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That Didn't Take Long: Black Looking Into Congressional Run Hours After Wolf Retirement Announcement

Just hours after U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-10) announced he would not seek re-election in 2014, fellow Republican and Virginia Senator Dick Black announced the creation of an exploratory committee to seek that Congressional seat. In an e-mail he stated the electoral advantages his nomination would provide:

I have formed an exploratory committee to run for the 10th Congressional District seat that is being vacated by Congressman Frank Wolf.

Frank has worked hard for the 10th District during his 34 years of service, and has announced today that he will not run for re-election in 2014. I invite you to join my exploratory committee which is simply a declaration that you intend to support me should I become a candidate for Congress in the 10th District.

The 10th Congressional District includes all of Loudoun County, a large portion of Prince William County, and a small portion of Fairfax County. I currently represent over 200,000 people in the 10th District*, including Loudoun and Prince William Counties.

As a former member of the House of Delegates I represented parts of Sterling, Herndon, and Great Falls as well. Between my eight years in the House of Delegates and my current service in the State Senate, I have represented the majority of the 10th Congressional District.

Speculation among pundits went into overdrive this afternoon upon Rep. Wolf's announcement, with Bob Holsworth telling WRVA-AM in Richmond that VA-10 will be one of the most closely watched races in the country next year as control of the House of Representatives will be up for grabs. Most expect several people to jump into a campaign for what may be gerrymandered Virginia's only remaining House swing district.

If Senator Black does seek the job and wins, it will create yet another intense special election this time next year for control of the currently evenly divided Virginia Senate. Because of last November's results, there will be two special Senate elections before the start of the General Assembly session in January that will determine that chamber's the majority party.

 

The Lieutenant Governor Jumble And The Silent, But Crucial, Issue

It's a jumble out there. Maybe a jungle, too, with about 10,000 delegates crammed in the Richmond Coliseum tomorrow at the Republican Party of Virginia Convention (not to mention circulating tonight through the city's downtown at no less than 12 parties by candidates and GOP and public interest organizations). Never has there been a less predictable campaign for a party's nomination for the commonwealth's number two spot. But never has there been so much at stake with the Virginia Senate split at 20-20. (There was one somewhat similar in 1985, as I commented on here.) What to make of it all and the seven candidate jumble? A lot of organizations and web sites, who otherwise wouldn't be considered too important, have either made themselves so, or have been granted such status because in a crowded and unpredictable field, where no one can accurately gauge delegate preferences until people actually show up — and who knows who will or even can show up for an entire day and at least some evening? — candidates have to find a way to gain traction. Thus, what has been a generally clean campaign (nothing like the rear-end exam the Left will launch at the nominee starting Sunday) has become something of a He lied, She lied, They're all playing dirty affair.

The crossfire has been amusing. Candidate 1 criticizes Candidates 4 and 5 through robocalls, and maybe Candidate 3 via mail. Candidate 2 attacks Candidate 1 for that, but goes after Candidate 7. Candidate 6 claims Candidate 4 is attacking him through a front group, while Candidate 5 says certain web sites and blogs are in Candidate 2's back pocket. But in person, they all seem to get along. That was the case two weeks ago at their last debate, at Benedictine College Prep in Richmond, sponsored by the Richmond City Republican Committee and other Central Virginia GOP units. (It drew, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 250 people. A Democrat debate several days later, at the completely contrasting Richmond Gay Center, only drew about 150 according to the same source.) In the holding room where they were briefed by the host committee and moderator Scott Lee (of WRVA-AM and Bearing Drift/Score Radio Network), they joked with each other and exchanged campaign anecdotes. The potential fireworks during the debate itself were limited, with each touting him- or herself. Perhaps the "offenses" being felt are coming from over zealous supporters instead?

News was made at the debate, though. For the first time ever, an obscure process issue which punches well above its weight in importance, was addressed. After a warm up question about recently read books, they were asked what reform to bring accountability to the office would they work for. After all, so many of their campaign promises are really desires, because so much of what they want to do has almost nothing to do within the powers of the office of lieutenant governor. It's a question I've put to a few of them individually, though phrased differently. Some had no clue. They all seem to know about it now.

Call it the crucial, but silent, issue, because not many are talking about it and the media isn't reporting it. It's about the power of the LG to assign bills to committee, similar to the House Speaker's power. What good is it to be the presiding officer of a legislative chamber if your have little clout? Decades ago, during the day of one party (i.e., Democrat) rule, the lieutenant governor was a liberal populist named Henry Howell. The majority thought even he was too liberal to have that authority, and stripped it away, giving it to the unelected, unaccountable senate clerk, in cooperation with the majority leader. It's one of the reasons the Senate has been the graveyard of many good bills and reforms, especially pro-life bills, where Democrat and Republican majorities have sent them to unfavorable committees that do not have a natural connection to the bills. (For example, coercive abortion is always referred to the "Committee of Death," the Education and Health Committee, rather than the Courts of Justice Committee as it is in the House.) Restoring that power to the Senate's presiding officer will make for a more responsive and accountable process. After all, what LG isnt' already running for the top job?

Pete Snyder, Senator Steve Martin, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and Corey Stewart all brought up bill referral power as a critical reform to governing the split chamber and to advance conservative legislation that many Republican senators would just as soon see fail. Martin, Lingamfelter and Stewart even expounded on the idea and expanded upon it.

Snyder was assertive, while Stewart was assertive and passionate about ending the Senate's "graveyard" reputation by assigning bills to their rightful committees. Even though the LG has never had the power to assign members to committees as does the Speaker, Stewart went so far as to say he would use his clout as the tie-breaking vote to influence who sits on what committees (a power left to the party leaders in the Senate). Former Senator Jeanmarie Davis gave a lukewarm "I don't disagree with it" answer. Susan Stimpson and E.W. Jackson never mentioned it.

There's an old expression in Virginia politics: If you want to change Virginia, then change the Virginia Senate. Sometimes, it's not the headline grabbing issues that make the difference, just as it can be a little thing no one suspects that wins a campaign. In this case, the two may have merged. While this just reform may not happen over night, it now is part of the conversation, whereas previously, no one had ever heard of it From now on, Republicans candidates will feel the necessity  to campaign on it until it finally happens.

More On The Cuccinelli Opinion: Hear The (Sort Of) Debate From WRVA

This morning on Richmond's Morning News With Jimmy Barrett on WRVA-AM, Family Foundation Vice-President for Policy and Communications Chris Freund was interviewed about the legal opinion issued by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the reaction to it. It wasn't a real debate, but immediately prior to Chris' appearance, Barrett's guest was Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, the lead lobbyist for Equality Virginia. Notice that she avoided Barrett's first question and, shall we say, gave an intriguing spin on the entire matter at hand. In fact, you can detect the skepticism in Barrett's voice and questions. Chris sets the record straight his turn at bat.

Click here to listen to the back-to-back interviews (9:24).

Stat Of The Day (It Should Send The Educrats Running For Cover)

House Majority Whip and Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights) appeared on Richmond's Morning News with Jimmy Barrett this morning on WRVA-AM, with the Lee Brothers substituting for Barrett. Most of their questions focused on the budget and some of the myths promulgated by the left and certain media types. Delegate Cox was refreshingly candid and said he was tired of the whine coming from certain local government officials, especially when it comes to education funding. Thus, the Stat of the Day:

In Virginia, since 2000, while student enrollment in Virginia K-12 public schools has grown by 7.2 percent, state spending on same has increased 60 percent!

Okay. You know me by now. I can't stop there. Get this:

Two-thirds of the Virginia budget goes to K-12 public education and health and human services.

So much for the liberal charge about those mean conservatives in the House of Delegates who cut, cut, cut education whenever they can. The fact that Virginia has cut public education spending is a myth, plain and simple. There's about as much truth to the fact that public education funding has been cut as there was that we were in a deficit when Mark Warner shoved through the largest tax increase in Virginia history.

But the education establishment (the educrats) use every opportunity to kick, scream and cry about a lack of funding to block any type of reform possible. Worse, they try to block discussion of reform with General Assembly lobbyists paid for by taxpayers and teachers' dues. Thus, Virginia's worst-in-the-country-charter-school-law, which has been on the books more than a decade and resulted in a meager three charter schools (with a fourth on the way).

Now, after eight years, there's a new team in charge. Hopefully, that will be the catalyst for the truth finally to get equal billing with the myths — and for something positive to get done.

Click Here To Listen To The Entire Interview With Delegate Kirk Cox (5:45)

Setting The Record Straight

One of the responsibilities we at The Family Foundation take very seriously is challenging the misinformation, distortions, or outright lies propagated by those opposed to traditional values, particularly as spread through the Mainstream Media, which shapes so much of popular culture and thought. It's one of the reasons we started this blog and other social networking sites — to provide the truth. (Our YouTube channel, for example, provides uncut video of lawmakers in committee, where you can judge for yourself their attitude toward common sense, pro-traditional values, limited government legislation.) Two examples of misrepresentation in the media have occurred over the last two weeks. One was the murder of Kansas abortionist George Tiller. Our own president, Victoria Cobb, was interviewed about it last week on the popular Richmond's Morning News with Jimmy Barrett (hear it here) on WRVA-AM. In the interview, she dispelled the notion repeated by abortion extremists and some pundits that the murderer of George Tiller is representative of the pro-life movement in America.

She told listeners that, just as the pro-life movement was gaining headway(witness the recent Gallop poll that found a majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life), pro-life advocates must expend precious time and energy to counter the notion that the murder somehow represents the overwhelming majority of thoughtful, peaceful pro-life Americans.

We know that some abortion extremists and mainstream media organs are using the murder to paint all Americans who seek to protect human life as enablers, morally equivalent to the acused murderer. That kind of rhetoric serves no positive purpose. Instead, it gives opportunities to extremists to label as dangerous law-abiding citizens who legally seek to protect unborn human life. It advances no cause and brings us no closer to resolution in this debate.

The other example was an opinion piece by Lindsay Oliver of the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch a few weeks ago. She claimed that, "Although 15 states use their own funds to cover abortions under many circumstances, Virginia is not one of them." 

This statement is absolutely false and Victoria responded as such in a letter to the editor the Times-Dispatch subsequently printed. In fact, despite legislative efforts by The Family Foundation, other pro-life organizations and thousands of pro-family citizens, Virginia continues to fund abortion — taxpayers even fund elective abortions! As Victoria wrote:

The Federal government subsidizes abortions only when a Medicaid-eligible woman's life is at risk or in the cases of rape or incest. In Virginia, we fund abortions beyond the Federal requirements. Incredibly, from 2006-2007, Virginia tax dollars have funded 301 elective abortions (149 in fiscal-year 2007, and 152 in fiscal 2006).

Public interest is in favor of ending this funding. The Family Foundation and the Virginia Catholic Conference co-sponsored a Mason-Dixon poll in December 2008, and when asked if they supported Virginia's policy of using state money to pay for abortions falling outside the categories of rape, incest, and endangering the life of the mother, 46 percent of respondents were opposed to the funding with only 39 percent in support.  Furthermore, a recent Harris poll found that 63 percent of Americans oppose the taxpayer funding of abortion. Combine this with the widely publicized recent Gallup poll showing that 53 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal only in certain circumstances, and it's clear the tide against abortion on demand is growing.

The Family Foundation is honored to serve as a voice for traditional values in the public square. Correcting the lies and distortions of the left is a full time job, but one that we are more than willing to do.

Virginia News Stand: May 19, 2009

Whadaya know? We lead off the news with two articles and a radio interview about TFF Action's General Assembly Report Card (click here to order, download or print). The WRVA interview marks the News Stand's first radio audio. The Charlottesville Daily Progress article is via the AP and is a little misleading when it says banning funding for embryonic stem cell research failed. It was not banned in a budget amendment, which is the vote recorded for the Report Card. But separate language, as part of another bill, did ban it. (To see more about the Report Card, click the following links for TFF Action's news release, statement and video.) In national news, California's Marriage Amendment ("Prop. 8") is under attack while a study shows abstinence education does better than so-called "comprehensive sex education," contrary to the liberal spin. Medical professionals conscience protections remain under assault by those who claim to promote "choice" and David Limbaugh offers his insights on the importance of understanding the role of abortion semantics in the public debate (we had our own take yesterday).

Finally, check out an interesting cultural item from OneNewsNow.com: Christianity may have a role in American Idol voting.

Audio:

*Victoria Cobb Interview: Saturday Morning With The Lee Brothers (4:52)(WRVA-AM/LeeBrothers.com)

News:

*Va. GOP fares best in Family Foundation scorecard (Charlottesville Daily Progress)

*Conservative group ranks regional legislators (Roanoke Times)

McAuliffe, Moran spar over support for Obama (Richmond Times-Dispatch

Moran rolls out "aging czar"; Deeds pushes energy plan (Richmond Times-Dispatch

Democratic primary: Voters won't have to wait this time (The Daily Press)

National News:

DOMA, Prop. 8 under attack in Calif. (OneNewsNow.com)

Abstinence ed 'outperforms' comprehensive sex ed (OneNewsNow.com)

The fight to preserve conscious laws (OneNewsNow.com)

Commentary:

Abortion Doublespeak Part Of Pattern (David Limbaugh/GOPUSA.com)

Is Christianity a factor in 'American Idol' voting? (OneNewsNow.com Blog)

McAuliffe Slams Warner And Kaine As Partisan? Hear It Here!

This morning on Richmond's Morning News With Jimmy Barrett (WRVA-AM in Richmond), Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe made a comment that may have slipped through the cracks to most, but here's my take on it: He slammed the two men whom he hopes to succeed — fellow Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. That can't go over too well with Democrat primary voters.

Here's what happened: Barrett asked T-Mac about charges he's carpetbagging. As usual for a rookie candidate, he went on too long. He listed a line of successful Virginia politicians who were not born here. Instead of stopping there, couldn't contain himself and continued:

"I think you want the next governor . . . who hasn't been part of these partisan battles down in Richmond. If you're happy with the way things have gone I'm probably not your guy." (Hear it for yourself by clicking here for a interview menu page or here for the podcast download.)

What's immediately hysterical is that this comes from Bill Clinton's DNC chairman, where McAuliffe was one of the most partisan figures in recent American history. So he's going to be the one to end partisanship? (Wasn't Barack Obama supposed to have ended that by now, anyway?)

But here's where T-Mac slams Virginia's latter day Democrat icons: They've been running the show the last eight years! Partisan and not getting things done? Warner, another self-proclaimed non-partisan, can't be happy with that. Is T-Mac blowing his cover? Is he criticizing Kaine, the new DNC chairman (by definition, the Democrat partisan-in-chief), for trying to do both jobs at once? 

Maybe he has a point. He's either brutally honest and candid or he's slamming them for his short-term political gain. Either way, Virginia's two most prominent Democrats, as well as the rank-and-file, won't like that, whether true statements or not, whether he meant them like that or not. 

He may backtrack, but at the least, he's admitted it takes two to tango — a governor and a legislature. But media, pundits and liberal interest groups have told the public the last eight years that the roadblock to Nirvana in Virginia has been House Republicans. So, however he spins it, Terry McAuliffe has laid at least some blame on the last two governors. Not quite what we're used to hearing, is it? 

It's Getting So Close, You Can Taste The Tea

Time is getting near for the various Tax Day Tea Parties across Virginia (and the nation). Click here to get all the times and locations and the link to the Virginia Tea Party Web site (we've updated the thread to include the most recent information we have). Meanwhile, to stoke your patriotic fires, here are two promotional videos, one each for the Richmond and Lynchburg events. The voice on the first one is WRVA-AM/1140 talk show host (and Glenn Beck substitute) Doc Thompson. He'll attend the Richmond Tea Party. In addition, a third is a news report about the Richmond event from WTVR-CBS/6.