Latest Poll Shows Virginia Senate Race with Seven Point Gap

A new poll is showing that U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner is leading Republican opponent Ed Gillespie by a mere 7 points, with less than a week before the midterm elections, reports The Washington Post.

The survey conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University shows that Warner (D) is leading Gillespie by a 51 to 44 margin. Only two percent of those surveyed chose the Libertarian Candidate Robert Sarvis.

Since the last poll on Oct. 7, Warner has not lost support; however, Gillespie support has grown as the pool of voters who were supporting Sarvis and who were undecided has shrunk.

More competition in the race has been consistently shown by polls as the election draws near, and this one finds that Gillespie is closer than he was on any of the previous surveys.

Warner still maintains a solid lead that would be hard for Gillespie to overcome with such a short time left. Warner remains more popular with Democrats than Gillespie is with Republicans, and he also wins the majority of independents and self-described moderates.

“The Warner advantages…that he was in a strong position within his own party, had a solid toe-hold with Republicans, and had a good position amongst ideological moderates-seem to have held from start-to finish” remarked Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center.

Brat and Trammell Discuss Ebola in Final Debate

On Tuesday Republican Dave Brat and Democrat Jack Trammell, congressional candidates for Virginia’s 7th district participated in their final debate at Randolph-Macon college, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

With one week to go before the midterm elections, Brat and Trammell, who are both professors at the college discussed their positions on topics such as health care reform, the federal response to Ebola, immigration and the minimum wage among others.

The 15 year colleagues and occasional intramural basketball teammates disagreed on potential decisions regarding Ebola, including whether or not Congress should enact flight bans from the three West African nations most affected by the disease.

Trammell stated that he is “hesitant to act out of fear,” continuing that America should “use targeted flight bans and not bring out economy to a new halt with draconian measures that are not targeted.”

Brat disagreed, saying “we should have quarantined the Western Africa nations and the flights coming in.” He compared Ebola to an economics event called “a black swan event” adding that there is “a very low probability event that has catastrophic consequences.”

Gillespie Criticizes Warner on Silence on Redskins Name Change

The Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins gave Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie the perfect opportunity to debut his new attack ad. The ad criticizes  incumbent Democrat Mark Warner for his silence on a proposed Senate bill that would put added pressure on the Redskin franchise to change their name, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The ad alleges that Warner “refused to answer if he supports the bill or not” and asks why the Senator won’t “fight the anti-Redskins bill.”

Gillespie then goes onto say “I’ll oppose the anti-Redskins bill. Let’s focus on creating jobs, raising take-home pay and making our nation safer, and let the Redskins handle what to call their team,” delivered with a smirk on his face.

On Thursday some Senate Democrats introduced legislation on Thursday that would take back the NFL’s tax-exempt status if they continue to defend the Washington Redskin’s name. Warner has not yet joined this effort as he, along with Virginia’s other senator, Tim Kaine (D) refused to join the group urging the name change.

A spokesman for Warner said, “Senator Warner believes that it’s not for Congress to dictate what the league does. He believes that over time, team names will change to reflect the times, as has happened with the Washington Wizards.”

Proponents of the name change hold that the term Redskins is derogatory to Native Americans. The team receives much support from Virginia as it’s training camp is located in Richmond.

Virginia Looks to Increase Their Ebola Response

Yesterday, Virginia health officials debuted a new Ebola response plan that will include increased monitoring of incoming travelers from high-risk regions in West Africa, reports The Richmond-Times Dispatch.

While the plan does not include a mandatory quarantine for health workers returning from the Ebola zone, Virginia Health Commissioner Marissa Levine said that she has the legal authority to issue involuntary orders of isolation or quarantine. She said in a media call, “I would not hesitate to issue this order if necessary to protect Virginian’s health.”

As of last week 53 travelers from the high-risk zones of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia had returned to Virginia. “Our goal is to contact all of them. It will be pretty quick in terms of turning that around,” said Levine.

Bill Hazel, the state’s secretary of health and human services said that most of these individuals were screened upon entering the airport and that they are known to officials. Adding, “There is no Ebola in Virginia today.”

The monitoring program will require that each traveler returning from one of the three West African states will go through an evaluation that will determine their risk of developing Ebola.

The screeners at the airports of entry will then provide the name and contact information for all travelers with destinations in Virginia. From there, officials will contact the travelers and give them specific instructions, which include an individual monitoring plan.


Brat and Trammell Put Randolph-Macon in the Spotlight

Randolph-Macon College, a small liberal arts school in Ashland, will host a debate on Tuesday between Republican Dave Brat and Democrat Jack Trammell, candidates for the 7th District Congressional seat, both of whom are professors at the school, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The students who will comprise most of the audience are excited about the national attention being brought to Randolph-Macon as a result of the race.

“When the debate comes along and it’s getting closer to November, I think the excitement is going to be really big around campus”, commented junior Allison Carpenter adding, “We’re such a small school and a lot of people really don’t know about us, but now we’re the political center of the universe.”

Randolph-Macon has an enrollment of 1,300 students and 95 full-time faculty members, with Brat among them teaching economics and business, ethics and International Studies since 1996. Trammell came to the college in 2000 to teach sociology, Introduction to Disability Studies, Disability in America and General Education as an associate professor.


ABC Modernizes the System by Employing Liquor Mark Up

Virginia ABC stores will see a liquor mark-up that will account for $2.5 million that is going to help close the $2.4 million dollar revenue gap in the state budget, reports The Richmond-Times Dispatch.

While the total markup, and its subsequent effect on the price of distilled spirits in Virginia stores, has not been determined the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control is looking to raise money to invest in financial management and other information technology to modernize their system, which as of now still depends on cash and paper transactions.

“ABS is now in the process of considering various approaches to implementing a markup that will assist in addressing not only the commonwealth’s needs, but also the pressing infrastructure needs of ABC,” remarked secretary to the ABC board S. Chris Curtis in a letter on Oct. 16 to alcohol industry stakeholders.

The current markup is already at an average of 69 percent per bottle that passes through ABC’s warehouse in Richmond, has drawn much criticism from the liquor industry that has dubbed it as a “stealth alcohol tax.”

While the liquor industry supports ABC’s goal of modernizing their system, they feel that the General Assembly should pay for it with it’s profits of $140 million from revenue from taxes of liquor, wine and beer which flowed almost $250 million into the state treasury.


Brat, Trammell and Carr Meet for Goodlach Forum

On Thursday Dave Brat, Jack Trammell, and James Carr met at Benedictine College Preparatory to for a Goochlach Chamber of Commerce event, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The candidates for Virginia’s 7th District made their cases before the voters and clarified positions on a number of topics.

In the first and only joint appearance by the three candidates, Republican Dave Brat, Democrat Jack Trammell and Libertarian James Carr, discussed healthcare reform, immigration, taxation, partisanship in Congress and background checks for gum owners.

Brat further promoted his ideas which are based on free market principles, social and fiscal conservatism, and a limited federal government. “I want to take my skill set up to Washington and fix economic problems and restore confidence in basic American values and institutions,” said Brat.

He added that “The Affordable Care Act is crushing job creation and small businesses across nine counties and cities in the district.” Brat also pointed out that in November 250,000 Virginians will lose their health insurance and that businesses are facing up to a $1.7 trillion burden.

Democrat Trammell, who is also a professor with Brat at Randolph-Macon College, expressed the need for Republicans and Democrats to work together and also highlighted his support for a comprehensive immigration reform plan, and tweaks to the Affordable Care Act. “Business as usual (in Congress) is simply not an option at this time, and this moment provides us with the chance to do something about it,” remarked Trammell.

Carr criticized Brat’s stance on illegal immigration, saying that it undermine’s the Republican beliefs in free-market principles.

“My opponent doesn’t understand that the labor market is a part of the free market. If you are going to apply a principle, apply it to the entire spectrum,” Carr remarked, adding that he has no problem with open immigration to the U.S., “as long as we know they are here. We need to let the people who are here contribute to the economy–keep them in.”

All three of the candidates agreed that the collecting of phone record data by the NSA was a clear federal overreach. They also stood together in support of Second Amendment rights, but all had different ideas of how the government should regulate those rights.

Virginia Millenials Uneasy About Economic Future

A new poll conducted by Christopher Newport University shows that four out of five millennials in Virginia feel that their generation is going to face more economic challenges than their parents’ generation did at this stage of their lives, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Surveyed were 481 Virginia voters between the ages of 18 and 35 between Oct. 15-21.

Participants in the survey have significant student debt, with the average being $33,500 and 82 percent of respondents saying that it is a significant problem.

The poll also showed that Sen. Mark Warner is leading among 18-35 year olds with 47 percent of the vote. Libertarian Robert Sarvis has 24 percent, Republican Ed Gillespie has 11 percent and 18 percent are undecided.

Quentin Kidd, director of the Wasson Center at CNU said, “The appeal of Libertarian Robert Sarvis among Virginia millennials is clear, but Mark Warner’s position is strong. There is, however, a real question as to whether millennials will turn out to vote.”

The poll showed that 69 percent feel that the high amount of money in politics quiet their voices, and 58 percent are skeptical that the government is really concerned about the problems their generation is facing.

Jobs and the economy were the most important issues to the millennials polled, followed by education, health care and health care reform, the federal budget and taxes and finally the legalization of marijuana and drug policy.


Brat and Trammell Debate Immigration

On Tuesday Seventh District Congressional candidates, Dave Brat of the TeaParty and Democrat Jack Trammell, discussed their views on immigration during a Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce meeting at the offices of Challa Law Firm, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The candidates, both professors at Randolph-Macon College, clarified their positions on issues related to immigration ranging from expanding visa opportunities, discouraging illegal immigration at our borders, and how to deal with the almost 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the country.

Dave Brat, who unseated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in June, was able to do so partly because of his stance on the immigration issue. Brat was able to gain votes because of his opposition to proposals by Congress that offered a path to citizenship for immigrants who were in the country illegally.

His opening statements to the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce focused on his economic initiatives for a free market and an end to the regulation that currently has the economy at a standstill. He also spoke of a need for more integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics cirriculum to promote skill development among students.

When Chamber President Michel Zajur asked about current immigration proposals, Brat said that the problem needs to be managed by securing the border and enforcing the “rule of law” that is currently in place to handle immigrants, both legal and illegal. “I have never said that I’m against legal immigration,” said Brat who later added “nations that function under the rule of law do well.”

After Brat’s departure, Trammell addressed the group. He held the current Congress responsible for the failing to reach a compromise on the issue. Trammell added that he supports a comprehensive immigration reform, the DREAM Act, and a “clear path to citizenship” for immigrants. While Trammell does support securing our borders, he thinks that it should be “a rational policy that is enforceable.”

Trammell also added that immigrants should be welcomed as they are people who are here to “be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” but America should work to deport criminals who are here illegally.

Cost of Proposed Streetcar Divides Arlington Voters

Democrats in Arlington have spent a lot of time hoping that the results of the special election held last spring were a fluke, reports The Washington Post.

John Vihstadt, a Republican-turned-Independent beat out his Democratic opponent, Alan Howze by 16 points in the race for the open County Board seat. Now,  Alan Howze is again challenging Vihstadt on November 4th for the full four-year term.

With hopes that the intense Senate race will cause more voter turn out. Howze is campaigning with more energy than he did in the spring, as he hopes a wave of Democrats who support him and the streetcar, take to the polls.

“The higher turnout, the better it represents the views of all of Arlington,” Howze said while campaigning. Last time there was a Senate election, but no Presidential election was 2006, when 55 percent of county residents came out to cast a vote.

Vihstadt remains confident however, as he sees Howze’s support for the proposed streetcar something that will hinder his numbers. Many voters in Arlington, including Democrats are very weary of the money that is needed to fund the streetcar project, and Vihstadt feels that this factor will help him gain the votes he needs to stay in his position.