Democrats Pick Candidate For Morrissey’s Seat

Kevin J. Sullivan is the Democrats choice to run to replace disgraced Del. Joseph D. Morrissey in Virginia’s 74th House District, reports The Washington Post. 

Richmond Mayor and state Democratic Party chairman Dwight Jones said, “Sullivan’s experience in this community makes him a strong fighter for our Democratic values and priorities.

About 40 people participated in the primary out of 100 eligible Democratic committee members in the Richmond area. Twenty-four voted for Sullivan.

Sullivan is a retired brewery worker and Teamsters who now runs an alpaca farm with his wife. He won against Henrico County School Board member Lamont Bagby and former state delegate Floyd Miles Sr.

Morrissey, who will serve a six month sentence for the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, could still decide to run for his position as an independent, a decision he said he will be making in the next few days.

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Puckett’s Resignation Foils McAuliffe’s Plans for Medicaid Expansion

Governor McAuliffe has appeared to run out of options to pull off his campaign promise to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, reports The Washington Post.

This defeat lead to the aggressive voicemail he left the man at the root of the problem, Southwest Virginia Democrat Phillip Puckett, who had quit the Senate just days prior to the vote leaving control of the Senate to the Republicans.

“Hey Phil? Terry McAuliffe,” started McAuliffe in his message. “I want you to know we lost the vote, 20 to 19, in the Senate. Medicaid is done. I hope you sleep easy tonight, buddy.”

Puckett’s resignation occurred after discussions of jobs for himself and his daughter with Republicans. Democrats had worked to convince him to stay with offers of making his daughter a state agency head or federal judge.

It is clearer than ever now that Puckett was vital to the passage of McAuliffe’s plan. It also clear that the situation, which spurred a criminal investigation has left lasting hard feelings between the parties. Puckett’s resignation further incubates the increasingly partisan atmosphere in Richmond, and will undoubtedly make it even more difficult for McAuliffe to work with the GOP-controlled legislature to accomplish anything during the remainder of his term.

Kathleen Murphy Plans to Run for Seat Vacated by Comstock

With Republican Barbara Comstock heading to Congress, there will be a special election held to replace her seat as the state Delegate for Virginia’s 34th District, reports The Washington Post.

Kathleen Murphy, who narrowly lost the seat to Comstock in 2013 will  once again run for the position. Murphy is a McLean consultant and a former Clinton administration official announced her candidacy Monday with the support of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state and local Democrats.

On Saturday both parties are expected to pick their nominees. Republicans are planning to hold a fire house rally from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Democrats will have unassembled caucuses between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., although officials say it is unlikely that Murphy will face a primary challenger.

The 34th district encompasses parts of Loudoun and Fairfax counties, and is typically more Democratic than the win by Comstock suggests. In the election last year, Murphy only lost by 1 percentage point.

In 2013 the race between Comstock and Murphy turned vicious as it was apparent of the candidates mutual dislike for one another at public events. Murphy also claims to The Washington Post that Comstock fabricated a “secret plan to raise taxes” in her campaign literature, and accused Murphy, a cancer survivor, of lying to cancer patients.

Chaffin Wins Puckett’s Seat in State Senate

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Del. Ben Chaffin Jr. R-Russell has won th election to fill the seat in the state Senate left by Sen. Phillip Puckett. This victory means that the GOP will remain in control of the state Senate.

 

With a 21-18 lead in the state Senate the Republicans will maintain control even if a Democrats wins the seat to replace the retiring Henry L. Marsh November 4. Chaffin easily beat out his opponents, Democrats Mike Hymes and independent Rick Mullins.

 

Chaffin’s win could also mean Gov. Terry McAuliffe will face even more legislative challenges in both chambers as Republicans will hold almost two-thirds of the seats in the House of Delegates.

 

Speaker of the House William J. Howell, R-Stafford said of Chaffin, “During his short time in House of Delegates, Ben has proven to be a thoughtful and capable legislator who can solve problems for the people of Southwest Virginia.”

GOP Member of House of Delegates Offers Solution to Medicaid Expansion

Del. Thomas Rust, a Senior member of Virginia’s House of Delegates is working a proposal that is unique to the state and would bring the standoff over Medicaid to an end, reports The Daily Press.

 

The new plan would utilize funds from the Affordable Care Act to expand coverage for low-income Virginians. Rust’s plan will use these funds to help working Virginians who fall beneath the poverty line pay their share of employer-provided health insurance. At 70%, most of Virginia’s low wage workers are unable to pay their part of the employer-provided plans.

 

Rust plans on addressing the concerns raised by fellow Republicans over the expansion of Medicaid. The plan uses language that makes it very clear that if folks in Washington break their promise of funding expansion, the additional coverage would end.

 

Cost of expansions being shifted to the states can be attributed to Washington’s concerns over the federal debt, which is now over $17.7 trillion. The Affordable Care Act says that the federal government has the responsibility of paying the entire cost of the expansion until 2017. Then, the states will pick up the responsibility gradually and will be capped at 10 percent by 2022.

Former Sen. John Warner Will Back Barbara Comstock

According to the Loudon Times, former Sen. John Warner will back Del. Barbara Comstock in this year’s race to represent Virginia’s 10th District.

The former senator, who retired in 2009 after 30 years of serving in the Senate, will appear at a September fundraiser for Comstock. Comstock also has the support of the man she hopes to replace, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf. Wolf has held the 10th District seat for 30 years.

“We have no doubt that she is the strongest, most qualified candidate by far and deserves our support,” Warner and Wolf note. “She will continue in the Warner/Wolf tradition of fighting for the people of this culturally rich and diverse district.”

Warner and Wolf will appear at Comstock’s September 10 fundraiser.

Marsh’s Seat To Stay Open As Medicaid Debates Proceed

The Virginia State Senate seat left by Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond, will not be filled before the legislators address the Medicaid debate at the end of September, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch. The date for the election for Marsh’s seat has been set as November 4, the same date of the general election.

The decision of the date of the election was left to President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Sen. Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico. This decision means that Republicans will hold on to their majority advantage when it comes time for the Medicaid debate, even if a Democrat wins the special election in August to fill the vacated seat left by Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell.

After 22 years in the state senate Gov. Terry McAuliffe appointed Marsh as a commissioner on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Del. Rosalyn R. Dance, D-Petersburg, a former mayor of Petersburg and 10-year member of the House of Delegates, has already announced that she will enter the race to replace Marsh as the representative of Virginia’s 16th Senatorial District.

“It would be an honor to partner with Senator Donald McEachin as a second voice for the city of Richmond and to continue serving these other five localities [counties of Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George; the cities of Hopewell and Petersburg] that make up the 16th Senatorial District,” Dance said,

Both parties have an August 15 deadline to choose a candidate for Marsh’s seat.

Rushed Primary Election Sets the Stage for Special Election

After Delegate Robert Brink (D-Arlington) resigned from Virginia’s 48th House District on June 30, Republicans and Democrats scrambled to nominate David Foster and Mclean lawyer Richard “Rip” Sullivan, respectively.

House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) set the special election date for Aug. 19, which meant that the nominees had to be turned in by July 7. The short notice forced the parties to rush their campaigns and scramble over the holiday weekend. Even in spite of this, 100-200 members attended the candidate forum on Saturday to learn about the candidates’ positions and over 2,100 people voted in the Democratic caucus on Sunday afternoon.

Democratic nominee Sullivan had a narrow victory over Paul Holland, environmental consultant and communications director for the Arlington Democratic Party, and Andrew Schneider, director of the College of William and Mary’s Washington Area Alumni Business Alliance.

Republican nominee Foster, former president of the Virginia Board of Education and Arlington School Board chairman, said that if he was elected, he would try to redirect the General Assembly’s attention away from Arlington’s “impractical and unaffordable” Columbia Pike streetcar proposal and towards more important things like roads, schools and tax relief.

 

 

Corruption Case Against Puckett and Kilgore Will Be Difficult

According to the Washington Post, federal investigators that are looking to build a corruption case again state senator Phillip P. Puckett or Del. Terry G. Kilgore will face an uphill battle.

In a 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court, it was decided that you cannot prosecute legislators or government officials because they engaged in self-dealing or conflict of interest arrangement.

The prosecutors in this case would have to show that there was a quid pro quo situation and that the two men accepted some form of bribe.

After Talks with GOP lawmakers Puckett, a Democrat from Russell County resigned amidst the budget deadlock giving the Republican’s the upper hand. Puckett then took a job at the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification, while securing a judgeship position for his daughter. Kilgore, was a chairman on the tobacco commission and has confirmed that he spoken with Puckett regarding the position prior to Puckett announcing his resignation.

House Republican Introduce Legislation to Let Speaker Appoint Counsel in Same-Sex Marriage Case

During the budget session, House Republicans introduced a bill that would allow Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) to choose the counsel that will defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Del. Mark L. Cole sponsored the House Resolution 541 and feel that Virginia and the House of Delegates “have been deprived of representation in a pending federal litigation and of a vigorous defense in their name.”

As of now, House rules do not allow the resolution to be considered, but this can easily be changed by a majority vote.

In January, Attorney General Mark R. Herring stated that he would not defend the amendment to Virginia’s Constitution that says marriage is between a man and a woman because he feels that the amendment violates the U.S. Constitution

The case will head to the 4th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Richmond, where a three-judge panel is expected to make a ruling in the case this summer.