Clown Show Update: Now Dems Are in Center Ring

by James A. Bacon

First, it was the Republicans’ turn to alienate voters by pushing abortion-related legislation far more radical than a majority of the Virginia electorate was prepared to accept. Now it’s the Democrats’ turn to piss off the public by blocking passage of a state budget. If there was ever a year in which “clown show” was an accurate depiction of the General Assembly, this was it.

In a straight party-line vote, Democrats deprived Republicans of the 21 votes they need to pass a budget. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who was allowed to cast tie-breaking votes on measures to organize the Senate and pass other legislation, is not permitted to vote on the budget. Now, with no budget bill to work from, there is no way for the Senate to engage in a budget reconciliation process with the House of Delegates, which not only passed a budget but did so with an overwhelming majority. (Eleven Ds joined the Rs in a 29 to 21 vote.)

Senate Dems are furious about their shabby treatment by Senate Republicans. “Anyone who can count knows that we deserve respect and consideration for the 20 votes we have in the Senate — and we are asking for that — no  more, and no less,” said Sen. Phillip P. Picket, D-Russell, in a statement that pretty well sums up the sentiments animating the Democrats.

Let’s be candid: The Dems were treated shabbily. The Republicans stiffed the Dems on Senate committees and subcommittees. But that’s politics. That’s the way the game is played. Waaaah. It’s time to be big boys and girls and concede that you were outmaneuvered instead of subjecting the electorate to a temper tantrum.

Last time there was a 20-20 split in the Senate, the Dems, who held the Lieutenant Governor’s position back then, were fully prepared to organize the Senate in exactly the same manner that the Republicans did this year. The reason they did not is not that they were overwhelmed by a sense of justice and fair play but that then-Senator Virgil Goode threatened to bolt the party. To turn around and accuse the Republicans of abusing their power is the height of hypocrisy.

But the Dems don’t stop there. They say they “deserve” equal treatment because they won 20 seats. And how did they win 20 seats? By gerrymandering the heck out of the Senate districts. When it came to actual votes in state Senate races, 57% were cast for Republican candidates and 41% for the Democrats. If the Dems expect the public to feel cheated, they’re kidding themselves.

Here’s the truly remarkable thing:  Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, has dropped his lawsuit challenging Bolling’s right to cast tie-breaking votes in Senate and seeking a temporary injunction preventing him from voting on organization of the Senate. “I think it’s an unnecessary distraction both for the caucus and the AG’s office,” said McEachin when withdrawing the suit. Yeah, that and the fact he didn’t have a legal leg to stand on.

The Senate Dems are throwing a hissy fit, pure and simple. If they stick with it, they will lose the considerable public sympathy they gained from opposing Republican over-reach on Culture War issues.

Third party, anyone?

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. larryg Avatar

    same deal as Washington. What this shows is this. Us voters are like the proverbial children in the middle of a bitter divorce.

    we are, at best, pawns in this little kabuki dance.

    neither sides really gives a rat’s butt about voters…until October where upon, they all revert back to your “humble servant”.

    and you know who’s fault this is?

    It’s us.

    We are, for the most part, the worlds greatest RUBES!

    we are too lazy to really get the facts so we naturally get our “facts” from TV sound bites and bumper stickers.


  2. larryg Avatar

    of course the GOP DID revert to their core wish and that is to RULE… not to GOVERN and the Dems had enough of an opening to smack the GOP on the rump… for their “govt by fiat” tendencies – which is ironic given the GOPs oft-blathered complaint that the Dems rule by fiat.

    Boy what I would not give to have in Virginia – the right to recall ….

  3. “If they stick with it, they will lose the considerable public sympathy they gained from opposing Republican over-reach on Culture War issues.”

    Not from women.

  4. What still amazes me is my liberal friends see social issues only as those related to abortion, but not gun restrictions or gay marriage. My conservative friends see the opposite.

  5. Richard Avatar

    Wow . So the Republicans aren’t responsible because they are “just playing the game?” The Democrats are “whiners” because they object to being abused? That’s a pretty cyncial view of the world.

    Look – the Republicans are in control and are supposed to be the adults, and they can’t compromise enough to get even 1 Democrat? When did “compromise” get to be so abhorent?

    And by the way I’m tired of the argument that the party who gets the majority of votes can do whatever the heck they want to everyone else because they have a mandate. Do Democratic voters get no representation simply because 2011 was a Republican year (that will change!) ? Reasonableness, intelligence and respect should be the rule even if you are in the majority.

  6. “Reasonableness, intelligence and respect should be the rule even if you are in the majority.”

    You’re right, they should be the rule. But they rarely are. Politics is an ugly sport. You’re also right, I suspect, that one day the tables will turn and the Dems will do to the GOP what was done to them. The GOP will howl and gnash their teeth, and I’ll tell them to man up and get over it.

  7. larryg Avatar

    except for the RINOs who did subscribe to those nasty principles – “Reasonableness, intelligence and respect” but we see what happened to them, eh?

    the GOP strategy is neanderthal simple. Get Control and Rule.

    and if you can’t get all the control you want/need…then you obstruct until the next election.

    the current GOP wants to destroy govt and any compromise that preserves govt.

    they do not believe in representing those they disagree with and will gladly ignore them if they have enough votes.

    banishing the RINOs is the big tip off to the GOP and the funny thing is… in banishing the RINOs, they have welcomed with open arms the culture war guerrillas – or was it the other way around?

  8. larryg Avatar

    Re: “social issues” really? same sex marriage, adoption by same-sex couples, morning after pills, equal tax treatment for any couple ? and a few more ?

    and of course.. these are the same people who refuse to believe a birth certificate or that the President is a Christian…

    come on TMT… are you not sure that your “conservative friends” mightly likely include you or certainly as a sympathizer?

    I’ll give you a chance to rehabilitate. Give me 3 things that you support the liberals on.


  9. Jeff Barnett Avatar
    Jeff Barnett

    The Senate Republican budget has ZERO funding for Dulles Rail. This is one of the primary reasons Democrats oppose its passage. If the Republican budget holds, one-way tolls on the Dulles Toll Road will approach $7 each way by 2018.

    Northern Virginians deserve a fair deal. The Federal and State governments should step up with a fair share of Dulles Rail funding. Unfortunately, our Republican congressman failed to obtain federal money for the Loudoun County part of Dulles Rail. Now the Republicans in Richmond are following suit.

    If the Republican budget prevails in Richmond, tolls in Northern Virginia may spiral out of control. All of Virginia will pay a price for strangling the state’s #1 economic engine.

  10. Barnett, you didn’t understand Dulles Rail when you ran for Congress and you don’t understand it today. Dulles Rail has nothing to do with transportation. It is merely the vehicle to give massive increases in density to Tysons landowners, most of whom gave heavily to Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Gerry Connolly. Dulles Rail will have a lower mode split in Tysons than Bethesda and the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor. It’s arrival will decrease the number of trains serving Fairfax County while increasing the number of trains serving Arlington County. The reason tolls are going so high is the project is not cost-effective. The project could not pass the federal government’s standards for funding. Senator John Warner got the project grandfathered under the old, more lenient standards. But the project could not even pass those. Massive lobbying by Webb, Kaine and John Warner persuaded the Bush administration to close its eyes and fund the project. But funding or no funding, it is not cost effective.
    Instead of providing more than $50 million, Tim Kaine’s CTB voted to fund most of the rail costs on the backs of DTR drivers.
    Dulles Rail triggers added density at Tysons. Added density at Tysons triggers the need for major road improvements and non-rail transit to the tune of $5.46 billion excluding interest by 2051. That will strangle the economic engine. We coupled a non-cost effective rail line with density levels that exceed what infrastructure can be afforded. That’s the real problem we face.
    You should stay away from issues you don’t understand.

  11. Larry, my point is that if a person or group seeks to changes in the law on social issues, they need to expect others will fight those changes or seek changes that go in another direction. I have my own personal views on most of these issues, but I don’t vote on those issues.

  12. larryg Avatar

    TMT… the changes on abortion and birth control are coming from the GOP.

    they are wanting to UNDO the current laws. Right?

    on the same sex marriage.. the Dems support it yes but it’s not at all a do or die… all other legislation is secondary – approach.

    I think the Dems are a lot more “live and let live” than the GOP – on a wide range of social issues.

    The GOP wants to lock it down. The Dems want diversity of choice.

    we should not confuse tactics with goals.

  13. Larry, most Democrats are live and let live on sexual matters. So am I. A number of GOPers aren’t live and let live on the issue of abortion. I disagree. I don’t think the law should bar a woman from making this choice. But I have liberal friends who want no restrictions on abortion, but want to ban the ownership of guns. That is not live and let live. I don’t think that there is a way of measuring the value of these two “rights.” My regulate the hell out of guns friends are just as intrusive as my regulate the hell out of abortion friends. I think the debate would move better if everyone realized this. We are not debating whether to regulate people’s decisions, just about which ones. And I don’t see either side honest enough to admit this.

  14. larryg Avatar

    ” A number of GOPers aren’t live and let live on the issue of abortion. ”

    I’d say about 100% give recent votes and a large number of them fundamentally disagree with birth control.

    what do you think this is about?

    re: liberals who want no restrictions on abortion.

    in the past that’s what compromise was about. right? At this point – it’s “my way or the highway” when the GOP thinks they have enough votes.

    re: guns – if they are like me – what they are opposed to is not the ownership of guns per se but the heavy tolerance of a bollixed registration process that allows ownership to folks who, by law, cannot own but the procedures are so full of loopholes for 3rd party sales that a private buyer can buy hundreds of guns and resell them to felons and mental cases.

    It’s fundamentally a hypocritical position, IMHO to say you support laws that keep crazy people and violent convicted felons from possessing guns but you oppose any/all laws that seek to accomplish that.

    I find that position much like those who not only oppose abortion but they also oppose morning after pills and birth control.

    to me, that’s pure IDEOLOGY that basically ignores the practical and important aspects of the issues and seeks laws to enforce what are essentially religious or moral views.

    We have a bunch of people nowdays that are the Christian equivalent of Muslims who are essentially seeking the Christian equivalent of Sharia Law.

    re: regulating decisions

    gun-regulating Liberals just don’t want to be shot by crazy people or criminals… they are (in misguided ways perhaps) trying to protect themselves, make themselves safer.

    that’s a far different thing than advocating laws that regulate other people’s activities that do not harm you directly but rather in a theoretical moral or religious sense.

    liberals, in general, support regulations to protect people from others who are predatory…. whereas … the conservatives say that protecting oneself is your responsibility not the govt – except when it comes to the “innocent” then the govt has a duty to protect them. (nevemind the legions of “innocent” that we put to death in our prisons and nation-building wars.).

  15. On abortion, I am pro-choice. I think it’s generally a bad thing, but I don’t think it should be prohibited by law. But I am not naive enough to think that a decision to have an abortion affects no one but the woman. It does affect others, but, in my mind, the interest of the affected woman needs to prevail. I can understand restrictions when the fetus is viable and the application of general laws regulating health care.
    Ditto for gun regulation. We have ATF regulations and requirements for a concealed carry permit. When people violate these laws, they can be barred from owning a gun, fined or even put in prison. But a gun in an ordinary person’s possession doesn’t threaten anyone. It’s not about safety. We have safety regulations and we have criminal laws. Enforce the laws. But we also have a lot of people who think guns are morally wrong, just as we have people who think abortion is morally wrong. Both of these groups want to prohibit or regulate to the point of prohibition what they don’t think is moral. I don’t see a difference.
    In terms of religious or moral belief, most of our laws have some basis in society’s religious or moral beliefs. I’d say the entire American welfare state has its roots in religious or moral beliefs. Ditto for much of the opposition to the Iraq War. If A can trot out a minister to support “immigration reform,” why can’t B trot out another minister to oppose abortion? If Obama can seek support for his agenda in Black Churches, why can’t someone else seek support for their agenda in Evangelical Churches? I just want to see one set of rules.

  16. larryg Avatar

    we’re probably close on abortion. I do not like proxy gun buying for felons when we could have laws but we refuse..because of gun “rights”. That’s maddening IMHO.

    now… religious laws and govt. that’s a HUGE stretch guy. we are talking about generic charity of which even atheists subscribe to.

    we should NOT be taking SPECIFIC doctrinal tenets of religion and incorporating it into govt which is what Sharia Law does.

    the Constitution explicitly sought to allow ANYONE to practice ANY religion WITHOUT the govt having a say in it.

    When you turn that around and seek to incorporate religious doctrines into govt – you’d actually violated the entire intent of allowing religious freedom and expression and NOW are forcing people to hew to specific religions who managed to infiltrate the govt.

    It scares me when I hear folks suggest as you just did..that this is to be expected and “ok” but it is, in fact, the reality right now.

Leave a Reply