There's an interesting story that has been brewing in Richmond since last year, but is now becoming very relevant before the 2013 elections.
After the last election the Virginia Senate was tied 20-20, and Republicans decided to take control of the chamber with the vote of Lt. Governor Bill Bolling with a 21-20 vote. The rules they passed that gave them control of the chamber lasted for the entire four year term of the Senate. A vote to change those rules would require a 2/3 vote of the Senate, or 27 of 40 Senators.
What this means is if the Democrats were to win the Lt. Governor position in this election, they would not be able to take control of the Senate with a 21-20 vote the way the GOP had last year.
I had a chance to talk with a few GOP Senators when I was in Richmond on Friday. None wanted to speak "on the record", but all confirmed this was an intentional move and one they will not back down on. The Republicans in the Senate intend to continue to control committees even if they are no longer a majority party.
In my view, this is a constitutional crisis- a "coup" written into the rules to prevent the voters from changing party control- and unprecedented in American political history that I'm aware of. Senate Republicans are basically saying they don't care what the voters say this November, they took control of the chamber and will not give it up until January of 2016.
In many ways this would make a Democratic win for Lt. Governor this November almost irrelevant, as the GOP would continue to control committees and could block any legislation they didn't like. This pre-coup of legislative power could be one of the biggest national stories of 2013 and 2014 if Democrats win the Lt Governor's race this year.