Archive for the ‘Virginia politics’ Category

the email I just sent to Gerry Connolly

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Dear Rep Connolly

I am writing to express my deep concern about news reports that suggest that you are considering supporting extensions of the Bush tax cuts for the richest 1 percent of Americans.

In the long term, we can not continue to run large budget deficits.  Therefore, a vote to extend these tax cuts is a vote to cut spending on education, on roads, on health care, on job training.  It is a vote to take away money from child care and from senior centers.  It is a vote to accept the increasing inequality of opportunity in our society and to surrender the hope that government can make things better.

I know, some of your constituents are fortunate to make more than $250,000 a year.  But they benefit from a healthy society, and can afford to contribute.  Our economy grew very well during the 1990s when tax rates were at the levels that they would return to.

Please give me a reason to vote for you next month.


I sent the same letter (w/o the last sentence) to Warner and Webb.


I am really f-ing depressed tonight.   And I don’t see it getting better soon.

Update:  I meant to link to this  Center for American Progress report on what a budget balanced through spending cuts alone would look like.

Virginia elections

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Six months after I first wrote about the Virginia governor's race, six days before the election, and I still haven't quite figured out who I'm voting for.  I've been asking everyone I know who is politically active and lives in Virginia who they support, and I've been finding people who support all three of the gubernatorial candidates, and people who are still undecided.

I've been getting tons of mail from all the candidates.  McAulliffe had a mailer last week where the positions of each of the candidates were described and then you had to scratch off the silver boxes to see who went with each set of positions.  It was very clever, but sort of acknowledged that lots of people have a gut reaction against McAuliffe even if they agree with his positions.  The Post endorsement of Deeds clearly gave him a real boost, and I know some real progressives who are supporting him in spite of his not-so-progressive positions on abortion and gay rights because they think he's got the best chance of winning.  Moran has fewer negatives than either of the other candidates for me, but hasn't made a positive case that ties down my vote.

I'm also still undecided on the Lt. Governor's race.  Singer seems to be somewhat more progressive, and to bring some real grassroots energy.  But Wagner's been endorsed by lots of people I respect.  And I do care about having women in elected office.

I do know that I'll be voting for Kaye Kory for House of Delegates.

Virginia Republicans to unemployed workers: drop dead

Monday, April 13th, 2009

That's pretty much the meaning of the House of Delegates vote last week to reject the changes needed for Virginia to receive an additional $125 million of the unemployment insurance modernization funds from the Recovery Act.  (Virginia already has an alternative base period in place, so we automatically get the first $62 million.)  They claim it's because the expansion of benefits would cause taxes on business to go up in the long run.  What they don't tell you is that the Recovery Act provides enough funding to cover the costs of this expansion for 18 years!

Specifically, the two provisions that they shot down last week would have expanded eligibility to people who are only seeking part-time work (because after all, if you only work part-time, your family must not really need the income, right?) and provided extended benefits to people who are training for a new job (because what the 21st century economy really needs is lots of unskilled labor). 

Here's a video of Tim Kaine's reaction and here's a petition to express your outrage

Misc political notes

Thursday, January 29th, 2009
  • Tuesday is a special election, to choose a new chair of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, replacing Gerry Connolly who is now in Congress.  Special elections can be crazy, because turnout is generally low and so small groups can affect the results.  Fairfax county's budget is probably bigger than several states.  I strongly support Sharon Bulova, as does the Washington Post. Vote Tuesday, Feb 3, 6 am to 7 pm, at your regular polling place.
  • I received a long phone survey tonight that led me to the definite conclusion that Kaye Kory (who represents this district in the Fairfax school board) is considering challenging Delegate Bob Hull in the primary.  A quick google search found that both Not Larry Sabato and the Falls Church News think she is running against him.  Then again, NLS thought she was running two years ago.  I told the pollster that I didn't know which one I'd support.  I have no idea what, if any, policy differences there are between them.
  • Still don't know who I'm supporting for Governor.


Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I have to admit, I sort of rolled my eyes when I read the plea in my inbox today from NOW with the claim that "Roe is still under attack."  Obama is expected to repeal the global gag rule although apparently not today.  And at the inauguration, we joked that after Justice Stevens swore Biden in, he was saying "thank god, I can finally retire."

But then I read Cecily's posts today.  First, she reminded me of the problem of the lack of availability of doctors who will perform abortions.  And then she notified me that Virginia is once again considering making it a crime to fail to report a miscarriage to the police.

We've defeated this bullshit before.  Let's do it again.  If you live in Virginia, here's the link for finding out who your state senator is.

Update: For the record, here is Senator Obenshain's response to comments, where he acknowledges that the bill is far too broadly drafted for his intent, which he claims was to eliminate the "it was born dead" defense for infanticide.  However, given the history of a very similar bill four years ago, either Obenshain is lying or he didn't even bother to do cursory research before introducing the bill.


Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

So, now that the 2008 election season is officially over, it must be time for the Virginia Governor's race to get started— we're one of the few states that does governor's elections on the odd years.  I have absolutely no idea which of the three Democratic candidates I'll support — anyone reading here want to make a case for your favorite?

Since we've got a single term limit, Kaine can't run for reelection.  And since both Senate seats are now held by Democrats, he can't run for Senate, which has been the main goal of former governors in recent years.  No idea what he'll do next.

Election night, Chicago

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Check out Obama’s Flickr photostream.

Fimian and abortion

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

I went to the homeowner’s association meeting tonight and, as is their custom, a number of politicians and their representatives were invited to speak.  Connolly and Fimian were both at a previously scheduled event, but they both sent people to speak on their behalf.  Connolly’s representative did a generally solid job, though he went on for too long.  Fimian’s representative was a young man, perhaps 20 years old, who began his speech by admitting that he usually spoke to groups of high school student and this was a step up for him.  It was pretty painful listening to him, as basically the entire pitch was that Fimian’s not a Washington insider and he knows what it’s like to be us.  Since we had just recognized Tom Davis for his years of service to the district, this was perhaps not the best note to hit.

At the question and answer period, one of my neighbors tossed him a bit of a softball, asking about the mailings that she’d been getting about Fimian, and weren’t they just accusing him of being Catholic?  (Note that Connally is also Catholic.)  He responded with a long answer about how they were making these accusations based on links on the Legatus website, even though the webpage includes a disclaimer that they didn’t constitute an endorsement.

Well, this ticked me off, because it sounded to me like Fimian was trying to hide his strong social conservative positions.  So I asked him about the info from Left of the Hill, that Fimian’s company amended its health insurance plan to exclude coverage of abortion, even in cases where the health or life of the mother was at risk.  (I found this via Anonymous is a Woman.)  The speaker had no idea, and so we moved on, but I found myself arguing with my neighbor about how common this is.

When I got home, I started googling, and I found this 2003 Kaiser Family Foundation survey that found that 46 percent of firms that provided health insurance included abortion coverage.  (I checked, and while KFF conducts this survey every year, they seem to have dropped the question about abortion coverage.)  Large employers were far more likely to provide abortion coverage than small ones.  Interestingly, 26% percent of employers did not know whether their insurance plan covered abortion, which makes me think that this is usually a cost-cutting provision rather than an ideological one.

What I can’t tell from this is whether plans that don’t cover abortion generally have life and health of the mother exceptions.  I can’t find this online — anyone have a source?  Or, if your plan doesn’t cover abortion, can you look it up in your benefits handbook?

Other election issues

Monday, October 13th, 2008

I don’t want to jinx it, but unless all the polls are totally wrong, or something horrendous happens in the next few weeks, the uncertainty on November 4th is not going to be about who is the next President, but about the rest of the elections.*  Do the Dems really have a chance at 60 votes in the Senate?  Is Massachusetts going to commit budget suicide? What’s going to happen to marriage equality in California?

Sam Wang makes a convincing case that if you have money left to spend on political contributions this cycle, you should spend it on the Senate races in Oregon, Georgia and Minnesota.  Of those, the one that jumps out at me is Georgia, because I haven’t forgiven Chambliss for his utterly sleazy ads about Max Cleland.  (And Jim Martin’s making sure the voters don’t forget either.) 

Increasing the margin in the House is probably less of a priority, but I’m still trying to find some money to toss towards a couple of races:

  • Judy Feder’s contest to beat Frank Wolf in Virginia — she’s awesome, and is one of the half dozen or so people in the US who I actually think understand health care reform.  That said, he’s a popular incumbent and he trounced her two years ago.  Virginia polls close early — 7pm Eastern time** — so that’s a good race to keep your eye on — if she wins, it’s a sign that the Dems are really riding a wave.
  • Dennis Shulman in New Jersey.  He’s a blind rabbi, a psychologist, running against someone who is incredibly conservative for his district.  And I know his daughter.

I’m finding it hard to get too excited about my own Congressional race, but Anonymous is a Woman has some good posts about it here and here.  I haven’t seen any polling, but I think Connolly should win easily — the district has moved to the left, and the seat has only stayed Republican as long as it has because of people’s respect for Tom Davis and appreciation of what he’s done for federal workers.  I got a very annoying push poll from Fimian last week (although even the poor sap they had doing the poll couldn’t pronounce his name.)

As far as I can tell, we don’t have any wacky policy referenda on our ballot here in Virginia.  Here in Fairfax, there’s a parks bonds referendum, which I’m probably going to vote against.  Given the huge budget deficit the county is running (due to the collapse of property tax revenue), I just don’t think that it makes sense to borrow for things that are nice, but not essential.

* Not that I’m complaining about this.  After the last two Presidential elections,I’d really like one where I’m not sure it’s worth staying up to watch the California returns come in.  My dad and I were talking about this and we decided that the question we wanted to ask is: what’s your prediction for what time you go to bed on election night?

In 2000, I was 6 months pregnant, had a brutal cold, and had to catch a
flight to go to a work meeting in Cleveland at 5.30 the next morning.  At about 2 am, I finally gave up and went to bed.  In 2004, I gave up when they moved Florida back from Kerry to too close to call.

** If you’re likely to be stuck at work and racing home to vote, you might consider going ahead and voting absentee early.  If you’re at work *or commuting* for at least 11 hours that day, it’s an approved reason to vote absentee.  That sounds like a lot, but a 9 hour day and a one hour commute each way qualifies you.

Low turnout

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

It looks like there may be record low turnout in the Congressional primaries in Northern Virginia —  the State Board of Elections site is showing about 1 percent turnout so far, but I can’t tell if the denominator is all voters or just the precincts that have reported.  (Ok, I checked again, and it’s up to 1.6 percent, so it must be all voters.)  I don’t know if voters are suffering from campaign fatigue after the presidential primaries, are just disgusted by the generally negative campaign, or can’t figure out any real policy differences between the candidates and so just don’t care.

In any case, this race has to set some sort of record for most money spent per vote cast.  VPAP only has info on candidates for state office — is the info for federal candidates somewhere?

I haven’t checked to see what precincts are reporting, but with about a third of the precincts in, it looks like Connolly is winning easily.  Interestingly, Byrne seems to have done best in Prince William county, which I think is generally more conservative than Fairfax county.  (I looked it up, and in the 2004 Presidential race, Kerry got 53 percent in Fairfax and 46 percent in Prince William.  I’d guess Fairfax has gotten more blue since then.) But Connolly presumably has much lower name recognition there than in Fairfax.

I think Connolly should win easily in November.