Adam Ebbin

#Distraction: Family Foundation Reaction To Today's Pro-Abortion, Homosexual Rights News Conferences

Late this morning, two groups of liberal General Assembly legislators held Capitol Square news conferences heralding their agendas. At the first one, Democrat Senators Donald McEachin and Adam Ebbin, and Democrat Delegate Patrick Hope, promoted the so-called "Equality Agenda" (i.e., homosexual rights). At the second, the so-called Women's Health Care Caucus (i.e., the pro-abortion caucus), led by Democrat Delegates Kaye Kory, Jennifer McClellan and Vivian Watts, and Senators Barbara Favola  and McEachin (he does get around) echoed the abortion industry's taxpayer-funded-abortion-at-any-time-for-any-reason talking points. Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb issued the following statement in reply with an ad lib comment by yours truly:

Fewer Americans are working today than at any point since the Carter administration; but instead of focusing on jobs and the economy, liberals in Virginia have introduced nearly 20 bills dealing with sex and abortion. The Left's attacks on marriage, religious liberty and parental rights won't be distracting enough for Virginians to notice they don’t have jobs (or have lost their health insurance), but they could undermine Governor Terry McAuliffe's claims that he wants to work across party lines and avoid divisive issues.

We've always heard the General Assembly has more important things to do than consider divisive "social issues," especially when there there are so many kitchen table problems to solve. That said . . . can anyone say #distraction?

Primary Thoughts

Now that the dust has settled — not from the earthquake (another aftershock of 4.5 magnitude at 1:00 a.m. with possibly more in the offing) — but from Virginia's General Assembly primary season, some thoughts. First, although my prediction on Monday concerned the general election, it already has taken an embryonic form. It was an exceptional night for conservatives in numerous Republican Senate primaries, yet barely a whisper emanated from the mainstream media about this revolution. Throw in a previously held nomination contest in Hampton Roads as well as some conservatives who were unopposed. it's almost a lock that whether the GOP wins the Senate or not, its caucus, already trending to the right, may become nearly aligned with its House counterparts. But not all media are ignoring this trend or letting it slip them by. John Gizzi at Human Events recognizes it and is one of the few national columnists to trumpet the results.

If the GOP does win control of the Virginia Senate, not only will the caucus have a decidedly different philosophical bent from its past leaders, the likes of Ben Loyola, Jeff Frederick, Dick Black, Bill Carrico and Tom Garrett, among others, joining Mark Obenshain, Steve Martin, Jill Vogel and company, will create a dynamic not ever seen in Virginia history. The possibilities should jump start all ends of the conservative coalition, from social conservatives to limited government advocates, into a turbocharged grassroots effort this fall for an unprecedented opportunity — delivering both chambers of the General Assembly into conservative stewardship.

As for specific highlights: Turnout wasn't great, and there was the earthquake to deal with, but 10 percent turnout was not unexpected. What was shockingly appalling was the 2.5 percent turnout in the Southwestern 21st district. Delegate Dave Nutter took a late gamble by forsaking his safe House seat very late in the process (Roanoke Times), after denying he was interested, and jumped into the Senate race, defeating Tea Party backed Tripp Godsey. He will have to not only gain the Tea Party's enthusiastic backing, but energize a slew of activists to work hard for him to defeat entrenched liberal incumbent John Edwards. In what is still a blue district, Delegate Nutter now has even more work cut out for him.

Speaking of blue districts, now that he's won the 30th district Democrat primary, say hello to Senator Adam Ebbin. More reason than ever to turn the Senate conservative: As left as there is this side of Europe, Mr. Ebbin in the Senate majority will be able to advance every left-wing cause he advocated for in the House, but which met merciful deaths there.

In the hotly contested, newly drawn very red 22nd Senate district, where five Republicans went at it, Louisa County Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Garrett won. Some have asked whether it's a coincidence or irony that the 22nd was the epicenter of Tuesday's earthquake, as hard fought as it was. Bryan Rhode proved good looks, youth and a lot of money can't overcome among GOP voters a perceived slight to then-Attorney General Candidate Ken Cuccinelli (Lynchburg News & Advance).

Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Virginia establishment got crushed by the former state party chairman it ousted. Despite former U.S. Senator George Allen and other establishment Republicans endorsing opponent Tito Munoz, Jeff Frederick won the 36th district easily (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star). Lesson for the party royalty: Opposing Jeff Frederick typically leads to his success. He is the supremo at channeling establishment opposition into intense grassroots insurgencies that make said opposition look clueless.

Another loser — Bearing Drift. Perhaps the most influential and most read Virginia conservative political blog, and very dear friends, its endorsed candidates in the four highest profile and contested primaries took a beating — five if you consider the fact that it endorsed Rhode and Mark Peake in the 22nd, hedging its bets. The winner: Social and grassroots conservatives. In many races, all candidates had certified conservative bona fides and other factors came into play, notably, experience and electability. The latter taking in many considerations, such as residence and community involvement and name identification in the most populous portions of the district, for example.

What about the Tea Party? A surprise during the filing period was that the expected shoe did not drop on many GOP incumbents. Only one, caucus leader Tommy Norment of the 3rd district, received a challenge. Instead, Tea Party backed candidates (really, the old-line movement/grassroots conservatives) went another route, gunning instead for newly redistricted and open seats. By and large, they were successful.

Orwellian: Saving Babies Is An "Attack On Women's Health"

The pro-abortion forces in Virginia are nothing if not masters at hyperbole. That, or downright Orwellian. Today, they held a news conference at the General Assembly Building to reinforce their message of choice since their stunning defeat on the abortion center regulation bill: That limiting abortions, and thus saving the most innocent among us, is "an attack on women's health." Among attendees were a who's who of the General Assembly pro-abortion crowd: Senators Donald McEachin and Mary Margaret Whipple; and Delegates Patrick Hope, David Englin, Jennier McClellan, Scott Surovell, Adam Ebbin, Onzlee Ware, Vivian Watts and Charniele Herring — the so-called "Reproductive Health Caucus." They were joined not only by Planned Parenthood and NARAL, but by the ACLU and the League of Women's Voters, whose representative enthusiastically gave herself a shout-out when Delegate Herring failed to recognize her. What abortion "rights" has to do with registering women to vote is anyone's guess, but that moment was the most exciting thing at what had to be the most uneventful news conference in General Assembly history — nothing more than introductions, a statement by Delegate Herring, and a story by a woman whose situation was not relevant to the exchanges. Not even a question by one of the two or three members of the press who attended. Even the distributed prepared press statements were boring. Sorry, but no video, excerpted quotes, nor links worth citing. Even Planned Parenthood's e-mail alert left a lot to be desired. An indication that the tide is turning? We'll find out tomorrow when our electeds vote to sustain or reject two pro-life amendments passed down by Governor Bob McDonnell: One, to HB 2434, to prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion in the new state health insurance exchanges mandated by the federal healthcare law; and another, a budget amendment, restoring abstinence education funding that former Governor Tim Kaine eliminated.

These votes promise to be very close in the Senate tomorrow during the "Veto Session." Please contact your senator Wednesday morning and ask him or her to vote for each.

Click here if you know your senator and need his or her phone number.

Click here if you don’t know who your senator is.

Meanwhile, here's more coverage on the health insurance exchange amendment, from the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot (here) and below, from WTVR-TV/CBS6 in Richmond. Both feature comments from Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb.

Another Morning In Committee, HWI Passes Abortion Center Regulation Bill

This morning the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee passed by a bipartisan vote of 16-6, a Family Foundation priority bill, HB 393, patroned by Delegate Matt Lohr (R-26, Harrisonburg). The bill would require abortion centers to be licensed, pass an annual inspection and have life-saving equipment, such as defibrillators, on site. Despite an attempt by Delegate David Englin (D-45, Alexandria) to water down the bill with a substitute that would’ve needlessly regulated already regulated medical specialties; and a battery of questions from some of the General Assembly’s most liberal members, such as Delegates Englin, Adam Ebbin (D-49, Arlington), freshman Patrick Hope (D-47, Arlington) and Lionell Spruill (D-77, Chesapeake); and testimony from Planned Parenthood and NARAL lobbyists, Delegate Lohr and committee allies such as freshman Delegate Scott Garrett (R-23, Lynchburg), a doctor, refuted each and every one of their misleading assertions.

Joining all 14 committee Republicans in voting for the bill were two Democrats: Delegates Algie Howell (D-90, Norfolk) and Joe Morrissey (D-74, Henrico). Unfortunately, however, Delegate Mamye BaCote (D-95, Newport News), who voted for the bill the last time it was introduced in 2008, flipped her vote to no. The bill now goes to the House floor Monday, January 25.

Sine Die

The end of session is upon us. Session is unlike anything I know. It is intense, hard, extremely long (even in "short sessions") has gruelling hours, and you get by almost only on adrenaline. But it is immensely fun (with a good share of laughs) and rewarding — rewarding in that you know you are fighting the good fight for the right causes and rewarding in the relationships you build with all types of people from across the Commonwealth, whether liberal or conservative. It's the ultimate — and original and real — network. For example, who would have thought Delegate David Englin (D-45, Alexandria) and I could share a laugh in a sub-committee, sitting on patron's row of all places (committee room front rows reserved for bill patrons), about how I helped defeat one of his bills? We may criticize him here, but at least now we spell his name right (it's David, not Dave).

This truly has been the session of odd alliances and strange bedfellows. We even worked with or had constructive talks with Delegates Englin and Adam Ebbin (D-49, Alexandria) on matters where we have mutual concern, such as human trafficking.

Traditionally, this is the night of the Sine Die party ("sine die" being the Latin phrase used to conclude a parliamentary session). It's held at a local microbrewery, where delegates, senators, their staffs, lobbyists, reporters and other assorted types (no doubt some bloggers may sneak in) congregate for a session-ending night of fellowship. Yes, they still have a day left, and some years they've been in session during the party only to get out in time to make the last part of it. Breaking news, though: The House just adjourned and I expect great attendance in just a few hours.

Sine Die is a great way to get to know all involved in the legislative process away from the battle ground of the GAB and capitol, a culmination of the weekly Thursday Night Caucus get-togethers. Making friends, even with those with whom you are philosophically opposed, pays dividends down the line.

Two sessions back I was having a great time at Sine Die when our president  surprised me and showed up. All was great and we even got a normally quiet senator to open up and share some humor. It was getting late and I was looking forward to a long-overdue sleep-in. Then a delegate engaged us and, after a great discussion, he asked for some last-second help on a bill. The boss volunteered me to come down to Saturday's final session. Other than that it was already 11:00 at that point and knowing I had to be up at 6:00, it was a blast.

Session does allow you to develop relationships in a non-business circumstances and normally they're worthwhile — except when one senator reamed me out with false accusations of running negative ads against him. (We don't run ads. We're not a PAC and we're not allowed.) Still, I've met lobbyists, legislative assistants and others who have told me they admire what we do, and wish they could speak up but, as with the for-profit lobbyists, they have no dogs in our hunts. Knowing they are there, though, is reassuring and helpful in its own way.

Tonight is for fun, trading stories, learning some inside scoop. The next weeks will be for decompressing and reorganizing, and self examining. In time, we'll prepare for next session. That's then. This is now. For now . . .  

Sine Die.