Then I realized that the weeks coincided with the run-up for the September 1st deadline the court had set for Congressional redistricting. Perhaps the General Assembly would be working on an 11th hour compromise?
Nope. Early in the special session my fears were put to rest as the Republicans tried to jam everything and forced Democrats to adjourn. Redistricting would occur in September after I was back from vacation.
Then Mark Herring announces that he will be running for reelection as the Commonwealth's Attorney General! It's a good thing I kept my phone on so I could get the texts from friends back in the Commonwealth while on vacation!
A few thoughts.
1. Announcing before this fall's elections ensures that the narrative will not be one of Herring being pushed out by concerned moderates and negative nay-sayers. Despite the all-out effort by the Democrats to win back the State Senate, they are on hostile terrain and could still fall short. Should this happen, the political talking heads could point to the election as a sign that Virginia is still a tough, purple state, and that the VMI graduate and more moderate Ralph Northam would be a better candidate for Democrats going into 2017. The pressure would be on to unite the party and avoid a primary fight.
As the night of November 4th wore on, it became clear that your political future lay firmly in the hands of Northern Virginia Democrats. Had the progressive counties of NoVa not loyally stood with you, you would now be out of a job.
This reality may conflict with your self-image as a "radical centrist" who likes to show your "independence" by poking your fingers in our eyes. Perhaps you're still fondly re-reading the yellowing news clips of your 2001 campaign, of its NASCAR races and turkey hunts.
But politically speaking, that was ages ago. The architect of that campaign, Mudcat Saunders, defected last year to endorse the ultra-right-wing Ken Cuccinelli. And last week, the NASCAR crowd jettisoned you like so much spare fuel.
They're not coming back, Senator. For better or for worse, there is no center remaining in American politics today. There are only two sides between which every politician must choose.
The results of last week's election mean that you're stuck with us extremist, wild-eyed liberals, Senator. You can no longer postpone paying attention to your base.
You need us - but the truth is that we need you too. We need you to stand up for our values and defend us from all the threats that the new Republican Senate majority represents for our country and our world.
So let's start with the reality that the scientific community is shouting at us to focus on.
Members of the Virginia Senate who are not beholden to Dominion:
Members of the Virginia House of Delegates who are not beholden to Dominion:
- Sullivan, Richard C. (Rip), Jr. (D-48th)
- Rasoul, Sam (D-11th)
- Lindsey, Joseph C. (D-90th)
- Farrell, Peter F. (R-56th)
- Bloxom, Robert S., Jr. (R-100th)
- Berg, Mark J. (R-29th)
- Adams, Leslie R. (R-16th)
The range of contribution amounts ranges wildly from a quarter thousand to a quarter million dollars and seems directly proportionate to some combination of seniority and influence. The fact that the highest percentage of contributions (but not by far: 54 to 43) goes to Republicans follows that logic but I have not looked at trends over time. The "honor rolls" for both chambers will be presented separately.
Mike has three businesses. He is a third generation co-owner of Hamlar-Curtis Funeral Home which has been serving the community for 62 years. In 2009, Michael started Hamlar Enterprises, which is a business brokerage firm. The firm has engaged in multi-million dollar deals across the region, handling mergers, business acquisitions, business evaluations etc. In 2012, Michael and his wife, Katina, established Hamlar Properties, which is a property real estate firm that manages and oversees real estate transactions. Mike is also an adjunct professor at American National University in Salem, VA. He has been recognized by The Blue Ridge Journal as one of the "Top 20 leaders under 40."
At Wake Forest University Mike played football under Jim Caldwell and was on the Seattle Bowl championship team that defeated the University of Oregon. He is accustomed to winning and wants to take this race to the Republican incumbent, Ralph Smith.
A family man with three young children, Mike is faith-driven and confident that he can win this race. That will be a task. Mike likes to say that if you look at the 19th district, it is as though his one-year-old drew it. It encompasses part of Roanoke County, all of Floyd County, all of Salem, part of Montgomery County, all of Wythe and Carroll Counties, and part of Bedford. From end to end it stretches about 120 miles from end to end, not the way the crow flies, but the way the SUV drives, and it takes at least three sweeps to hit every location in it. That is why he has started early. He plans kickoffs in every locality.
Recently appointed by Governor McAuliffe to the Secure Commonwealth Panel, Mike is involved in the community both in business and local civic organizations like the Kiwanis Club, so he is hardly starting from a standstill or without connections. And quite frankly it seems he is always in motion, with clear aims. Right now his goal is to become as well known throughout the district as he is in Roanoke. He is certainly well liked among local Democrats.
His priorities are education, Medicaid expansion (which he hopes is accomplished before he makes it to the Senate), and economic development. He points out that a program like Marketplace Virginia would create 30,000 jobs while providing necessary preventive healthcare. Not yet the official Democratic nominee, he is eager to gain that distinction so that he can focus solely on Republican Smith.