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Democrats and Republicans claim key victories in 2011 elections

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

Off-year elections are not supposed to be this exciting.  The polls have been closed in Virginia for almost 12 hours and we still aren’t 100% sure which party is in control of the Virginia Senate.  Election night was a tense and dramatic affair with both parties claiming victory.

Democratic Victories:

Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney- The win by upstart Shannon Taylor was improbable. She was immensely outspent, got as late a start as any candidate on the ballot could have and was running against a historically dominant Republican machine.  It is a victory that will resonate beyond Central Virginia to the rest of the state and should even get a small amount of national attention because it was a blow to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor‘s power base in his home district.  Republicans will argue that Taylor benefited greatly by Matt Geary‘s refusal to exit the race and the results are an anomaly that won’t tell us anything about 2012.  That is true, but Taylor’s victory cannot be understated given that she toppled Del. Bill Janis, a man who gave up a very powerful position in the House of Delegates to run for CA.

Held off Senate losses- Conventional wisdom was that democrats were headed to a very difficult night. Worst case scenarios had them losing 10 seats or more in the House of Delegates and 4 seats and control of the Virginia Senate. It looks like the outcome will not be that bad, and at the very least the republican agenda will be forced to get democratic support to pass through the committee process.

Republican Victories:

They hold more seats in the General Assembly- Regardless of how you read the numbers there is one inescapable fact from the 2011 results. The GOP now holds more seats in the House and the Senate than they did before election day.  While Governor Bob McDonnell has not been handed a clear majority in the Senate to push through his agenda, he has at least one additional vote that he didn’t before. That will make it much easier for him to pass legislation that will resonate beyond his time in office.

Powerful, vocal democratic leaders lose-  If the results all hold democrats could lose two of their most influential voices in the General Assembly.  Most notably, Del. Ward Armstrong the one time leader of the democratic caucus in the House of Delegates and a would be statewide candidate. Armstrong was re-redistricted into a match-up with incumbent Charles Poindexter in a GOP heavy district. He ran a campaign as far away from the democratic base as he could, but it was not enough. Unless he still has visions of a statewide run, his political career could be over.  In the race that is still in doubt, Sen. Edd Houck a longtime democratic stalwart and foil to republican governors could be gone. Houck is the third most powerful member of the democratic senate and a strong voice on the joint money committees.  He understands the nitty-gritty of the state budget and his experience would be a huge loss for democrats when it comes to budget time.

I joined the NBC12 morning team for a look at the results. You can see our discussion below:

ELECTION DAY: The view from the ground

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Good Morning! It is election day. Perhaps the least dramatic of the four year election cycle, but there are still some important story lines.

Here is what we are following:

Control of the Virginia Senate: This is the story line that has the potential to have the biggest long term impact. A GOP flip in control gives Gov. Bob McDonnell‘s party control of all three layers of Virginia’s government. It will make his agenda much easier to push through, while at the same time giving him complete ownership of the Commonwealth’s success/failure for the remainder of his term.

If the flip happens it will also provide more evidence of McDonnell’s popularity in Virginia. He has campaigned heavily with republicans in tight races. Gaining the four seats necessary could send a powerful message to GOP Presidential candidates looking for a running mate that could help deliver a key swing state.

Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney: This race took a sharp turn when republicans tried unsuccessfully to oust their chosen candidate Matt Geary. He wouldn’t go and that forced Del. Bill Janis to run as an independent and allowed democrats to field a strong candidate in Shannon Taylor. This race has had a little bit of everything and should lead to an interesting finish.

Voter turnout: With no statewide or federal candidates on the ballot, turnout is expected to be dismal. It could be 10% or less in some places. It will be especially slow in the Richmond metro, where there is not one truly competitive race in the General Assembly. In fact both parties rolled out their heavy hitters for statewide get out the vote efforts over the weekend, and they both ignored Richmond.

TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE: As always, I’m looking for the view from the ground. Tweet and Facebook me what you are seeing and I will post the dispatches below (pics too!). Then tune in tonight for the latest results on NBC12. Happy Election Day!!

From the ground…

Carmen Crater:  I voted in Cumberland about 10:30 this morning…was quite busy for that time of day…took 45 minutesof standing in line to vote, but well worth it……………anyone who doesn’t vote has absolutely no right to give their opinions or COMPLAINTS…be part of the system and maybe…just maybe we can make things better…

Vic Tench I just voted in PG not many people there just a few people in front and behind me we were all in line no more then 3 min.

Pat Coffey voted at Beaverdam Elementary – saw John Cox there about 9:30 this morning.

Brandon Satterwhite Voted here in Henrico, I was the only one there.

Erin Sutton I voted at pole green elementary in Hanover co. Sean Davis was shaking hands. Sadly there where not too many voters… I’m hoping I just came at a down time.

Janet Murphey I am in Charles City County — voted a little while ago..small county didn’t have to wait too long (1 person in front of me)

Mark Hopkins I voted. A good number of people at the Chesterfield polls.

Carole Whitley Wagner : Just before 10 this morning, my son & I were #287 & 288 at the Montpelier Center.

Andrea Stephenson Epps: Was # 488 at Swift Creek in Chesterfield 10 min. ago. Higher than I expected before the rush hour

Patty Hughes I voted at 1:30ish PM. I was number 376. I know there are more people out there in the Matoaca District. Remember voting gives you complaining rights, if you don’t try to make a change you can’t complain if there is none.

Lynn Davis Cranmer  Voted in rural King William County about 10:30 this morning. One person ahead of me, Two or three behind me. (Most people round these parts – vote before and after work, I think.)

Betty Paschall Tate  No one there but me and the poll workers this morning at Hening Elem. at 7:45am. Please everyone get out and vote …it is a privilege!!!!!

Classic: Governor McDonnell happens to run into former Governor Doug Wilder at their Richmond polling location.

@TheBenBrown: I voted absentee. Today is just another day…

From my polling place in Chesterfield, pretty slow I was voter 220

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Robin Belcher Liesfeld Yes – pretty steady at the Centerville precinct in Goochland. I see that’s also been busy in Hadensville. I predict a pretty good turnout county-wide. I believe there may be some surprises, because many Goochland citizens want change!

Susan Coral Moss It was a bit quiet in Chester (Bermuda District-Wells). I was the 271th voter at 10:30. There wasn’t any problems. I was expecting more fireworks especially with the heated Supervisor race down here in Chester.

Margie Rutherford Gausby I voted in Ashland. They moved the polling place. It was difficult to find the correct room at the school to vote, I think it will impact turnout there. I was ready to give up and I ways vote.

Mary Eldredge Only had to wait about 30 seconds to vote this morning at Beaufont Towers (Precinct 412). There were only three voters when I was there about 9:15.

Ron Gallier i left my house at 10 am to vote and back home at 10:25 am i voted at donahoe elem school

@rosscatrow: I saw a big empty gymnasium.

@DaeHarris: I saw basketball hoops, a few volunteers and 1 other woman voting

@KDavisDesign: lots of signs, friendly people willing to help, and lots of people outside the library shoving information in your face.

@marioc: pretty quiet over at Clover Hill Elementary. At 6:30am I was No. 42.

Connie Warriner Mason I voted in PG. Steady flow. Nothing to exciting…did have a paper jam but was fixed quickly with no issues.pretty quiet over at Clover Hill Elementary. At 6:30am I was No. 42.

Al Neill In Hadensville (District 1 in Goochland) they were ahead of the count for the same time last election day. There had already been over 100 voters by 7AM. generally I think about 700 vote.

Tommi Brandt Just got back from voting in Powhatan. Not very busy right now.

@JaysonRachael Lots of fog when we voted @ 6am!

Democrats to field candidate in Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Race

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What a difference a few weeks can make.

It had a been a forgone conclusion since about the middle of 2009 that the next Commonwealth’s Attorney in Henrico would be a republican. In fact the party already had a candidate, almost two years before the election, Matt Geary. No one really paid any attention to the race for the county’s top prosecutor.

That was of course before the middle of August,  just three weeks before the candidates hoping to appear on the ballot needed to be accounted for.  Geary quickly fell out of favor with party leaders, Del. Bill Janis announced his plans to run as an independent and now on the last opportunity for candidates to file, the democrats have decided to get involved.

Today,  former Richmond Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon L. Taylor announced her intention to run for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney. Taylor is UVA undergrad, and University of Richmond School of Law alum.  She has worked for 12 years as a prosecutor, 8 of them in Richmond. She currently is a defense attorney with the local firm Boone and Beale. In addition to her time in the Richmond Commonwealths Attorney office, Taylor also worked as the Special Counsel for the Richmond Metropolitan Multi-Jurisdiction Grand Jury.

Taylor’s entry creates an interesting field in a race that is rarely, if ever, competitive. Despite the republican electoral dominance in Henrico, there is evidence that the county is more deep purple than scarlet red.  While the GOP has an incredibly effective local political machine that has led to easy wins in local elections, statewide and national votes are much different. Henrico tends to be much more of a bellweather county. While they followed the rest of the state in electing republican Governor Bob McDonnell, Henrico voters also overwhelming chose President Barack Obama and Senator Mark Warner, both democrats.

Could the GOP streak change now that this race is competitive and is getting far more media coverage than it ever has in the past?

In what has turned out to be an incredibly unpredictable campaign, anything is possible.

Janis wastes no time, goes after Geary on first day of campaign

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Del. Bill Janis (R-Henrico) had two ways that he could go in his opening day in the campaign for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney. He could choose to ignore the troubles facing his opponent, former Richmond Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Matt Geary, and run his own campaign or he could take the accusations against Geary head on and make it an important part of the race.

It is clear, he is choosing the latter.

“You can’t have a commonwealth’s attorney that goes around town that says pay backs are hell,” said Janis in a live interview on NBC12 First at 4.  “You can’t have a commonwealth’s attorney who says and does things that leads people to believe that he will use the power of the commonwealth’s attorney’s office to punish political enemies, settle old scores, or pursue personal vendettas.”

Matt Geary has flatly denied Janis and the GOP Executive Committee’s accusations. Especially the ones that emerged from a controversial record of the meeting that led to Geary losing the support of the party leaders. Geary claims the GOP’s version of that night is “fiction”.

Meanwhile Janis used those accusations to deflect from his own limited experience as a prosecutor. He claimed whatever advantage Geary may have in experience is lost with his temperament.

“You have to have a commonwealth’s attorney as someone of sound judgment, someone who’s got character that’s beyond question, and someone who is emotionally stable and is willing to make good decisions,” he said.

Janis has worked for several years as a defense attorney, but his only experience in a prosecutor’s office were short stints as an intern in Henrico and Albemarle Counties.  Geary meanwhile served as one of the top deputies in the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Office.

“The commonwealth’s attorney is not just a super trial lawyer, they’re not just a person who tries criminal trials,” said Janis. “They are also a person who they certainly have to go to court and try cases, but he also have to manage an office that keeps the citizens of Henrico County safe.”

And with that the race for Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney is underway.

You can see the entire interview with Del. Janis on NBC12.com.

 

Written by Ryan Nobles

August 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Janis to launch campaign for Henrico CA Wednesday morning

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Delegate Bill Janis will officially launch his campaign for Henrico Commonwealths Attorney during an event Wednesday morning.  Janis has already filed the paperwork to declare his candidacy and is circulating petitions to gain access to the ballot.

Janis, a republican, will be forced to run as an indepdendent because the GOP has already endorsed former Richmond Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Matt Geary.

Here are the details on the Janis launch event.

Bill Janis for Henrico Commonwealths Attorney Launch Event

10am-

Henrico County Courthouse Complex

4301 East Parham Road, Henrico, Virginia  

Janis will also appear live on NBC12 First at 4 on Wednesday to talk about his campaign and what led him to give up his powerful position in the House of Delegates to persue the Henrico prosecutor job.

Written by Ryan Nobles

August 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm

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