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Brandon Bell, Dick Saslaw, $200K, and the Battle for 21 Dems

by Paul Goldman

Like it or not, there is only one overriding issue in the 2011 Virginia elections: will the Democrats maintain enough votes to organize the Senate in such a way as to maximize their ability to prevent some very bad ideas from passing the General Assembly?

Other than that, there are no major substantive issues dominating either the campaigns or the news coverage. The House Majority has been gerrymandered into certainty for a decade unless something beyond the wildest magnitudes of statistical deviation occur. Perhaps Senate Democrats should have tried a more unified substantive strategy. But that horse is out of the barn.

It's raw power now, including those who don't want to see the Vice Presidential hopes of Robert McDonnell get any further boost. If the GOP takes the Senate, then the Governor's national star goes higher, thus he is more likely to be on the GOP national ticket.

McDonnell running statewide next year is not good for Tim Kaine, nor for Mark Warner in 2014. So one would think Democrats apathetic about voting next week might want to reconsider. One suspects Republicans have figured out the chess board.

Which brings us to the decision by Senate Democrats to give $200k to former-Republican-turned-independent, 19th district candidate Brandon Bell. In the end, Majority Leader Dick Saslaw made a practical decision on the $200K, period.  

Jerry Kilgore Endorses Whom?

Wow! Rick Perry (shown in this recent bizarre video) has a new BFF (best friend forever) -- in Virginia at least. Remember Jerry Kilgore? To defeat him, we in the progressive blogosphere gave it pretty much all we had. And it worked. We didn't do it alone, of course. Far from it. But it is hard to deny that our efforts to "raise Kaine" were a factor. It is a good thing we trounced Jerry Kilgore too.

His latest announcement shows how far gone he really is. Not only has he endorsed Rick Perry for president, but also Kilgore will be Perry's Virginia campaign chair, according to the Washington Post here.

Poor Jerry lost his candidate when T-Paw withdrew from the race. Now, ordinarily, we could just laugh this off. But in the aftermath of Perry's bizarre speech this week, the nuttiness of this endorsement and campaign chairing is heightened. You gotta wonder at the candidate we could have had for governor had we not worked as hard as we did in 2005. (Remember that next year.)

Why Did Sen. Dick Saslaw (D) Give $200k to a Republican...

Meet "Independent" (err Republican) Brandon Bell of Roanoke (photo adjacent). He's running against another Republican, Ralph Smith. By 2011 "standards," Bell is now called a "moderate." It wasn't so long ago he wasn't. He really is a pragmatic conservative, who once in a great while votes with Dems.

While we have bonafide Democrats running for office in other districts right now, this week Sen. Dick Saslaw (D) gave Brandon Bell $202,500. With all the resulting hell Ralph Smith is raising (calling Bell a "liberal"), and using Saslaw's donation as "proof," Saslaw probably assured a Smith win. However, even if Bell wins, he has publicly stated he will not caucus with Dems. What's up with Saslaw then?

What Is It With Loudoun Republicans?!? Dick Black on Spousal Rape,...


As this video illustrates, Dick Black is truly appalling, even by the low, low standards of Loudoun County Republicans (last seen sending out a "light-hearted" email depicting Barack Obama with a bullet hole in his head). As for Dick Black, you can learn more about him here. Also, you can read Dick "Plastic Fetus" Black's bizarre rantings about gays in the military here ("there was a young fellow who went to the showers at night, there were two homosexuals lurking -- they were also basic trainees - and they strangled him with a towel and forced him to submit to, you know, things that we won't talk about"). The thought of this individual in the Virginia State Senate is truly frightening. Fortunately, there's an excellent alternative: moderate Democratic businessman Shawn Mitchell, who I strongly urge the voters of the 13th Senate district to elect next Tuesday. If not, then Black will be Back, and it won't be pretty.

Getting to the Essence of Governing in the Public Interest (or...


I have met and known many politicians. Nearly all had good intentions, were fairly well accomplished, and did  a number of good things in office. For many of them, I had considerable excitement at first. But often there is disappointment. I am not so naive I expect always to get my way. Rather disappointment, even disillusionment, is rooted in the electeds often forgetting why they ran to serve us in the first place: Making their locality, or district, or state a better place. Don Langrehr is different. He remembers he is a public servant, a steward of the town's resources, and a leader of its people. This diary is about something pretty extraordinary, especially in this economy. It is how Don helped transform our local government. Our town has been run so well in recent years, it has almost become ordinary, the expected, the taken-for-granted. I've already told you about CNN and Forbes naming Blacksburg  as one of the nation's best managed towns.I think the video above captures it. Watch the video segment to the end... and then join me after the fold.

Again No-Show Joe (Yost) Thumbs His Nose at Citizens

It is getting old.  For the fifth time, the third in as many days, Joseph Yost has failed to show for a candidate forum. There's more to running and serving than citing your family pedigree/geneology). Citizens have a right to be able to compare/contrast the candidates wanting to represent them. He also clearly cannot stand side-by-side with Don Langrehr and present his views.

At the same time, despite Yost's deficiencies as a candidate, amazingly, he appears to be getting cocky about his McDonnell-Howell financial (puppet) windfall. He apparently believes he owes the citizens nothing, not even the respect of showing up.

Yesterday I wrote about how this young man doesn't even understand Virginia government. But he says he is a "quick study." If so, why isn't he up to speed already then?  The truth is that Joseph Yost who's barely been president of the local Young Republicans for a significant length of time, is unfit to represent the 12th District as a voting member of the House of Delegates. Let the buyer (and the voter) beware. BTW, Guess who else is missing? Take a look below the fold...

Del. Dave Nutter Should Be Ashamed, But He Isn’t (Part 1)

State Senator John Edwards (D-21, representing a portion of Roanoke, along with Blacksburg and Radford) has a solid statewide reputation. As some of you may recall he previously was a candidate for Attorney General.  Dave Nutter (photograph adjacent), well, doesn't have any statewide credibiity.  John Edwards has been a first-rate senator for our area. Nutter has been a milktoast delegate. But Nutter has visions of grandeur. What to do?  So Dave Nutter is waging a phony and nasty campaign to unseat the excellent Edwards.  The excessive numbers of glossy Nutter mailings are piled high and deep with BS. From the candidate from the party of NO, which would do anything but help along this economy (i.e. grow jobs) Dave Nutter would have you believe that he is actually a jobs candidate, as if any Republican running in America in 2011-12 is. Then Nutter sends a mailing saying this:
"If you thought your job is safe, guess again.  No job is safe with John Edwards in the Virginia Senate."
And this:
"State Senator John Edwards is just plain scary." (grainy photo included)
Nutter's mailing even calls the glossy piece of garbage a "special report." Note the mailing is paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia, but is authorized by Dave Nutter himself. I guess he's been so abysmal in debates that he thinks he has to resort to this kind of garbage. In short, John Edwards cleans his clock.  

There is more below the fold...

This County Ain’t Big Enough…..

As I've been talking with voters about November's election, I hear two sentences over and over again:  "I didn't know we elected a Sheriff."  and "Is that this year?"  So perhaps some attention needs to be paid!

Even as much of a political junkie as I am, the Sheriff's race would have completely escaped my active attention if it weren't for the Republican and/or Cooper attack on current Sheriff (and Democrat) Stan Barry regarding his retirement.  Naturally, as a Fairfax County resident, I added my name, e-mail and zip code to get the updates about this alleged corruption.  To this date, I haven't received a single one.  Now, maybe they saw my name (I don't use a dummy name or e-mail -- if I write something or communicate about VA politics, it is always under my own full name.)  Or more likely, there's just nothing there to say.

Help Babur Lateef Win the Ballgame by Keeping His Ad on...


If you like Dr. Babur Lateef, dislike Corey Stewart, and want to see this ad running in Prince William County through election day, please click here and give generously. In other words, let's all help Lateef win this ballgame for the people of Prince William County!

Debate Video: Caren Merrick Lies About Delegates Keam’s and Bulova’s NRA...


During a 31st State Senate District debate this afternoon at Rodef Shalom Synagogue in Falls Church, Tea Party Republican Caren Merrick outright lies about the NRA scores of Delegates Mark Keam and David Bulova. In reality, Merrick received an A- rating, which is significantly more pro-gun than Keam and Bulova, who received grades of "C" and "D," respectively. Don't you just love how Merrick keeps trying to hide her hard-right-wing views on just about every subject, from guns to a woman's right to choose to the environment to her anti-government/anti-tax views name it? Stay tuned for more video, including Merrick's "drill baby drill!" stance, her utter ignorance of how to fund transportation, her obvious support for draconian restrictions on women's health clinics in Virginia, and her continuing refusal to release her NRA questionnaire (despite promising she'd do so before the election; well, the clock is ticking, just 2 weeks to go!).