Home Virginia Politics Top Virginia Political Stories of 2016

Top Virginia Political Stories of 2016


The following list is not meant to be comprehensive, but these are some of the top political stories, IMHO, that took place in Virginia during 2016, aka “arguably the year that will end up the worst in U.S. history.” Feel free to add your suggested additions in the comments section. Thanks, and happy holidays (yeah, FU Trump…not everyone celebrates Christmas in this country)!

  • On January 7, a three-judge panel in Richmond “imposed a new Virginia congressional map that seeks to give blacks a chance to elect candidates of their choice in two districts, not just one.”
  • On January 14, Gov. McAuliffe delivered the State of the Commonwealth address, in which he said that he remained “optimistic” that “[i]f we sit down at the table together in good will, we can find a way forward together on the important issue of Medicaid expansion.” That obviously didn’t happen.
  • In late January, Gov. McAuliffe came under heavy criticism by gun violence prevention advocates for his “compromise” deal with the NRA. Others, like Del. Patrick Hope, praised the deal as an “exciting bipartisan bill” that “will keep us safer.”
  • On March 1, “Super Tuesday,” Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders in the Virginia Democratic Presidential primary by a nearly 2:1 margin. On the Republican side, Donald Trump edged out Marco Rubio by a 3-point margin (35%-32%), with Ted Cruz at 17% and John Kasich at 9.5%.
  • On March 9, Virginia Republicans booted highly respected Justice Jane Roush off the Virginia Supreme Court, replace her with right winger Stephen R. McCullough. As House Democratic Leader David Toscano said: “From the very beginning, Republican leadership has focused on denying a qualified Justice, Jane Roush, from keeping her seat on the Supreme Court. At the last minute, they proposed a candidate that had a 15-minute hearing and did not receive the vetting that occurred for Justice Roush. This process has been political from the start, and does a disservice to the judicial selection process and the citizens of the Commonwealth.” Disgraceful – but typical – behavior by Virginia Republicans, in other words.
  • GMU Law School disgraces itself in late March by announcing that it would rename itself the Antonin Scalia School of Law (aka, #ASSLAW), in an unsavory deal no less. On April 6, a letter from several Virginia Democratic State Senators and Delegates urges Virginia to reject renaming the law school for a variety of reasons, including GMU Law School’s “disturbing” acceptance of “a $20 million anonymous donation with strings attached.”
  • In an historic announcement, and arguably the high point of his entire governorship, Gov. McAuliffe on April 22 announced that he would restore voting rights to 200,000+ ex felons. Predictably, Virginia Republicans FREAKED OUT, with Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment hyperventilating: “To [Terry McAuliffe], the Constitution of Virginia can be disregarded if it stands in the way of what he perceives to be an electoral advantage for his long-time patrons, the Clintons….By consistently placing partisanship above all other considerations, including longstanding constitutional limitations on his power, he has demonstrated his complete and total disregard for the Commonwealth, the Constitution, and the people of Virginia.”
  • That wasn’t the end of the story, of course — After Forcing Superb Female Justice Off State Supreme Court, Virginia GOP Celebrates Blocking People from Voting: “a ruling by the now-more-conservative State Supreme Court striking down ‘executive orders issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe that would have allowed more than 200,000 felons to register to vote and participate in the November presidential election.’” Fortunately, McAuliffe was able to go about this another way, restoring the ex-felons’ rights one at a time, with the Virginia Supreme Court on September 15 denying anti-democracy Republicans’ attempt to have McAuliffe held in contempt of court. It’s truly amazing the lengths to which Republicans will go to prevent people (particularly African Americans) from voting…
  • On April 29, a report card gives Gov. McAuliffe a D+ on carbon pollution, clean energy in Virginia.
  • On April 30, VA GOP Convention Turns Into War Between Trump Chair Corey Stewart, Cruz Surrogate Ken Cuccinelli.
  • On May 23, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Virginia’s new Congressional map. As ProgressVA explained: “The new map, drawn by a court-appointed special master, was ordered by the District Court after they found the Virginia General Assembly unconstitutionally packed voters of color into the third congressional district in an attempt to dilute their voting influence.”
  • On June 14, Virginia Democrats and Republicans held primaries for a variety of offices. Among the key results: Donald McEachin easily won the Democratic nomination for Congress from the 4th CD; Republican Scott Taylor defeated Rep. Randy Forbes for the 2nd CD nomination; Del. Monty Mason defeated Shelly Simonds for the Democratic nomination for State Senate in the 1st District; Libby Garvey defeated Erik Gutshall (who I strongly supported) in the Democratic primary for Arlington County Board.
  • On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated and remanded the decision of the Fourth Circuit in the Bob McDonnell case, bizarrely claiming that “setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event does not, standing alone, qualify as an ‘official act,'” and adding: “our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute. A more limited interpretation of the term “official act” leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption, while comporting with the text of the statute and the precedent of this Court.”
  • On July 12, Sen. Tim Kaine spoke out on the Senate floor against the climate science “web of denial” by the fossil fuel industry and its affiliated “think tanks,” etc.
  • On July 18, at the Republican National Convention, Ted Cruz supporter Ken Cuccinelli found himself at the center of an (unsuccessful, of course) rebellion against the nomination of Donald Trump for President. A few days earlier, Cooch had compared the GOP Rules Committee to “what North Korean political conventions [must] feel like.”
  • On July 22, Hillary Clinton announced that she had picked Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. As I wrote at the time, “it’s pretty cool that the guy I worked hard to elect governor in 2005 with the whole ‘Raising Kaine’ effort, then worked closely with his campaign in 2012 to help elect him to the U.S. Senate, is now one step away from becoming Vice President of the United States.” I just wish that, despite getting 2.9 MILLION more votes that Trump/Pence, Kaine had actually been elected as VP.
  • Super-sad news on July 26 that Sen. Kaine’s Northern Virginia Regional Representative Joe Montano, a great friend to so many Virginia Democrats (myself included), had passed away. As Joe’s family wrote in a statement: “A friend to all, Joe was a passionate community activist, committed public servant, and champion of the Filipino American community. The collective pain that we feel as we process his passing brings us together to remember his love, his energy, and his laughter.” So true; count that as one of the reasons I consider 2016 to have been a horrible, horrible year.
  • On July 27, Tim Kaine addressed the Virginia delegation to the Democratic National Convention, saying this is “a civil rights election” and delivering an emotional tribute to Joe Montano. Also, Kaine was nominated by acclamation for Vice President, followed by his acceptance speech.
  • On October 4, Tim Kaine debated Mike Pence at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.
  • On October 8, Rep. Barbara Comstock FINALLY disavowed (kinda sorta) Donald Trump following the “Access Hollywood” story.
  • On October 10, Trump’s Virginia State Director Corey Stewart was fired for (reportedly) disobeying orders and protesting at the Republican National Committee against what he called GOP establishment “pukes.” You’ve really got to be extreme and unhinged to be too much for the Trump campaign!
  • On October 24, the Virginia Board of Health voted to scrap unconstitutional, sham restrictions on women’s access to safe and legal abortion in the Commonwealth.
  • On October 28, Tim Kaine called FBI Director Comey’s actions regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails “very very troubling.”
  • On November 4, campaigning for LuAnn Bennett, Khizr Khan denounced Trump’s “UnAmerican bigotry” and “division.” Boy, we Khizr Khan right!
  • On November 8, the Clinton/Kaine ticket defeated Trump/Pence in Virginia, by a 50%-44% margin. Of course, as it turned out, Virginia was the least of our worries on what turned out to be a disastrous Election Day 2016 in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
  • Also on November 8, State Sen. Donald McEachin was elected to Congress from the 4th CD, while LuAnn Bennett lost by 6 points to Rep. Barbara Comstock in the 10th CD. The three Democratic incumbents – Bobby Scott (3rd), Don Beyer (8th) and Gerry Connolly (11th) were all easily reelected. And thank goodness, Joe Morrissey lost (badly) for Mayor of Richmond, with former Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney winning the election without having to proceed to a runoff.
  • On November 15, after months of radio silence, Jim Webb returned to address The American Conservative foreign policy conference, arguing that the Democratic Party abandoned white working people…and other false, Trumpian nonsense.
  • On November 17, State Sen. Mamie Locke was elected Democratic Caucus Chair, replacing Rep.-Elect Donald McEachin.
  • On December 6, Blue Virginia posted, Virginia House Districts Won by Hillary Clinton Highlight Most Vulnerable GOP Delegates for 2017.
  • On December 10, Virginia Democrats held their State Central Committee meeting, vowing to win in 2017, while Virginia Republicans held their retreat, aka “Advance,” vowing to…well, continue to be the far-right VA GOP we know and love. 😉
  • On December 14, Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) called on the Electoral College to delay its vote pending an intelligence briefing on Russian interference in the presidential election.
  • Also on December 14, Adam Parkhomenko announced that he would note run for Lt. Governor of Virginia in 2017, leaving two announced candidates – Justin Fairfax and Gene Rossi – and one potential/likely candidate, former Joe Biden Chief of Staff Susan Platt.



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