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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Posts Tagged ‘Don McEachin

Budget battle continues with partisan lines drawn

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If you thought the election of 2011 was settled, think again. Virginia is in the middle of bitter partisan fight at a State Capitol historically known for its bi-partisan cooperation. It all tracks back to last November and an election that did not clearly hand power to a single party in the Virginia Senate. As a result, every controversial vote has come down to hectic, last-minute deals. Deals that often aren’t known until the vote is finally taken on the Senate floor.

While the battles over social issues are over, democrats are holding on to the one remaining power they have left to play, their vote on the budget. Republicans cannot use Lt. Governor Bill Bolling‘s tie-breaking vote to pass the budget. Therefore, their 20 votes are enough to stop the $85 billion spending plan in its tracks. It’s allowed them to whittle away at GOP priorities and inject their limited voice into the Virginia government agenda.

It was a tactic that was successful and despite some chirping from newspaper editorial boards, it went largely unnoticed by the public. Tuesday’s vote to stall the budget for the third time, for a third different reason takes the argument into new territory. Last week the Gov. Bob McDonnell led Virginia Department of Transportation warned that they will start scaling back projects on May 1st, just a few weeks away. Localities are waiting on funding decisions that could be the differences between staffing teachers and police officers or going without. It is a showdown that could leave the reputation of both sides at risk.

Here is my story from NBC12 on where things stand right now:

RICHMOND (WWBT)- The threat of a Virginia government shutdown is growing after democrats at the State Capitol refused to pass a state budget.

This is the third time senate democrats have stood their ground, for the third different reason.

The division between democrats and republicans seems to be growing wider, and the time left to pass a budget is growing shorter. If the two sides don’t resolve their differences, state government as we know it is in big trouble.

It is a warning governor Bob McDonnell first sounded weeks ago. He repeated it again Tuesday.

“Everything from teacher funding to current VDOT projects will be slowed or potentially postponed,” said the governor.

Without a passed state budget, the government can’t operate. The current budget ends June 30th. It is a date fast approaching with no tangible sign of agreement to be found.

“They are the problem,” said McDonnell.

No agreement, but plenty of blame to go around.

“This is the most fiscally irresponsible act that I’ve seen during my career,” said McDonnell.

But democrats like Sen. Don McEachin (D- Henrico) believe the republicans are blowing things out of proportion

“There are those who want to scare the public and say the government will shut down,” said McEachin. “That is not the case.”

McEachin is among the most vocal hard line democrats. A group that three different times has used their 20 votes to block the budget from moving forward.

….read and see the rest of the story at NBC12.com.

Governor Bob McDonnell kept his composure, but was clearly angry with the democratic vote:

Meanwhile Henrico Senator Don McEachin doesn’t appeared worried about the budget timeline:

Written by Ryan Nobles

April 17, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Stewart gets jump on unsettled 2013 field

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

Despite being in the midst of a contentious and serious battle for the 2012 federal elections. Virginia politicos are preparing for what could be an incredibly competitive 2013. Several candidates on both sides are either publicly or quietly mulling a run for statewide office. At this point the most of the conversations are speculative and the large field that currently exists will certainly be widdled down by the time voters are actually forced to make decisions. However with the active and ambitious crop being discussed heated primaries and/or state party conventions are almost certain.

Republicans are already dealing with a holy war at the top of their ticket between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. The Bolling- Cuccinelli feud may be only part of what the GOP will be dealing with. A number of candidates are considering runs for Lt. Governor and Attorney General that if they hold it could mean competitive nominating contests on all levels.

A particularly interesting battle is setting up in the republican Lt. Governor’s race. Wednesday, the ambitious Chair of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart formally entered the race. Stewart is well-known in political circles, in part because of the numerous times he has tossed his name into prospective statewide races only to back away. Most recently Stewart seriously considering running for the open U.S. Senate seat. He even went as far to say some pretty critical things about former Senator George Allen, who he later endorsed.

On First at 4, Stewart told me that the timing was right for him to run statewide this time.

“We’ve been able to reduce taxes, we’ve cut spending by more than $143 million dollars (in Prince William County) instituted some good budgetary reforms while still putting a lot more money into transportation, and I’d like to do the same thing for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

Stewart won’t be alone in the race for the state’s second spot. Pete Snyder, the wealthy technology entrepreneur and ally of Governor Bob McDonnell is also mulling a run. Snyder is getting quite a bit of face time in his role as the Virginia GOP’s chief fundraiser. He appeared on First at 4 a couple of weeks ago.

The republicans also have several candidates considering a run for Attorney General, the most prominent, Harrisonburg Senator Mark Obenshain and Charlottesville Delegate Rob Bell.

But too many candidates for not enough positions is not a problem exclusive to republicans. multiple candidates are lining up on the democratic side. State Senator Chap Petersen has already set up a PAC and has said he plans a gubernatorial run. Former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe is widely expected to make another run. This is of course if the long running rumor that Senator Mark Warner would like to come back to Richmond, turns out to be just a rumor.

The lower parts of the ticket aren’t quite lined up as orderly as their counterparts on the republican side, but prominent democrats are being floated in those positions as well. Among them, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring and former Delegate Ward Armstrong. Update: Friends of Loudon Democratic Senator Mark Herring emailed to remind me that he has officially begun exploring a run for Attorney General.

There are other names being whispered as well. Former candidate for Lt. Governor Michael Signer and his close friend former Rep. Tom Perriello both have been suggested as statewide candidates. Henrico Sen. Don McEachin ran for Attorney General before and could be thrown into the mix and a new rising start, Alexandria Del. Charniele Herring hasn’t formally talked about running statewide, but was a key voice in the battle over abortion in this year’s General Assembly session and might be a name brought up in the future.

So much of this talk is just that talk. Names thrown into the air to see what the reception is to gauge the possibility of investing, time, energy and quite a bit of money into running statewide. That is what make’s the Stewart announcement so significant. He is all in. More than a year before anyone will be forced to make a decision about who they would like as their nominee.

Will getting out first pay off? Stewart is betting it will. It is a question we won’t know the answer to, until we get through the first brutal election still in front of us.

Our full interview with Chairman Stewart can be found below:

Stewart’s full announcement can be found after the jump:

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Despite judges ruling, Senate democrats plead for power sharing

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

It has been a rough couple of weeks for democrats hoping to hold on to power in the Virginia Senate. First, on election night they lost two seats and were within a razor-thin margin in a third. That third seat, once held by Sen. Edd Houck, meant the difference between a 21-19 majority and a 20-20 tie.  Instead of Houck asking for a recount and hoping for a different outcome, the veteran lawmaker conceded guaranteeing a 20-20 tie in the Senate.

That meant that Lt. Governor Bill Bolling held the tie breaking vote and that democrats were now in the minority. But democrats were not ready to give up. Led by Sen. Don McEachin (D-Henrico), they filed a lawsuit in Richmond Circuit Court, requesting that they be given the opportunity to share power with the GOP. Today, Judge Beverly W. Snukals denied that request.

Now with the elections over and an unsuccessful legal challenge behind them, the democrats are left with only one option. Beg the now official majority party to share power.

“I call on the Republicans to respect the will of the voters and past history,” said McEachin. “The senate is evenly divided, 20-20 so committees and responsibilities and power should be divided to reflect that even split, just as the Republicans said in 1996.” 

Not surprisingly, the republicans don’t appear to be interested in offering democrats committee chairmanships and evenly distributing members of both parties in those committees.

“It is my hope that Senator McEachin and the Senate Democratic Caucus will realize the futility of pursuing this matter further and begin to prepare appropriately for the important work of the upcoming session,” said the incoming Senate Majority leader Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City)

McEachin has not ruled out further moves, “both legal and procedural”, but did not go into specifics. He even pointed to a recent Public Policy Polling survey that he claims shows that Virginians want power sharing in the Virginia Senate.

“Over half of respondents, 55%, believe that power should be shared in the Virginia State Senate,” said McEachin. “These voters, constituents of both Democrats and Republicans, recognize that the Election day results created an evenly divided Senate and, therefore, the Senate should organize in a way reflective of those results.

Republicans, though don’t seem moved by McEachin’s argument. Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins welcomed the Circuit Court’s ruling and told the democrats to back off what he called their “sore loser suit”.

“Hopefully, Democrats will accept the judgement of Virginia’s voters – and now the courts – with a measure of grace,” said Mullins.

Despite McEachin’s persistence, the leader of the Virginia Senate democrats appeared to agree with republicans in the days after the election results came in. Sen. Dick Saslaw admitted in a conference call that all the decisions regarding who runs in the Senate were in the republican’s hands.

“They got a tie breaking vote,” said Saslaw. “If you got 20 plus 1 on a vote you pretty much don’t have to share anything!”

Written by Ryan Nobles

December 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Senate Democrats will fight efforts of GOP to organize as Senate majority

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Developing late Friday, the Virginia Senate Democrats have decided that they will not willingly allow the Senate Republicans to organize as the majority. The group unanimously decided to challenge the GOP effort during their caucus retreat in Fairfax.

“The Constitution of the Virginia is very clear,” said newly elected caucus chair Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico). “The organization of the Senate is the prerogative of the elected members of the Senate and Lt. Governor Bolling is not a member of the Senate.”

Bolling and republicans have argued that having the tie breaking vote in the Lt. Governor’s chair entitles them to organize as a majority party. That power would allow them to set committee structure, appoint committee chairs and direct activity on the senate floor. It is a power Lt. Governor Bill Bolling has said he will use.

“While the Constitution does provide that the Senate and House Delegates shall ‘select its officers and settle its procedures’, this language does not prevent the Lieutenant Governor from voting on such matters in the event of a tie vote” said Bolling. “Should such issues come before the Senate and result in a tie vote, I will not hesitate to exercise my constitutional duty and cast the tie breaking vote on such issues.”

A similar 20-20 deadlock occurred in 1996 when George Allen was governor and democrat Don Byer was the Lt. Governor. At the time, democrats offered republicans the opportunity to share power.

“As George Allen, who was Governor of Virginia at that time said of the power sharing pact, “This is reflective of the balance and equity that should be accorded the election results.” McEachin noted.

Democrats have said that republicans should respect the will of the voters, half of which they claimed elected democrats. But would-be Senate Majoriy Leader Tommy Norment quibbled with the democratic math.

“According to the State Board of Elections, 768,545 Virginians voted for Republican candidates for Senate, while only 535,087 voted for Democrat candidates,” Norment said.

The big difference between 1996 and 2011 is the fragility of the potential majority caucus. In 1996, then Senator Virgil Goode threatened to bolt the democratic caucus if power was not shared. He later became a republican anyway and eventually ran and won a seat in congress. In 2011, republicans appear confident that their 20 votes will hold.

What is still an open question is exactly how the democrats plan to fight this organizational effort by the republicans. In most cases, the parties find a way to hash things out. Some liberal capitol watchers have suggested it is an issue that could be hashed out in court.

The full statement from the Senate Democrats and Republicans can be found after the jump:

(Interestingly.. the Dems have unveileld their leadership pics as well.. noting that Sen. Dick Saslaw is their “majority leader”.)

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Written by Ryan Nobles

November 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm

BREAKING: Webb will not seek re-election

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In a surprise statement released just a few minutes ago, Senator Jim Webb announced that he will not seek re-election to his post. The full statement is below:

Statement of Senator Jim Webb

Washington, DC–Today Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) issued the following statement:

Five years ago this week, on February 8, 2006, I announced my intention to run for the United States Senate.  We had neither campaign funds nor a staff.  We were challenged in a primary, and trailed the incumbent in the general election by more than 30 points in the polls.

Over the next nine months we focused relentlessly on the need to reorient our national security policy, to restore economic fairness and social justice, and to bring greater accountability in our government.  I will always be grateful for the spirit and energy that was brought into this campaign by thousands of loyal and committed volunteers.  Their enthusiasm and sheer numbers were truly the difference in that election.

It has been a great and continuing privilege to serve in the United States Senate.  I am very proud of my talented and dedicated staff, which has worked tirelessly to resolve the issues on which I based my candidacy, and to protect the interests of all Virginians in this national forum.  Among other contributions we have given our Post- 9/11 veterans the best GI Bill since World War Two; we have taken the lead in reforming our criminal justice system; we have led the way toward stronger relations in East and Southeast Asia; and we have been a strong voice in calling on China to act more responsibly in the world community. We will continue to work on these and other issues throughout the rest of my term.

However, after much thought and consideration I have decided to return to the private sector, where I have spent most of my professional life, and will not seek re-election in 2012.

Notwithstanding this decision, I have every intention of remaining involved in the issues that affect the well-being and the future of our country.

UPDATE:

The list is now being populated with potential replacements for Webb as the Democratic nominee.

Gov. Tim Kaine- The obvious front-runner.  The current DNC Chairman is close friend of President Obama. Kaine has said in the past that he wouldn’t be interested (he told me during his last month in office that governor would be his last elected office), but a lot can change now that the seat is open.

Rep. Tom Perriello- A close friend of the White House, with liberal credentials but has run well in conservative regions. Perriello has proven himself as relentless on the campaign trail. The question is, will he be interested. conveniently he is traveling out of the country right now.

Rep. Rick Boucher- Boucher was a surprise loss for Democrats in Southwest Virginia. He left a lot of money in the bank, and didn’t seem ready to retire. Even though he is from coal country, his politics play well in Northern Virginia and he is very connected in D.C.

Rep. Glenn Nye- The one term conserva-dem from Virginia Beach was beat in November. However he is young and filled with ambition. Just like Perriello’s liberal side may play better statewide than in VA-5, Nye may think his moderate position makes him an attractive statewide candidate. Although, Nye has real issues with the Democratic party faithful.

Other names worth pointing out: Sen. Creigh Deeds, (who has run twice for statewide office) Del. Ward Armstrong(whose statewide ambitions are not a secret), Sen. Don McEachin (who has run statewide in the past), Mike Signer (former candidate for LG, close friend of Tom Perriello and ambitious)  and frankly.. just about every politician in Virginia who describes him/herself as a Democrat.

Who Won’t Run:

Terry McAuliffe- The former DNC Chairman and candidate for Governor has soundly rejected any thought about running for Senate. He told me a few weeks ago that he is “more the executive type”. I followed up with his staff today and they say his position has not changed despite the now open seat.

Gov. Doug Wilder- In a phone conversation this afternoon Wilder asked me “Do you know how old I am?” Wilder emphatically rejected any chance that he might run. He said that he is however concerned about who the Democrats might put up. “They need to develop a farm team,” he said. Wilder avoided making any kind of declarative statement on Tim Kaine’s worthiness as a candidate. He would only say that he is “certain they will all come out,” and that “One person I am not going to support is me.”


McDonnell stands by Malek

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Governor Bob McDonnell mounted a passionate defense on Friday for the man who will lead his effort to reform Virginia government.

Fred Malek, a donor to the McDonnell campaign, and Republican activist, has come under fire from Democrats because of his role tracking  Jewish people during the Nixon administration. Democrats have called for McDonnell to remove Malek as the Chair of his Government Reform and Restructuring Commission.

The Governor refuses to bow to the Democratic pressure, accusing them of standing in the way of reform. He pointed to the six current members of the commission who are Democrats and have not stepped down, despite the problems party activists have Malek’s role.

You can see my story on the controversy and the first meeting of the commission on NBC12.com.

The Governor held a testy exchange with reporters following his opening remarks to the group. He rejected the notion that Malek could be a distraction to their efforts to reform Government.

Meanwhile Malek, who had not commented on the controversy, also spoke briefly with reporters and called his work in the Nixon Administration a mistake, “The biggest one I ever made in my life.”  He also said that he never offered to step down from his role as Chair to elminate the distraction for the Governor.

Written by Ryan Nobles

June 4, 2010 at 6:23 pm

McCain’s Expectations

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There is no doubt that John McCain has a pretty large deck stacked in front of him. The new numbers are out and it shows that his running mate Sarah Palin’s speech drew 37 million viewers, only about one million less than Barack Obama’s 38 million.

How can McCain compete with that? Democrat Don McEachin told me he probably can’t:

“Certainly the Republicans are won’t be able to put 70 thousand people in a stadium. I am sure Senator McCain will equip himself well. He has been a US Senator for years and has the ability to communicate. But, It won’t be the same event or have the same passion or sense of history that Denver had.”

Hear McEachin for yourself tonight at 5:30pm on NBC 12.

Written by Ryan Nobles

September 4, 2008 at 8:55 pm