Here are a few really quick thoughts on who the main winners and losers are from today’s historic announcement by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on restoration of voting and civil rights to over 200,000 Virginia ex-felons. Feel free to add your own “winners” and “losers” in the comments section. Thanks.
Virginia: This was a big step for a state that was a former stronghold of “massive resistance” to racial integration and equality. Denying the voting and civil rights of ex-felons was most certainly a racist relic of Jim Crow that was long, LOOOOOONG overdue to be thrown onto the trash heap of history. Also note that, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “In 38 states and the District of Columbia, most ex-felons automatically gain the right to vote upon the completion of their sentence,” while “in some states, ex-felons must wait for a certain period of time after the completion of their sentence before rights can be restored.” So…Virginia has been a glaring outlier in making it so difficult for ex-felons to have their rights restored. Today’s action by Gov. McAuliffe was a major step in rectifying that, and in sending a clear signal yet again that “Ol’ Virginny is dead.”
100s of 1000s of Virginians: As noted, it was disgraceful to ever deny people their right to vote. Today, hundreds of thousands had that right restored. This is a “win” both for those individuals, as well as for rule of law and American values of equal rights and protection under the law.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe: He hasn’t achieved his top goal of expanding Medicaid, but with one quick signature, McAuliffe just became a historic figure in Virginia. Also, it should go without saying that McAuliffe gets huge credit for doing the right thing – morally and in every other way – by restoring the rights of people who have served their sentences, “paid their debts to society,” etc. Even if it’s also a major plus politically for his friend Hillary Clinton (and for his own, future political career).
Former Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney: Note who was standing right next to Gov. McAuliffe today as he made history? That’s right, his long-time political aide and, until recently, Secretary of the Commonwealth (where Stoney worked hard on restoring ex-felons’ rights). I say “until recently” because Stoney stepped down at the end of last week to run for Mayor of Richmond. Already a strong favorite to win that race, standing next to Gov. McAuliffe today certainly can’t hurt. Plus, Stoney’s had an impressive campaign kickoff, with a response on social media for a local race the likes of which I can’t ever recall seeing. Huge winner.
Ralph Northam and Mark Herring: I lump them together because they both stand to gain in 2017 from Gov. McAuliffe’s action today. Let’s say the 2017 election is close, as elections usually are in Virginia. Now let’s say that tens of thousands of people who wouldn’t have been able to vote now WILL be able to vote in next year’s state elections. Do you think that more people voting: a) helps Democrats (correct answer); b) helps Republicans (wrong answer)? ‘Nuff said.
Hillary Clinton: Virginia is a key “purple” state, without which it will be very difficult for Republicans to win the White House. See my note above about Northam and Herring and ask yourself if Gov. McAuliffe’s action today might give a boost to the Democratic ticket this November?
Virginia House of Delegates Democrats: In 2013, Virginia House of Delegates Democrats lost a bunch of races by razor-thin margins. Again, do you think having more voters might just flip such razor-thin losses into narrow victories? We’ll see next November.
Virginia GOP: Other than the fact that when more people vote, Republicans tend to lose, the Virginia GOP’s nasty, snarling response to Gov. McAuliffe’s action today really says it all about how far the former “Party of Lincoln” has sunk. Just appalling.
Ed Gillespie, Ken Cuccinelli, etc.: See my note on Northam and Herring, above.
Virginia House Republicans: See my note on Virginia House Democrats, above.
Donald Trump: See my note on Hillary Clinton, above.
Candidates for Mayor of Richmond Not Named “Levar Stoney”: See my note on Levar Stoney, above.