(I've heard rumors that the reason Bob McDonnell chose such a short turnaround time for this special election is that Republicans consider Kenny Alexander to be an unreliable Democrat, and one they'd be happy to see in the State Senate (e.g., as opposed to a strong, reliable Democrat). I hope that's not true, but it is very odd what McDonnell's doing here. Any other theories? - promoted by lowkell)
The unfortunate passing of State Senator Yvonne Miller a little over a week few weeks ago robbed our Commonwealth and our Party of a progressive champion, a passionate advocate for social justice and economic progress. Although a date for the special election to fill her spot in the 5th State Senate district has not been set, it appears likely that Delegate Kenny Alexander has the inside track for the seat after receiving the backing of the late Senator's family. So let's take a look at the likely next State Senator from the 5th District.
Delegate Alexander was one of several black Delegates who was heavily criticized by his Senate colleagues for backing a Republican gerrymandering of the Congressional districts that diluted minority representation in Virginia by packing the 3rd district with African-American voters and lowering their share in adjoining districts like the 4th.
In a surprise move, six members of the Legislative Black Caucus broke ranks with Rep. Scott and fellow Democrats to support the House plan as the best option.
Hampton Sen. Mamie Locke, the Caucus chair, blasted those members in a strongly worded statement.
"Well over 300 years ago, slave owner William 'Willie' Lynch devised a plan through which he assured Virginia slave owners that if they adopted his practices, slaves/black people could be controlled for centuries," Sen. Locke declared after the House vote.
"It seems that this prediction is alive and well in the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus in 2012," she continued.
Norfolk Delegate Kenneth C. Alexander, former Caucus chairman and one of the six, called that criticism "over the top" and unwarranted. Among the 21 Democrats who voted against the House plan were seven members of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Among them was Richmond Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan, who passionately argued against the plan on the House floor. On Monday, she told the
Free Press that she opposed the plan because "it packs too many African-Americans into the 3rd District, diluting their voting strength in the other congressional districts."
Del. Kenneth Alexander, D-Norfolk, said he saw no sense endangering the secure minority-dominant district that Scott holds should the popular, 10-term congressman decide not to seek re-election at some point. Besides, Alexander said, he may be interested in someday succeeding Scott, 64, and wants as friendly a district as possible.
If the state is to create another minority district, he argued, it should be in the fast-growing suburbs of Washington, D.C., with large Asian, Latino and other immigrant communities.
Sen. L. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, called Bell's bill insensitive and likened it to "putting black folks on a plantation." And she was so unhappy with Alexander and other Democrats who supported the bill Friday that she threatened Friday to challenge Alexander in a primary if Scott vacates the seat and Alexander seeks it.
I certainly hope progressive Democrats can find a strong opponent to Alexander should he seek the 3rd Congressional District down the road, but I am worried that he seems posed to elevate to higher political office virtually unopposed in this special election.
A few other standout moments for Alexander in recent legislative sessions?
Alexander voted for the Republican gerrymander in the House of Delegates, which not only went after the Democratic caucus but failed to seize the opportunity to create an additional minority-majority district in southern Hampton Roads.
He wasone of three House Democrats to help move HR 72 out of committee, a resolution pushed by climate deniers urging Congress to stop all of the EPA's greenhouse gas program implementations.
What may turn out to be an unopposed run for the State Senate in this special election obviously sets up Alexander for higher office. He's not only discussed running for Congress but statewide as well. Is there any question what sort of record he'd hold in higher office given his actions in the House of Delegate?
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