Virginia Politics Blog

Candidate Kaine's Marriage "Pirouette"

North Carolinians overwhelmingly voted one week ago to define marriage as between one man and one woman in their state constitution. The same day, Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine was asked about his position on the issue. Kaine’s answer was anything but clear. In fact, his obfuscation led the National Journal to label his attempted response “policy pirouettes" (see Shane Goldmacher at Hotline On Call blog). Kaine said:

The number one issue is should committed couples have the same legal rights and responsibilities and the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. I believe in the legal equality of relationships. Is it marriage, is it civil unions, is it domestic partners? I kind of let that one go.

The crowd and reporters kept pressing, but Kaine remained steadfastly vague. His remarkable press session is chronicled here at the Washington Post's Virginia Politics Blog by Ben Pershing.

In 2006, then Governor Kaine publicly opposed Virginia’s marriage amendment, going so far as to campaign against the measure that eventually passed with 57 percent of the vote. Just a few months before, while a candidate for Governor, Kaine gave The Family Foundation Action the following response to a candidate survey question about the measure:

I have long supported Virginia law that declares marriage to be between a man and a woman, and I support a Constitutional amendment.

Incredibly, just days after being sworn in as governor, Kaine reversed his support for the ballot measure and urged the General Assembly to keep it off the ballot. (The legislation calling for the measure passed the 2005 General Assembly but had to pass again in 2006 to be placed on the ballot.)

At one point during the press availability last week, Kaine indicated that "marriage" is little more than a label, saying, "I think the labels actually get in the way of the issue."

But marriage isn't the only issue on which Kaine has shifted since running for governor in 2005. Relatedly, at that time, he told The Family Foundation and the media that he opposed homosexual couples adopting, but supported Virginia law allowing homosexual individuals to adopt. Late in his administration, however, he introduced a regulation that would have prohibited child placement agencies from considering homosexual behavior at all when choosing parents for adoption. Last year, he said that unmarried homosexual couples should be able to adopt if a judge determined it was in the best interest of the child (contrary to the Virginia Constitution and statute).

One has to wonder why Kaine continues to dodge the question if opinions on the issue of marriage are shifting — as constantly asserted as fact by same-sex marriage supporters and mainstream media. Of course, while progressives insist that Americans are shifting in their opinion on the definition of marriage, they are 0-31 when it comes to marriage amendments at the ballot box. Candidate Kaine knows that.

Conveniently in 2005, Kaine invoked his Catholic faith in response to his position on the death penalty. No mention of Church teaching on this issue. Hmmm. Our guess, however, is that whatever he says on the issue while on the campaign trail doesn't really matter. History has proven that Tim Kaine's position is likely to change as soon as Election Day is over.

House Sensitivity Caucus Announces Annual Awards

Although the end of session may provoke emotions ranging from physical relief (the meat grinder is over) to mental relief (the legislative sausage making is over) to melancholy (friends and colleagues going home for a year), there is one thing we greatly look forward to: The House Sensitivity Caucus Awards, presented the last Friday of session each year. In a year truly turned upside down, epitomized remarkably by the staid Senate being more entertaining than the rowdy House, the Sensitivity Caucus Awards capture real atmosphere of the General Assembly: good-natured and sincere willingness to work together, despite the negative reporting that overwhelms mainstream media's sparse coverage. The Sensitivity Caucus, one of many intra-legislative coaltions, is a semi-secret cadre of House members who, throughout session, observe and make note of all 100 members' (and some staff, as we found out) rhetorical and habitual idiosyncrasies. It awards those members who fit certain parameters and who make themselves (in)famous for certain statements, proclivity to speak no matter what the occasion and willingness to serve as instant experts on topics far and wide. Both quality and quantity are recognized.  It's non-partisan and all offending (in a very good and fun sense). While there are many caucuses, the Sensitivity Caucus

Some of the members are Steve Landes (R-25, Verona), Terry Kilgore (R-1, Gate City) and Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock). The caucus even creates teams and "drafts" members in a secret competition of "pop-ups" — members who get up and speak the most. Not only that, but this year they added awards this year to reflect behavior in committee. Whether on the floor or in committee, there was plenty of material this year, and each award pronouncement and explanation was greeted with loud bipartisan laughs (see Richmond Times-Dispatch's Virginia Politics Blog).

The award winners were:

Vivian Watts (D-39, Annandale);

Kay Kory (D-38, Falls Church) as Best Team Player for her adoring gaze at Minority Leader David Toscano (D-57, Charlottesville) during his perfunctory challenges to conservative bills;

Barbara Comstock (R-34, McLean) for the Homeland Security Award, for her more than casual references to her federal experience in speaking up on bills not her own;

Gilbert for the Wish I Hadn't Said It Award for his mention of a particular "lifestyle choice;"

Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico) for the On Board Award, which exemplifies action in committee, for the time he said in the Appropriations Committee that several organizations were "on board with this bill, the governor is on board with this bill, and I'm on board with this bill" (it was his own bill);

Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth) for the I Don't Practice Law In This Area Award, for the phrase he repeatedly prefaces his remarks with when fighting passionately for eminent domain reform (which he ultimately won);

Anne B. Crockett-Stark (R-6, Wytheville) for the Breakfast With The Devil Award, for using that phrase in a rousing speech she made on a gun bill;

House Clerk Paul Nardo, the first-ever staff winner, for the Speaker's Award, for keeping Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksburg) more or less in line, on time and moving along;

Scott Garrett (R-23, Lynchburg) for the Cheerleader Award, for his much continued, solo clapping after a standing ovation had long since finished in honor of a speech given by Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights);

Greg Habeeb (R-8, Salem) for the Freshman Of The Year Award, which, caucus leaders assured us, was a tough competition that lasted three or four ballots due to the many talented rookie legislators, for asking a lot of questions (he shouldn't be asking). Further hint: He's not a freshman!

The final award was the granddaddy of them all, the coveted Pop-Up Award. It's the Heisman Trophy of the General Assembly. It's given to the member who has tallied the most floor speeches, who pops out of his or her seat to speak the most on any and all issues. According to Kilgore, there was a lot of competition this year. He said, "There are a lot of people in this chamber who want to tell us what they know." So much so, that a first-ever Honorable Mention Award was given to freshman Alphonso Lopez (D-49, Arlington).

But in the end, there was no suspense. No one jumps out of his seat more frequently, nor with more brazenness, the one who's speeches have been dubbed "Morrissey Moments," than "Fightin'" Joe Morrissey (D-74, Henrico) himself, who popped up 51 times this session, more than one of the entire teams. True to form, as Speaker Howell called the chamber back to order, the first person in his queue to speak was, none other than, Morrissey, who had his own ad hoc Sensitivity Award: The Too Much Information Award. Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44, Mount Vernon) was the front runner early on for a floor speech he made bemoaning Virginia's traffic congestion, a condition that, apparently, affects the sanctity of his marriage (see video here).

But he had nothing on Delegate David Albo (R-42, Fairfax), who went into great detail on the floor on February 24 about how the ultrasound bill affected an evening with him and his wife. See (or not) the painful and inartful details here. Why, Morrissey, rightly wondered, after 12 years of marriage, did Albo find it necessary to slyly slip his arm around his wife's shoulder? More curious is that viewing the "Redskins Channel" is an apparent prerequisite for mood acquisition. So, appropriately, Morrissey presented Albo an oversize poster of his head superimposed on the Redskins' number 21. Quipped Speaker Howell, "What's nice about that is that it has his IQ on the jersey, too."

Board Votes To Delay Adoption Regulations 30 Days, But No Change Is Expected

The Virginia Board of Social Services yesterday voted to delay the implementation of recently approved adoption regulations under the threat of costly litigation from the ACLU and Equality Virginia (see The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). In a not unexpected decision, the vote will allow for 30 days of additional comment, beginning September 12. As we noted yesterday, however, with Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli opposing the old proposed regulations on several grounds, opponents will only succeed in dragging out the process longer and perhaps set the stage for a legal action challenging Virginia law. In April, the VBSS voted 7-2 to adopt new regulations for Virginia's private adoption services. The regulations approved did not include a proposal that would have discriminated against faith-based adoption agencies by forcing them to adopt children to homosexuals. Despite having nearly two years to make their case through the regulatory process, organizations such as Equality Virginia and the ACLU claimed that the decision to not include the discriminatory language was done so without adequate information (see the AP via wral.com).

After losing the vote in April, Equality Virginia and the ACLU threatened to sue if they did not get an additional public comment period (see The Richmond Times-Dispatch). During the initial public comment time, more than 1,000 Virginians commented on the proposed regulations, with only around 30 in favor. On average, proposed regulations receive less than two dozen comments.

At yesterday's meeting, a host of representatives from the homosexual lobby spoke in favor of the additional comment period (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). Some of the speakers honestly stated that they believed allowing homosexuals to adopt should take precedence over the religious liberty rights of faith-based organizations.

When the comment period is opened we will encourage you to make your voice heard on this important issue. It is clear that homosexual groups intend to use the additional 30 days to get as much publicity as possible. We must make sure that the Board of Social Services hears from Virginians who believe in religious liberty.

Admin's notes: Family Foundation staff is quoted in every cited link in the post above. Please click those links to read further. In addition, we were cited on the National Organization For Marriage Blog (click here).

Also, Family Foundation Vice President for Policy and Communications Chris Freund was featured in coverage from WTVR/CBS6 in Richmond (immediately below) and on Charlottesville's WVIR/NBC29 (click this link)

30 days more. The homosexual lobby and ACLU couldn't wait to slow down the process. 

Is It Howell Or Rorschach?

One of the most unsightly of all the sausage making that is the legislative process is redistricting. Every 10 years, all 140 General Assembly districts, as well as Virginia's Congressional districts, must be redrawn to reflect population shifts as accounted for in the census. The districts can get pretty contorted, to say the least, with compactness and communities of interest giving way to snake-like shapes that slither from one end of the state to another (not that Virginia is an exception, either). Complicating matters is that whatever the General Assembly and governor agree to must be approved by the Justice Department because Virginia falls under the Voting Rights Act. But there are several rare dynamics at play this year. For one, it's the first time since Reconstruction that opposite parties control the two chambers during a redistricting year. As each chamber has prerogative over its districts, traditionally they don't interfere with each other's plan. However, with Governor Bob McDonnell as a GOP backstop to Senate Democrat mischief, Senate Dems laid down the law: Instead of two bills this year, anything coming from the House would be attached to the Senate's bill as a way of safeguarding its new districts from the governor's veto or amendments. If not, Senate Dems promised stalemate on the House plan. Interestingly, in this interview (read transcript) on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU-FM in March, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) was asked what the governor's role was in redistricting and he replied, "sign or amend" the bill. No mention of the veto option.

Here's more from the senator that day (hear audio), starting partisan, then trying to soften:

Well, if I lose a few seats as a result of redistricting, and I'm in the majority, I'm not doing a very good job. ... And I would simply say, well, you know, our goal is to make the Democratic districts, particularly the marginal ones, a little bit better than they are now. I'm not greedy. I'm not trying to put all the Republicans out of business by any stretch. They didn't do that to us 10 years ago. And we're not gonna do that to them.

So much for that. Governor McDonnell vetoed the bill sent to him last week anyway, primarily because of the dysfunctional and obscenely drawn Senate districts that drew fire from groups as varied as Prince William County to the NAACP (see Jenifer Buske at the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). While the House plan passed with all but 10 Democrat votes, the Senate plan — which could add up to three Democrat seats per the Richmond Times-Dispatch — was divided on party lines, 22-18. No wonder. None of this was a surprise.

More dynamics: While there is time to settle the Congressional districts because those elections are not until next year, all 140 General Assembly seats are up this year. Already, primaries have been pushed back to August to accommodate the readjusted districts. Candidates filing to run still don't know where they are running. Even if the parties and governor come to an agreement, there's this: This is the first redistricting since the Voting Rights Act with a Democrat president. Who knows what changes his Justice Department might demand. If all of this can't be wrapped up by a time certain, the entire process for both chambers gets transferred to judges.

But today there is hope. After he bragged that he wouldn't change "a dot or a comma," declared with bravado he wouldn't "surrender" and dared the governor to issue a second veto (Ros Helderman at the Post) for fear of sending it to the unelected judiciary, Senator Saslaw backed down. Now, Senators Janet Howell (D-32, Fairfax) and Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) are leading a bipartisan working group to come up with a new plan (the Post). But is it false hope? Senator Howell echoed Senator Saslaw's original sentiments: "We won’t negotiate away our majority." But then Senator Saslaw told the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, "There are some of us who are going to try to . . . get things worked out in an amicable fashion. We're determined to try to make the process work right." The whiplash changes in attitude are enough to require psychological testing. More on that in a second.

Senator Howell needs to understand that she doesn't determine the majority. If she did, there would be no need for elections. Voters determine majorities. One wonders what she and Senator Saslaw fear. Only three years ago, liberals heralded Virginia as blue. The existing Senate districts were good enough to flip a one-time 24-16 GOP majority to 22-18 Democrat. If Senate Democrats are so confident in their ideas and performance the last four years as the majority, what's with the gerrymandering that has split some localities into as many as eight districts?

Grossed out yet by the sausage making? Then you may or may not want to take this little test based on Senator Howell's vetoed plan. The districts' shapes are so contorted one might think they are ink blots on a Rorschach test. Click here to take the Is It Howell Or Rorschach? test. Disclaimer: Score does not correlate to actual state of mental health, but may indicate the insecurity of some Senate Democrats.

Proposed Adoption Regulations Contrary To Virginia Law And Constitution; Clarifying Where We Now Stand In Process

Just two months before leaving office, former Governor Tim Kaine left Virginians an unwanted present in the form of proposed changes to adoption guidelines for private agencies (see the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). These proposed regulations — by a Social Services Board still dominated by Mr.Kaine's appointees — slowly working their way through the process, seek to force private adoption agencies to place children in foster care or for adoption with parents irrespective of faith or sexual orientation. It would force faith-based adoption agencies to either abandon their principles or cease providing adoption services (as did Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, after more than 100 years, when that state's Supreme Court imposed such regulations by judicial fiat). The proposal under discussion here goes far beyond any policy currently in Virginia law. The Virginia Code clearly details who is eligible to adopt. In § 63.2-1201.1, it plainly states:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit any child to have more than two living parents by birth or adoption, who have legal rights and obligations in respect to the child, in the form of one father and one mother.

There is no mistaking Virginia's intent. The current regulatory proposal, which includes prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation, contradicts the intent of the General Assembly.

Nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, whether enshrined in law or implemented through internal constructs, and regardless of their legal weight, highlight the inevitable and unavoidable clash between the unalienable fundamental right of religious liberty and the postmodern era of sexual freedom. While one may agree or disagree with the actions of individuals or private organizations that express their faith in these ways, their fundamental right to do so is at risk with these proposed regulations. Faith-based family organizations have assisted children for decades without unnecessary intervention by government entities. It is very clear that homosexual special interest groups have no concern with preserving religious liberty in pursuit of their political agenda.

Upon learning about these proposed regulations weeks ago, The Family Foundation immediately contacted the governor's office. At that time, we were assured that Governor McDonnell does not support the current non-discrimination proposal and the current proposal would not stand. To ensure our voice was known where it needed to be, we submitted our official public comment and encouraged pastors to do so as well. After the public comment period closed, Governor Bob McDonnell publicly weighed in, telling the Washington Post:

I know I had said during the campaign that I would essentially keep our adoption laws — which I think are good — the way they are now. … I don’t think we ought to force Catholic Charities to make [the proposed regulations] part of their policy or other similar situated groups. Many of our adoption agencies are faith-based groups that ought to be able to establish what their own policies are. Current regulations that say you can't discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin I think are proper.

Since then, concern has mounted based on the circulation of incorrect information stating Governor McDonnell must act by April 15. However, this is an incorrect interpretation of a section of the Code (§ 2.2-4013) that details the time frame for the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action stage, not the proposed stage. The public comment website shows that the adoption regulations are completing the proposed stage, not the NOIRA stage.

A chart published by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget is extremely helpful in understanding how the circuitous regulatory process works: The proposed adoption regulations currently are in the bottom box of the middle column (not the second box of the first column). Correct reading of Virginia Code and regulatory process shows that the Board of Social Services has no less than 15 and no more than 180 days from April 1 (April 16 through September 28) to adopt the proposed regulations and submit them for full executive branch review. As displayed in column three of DPB's chart, the proposed regulations must then pass several more reviews prior to final acceptance, including reviews by DPB, the corresponding cabinet secretary, possibly by the attorney general (see Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's stated disapproval in the Washington Post) and the governor, then go through at least one more public comment period. The Department of Social Services already has amended the regulations and will present these changes to the Board of Social Services at an upcoming meeting. During any of these stages, the governor can reject or make changes to the proposal.

This adoption proposal, which tramples religious liberty, is a significant overreach through regulation into uncharted waters prohibited by Virginia Code and Virginia Constitution and will not be tolerated. The Family Foundation has been actively involved in seeing that these proposed regulations are not adopted and will continue to monitor the issue very closely.

Exclusive Photo: First Debate In GOP Senate Race?

Last week, at the Call To Prayer at the state capitol that officially inaugurated the Virginia Legislative Prayer Caucus, we caught on camera another type of caucus: The Virginia Republican Candidates for U.S. Senate Caucus. In particular, we saw Jamie Radtke (see Ben Pershing at the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog) and Bishop Earl Jackson (see Richmond Times-Dispatch) speaking to each other as the event neared its conclusion.Was this a first debate? After all, there were plenty of mics and cameras nearby. If and when there is a debate, it may have to be outdoors — there may not be a building big enough to hold all the candidates. Still, we have to wonder: What were they discussing? Or were they debating after all? Oh, to be a fly buzzing around that meeting!

Former Virginia Tea Party chair Jamie Radtke (left, white shirt, turning to greet someone) and Bishop Earl Jackson, former chaplain of The Family Foundation's Pastors For Family Values (back to camera), both candidates for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2012, have a friendly discussion at the state capitol last week. Believe me, we had a great shot until the man in the gray jacket stepped forward, and then had to scoot off to lobby for the two pro-life amendments adopted during the General Assembly's Veto Session.

Support Governor McDonnell's Pro-Life Amendment To Health Exchange Bill

Last week, Governor Bob McDonnell added a pro-life amendment to an ObamaCare induced bill — Delegate Terry Kilgore's HB 2434, that directs the Commonwealth to set up health insurance exchanges in accordance with the new law. (Under ObamaCare, if states don't act to establish their own exchanges and rules, the federal government will do ti for them.) The governor's amendment would restrict the proposed and mandated health insurance exchanges from covering abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk. Without such change to the bill, pro-life citizens will be coerced into funding the unethical destruction of human life. His amendment also would prohibit insurance companies from selling optional riders that cover those same abortion services. Typically, NARAL went ballistic (see the Washington Post VIrginia Politics Blog, a Post news article and the Richmond Times-Dispatch; we're quoted in all three), although the amendment reflects decades-old federal policy under the Hyde Amendment. Now, the General Assembly must accept the governor's amendment at next Wednesday's veto session. During this year's General Assembly session, similar health insurance abortion funding opt-out language was passed by the House of Delegates twice with overwhelming majorities, but was defeated in the Senate. The Senate voted on a procedural motion, at the end of session, to strike a bill almost identical to Governor McDonnell’s language. It succeeded on a 22-18 party line vote. Since the governor's language strictly is a policy vote, not a procedural vote, we hope to urge at least two pro-life Democrats to support the amendment.

Of course, this is nothing new. Whether it is a widely-passed bipartisan House bill or a governor's amendment, the Senate remains the body that blocks nearly every pro-life effort, and has done so for several years. Over the last several days, The Family Foundation has mobilized citizens across Virginia to contact key senators so that they know Virginians want this amendment passed. It is clear that it will not be until the Senate reflects the values of Virginia that we will see many victories. The opportunity to make those changes is quickly approaching, as all 40 Senate seats are up for election in November.

We believe the key to sustaining the amendment lies with five key senators: Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), Roscoe Reynolds (D-20, Martinsville), Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas), and Phil Puckett (D-38, Tazewell). Contact these senators now and urge them to vote yes on Governor McDonnell's abortion funding opt-out amendment for health insurance exchanges on HB 2434.

You can contact them by calling their district offices (numbers below) or by clicking on their names for their e-mail addresses:

Senator Quayle: 757-483-9173

Senator Watkins: 804-379-2063

Senator Reynolds: 276-638-2315

Senator Colgan: 703-368-0300

Senator Puckett: 276-979-8181

Saslaw: "80 Out Of 81 Ain't Bad" Unless Your The Unborn

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) is known for his bluntness. Sometimes that's refreshing in politics. But there's a fine line between blunt and crude. Today, on Washington station WAMU-FM's The Politics Hour, he offered this braggadocio when asked about the abortion center regulation amendment to SB 924 that the Senate approved on a 21-20 vote, as reported by Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog:

"Let me just say this: Over the last decade, it's no secret. I happen to be pro-choice. I've been pretty much responsible for bottling up or killing 80 bills."

He noted that most of those anti-abortion bills have died in the Senate's Education and Health Committee, whose pro-abortion rights membership, he said, he'd helped "engineer."

"One finally got through through circuitous means," he said. "Eighty of 81 ain't a bad batting average."

Not bad at all, senator, unless you're one of the hundreds (even thousands) of unborn babies who've died because of your obstruction. On the other hand, he didn't try to fool anyone — no pretense of "safe, legal and rare," so many liberals try to effect to appease some voters as a sensible position. He gladly took credit for the out of proportion stacking of the Education and Health Committee, as well. But it was nice to see Ms. Helderman's equally frank, fair and accurate description of Senator Saslaw as "pro-abortion," a term we expound upon here as the true motivation of many who call themselves "pro-choice."

Speaking of stacking committees, he was equally blunt on redistricting, saying he expected to redraw district lines in an effort to elect more liberals. The interview also included a surprise caller that sparked real fireworks. It's worth a listen. You can find the audio here.

WRVA Interview With Victoria Cobb, Washington Post Coverage Of Education Choice Rally

Speaking of education choice, yesterday was our annual lobby day. This year's theme was education choice and we added a rally in Capitol Square as well. The media attention was excellent. Starting the day was an interview on WRVA's Richmond's Morning News With Jimmy Barrett, but with an adversarial guest host, Juan Conde of WRIC-TV, sitting in for the decidedly conservative Mr. Barrett. Victoria Cobb, our president, took it all in stride, even when Mr. Conde misunderstood, shall we say, the issue, and claimed HB 2314, if passed, would give "our" money to businessesThe Washington Post also covered the rally on its Virginia Politics Blog, and a Google search reveals publications from The India Times to Forbes picked up the Post's post, as well as various state television and print media.

Listen to Victoria Cobb's WRVA interview on school choice from Thursday, February 10 (5:30) on Richmond's Morning News With Jimmy Barrett.

Tea Party Queen Radtke Files Paperwork To Run For U.S. Senate

As we speculated previously (here and here), Jamie Radtke, the organizer of the successful Virginia Tea Party convention in October, will run for office. Specifically, for the U.S. Senate in the 2012 Republican primary, eschewing a 2011 primary opportunity in the 10th Virginia Senate district against GOP incumbent John Watkins. At least, today, she filed the official paperwork to declare her candidacy for that office (see Anita Kumar at Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). In a statement, she said:

I am the mother of three young children, and my first priority is both to protect them today and protect their future. I truly worry about what the next five years holds for our children and the nation, given this climate of reckless and immoral spending. Someone must step into the gap so that our children and America are not crushed in the coming years under the weight of insurmountable debt and debilitating taxes. 

The front runner is former governor and senator George Allen, who lost the seat in 2006 to the incumbent, Democrat Jim Webb. Delegate Bob Marshall and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart also are considering a run. Hampton Roads businessman Bert Mizusawa, who lost the GOP second district House nomination to now Representative-Elect Scott Rigell, also may throw his hat in the ring. However, former 11th district Representative Tom Davis seems to have taken himself out of consideration, preferring instead, "to have left Congress undefeated and unindicted. You like to keep it that way."

Post: Griffith And Hurt Land Key Committee Assignments, Rigell Awaits Armed Services

According to Ben Pershing a little while ago at the Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog, Virginia freshmen GOP Representatives Morgan Griffith (VA-09) and Robert Hurt (VA-05) will land on two key committees: Energy and Commerce and Financial Services, respectively. While liberal soon-to-be former Representative Rick Boucher, whom Griffith defeated, served on Energy and Commerce, no Virginia member currently sits on the equally powerful Financial Services committee, making that a huge score for Hurt. On the downside, he'll have to put up with Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who will assume the position of ranking member (see Housing Wire) after four disastrous years as its chairman. Freshmen appointments to both committees is unusual (even Boucher had to wait a few terms before his gig started). The news especially was welcome for Hurt who made national headlines last month at the every-two-year-ritual House office lottery for freshman, where he had the misfortune of drawing the highest number and, therefore, the least desirable office space (see Jake Gibson at FoxNews.com). He needed the office karma of Kirk Cox. As for Virginia's other freshman GOP House member, Scott Rigell (VA-02) is awaiting, but expected to get, a spot on the Armed Services Committee, an assignment Virginians from either party from that district almost always get because of the large military presence in Hampton Roads.

TEA Party Queen Looks Into Options

Is Jamie Radtke making moves that would confirm our pre-recent-election speculation that she is interested in running for office? It all started after her very successful Virginia TEA Party Convention (see Lynn Mitchell in the Washington Examiner) in October that prompted Virginia politics commentator Dr. Bob Holsworth to write on his Virginia Tomorrow blog that she would be a formidable candidate for office one day. But, we wondered, which office?  Then, late last week, she resigned as chairwoman of the Virginia TEA Party Patriots Federation, according to Anita Kumar at the Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog, in order to explore a possible a campaign for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Jim Webb. This followed her victory in a poll at Bearing Drift over more established and likely candidates, including the previous holder of that seat, George Allen, as well as Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart, and Delegate Bob Marshall.

According to the Post, Radtke, as we thought, was thinking of a Virginia Senate run. But after the success of the convention, she has been encouraged to think globally, as it were. Is it all a head fake, to build visibility for a 2011 state Senate GOP primary run after all? Could that also be said for Stewart's recent interest in the job, since he long has eyed the Lt. Governor's post? (See his provocative interview at tbd.com.) Then there's the possibility, as reported by the Post and Bearing Drift that former Congressman Tom Davis may seek the GOP nomination as well.

So, will Virginia join some states from this year's election and throw a Boston Tea Party in two years or settle for a traditional, genteel tea party, complete with appropriate china? For the junkie, 2012 can't get here soon enough. For some of us, can't we just get through the General Assembly and the 2011 elections, first?

If You Can't Get To D.C. Monday, Attend The November Speaks! Virtual Rally Online

Another annoucement regarding the November Speaks! rally on November 15 on Capitol Hill in Washington: Americans For Prosperity launched a new Web site for the event which includes a page where you can participate in a virtual rally if you can't make it to the nation's capital (click here). The rally is designed to raise awareness of, and put pressure on, the lame duck Congress to stand down from any grandiose schemes for still larger government, higher taxes, debilitating regulations and crushing debt, all of which amounts to more control from Washington and less freedom everywhere else. Ignoring the recent election results, Nancy Pelosi yesterday brazenly threw a celebratory party to laud her "accomplishments." But she's not done yet. Starting Monday, she is reconvening Congress, while she still wields the Speaker's gavel, for one last attempt to ram through the big-government takeovers that remain on her leftist agenda. It's already being referred to as the "Zombie Congress" since so many members are the walking politically dead. Rejected overwhelmingly by the voters, they should not trample on the will of the people and leave quietly, having done enough damage.

Among the speakers at November Speaks! are U.S. Representatives Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) (see Paul Bedard's U.S. News Washington Whispers blog), Mike Pence (R-Ind.) (see the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog) and newly elected Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) (see the Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog), as well as AFP President Tim Phillips. Other partners in staging November Speaks! are 60 Plus, Let Freedom Ring, Institute For Liberty, Tea Party D.C. and Smart Girl Politics. For more information about attending in person, click here.

TEA Party Queen Radtke May Run For Office

Will the one of the driving forces of the TEA Party movement in Virginia run for office? Dr. Bob Holsworth over the weekend raised the specter on his Virginia Tomorrow blog that Jamie Radtke would be a formidable candidate, writing that she is far more polished than Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell, the Republican U.S. Senate candidates in Nevada and Delaware, respectively. Both won competitive primaries over establishment choices and Ms. Angle, a former state legislator, is leading Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Ms. Radkte was the lead organizer of the first-ever Virginia TEA Party Convention October 8-9. The event was the largest of its type in the country, drawing nearly 3,000 people, dozens of prominent speakers, a plethora of sponsors and media from all four corners of the country and some from abroad. Think of it as campaign activists, donors, high profile endorsements and media savy, respectively, and you have the makings of a solid candidate.

She handled it all professionally, too, even though her TEA Party activities are volunteer. Only a couple of hours ago, Anita Kumar of the Washington Post's Virginia Politics Blog, added to the Radtke speculation:

Radtke said if it happens it would not be anytime soon because she is so busy with the tea party movement and because there is no election in the near future (after the midterm election in two weeks).

"It will be something I will consider and think about,'' she said.

That may be a bit coy on Ms. Radtke's part. As astute as she is, she knows there are elections next year in Virginia for the House of Delegates as well as the Virginia Senate. Could a TEA Party come to a GOP primary or general election near you in 2011?

Virginia Obamacare Law Suit To Be Heard Monday Morning

Virginia's law suit against the new health care law — known officially as "Commonwealth of Virginia, Ex Rel. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II vs. Kathleen Sebelius, Civil No. 3:10CV188, Motion Hearing" — will proceed Monday morning at 9:00 in Judge Henry Hudson's Richmond courtroom. The hearing is on the heels of yesterday's decision by Federal District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida to allow the 20 State Law Suit to proceed as well (21StateLawsuit.com). While that case is behind the Eastern District of Virginia's famous "Rocket Docket," and is where the Virginia case stood about a month ago, the fact that the weight of 21 states now are at full trial over the constitutionality of Obamacare was welcome news to Attoreny General Cuccinelli (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). We will be there in the courtroom Monday (or, most likely, in a satellite room with a video feed), and provide our impressions later in the day (electronic equipment is not permitted in the courtroom). So please check in with us. We also hope to be at any post hearing news conference the attorney general may hold, just as we were after the hearing on the federal government's motion to dismiss in July. We were the only media anywhere to post video of the entire news conference (see it here, as relevant points to Monday's hearing were discussed).

We expect Attorney General Cuccinelli will be on several television interview shows throughout Monday afternoon and evening, so there will be plenty of opportunity to hear straight from the source. In the meantime, here's a video of a speech he made at a freedom rally in D.C. last month:

Getting his day in court. More precisely, the people getting their day in court against the government's unprecedented power grab over individual liberty.

Governor McDonnell Applies For Federal Abstinence Education Grants Kaine Rejected

Governor Bob McDonnell has applied for abstinence-only education grants made available by the Obama administration — oddly enough — the same type of grants rejected by his predecessor Tim Kaine, which ended years of funding abstinence education in Virginia  under governors of both parties. However, Governor McDonnell, staying consistent with his position three years ago when he attended a Family Foundation news conference to call on Mr. Kaine to restore the funds, has applied for the $900,000 funding and will submit in his budget a $400,000 state matching grant. (Even more ironic: Previous administrations have made federal abstinence education grants contingent on a matching state grant. This one does not.) Typically, NARAL and Planned Parenthood, which each have a vested financial interest in ensuring children never learn the word "abstinence," at first tried to lobby the governor's office against applying for the grant and then, upon his decision, blasted him (although we hear no harsh words for President Obama). According to Anita Kumar at the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog, Planned Parenthood's Jessica Honke issued this statement:

Given Virginia's economic situation, wasting $400,000 of taxpayer money for an ineffective program is not a good use of the commonwealth's limited resources. The simple fact is that young people deserve honest information, not political ideology in their health classrooms.

No school district will be forced to adopt this curriculum, but for those that believe it is in the best interest of their communities, the funds will be available. Call it school choice of another kind. But that doesn't stop the other side from presuming to speak for the majority when, in fact, its position is in the minority (as polls show). It continues to amaze us that pro-abortion groups, which advocate "choice" because they stand to profit by unwanted pregnancies, are against choice in sex education as well as true choice in carrying pregnancies to term (see their opposition to pregnancy resource centers).

But it's worse than that. These groups continue to perpetuate the myth that abstinence education does not work (studies prove otherwise). Somehow, centuries-old and time tested virtue is "dishonest information" and "political," even though it creates healthier societies (physically, mentally and financially). But it is perfectly normal and not political to indoctrinate children that doing something for which they are not ready with questionable means of "protection" somehow is a healthy lifestyle.

While Obama Cuts The Military In Virginia, Raises Taxes On Everyone, Why Not A Fat BRAC?

Nothing unites Republicans and Democrats faster than a pair of magnets than military base closures in their states. Last week was no different when Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced he would close (see Army Times) the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk as part of a pare down in defense spending. On cue, a bipartisan group of Virginia's Congressional delegation, including both senators, rushed to JFCOM's defense (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). At risk is as many as 6,000 jobs in Virginia. (The conspiracy theory is that Virginia is being targeted by the Obama administration for its aggressive legal challenges to the health care law and the unilateral cap and trade policy implemented by the EPA.)  Secretary Gates has the unenviable task of convincing Congress (other states will face cuts as well) — during a recession his boss has exacerbated, if not created — that the Defense Department's mission is to protect the country and not create jobs. He may well be right, but while JFCOM may or may not be needed, while he's cutting fat out of the military, why isn't his boss cutting fat everywhere else

Several years ago, Congress created the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to target base closings to save money and submit those recommendations to Congress for an up or down vote, because the normal appropriation process presented a more formidable barrier than the Great Wall of China. Congressmen would trade votes to protect bases in each others' districts, regardless of the merits. Political cowardice aside, it still amazes me that Washington insiders are willing to cut the military to save a few billion dollars out of a nearly $3.5 trillion budget, of which $1.5 trillion is borrowed money, while not cutting anything nearly as important

If Congress can pass the buck to a commission to cut the fat out of the Pentagon, then why not create a commission to cut the fat out of non-defense spending? Call it the Fat BRAC. There are numerous reports by think tanks and watch dog groups, as well as individual congressmen, of deplorable spending (see McCain-Coburn Report). A commission easily could mold these findings into a package of cuts for an up or down vote.

While the Obama administration wants to raise taxes on almost everyone in the middle class and up by letting the 2001 and 2003 tax rate reductions expire, to generate $700 billion over several years (assuming the tax increase doesn't jack up the unemployment rate above 10 percent), it increased spending more than one trillion dollars in one year — $787 billion in one fell swoop with the so-called stimulus bill (more when you factor in interest on the additional debt it created.) That's arrogance and irresponsibility of the highest order. The waste in that bill (and other bills) is of deplorable and unprecedented proportions.

There is something you can do, however. As we mentioned in this post, House Republicans started YouCut, a chance to tell Congress what programs you want to see it eliminate. Each week House Republicans post a list of programs citizens want cut. The GOP Conference brings to the floor the one with the most votes. Hundreds of thousands of people vote each week. We have a permanent link to YouCut on the lower right side of this site. We encourage you to take an active role in this and make your voice heard. Then think about writing your representative and Virginia's two senators, and tell them you want a BRAC for Big Fat Federal Spending.

Governor McDonnell Town Hall Schedule

Earlier this week Governor Bob McDonnell announced a statewide town hall tour to get feedback on the big government reform initiatives his administration has been studying (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). The primary topics will be his proposal for privatizing ABC sales, state government reform and job creation. His Government Reform and Restructuring Commission earlier this month wrapped up its own series of town hall meetings around the commonwealth. As with that tour, we encourage you to get to one and participate in the shaping of your government.

Virginia Speaks: A Conversation about Jobs, Government Reform and Our Future

August 4

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Roanoke County Administration Center, Board of Supervisors Board Room, 5204 Bernard Drive, Roanoke

August 9

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Old Dominion University, Webb University Center, Hampton/Newport News Room, 4201 Hampton Boulevard, Norfolk

August 19 

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Cultural Center of India, 6641 Ironbridge Parkway, Chester

August 24

7:00-8:30 p.m.

University of Mary Washington, Lee Hall — Room 412, 1301 College Avenue, Fredericksburg

August 25

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Fairfax, Northern Virginia Technology Council Auditorium, 2214 Rock Hill Road, Suite 300, Herndon

August 26

7:-8:30 p.m.

James Madison University, East Campus Dining Hall — Montpelier Room, 800 South Main Street, Harrisonburg

August 30

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, Great Hall, 150 Slayton Avenue, Danville

August 31

7:00-8:30 p.m.

Bristol Public Library, J. Henry Kegley Meeting Room, 701 Goode Street, Bristol

Government Reform And Restructuring Commission Schedule

Starting tonight, Governor Bob McDonnell's Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring will criss-cross the commonwealth hosting a series of Town Hall meetings (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog) seeking citizen input on key issues of government reform and cost savings. It kicked off the series in early May in Richmond (see transcript from Richmond Times-Dispatch) and had its second in McLean last week at the Capital One HQ. Tonight the road show continues at Christopher Newport University and goes full tilt through the 19th. After it completes its report, the governor will hold his own series of town halls in August.

We encourage you to attend and offer ideas on how government can be streamlined, cut back, made more efficient or, where appropriate, eliminated altogether. Please take advantage of your own experiences to offer the commission thoughts, comments and ideas on how to save your fellow Virginia families their precious hard-earned tax dollars. After all, we taxpayers are the bosses and it's good to see state government — our employees — seeking our advice on reducing the size and scope of government, which in turn expands our freedoms. As believers of limited government, and witnesses to the utter failure of the age of government-as-savior, it's our opportunity duty to put our imprint on the function of the people and institutions that serve us. Don't let it pass you by.

Government Reform and Restructuring Commission Town Hall Schedule

» July 13, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Christopher Newport University, Ferguson Center for the Arts, Music & Theater Hall, 1 University Place, Newport News

» July 14, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Augusta County Government Center, Board Meeting Room, 18 Government Center Lane, Verona

» July 15, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Grand Hall, One Partnership Circle, Abingdon

» July 16, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Southside Planning District Office, 200 South Mecklenburg Avenue, South Hill

» July 19, 6:30-8:00 p.m., Sandler Performing Arts Center, 201 Market Street, Virginia Beach

Virginia News Stand: April 12, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Time For Tea (Parties)

It's a busy Monday version of the News Stand. We're in the news, again, because liberals are complaining about us. Translation: We're doing an effective job thwarting their agenda.

Someone else doing an effective job are the lobbyists paid for by local governments with  your tax money, who lobby, mostly, against interests of taxpayers and for the interests of government. Hundreds of thousands of dollars across the state, in fact. The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot features one such lobbyist and the dough she rakes in for the Virginia Beach School Board. However, some localities have stopped paying for outside help, which is good. But they continue to lobby the General Assembly with in-house staff. Not much better. Elsewhere, Tea Parties are spring up across the state and there are several dispatches regarding such. In news sure to cheer Planned Parenthood, a Catholic pharmacy which did not sell contraception, closed.

Nationally, we see the class exhibited by the New Jersey teachers union (it circulated an e-mail wishing for Republican Governor Chris Christie's death). In Analysis, Internet safety  activist Stacy Rumenap looks at a recent big win in federal court against the FCC and Henry Lamb discusses how President Obama got that national security force he campaigned for . . . in the health care bill! Nancy Pelosi was right. We did have to pass the bill to learn what was in it! In Commentary, Michelle Malkin and Mark Tapscott examine how the left in the media and out will try to sabotage the Tea Parties.

News

*UR recognition of Family Foundation leader protested (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

*Jepson alumna condemned by students for leadership award (The Collegian)

*Family Foundation lobbies McDonnell on abortion, stem cell research (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Some school divisions think lobbyists worth the investment (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Catholic pharmacy shutters in Virginia (Washington Times)

Tea Party: We're taxed enough (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Farris, Viguerie To Speak At Culpeper Tea Party (Culpeper Star Exponent)

Tea Party seeks to ‘wake up’ America at Freedom Rally (Danville Register & Bee)

New flap brings McDonnell’s national viability to fore (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

'Jobs' governor's first 90 days have veered off course (The Daily Press)

Mims sworn in as Supreme Court justice (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

After loss, Va.'s Deeds tries to regain his footing (Washington Post)

National News

Teachers union memo 'prays' for governor's death (CNN.com)

Obama election-year jobs agenda stalls in Congress (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP senators push for 'mainstream' court nominee (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Psst: Hilary Rodham Clinton for court? (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP Chairman Steele: 'I've made mistakes' (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Analysis

Obamacare Will Be at Center of High Court Hearing (Michael Barone/GOPUSA.com)

Obama's Private Army (Henry Lamb/GOPUSA.com)

Court Rules FCC Lacks Authority to Regulate Internet (Stacy Rumenap/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

Crash course: Your illustrated guide to Tea Party saboteurs (Michelle Malkin/MichelleMalkin.com)

Will Mainstream Media reporters and editors expose, screen out, or help Tea Party saboteurs? (Mark Tapscott/Beltway Confidential-WashingtonExaminer.com)

Are All Cultures Equal? (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)