Archive for the ‘Richmond City Politics’ Category
Wednesday night on NBC12, Sarah Bloom told the story of a Richmond preacher who has vowed to stand on a street corner every day until the election encouraging people not to re-elect President Barack Obama.
The pastor, Rev. Shirley Snead is an African-American and a one time supporter of the president who became a vocal opponent after Mr. Obama changed his stance on gay marriage. The black church was a strong bastion of support and energy for the president in 2008 and there is some concern that the gay marriage switch could dampen that enthusiasm.
But it seems that while many religious African-Americans may not support the president’s change of heart, it is going to take quite a bit more for them not to vote for him. One of the most prominent examples of that trend could be Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. Jones is a strong supporter of the Obama, and is also a pastor that still preaches every Sunday.
Here is a snippet from Sarah’s report last night:
Even one of the President’s strongest supporters in Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, a pastor himself, doesn’t agree with the President’s new position on marriage.
A spokesperson said he still strongly supports Obama’s re-election.
Our political reporter, Ryan Nobles, said Jones is like many religious black voters who have more in common with the president than just that single issue.
“While most of them don’t agree with him on same-sex marriage, there’s still a lot more that they do agree with him on,” said Nobles.
And when voters go to the polls, Henrico School Board member and Obama supporter, Lamont Bagby believes gay marriage won’t be their biggest concern.
“Because I don’t think anyone has an opportunity at this point to be a single issue voter,” said Bagby.
See the entire report on NBC12.com
Jones might be the perfect example of the divide amongst religious African Americans, who remain opposed to same sex marriage, but remain strong supporters of Obama’s historic presidency. He may lose some, like Rev. Snead, but there is no evidence of a mass exodus from the Obama camp.
In fact, there are many examples of Obama’s change of heart, convincing other prominent African-American groups to move with him. The NAACP took Obama’s newfound position a step further defining marriage as a “civil right”. Obama’s current position supports the states who decide to legalize marriage for gays and lesbians.
It seems that this particular segment of the population is following a similar trend indicated in the many polls taken after Obama’s announcement. He lost some support and gained some support, but for the most part is right where he was before, locked in a very tight race that will remain that way until November.
Mayor Dwight Jones was the go-to man for the Obama campaign today. He came to NBC12 today to presenting the campaign’s talking points on the successful jobs report. His role in the campaign shows what the Obama campaign thinks about him and perhaps and understanding of his potential as a candidate down the road.
But while Jones is an articulate voice for not only the Obama administration, but his own policies, one thing he is not right now is a candidate. Most expect the first term Mayor to run for re-election, and while there has been talk of potential opposition, he would be considered to be tough to beat.
The only problem? He hasn’t decided if he wants to run.
“I tell you what, when I decide I am going to let you be the first to know,” he jokingly told me during a one-on-one interview. (he was joking, but I plan to hold him to that)
For Jones his explanation is pretty simple. He just hasn’t had the time to think about mounting a re-election campaign because he has been too busy, being the Mayor.
“Well I have a lot on my plate and so the State of the City was a big thing and now I have the budget to do and we were working on the jail before that,” he said. “So really just a lot going on so I really have turned my attention to being ready to make an announcement one way or another.”
The chances that Jones does not run for re-election are pretty slim. He is still actively raising funds and has more than $80,000 in cash on hand. Some democratic advisers have privately hinted that Jones could be a potential statewide candidate. Perhaps as soon as 2013. His coy nature on the topic is most likely the product of building anticipation toward a major announcement, timed to get the maximum exposure.
Extended clips from the mayor on his re-election can be found below:
When the Mayor does decide, one of the biggest controversies he could face is the future of the popular Richmond minor league baseball club, the Flying Squirrels. The team has hinted that they were promised a new ballpark, but are frustrated with the lack of progress. They even said they won’t be afraid to leave town, if the progress doesn’t happen soon. The talk over the Squirrels future was a hot topic at the team’s recent Hot Stove banquet.
Jones simple message to baseball fans?
“It will happen.”
His full comments can be seen below:
Antoine Green, the upstart President of the influential African-American political group, The Richmond Crusade for Voters, resigned his post tonight (Tuesday). Green faced fierce opposition from the group because of his role advocating for Richmond’s new Patrick Henry Charter School. He serves as the school’s CEO.
Green has been the President of the Crusade, an organization with a rich history in Virginia politics, for three years. He is considered a local rising star in political circles and was featured as one of Style Weekly’s “40 under 40” in 2008.
Our reporter, Evrod Cassimy was at tonight’s meeting to talk to Green about the progress of Patrick Henry opening. During the meeting, Crusade members went on the attack, accusing Green of conflict of interest in his role with the political group and the charter school. Patrick Henry has been a divisive issue in the City of Richmond. While some families are excited about the potential the school may provide to underprivileged youth, many others are concerned that it will drain already depleted resources from the overall district budget. The Patrick Henry effort has received the support at many high levels of Virginia Government, including Governor Bob McDonnell himself.
The upheavel at tonight’s meeting also led J.J Minor, the organization’s Vice-President to resign as well. Minor has been one of the leading critics of Green holding both the role of CEO at Patrick Henry and President of the Crusade.
This is not the first controversy that the Crusade has found themselves in. This summer their endorsement of Terry McAuliffe in the Democratic Gubernatorial primary came under fire by supporters of Sen. Creigh Deeds, including Mayor Dwight Jones and Sen. Henry Marsh. McAuliffe ended up holding on to the endorsement, after an awkward press event that was held in Church Hill, overlooking the city skyline.
Evrod will have more on this story tonight, including some of the fireworks from the meeting tonight at 11.
UPDATE: You can see Evrod’s report from NBC12, by clicking here
Governor Bob McDonnell is working overtime to get a fledgling Richmond charter school off the ground. City leaders and School Board members have been battling community members over the opening of Patrick Henry Charter School on Richmond’s Southside.
The school is set to open for classes in July, but is falling short in support from the school district, which has been lukewarm in some cases or downright combative in others. Traditionally public school supporters have been resistant to the introduction of charter schools because they believe they bleed resources from other parts of the district that have desperate needs of their own.
Enter the state’s new Governor. Bob McDonnell has never shied away from his support for the development of charter schools and has found numerous opportunities to tout his support of President Barack Obama‘s “race to the top” program, which calls for the creation of a version of charter schools across the country. McDonnell is having a hard time pushing charter school funding through at the State Capitol, in part because his is being forced to subtract, not add to public school budgets.
However, one of the unique aspects of the charter school model is its aggressive approach to raising private donations to sustain its operation. Patrick Henry is no different. Supporters of the new school have solicited private donations to get the new operation off the ground and now McDonnell himself will become front and center in that effort.
As first reported by Chris Dovi and our friends at RVANews, McDonnell will headline a private, invite-only fundraiser in support of the Patrick Henry Charter School. NBC12 independently confirmed with the Governor’s office that McDonnell has agreed to take part. The goal would be to help Patrick Henry raise the necessary funds to get the building open and secure a lease.
In addition to the very public support by the Governor, City Councilman Marty Jewell is working behind the scenes in an attempt to convince city school leaders that opening Patrick Henry is in everyone’s best interest. Jewell sent a letter to Kim Bridges, one of the school board members who has expressed concerns about the development of charter schools. In the letter Jewell pleads with Bridges “to urgently embrace fundamental change in educational delivery.” Jewell asks Bridges and the board to consider a financial committment to get Patrick Henry’s doors open.
A transcript of Jewell’s letter to Bridges can be found after the jump..
We are very excited about what we have planned for tonight on NBC12. I truly believe that we will have the most comprehensive coverage of this important election, of any media outlet in Virginia.
It started this morning on 12 News Today. Our Call 12 lines were staffed by members of the League of Women Voters. They answered your questions about the voting process, who was on the ballot, if you are registered and where to go to cast your vote.
Today starting on First at 4, we will have a complete look at the election scene. We’ll show you pictures of both candidates voting in their home precints, have updates from polling locations and anaylsis from our political expert Dan Palazzolo.
Then at 7pm, right as the polls close, we will have an Election special, hosted by Curt Autry and Sabrina Squire. We will have live reports from both campaign headquarters. Tara Morgan will be with the Republicans and Bob McDonnell, Andy Jenks with the Democrats and Creigh Deeds. We will also have reporters covering the races for Lt. Governor and Attorney General as well as Rachel DePompa who will keep a close eye on the City Council election in Richmond.
Also at 7, I will moderate an in-depth discussion on what the race means with Dan Palazzolo and two of Virginia’s most influential political bloggers, Ben Tribbett of NotLarrySabato and Norm Leahy of Tertium Quids.
We will also begin a liveblog at 7 on NBC12.com – that I will moderate, and be joined by Ben, Norm and Dan with your comments on the action.
OUR SPECIAL ELECTION COVERAGE WILL ALSO BE STREAMED LIVE ON NBC12.COM.
From 8pm on we will go back to regular programming, but will break back in, should a winner be declared or a victory/concession speech is about to be made.
Finally at 11pm- We will have a complete wrap of the day’s events and preview what Virginia can expect from it’s new elected leaders.
Plus, I will have frequent updates right here on DecisionVirginia.com
It should be a great day. Go and Vote!
Amidst all the attention given to the statewide candidates for office, I have somewhat neglected a race for an open Council Seat in the City of Richmond.
The seat came open with Del. Delores McQuinn resigned after winning the vacated seat of Mayor Dwight Jones. There has been quite a bit of controversy over the McQuinn’s replacement and it has left 6 different candidate fighting it out for the opportunity to represent Church Hill.
Thankfully, even though I haven’t given the race it’s proper attention, our crack Richmond reporter Rachel DePompa is all over it. Here is her dispatch from Decision Richmond:
7th District Seat Council Race
By Rachel DePompa
Was there ever any doubt at what I would be covering election day? You know i’ll be chasing down the 7th district council race. There are six candidates vying for the seat originally vacated by Delores McQuinn earlier this year. Tomorrow is a special election to fill the remainder of the term. So, here goes… all you need to know about the 7th District Council Race.
Read her full dispatch here.
Republican candidate for Governor, Bob McDonnell will spend part of Monday in Richmond getting a tour of the city jail from the city’s Democratic Sheriff C.T. Woody. Woody, is also up for re-election, but fended off a primary challenge in June and is running without opposition in November.
A spokesman for the Sheriff informed me that from Woody’s perspective, the McDonnell visit is not political. It is instead an opportunity for the candidate to see first hand the issues the institution is facing. According to Major Jerry Lucas Baldwin, Sheriff Woody has encouraged “all public officials, and anyone running for public office, to visit the Richmond City Jail so they can see first hand how non-violent crimes, mental health and homeless issues affect the overcrowding situation at all jails.”
Baldwin said that the jail has hosted 40 different public officials from a local and national level in the past 9 months. (In fact, his campaign web site shows a picture of him giving a tour of the jail to Sen. Jim Webb.) He also said that Senator Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for Governor has been offered the same opportunity and he could be touring the facility as soon as next week. Deeds campaign officials have not returned my inquiry asking if the candidate plans to take up the Sheriff’s invitation.
While Woody, may not view the visit as political, it has been offered as such by the McDonnell campaign. The press has been invited to tag along for the tour and take advantage of the photo opportunity with the candidate and the Sheriff.
According to Baldwin though, the Sheriff has already made up his mind who he is supporting in November, sticking with his fellow Democrat, Deeds. “He announced his support of his party when he chose to run as a Democrat,” said Baldwin. “That said, he has a great relationship with both candidates and will continue to work well with whomever the people chooses next month.”
In a move that will have enormous political implications, the private development company Highwoods Properties, has suspend its involvement in plans to build a new mixed-use development in Downtown Richmond that will include the construction of a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom.
Highwoods has been the driving force and muscle behind the plan to build the downtown ballpark that promised to bring activity and excitement to the historic section of Richmond. However, the project has been stalled over debate over the placement of the city’s ballpark and what team should play there if and when the stadium gets built. A growing chorus of community leaders believed the downtown ballpark combined with shopping and luxury urban living could not be supported by Richmond’s economic engine.
The roadblocks raised by powerful parties, seemed to be too much for Highwoods, and despite their belief that the concept would still work, they are dropping out.
Tara Morgan will have more on this story tonight on NBC12 at 5 and 6, and I will continue our coverage tonight at 11.
You can see the entire statement from Highwoods Properties after the jump: **UPDATED WITH ENTIRE STATEMENT FROM MAYOR JONES**
In the rough and tumble world of Washington, D.C. beltway politics, Eric Cantor and Bobby Scott couldn’t be further apart. Cantor has become the standard bearer for a new Republican revolution, while Scott has become a respected member of the Democratic majority with growing influence.
But when it comes to their home districts, Scott and Cantor share a common interest and it just so happens that common interest is Richmond. Both Congressman represent a portion of the city and as a result their work in Washington sometimes must intermingle. By in large that work is behind the scenes, but for one signature issue, the kind of issue that could make a legislative legacy, the two have joined very public forces.
Cantor and Scott have agreed to work together to attempt to leverage federal funds to build a high speed rail-line from Richmond to Washington, D.C. The idea of a train that one could get on in Shockoe Bottom and end up at Union Station in 45 minutes is mythical to Richmonders. It is almost like Ahab’s search for the great white whale.
But ironically, it is this difficult economy that is offering Scott and Cantor to opportunity land their big fish. The American Investment and Recovery Act (simply known as the stimulus) has pumped millions of dollars in federal funds to build the kind of infrastructure that could lead to a project like a high speed rail line.
Today the unlikely duo held a tele-conference with Richmond officials and Karen Rae, Deputy Administrator of Federal Railroad Administration to explain the process to submit proposals for competitive grant funding to get the project off the ground. It was their second major public appearance on the subject. A few months ago the two held a press event at Main Street Station to announce their partnership. (Rachel DePompa covered that event NBC12)
Expect this to just be the beginning, because if and when this project happens it will require the slashing through of plenty of red tape. Tape thick enough to require the muscle of two powerful Congressman to cut.
Wednesday was a very fruitful day for Democratic candidate for Governor Brian Moran. Moran picked up more endorsements from Democratic officials in both Richmond and Petersburg.
Moran has already won the support of Richmond’s Mayor Dwight Jones and earlier this week announced that he is also being endorsed by the popular city Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring. Herring was at one time rumored to be a candidate for Richmond Mayor, but never got into the race. In a release from the Moran campaign Herring says that Moran “Has been fighting for Virginia for over 20 years, and I know he’ll fight for us as Governor. His experience as a prosecutor and his work to strengthen local law enforcement make it clear that he will lead this Commonwealth forward.”
In addition to the nod from Herring, the former Democratic leader of the House of Delegates earned the support of a bevy of Petersburg elected officials, including the City’s Mayor, Annie Mickens.
You can see the full press releases from both announcements after the jump.