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Video: Far-Right VA State Senator Sponsors Bible Study Bill, Says He...

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 Thomas Jefferson must have been violently tossing around in his grave as he listened to yesterday's debate in the Virginia State Senate on far-right...

Video: Hearing on Pipelines Bill Highlights Dominion’s Continued Sway, “Virginia Way”...

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The following video, of the debate yesterday of Sen. John Edwards' SB324 ("prohibits a natural gas company from entering upon property for such purposes unless...

Report from the 21st Senate District

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In a brilliant move, the Virginia GOP somehow convinced Don Caldwell, commonwealth's attorney and former chair of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee, to run as an independent and third candidate in the 21st state senate race against incumbent Sen. John Edwards, a Democrat they would love to knock off as an insurance policy against losing their state senate majority. Edwards was already facing a formidable Republican candidate in Nancy Dye, a doctor who could eat into Edward's votes from independents and moderate Republicans in Roanoke City.  Was Caldwell offered a judgeship? Was he somehow angry at John Edwards? Who knows? But Caldwell's defection throws the race in the 21th into turmoil. My opinion is that the race is a toss-up.

In 2011 the Republicans tried to knock off Edwards, at that time only one of three Democrats in the senate from west of Charlottesville. (We all remember Phil Puckett's deal with the GOP to get his daughter a judgeship, resulting in his retirement. That leaves John Edwards and Creigh Deeds as the only senate Dems in the western half of the state.) Edwards in 2011 faced Dave Nutter a member of the House of Delegates from Montgomery County. It was felt that Nutter could garner enough votes outside of Roanoke City to beat Edwards. Edwards won with 56% of the vote. However, the turnout was, as usual, low. The total vote in the district was only about 38,000 votes, out of a total population of 188,000. Statewide turnout was about 29%, not a promising statistic for Democrats in off years.

I have heard that Nancy Dye is doing door-to-door campaigning, a tactic that is very effective, but one that John Edwards is not known for. She is well funded since the GOP wants her to win, if at all possible. Edwards is ahead in fundraising, but Dye is close behind him.

One good thing I saw today was a TV ad by the Edwards campaign. It wasn't especially interesting, but it did have John Edwards speaking about his achievements since he was first elected.  If I were his campaign manager, I would tell him to resurrect an effective ad he used in 2011 with his mother telling why her boy should be re-elected. He needs to have ads that make people talk about them, something different from the usual.  Nancy Dye has also run TV ads, beating Edwards to the airwaves by several days.

Family Feud Grows in Roanoke

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The latest kerfluffle making news in the 21st state senate district, now represented by Democrat John Edwards, is the recent cancellation of a fundraiser for Attorney General Mark Herring's One Commonwealth PAC. The fundraiser was to take place at the law offices of Ray Ferris, a Roanoke city councilman who ran the last time as an independent after serving on council as a Democrat.  There are conflicting stories about just how the fundraiser, at which John Edwards was scheduled to appear, got pulled.

According to Tommy Jordan, a long-time Democratic campaign activist who has helped Ferris in previous elections, the Edwards campaign wanted the event canceled because they said Ferris was going to use it to announce his support for Don Caldwell, 35-year veteran commonwealth's attorney for Roanoke City, who bolted the party he used to chair to run as an independent against Edwards and his Republican opponent, Dr. Nancy Dye. Jordan adamantly denied that was going to happen.  Meanwhile, Sam Barrett, campaign manager for Edwards, said that Edwards wasn't involved in the decision to pull the plug on the fundraiser.

The statement from Adam Zuckerman, the director of Herring's PAC said, "This particular event was becoming a bit of distraction for local Democrats, but Attorney General Herring strongly supports Senator Edwards's re-election."

This newest pothole in the road to Edwards retaining his seat makes me wonder if he can pull off re-election or not.  Jordan's disavowal notwithstanding, I believe that Ferris WAS going to sabotage Edwards with a Caldwell endorsement. Why? First, after he graduated from law school in the late 1980's, Ferris' first job was in Don Caldwell's office as an assistant prosecutor, staying there until he opened his own firm. They have remained fast friends. Plus, Ferris evidently has not gotten over the fact that in the last council election in May 2014 two other Democrats filed to run against the three Democratic incumbents up for re-election for the three available nominations. Thus, there would have been a primary. To avoid that, Ferris broke with the party and ran as an independent. He was joined by fellow incumbent Bill Bestpitch, who also had been elected as a Democrat.

Sen. John Edwards: Bolling not a Senator, “has no role to...

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The following analysis is from Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke). Bolding added by me for emphasis.
November 16, 2011

Letter to the editor:

Given the recent elections resulting in a 20-20 split between the parties in the Senate of Virginia, some Republicans have suggested that they have the upper hand in drawing the rules, assigning chairmanships and controlling committees because the Lieutenant Governor, who presides over the Senate and breaks tie votes on legislation, is a Republican. However, this is not so.

The last time the Senate was split 20-20 in 1996, the precedent was established to share power between the parties. This was successfully and amicably done when the Lieutenant Governor was a Democrat. Power was shared; committees and committee chairs were divided to accommodate in a reasonable way each party regardless who might be the Lieutenant Governor.

Moreover, the Constitution of Virginia does not call for the Lieutenant Governor to vote on reorganization which occurs every four years. His power to vote to break ties does not include all matters. For example, he does not vote on the budget, taxes or the election of judges, as the constitution provides that a majority of members elected to each house is required in such cases.  Va. Const., Art. IV, §11 (budget, taxes); Va. Const., Art. VI., §7 (judicial elections).  Other matters, such as resolutions to amend the constitution, also require a majority of members elected to cast an affirmative vote. Va. Const., Art. XII, § 1 (amendments).  Likewise, he does not vote on reorganizational matters as he is not elected to the Senate.

On reorganizational matters, the constitution provides that "Each house shall select its officers and settle its rules of procedure."  Va. Const., Art. IV, §7.  Each house is defined as consisting of members who are elected to the respective house; thus, a majority of members of each house is required to select officers and settle rules of procedure.


More on the "flip," including why Republicans can NOT wait until 2012 to complete congressional redistricting.

John Edwards Has Earned Our Vote; Dave Nutter Hasn’t.

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John Edwards (in file photo adjacent) is the only candidate for state Senate (21st District) who has consistently worked to grow jobs, focused on his responsibility to his constituents, and worked tirelessly to make their lives better. He knows that government does have a roll to play in the conduct of the people's business. There are areas in which it is not only more efficient, but also more effective to bring cooperative effort to bear on a problem we could not readily solve on our own. Edwards wrote the bill to build the Roanoke Higher Education center which has had considerable success educating and training SW Virginians close to home. The impact of this center on earnings potential is substantial. He's also been the regions strongest advocate for education in the Senate.

Edwards has waged a sometimes lonely battle to expand rail passenger transportation our way. He's made headway by funding connector transport to bring those of us without rail to rail lines.  Now he's working to bring passenger trains here as well. He has worked to fund highway needs. He has worked tirelessly to fund education and keep both K-12 and higher education strong.  

He's won numerous awards for his public service:

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

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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?

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

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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...

Edwards Kicks Off Re-election Campaign

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Sen. John Edwards formally opened his Roanoke office on Friday. Approximately 100 people attended the event. The new lines of the 21st Senate District include all of Roanoke, a portion of Roanoke County, part of Montgomery County including Blacksburg and all of Giles County. His opponent in November is Del. Dave Nutter, a five-term Republican who defeated Tea-Party-endorsed Tripp Godsey in a primary that drew less than 3% of registered voters. Nutter won in Montgomery and Giles Counties, but Godsey actually carried Roanoke City and County by a few votes.

Sen. Edwards outlined for the group what will be the main issue he will stress in the campaign, job creation through investments in education and transportation. "We create jobs by investing in the infrastructure of the future, by investing in job-creating institutions," Edwards said.

Edwards noted that Nutter voted for the McDonnell budget that would have cut an additional $620 million from public education, an action that would have resulted in 10,000-12,000 jobs being lost in the state; however, the Democratic-controlled State Senate blocked the cut. He also pointed out that in multiple sessions of the General Assembly, the Senate put forth a bipartisan transportation plan that couldn't even receive committee consideration in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.

John Edwards was instrumental in the creation of the Roanoke Higher Education Center. The center offers courses through 12 state institutions of higher education. Since its inception, the higher ed center has allowed more than 6,500 persons to receive degrees or certificates of program completion. The average increase in salary because of the training has been as much as $17,000, according to one study.

Who’s Positioned for Democratic State Runs in 2013?

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I suppose it's never too soon to begin to speculate on exactly which Democrats might by getting a case of "Richmond Fever" for 2013. (Otherwise, we can only sit around and watch Bob McDonnell fiddle in the governor's mansion while Ken Cuccinelli marches his army of troglodytes to the edge of his flat earth in order to stage another foot-stamping anger fit with a lawsuit attached.)

It's hardly a secret that Terry McAuliffe is busy following in the footsteps of Mark Warner by working to bring jobs to areas of Virginia that need all the assistance they can get, in a scarcely disguised bid for a gubernatorial nomination. Recently,  McAuliffe announced that his green car company, Greentech Automotive, had purchased EuAuto Technology Ltd., a company that makes and distributes electric cars. Additionally, McAuliffe still has a bid alive to purchase the now-closed International Paper plant in Isle of Wight County and convert it to a biomass energy plant. Result? Jobs, jobs, jobs...and, if successful, a nomination.

Then, we can't ignore how Del. Ward Armstrong has been acting of late. He has visited three Democratic events in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, plus making himself seen at a couple of congressional district conventions. He's acting like an early gubernatorial candidate.

(I have to say something at this point. After 2009, I personally don't want to see the Virginia Democratic party nominate another rural (Henry County), anti-abortion, gun-toting, health reform criticizing guy for governor. I hope we learned something from last year. If not, then the DPVA is hopeless.)