Morrissey to Run as Independant

Disgraced Del. Joe Morrissey,who was recently convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, has decided to run for his own seat as an independent in the special Jan. 13 election, reports The Washington Post.

His candidacy ensures that the political circus the Democratic Party was trying to avoid will happen. The party tried to pressure him to resign and then strictly limited the participation in their nominating caucus.

“You can call it Republican, Democrat, libertarian, vegetarian. Folks in the 74th District know the values that I stand for,” said Morrissey. ” The label that’s on me doesn’t change the tenacity and the manner in which I argue for the underdog in the Virginia House of Delegates.”

Democrats, including Governor McAuliffe have urged Morrissey to remove himself from the public eye but Morrissey holds that his constituents should decide whether the allegations are disqualifying.

Despite Disagreements, Budget Talks Likely to be Smooth

The drama that has since surrounded the budget talks between Governor McAuliffe and the General Assembly has ceased, reports The Washington Post.

Early bird budget fixes and a newly muted Medicaid push, and no threat of elections in 2015 looks like the budget negotiations to be much calmer than they have been in the previous months and there is little danger that partisan politics will derail the budget discussions.

“We certainly can come to an agreement, because that’s what the people want us to do,” said House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R- Colonial Heights).

Brian Coy, a spokesman for McAuliffe said: “I don’t think there’s anything in the governor’s budget proposal that would be just cause for bipartisan cooperation to just completely break down in Virginia government.”

Another Republican insider said, “If we don’t do anything this year,we’re okay with that.”

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.

GOP Shoots Down McAuliffe’s Gun Restrictions

Virginia Republicans are not on board with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s plan to limit who can buy a gun, reports The Washington Post.

His plan, which included the renewal of the state’s once-a-month limit on hand gun purchases and the requirement that buyers at gun shows undergo background checks, were met with praise from gun-control activists who celebrated his position on the polarizing issue.

Additionally, McAuliffe wanted to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of crimes related to domestic assault and taking away permits of parents who are behind on child support payments.

The General Assembly, which is Republican controlled, has shown no tolerance for restricting gun ownership. They say that this package, like McAuliffe’s work on abortion rights and climate change, panders to the left.

“The governor is a pure political animal and always has been,” said Del. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). “This is purely political play on his part. I font think he has any expectation that any of this is viable or defensible. He’s playing to his base on an election year issue that he wrongly believes resonates,” added Gilbert, a criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor.

McAuliffe, who revealed his plan a day after the second anniversary of Sandy Hook, is adamant about finding a compromise on this issue.

Rachel Thomas, a spokeswoman for McAuliffe said, “Keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals and others prone to violence shouldn’t be a political issue, and it won’t become one as long as Virginia leaders put the safety of their constituents ahead of extreme, special interest politics.”

McAuliffe Expected to Present Package of Gun Restrictions.

According to The Washington Post, Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to release a package of gun restrictions, which is to include a renewal of the one-a-month limit on hand gun purchases, as well as the rule that background checks must be performed on buyers at gun  shows.

In addition to these already existing restrictions, McAuliffe is expected to propose that Virginia should keep people convicted of crimes related to domestic abuse away from guns, and that take back permits of people who are late on child-support payments.

The unveiling will come at a speech in Arlington County, just one day after the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

During his campaign last year McAuliffe openly fought for tighter gun control, veering from the message of other Democrats in Virginia. McAuliffe was able to take advantage of the state’s changing demographics and directed his messages of stricter gun control, as well as abortion rights and actions to stop climate change, to liberal and moderate voters.

McAuliffe will undoubtedly run into issue when it comes to convincing the Republican controlled General Assembly to give up any ground on issues pertaining to the Second Amendment. He is hoping that with the recent tragedies of Sandy Hook in 2012 and Virginia Tech in 2007, it would be hard to oppose the measures.


Stimpson Seeks to Replace House Speaker Howell

Susan Stimpson announced Tuesday that she plans on running for a House of Delegates seat next year, reports The Washington Post. The former chairwoman of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors would be running against her one time mentor, and current House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).

Stimpson intends to challenge Howell for the Republican nomination. She hinted at this in an interview last month with The Washington Post but her announcement Tuesday made her plan official.

Howell is one of Richmond’s most influential political figures, making her bid somewhat of a long shot. Her announcement is a representation of of the current divides in the Republican party between “tea-party purists” and more “pragmatic dealmakers”.

“Bill Howell has been a friend, but we have profound policy disagreements,” said Stimpson in a written statement. Once example of these differences is Stimpson’s disapproval of Howell’s support of the tax-heavy, $1.2 billion-a-year transportation funding overhaul that was passed under former governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) in 2013.

Matthew Moran, Howell’s spokesman, said in a statement last month that “The speaker completely respects Susan’s decision to participate in the democratic process [and] believes that competition is healthy.”

New Bill Would Require Colleges to Report Sexual Assaults to Police

Richard L. Saslaw, D-Fairfax, the Virginia state Senate Minority Leader, has began to draft legislation to hold state college and university officials accountable for reporting sexual assault to the authorities, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The legislation is a result of Saslaw’s outrage over the report of an alleged gang rape in 2012 at the University of Virginia. Under this measure, a state employee at a higher education institution would have 24 hours to contact local police after being informed that a sexual assault had taken place. Failure to comply with this would result in up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

“This has got to stop,” said Saslaw, continuing “Those people at U.Va. have no business adjudicating a felony, for God’s sake.” This was one statement in a bigger tirade Saslaw gave at the Falls Church City Council on the event.

Saslaw’s own daughter is an alumni of U. Va., and he said that he had never been more angry than he was after he read the Rolling Stone article that described the rape allegations at the university.

“It didn’t surprise me because this has been going on forever and I got to tell you-I’ve been hearing this crap-and that’s what it is-from U.Va. for the last 40 years,” proclaimed Saslaw. “Let us handle it. We know how to do it. Don’t make us-you know, don’t require us to report this, the women won’t come in.”

Saslaw also claimed that his daughter has consistently told him that women know “the university’s total dedication to sweeping…everything under the rug,” and as a result rarely come forward when they have been sexually assaulted.

Saslaw is hopeful for the success of the bill and stated: “If I can get that thing to the governor, things are going to change.”


Special Election to Fill Rosalyn Dance’s Seat Set for January 6th

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has reported Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, announced that January 6th will be the date for the special election to replace the House of Delegates seat vacated by Del. Rosalyn R. Dance, D-Petersburg.

Dance has represented Virginia’s 63rd District for nearly a decade and last month she won the race for former Sen. Henry L. Marsh III’s seat in the state Senate.

Brian Moore, the Petersburg Mayor, Atiba Muse, Petersburg School Board Member, Rev. Larry D. Brown Sr. and lawyer Joseph E. Preston have all announced their intentions to run to replace Dance.

The January 6th date will allow the district to have representation in time for the start of the 2015 legislative season that begins on January 14th.

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.

Former State Sen. Joseph Benedetti Passes Away at 85

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that on Tuesday Joseph Benedetti, a Republican who represented Richmond and its surrounding suburbs for over a decade in the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate for more than decade, died in his residence at the age of 85.

Mr. Benedetti served as the Senate Republican minority leader before his resignation in 1998 to head the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Although Benedetti was always in the legislature’s minority party, his career tracked a steady growth for the Republicans in the General Assembly during a time when it was dominated by Democrats. Today, Republicans control both chambers.

He was an army combat veteran of the Korean War and was awarded the bronze star. He was also a member of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve and retired as a major.

Mr Benedetti served in a number of important roles in Virginia in addition to his positions in the House of Delegates and State Senate. His service is greatly appreciated and his memory will be honored.