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Most ‘Diverse’ General Assembly in Virginia History Takes Over in January

by Ken Reid

The new post-redistricting Virginia General Assembly that will take control in January, probably with a Democrat majority, will be the most ethnically, racially and religiously diverse group of legislators in Richmond in history, and about ¼ will be female.

In addition, some 52 of the 140 members of the General Assembly will be totally new to the State Capitol – most never having served in any elected office before.

This make-up is largely due to the huge number of retirements from the last GA, which was primarily forced by bipartisan redistricting in 2021, where a number of incumbents were placed in the same district and chose not to run against each other for re-election.  

Whites will be the minority in the  Democrat Caucus in each house, which also could be a first.  The House of Delegates as a whole will be 67% white,  down from 78% after the 2017 “Blue wave” elections,  when Republicans maintained control by a coin toss – and that’s because the overwhelming number of Republicans are white.

In the State Senate, 30 of the 40 senators will be white in 2024, largely due to the Republican presence.

This analysis, based on examining the biographies of the new GA members on Ballotpedia, shows the following breakdown, though one race (the 82nd house race between incumbent Republican Kim Taylor and Democrat challenger Kim Adams) is headed to a recount with Taylor ahead by 78 votes   Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

From the Bull Elephant

Another Local Newspaper Shuts Down

Tom McLaughlin, editor and general manager, News & Record (South Boston) Photo credit: News & Record

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

A local newspaper closing down is not really news these days. However, the circumstances surrounding the News & Record in South Boston in Southside Virginia and its shutting down are unusual. In addition, the news is personal to me.

For as long as I can remember, the South Boston/Halifax County area has had two newspapers. The Halifax Gazette, later known as the Gazette-Virginian, was the dominant paper in terms of circulation. The South Boston News and the Halifax County Record-Advertiser were essentially the same newspaper, published by the same folks and put out on two different days of the week.

For about a year, I delivered the News and the Record-Advertiser to houses in about half the town of Halifax on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. It was the first regular-paying job I had. I have a lot of fond memories of delivering those papers, although being regularly chased by a large German shepherd is not one of them. I knew the family that bought the paper after I had gotten married and moved away. The current editor is too young for me to have known him, but I knew his older brother; his father was my midget football coach; I remember his unbelievably calm mother coming into the grocery store accompanied with a rowdy bunch of four or more kids; my wife taught one of the boys in seventh grade. Continue reading

Bacon Meme of the Week

Miyares Calls for Moral Clarity Regarding Pro-Hamas Demonstrators

Jason Miyares. Photo credit: Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

On the evening of Aug. 11, 2017, more than 300 torch-bearing white supremacists marched down the Lawn at the University of Virginia chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” The phrase is not self-explanatory, but the marchers were widely thought to be proclaiming that Jews would not displace Christian Whites as the dominant element of society. The white supremacists were not calling for the slaughter of Jews. Rather, embracing the rhetoric of victimhood and grievance that has so saturated 21st-century America, they were expressing a yearning for the good-old-days when Christian Whites ran the show.

Fast forward to Oct. 24, 2023. Hundreds of demonstrators marched down the Lawn waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea.” Their meaning was crystal clear. They weren’t merely vilifying Jews. Just days after the horrific Hamas attacks on Israel, the protesters were demanding the eradication of the Israeli state, and they were endorsing terror against Jewish civilians as a means of achieving it. Whether wittingly or unwittingly, they were advocating genocide.  

In 2017 University officials quickly, forcefully, and quite correctly condemned the antisemitism of the Unite the Right rally. In 2023, the response to the Palestinians has been muted. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

From The Bull Elephant

Bacon Meme of the Week

Here and There Around the Commonwealth

Virginia History

For those interested in Virginia history, here are two great sources.  One is new; one is not new, but I just discovered it.

Cardinal News has started a three-year project  “to tell the little-known stories of Virginia’s role in the march to independence in advance of the nation’s observation of its 250th anniversary, or Semi-quincentennial.”  In addition to a story about the chosen topic, Dwight Yancey, editor of Cardinal News, has promised “occasional columns about the politics of the era, written the same way I’d write them today.”  The project is called Cardinal 250. The first monthly article, about the “Proclamation Line of 1763,” and Yancey’s political analysis, which is a lot of fun, can be found here.

The other item is the website Virginia PlacesThis is the brainchild of Manassas resident Charles Grymes, who first created it in 1998 for a geography class he was teaching at George Mason University. He has lovingly nurtured it ever since.  It now consists of 1,000 pages on topics ranging from agriculture to Virginia journeys.  Grymes describes the website as “an exploration into what makes Virginia special. It is an interdisciplinary journey through the history, economics, geology, biology, sociology, and other -ologies that can help explain how Virginia has evolved in the past, and what the state may look like in the future.”  It is a work in progress which he describes as “far from complete.”  He is constantly adding to it and updating content added earlier.  I have run across items from this website in my search for sources for articles for this blog and I did not realize what it was.  Now I know; it is a delightful treasure trove of information about the Commonwealth.

Perpetual Election Machine

Ah, to live in Virginia where there is always an election campaign in progress.  It is not enough that, right after we have finished a heated campaign for General Assembly seats, we have U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger announcing that she is not going to run for reelection to Congress, but will be running for governor in 2025, thereby ensuring that, before the present governor is through half his term, we will be talking about who is going to replace him.  Now we have Del. John McGuire (R-Goochland), recently elected to the Virginia Senate, announcing he will challenge Republican Fifth District Congressman Bob Good in a primary next year.

As reported by Cardinal News, McGuire, in an email to his supporters (at least it was not on X), declared that Good “has failed us time and time again.”  He declared that Good had “abandoned” Donald Trump by endorsing Ron DeSantis in next year’s Presidential primaries.  He went on to assert that Good voted for Kevin McCarthy for Speaker, then “threw a temper tantrum, reversed himself, and allowed the party to fall into chaos, costing us the 2023 elections.”   As a result of those elections, “Marxist Democrats now control the Virginia General Assembly, which is going to hurt the people of Virginia badly.”  That last comment should endear him to his fellow legislators and encourage smooth inter-party relations.


Rumblings Among House Republicans

Del. Don Scott (D-Portsmouth), Minority Leader

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Del. Don Scott (D-Portsmouth), the current Minority Leader in the House of Delegates, seems to be on a smooth glide path to making history by being elected Speaker when the General Assembly convenes in January. The fate of the current Speaker, Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), is less certain.

Del. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), currently Speaker

One might logically expect a Speaker to maintain leadership of his party caucus after it moved from the majority to minority. But it seems that some members are unhappy, and that Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Scott), the current Majority Leader, is campaigning to be the Republican floor leader in the next Session, rather than Gilbert. The Virginia Political Newsletter reports that the unhappiness of some members stems from feeling that “the talking point of a new 15-week restriction was forced upon them by House leadership and Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s PAC, Spirit of Virginia.” One Republican delegate told the newsletter, on the condition of anonymity, “Many of us understood that the messaging and focus on the abortion issue was wrong from the start, and would hurt Republicans, especially in competitive districts.”

Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Scott), currently Majority Leader

It is not uncommon for legislators to rebel against their leadership when their party loses its majority status. In fact, Scott owes his current position to a coup he led two years ago against then-Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) after the Democrats were toppled from the majority.

Freedom, Consistency, and Tuesday’s Election

The capital city

by Shaun Kenney

One of the great things about being a conservative is that we are inherently an anti-ideology. As the late William F. Buckley Jr. once put it, the great task of the modern conservative movement is to stand athwart history yelling STOP!

Yet in a wider sense, it is far easier for conservatives to tack with the wind than our counterparts on the left. Liberals tend to wed themselves to institutions and then find themselves besieged by conservatives who continue to ask why and progressives who demand more on the what and how.

One of the particular demands on the conservative movement at present is whether or not we are a big tent or a fortress.

More particular is this: do we have to surrender what we believe in order to become more palatable to the wider public?

Or is there simply a better way of packaging what we believe and describing why it matters to working class families? In short, if what we believe has a kernel of truth to it, isn’t persuasion better than fighting?

The truth is that Republicans are far better at adapting what we believe to the times than our counterparts on the left precisely because we keep asking the same question over and over again: Does this expand the cause of human freedom — or not?

For Virginia Republicans, the sentiment is as old as there has been a Republican Party of Virginia — thank you General William Mahone. The maxim was best articulated by one Richard D. Obenshain, who by sheer force of will resurrected what we know as the present-day Virginia GOP from mere footnote to statewide conscience, serving as state party chairman in 1972 before his U.S. Senate bid in 1978. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

From The Bull Elephant

Will the Left Repudiate this Evil?

(This column was published earlier today by The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy)

by Chris Braunlich

“You dance with the one who brung ya” goes one of the oldest sayings in politics.

It means that when elected officials get into public office, they vote with those who helped put them there.

The deadly Hamas attack on Israel, an event slaughtering 1,400 Israelis that Hamas political bureau member Ghazi Hamad called “our message to the world,” has exposed divisions up and down the Biden liberal-left coalition – and sent a warning signal about those who power that coalition.

Polling data demonstrate the split among Democrats, fueled largely by the young and the left.   It has already caused President Biden to shift his tone, and a recent Reuters report noted that “Biden, 80, has evolved in the face of a challenging 2024 reelection bid, (and) threats by some would-be supporters to withhold their votes over his lack of backing for Palestinians .…”

Four hundred congressional staffers have signed a letter to their bosses opposing the Administration’s current approach. Two-hundred each among the former volunteers of presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have done the same. Groups supporting Biden are disbanding. Continue reading

To Graduate or Not

by John Butcher

The 2023 4-year cohort graduation rates are up on the Virginia Department of Education Web site.

VDOE likes to report its “On-Time Graduation Rate” because it inflates the numbers by counting the nonstandard diplomas. The data below are the “Federal Graduation Indicator” that counts only the Standard, Advanced, and IB diplomas.

On average, Virginia’s economically disadvantaged students (ED) (mostly students who qualify for the free/reduced price lunch program) graduate at rates ca. 9% lower than their more affluent peers (Not ED). The handy VDOE database provides data for both groups.

To start, here are the division average federal ED rates plotted v. the Not ED.

The gold square is Richmond. The orange diamonds are the peer cities, from the left Norfolk, Newport News, and Hampton. The green diamonds are the Richmond ‘burbs, from the left Charles City, Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover. The aqua circle is the state average (average over all students, the averages of the division averages are slightly different, see below).

The fitted line (with the state average removed and Highland not showing because of the suppressed ED datum) confirms what our eyes tell us: The ED rate is only slightly correlated with the Not ED. Continue reading

Jeanine’s Memes

From The Bull Elephant