Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Kenton Ngo

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“Astonishing: VA House of Delegates Republicans now control ZERO majority-minority seats”

The following is from the brilliant Kenton Ngo, one of the original Virginia Democratic/progressive political bloggers, now with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)....

PHOTOS: Joe Biden, Terry McAuliffe Fire Up Summer JJ

Virginia Democrats traded their winter coats and a traditional February date (a date so sacred legislative battles were fought over it) for the state party's annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond for a steamy June evening and a fiery speech from Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden blasted this year's Republican "Tea Party" ticket, raising his voice with a full-throated defense of the middle class. Alternating between relative calm and passionate shouts, the crowd of around 1,000 donors and activists leapt to their feet the fastest as Biden assailed Ken Cuccinelli's refusal to support the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Biden was the lead sponsor of the original version of VAWA as a Senator in 1994.

Senator Tim Kaine had a similar callback to his previous work in his speech, alluding to his past as a civil rights lawyer and Catholic missionary in celebrating this week's landmark Supreme Court rulings that advanced LGBT rights. Kaine channeled a preacher, quoting famed civil rights anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" ("God of our weary years, God of our silent tears"), reminding the crowd of the long fights in the vineyards of LGBT activists past.

Terry McAuliffe introduced Biden as the husband of Dr. Jill Biden, a professor at Northern Virginia Community College. Biden declared Virginia's higher education system the finest in the nation and urged Virginians to vote to defend it.

Biden may have telegraphed major themes of a potential 2016 Presidential run throughout his speech, which focused on retaining the promise America made to its middle class and decrying those unable to understand their struggle. Lowering his voice into a storytelling register, Biden spoke of working class families making the "longest walk" up the stairs to tell their children that they may not go to college. His populist refrain, said with wounded exasperation: "I don't know where they come from."

Ralph Northam’s “Power Sharing”


State Sen. Ralph Northam (D) (VCU CNS)
Voters deserve to get what they voted for.  New York's "Independent Democratic Caucus" and Washington State's "Majority Caucus Coalition" don't seem to care. Neither, apparently, does Virginia State Senator Ralph Northam. This morning, Northam reiterated his openness to "power sharing" with Republicans if a duly elected Democratic majority in the State Senate happens.

While the chattering class of activists, consultants, hacks and flacks that is likely reading this will often be astonished or frustrated by the whims of the electorate, the basic principle that voters deserve what they voted for is fundamental to our existence. Even if it's not what we wanted, if the voters choose a Republican, the voters should get one. That's why the very idea that Democrats might nominate State Senator Ralph Northam for Lieutenant Governor is even more galling than nominating an actual turncoat.

In case anyone has forgotten, Northam was minutes away from handing control of key Senate committees away from a duly elected Democratic majority over a judgeship spat. This alone was troubling enough, but it's absolutely appalling that he would not only lie about what actually happened as if we didn't have the internet, but he would also think about repeating this maneuver.

What Northam proposes is more sinister. He appears to suffer from the same self-delusions that afflicts "Democrats" in other upper chambers, like the New York State Senate and the Washington State Senate. In both states, voters elected a Democratic majority in the chamber, only to find that certain Democrats thought they knew better.

PHOTOS: Fairfax GOTV Rally at George Mason University


House of Delegates candidate Jack Dobbyn greets the crowd at George Mason University. More photos after the flip!

PHOTOS: Fairfax County Verizon Workers Strike for Middle Class Jobs

CWA Local 2222 Verizon Strike

As over 45,000 Verizon workers represented by the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electric Workers strike up and down the East Coast to preserve middle class jobs, members of CWA Local 2222 picketed Verizon facilities in Springfield and Merrifield. Dozens of line installers and repair workers clad in red CWA shirts worked 6-hour shifts starting at 6 AM. I joined Democratic candidate for Delegate Jack Dobbyn (who I work as field director for) on the picket lines this morning.

If you drive past the picket lines today, don't forget to honk!

More photos after the flip.

SD-29: The Disappearing Obama Coalition

SD29 AveragesIf the Democratic collapse of 2009 in Northern Virginia could be explained in one simplistic sentence, Democrats failed to bring two key components of the Obama coalition to the polls: minority voters who have a lower propensity to vote in off-years, and middle-class suburban voters who were persuaded to vote for a suburban Republican over a rural Democrat. In few places was this more apparent than in Prince William County, a county split between these two elements. The 29th Senate District, the only State Senate district in the new Democratic plan comprised of a majority of Prince William voters, is held precariously by 84-year-old veteran Senator Chuck Colgan. Colgan has surprised many by hanging on to his seat this long, but it is doubtful he will continue to serve through the next redistricting cycle.

After splitting a dizzying 14 precincts to create this district, can Senator Colgan hold on if he decides to run again, and can Democrats hold the seat after him?  I calculated the partisan performance of each precinct, weighing split precincts based on the percentage of the population within the 29th District, and concluded that in the last five elections, the new 29th Senate District was 51.5% Democratic--with a whiplash-inducing dropoff between Obama's 2008 victory and Creigh Deeds' 2009 loss of 16.5%. However, Democrats will have to find a way to incite Hispanic and black voters to come out before standing a chance in an off-year. 2004-2009 precinct map below the fold (click all maps to embiggen).

PHOTOS: Obama Hosts Town Hall at NOVA Annandale

President Barack Obama visited Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus earlier today for a town hall forum on reducing the deficit. More photos below the flip, click to embiggen. {UPDATE by Lowell: For a transcript of President Obama's remarks, click here}
Obama Town Hall at NOVA Annandale

The Value of Bipartisanship

If you're in the minority, there is no political value in cooperation.

This is a lesson that Republicans understood during their time in the last Congress before the 2010 wave, constantly voting "no" on everything under the sun, and a lesson that State Senate Republicans understood when they all voted against the Senate redistricting plan. Inexplicably, Democrats see value in cooperation, with dozens of Democrats in the House of Delegates voting to give Republicans bipartisan cover on their redistricting plan and gaining absolutely nothing for it. Far as I can tell, they didn't get a free cookie out of it. Redistricting is a parochial, political issue that matters little to voters who would be unaware that there was even an election going on if it wasn't for thousands of enterprising volunteers interrupting their Saturday mornings. It might matter to those who are extraordinarily plugged in, but it never ranks high on the list of issues voters care about. Schools, roads, and jobs, yes...redistricting reform? No. With nothing to lose at the ballot box by refusing to cooperate, House Democrats voted yes anyway.

Hindsight is 20/20, of course, but chalk it up to naivete. It was so obvious to me that both minorities (Senate Republicans and House Democrats) would vote no as a bloc on redistricting plans that the thought hadn't even occurred to me that House Democrats would roll over. With this worthless vote, House Democrats set themselves up for this narrative:


The Republican-controlled House of Delegates approved the plan by a largely bipartisan 86 to 8 vote, but the Democrat-led Senate adopted it on a straight party-line vote of 22 to 18.

As the General Assembly returns to Richmond on Monday to pick up the pieces after Governor Bob McDonnell shot down new legislative lines, Senate Democrats return to their foxholes deep inside the General Assembly Building with no allies. Their colleagues in the House of Delegates have thrown them under the bus. The media has hounded them, and good-government advocates (largely ignoring the House of Delegates plan) have slammed them for drawing districts designed for their survival. Without a veto-proof majority, Senate Democrats have to force McDonnell to blink--otherwise, it'll go to court.

It's going to be a long ten years. Facepalms all around.

Changes in Key Competitive State Senate Districts, 1 of 2

In the following maps, red precincts are the new districts under the plan released yesterday, blue are the old, and purple the overlap areas. Precincts are labeled. Click to embiggen.

District 1 - John Miller (D)
SD01
John Miller's 1st District is almost an entirely new district. After winning by the skin of his teeth against a extremely conservative Republican, Miller was going to need a lot of help if he had any hope of defeating a challenger that wasn't 2007's Tricia Stall. Miller jettisons heavily Republican Poquoson in favor of picking up more of Newport News (increasing the black percentage from 24% to 33%) and stretching into Williamsburg. Boosting the black population and adding in students at William & Mary requires a hefty GOTV effort to realize any gains.

In a Parallel Universe Live 8 Democrats and 3 Republicans

Democrats like KathyinBlacksburg reacted with consternation yesterday when details began to surface about the (predictable) incumbent protection plan. In the world of redistricting, anything is possible. In a parallel universe where Democrats control the state government and majority-minority districts are abolished, it wouldn't take too much effort to produce an 8-3 Democratic map. Below is a quick map I put together of such a situation. All it takes is using Northern Virginia to anchor four districts stretching out into the exurbs and rural areas, and breaking up the majority-minority 3rd district and distributing those Democrats into surrounding districts.


See more maps below the fold.

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