Governor Terry McAuliffe

Urge Override Of Governor McAuliffe’s Vetoes!

Recently, Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed two bills that would protect religious liberty: SB 236, a bill that would protect the free speech rights of public school students; and SB 555, a bill that would have prohibited government censorship of military chaplain sermons. Both passed with large bipartisan majorities, including a unanimous vote in the Senate for SB 555! The General Assembly will hold its annual "veto session," where it reviews vetoes and amendments to bills, on Wednesday, April 23:

Please urge your senators and delegates to vote to override the governor's vetoes of SB 236 and SB 555 (click the links to find their contact information). If you don't know who your legislators are, click here.

SB 236, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), would create "limited public forums" at certain public school events. Limited public forums restrict the schools from censoring speech simply because it is from a faith perspective. The schools can still "limit" the speech to the matter at hand; for example, a graduation speech still has to be about graduating, but it can contain statements about the importance of faith. The bill also protects students' rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as "see you at the pole" gatherings and wear clothing with religious expressions.

Students in our public schools shouldn't be treated as a second-class citizen simply because their viewpoint is motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have. It is tragic that in Virginia, the birthplace of religious freedom, Governor McAuliffe has chosen to listen to the ACLU and has trampled on the right of Virginia's students to simply express their beliefs.

SB 555, patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), prohibited state government from censoring sermons given by chaplains in the Virginia National Guard and Virginia Defense Force. This reasonable, common sense measure passed the Senate in January 37-0! The governor's explanation for vetoing the bill is a remarkable misunderstanding of the actual definition of a chaplain.

Overriding a governor's veto requires two-thirds support from both chambers, meaning that 27 members of the Senate and 67 members of the House of Delegates have to vote for an override.

At what point do we finally say, enough is enough? Our God-given, inalienable right to exercise our faith, live according to our conscience, and speak truth to culture is in serious jeopardy if we allow people like Terry McAuliffe to dictate what we can and cannot do in the public square.

Your legislators, regardless of party, need to hear from you. They need to know that you are not going to stand for this type of discrimination any longer! Please act today:

Contact your senators and delegates today and ask them to override Governor McAuliffe's vetoes of SB 236 and SB 555 at the upcoming April 23 Veto Session.

Pass A Clean Budget! Sign The Petition.

As was predicted for weeks, the General Assembly was not be able to come to an agreement on a state budget prior to leaving Richmond on Saturday. Governor Terry McAuliffe and a majority of senators have made adopting a budget contingent on expanding Obamacare, putting Virginia's economic well-being at risk. Already, far-left organizations like moveon.org are spending millions of dollars to rhetorically assault legislators taking a stand against Obamacare. We need to counter the Left's efforts by doing all we can to stand with those lawmakers who are standing for us!

One simple way you can make your voice heard is by signing the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/.

Even many of those who support the expansion of Obamacare, such as the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, have urged the governor and senate to decouple the budget from that debate. Holding state government, local governments, schools and, more importantly, the taxpayers of Virginia hostage because they know they don't have the votes to expand the failure that is Obamacare places an already fragile economy in peril.

Sixty-four members of the House of Delegates and 17 members of the Virginia Senate rejected the expansion of Obamacare. They need to know that we stand with them! Please sign the petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com/ so that they know you want a clean budget with no expansion of Obamacare.

It's unfortunate, but we are seeing more and more of Washington, D.C. style politics coming to Virginia. If the Left can't win the debate with facts and reason — which aren't on its side — it resorts to politically motivated scare tactics and rhetorical bludgeoning. Those who understand the dire straits our Republic is in because of our ever growing $17 trillion debt are painted as "uncaring" and not in favor of health care for those who are disadvantaged! The truth is that Medicaid is the least effective way of providing care to those in need and Obamacare has prevented us from having a real debate over how to fix our health care system.

The first step is to sign the petition. We are currently planning other ways by which you'll be able to make your voice heard regarding this important issue. Stay tuned for more details in the coming days!

Urge Governor To Protect Student Free Speech Rights!

The General Assembly recently passed SB 236, a priority for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events. The House of Delegates passed the bill by a vote of 64-34.  Earlier this session the bill passed the Virginia Senate 20-18. The bill is now awaiting action by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Unfortunately, the governor has indicated that he is likely to veto this reasonable legislation that simply ensures that religious speech is treated by our public schools exactly like any other type of speech.

Please contact Governor McAuliffe and urge him to sign SB 236, protecting the free speech rights of public school students!

Hostility to simply expressing one’s faith in the public square is becoming more and more prevalent. A student in our public schools shouldn’t be treated as a second class citizen simply because their viewpoint is motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have. And while some opponents to the bill argue that such speech is already protected, they also argue that allowing students to express their faith could be seen as "coercive" and "offensive" to those who don’t share that faith. In such cases, the government is supposed to be "neutral," but those who oppose bills like SB 236 desire no such neutrality. They desire silencing of faith perspectives and adherence to secular dogma.

Recently, my piece explaining why SB 236 is necessary and what it actually does appeared in The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.

The bill, patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), is based on federal court precedent and existing law in at least two other states. Opposition comes primarily from the ACLU and the education establishment.

Please contact Governor McAuliffe and urge him to sign SB 236, protecting the free speech rights of public school students!

McAuliffe Dealt Setback: Senate Upholds Conscience Protection!

Earlier today, the Democrat-controlled Senate defeated Governor Terry McAuliffe's amendment to SB 330, an amendment that would have seriously weakened conscience protections included in a bill providing for the licensing of genetic counselors. The vote was 23-17 with Democrat Senators Chuck Colgan, Phil Puckett and Chap Petersen joining all 20 Republicans in protecting the right of conscience. The Family Foundation would like to thank Senators Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), Dick Black (R-13, Leesburg), and Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) who stood and spoke in opposition to the anti-conscience amendment. Special thanks goes to Senator Tom Garrett (R-22, Louisa) who articulated the legal liabilities of the amendment and to Senator Bill Stanley (R-20, Franklin) who questioned the patron of the bill, Senator Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), regarding the genesis of the amendment. Senator Stanley asked Senator Howell if she was comfortable with the initial language of her bill which passed the Senate 38-0. The considerably far-left senator responded that she was "perfectly comfortable" with the conscience clause language the way it was prior to the governor's amendment.

Continuing to prove how out of touch he is with mainstream Virginia, Governor McAuliffe showed today that he is also out of touch with even the most "progressive" leaders of his own party. He bowed to pressure from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and was reminded by the 23-17 vote that his radical agenda will not be approved even in the Senate simply because he has a "D" behind his name.

The passage of SB 330 without the governor's anti-conscience amendments is a great benchmark for conscience rights in Virginia. If genetic counselors can be protected from being forced to violate their conscience, it follows that all other professions should receive equal protection. Today's vote proves that the freedom of conscience is not a right-wing issue or even a Christian issue — it is about freedom of conscience for all.

We are also very appreciative of our colleagues at the Virginia Catholic Conference, which again worked so hard with us over the past several days on this amendment, as well as the representatives of the genetic counselors who were willing to work with us to protect the conscience rights of their clients. Thanks, also, to all of you who contacted your senators to vote no on this significant legislative action. It does make a difference and your voices are heard.

T-Mac Chili eating

Governor McAuliffe will have to chew on this legislative defeat.

If There's A War On Women, There Aren't Many Fighting It

Last week I commented on a new CBS News/New York Times poll that reveals some interesting attitudes of Americans on abortion as well as several other issues. Here's a more detailed look at the numbers, which are real eye openers. The poll, which was conducted February 14-19 on a number of topics, surveyed about 1,500 registered voters nationwide. Registered voters, as opposed to likely voters, are a more liberal universe. Additionally, the poll was weighted +7 percent Democrat. A plurality of those polled, 38 percent, were independents. Despite this, it showed that a significant majority of Americans — 61 percent — support stricter limits and/or an outright ban on abortion.

Of those, 40 percent favor stricter limits on abortion and 21 percent favor an outright ban on abortion. Even 42 percent of Democrats support either stricter limits on abortion or an outright ban — 26 percent  favor stricter limits and 16 favor at least an outright ban.

This must be a gut punch to the Left. It has tried to convince the country that the country doesn't believe what, in reality, the country actually believes. Even a sizable chunk of Democrats favor restrictions on abortion on demand.

Ouch! 

If there's a "War On Women," there aren't many engaged in battle. Before the other side continues its propaganda and smear campaign about a "war," it should at least recruit a few troops of its own.

Even more telling is that since the "War On Women" was invented in January of 2012, the number of people who favor at least restrictions on abortion has stayed about the same: 60 percent then, 61 percent now. The number of those who believe there should be tighter restrictions on abortion has risen from 31 percent last year to 40 percent this year, and from 35 percent in 2012.

As for Republicans, 77 percent support stricter limits on abortion or an outright ban on abortion, 50 percent of which favor stricter limits, while 27 percent favor an outright ban. Meanwhile, politicians take note: 64 percent of the chosen ones of the body politic, independents, support restrictions or an outright ban on abortion — 46 percent favor stricter limits and 18 percent favor an outright ban.

Some other numbers to consider (remember the skew of the poll):

* President Obama's approval rating is only 41 percent overall, with a majority disapproving of his performance. 53 percent of independents disapprove of his performance.

* Only 10 percent of the country is "very satisfied" with the Obama presidency.

* A whopping 79 percent describe Washington politics as "dissatisfied" or "angry" — a number Virginia Democrats in Richmond should take notice of since they and Governor Terry McAuliffe are bent on a state government shutdown until General Assembly Republicans agree to extend Obamacare. 

* More for the Left to ponder: Only 6 percent say Obamacare is working. 

* A substantial majority prefers to return to the pre-Obamacare system than continue under the new law. Super majorities oppose the individual mandate tax.

* Two-thirds believe the definition of marriage should be left up to the states.

 

Senate Votes Today On Conscience Protection

On Tuesday, bowing to pressure from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, Governor Terry McAuliffe amended SB 330, a genetic counseling bill, to weaken its excellent conscience protection language. Early today, the Senate will take up this amendment on the floor and vote on it.

Contact your senator now and ask him or her to vote NO on the governor's amendment to SB 330.

The story behind this amendment goes back a few months. This past summer, the lobbyists for the genetic counselors approached The Family Foundation with a draft of a bill to license genetic counselors in Virginia. We appreciated them coming to us prior to session to discern our impression of the bill and to see if we had any concerns. We decided to remain neutral on the topic of licensing genetic counselors, but we strongly encouraged the addition of a conscience clause to protect them from being forced to participate in counseling against their deeply held moral or religious beliefs.

The genetic counselors agreed to the conscience language and a bill was drafted that all parties agreed upon. In fact, the language was so universally-accepted, both the identical House and Senate versions passed unanimously in the evenly-divided Senate and with sweeping margins in the House.

Governor McAuliffe signed HB 612, patroned by Delegate Roxann Robinson (R-27, Chesterfield), with the strong conscience protection language and it became law. But before SB 330, patroned by Senator Janet Howell (D-32, Reston), got to Governor McAuliffe's desk, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood woke up from their slumber, decided the conscience clause was unacceptable, and urged the governor to amend the language. Bowing to the pressure of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, he added an amendment to SB 330 which guts the conscience clause. This is particularly frustrating because the bills as drafted have the overwhelming support of both chambers, the genetic counselors didn't ask for the amendment and, not to mention, Governor McAuliffe already signed HB 612! The only holdup is the ACLU and Planned Parenthood who were late to the party.

 Please contact your senator now and urge a vote for conscience and reject the governor's amendment to SB 330).

Will Session End On Time?

When the House of Delegates and Senate passed their respective budgets several days ago, the most glaring difference between the two, as anticipated, was the two chambers' approaches to Medicaid expansion. To wit, Obamacare in Virginia. The Senate included expanding Obamacare in its budget despite agreement last year with the House that the issue would be kept separate from the budget so it wouldn't become a stumbling block to passing a future budget. The agreement consisted of the creation of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, which has the authority to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning expansion. Its charter is to formulate necessary reforms for the abuse- and fraud-ridden program that state and federal governments must accept before Medicaid expansion gets anywhere near a floor vote for approval.

MIRC has yet, after almost a year's work, to draft its recommendations for reform. Instead, it continued its efforts for another year. Despite last year's agreement and MIRC's continuation, three Senate Republicans — John WatkinsWalter Stosch and Emmett Hanger — joined all 20 Democrats to passing the Senate budget with Medicaid expansion in it. The Senate and Governor Terry McAuliffe want to backtrack on last year's arrangement and want Obamacare expanded immediately.

To emphasize its position, House Republicans offered a budget floor amendment, modeled after the Senate expansion plan. It promptly went down 67-32. House Republicans have maintained that it would be irresponsible to expand Obamacare because future costs would be so great that it could cripple the state budget.

They also argue that the program is wrought with inefficiency and fraud and have proposed a first-ever outside audit before any expansion can take place. By example, former Governor Tim Kaine refused a VDOT audit for his four years and closed rest stops and other unnecessary cuts. After he left office, the audit House Republicans sought finally took place and revealed more than $1 billion in waste. There's no telling how much waste an audit of Medicaid would uncover since it is much larger than VDOT — about 21 percent of Virginia's budget and growing fast.

Most insiders in Richmond believe that the battle over Obamacare expansion will leave the state without a budget well into spring, if not longer. A new budget must be adopted by June 30 or state government could theoretically "shut down" July 1. Governor McAuliffe has stated that he intends to veto any budget sent to him that does not include Obamcare expansion and willingly shut down state government in order to get his way — not this session's much referenced, bipartisan-and-honor-your-agreements buzz phrase, "Virginia Way." That means police and fire departments without funding, teachers without pay and roads unpaved, among other disruptions.

A few days after the House passed its budget, reports surfaced that that Governor McAuliffe threatened vetoes of legislators' unrelated bills if they didn't go along with expansion,  something his office quickly denied. But delegates took to the floor later to recount the governor's bullying tactics and threats.

The House and Senate remain in conference in an attempt to settle their budget differences. But if conferees cannot come up with a solution before March 8, the General Assembly will have to adjourn without a budget — an unprecedented scenario that is growing more likely by the hour during this last week of session. Also, should a budget not pass, or a budget pass without the continuation of the MIRC, some believe that the governor will unilaterally expand Obamacare. That action could result in litigation, leaving it up to Attorney General Mark Herring to choose sides on the issue.

If it all sounds like Washington style politics and not "The Virginia Way," you're right. It's what many predicted during the campaign if Governor McAuliffe was elected. Be prepared to watch this battle go on well into the spring, and beyond.

Virginia, and "The Virginia Way," isn't for shutdowns. But it may come to that. 

McAuliffe Hires Health Inspectors . . . For Abortion Centers?

For the past several years, a hiring freeze has been in place for the Commonwealth of Virginia requiring that the governor's chief of staff approve hiring for any position. Late Friday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the McAuliffe administration has decentralized that process and granted the decision making authority for hiring to his cabinet. Explaining the rationale for this move, Governor Terry McAuliffe's spokesman stated that the decision was made:

to facilitate hiring for positions that are critical to Virginia communities including health inspectors, mining safety inspectors and other key positions that are essential to the workings of state government.

I'm pleased to learn that Governor McAuliffe recognizes the critical importance of having a sufficient number of health inspectors to ensure licensed health care facilities comply with regulatory requirements for patient safety.

Now that we know the governor shares our belief that patient safety at Virginia's licensed health care facilities is of paramount importance, we'll have to wait and see how committed he is to that belief. Will he permit these newly hired health inspectors inspect Virginia's licensed abortion centers or will he cave to pressure from Planned Parenthood to limit inspections? Will he side with Virginia's women and ensure that these abortion centers meet basic health standards or with Planned Parenthood? Time will tell.

I would like to believe Governor McAuliffe meant that all health inspectors are critical, but I fear his opinion will be selective. After all, he has $1,199,120 reasons to oppose the safety inspection of abortion centers. That is the amount of money Planned Parenthood Votes directly donated to his campaign.

Religious Liberty Bill Passes House, Education Bills Pass Senate Committee

Yesterday, the House of Delegates passed SB 236, a bill for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events, on a vote of 64-34. The bill now heads to Governor Terry McAuliffe. Patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), SB 236 simply ensures that religious speech is treated by our public schools exactly like any other type of speech. The Charlottesville Daily Progress' editorial page sees it exactly that way, as well. Unfortunately, the governor has indicated that he is likely to veto this reasonable legislation (see Roanoke Times).

Such hostility to simply expressing one's faith in the public square is becoming more and more prevalent. Students in our public schools shouldn't be treated as a second class citizens simply because their viewpoints are motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have. While some opponents to the bill argue that such speech is already protected, they also argue that allowing students to express their faith could be seen as "coercive" and "offensive" to those who don't share that faith.

In such cases, the government is supposed to be "neutral," but those who oppose bills like SB 236 desire no such neutrality. They desire silencing of faith perspectives and adherence to secular dogma. Our hope is that Governor McAuliffe will be willing to meet with us so we can explain why this bill is a good idea and why it's necessary.

Committee work is quickly coming to completion as we approach scheduled Sine Die next Saturday. Monday will be the last day for committees to pass legislation. This morning, the Senate Education and Health Committee passed a number of good education-related bills. One, HB 258, protects students' free speech rights on college campuses by prohibiting public colleges from isolating rallies, forums and even every day expression in so-called "free speech zones," which are anything but, and often are located in far flung areas of campus.

Another, HB 197, requires public school teachers to use supplementary materials that properly teach the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other key foundational documents. These two bills now head to a vote on the Senate floor in the next few days. Delegates Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge) and Steve Landes (R-25, Verona) carried the two bills, respectively, and with Senator Carrico, did outstanding work on each of these issues.

Will Governor McAuliffe come to understand Senator Carrico's bill and sign it after all?

Student Religious Liberty Bill In House Committee Monday Morning!

On Monday morning, the House Education Committee will vote on SB 236, a priority for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events. Its patron is Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), a longtime defender of religious liberty in the General Assembly. Curiously, the bill has caught the attention of Governor Terry McAuliffe. Based on existing law in two states that has not been challenged in the courts, Senator Carrico's bill would create what the law calls "limited public forums" at certain public school events, which restrict schools from censoring subject matter simply because it is from a faith perspective. The schools can still "limit" the speech to the matter at hand; for example, a graduation speech must be about graduating, but it can contain statements about the importance of faith, etc.

The bill also protects students' rights to organize prayer groups, have events such as "see you at the pole" gatherings, wear clothing with religious expression, and he like. The bill is based on federal court precedent.

Opposition to a similar House bill earlier this session was fierce and misleading. Coming from the ACLU and other groups, the opposition claimed that the bill was an attempt to circumvent Supreme Court rulings concerning school prayer, but the bill isn't really about school prayer — it's about freedom of speech and association. Opponents also expressed concern that the bill could be "dangerous" and that it is certain to cause lawsuits. But that assertion is baseless. The law has existed in two states for several years but has not elicited lawsuits.

ACTION: Please click here for members of the House Education Committee and urge their support of SB 236 on Monday! 

 

Taking A Stand

On Monday afternoon, the House of Delegates passed a bill by a vote of 65-32 that would give legislators "standing" in federal court to defend the laws of the Commonwealth not defended by the attorney general. The bill, HB 706, patroned by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), was introduced well before the unprecedented decision by Attorney General Mark Herring to not only not defend Virginia's Marriage Amendment, but to join the case in opposition to the commonwealth. During floor debate, Democrats continued to misrepresent Attorney General Herring's actions, claiming that it is similar to that of former Attorneys General who did not defend a state law. But in those cases, as is customary in Virginia, the attorneys general in question appointed outside counsel to represent the state; otherwise, the governor appointed counsel. The Code of Virginia allows the attorney general to refuse to defend a law where there is a conflict of interest or economic considerations, and is not unusual.

What is unusual is an attorney general who refuses to defend the state constitution, refuses to appoint outside counsel and, further, joins the case in opposition to the constitution. That's unprecedented. Since Governor Terry McAuliffe refuses to act as well, Virginians are without statewide counsel. It's akin to a defense attorney refusing to defend his client and, instead, walks across the aisle and joins the prosecutor. It's dereliction of duty, purposefully negligent and unethical.

No Democrat during the debate, or anyone anywhere for that matter, has yet pointed to a case where this has ever happened. House Democrats refused even to acknowledge a difference between not defending a law and joining the plaintiff's lawsuit against the commonwealth.

Joining the Democrats in misrepresenting the actions of Attorney General Herring are most of Virginia's newspaper editorial boards. The lack of objective and clear reporting on the issue reveals not simply partisanship, but a pathological obsession with advancing the cause of same-sex marriage at any cost. Apparently, attacking Virginians as hateful bigots simply because they believe that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman for the benefit of children isn't enough; secular liberals in office and on the editorial pages have to lie about anything related to the issue as well.

Luckily, some are standing up for the rule of law. A Washington Post op-ed from Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers makes a compelling case for attorneys general defending laws they view as unjust because in their role as chief legal officer of states, they shouldn't have "litigation veto" over laws legally adopted.

Photo: Attorney General Herring, defend our laws!</p><br />
<p>Sign the Petition: http://bit.ly/1fmnerl</p><br />
<p>Like & Share!</p><br />
<p>For more ways to contact AG Herring, visit www.familyfoundation.org/ag_marriage

Mark Herring: Upholds his hand, but not the Virginia Constitution.

Video: Conservative Caucus News Conference

The Virginia General Assembly Conservative Caucus held a news conference yesterday to highlight its 2014 agenda. Its House chairman, Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), led the event and was joined by two freshman colleagues: Delegates Mark Berg (R-29, Winchester) and Dave LaRock (R-33, Hamilton), each of whom have hit the ground running with bold legislation. Delegate Cline said:

The Virginia Conservative Caucus is putting forward a positive agenda that addresses the challenges facing working individuals and families across the commonwealth. Virginians have stated that they want to see more jobs created by businesses, lower taxes and commonsense, efficient government. We know real solutions are what Virginia families are demanding from their government, and we are reflecting that demand in our agenda.

The Conservative Caucus is comprised of approximately 70 members in both the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate. Its Senate chairman is Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg). It focuses on three areas of public policy: job creation and opportunity; strengthening and protecting families; and limiting government and defending freedom; and annually releases a legislative agenda featuring dozens of bills across all three areas.

Delegate Cline highlighted his HB 1243, a bill to reduce the state corporate income tax rate from six to five percent to generate job creation. Delegate LaRock featured his HB 950, a bill to provide a homeschool and private school income tax credit to foster education choice and competition; and Delegate Berg, a doctor, unveiled his HB 338, a bill to restrict the State Corporation Commission's functions with the federal Obamacare health care exchanges.

In addition to its agenda of positive bills, and his promise to work with Governor Terry McAuliffe on areas of mutual agreement, Delegate Cline also emphasized promised to "resist Medicaid expansion strongly." He said, "It makes no sense to expand a program to cover an additional 400,000 Virginians that currently serves 800,000" by inceasing by 139 percent the definition of poverty. Here is the video of the entire news conference:

The Virginia Conservative Caucus announces its 2014 General Assembly legislative agenda. 

Stone Cold Quote Of The Day

The House General Laws Committee today welcomed Levar Stoney, the Secretary of the Commonwealth-designate, in what amounts to a confirmation hearing. Normally, these are non-events. But Mr. Stoney's background isn't ordinary. He is only 32 and already has carved out a name for himself as a highly partisan Democrat political operative. He previously served as the political and executive director of the Democrat Party of Virginia. He was Governor Terry McAuliffe's the deputy campaign director. In 2004, at age 23, he was part of John Kerry's Wisconsin campaign and was questioned by police in a major case of vandalism perpetuated by Democrats who slashed the tires of several Republican get-out-the-vote vans in Milwaukee. Although he apparently did not participate in the event or its planning, he was aware of it, and refused to cooperate. He told the police that his party and friends came first. Eventually, Mr. Stoney did testify and helped gain the convictions of the defendants.

Committee members, who were generally warm to Mr. Stoney, gently questioned him about his past and gave him the opportunity to set the record straight, offer a mea culpa, and pledge to put partisanship aside when he takes his oath of office to serve all Virginians — a seemingly conflicting concept for the cabinet officer whose primary duty is to find and screen the estimated 3,600 appointments the governor makes in his four years to boards and commissions. After the questions directed at his past, Delegate Luke Torian (D-52, Dumfries) asked him what he had learned over the few weeks preparing for the job. Mr. Stoney, motioning toward the Republican side of the dais, replied that he wants to be bipartisan. Sure enough, he has appointed two Republicans to serve under him, and said:

Driving to and visiting your offices to meet you, I've learned that you all are not that bad! 

To which Committee Chairman Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) zinged:

That's not what that one and a half million dollars in mailers you sent out said . . . Delegate Yost, did his mailers say you 'weren't that bad'"?

Delegate Joseph Yost (R-12, Pearisburg) was the victim of a particularly horrible attack mailer that brought up his wife's miscarriage. Neither state Democrats, his opponent or the McAuliffe campaign, which funded a large part of House Democrat attack pieces, never apologized.

In the end, it was a cautious love fest, with Republicans willing to give the new governor his appointee, although no vote was taken. It does prove one thing. Memories don't have to be long to be effective. House Rs, as welcoming as they were to Mr. Stoney, were not going to let him get away with boiler plate and platitudes. While most cabinet appointees have built a career of expertise and accomplishment, and are expected to live up to their reputations in government, delegates and senators will expect Mr. Stoney live down his.

 

The Scorpion Tongue Guv And Another QOD

As I wrote earlier, Governor Terry McAuliffe made an engaging appearance last night at former Senator and current Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle's annual chili cook-off. He greeted and spoke with all who approached him, sampled the chili and awarded the judges' winners their awards. One of the awards was to Republican activist Wayne Ozmore, whose "Scorpion and Ghost Pepper Chili" easily won the award for the hottest chili. I have braved Wayne's chili in the past and bravely finished the cup-size serving. This year, he outdid himself. One spoon and it was no mas for me and most others. He detailed his recipe to me. All I can remember is that it was loaded with every type of blistering spice known to man and topped with brown sugar to effect a delayed heat explosion, obliterating your taste buds well past any point of recall. It took a hamburger size roll, two bottles of water and about 15 minutes to recondition my tongue and try another contestant's chili.

But the governor must have iron taste buds. When Wayne approached to accept his award, T-Mac boasted that he ate his entire cup of "Scorpion and Ghost Pepper Chili," and asked if any other governor had ever done so. (I don't recall too many governors attending the event.) Wayne responded with a Quote of the Day to a room full of laughs:

We've never had a governor who could take the heat!

The governor ate it up quicker than Ozmore's chili went down. Whether that turns out to be true in a political sense remains to be seen — or, conversely, how much heat he'll be able to exert on resistant Republican lawmakers, especially on Medicaid expansion. After all, it's pretty apparent that Governor McAuliffe, in his previous life as a highly partisan mega fundraiser, has probably sampled some pretty exotic foods. But it may require more sweetness on his part, especially after his slash and burn campaign. Delicious desserts were on offer last night, too, and he probably had his share of them as well as chili. They're certainly part of the fare at the big money bashes to which he is accustomed while campaigning for the Clintons and Obamas.

My friend Wayne's remark was a very humorous, spontaneous line. I complimented him on it and he told me he didn't mean it, that it just came barreling out of his mouth. No problem. We'll get used to that over the next four years.

T-Mac and Ozmore

From left, Virginia Beach Sheriff and former Senator Ken Stolle, award-winning chili cook Wayne Ozmore and Governor Terry McAuliffe. Ozmore's line gives us rare multiple Quotes of the Day.

McAuliffe, Guns, Chili And Soccer

Earlier tonight at Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle's annual chili cook-off, one of session's most anticipated events — where sportsmen and law enforcement personnel provide more than a dozen types of chili ranging from "Scorpion" to moose and buffalo and even vegetarian; where legislators, staff, lobbyists, public safety, journalists and politicos of all stripes hang out for food, drink, dessert and a great time — Governor Terry McAuliffe made a very substantial visit. He just didn't pop in to make an appearance.

The governor was as you'd expect from a man whose book was entitled What A Party: jovial, acommodating and a great room worker. There wasn't a chili he didn't try nor a hand he didn't shake, and he stayed around to present the awards to the winning entries with a good ol' boy affectation that would wow an Old Dominion native.

I even got face time with His Excellency (yes, in the commonwealth, that is one of the governor's titles). He probably didn't remember our first meeting, what became a very renown event in 2009. (I had to decide whether to use my time getting a picture with him or pitching my pet project.) I'm in a very bipartisan mood these days (helped get this passed earlier today) so I told him of a great economic development idea and he eagerly asked me to proceed.

I told him I knew he was a soccer fan because I saw him at the 2010 World Cup at the U.S. games. I said we need to recruit a Major League Soccer team to Virginia. He said it was a great idea because, "We don't have anything here." I told him D.C. United should be easy pickins' because the D.C. government has jerked the team around for years on a stadium. We just need to get them to move across the river.

Then the conversation got tricky. He asked if I had a card. Great news! He really is interested! It became tricky because I didn't know if I should give him my Family Foundation card — which would've been a hoot (you really need to follow the above link about that first meeting we had) — or my personal card. I did the latter. I pulled out a pen to write "soccer" on the back but he said he was going to do just that. He took  my pen, wrote "soccer" on the back, returned my pen and gave my card to an aide. All in all, supremely personable and fun. But deal makers — good ones — usually are.

Now, I'm expecting a call to head up the Governor's Commission To Bring MLS To Virginia. (Until he reads this.)

It is a testament to his room working skills that he was able to effectively glad hand a room of law enforcement (which endorsed his opponent) and dozens of sportsmen sporting NRA stickers (who really supported his opponent). It was quite a night and there are more pics and anecdotes to come.

T-Mac Chili eating

Virginia chili and Major League Soccer (not to mention the NRA). The new governor is comfortable in just about any situation.

#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?