Friday, December 4, 2020
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I May Be Gerrymandered But I’m Voting

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As I prepare to vote Tuesday, I find the prospect less that thrilling. I do have a choice in my delegate and senate races, unlike the majority of Virginians. However, the chance the people I'm voting will win is about the same odds as my winning the lottery.

Before my senate district was gerrymandered, I would have had the great satisfaction of voting for Brandon Bell over Ralph "Mr. Carpetbag" Smith. Now, I will be voting for Robert Short, a 24-year-old Iraq veteran Democrat with no money, against Steve Newman, the Falwellian Senate Republican Caucus leader. The thought that Newman would "represent" me in Richmond is disgusting, but as a friend of mine from Lynchburg joked, "The only good thing about Newman is that you won't have to see or listen to him again until the next election."  

Even though I was gerrymandered out of my old house district, I have a fine Democrat to vote for. Lewis Medlin is a small businessman from Bedford County who would be a great representative. While this time Medlin has the best shot he has had in his three runs for the House of Delegates, he's still faces long odds. He's running against that old fossil Lacey Putney, the Byrd-Democrat-turned-Independent who caucuses with Republicans. Putney has a Republican opponent, Jerry Johnson, a Tea Partier who won't get many Republican votes. Bearing Drift said of Putney, "Del. Putney is not only an unofficial face of the GOP in Richmond, but he is also a recognized face among the party faithful in central and western Virginia." So, I'm sure the majority of GOP voters will break their party pledge and go for Putney.

I may not be happy with the way gerrymandering has changed my districts, but I will vote. It is imperative that all Democrats go to the polls and vote. I won't be voting for people likely to win, but Democratic turnout is the key to keeping the State Senate in Democratic hands. Everyone should also remember that local offices are on the ballot.

No Free Ride This Time for Newman

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If Sen. Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg) thought that he was going to get another free ride this November, he's in for a surprise. Robert Short, Sr., is seeking the Democratic nomination against Newman, the Senate Republican caucus chair, in the re-drawn 23rd District. The 23rd now includes part of Lynchburg, all of Botetourt County, most of Bedford County, and parts of Roanoke and Campbell counties, so Short has his work cut out for him.

A native of central Virginia, Robert Short is a veteran of two tours in Iraq as a member of the National Guard. He currently lives and works in Bedford. He is married and the father of three.

As Short recently told the Botetourt County Democratic Committee, "For years we have been sending career politicians to Richmond. Isn't it time we sent someone who actually earns a pay check?" Short stated that he stands for a world class education for our children and responsive government.

"This is not what we have gotten from our current representative[in the 23rd]," Short noted. That observation matches what people Newman currently represents have told me. No one sees or hears from him unless they happen to attend a Republican event.

This candidacy is a real long shot, but perhaps it takes a person who's faced enemy fire in defense of the nation to take on a GOP powerhouse like Steve Newman, whose most noted legislative "achievement" was passage of an amendment to the Virginia Constitution that for the first time took rights away from the state's citizens, the so-called "Defense of Marriage" amendment.

In his platform Short states unequivocally, "No one should be discriminated against based on his or her race, color, religion, creed, sex, veteran status, sexual orientation, national origin, age, or disability, but each individual should be judged solely on the basis of their character and merit."

I, for one, will be very thankful that there will be a choice on the ballot, instead of what is supposed to be a contested election being simply a foregone conclusion. Maybe the DPVA needs to make candidate recruitment the number one discussion item at the upcoming Grassroots Summit.