Another Virginia Politician May Be Looking at a 2016 Bid

According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, on Saturday former Gov. Jim Gilmore made hints at a possible presidential bid in 2016 as he laid out his national plan for job creation, tax reform and national security for Virginia Republicans at the annual Donald W. Huffman Advance.

“People are concerned with the future,” Gilmore said at the event, named after the former chairman of Virginia’s GOP.

He continued, “It is our duty as Republicans to make it clear that the free-market system is an ally of the people.” Gilmore now serves as the head of the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative policy organization and was the governor from 1998-2002.

“The growth of the United States’ economy is the only way out of the challenges we face,” proclaimed Gilmore, calling for a cut of both personal and corporate income taxes and an elimination of the estate tax.

Gilmore showed interest for the 2008 GOP nomination, but dropped out in July of 2007 after struggling to raise money. On Saturday he stated that he wouldn’t rule out another run.

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.

Ann Romney to Campaign in Virginia

The Washington Post is reporting that Ann Romney, wife of 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, will make a stop in Virginia Monday to campaign on behalf of Senate hopeful Ed Gillespie and 10th district congressional candidate Barbara Comstock.

Mrs. Romney will make a stop at a “get out the vote” event in Sterling, Va., the middle of the Loudoun suburbs, which contains many independent voters. Former Senator George Allen (R-Va.) will accompany her.

Both Gillespie and Comstock have ties to the Romneys that reach beyond party affiliation. Comstock worked on his presidential bid in 2008, and in 2012 she served as the Virginia campaign co-chair. Gillespie was an advisor for his 2012 campaign.

Mrs. Romney has not been as active on the campaign trail this year as her husband, but she has weighed in on a few races. Most recently, she spoke out on CNN after South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was accidentally called a “whore”. She also tweeted “I stand wit my friend @BarbaraComstock for Congress-lawyer, businesswoman, public servant, Mom-all ‘real jobs,'”  after Comstock’s opponent John Foust questioned her job history.

 

Former Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney Campaigns on Behalf of Brat

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee has been making campaign stops for Dave Brat, the Congressional candidate for Virginia’s 7th District and Tea Party member, reports The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“We need more people in Congress who understand how to grow the economy, who believe in American and who want to make us stronger. That’s why I support Dave,” announced Romney in a Facebook post.

Romney also made a stop on Tuesday evening in support of Barbara Comstock, who is running for Virginia’s 10th district. Comstock served as the head of Romney’s Virginia campaign in 2012.

Romney’s support for both Brat and Comstock also served as an effort to  boost the candidates’ funds right before Tuesday’s midnight fundraising deadline for the third quarter.

Additionally, Romney’s backing helps to reinforce Dave Brat’s claim that he has worked to bring unification to the GOP since he dethroned House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in June’s primaries.

Number of Factors Can Be Contributed to Gillespie’s Lag

Jeff Shapiro of The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a taken a look at the many reasons for Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie’s lag in the the race against incumbent Mark Warner.

Despite a new poll projecting that Gillespie is only 9 points behind Warner, the candidate still has a lot of ground to cover in the next five weeks if he wants to win the election.

In his piece Shapiro contributes Gillespie’s struggle to a number of factors including a lack of funding and poor standing among his own Republican Party, but Shapiro also notes that Gillespie may be the first person to fall victim to the effects of Bob McDonnell’s trial.

For almost five weeks, in a critical point in the campaign, the McDonnell trial blackout news stations with coverage, making it  extremely difficult for Gillespie to get out his story and name. The verdict of the case hurts the GOP candidate as it reaffirms the idea that Republicans are bought and paid for.

Along with the lack of action of campaign finance reform by Republicans puts Gillespie in an unfavorable light. It looks like he will have to do more than equate Warner with Barak Obama  if he wants to start winning public opinion.

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.

 

 

Republican Introduces New Medicinal Marijuana Bill

Virginia Rep. Morgan Griffith (R) recently introduced a bill in Congress that would make medicinal marijuana easier to research, prescribe and use in states with abiding laws.

The four-page bill “would remove the federal obstacle to prescribing and possessing medical marijuana in states where that is legal, such as Virginia,” according to the Washington Post. It would also reclassify the drug, moving it from Schedule I to Schedule II under the Justice Department’s controlled substances list so that it is no longer grouped with harder drugs.

Griffith was inspired by the stories of people with illnesses like epilepsy and cancer who were able to use marijuana medicinally to vastly improve their conditions. Some moved to Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, while others had to obtain it illegally.

“Isn’t it cruel,” Griffith said, “to not allow real doctors, real drug companies and real pharmacists to use marijuana for legitimate medical reasons for real patients? We use all sorts of opioids under the same scenario that this bill would allow us to use marijuana.”

Republicans Take Control of Senate and State Budget

Virginia Republicans are moving forward with a state budget without a Medicaid expansion plan after Sen. Phillip Puckett (D) resigned on Monday.

The resignation created a power shift in the previously stalled General Assembly, giving the Republicans a 20-to-19 majority, allowing them to unexpectedly call the Senate back into session on Thursday, according to the Washington Post. They hope that the can pass the new budget through the Senate and send it to Gov. Terry McAuliffe that same day for his approval.

McAuliffe, who has placed Medicaid expansion as a top priority, has been exploring the possibility of using his executive powers to circumvent the conservative House and Senate to expand Medicaid without legislative approval. His executive power technically encompasses job creation and expanding Medicaid, as well as expanding abortion rights and gay rights. However, the consequences of acting without support from the General Assembly could be extremely damaging for his public image.

Meanwhile, Republicans say that “they will pass a budget without Medicaid expansion before Puckett’s seat is filled,” according to the Washington Post. Even if the budget was stalled until a special election, Puckett’s district now leans much farther right than it did at the time of his election, so the seat will most likely be filled by a Republican.

Now that the Democrats have lost control of the Senate, their only hope is a separate special session that would address Medicaid expansion, according to the Washington Post.

Ryan to Headline GOP Fundraiser in Roanoke

US Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wi)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R) will headline the GOP’s fundraising dinner on June 6 in Roanoke, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

The gala will occur on the first day of the state Republican Convention. During convention, the party will choose their candidate to challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D).

The dinner, called the Commonwealth Gala, includes various levels of sponsorship and allows attendees to brush elbows with some of Virginia’s political elite. For $2,500, one could become a “gala dinner host” and receive four VIP reception tickets, a photo with Rep. Ryan and dinner for 10 guests.

The tickets for the dinner start at $75.