VSU Students and Faculty Feeling Uneasy Over Cuts

The Richmond Times-Dispatch that students and faculty alike are feeling very nervous regarding the steep budget cuts that Virginia State University will need to make.

The university is tasked with having to make up a $19 million funding shortfall, which many fear will only deepen VSU’s current  troubles. At a recent faculty assembly Michelle Corley, vice chair for the faculty senate observed “there was a lot of passion, there was a lot of basically uproar,” adding “The faculty and students are the DNA of Virginia State University.”

The president of the Student Government Association at VSU, Hyisheem Clier called for more communication and transparency about how the changed will be affecting the students’ daily lives. “One day we can go from having an event, to the next day not having an event,” Clier remarked.

Clier along with 20 other students waited through a three-hour closed session of the two-day faculty assembly to appear before the board. The students were there in solidarity with the staff and t collaborate to provide solutions.

Senior Ryan Robinson, one of the 20 students remarked, “Right now it’s all about problem solving. There’s a problem on the table and we want to help solve it.”

McAuliffe Continues to Support Same-Sex Marriage

At the yearly festival held by Virginia Pride, Governor Terry McAuliffe praised the four plaintiffs challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“It’s a new day in Virginia,” McAuliffe announced as he spoke to crowds at PrideFest. “I feel good things are happening and we’re going to have marriage equality here in the commonwealth of Virginia,” he continued.

In the speech McAuliffe highlighted his work on gay issues, specifically to his executive order that banned discrimination in the workforce based on sexual orientation or gender identity. He also made the decision to dub June as LGBTQ Pride month, the first proclamation of it’s kind by a Virginia governor.

McAuliffe also commended Attorney General Mark R. Herring for his decision not to defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban as he considers himself a “great leader” on the issue of the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The governor also pointed out the economic value that the legalization of same-sex marriage would have saying “You cannot grow an economy when you put up walls around Virginia.” McAuliffe concluded his powerful speech with this insight, “And let our message go to the globe: No matter who you love, we want you here in Virginia.”

New Voter ID Law May Effect 450,000

The Virginia State Board of Elections announced Thursday that almost 450,000 Virginians may lack the proper identification needed to vote in the midterm elections due to the new voter ID law, reports The Washington Post.

The new state law that took effect this year requires voters to present a driver’s license or other form of photo identification before they are allowed to place their votes. Election officials are hoping that more people get state ID cards so their votes can be easily counted. If voters fail to provide photo identification they will need to cast their votes via provisional ballots.

Cameron Quinn, the voter registrar in Fairfax County remarked “It’s so much easier if there is a live vote.” As of now almost 13,690 registered voters in Fairfax lack the proper identification.

The new law has been widely criticized as many see it as unfair to low-income and immigrant voters, who are less likely to have the proper identification. Among the 34 states that have passed laws requiring voters to show a form of identification at the polls, Virginia’s is the strictest.

Gillespie Makes Progress in the Polls

The Washington Post is reporting that Ed Gillespie is now only nine points behind U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D). The new poll shows that with only six weeks to go the Republican challenger is closing in on the incumbent.

The poll released by Quinnipiac University shows that, in a head-to-head match up Warner leads Gillespie 50 percent to 41 percent. Earlier polls by the university showed Warner having an almost 22 point lead, showing that the Gillespie campaign has picked up major steam in the recent weeks.

“U.S. Sen. mark Warner has been the most popular politician in Virginia for the past several years and appears to be in reasonable shape for reelection, but his lead is not insurmountable with six weeks to go until Election Day,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

This poll was released after Gillespie, who had been outspent on television advertising by Warner by 3-1, debuted commercials in the Washington-area media market.

Surveyed were 1,010 likely voter between September 17-22 and the poll has a margin of error plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Kaine Warns Against Pre-Emptive War Without Congressional Approval

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) announced shortly after the U.S. began airstrikes against ISIS in Syria that Congress is accepting the “Cheney Doctrine” of pre-emptive war, as President Obama did not have clear authorization for the action, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

“The President has indicated that these missions are justified by the 2001 and 2002 authorizations by congress. I think that this argument is an extremely stretch by extremely creative lawyers,” Kaine remarked at an event for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Last week Congress agreed to the President’s plan of equipping and training Syrian rebel forces to combat the ISIS, but has yet to authorize a new war. Now the Obama administration is left to rely on a 2001 resolutions that authorized the use of armed forces against the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. After the attack, then-Vice President Dick Cheney spoke out in favor of pre-emptive military strikes against threatening nations or organizations.

Kaine has advocated for the White House to gain congressional authorization for using military force against ISIS since June. Last week the Senator introduced new legislation that would limit such action to one year, causing the need for Congress to renew it, and that would not allow the use of combat troops on the ground.

On Tuesday Kaine said “The president should not be doing this without Congress. The initiation for military action must come from Congress; the Constitution is very clear on that.”

Jim Webb Considering Presidential Bid

Former Democratic Virginia Senator Jim Webb  has announced that he is seriously contemplating a potential presidential run in 2016, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

In an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington Webb said. “I am seriously looking at the possibility of running for president, but we want to see if there is a support base from people who would support the programs we are pursuing.”

Webb, a single term Senator has said that he has been a part of discussions, that will continue over the next four or five months, “among people that I respect and trust about the future of our country.”

One of Webb’s main issues on his agenda would be America’s foreign policy. He feels that “our foreign policy has become a tangled mess in many cases of what can only be called situational ethics.” Webb wants to focus on creating a clear foreign policy and national security plan so that not only Americans, but foreign allies and adversaries understand when a situation involves  American interests.

A run could pit Webb against the only other clear potential Democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has yet to officially announce whether she will be running, despite most signs pointing to yes.

Webb has a diverse resume. He is a decorated Marine and Vietnam veteran who has written several books, a lawyer serving in committee counsel in Congress, has served as both assistant secretary of Defense and the Navy and has worked as a filmmaker and Emmy-winning journalist.

“We are taking a hard look, and we’ll get back to you in a few months” says Webb.

James Carr Puts Up a Fight for the 7th District

To most Virginians, James Carr is not a household name, but the Libertarian Congressional candidate for the state’s 7th District, is out to change that, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. 

As Carr runs for the seat formerly held by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, his goal is not just to win the election for himself, but to also prove that the Libertarian Party is capable of winning elections in Virginia.

“We are very serious that this could be a year that we put a Libertarian in office, in this district in particular” said Carr in a recent interview. History is not in favor of James Carr as third-party candidates have never been successful in the 7th district. In most cases the third-party candidate, while not winning themselves, has effected the outcome of the elections.

Despite the performance of third-party candidates before him, Carr remains optimistic; however, uphill battle lies before him, as he faces sociology professor, Democrat Jack Trammel and Republican David Brat to whom Cantor lost the primary.

Thousands of State Employees Make Up Virginia’s Working Poor

Many of the people who may be losing out by not expanding Medicaid are state employees. The Richmond Times-Dispatch  is reporting that Virginia’s working poor population is made up of thousands of state employees.

Full-time state employees receiving federal assistance has rose at a rate of 150 percent from 2011 to 2013, with only 12 state employees receiving aid in 2007.The amount of state employees receiving food stamps has also doubled in the last two years and the the number of people receiving Medicaid benefits has also increased from 97 to 729 in the same time period.

In 2013 there were over 9,600 full time state employees who were eligible for a federal tax subsidy for low income families, the earned-income tax credit. This trend reflects the wage stagnation and its effects it has had on the state’s government workforce of about 100,000, who from the outside may have appeared to be stable and well paid.

Governor McAuliffe said in a recent interview “I don’t think some people realize how hard people are having to work just to get by.” He continued “We have deputy sheriffs in the commonwealth of Virginia that are on food stamps,” noting that he doesn’t “think most people realize that folks who put on a uniform every day and protect us, they’re on food assistance programs.”


Gillespie Goes on the Offensive

Withe just over  a month left before the crucial midterm elections,  Republican candidate Ed Gillespie upped his ante in efforts to secure more voters, reports The Washington Post.

Gillespie focuses his attacks at the 2014 U.S. Senate Candidates Battleground Forum on the front runner, incumbent Democrat Mark Warner. Gillespie painted Warner, a former Virginia Governor as a pawn for the Obama administration, using the President’s poor approval rating as a tactic to deal Warner a blow.

“If Mark Warner had been a senator like he’d been a governor I might not be standing here today. But Governor Warner wouldn’t recognize Senator Warner,” remarked Gillespie at the forum.

During his time at the podium Warner took a different approach as he appeared relaxed, joking with panelists. His comments focused on his across the aisle work with Republican colleagues and called for more bipartisanship on Capitol Hill.

Warner’s strong and consistent lead over Gillespie, recent polls show him 22 points up, has had the Republican candidate scrambling to undercut the Senator’s image. Gillespie has focused on linking Warner to problems such as the current state of the health-care system, threats of terrorism and rising fuel prices. Gillespie called Warner “a blank check for President Obama,” rather than the independent bipartisan politician he is painting himself as.



Comstock’s Ad Focuses on Foust’s Attacks

The Congressional race between Republican candidate Barbara Comstock and John Foust may turn out to be one the nation’s most expensive. The Washington Post is reporting that Comstock has come out with a new attack ad focusing on Foust’s “bizarre and sexist” attacks.

Both Candidates are working hard to secure the women’s vote. Earlier this week Foust released an ad that was focused on the issue of abortion and women’s issues. The Comstock ad reprehends Foust for running a “desperate, dishonest, negative campaign” filled with “trash-talking politics.”

The ad’s “sexist” claims is comes as a result to Foust’s questioning if Comstock had “ever had a real job”. Foust defends his comments as being taken out of context and holds that he was being critical of Comstock’s “hyperpartisanism” at the time the comments were made.

While the “sexist” comment was made to hurt Foust’s relationship with the women voters, the candidates campaign is working on positioning Comstock’s voting records as the way to attract women’s support.

“Barbara Comstock said in her own words she wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, and she voted for mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds. Those are facts,” remarks Foust’s campaign manager Shaun Daniel. “I guess she doesn’t want to talk about her own record and doesn’t like it when we do either.”