McDonnell Sentenced to Two Years in Prison

On Tuesday a federal judge sentenced former governor Bob McDonnell to two years in prison, calling his corruption case “tragic from beginning to end,” reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Family and friends of McDonnell wept in the first row of the courtroom as McDonnell, flanked by his lawyers, quietly stood as Judge James R. Spencer handed down the ruling. The only consolation for McDonnell and his supporters is that the two year sentence is much less than the 10-12 years which were recommended  by federal authorities.

McDonnell pleaded for Spencer to show mercy to his wife Maureen, who was convicted of eight charges, whose sentencing is set for February 20th.

Federal Lawsuit Seeks to Challenge Virginia’s State Electoral Districts

The Washington Post is reporting that voters in a dozen House of Delegates districts have come together to file a federal lawsuit that will challenge the current legislative map which they claim illegally concentrates African American voters, thus decreasing their influence.

The lawsuit was filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It comes after an October decision by the court that determined that the state’s current congressional map “packs” African American voters into a single district, a decision which Congressional Republicans have since appealed.

William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Speaker of the House of Delegates, says that he remains confident that the state’s legislative map will hold up against legal challenge.

“The House districts were drawn in accordance with all federal and state law, adopted with bipartisan support after more than a dozen public hearings and committee meetings, and pre-approved by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department in accordance with the Voting Rights Act,” said Howell.

He also added that the map was “publicly supported by a majority of African American members in the House of Delegates.”

The congressional lawsuit and the state-focused lawsuit were both filed by lawyers from the Washington law firm Perkins Coie, who were unavailable to comment. Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), through a spokesman, also declined to comment on the lawsuits.

Dave Brat to Oppose Boehner as House Speaker

According to The Washington Post, Rep. Dave Brat will not support John Boehner (R-Ohio) as the House Speaker in the new congress. This decision solidifies that the new legislator, who beat former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his primary, is working to position himself in the most conservative wing of the GOP.

“While I like Speaker Boehner personally, he will not have my support,” said Brat in a statement. He said he feels that the Republican leadership should have worked harder with conservatives to defund President Obama’s executive action that granted legal statuses to millions of undocumented immigrants.

Immigration policy was also a large contributor to Brat’s defeat of Cantor in June. His conservative Richmond-area district turned against Cantor after the influential politician suggested that a comprehensive reform plan should be considered.

Brat was sworn into Congress last fall after Cantor resigned his position. He initially supported Boehner for the leadership position in a closed-door meeting saying that there was no alternative.

“I said I’d favor the person who most closely followed [my] principles, so no challenger emerged, so I followed my logic,” he told the Post.

At least two conservative legislators are now planning to challenge Boehner: Louie Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho of Florida. Both men are tough on immigration. Brat did not announce his support for either candidates, only saying that he wants a speaker who will stand up to the president.

Gilmore Considers Return to Politics

According to The Washington Post, former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III has made a series of high profile speeches which may signal a return to politics.

Gilmore’s speeches are focusing on what he feels is ailing the national GOP. The former governor, who was in office from 1998 to 2002, plans to visit the early nominating states of New Hampshire and Iowa next month. The trip also includes a stop at Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) conservative summit.

In the last few weeks before this November’s midterms Gilmore created a super PAC that aired television commercials for candidates from both New Hampshire and Iowa, as well as Virginia.

Gilmore’s recent activity has many Virginians wondering if he is eyeing a potential presidential run next year.  In an interview last week Gilmore declined to comment on whether or not he is serious about a possible presidential run.

“It’s too early to really tell you any answers where we’re going here,” he said. “But I am committed to addressing the central problems facing the nation.