Check out the latest episode of the Transition VA podcast, this time as “[former Virginia House Democratic Caucus Executive Director] Trevor Southerland and [Virginia Senate GOP Press Secretary] Jeff Ryer…preview the Democratic and Republican priorities for the special legislative session on COVID” and “discuss the path forward for the Republican Party, and the 2021 election.” Key takeaways include:
- Southerland thinks the upcoming Virginia General Assembly Special Session said the budget “might be in a little better shape than we had initially thought when we went into COVID…the budget hit isn’t going to be as severe as it could have been.” On criminal justice reform, Southerland said, “I do think you’re going to see some reforms that are needed…in the area of police reform…I think the Legislative Black Caucus put out a very ambitious program that they’re looking to enact and so I think they sort of laid down a good guide post with what they put out to say, hey this is what we feel like would be acceptable. It’ll be interesting to see how much of that happens in the special or how much of it waits until next year, maybe when the general session comes on; the special session sort of was initally was more about the budget, finishing it, and COVID, and then we’ve had everything happen recently that requires it to look a little further.”
- Ryer noted that this special session is very unusual. Ryer added: “I think the special session probably would have been manageable, but I think from a logistical standpoint, if you look back at special sessions, you’re just not going to see one like this, where there’s a potential for multiple bills, all of which require constitutional readings, committee hearings, public hearings…and just a variety of hurdles to hold it. So Trevor may be somewhat prescient in his comments of how many things end up being held over, because generally special sessions are set up because consensus has already been
reached or clear majorities on issues have already been reached and you’re coming in just to kind of put a bow on everything. This has been called in a manner that’s much more wide open and wide-ranging, and I don’t really know how practical that is for a part-time legislature.”
- Southerland doesn’t think Democrats will have problems getting stuff done in the Special Session, adding that “action needs to be taken.” Southerland also noted that we might need to look at the “citizen legislature” model at some point.
- On a proposal to require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, Ryer said it’s “almost entirely dependent on the Democrat [sic] majority, because I don’t see that effort garnering any support among Republicans, at least in the Senate.” According to Ryer, requiring paid sick leave would “burden” Virginia businesses, calling it an “unfunded mandate on business,” then launching into mockery of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (“everybody’s favorite scold…why didn’t you all nominate her, because I got to tell you there is nothing America wants more than a school marm from New England – Jesus!…earning close to 400k annually at Harvard, living in a lovely complex in Cambridge which I assure you is thoroughly integrated – I mean, come on get a clue!”). Yeah, Jeff, tell us how you really feel about strong, progressive women! LOL
- On the different tacks being taken by Senate and House Democrats leading up to the Special Session (e.g., House Democrats holding public hearings), Southerland said, “It’s just a different strategy on whether you want to lay down the marker first or a little later, so that’s that’s all that is.” Southerland added that a lot of things proposed by Senate Democrats on police and criminal justice reform “are good to go.”
- On the future of Virginia politically, Ryer argued that Virginia “is not going to be a one-party state,” that “it will go for Republicans under the right circumstances, it will go for Democrats under the right circumstances, nobody has a permanent majority…I think it’s more challenging for either party when their party occupies the White House.”
- Southerland doesn’t think there will be a major backlash in Virginia in 2021 if Joe Biden is in the White House. Southerland argued that the Republican operation in Virginia has basically “fallen apart,” is “in a hole,” and “I don’t see it getting itself back together that quickly.” Southerland added that Democrats have “potentially wonderful nominees for almost every office” statewide in 2021, compared to a “limited field” of “subpar” candidates on the Republican side. Not surprisingly, Ryer disagreed “strenuously” with Southerland on this.
- The candidates Ryer mentioned for governor in 2021 include former State Senator Bill Carrico, Pete Snyder, Senator Amanda Chase, possibly Rob Wittman and others if Biden wins the White House. Ryer also argued that Democrats have given Republicans “a lot of openings, just by the legislation that they’ve passed so far.”
- Ryer is optimistic about Republicans’ chances of picking up seats in the House of Delegates in 2021, but noted that we don’t know when we’ll get Census numbers and new district lines might be drawn. Southerland said he thinks Republicans might go after Del. Nancy Guy, Del. Chris Hurst, Del. Wendy Gooditis, Del. Rodney Willett, Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, etc., but also that Republicans will be “on the defensive” in some districts (e.g., Kirk Cox, Roxanne Robinson, Amanda Batten, Glenn Davis…).
- On the 2021 gubernatorial race, there was discussion of whether Terry McAuliffe might want to join the Biden cabinet or be governor again. Personally, I think he wants to be governor again…but we’ll see. Southerland argued, “we have a very deep bench [on the Democratic side],” and only Amanda Chase on the Republican side. Ryer retorted that many Republicans are “waiting and hoping that a Biden win will do that traditional you know change back where they suddenly have momentum again.”