In Virginia, it’s always an election year of some sort. This year’s follies will pick the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the entire House of Delegates. (State senators run for election every four years, so they just get to kibbutz this time around.)
The top slot on the ticket is pretty much sewn up in both parties. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will lead the GOP and Terry McAuliff, fund raiser extraordinaire for Hilary Clinton, the Dems.
Seven Republicans and two Democrats are vying for the second chair slot. The Dems are: Aneesh Chopra, who served in the Obama cabinet and Ralph Northam, a state senator. The Republicans are: Jeannemarie Devolites Davis; E. W. Jackson; Scott Ligamfelter; Steve Martin; Pete Snyder; Corey Stewart and Susan Stimpson.
Unlike the governor, who can serve only one term, the lieutenant governor can seek reelection. This happened four years ago when incumbent Bill Bolling stayed put so Bob McDonnell could run for governor. It was assumed that Bolling would get his turn this year until Cuccinelli tossed his hat into the ring.
As the three top office holders in the Commonwealth are elected separately, they sometimes come from different parties, which can be its own soap opera.
The principal duties of the lieutenant governor are to take over in the event that the governor dies or is incapacitated and to preside over the Virginia Senate.
The second part is crucial to this year’s race, because the senate is evenly split with Democrats and Republicans. In the event of a tie, the lieutenant governor casts the deciding vote.
The Republicans are generally expected to retain a controlling margin in the House of Delegates, so the person who gets to sit in the big chair at the front of the Senate Chamber will be on the hot seat a lot during the next two years.
At a Thursday, April 25 meeting of the Goochland Tea Party, Republican Candidates for lieutenant governor made their case for support in the May 18 convention that will select the ticket. The Democrats will hold a primary in June for the same purpose.
Kudos to the GOP for choosing a convention rather than sticking local taxpayers with the bill for a party primary. These elections tend to have excruciatingly light turnout and waste electoral resources. Both parties need to pick candidates on their own dime. If they can spend boatloads of money on campaigns, they can pay for their own primary elections!
Due to a scheduling conflict, some candidates were unable to attend. If you are interested in seeing and hearing the entire GOP herd, they will be at Benedictine High School on Shepherd Street in Richmond on Tuesday, April 30 beginning at 6 p.m. (See www.rpv.org/node/2265 for details. Ballotpedia.org offers an overview of the entire election with details on candidates of both parties.)
Rumor has it that Goochland Democrats were simultaneously hatching their own strategy at a local restaurant. Good for them. Uncontested elections are not healthy for our form of government.
The GOP candidates roughly fall into two categories, those who are in the General Assembly and those who are not.
Of the outsiders, Corey Stewart and Susan Stimpson, chair the boards of supervisors in Prince William and Stafford Counties, respectively. They know firsthand about the havoc that the unintended consequences of legislation cooked up in Richmond wreaks on local government.
Bishop E. W. Jackson is a passionate and outspoken black conservative who fearlessly articulates and defends American ideals. Snyder is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
Stewart, whose county is one of the few in Virginia that does its own roads, contended it is easier and cheaper than dealing with VDOT, the state agency whose motto is “oops!” Stimpson was outraged at the massive tax increase that the current gang in Richmond passed to fund transportation.
Current state legislators probably lack the necessary perspective to act in the best interest of the citizens.
While this year’s governor’s race will be the usual nasty food fight, keep an eye on the second spot, a race that often gets lost in the shadow of enormous egos on the top of the ticket.