Archive for November 2008
A few weeks ago we asked a simple question in the newsroom. How long do you think it takes for state agencies to answer the telephone?
Most of my co-workers had skeptical answers. The conventional wisdom dictated that if you called a state agency you would be on hold for a long time. We decided to see if our perception would be met with reality.
I enlisted the help of Kathy Hoof’s Mass Communication classes at Manchester High School. You may remember that these students helped us out with our liveblogs during the presidential debates. The aspiring student journalists committed to the project and made more than 100 calls over 7 days to 21 different agencies with the hope of coming to a conclusion. What did they find? That by and large the Virginia agencies do a pretty good job answering the phone. According to our study, the average wait time was just over two minutes. Not too bad.
There were some exceptions:
The Department of Rehabiltation Services averaged a wait time of more than 13 minutes per call and the Department of Aging‘s number rang busy every time we called. The busy signal was there no matter what time of day we called.
You can see a complete list of every call made and the story that was on NBC12 by clicking here.
As expected, the outcome of the race in the 5th congressional district is too tight for Republican Virgil Goode, so has formally asked for a recount.
The final tally left a margin of only .24%, less than the 1% gap necessary for the State to pick up the tab.
Tom Perriello who currently stands as the certified congressman-elect has said that he will “respect” Goode’s right to a recount, but that he doesn’t expect the outcome to change.
If you are wondering just how the recount process will work, the Franklin News-Post has an excellent breakdown of what to expect.
As expected the Virginia State Board of Elections today certified the November vote and declared Tom Periello as the winner in the congressional race in the 5th district. The margin of victory is less than 800 votes and certainly within the margin where Virgil Goode may ask for a recount that the Board of Elections will pay for. The question is, will Goode concede and make plans to run again in 2010, or will he force the hand of the BOE and make them count them all again? A liberal blog from Southeast Virginia has an interesting take.
If Perriello holds on to the certified victory, he will be a part of a series of landmark democratic wins in Virginia. In addition to Barack Obama and Mark Warner‘s victories, The Dems picked up 3 congressional seats. However, the Roanoke Times published an interesting editorial this weekend about why their victories weren’t exactly perfect.
Mayor-Elect Dwight Jones holds a meeting today with his transition team. Jones plans to outline what areas the transition group will be focusing on and announce the appointment of some new members. There has been plenty of speculation as to who Jones will be appointing to some key City Hall staff positions. Similar appointments in the Wilder administration were cause for quite a bit of controversy. We will see if today’s announcement gives us any indication who might be in positions of power in a Jones City Hall.
Del. Bob Marshall is floating a rumor, that is getting some buzz around a few conservative web sites. He sent out an email that claims current Virginia Senator Jim Webb would like to be considered for Secretary of Defense and if offered would accept the position.
Marshall sent out the email to supporters asking for help getting rid of the debt from his failed run for the republican nomination for U.S. Senate this past election cycle. He was trying to make the case to that he needs to be prepared for a future run for federal office and in order to do that, he must have his campaign debt eliminated.
Here is what Marshall said in the e-mail:
“In fact, two well-connected friends have told me that Senator Jim Webb is interested in the Secretary of Defense position in the new Administration. If he were offered the position and he accepted, that would leave Jim Webb’s U.S. Senate seat open. ‘
I have been in contact with a few well placed Virginia Democrats that were unaware of the rumor.
I wouldn’t expect Bob Marshall to be on the “inside” of negotiations for the next Secretary of Defense in an Obama administration, but the speculation does provide for good fodder. Webb’s military background, his opposition to the Iraq War and his experience in the Department of Defense offer Barack Obama an impressive combination of skills and experience. Webb could single handily placate the hard core left concerned that he is softening already on his Iraq position and military officials concerned that Obama lacks the experience and judgment to be commander in chief.
Warning: This is all heavy speculation. No one that I have read or spoke to has any rumors or leaks that come from individuals connected to the Obama Administration or Jim Webb himself.
We aren’t quite in to 2009 yet and it is quite possible that these lists will shrink within the next few months, but right now there is a very crowded field of potential candidates for the three statewide posts up for election next fall. Many already have web sites, which I have linked to below.
Here is a rundown:
Attorney General Bob McDonnell
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling
Brian Moran picked up some more grassroots endorsements today. This announcement is a continuation of his efforts to build a case that he is the choice of the Democratic base. For the average voter it may not seem like earth shattering news, but his campaign manger Mame Reiley said that they “have never had an endorsement like this before in Virginia that anyone can remember.” The news comes as a key Kaine supporter indicates that he will side with Terry McAuliffe. The Washington Post is also reporting that Moran is trying to decide if he will still run for his seat in the House of Delegates, along with running for Governor.
On the other side, Bob McDonnell today continued his efforts to remind Virginians that he is the Commonwealth’s Attorney General. Today he put out a press release, reminding parents to check the ratings of video games before buying them as gifts for their children.
It may have been the worst kept secret in Washington, but today local congressman Eric Cantor was officially elected to the position of Republican House Whip by his GOP peers. This makes him the second most powerful republican member of the House of Representatives. He is the first Virginian from either party to hold this position.
Now the actual “power” associated with this position from a parliamentary perspective is actually quite limited, given the overwhelming democratic majority in the House. However, what it does offer Cantor is an incredible bully pulpit to be the voice of the minority in a democrat-dominated Washington, D.C..
If Rep. Cantor can use his opportunities correctly (something he has shown a savvy ability to do in the past), he could quickly become a popular voice for the opposition. As Republican prospects improve, because at this point they can’t get any worse, he will be in a perfect position to take the credit for the next republican revolution.
Those close to Cantor have long said that his ultimate goal is to be Speaker of the House. If the republicans ever regain control of the house it will take some time and you would be hard pressed to find a republican congressman in a better position to take advantage of that situation.
The downfall to this new responsibility is the role that the whip plays with his congressional colleagues. The whip is responsible for rounding up votes and pressing hard on members to vote the way leadership wants. This often heavy-handed responsibility can turn off rank and file members and make life difficult when you are attempting to garner votes to take over leadership. It will be dicey waters that Cantor will have to navigate, but something he appears willing to take on.
Attorney General Bob McDonnell plans to use the power of a state wide office to get a bit of earned media today. The AG, who essentially runs as an incumbent, will unveil what his office describes as a “powerful” video on the gang problem in Virginia. They will use the video as an educational tool to show young people the dangers of joining a gang.
Expect quite a few press events like this, where McDonnell appears as the Attorney General, not a candidate. His goal is to show voters that he is getting the job done as their top lawyer, not campaigning. It is an advantage he holds over any of his democratic opponents, because while two of them are both elected officials, they are not the Attorney General. The statewide office, compels more newsrooms to send cameras and notebooks to his events.
Senator-Elect Mark Warner picks a new chief of staff for his legislative office.
His not quite the congressman yet, but Tom Perriello went to Washington to prepare as if he were. It will be another week before Virgil Goode can ask for a recount.
And Politico uses their “Arena” to have a lively discussion about the future of GOP leadership. See how many times you can find the name Eric Cantor.
Many thanks to the SPJ club at VCU. I spoke to the group last night and had a terrific time with the young journalists. They had many great questions about the election and the profession and I was honored to be asked to speak. A special thanks to Jonathan White, the club’s president for invitation.
Here is a picture from the event:
Also a special thanks to the family from New Hartford, NY, who popped by to take part in the talk. What a small world!
I am honored to have received an invitation to speak to the Society of Professional Journalists Club at Virginia Commonwealth University tonight. The club is a part of a well known national network of newspeople.
Since the bulk of this group is made up of aspiring journalists, I will talk a little bit about my career and share some modest advice about what steps they can take today to position themselves for a job gathering and reporting news.
I am also going to share with them my experience covering the election, from the perspective of a local television reporter.
I’ll post some pictures of the visit later tonight. If you are in the neighborhood or are a VCU student, feel free to stop by. The meeting takes place at 7pm tonight in the Temple Building on VCU’s campus.
I am sure if you are a regular reader of this blog you already have read Glenn Thrush’s piece on Politico’s front page today about Terry McAuliffe‘s ambitions to run for Governor of Virginia. It is a great inside look at where McAulifee is and what circumstances could lead to him becoming the democratic nominee.
While the piece talks at length about the pros and cons to a McAuliffe candidacy, I thought the most interesting bit of news revealed was the commitment that “The Macker”, as insiders call him, has made to support democratic efforts to take control of the House of Delegates. The lower half of the General Assembly is the last bastion of GOP power in Virginia (although the Democratic lead in the Senate is slim and their chances of holding on to the Governor’s mansion is 50-50 at best.)
According to the article, the prodigious fundraiser, plans to set a target and raise enough cash to fill the coffers of democratic candidates in Virginia right on down the line. They did not disclose a specific sum, but speculated that it could be as much as $75 million. That is an incredible sum of cash to use as a carrot for hardcore party faithful, that want help for their small time house races.
This strategy, plays right into the heart of Del. Brian Moran‘s base. Moran, while unknown in many parts of the state is a lion of the General Assembly and continually boasts of his support amongst grass roots democrats. The type of people who helped Tim Kaine and Mark Warner get elected. Moran, the house democratic leader, takes a least some of the credit for shrinking the republican majority and has worked hard to reach out to these supporters by being “one of them”. His hope is to draw the comparison that McAuliffe is an outsider who doesn’t know their process and hasn’t paid his Virginia dues.
Will that argument hold when these same supporters and potential and current candidates are presented with the possibility of big bucks to help topple a GOP institution in Richmond? McAuliffe has said that his commitment to the Democratic Party of Virginia is separate from his plans to run for Governor, but it would be hard to imagine that he would attack small time legislative races with the same zeal, were he not the candidate for Governor.
Another level of incredible intrigue in what promises to be a hectic primary.