More on the Scandals in Virginia Politics

A few weeks have passed since scandals shook up Virginia politics, starting with the news that Governor Ralph Northam’s Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) year book page included a photo of two men at a party.  One of the men in the photo wore a KKK costume, the other blackface.  Governor Northam could not, in the moment, definitively say he was not one of those people.  So Northam admitted he may have been in the photo, then retracted that admission the next day.  

Democrats in Virginia, myself includedlined upto ask the Governor to resign.  It got worse after his “Moon Walk” press conference, and speculation started about who Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax would appoint to take his place as LG after he took Northam’s place.  But then the second scandal popped: accusations of sexual harassment against Fairfax. This shifted discussions to succession in Virginia, and scenarios that would put House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox in the Governor’s mansion.  Soon enough a third shoe dropped:  Attorney General Mark Herring volunteered that he had once appeared in blackface himself. 

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Guns, the Second Amendment, and Politics in Virginia

It appears that guns and gun control could become a hot issue in next year’s state level elections here in Virginia.  Attorney General Mark Herring started the hue and cry when he ended concealed carry permit reciprocity with 25 states on the grounds that they don’t meet Virginia standards.  Gun rights activists objected one the grounds that it would hurt tourism and that no one can point out a case where someone from a state with lower standards had committed a crime in Virginia.  One blogger called it “slavery.”  They complained that Herring just wanted to go around the General Assembly to achieve a liberal result using an executive action.

This of course ignores the plain fact that Herring did nothing unilaterally. Virginia code – in a section passed by a Republican-controlled General Assembly – requires periodic State Police audits of concealed carry laws in other states. It then mandates an end to reciprocity with those states whose laws don’t include prohibitions Virginia’s law bans, or don’t have a system for rapid verification that an applicant should not be kept from carrying a concealed weapon.  Whether or not he liked the result, Herring had to take this action once the State Police reported that the laws in those 25 states don’t pass muster. Continue reading

Why Democrats Got Hammered

Jamelle Bouie at Slate riffs on a Charlie Cook article to ask “What Could the Democrats Have Done Differently?”

“Democrats are still reeling from the Great Whupping of 2014, trying to orient themselves for the next two years of Republican control in Congress. The recurring question, even now, is: What happened? Unemployment is down, and Republicans are unpopular. How did Democrats lose so badly?”

Cook argues that “Bad Decisions Came Back to Haunt Democrats in Midterms.”  His case boils down to a claim that Americans still blame Democrats for shifting to climate change and health care after “checking the box” on economic stimulus in 2009.  Dems should have focused on “action that would have turned the economy around and created jobs for many working-and-middle-class Americans.

Bouie agrees that “economic anxiety drove last Tuesday’s results,” but disagrees that ‘a ‘focus’ on the economy would have saved Democratic prospects.”  He rightfully points out that the first stimulus debate “strained the Democratic coalition,” and Democrats could have “talked about the economy more” and “kept a rhetorical focus on economic growth.” But he doesn’t see how this would have changed the 2014 election results.

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