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Posts tagged "Virginia"

h/t: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

think-progress

thepoliticalfreakshow:

No one thought Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, could actually lose. His primary challenge in his suburban Richmond district, from a local economics professor named David Brat, was thought to be nominal. No sitting majority leader has lost a primary since the position was invented in 1899. Cantor, though unloved by many in his party and in Congress, was seen as the speaker-in-waiting whenever John Boehner decided, or was forced, to hang it up.

But all those assumptions went out the window Tuesday night, when Cantor shockingly lost—and by a wide margin. With 97 percent of the vote counted, Brat had 56 percent of the vote to Cantor’s 44 percent.

In retrospect, there were signs Cantor felt endangered. As the Washington Postreported, in a dispatch that seemed far-fetched at the time but now appears prescient, Cantor was booed at a local Republican gathering last month, and his handpicked candidate for district GOP chair was defeated. His campaign aired TV ads and sent mailers crediting him for blocking immigration reform—signs he had begun to sense a threat. Meanwhile, Brat, a Tea Party activist, was championed by national conservatives like Ann Coulter and Mark Levin. (According to Virginia’s “sore-loser” law, Cantor can’t run against Brat as an independent in the general election, though he might be allowed to mount a write-in bid.)

One immigration-reform-supporting conservative operative emailed me mournfully: “I can’t vote for Democrats because I am pro-life, but my party seems beyond repair.” 

Cantor’s loss will prompt the reexamination of some other pieces of conventional wisdom: One, that the Tea Party is dead—clearly, at least in one restive precinct, anti-Washington anger is alive and well. And two, that supporting immigration reform doesn’t necessarily hurt Republicans in primaries—Cantor’s supposed support for “amnesty” was Brat’s chief line of attack. Supporters of immigration reform now fear that Republican members of Congress, leery of touching the issue before, now will never be persuaded that it is not politically toxic. As one immigration-reform-supporting conservative operative emailed me mournfully: “I can’t vote for Democrats because I am pro-life, but my party seems beyond repair.” 

In truth, it’s not quite so simple. The Tea Party has come up short in most of the big races where it played this year, and other, unapologetic Republican supporters of immigration reform, like North Carolina Representative Renee Ellmers and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, have held on in the face of primary challenges. Cantor may have suffered more for his role as part of the unpopular House leadership than for any particular issue. After Republicans took the House in 2010, Cantor positioned himself as conservatives’ voice in leadership, a role in which he was blamed for scuttling the 2011 debt-limit deal that led to the nation’s credit being downgraded. But he had since patched things up with Boehner, a turnaround that led many House Republicans in both camps—the hard right and the establishment—to be unsure they could trust him. Cantor was ambitious, perpetually billed as a “rising star” despite his seven terms in Congress, but his ideas, like his “Making Life Work” reform agenda, never seemed to gain traction within his party.

There are few real surprises in politics. Tuesday’s result in Richmond was a rare exception. The political world now must get to know an obscure Randolph-Macon professor named Dave Brat; his Democratic opponent, an even more obscure professor at the same college named Jack Trammell; and a new world order in the House of Representatives.

WOW! A major upset. 

H/T: Alan Suderman at Huffington Post, via AP

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

A federal judge ruled Virginia’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional late Thursday.

From the ruling:

The Court finds Va. Const. Art. I, § 15-A, Va. Code §§ 20-45.2, 20-45.3, and any other Virginia law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits Virginia’s recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional. These laws deny Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen wrote that the constitutional right to equality should apply to all, including same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses.

"Our Constitution declares that ‘all men’ are created equal. Surely this means all of us," wrote Wright Allen, an Eastern District of Virginia judge in Norfolk. ”While ever vigilant for the wisdom that can come from the voices of our voting public, our courts have never long tolerated the perpetuation of laws rooted in unlawful prejudice. One of the judiciary’s noblest endeavors is to scrutinize law that emerge from such roots.”

Wright Allen stayed her order to allow an appeal, meaning nothing immediately changes for same-sex couples in the state.

[…]

Mark Herring, Virginia’s Democratic attorney general, recently announced his support for gay couples seeking marriage licenses.

"After thorough legal review, I have now concluded that Virginia’s ban on marriage between same sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on two grounds: marriage is a fundamental right being denied to some Virginians, and the ban unlawfully discriminates on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender," Herring said in January.

h/t: Huff Post

Virginia Republican state delegate Bob Marshall is preparing a bid for the House seat currently held by retiring Rep. Frank Wolf, according to a Virginia-based conservative blog. This would set up a challenge to fellow right-wing state delegate and former Clinton-hunter Barbara Comstock.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with Marshall, here is a quick refresher on some of his most extreme positions:

1. Disabled Children Are God’s Punishment For Abortion

At a 2010 press conference attacking Planned Parenthood, Marshall said that “the number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically” because “when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.” He called disabled children a “special punishment” from God on women who have had abortions.

It is no wonder that Marshall sponsored a personhood bill that would ban abortion in call cases along with some forms of birth control, one of several bills he proposed that would curtail abortion rights and contraception coverage.

2. Ban Gay Service Members From The National Guard

Marshall reacted to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell by proposing legislation to prohibit “active homosexuals” from serving in the Virginia National Guard, warning that the end of the anti-gay ban would “jeopardize our alliances,” ruin the military and possibly lead to a military draft. Marshall said that if he were in the military he wouldn’t trust gay service members because they might give him a sexually transmitted infection or harass him: “It’s a distraction when I’m on the battlefield and I have to concentrate on the guy 600 yards away, am I worrying about this guy whose got eyes on me?”

3. Anti-Gay Crusade

Marshall has staunchly defended of Virginia’s unconstitutional sodomy law, successfully pushed to block the appointment of an openly gay judge and attempted to stop the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank from flying a rainbow flag, warning that LGBT equality “undermines the American economy.”

He also complained that anti-gay activists are being treated in the same way as Dred Scott.

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: WaPo

Virginia’s attorney general will announce Thursday that he has concluded that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, local news providers reported early Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Democrat General Mark R. Herring confirmed that he will not defend the ban in a case in federal court in Norfolk in which two same-sex couples are seeking to have it overturned, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

Herring will file a brief in the case supporting the challenge, the Washington Post reported.

The Virginia State Senate control goes to the Democrats, 20+1 (Northam). 

The Virginia House of Delegates remain under GOP control. 

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Federal authorities charged former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife with illegally accepting gifts from a Virginia donor in exchange for helping promote the donor’s business.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted on 14 counts in a Richmond federal court, the Washington Post reported.

The McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 in loans and gifts, including a Rolex inscribed personally for Bob McDonnell, from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The McDonnells promoted Williams’ business, and helped Williams meet with Virginia officials.

The couple was informed late last year they were going to be indicted, but authorities later deferred the decision about whether to indict to the new year.

McDonnell, a Republican, was elected in 2009 and concluded his single term this month.

lrmartinjr:

Almost overnight, Virginia has emerged as a critical state in the nationwide fight to grant gay men and women the right to wed.

This purple state was once perceived as unfriendly and even bordering on hostile to gay rights. That’s changed after a seismic political shift in the top three elected offices, from conservative Republicans to liberal Democrats who support gay marriage.

Two federal lawsuits challenging the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage are moving forward, and a hearing on one of the cases is scheduled for Jan. 30.

With the recent court gains in Utah and Oklahoma, gay rights advocates are heartened by the new mood in Virginia. Symbolically as well, they say, the challenges of the state’s gay marriage ban resonate because of the founding state’s history of erecting a wall between church and state and a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Virginia couple and a past taboo: interracial marriage.

Click on the headline to read the full story.

~ Richmond Times-Dispatch

thepoliticalfreakshow:

After taking a drubbing in last year’s state elections, Virginia Republicans are debating whether their party has come to be defined by its extremists. But in a congressional district in Northern Virginia, one of the state’s main instigators of culture warfare, state Sen. Richard H. “Dick” Black, is running in the Republican primary to replace longtime GOP moderate Rep. Frank Wolf, who is retiring. And he’s guaranteed to ignite wedge-issue passion. Exhibit A: As a state legislator, Black opposed making spousal rape a crime, citing the impossibility of convicting a husband accused of raping his wife “when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth.”

Black has referred to emergency contraception, which does not cause abortions, as "baby pesticide." Black also fought to block a statue of Abraham Lincoln at a former Confederate site in Richmond. He wasn’t sure, he explained at the time, that statues of Lincoln belonged in Virginia. He has argued that abortion is a worse evil than slavery. And once, to demonstrate why libraries should block pornography on their computers, Black invited a TV reporter to film him using a library terminal to watch violent rape porn.

In 1998, Black was elected a delegate to the Virginia House. He sparked multiple battles over social issues until he was voted out of office in 2005. But Black wasn’t done. In 2011, after moving several times around Northern Virginia in search of a friendly district, Black was voted back into the Legislature, this time to the state Senate.

In the GOP nomination fight to replace Wolf, Black, who commands substantial support among the conservative grassroots, would have a strong chance to beat his moderate opponents if the party chooses to nominate candidates through a convention, rather than a primary. (Black sometimes raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his House races. Tea partiers and social conservatives have dominated Virginia Republicans’ nominating contests in recent years.) The party will decide between the two on January 23. Republicans have held the seat Black is seeking for 14 years, but the congressional district voted for Mitt Romney by only a slim margin in 2012. A not-so-conservative Republican nominee may be key to keeping the seat in Republican hands. Since returning to the Legislature in 2011, Black has preferred to present himself as a fiscal conservative, not a fire-breathing social conservative. But he may still have to defend his years as Virginia’s foremost far-right warrior.

Black entered politics in the late 1990s after retiring as a military prosecutor. He spoke frequently to media outlets about sexual assault in the military, and called military rape “as predictable as human nature.” “Think of yourself at 25,” Black told a newspaper in 1996. “Wouldn’t you love to have a group of 19-year-old girls under your control, day in, day out?”

Black’s first political position was with the Loudoun County Library Board in Northern Virginia, where he wrote a policy blocking pornography on library computers. The move drew national attention. First Amendment litigation against the Loudoun County Library Board struck down Black’s restrictions and wound up costing the county $100,000. During that time period, Loudoun librarians say they only ever received one complaint about porn on their computers—against Black, when he pulled his rape pornography stunt.

Still, Black used the controversy to vault himself into the Virginia general assembly. From 1998 to 2006, when a Democratic challenger unseated him, although he was rarely successful in passing legislation, Black never missed an opportunity to be at the front lines of every social battle in the statehouse.

The 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, for example, inspired Black to suggest legislation requiring Virginia students to address their teachers as “Ma’am,” “Sir,” “Mr.,” “Ms.,” or “Mrs.,” because, Black explained, “The counterculture revolution of the ’70s took the war into the classroom. Before that time, public schools were a model of decorum, and then we began this thing we’ve seen play out at Columbine.”

In 2003, Black led a fight to prevent a statue of Abraham Lincoln seated with his son Tad from gracing the grounds of the Tredegar Iron Works, a Civil War-era foundry that supplied the Confederate army with cannons. “Putting a statue to [Lincoln] there is sort of like putting the Confederate flag at the Lincoln Memorial,” Black told the Washington Post, adding that the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC ought to be enough. Black even asked the Virginia Attorney General, Republican Jerry Kilgore, to investigate whether any state laws prohibited the National Park Service, which leases Tredegar, from erecting the statue. (None did.)

In 2002, as the Virginia general assembly repealed a ban on spousal rape prosecution, Black wondered if it was really possible for a husband to rape his wife. He said changing the law could cause a man “enormous fear of the damage to his reputation” if his wife ever filed a false rape claim. Last month, after the Weekly Standard highlighted Black’s remarks on spousal rape, a member of Black’s congressional campaign staff emailed the Loudoun Progress to say, ”Black was not taking a position for or against marital rape.”*

As a member of the general assembly, Black introduced the legislation—later copied by then-state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP’s 2014 gubernatorial candidate—that would allow Virginians to purchase “Choose Life” license plates, with funds going to Virginia crisis pregnancy centers. Since the plates became available in 2009, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia calculates they have raised $223,000 for these facilities, where staff have been found to tell women, falsely, that abortion increases their chance of breast cancer and infertility.

For two years in a row, Black introduced legislation requiring women younger than 18 to provide a notarized note from a parent before having an abortion. To justify the bill, he said abortion was a greater evil than segregation or slavery. In 2005, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch, he promoted a bill that would have required abortion providers to tell women that a fetus being aborted 20 weeks after conception may be able to feel pain, a medically unsupported claim. Black sent senators plastic figures of fetuses with a letter asking, “Would you kill this child?” as a Senate committee prepared to vote on the bill.

Black was at his most virulent when targeting Virginia’s same-sex couples. He championed legislation to ban same-sex couples from adopting children, claiming that gay men and women are more prone to violence, alcoholism, and suicide. When it became clear the bill would fail, according to a 2005 Washington Post article, he amended it to require adoption agents to investigate whether the prospective parents were “known to engage in current voluntary homosexual activity.”

In 2003, Black tried to pass legislation preventing same-sex couples to apply for low-interest home loans from the Virginia Housing and Development Authority. The current policy, he explained, "subsidize[s] sodomy and adultery." Black even, in 2005, urged his constituents to picket a local high school that had staged a student’s one-act play about a gay high school football player. Portraying same-sex relationships in “a cute or favorable light,” he contended,put children at risk of contracting HIV. “If I’m the last person on the face of this Earth to vote against legalizing sodomy,” Black once said, “I’ll do it.”

Black’s campaign and state Senate office did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

A new TV ad from Jennifer Wexton — a former state prosecutor who is running for the Virginia state senate seat that will be vacated by Attorney General-elect Mark Herring – has so upset Tea Party Nation president Judson Phillips that he is accusing her of being worse than murderers, rapists, and robbers.

In the ad, Wexton says, “as a prosecutor, I put violent offenders in prison. In the Virginia Senate, I’ll fight just as hard against Tea Party Republicans who would take away a woman’s health care and her right to choose, even in cases of rape and incest.”

The right-wing Media Research Center jumped on the ad, claiming that Wexton “made a shocking comparison between violent rapists that she once tried as a prosecutor to ‘Tea Party Republicans’ in the Virginia legislature.”

This moved Phillips to post a screed on his blog, which he also emailed to his group’s members, saying that Wexton “is worse than any of the people I put away” as a district attorney in Tennessee , including those accused of robbery, rape and murder.

“During my career as a prosecutor, I sent people to prison for some horrible things,” Phillips writes. “As far as I am concerned, I would rather see one of them elected than Jennifer Wexton. That is how extreme she is and how far to the left she is.”

 

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW