virginia politics

Candidates In Crowded GOP Lt. Gov. Field Face Potential Game Changing Debate Tuesday Night

It may be unique in the long history of Virginia politics: Seven candidates standing for a party nomination for a statewide office. But that's the situation this year as seven Republicans seek to win the second spot on the GOP ticket at the party's May 18 convention. There hasn't been anything like this since 1985, when five ran for the number two spot at the GOP convention at Norfolk's Scope. But seven? There are similarities to the two campaigns aside from the large number, though not enough to draw many parallels. The one major common denominator is that both nominations were decided by convention instead of primary, drawing a lot of interest from people who would not have otherwise run.

Precisely because of that, the candidates are by and large unknown to many GOP activists going into the convention at the Richmond Coliseum. Not one has been able to cut through the clutter of an already hot gubernatorial general election campaign between Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, as well as a more easy to sort through GOP campaign for attorney general between Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County and Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg. Throwing seven candidates into the mix for a part-time position that has two official duties — preside over the Virginia Senate and fill the office in case of vacancy — makes deciding who is best a difficult task.

However, there may be a game changer in the LG race in the form of a late-in-the-process-debate Tuesday night in Richmond at Benedictine College Prep at 6:30. The Central Virginia GOP Lieutenant Governor Candidates Forum is sponsored by several of that area's GOP committees, including the Richmond City and Henrico County units. They selected the location in the middle of the city as a way to bring the conservative message to areas that don't always hear it, and reach young people and Catholic voters as well.

All seven candidates have agreed to attend and a buzz (see Norm Leahy at Bearing Drift) is building up over it primarily because its proximity to the convention could create a breakthrough wave for a candidate that impresses or sink one who doesn't. In addition, the host committee and moderator Scott Lee, a conservative talk show host on Richmond radio station WRVA and the host of the syndicated Score Radio Show (which previewed the debate with its organizers last weekend), have promised questions that won't lend themselves to campaign brochure blather. We'll see and we'll be there to report.

The event is free and, while elected convention delegates may take special interest to attend, is open to the public as well. Doors at the Benedictine College Prep gym open at 6:00. The school is located at 304 North Sheppard Street (23221). Click here for more information. The candidates are: former Senator Jeannemarie Davis, E.W. Jackson, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Senator Steve Martin, Pete Snyder, Prince WIlliam County Board Chairman Corey Stewart, Stafford County Board Chairman Susan Stimpson.

Quote Of The Day: Aunt Esther Speaks Again

As I wrote yesterday, as entertaining as General Assembly committees and floor sessions can be, the media quotes and social media output from members can be every bit as noteworthy. That was the case last week when the Aunt Esther of Virginia politics spoke up to the Washington Post about the session's most contentious issue. Senator Louise Lucas (D-18, Portsmouth) got wind that some House colleagues in the Legislative Black Caucus were considering supporting the Senate Republican redistricting amendment to the House's technical amendments bill that was supposed to iron out only certain deficiencies in the most recently redrawn legislative districts. She proceeded to verbally whip her wayward friends back in line just as Aunt Esther would hammer Fred Sanford with her Bible after one of his acid-tongued insults. After all, we can't have independent thinking in the LBC.

Said the senator to the Post, in true Aunt Esther flamboyance, figurative Bible raised, ready to slam down on unsuspecting heads:

I’m hot as a pot of fish grease about this. I’m hoping that they’re not going to be so naive as to bite that bait.

As it turned out, the amendment was scuttled yesterday in the House when Speaker Bill Howell ruled it non-germane to the underlying bill. Whether or not that action actually brings "peace in the valley" is another question. But we know, for the time being, Senator Lucas is feeling much better.

LATER TODAY: Interview With Senator Jill Vogel!

Later today, we will have another interview with a big name in Virginia politics: Senator Jill Vogel, (R-27, Winchester). She joins Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, who last week participated in a live interview with questions taken from readers (see here); and Dr. Bob Holsworth, Virginia's nationally known and respected political analyst, which we posted in two parts: Tuesday (here) and Wednesday (here). If you don't know Senator Vogel, you should: She's a rising star in Virginia politics and an effective voice for conservatism in the very liberal Senate. She has quickly risen to one of that chamber’s leaders on a number of issues. She is the only Republican woman in the Senate and has carried important legislation for us in the past, such as safety bills for unregulated abortion centers. This year, she is one of the leaders of the soon-to-be-signed-into-law Health Care Freedom legislation that exempts Virginia and Virginians from individual federal government health care mandates.

We look forward to hosting Senator Vogel and hope you check back later today. We are sure you will find the interview informative and insightful.

Well, Looky Here!

Welcome to our new design theme! We hope you enjoy the new, neat and dynamic look of our blog, and hope it is easier for you to use and navigate. We have some small things to iron out, but the new design and layout are a huge improvement over our original theme. From the beginning, we never claimed to be tech wizards who could keep up with all the latest bells and whistles. But we did promise, and have delivered, some of the best commentary and insight on issues, policy and politics facing Virginia. Now, this new theme, as well as our update to the latest WordPress version, will allow us to add more components and enable more functions and tools to make your online experience with us pleasant, exciting and second to none. We hope it will entice you to visit more often, draw even more readers (please spread the word!), activate a larger community, and that it will allow us to make this blog a more complete and thorough one-stop resource for all of your Virginia political and policy information. So, look for more improvements and features in the future. In the meantime, feel free to let us know what you like or don't like about the new site, and what features you'd like for us to incorporate.

A sincere thank you, as always, for your constant visits, comments, feedback and participation here. It has made us, with thousands of unique visitors each month, one of Virginia's most read political blogs, and we are very grateful for that as together we work to restore to the commonwealth its founding vision of traditional values through old-fashioned grassroots activism as well as modern-era information technology.

Virginia News Stand: April 7, 2009

It's April so that means three things in Virgilankingnia politics: Veto Session, Shad Planking and campaigns in full swing. They usually coincide to some (or large) degree. But there's something different this year:  Gubernatorial candidate Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath) is avoiding the Shad Planking. That's almost unheard of for a statewide candidate. Who knows? If he wins the governorship, maybe it'll start a trend. Meanwhile, Governor Tim Kaine faces veto override threats on several bills, including those dealing with the death penalty and accepting strings-attached "stimulus" money for extended unemployment insurance — paid for by tax increases on business, since the fees it pays into that program fund it.

In another state's news that may have national implications, Iowans are fighting back against the edict by its supreme court inventing a "right" to same-sex "marriage." Also, Newt Gingrich talks, albeit briefly, about his conversion to Catholicism. Finally, check out one legal organization's unique avenue to challenge the federal bailout to AIG. 


Kaine's vetoes facing his foes (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Deeds Will Not Speak At Shad Planking (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Big money flows to Virginia race for governor (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Deeds files petitions for Virginia governor's race (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

McDonnell calls for unity after leading ouster of party chairman (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Rejected GOP Chief To Run Again in Va. (Washington Post)

Battle over bingo laws in Va. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News:

Conservative Iowans fight to preserve traditional (

Does AIG Bailout Violate Establishment Cause? (

Gingrich tight-lipped on Catholic conversion (

T-Mac Was In The House

None other than Terry McAuliffe was in the GAB yesterday. I saw this familiar face standing by himself by the elevator on the 4th floor, I think. After that second or two of recognition focus it takes to remember who this person is you've seen before, but not in this context, it hit me. So I went up to him. Our conversation went something like this: admin: Mr. McAuliffe, my name is Steve (last name witheld for security reasons), it's nice to meet you in person after seeing you all these years on "Hannity and Colmes."

T-Mac: Nice, to see you again. (We've never met.)

admin: So, you're making the rounds, huh?

T-Mac: Yes. So what do you Steve?

admin: I lobby for The Family Foundation.

T-Mac: Great! (Then, with concern in his voice) How are you guys doing? Are you getting cut, too?

At that point, I realized, he really needs to bone up on his Virginia politics. He thinks we are a charity group getting our state grants cut. I wanted to put him on and say, "You know, we are. Can you ask some of the Democrat senators you meet with today if they could cut The Family Foundation a break?"

But if I did, it would cost him the nomination. Instead, we talked about "Hannity and Colmes," Alan Colmes' upcoming new show, and the big new contracts signed by Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

But can you imagine T-Mac asking Dick Saslaw if he could help restore some funding to The Family Foundation?

How Prescient Are We?

How prescient is this blog? The scientific studies have not come back from the lab yet, but it seems whenever we mention an institution or group making a goof of itself in public, they do it again almost immediately after mention them. Not that it's a pressing bit of business for us, but since this involves a major state university, we found with more than a little interest that Virginia Commonwealth University hit the front page of The Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, again, this time about some severe ramifications regarding its awarding of a bachelor's degree to former Richmond city police chief Rodney Monroe (now police chief in Charlotte, N.C.), even though he did not meet typical academic requirements. The upshot: Four prominent members of the faculty resigned their leadership positions over the way the investigation of the inappropriately awarded diploma was handled. Among them was noted political commentator Dr. Bob Hollsworth, who has spoken to the Family Foundation on different occasions, including our annual Richmond Briefing during the 2007 session of the General Assembly.

Of the four, one is taking a new job out of state. The other three will remain as faculty members but have relinquished positions as deans, directors and other leadership posts (some held dual positions in addition to their tenured ones). We've found "Dr. Bob" to be an objective, insightful and astute observer of the political culture in Virginia. We hope he continues in that role.

Interviews For Your Convenience

Even though our blog is young, we're proud that we've been able to secure a number of exclusive interviews with significant newsmakers, including statewide office holders such as Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Lieutennent Governor Bill Bolling, party chairmen, General Assembly leaders and a national political strategist. A few of these interviews made the news themselves. (Click here for The Washington Post's mention of our interview with Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge) when he announced his candidacy for Republican Party of Virginia chairman; or here for Black Velvet Bruc Li's comment on our interview with state Democrat Chairman Richard Cranwell; and also this one from Right Wing Liberal on Chairman Cranwell.) That these people are willing to speak directly to our audience says a lot about you, our readers, and your feedback has been very positive. More interesting interviews are on the way with General Assembly members, but also with reporters in the mainstream media (should be interesting!) and local officials who are doing exemplary work in their communities, whose successes and conservative ideas for solutions need to be shared to a broader audience. We also hope to have a national political figure or two, religious leaders and people from different walks of life who are playing big roles in affecting our culture and public policy.

In the meantime, in order to make reading these electronic conversations easier, we have created an Interviews category to archive them so you can more conveniently find them. We hope you take time to read some of the older interviews if you haven't already and let us know what you think. Also, feel free to suggest names of Virginia leaders, policy makers, media types or other individuals you'd like to hear from. 

Also of note, check our growing blogroll, as we continue to strive to become your one-stop shop, your portal of Virginia politics. (Make us your home page!) Among our latest additions is Alton Foley's highly regarded I'm Not Emeril. We hope you give it a visit. 


Want to know what people are thinking? On any topic imaginable? Check the polls. There are polls for everything now. Guess what? We're joining the fray! Of course it won't be scientific, but we're glad to be able to offer our readers a new feature. After testing and examining several online polling services we've chosen one and, starting today, we'll offer occasional poll questions on topics of interest. We hope you enjoy this new feature and our Polls category, and we look forward to taking Virginia's political temperature now and again. 

Interview With DPV Chairman Dickie Cranwell, Part 2

Yesterday, posted the first of a two-part interview with former House of Delegates Majority Leader and current Chairman of the Democrat Party of Virginia Dickie Cranwell. You can read it here. Previously, we posted an interview with Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Hager (click here for part one and here for part two) as well as one with Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge) who is challenging Mr. Hager for the RPV chairmanship. (Click here to read that interview.) With this interview, the three men who will lead Virginia's two major parties into the 2008 and 2009 elections are on record on this site.

Here is the conclusion of our interview with Chairman Cranwell. We look forward to your comments to what we think are some interesting responses to our questions. What is the biggest family-value issue facing Virginia today and how do Virginia Democrats propose dealing with it?

Chairman Dickie Cranwell: The economy — Democrats want (1) to fix the mortgage crisis; (2) tax cuts for middle class; (3) let the Bush tax break for the wealthy 1% of Americans expire; (4) end the war and use the money tied up by the war and tax breaks for the wealthy to rebuild America's infrastructure creating tens of thousands of jobs, and, last but not least (5) get gas prices down to realistic levels so working people can survive. What and who are/were your political and philosophical influences? What was it that influenced you to go into public service?

Chairman Cranwell: Thomas Jefferson and Harry Truman. My mother (Republican) and father (Democrat) both felt we as Americans are obligated to give back to our community, state and country. Hopefully I have honored their wishes and their memory with my 30 years of public service. What do you think the Democrat Party of Virginia should stand for and why do you think it best represents the interests of Virginians?

Chairman Cranwell: The Democratic Party of Virginia stands for the working family — men and women who work every day, pay their taxes and their dues — we stand for a decent wage for the working man and woman to support their family, a world-class education for their children, and fiscal responsibility. Virginia Democrats produced a balanced budget every year during the almost 150 years they controlled the Virginia General Assembly, without having to extend the legislative session as the Republicans have done repeatedly since they have been in power. Democrats best represent Virginia's interest because, as our Democratic leaders have shown, Democrats put people before politics. Have you sent your congratulations to Chairman Hager on his impending inclusion into the Bush family? Has he invited you to any weekends in Crawford or Kennebunkport yet?

Chairman Cranwell: I have not sent John Hager congratulations on his son's marriage to George and Laura Bush's daughter. I know that John knows I wish them all the best. I consider John Hager a friend and enjoyed my years of service with him in the General Assembly. He is a good, decent, hard-working man who the Republicans would be smart to re-elect as party chair. I have no invitation to Crawford or Kennebunkport and I expect none, however, I expect the wedding party will be great fun and will be the source of some fond memories in the future for both the Bush and Hager families.

Interview With DPV Chairman Dickie Cranwell, Part 1

We are pleased to post here our interview with former House of Delegates Majority Leader Dickie Cranwell, chairman of the Democrat Party of Virginia. We will post it in two parts, concluding tomorrow. The questions and answers appear exactly as submitted. We think you will find his comments very interesting and worthy of discussion and debate. We look forward to your feedback. With this interview, all three men who are, or will be, leading the Commonwealth's two major parties for the next year are on record on this blog. Previously, we posted an interview with Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Hager (click here for part one and here for part two) as well as one with Delegate Jeff Frederick (R-52, Woodbridge) who is challenging Mr. Hager for the RPV chairmanship. Click here to read that interview. You've had a distinguished career as an attorney, legislator — the House Majority Leader, in fact — and party chairman. With the Democrats making so many gains in Virginia over the last few years, why retire as party chairman now?

Chairman Dickie Cranwell: I never sought the position of Chair of the Democratic Party. Governor Warner asked me to fill the unexpired term of Kerry Donley. I agreed to serve until a new Governor was elected. Governor Tim Kaine's vision for restructuring the Democratic Party agreed with mine so I agreed to stay on until Donley's term expires in 2009. Hopefully the changes in the Democratic Party which have occurred during my tenure have made the party stronger and more candidate friendly.

We have taken back the State Senate, elected the last two governors and a U.S. Senator. And, I anticipate Virginia will elect Mark Warner as its next U.S. Senator and at least one new Democratic member to the House of Representatives this year. I also believe Virginia will be in play in the Presidential race, something that has not occurred since Lyndon Johnson.

The party is in good shape and I have boys, ages 8 and 10, so there is a lot of baseball and soccer to occupy my time. I am just stepping down. I am not retiring from the field of battle. There is a wealth of talented people in the party who can carry on the work of the Chair. I look forward to those folks' continued success. U.S. Senator Barack Obama has said we are now entering a post-partisan era. Does that mean that parties no longer will be partisan? Do you agree, and if so, what does that mean for political parties? (For example, what will it mean for the parties' ability to organize, recruit candidates and fund raise?) If not, what are the parties' role in policy debate in general?

Chairman Cranwell: I believe you either misstated or do not understand Senator Obama's message. He says we have to get beyond the Beltway mentality; that Democrats and Republicans need to work together to rebuild a shattered economy, end an ill-conceived war, save working people's homes from foreclosure, rein in the oil companies to drive down the price of gasoline and stop the hemorrhaging of debt inflicted on us by the Bush Administration which has mortgaged the future of every child in America.

Senator Obama's message is that we are Americans first and foremost and, if we work together, nothing is beyond our reach. I believe in the two-party system and believe it will continue to serve America well, but the parties must be willing to work together for the American people.

Governor Mark Warner proved this by working with the Republican majority in the General Assembly during his term. As a result, a $6 billion hole in the budget was fixed. 

Along the way, Warner chaired the National Governors Association, leading a national high school reform effort to meet the challenges of a global economy. He was named among Governing Magazine's "Public Officials of the Year" in 2004, TIME Magazine's "America's 5 Best Governors" in 2005, and Newsweek's "Who's Next" issue in 2006.

While Warner was governor, Virginia was named "the best managed state in the nation by Governing Magazine, and the "runaway winner" in the new "Best State For Business" ranking done by Forbes, based on the tax structure, education system, and bipartisan fiscal management the Warner administration had put in place. Education Week Magazine named Virginia as the best place for a child to be born in terms of educational opportunity during Warner's tenure as Governor. We see Senator Obama and Senator Clinton trying to answer the concerns of values voters, a demographic Republicans typically win. What do Democrats in Virginia and nationally have to do to appeal to people with concerns over abortion, marriage and pro-family issues?

Chairman Cranwell: Voters who are pro-family should be flocking to Democrats. Democrats understand that having a good paying job is central to any family. Democrats understand that we must act to protect the largest investment of most families (their homes) from foreclosure. Democrats want world-class health care and education for every American. Families want to know that if their home and life is destroyed by natural disaster, their government will not take years to help them rebuild their communities. They know they can count on Democrats to make FEMA really work for the working man and woman.