I know a lot of you don't get these emails, so for your education and/or entertainment, here's the recent missive from Senator Ken Cu.... er... "Not Dick Saslaw"
Dear Fellow Republicans,
Well, it’s been one ‘interesting’ week here in the Senate of Virginia. Potts got protected, Virginia got to see what Democrat rule would look like, Mick Staton is in a sprint, and on taxes, I’m afraid to say, it may be 2004 redux (that’s bad for you newbies).
Potts and Pans
You will remember that Senator Russ Potts, who ran for his Senate seat as a Republican, declared himself to be an Independent, and ran against our party’s nominee for Governor. He swept to an awe-inspiring 2% of the vote this past November (who are these people anyway? I think they are usually called “the margin of error”). The rules of the Senate state (err, used to state) that “should any Senator, during his term of office, cease to be a member of the political party of which he was a member at the time of his election, he shall be deemed, thereby, to have forfeited all committee memberships . . .”
While it might seem obvious that declaring yourself an Independent would remove you from the Republican Party, it is apparently only obvious to people NOT in the Senate. There was an attempt at a compromise, which failed. The thought in all corners was that Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling would be asked to rule on this matter, once he returned from being sworn in last Saturday. In an apparent effort to avoid that situation, the Republican floor leader introduced surprise amendments to the Senate rules on Friday morning, the day before Saturday’s inaugural ceremonies. I asked for the proposed rule changes to go by for the day, given that the rules committee had never voted on them and 39 of us had never seen them until that morning. This ordinary and traditional courtesy (something rumored to be customary in the regal Senate) was denied. (It’s funny how many of these alleged ‘traditions’ of the Senate simply disappear when Conservatives attempt to invoke them…)
The rules change inserted a provision requiring a 2/3 majority in the Senate, 27 votes, to declare that a member has left his party. Sen. Newman pointed out this oddity in his questioning of the patron… the patron had no response to address that problem. This has left us in the rather odd situation where a member can declare openly that he is no longer a member of his party, but without 27 Senators voting to confirm this, he will be deemed to still be a member of the party he is trying to leave (or has already left). In other words, we now need Democrats to “confirm” that a Republican has left the Republican party… if this makes no sense to you, then you and I came to the same conclusion! Welcome to the Senate of Virginia!
I wish I could report that these votes were even close. But that is not the case. I was writing and putting in amendments as fast as I could read the bill and write amendments, but most of the votes on the amendments were 36-3, with an occasional 35-4 vote. Senator Jay O’Brien and Senator Mark Obenshain consistently joined me in voting to alter the proposed rule changes, and Senator Steve Martin joined us on the key votes.
Not a surprising outcome, but still shocking. By the time we got back to our office over the weekend, we had received over 70 completely unsolicited emails related to the Potts matter from all over Virginia, and in an absolute first for our office, there was not a single negative email. Amazing! Thanks to all of you for your kind words of encouragement.
By the way, the rule change that was enacted further guts any significance of the political parties in the Senate, an outcome that I pointed out to no avail. C’est la vie (you know it’s bad if I’m talking French).
Good News, They’re Crazier Than We Are!
Over in the House of Delegates, in a lopsided 73-22 vote, the Constitutional Amendment protecting traditional marriage in Virginia was passed. Once approved by the Senate, this measure will go to the voters for their approval in November. But in a stunning display of what Virginia would be in for if the Dems got control of the House back, all 5 new Democrat delegates from Northern Virginia voted against traditional marriage. Freshman Delegates Bulova, Marsden, Caputo, Poisson, and Englin joined fellow Northern Virginia Democrats Amundson, Brink, Hull. Moran, Plum, Sickles, Scott, Watts, Eisenberg and Ebbin in voting “No” on protecting marriage between a man and a woman. This means that fully ½ of the “No” votes came out of Northern Virginia. David Englin felt the need to deliver a 20 minute diatribe before voting no. So… who’s out of the mainstream here?
Republicans may not be perfect, but by golly Virginia, look what we’re protecting you from!
In the good news department are special elections. Ryan McDougal squeaked by with 81% of the vote to take Bill Bolling’s Senate seat, and Monday night Mick Staton won the Republican primary in the 33rd District in Loudoun & Fairfax Counties (Bill Mims old District). Mick will be facing a Democrat in a special election to be held on January 31st. Mick was able to pull out a very impressive 56% vote tally in a 4-way race to win the GOP nomination, and he will be a strong candidate to keep this seat Republican in the special election. However, with our miserable performance in the November elections in NoVa, the Dems are coming after this seat with everything they’ve got (too bad they had to import a candidate for the race. He moved into the district on December 20th to run).
The turnout in for the nomination was spectacular, with over 3000 voters showing up to cast their votes. This is a great sign, especially at this time of year. It shows the strength and vitality of the GOP in this must-win district. If any of you have any time in the next two weeks, please plan to help Mick Staton’s campaign. To help Mick, click here.
They are doing volunteer phone calling and door knocking, among other things, and they need lots of help! Please help us hold onto this seat.
It was reported in several blogs that voters at the GOP firehouse primary were required to sign the Republican Party pledge before they were permitted to vote in the nomination. Many of them complained, some did not vote (which is the point of course), and some voted while clearly intending not to abide by the pledge, including one elected Republican (sound familiar?).
Unfortunately, a big, Big, BIG tax package. At least, that’s what I expect. I am waiting to see a package bigger than the 2004 tax hike. I wish I were kidding, when I hear more, you’ll know!
I’ll try to get these Compasses out faster and more frequently as the session goes on. Right now, it’s 3 a.m. and we’ve been scrounging to work on as many budget cuts as we can find, as they are due by 5 p.m., so I need to sign off.
Senator Ken Cuccinelli