities, immigrants, government workers, women’s rights and gun control advocates and more.

She’s had a weekly radio show, “Cut to the Chase” in her home Chesterfield County where she vented her views.

When the Senate considered ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment passed decades ago, she strapped on a .38 revolver on her right hip, sashayed to the podium and pronounced it “My personal ERA.”

To be sure, Chase did some things right. She blocked Dominion when it tried to push its way to dispose of coal ash waste on its terms. Then she stumbled. She got into a pointless verbal battle with a Capitol police officer, who happened to be African-American, about where she can park. She annoyed female voters by implying that rape can somehow be their own fault. Her campaign material said she’s not afraid to “shoot down gun groups” in a state where worries about gun control are the No. 1 concern. Then she insulted Sheriff Karl Leonard, a fellow GOP candidate, by saying he had let Chesterfield become “sanctuary” for illegal immigrants. The untruthfulness of the comment was too much for the county GOP, which booted her on Sept. 30.

Chase is still running for the 11th Senate seat against Democrat Amanda Pohl who has seriously out-raised her in political funds. Chase could still win in November, but the events represent a turning point. Continue reading

Will These Insurance Ads Also Sway VA Voters?

“You Only Pay For What You Need”

By Steve Haner

As the state campaign debate rages about health insurance plan which are short term or less comprehensive than the Affordable Care Act, two  on-going national ad campaigns may cross-pollinate the debate.  They are bolstering the Republican position nicely.

The first are the spots with people saying they are worried about the various Medicare for All proposals. They express concerns about a more expensive one-size-fits-all approach. Well, isn’t that exactly what Democrats like Senate candidate Debra Rodman and other others are demanding in Virginia? One size fits all? In several districts they are attacking Republicans who voted to allow lower cost alternatives that didn’t offer all ACA features.  Continue reading

Lobbying Entertainment Data Still Deceptive

“Reported” entertainment events for the 2018-2019 cycle, a fraction of the actual number due to loopholes in Virginia law. Click for larger view.

By Steve Haner

‘Our friends at the Virginia Public Access Project are a bit later this year with their data and visuals on Virginia’s embarrassingly weak and intentionally vague lobbyist entertainment reporting.  It is still nothing but a sham, exactly how the legislators and lobbyists want it.

The 2018 VPAP coverage was subject of a May 2018 Bacon’s Rebellion report, but this time we are five weeks away from tight elections in both bodies.  Voters are not short of things to get outraged about, but we can add this to the list.

The basic 2019 report is little changed from VPAP’s 2018 data.   Last year 109 of the 140 legislators admitted accepting at least one entertainment event, and this year it appears 111 did.  The number who report accepting five or more has dropped.  The key word in that sentence is “reporting”.

UPDATE:  VPAP has now added this year’s graphic on the high number of lobbyist disclosures that simply ignore the directive to be specific about the “matters” that get their attention.  A few well placed $100 fines and red faces would fix that, but of course, the point is to PRETEND to disclose….

Continue reading

Don’t Abandon Medicaid Work Requirement

Cover art from 2014 JLARC report on Virginia’s array of workforce training programs. Another state report notes almost 860,000 served in 2017.

By Steve Haner

To Republicans who supported the 2018 decision to expand Medicaid services to more Virginians – and encouraged yes votes from reluctant colleagues — the promise to couple those benefits with pathways toward gainful employment was a key reason. The compromise has worked in other states as well.  Continue reading

There Is a Line and These Two Crossed It

The silly season is in full swing.   Stop believing (in fact, maybe stop reading) the political trash coming into your mailbox, inbox or showing up online. Television you already know not to trust, right?  Someone told me that political ads have invaded streaming services now, which is depressing.

It was Democratic senate candidate Debra Rodman’s television ad attacking Henrico County Senator Siobhan Dunnavant that sparking this post.  I was really put off by the opening, where Rodman expresses her respect for Dunnavant’s medical skills, and then claims the obstetrician has “forgotten” what it is like to be a patient. “Wow, that’s pretty nasty,” was my first thought.  It gets worse.  Continue reading

Disregard that Law

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Well, Virginia made the national headlines again last week and over the weekend.  This time it was over the requirement that couples applying for a marriage license list their race on the application. And Attorney General Mark Herring was the hero, saying that, despite what the law said, the couples did not have to do that.  (NYT, WP, RTD, as well as all the networks).

On the face of it, the state could make a case that gathering information about the race of people getting married serves a legitimate purpose by providing data for state demographers and sociologists. But, because “race” can be a vague concept and applicants self-identify their race, any data collected has become meaningless. Apparently, each county can compile its own list of categories from which applicants choose.  According to newspaper reports, Rockbridge County had a list of  approximately 200 “races”, including American, Aryan, Hebrew, Islamic, Mestizo, Nordic, Teutonic, Moor, and White American. Continue reading

Just Pretending To Protect Ratepayers Won’t Cut It

by Steve Haner

If you have nothing substantive to offer, try some meaningless virtue signaling. That’s the only way to interpret a claim from 36 General Assembly Democrats that they are taking steps to oppose “Dominion raising Virginian’s energy bills by $147 million,” to quote a Blue Virginia headline today.

The story reports on a letter to the State Corporation Commission signed by three state senators and 33 delegates, asking the SCC to support a lower authorized return on equity for Dominion Energy Virginia for 2019 and 2020.  Here is the “so what” paragraph:  Continue reading

How Trump’s Trade Madness Hurts Virginia Farmers

by Peter Galuszka

Virginia farmers are paying a big price for President Donald Trump’s chaotic trade war with China. If anything, it’s likely to get worse as Trump vows even bigger tariffs, drops the idea and then comes back to it.

There’s no question that Trump’s peculiar negotiating behavior and questionable logic are having their effect.

China had been Virginia agriculture’s number one export destination with soybeans leading the list, along with apples, livestock and other products.

In 2017, China bought $671 million worth of farm goods from state farmers. Then, Trump became president and quickly imposed a series of tariffs against China about a year and a half ago. Exports to China dropped precipitously to $235 million. Canada is now Virginia’s biggest export partner for agriculture. Continue reading

Catholic Bashing No Disqualification for Northam?

Gail Gordon Donegan and Unidentified Friend

by Steve Haner

Try this thought experiment. Imagine a headline in the state capitol newspaper reading: “Appointee’s posts disparage Republicans and others on the web.” Or swap Democrats for Republicans.  Would anybody bat an eye?

Instead, of course, the story in the Richmond Times Dispatch is about Governor Ralph Northam’s recent appointment of a vicious Catholic-hating Democratic activist from Alexandria to the Virginia Council on Women. If her appointment is not withdrawn and her rhetoric not repudiated by first Mass on Sunday morning, shame on Governor Northam.    Continue reading

Does the Left Have an Understandable Position on Immigration and How Much Does It Matter?

by Don Rippert

Debate: The debate on immigration in America continues to rage. People who hold right-of-center political beliefs seem to think that the U.S. immigration laws should be vigorously enforced. There may be some “wiggle room” on the right. For example, some conservatives believe there should be exceptions to deportation for those illegally in the United States so long as they have been here a fairly long time, paid taxes, stayed out of legal trouble, etc. Without commenting on the reasonableness of the conservative position, it is understandable.

The position held by Americans with left-of-center political beliefs is hard to fathom. While few liberals will openly say they are in favor of “open borders” the sum total of their beliefs seems to indicate that “open borders” is exactly what they seek.

This issue is important for Virginia because some areas of Virginia have very low numbers of foreign born residents, while other areas have very high numbers of foreign-born residents. For example, the 2010 Census found that 12.9% of people living in America were foreign born. Virginia had 11.4% of its residents recorded as being foreign born. However, Arlington County (Virginia’s 6th most populous county) had a foreign born percentage of 28% in 2000. Social services are affected by immigration. The cost of teaching English as a second language in public schools is directly impacted by the percentage of residents born in foreign (non English speaking) countries.

Author’s apology in advance – this is a long post. By far the longest I have ever published. However, this is a complex topic with both liberals and conservatives more than willing to misrepresent the data. I saw no way to properly handle the topic with brevity.

Continue reading

Gun Issues Return to Capitol Monday, Tuesday

by Steve Haner

Proposed firearms regulations will pack a General Assembly meeting room Monday and Tuesday, and for that portion of the population not already locked into an ideological position either way, it could be useful to pay attention.

The Republican majorities have taken some political bashing for failing to act on the flood of proposals, many previously seen and rejected, that showed up when Governor Ralph Northam sought to railroad them through a hasty special session after the Virginia Beach shooting.  But the ideas are going to get a better hearing at the Crime Commission next week than they would have when introduced.  Continue reading

Medicare for All? Medicare for Us Is Different

Power (And Free Stuff) For the People!

Blame this one on four wasted evenings watching the Democratic presidential debates.  As Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the rest were describing their promise of “Medicare for All,” my wife and I were deep in the process of learning about and registering for “Medicare for Us,” which kicked in this month.

The big discrepancies between the two inspired my column (here) in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The debate over health care policy and payment systems is a perfectly valid one for national politics.  Everyone sees the problems.  Like it or not the country is about half-way, perhaps more than half-way, to a fully federalized health care system.  Medicare, Medicaid and the military-related programs covered about 33 percent of Virginians in 2018, and federal regulations including but not limited to the Affordable Care Act dictate many policies for the rest of that sector.   Both political parties have added to the structure.  Continue reading

Bacon Bits: The Rules, California is Crazy, Rider E

The message is clear, the messenger not on this flyer attacking Emmett Hanger during the primary. There was a logo on the other side, but no disclaimer. Click for larger view.

This is the simple stuff, people.  Delegate Nick Freitas doesn’t seem to be the only person in the Republican camp complaining that the rules are a problem, at least when enforced.  A conservative activist group that went after state Senator Emmett Hanger in the June primary is now screaming “bloody murder” because Hanger filed a complaint with the Board of Elections over some handouts that lacked the state’s required disclaimer statements.  It is a simple rule we’ve all worked with for decades, and the penalty is a civil fine that might get up to $2,500, but probably won’t go near that high.  Yet here is the heated rhetoric being spouted, with a heavy push for funds: “This is nothing less than an elected official attempting to squash free speech and shut down our grassroots PAC. We will fight this effort for it endangers all voters of Virginia for the benefit of the political class.”  No, it’s just the rules. You already have a formal PAC, so you know about the rules.  By filing a complaint Hanger gave you the spotlight again for ten seconds, but that was his choice. 

Organic Carbon Capture Device

If you thought $20 for an LED bulb is nuts…Sarah Vogelsong over at Virginia Mercury (we shared a row at an SCC hearing Wednesday) has this story about how forest conservation groups in Virginia are being paid for the CO2 being absorbed by their trees.  Pay a carbon credit to a Virginia conservation group and your plant can pump out more carbon in the LA basin!  Without doubt 1) Californians can be talked into anything, simply anything, with the right green pitch, 2) this is truly a religion with Virginia reaping the indulgence payments for forgiveness of sins and 3) these people are not really serious about removing CO2 from the atmosphere if they think this does any good.  Continue reading