Virginia Poll Results

Quinnipiac University released the results of a new Virginia poll.  Here are the highlights:

  • For the 2018 Senate race, Democrat Tim Kaine leads hypothetical matchups against two Republican women: Laura Ingraham (56-36) and Carly Fiorina (57-36).
  • President Trump has a 38-56 job approval rating in Virginia.
    • Republicans approve 81-11
    • Democrats disapprove 95-3
    • Independents disapprove 57-37
    • Whites approve 46-48
    • Non-whites disapprove 76-20
  • President Trump’s travel ban has a 55-42 percent disapproval rating. (Keep in mind Virginia attorney general Mark Harring has challenged it in court)
  • Virginia voters think Judge Neil Gorsuch should be confirmed to the Supreme Court by a 49-31 margin.
  • Virginia voters think home-schooled students should be able to play on public school sports teams, by an overwhelming 71-23 margin.

Virginia House Democrats Candidate Recruiting Update

Virginia House Democrats announced they have recruited 43 Democratic challengers as  of today, and that they are on track to meeting their recruitment goals before the June 13 filing deadline. Potentially more important (and promising) from their perspective is the fact that 17 of those 43 candidates are in districts won by Hillary Clinton but currently held by Republicans.

Richmond Democrat Wins Special Election for Virginia House Seat

Richmond School Board member Jeff Bourne is now the newest member of the Virginia House of Delegates, having defeated Libertarian candidate John Barclay and Independent candidate Regie Ford with a whopping 89 percent of the vote in the special election for the Commonwealth’s 71st House District.

The 71st District, which includes parts of Richmond and Henrico County, was previously represented by Democratic Delegate Jennifer McClellan, who vacated the seat after being elected to represent the 9th Senate District. This election gives Republicans a 66-34 majority in the House.  Bourne and the other members of the House of Delegates are up for reelection in November of 2017.

Statement from Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker:

“Congratulations to Delegate-Elect Jeff Bourne on his victory in Virginia’s 71st House District. Jeff brings a fresh vision and passion for public service and he’ll fight for Virginia families, education, and good-paying jobs. We look forward to seeing what lies ahead for Jeff in his new role in the House.”

Statement from DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post:

“Congratulations to Delegate-elect Bourne on his success tonight,” said Post. “An outstanding legislative candidate with a strong background in public service has won the second consecutive election since President Trump’s inauguration – a crucial contrast to an administration already rife with desperation and incompetence. DLCC is thrilled by Del.-elect Bourne’s victory. He reflects both Democratic and Virginia values, and his win is just one of many electoral victories to come for down-ballot Democrats as voters reject the Trump administration’s extreme and bigoted agenda.”

Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Running for Presidency of State Party Chairs

Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, announced her candidacy for president of the Association of State Democratic Chairs, the position currently held by New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley.  Here’s an excerpt from the letter she sent out to state party chairs and vice chairs to launch her campaign:

The message of my campaign and my goal if elected is simple: to help us grow and maintain strong Democratic Party infrastructures that are sustainable regardless of any one election cycle.  Simply put, we have done that in Virginia and I want to partner with you to build better, stronger vibrant state parties across the country.

I firmly believe the way to rebuild the Democratic Party starts with us.  As State Party Chairs and Vice Chairs we are on the ground – on the front lines – talking with voters, building programs, and we are the ones who know that we must not just turn out the base, but persuade voters. We, along with the organizations we have built in our states, are the ones who are the best hope Democrats have to rebuild from the bottom up.

While we lost the presidency on November 8th, we had many success stories. Working with our stakeholders we made decisions that brought victories at state and local levels.  We also saw the striking difference when our united efforts directly led to higher performance than the top of the ticket. That isn’t a coincidence – it is a testament to hard work, coordination and teamwork on the ground by the people who know the lay of the land the best.

Virginia has been one of the Democratic Party’s biggest success stories over the past decade or so, for statewide and congressional races, and has turned blue for the past three consecutive presidential campaigns, after a string of uninterrupted Republican victories from 1968 to 2004.

The election for the position will take place at the Democrats’ meeting in Atlanta at the end of February, at which they will also be electing officers for leadership positions in the Democratic National Committee.

Federal Government Revoked 100,000 Visas, DOJ Lawyer Tells Court

In addition to the Temporary Restraining Order issued by a federal judge in Washington, the Trump administration got more bad news out of the Eastern District of Virginia yesterday:

First, Judge Leonie Brinkema (a Clinton appointee to the federal bench) agreed to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s motion to expand the scope of individuals affected by the Trump administration’s executive law to include visa holders, in addition to to green card holders.  According to a statement from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s office, the Commonwealth will argue in favor of a motion for a preliminary injunction at a hearing scheduled for February 10.

Second, Judge Brinkema issued a one-page order (Read the PDF here) requiring the federal government to provide the Commonwealth of Virginia “a list of all persons who have been denied entry to or removed from the United States since the Executive Order entitled ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States’ was signed.” Judge Brinkema’s order applies to anyone who was a Virginia resident on the morning of January 27, 2017, and “had lawful permanent resident status, an immigrant visa (or accompanying family or spousal visa), a valid student visa (or accompanying family or spousal visa), or a valid work visa (or accompanying family or spousal visa) by the close of business on Thursday, February 9,2017.”

Third was the biggest bombshell to come out of yesterday’s hearing, which will likely cause the Trump administration no small amount of political and legal headaches for the foreseeable future. Erez Reuveni, a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Immigration Litigation, told the court, “Over 100,000 visas were revoked on Friday at 6:30 p.m.,” referring to the date the executive order was signed.  According to a Daily Beast reporter who was in the courtroom at the time:

The State Department disputed that figure, saying it was only 60,000 visas that had been revoked. Regardless of which figure is ultimately correct, why is it such a problem for the administration? Again, from Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff:

The President himself cited that same 109 figure earlier this week:

In other words, the administration downplayed the impact of the Executive Order, potentially by a magnitude of 1,000.  (That doesn’t mean that 60,000-100,000 people were detained at or deported from various airports, it means that 60,000-100,000 visas were revoked by the federal government as a consequence of the order.)

Expect all the plaintiffs filing lawsuits against the administration across the country to use that 100,000 visas figure in court and in every filing that will come up in the days and weeks ahead.

Massachusetts and Virginia Join Lawsuits Against Federal Government Over Trump Executive Order

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced her office would be joining a lawsuit against the federal government over President Trump’s controversial executive order. The original plaintiffs were the ACLU of Massachusetts and private attorneys on behalf of two associate professors from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

It is worth noting that, among the several statements in support of the lawsuit from state officials as well as representatives from the private sector and academia is this comment from Republican governor Charlie Baker:

“Massachusetts is a global community and we all benefit from the shared experiences of our partners from around the world to support our economy and educational institutions to make our state the best place to live, work and raise a family. The recent executive order puts this at risk, will not improve our security, and the lack of guidance associated with such an abrupt and overwhelming decision is problematic for all involved.  Our administration has worked with the Attorney General’s office and supports her challenging this action. We look forward to the courts resolving this matter expeditiously.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also filed a motion to intervene in Aziz v. Trump et al. in the Eastern District of Virginia, effectively making the state a plaintiff in the case. The motion says in part:

The Commonwealth has substantial interests justifying its intervention. Virginia has a substantial interest in protecting its public universities and their faculty and students from the academic and fiscal disruption posed by the Executive Order. The Executive Order impairs the ability of students who are lawful permanent residents or present on student visas from continuing to attend Virginia’s public colleges and universities. That impairment will hamper the ability of Virginia’s colleges and universities to attract and retain foreign students in the future and result in a significant loss of tuition revenue to the Commonwealth. The Executive Order also hinders the travel of faculty members and other educational personnel employed by Virginia’s public colleges and universities. Faculty members and students who are unable to travel likely will be forced to forfeit their grant moneys. Moreover, Virginia has a quasi-sovereign interest “in the health and well-being —both physical and economic—of its residents in general,” which will be impaired if Virginia is not permitted to intervene.
Herring’s office also filed a separate brief in support of the motion to intervene.
That makes three states which have joined lawsuits against the federal government yesterday alone.

Four Governors Endorse Perez for DNC Chair

Tom Perez’s campaign for Democratic National Committee chairman announced four big gets today: governors John Hickenlooper (Colorado), John Bel Edwards (Louisiana), Gina Raimondo (Rhode Island) and Terry McAuliffe (Virginia).

CNN’s Marshall Cohen points out the significance of the endorsements:

Some context: Two of those states (Colorado and Virginia) are considered swing states but have been Democratic success stories over the course of the past decade in statewide and presidential elections. Rhode Island is in reliably Democratic New England. Louisiana – which has elected statewide Democrats in the past but has turned more Republican in recent years – is probably the most surprising endorsement of the bunch. Democrat Foster Campbell just lost the run-off race for the Louisiana Senate seat a few weeks ago.

 

Northam Leads Virginia Republican Candidates in New Poll

Eleven months out from the Virginia gubernatorial election, Democratic lieutenant governor Ralph Northam leads the four Republican candidates for the race in a new poll released by Quinnipiac University:

  • Northam 38
    Ed Gillespie 34
  • Northam 39
    Rob Wittman 30
  • Northam 39
    Frank Wagner 30
  • Northam 38
    Corey Stewart 29

Gillespie – the former chairman of the Republican National Committee – leads the Republican field in large part from name recognition after his narrow loss to Mark Warner in the 2014 Virginia Senate race:

  • Gillespie 24
  • Wittman 10
  • Wagner 4
  • Stewart 4

The majority of Republican voters – 57 percent – are undecided. It should also be noted that Wittman dropped out of the race last week.

Virginia governors approve of the job Governor Terry McAuliffe is doing 52-30. McAuliffe can’t run for reelection because Virginia state law limits governors to one term. Broken down into political demographics:

  • Democrats approve 75-8.
  • Independents approve 52-32.
  • Republicans disapprove 57-27.

Virginia is a rare bright spot in the south for Democrats, and one of their big success stories over the past decade in state and presidential election cycles. Democrats currently hold all five statewide elected offices – governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and both U.S. Senate seats – in what had previously been a Republican-leaning state.

Rep. Rob Wittman Drops Out of Virginia Governor’s Race

Rob Wittman – a House Republican who represents the Hampton Roads area of Virginia in Congress – announced he would not be a candidate for the Republican nomination in the Virginia gubernatorial race next year. He told the Richmond Times-Dispatch his reasons for staying in the House:

In an interview, Wittman said he decided to stay in Congress in part to ensure Virginia has representation on the House Armed Services Committee and its naval subcommittee, which oversees military programs of vital importance to the Hampton Roads region.

“I think the best place for me to serve right now is staying there in Congress,” Wittman said. “Especially now with an administration coming in that’s committed to rebuilding our military.”

Wittman had previously been considered a contender for Tim Kaine’s Senate seat in the event Kaine ascended to the vice presidency. With his exit from the race, the Republican field for 2017 as it stands now is former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, Donald Trump’s former  Virginia campaign chairman Corey Stewart, and state Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach). Wittman declined to endorse any of them, saying “I respect and admire all three .”

In a statement, Democratic Party of Virginia Communications Director Emily Bolton said, “The anti-establishment electorate that voted for Donald Trump in the primary sent Wittman running for the hills. In fact, this race is so toxic that he refuses to endorse any of the candidates. By the time the primary rolls around, the Republican nominee will emerge a damaged candidate with empty pockets.”

Mark Warner Won’t Run for President in 2020

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) told the Wall Street Journal that he would not be running for president in four years, despite the fact that he flirted with a possible run back in 2008. “I think that window is probably shut,” he told a group of WSJ reporters and editors. He also said he would look for areas and issues where he could cooperate with Republicans and the Trump administration. Warner is up for re-election to the Senate in 2020.