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Virginia Environment Report Card

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It's not often that I feel a need to thank the Richmond Times-Dispatch for providing information helpful to progressive politics, but here goes: Thanks, Times-Dispatch, for sending Virginia's members of Congress a questionnaire about their views on global climate change. The answers the newspaper got and published allow me (Hey, I am a retired teacher!) to grade our state's congressional delegation's views on global warming and how to mitigate it.

Let's get the F's out of the way first.

D-/F: The entire Republican delegation. At least you can say this about Virginia Republicans: they don't appear to be outright climate change deniers. Other than that, though, they have basically nothing to offer on this issue, voting against the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) and everything else that might actually allow the United States to address the problem. They also have no credible program themselves.

The only Democrat who merits a D, albeit a D+, is Glenn Nye (D-2nd). Nye does acknowledge that global warming "is a real and serious problem, and we must work to correct our current energy practice." Then, Nye turns around and opposes any serious measures to solve the problem, first and foremost setting some sort of price on carbon. Nye voted against ACES, which really is inexcusable, given that his coastal district is so vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

There were four congressional members who merit an A+: Bobby Scott (D-3rd), Tom Perriello (D-5th), Jim Moran (D-8th) and Gerry Connolly (D-11th).  

Kenny Golden: Social Libertarian, Economic Populist, National Security Hawk

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After watching this interview by Vivian Paige (good reporting, by the way), my conclusion is that 2nd Congressional District independent candidate Kenny Golden is a social libertarian -- government should stay out of the bedroom, whether it's on abortion or civil unions for gay couples.  On economics, Golden seems to have a populist - and possibly environmentalist - streak, blasting the "greed and nothing else" of BP which might have "killed the Gulf of Mexico" and supporting more regulation on the out-of-control oil industry. On national security, Golden is clearly a hawk, favoring an aggressive stance in the "war on terror" and comparing the "Islamic jihadists" to the Comintern.  Finally, Golden appears to be concerned with the deficit.  All in all, I agree with Vivian Paige that Golden seems to be an "independent thinker."  

It will be interesting to see how Golden's independent philosophy, combined with his military background, plays in the 2nd Congressional District this fall. Can he pull from the left and the right, or will this former Virginia Beach Republican chairman appeal more to Republicans and GOP-leaning independents?  Most importantly, perhaps, will Golden have the resources necessary to garner more than a few percentage points in November?  The answers to those questions could very well determine whether Rep. Glenn Nye returns to Congress next January.

Pat Mullins Pounds the Pelosi Drum

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Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins sees the opportunity for Virginia to help "take our country back." At the monthly meeting of the Virginia Beach unit last evening, he called for members to give money, work the polls, go door to door, and lick envelopes. He worked the Pelosi theme.
"This year we have the possibility here in Virginia of picking up two to four Congressional seats. That's ten percent of what we need to take our country back from President Obama and Nancy Pelosi." - Mullins
Referring to the second congressional district race, Mullins stated that Glenn Nye has gotten a pass for the last year. Mullins claims that Nye has been told by the Speaker of the House that if he needs to vote a certain way to keep his seat, he should vote that way. The message is clear and the message is pliable: the focus will be on Speaker Pelosi. For a Congressman like Tom Perriello the criticism will certainly be that he is Pelosi's lapdog.
"If he gets elected again, just as he was elected two years ago, his very first vote will be what his very first vote was the last time. And, that's to elect Nancy Pelosi the Speaker of the House. So if you all like what's happening in Washington, you like Obama's policies, if you like the way Pelosi ramrods stuff through that nobody else wants, then go ahead and vote for Congressman Nye (substitute any Democratic Candidate here) because he'll be voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker." - Mullins
That Mullins made the effort to attend the RPVB monthly meeting may signal that the party smells an opportunity. But is he also concerned about local unity after a contentious primary? The Republican candidate, Scott Rigell was not there; he is on vacation. The runner-up in the primary, Ben Loyola, was.  

Glenn Nye Awaits Tuesday’s Delivery

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While the 2nd Congressional District establishment candidate sits back and anticpates victory Tuesday, his opponents make every effort to attract voters at the margin. This Republican primary features two retired military flag grade officers, each trying to out Curtis LeMay each other. Only one of the six candidates hasn't "served."

Yesterday was a bit telling outside the weekly Virginia Beach Republican breakfast meeting. Apparently only one candidate's campaign considers the battle within the party still joined. The local committee chose a subject less controversial by featuring Philip Shucet (President/CEO of Hampton Roads Transit) inside. Good there is so much military experience among the aspiring nominees because this group crossed the Rubicon long ago in this campaign. Most of the others are focusing on supporters variously aligned with the local taxpayer alliance, libertarians, and/or tea partiers. And all of them, bar one, have spent much of the campaign trying to close with and destroy Scott Rigell, the McDonnell candidate. Meanwhile the committee's last chair, Kenny Golden has parted their company to run as an independent.

Bert Mizusawa has released a bevy of negative ads focusing on Rigell, prominently featuring the metamorphisis of rationalization offered for his donation to President Obama's campaign; from inspired by the campaign to trying to defeat Hillary. Ben Loyola has claimed the mantle of fiscal conservative, signing a no tax pledge and receiving the endorsement of the local tea party. The others are curious in their own right. It should be interesting to review the campaign finance reports on each and every one. Ed Maulbeck told Tony Macrini last week that the contributions have been flowing in of late; that to now there had been people "stuffing money in his pockets," but he had not made a concerted effort to raise funds. The one candidate that hasn't connected with the outliers is Jessica Sandlin whose resume actually seems to embody the much vaunted Republican "family values."

What is certain is that come Tuesday night, the Republican nominee will be damaged goods. Scott Rigell's campaign has been smart to avoid joining the fray. It has focused on his professional and personal accomplishments and the support of Bob McDonnell. But for most, bridges have been burned come a Rigell victory. And fuel will be added to the fire over the next two days. Tuesday night, the strident and motivated "conservatives" will not have a champion; or, Congressman Nye will face an opponent who stands at the fringe of electability.

Nye Gets Good News From Golden

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From Virginia Beach Republican Kenny Golden's Facebook page.
Kenny Golden announces his intentions to run as an independent candidate for Virginia's 2nd Congressional District. Recent polling suggests a mood of frustration across the nation, highlighted by a disenchantment with and lack of faith in Congress. Yet, the two major parties offer only business as usual as their response to the people. The voters of the second district deserve a better choice, and that is why Kenny Golden has decided to seek the congressional seat as an independent. Leadership and vision are what he offers, not going along to get along.
It's hard to see how this move by Golden - former chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Party - isn't good news for Rep. Glenn Nye (D-2nd) and bad news for likely Republican nominee Scott Rigell. Nye's hope, obviously, is that Golden's candidacy will split the conservative vote this November, giving him an easier path to reelection. Now, if we can just get Kenny Goldens to run as third-party candidates in every district in America, we'd be in superb shape!

Nye To Vote Nay On Health Care Bill

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Glenn Nye's statement (see after the "flip") that he will vote "no" on health care reform is not surprising, but it's extremely disappointing nonetheless. I strongly disagree with Glenn Nye on the merits of his decision as well as on the politics.

On the merits, or lack thereof, I simply don't buy the arguments Nye is making here. For instance, does Nye really think that Jim Webb would have voted for this bill if it endangered Tricare?  Nope, didn't think so. As far as the "cost of the bill" is concerned, the CBO has already settled that issue - the Senate bill "will reduce the deficit by $130 billion over the first ten years and possibly $1.2 trillion over the next ten years."  Finally, on the last point (children's hospitals), I discussed that here:

...Nye claims the House healthcare bill would cut "funding" for children's hospitals, yet the fact is that most of the cuts for hospitals are from a reduction in federal reimbursements for emergency care, which will be made up by individuals who would become insured under this legislation. In other words, the bill represents a cut in federal funding, but not necessarily a cut in the hospital's total revenues or profits. What's more, the hospital industry association agreed to this tradeoff, as part of its $155 billion deal with the White House. Was Glenn Nye against that deal? Did he speak out against it at the time? If not, why not?

In sum, none of Rep. Nye's "arguments" against health care reform make any sense at all.  But what about the politics? Obviously, Nye is calculating that progressives and "base" Democrats will be pissed (although I believe he's underestimating how pissed), but that they ultimately will "suck it up" and vote for him anyway. Nye is also clearly calculating that he will pick up support from independents who hate this bill. With regard to the "base," comments like this one - Del. Lionell Spruill declaring, "If Glenn Nye is not for it, I will not be there to support him. He owes the president that vote, as far as I'm concerned." - illustrate the scope of Nye's problem. I'm not sure how he solves that by election day. With regard to independents, I'm sure that a percentage of them will be assuaged by Nye's opposition to health care reform, but my guess is that a lot more of them - particularly the "Tea Partiers" - will vote for Republican Scott Rigell regardless. We'll see, but I tend to believe that, when given the choice between a real Republican and a "Republican lite," independents will vote for the real Republican.

P.S. I think this comment at Daily Kos neatly sums it all up: "So he is choosing CERTAIN defeat...rather than standing up for Americans, voting on the right side of history and taking his chances on the courage of his convictions. Coward."

Nye's statement after the "flip."

Norfolk City Democratic Committee Vice Chair Slams Nye on Health Care...

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To put it mildly, Alexander Palmer -- Vice Chair of the Norfolk City Democratic Committee and Vice President of the Norfolk Area Young Democrats -- is not pleased with Glenn Nye these days. From Palmer's Facebook page (with his permission):
Glenn Nye's campaign rep came to the NCDC last night to basically tell us Nye was voting against health care bill........you should have heard the grumbles from the committee, he's alienating his base, hope these moderates he's mysteriously courting come out and canvass for him, because the activist base is staying home.

...maybe Nye could stop worrying more about his re-election and worry more about the people who elected him to serve them. I'm uninsured, health care is currently out of my reach. In my opinion, he's part of the problem we have in Washington, he took $125,000 from the health insurance industry, the Chamber of Commerce makes commercials on his behalf, honestly when it counts the most, he votes the same way Riegel or Drake would vote, its disappointing.

Then his campaign rep is going to turn around and ask people to collect petitions for Nye, practically everybody said that if Nye voted their way on health care they would collect some for him, if not, they could forget it. This is only the start of what his campaign can expects from us good Democrats come election time.


Palmer then receives a message from Jonas Courey of the Nye campaign, asking, "Should I thank you in advance for helping elect Scott (Cuccinelli) Rigell? :):)" Palmer replies:
hey, I'm just being honest with you Jonas, I'm in politics for the issues, not the people, if Nye is more interested in re-election than he is principle, than I'd rather have somebody else. I'm tired of career politicians putting their re-election ahead of personal conviction, its the problem with Washington. At least with Rigell we know what we're getting, its unfortunate about Nye, I thought finally we'd get an ally from the 2nd....that wasn't that case.
Yeah, it's getting rough down in the 2nd CD for freshman Rep. Nye. But the thing is, all Glenn Nye has to do in order to turn that situation around is to vote YES on health care reform legislation. If he does, as I've said previously, I will do what I can for his reelection. If he doesn't, well then, let's just say I've got a lot better things to do with my time (dust the house, wash the car, take a nap, etc.).

UPDATE: Palmer adds, "I hope Nye has the courage to do what is right and vote in favor of this legislation, it would mean a lot to me, and thousands of uninsured in the 2nd. Do what's right Glenn, vote for us!" I agree 100%.

UPDATE #2: This sparked a great deal of discussion both on Facebook and here.  Later in the discussion, Randy Klear wrote:

He said no such thing, Alex. He said that he couldn't say how Nye was voting at this moment. In November Nye said he voted against the House bill because of insufficient cost controls. Personally I suspect the CBO report today, plus the fact that he'd be committing political suicide with another no vote, will be enough to push him into the yes column.

[...]

He's a newly hired field director, and he's not likely to be in the loop when Nye's own chief of staff and campaign manager probably haven't been told yet. You are willfully misinterpreting his remarks.


And Diane Kaufman wrote:
I agree with Randy. I invited Jonas to introduce himself to the committee and speak for about 1 minute and then next he was vilified. I understand that everyone is passionate on this issue, and I am glad that they are vocal, but he is NOT in the loop of how the Congressman may or may not be voting. And, Jonas did NOT come to the committee to tell us how Nye would be voting in the health care bill. What I want to know is what's new? We are all waiting for the vote on the health care bill. That will be news. Letting our congressman know how we feel is not news. We have been doing that for months. On the other hand, Cooch and his decisions are harmful AND news.

And the discussion proceeded from there. Check it all out here, as obviously there are several sides to this story. However, in the end, what I care about - the ONLY thing I care about - is that Glenn Nye votes the right way on health care, and also on other issues important to me like clean energy/climate change and many others. With regard to health care, I guess we'll find out in less than 72 hours, and then we'll go from there.