What Does the Close Senate Race Mean for the Future of Virginia Politics?

Eighteen years ago, Mark Warner found himself in a similar situation as his challenger Ed Gillespie is in now, recalls The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

In 1996 Mark Warner lost a race challenging Republican Sen. John W. Warner by 5 percentage points, but this close race allowed Mark Warner and his supporters to remain confident that he had a future in Virginia politics.

Analysts are hinting that the close race between Warner and Gillespie may result in Gillespie having a similar future after losing by fewer than 17,00 votes.

Gillespie’s success energized the state’s Republican party who had lost four straight senate races, two straight presidential elections and suffered a Democratic sweep in 2013 for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Gillespie’s  little financial support from outside of Virginia, lack of experience in running for elected office and no name recognition made it even more surprising that he almost defeated Warner, who had previously enjoyed the luxury of being polled as Virginia’s most popular politician.

Ed Gillespie’s success in his campaign against Warner leaves him poised to have a second act. He now will have his “first pick” if he decided to pursue the Republican nomination for governor in 2017 or to take on a race against U.S. Sen. Timothy Kaine (D) in 2018.


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.



Democratic Primary Candidates Chatman and Levine Release TV Ads in Wake of June 10th Primary

With two weeks left in the Democratic primary race for Virginia’s 8th Congressional District, candidates Lavern Chatman and Mark Levine have released new television ads, reports The Washington Post.

Virginia’s 8th district encompasses Alexandria, Falls Church, Arlington and a portion of Fairfax County.

In Chatman’s debut ad of her campaign she stresses her background and up bringing as a part of Virginia’s working class. The ad also emphasizes Chatman’s goals of raising the minimum wage, women’s health and equal pay.

Levine takes on the Tea Party in his second campaign ad. Armed with his copy of the Constitution, Levine opens saying, “It begins with the ‘We the People’ and the word ‘corporation’ isn’t found anywhere in it.”

The campaign’s front-runner, former ambassador to Switzerland Don Beyer, has also released television ads along with Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille. The races remaining candidates, state Del. Patrick A. Hope, Virginia Tech professor Derek Hyra and state Sen. Adam P. Ebbin have not released any ads.

In an Attempt to Put Spark Back into Campaign, Cuccinelli Shakes Up Staff

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Some senior staff members of Republican Gubernatiorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli had their roles redefined, according to The Virginia Pilot. The announcement came Monday as recent polls indicate that Cuccinelli is trailing behind his opponent, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Cuccinelli staff were given an organization chart that detailed the new duties of Campaign Manager Dave Rexrode, Senior Adviser Chris LaCivita, and Deputy Campaign Manager Meredith Wall. Real Clear Politics average of the last three polls have Cuccinelli trailing McAuliffe by 7 percentage points.

Some see this as an indication that the Cuccinelli campaign is concerned with the recent poll numbers. University of Virginia Political Science Professor Larry Sabato said “you don’t shake up a winning team, you shake up a team when its campaign seems to be losing.” Others, like LaCivita, point out that staff changes like this are typical this late in campaigns.

The Cuccinelli campaign has been plagued by scandals like Gift Gate, causing election

watchers and voters to focus on the bad rather than the plans Cuccinelli intends if elected Governor. Nevertheless, his campaign continues to push Cuccinelli’s long service to Virginia.

It’s too early to tell what effect the shake up will have on the campaign. We’ll have to watch for the latest poll number to see if there is any indication.

State Senator Mark Herring (D-33rd) has Received the Endorsement of Many Republicans

Herring for Attorney General

Herring for Attorney General

As reported by the Loudon Times, the list of Herring supporters includes Republicans such as Purceville Mayor Bob Lazaro and Virginia Lawmakers Russ Potts and Anne Rhodes.

The endorsements are the result of the Herring campaign’s effective efforts to attract moderate and Independent voters and to show Republican opponent State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26th) as an adherent Tea Partier.

In a press call on Wednesday, Potts called Herring the “type of leader Virginia needs” saying “he knows how to set aside partisanship.” Former Virginia Delegate Katherine Waddell also participated in the call, said that Obenshain would “turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights. He sponsored the ‘personhood bill’ with Ken Cuccinelli and he called the transvaginal ultrasound bill ‘common sense legislation’.”

Herring has also received support from interest groups such as the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia AFL-CIO, and the Virginia Association of Realtors. Obenshain touts that he has received the support of 56 Commonwealth attorneys, 22 Independents, and 34 Republicans.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Herring campaign list other Republicans as supporters as well. See the list below:

John Andrews – Former Chair, Loudoun County School Board
L. Preston Bryant, Jr. – Former Member, Virginia House of Delegates
John Chichester –  Former Member, Virginia Senate (President Pro Tempore)
Jim Dillard – Former Member, Virginia House of Delegates
Nicholas Graham – Former Press Secretary, U. S. Senators John Chafee and Olympia Snowe; Former Senior Policy Analyst for the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Former Member, Loudoun County Republican Committee
Jimmy Hazel – Chairman of Virginia FREE, and former Chairman of the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries
Robert Lazaro – Mayor, Town of Purcellville
Michael Pocalyko – Former Member, National Finance Committee for McCain-Palin 2008; Former District Chair, Fairfax County Republican Committee
Russ Potts ­- Former Member, Virginia Senate
Anne “Panny” Rhodes – Former Member, Virginia House of Delegates
Katherine Waddell – Former Member, Virginia House of Delegates; National Board Member, Republican Majority for Choice

National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Endorses McAuliffe

According to the Augusta Free Press, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has received the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), the first ever state officeholders endorsement from NCPSSM. NCPSSM President, Max Richtman, handed McAuliffe a set of boxing gloves and said that McAuliffe would “fight for seniors in Virginia.”

At the roundtable event that took place in McLean, McAuliffe state that he was “pleased to have the support of NCPSSM” and went on to say that “[w]e need to support policies that will ensure our seniors enjoy healthy, happy retirements, such as the Medicaid expansion, investing in home health care, and protecting the Virginia Retirement System.” 

McAuliffe also took the time to launch his proposal for seniors, “Strengthening our Commonwealth by Supporting Virginia Seniors.” Read the plan here

Governor McDonnell Announces “Next Generation of Education and Workforce” Weekend

Brookhaven National Laboratory

After partnering  with the Science Museum of Virginia and Virginia STEM, Governor Bob McDonnell will hold the “Governor’s Next Generation of Education and Workforce Weekend” on September 27-28, 2013 at John Tyler Community College and the Science Museum of Virginia.

The weekend will include the Second Annual Governor’s STEM Summit, Education Innovation Reception, and High School of the Future StartUp.

McDonnell released a statement yesterday about the summit saying “Last year’s STEM Summit focused on the impact of education on economic development. This year, we want to encourage our stakeholders to continue to put these conversations at the forefront of their efforts to prepare students for the high-quality, high-paying jobs of the future.”

At the summit leaders in education, business, and communities across the Commonwealth will engage in the conversation around Virginia’s next steps in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Secretary of Education Laura Fornash responded to the announcement saying “I’m pleased to see Governor McDonnell continue his commitment to STEM education…This type of successful collaboration and continued focus on STEM education will reap dividends for Virginia students and for our economy…”

To register or fore more information visit http://www.education.virginia.gov/.

Does $15.9M Make Friends and Influence People?

Virginian lobbyist reports $15.9 million has been spent in Virginia for the governor’s race alone, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Spending includes expensive steak dinners, hunting trips, vacations and sports tickets, all in the name of making friends and influencing people.

The disclosure laws in Virginia make it difficult to track down exactly who received some of this sum, but we’d put our money on the budget appropriations committee. The Times-Dispatch reports similarly.

Check out this piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch for a sampling of spenders.