While some commentators have lamented the decreasing number of lawyers serving in the Virginia legislature, there was no wholesale infusion of attorneys into the House of Delegates in yesterday’s elections. Results show a possible gain of two additional lawyers in the House.
In a closely-watched Northern Virginia squeaker, lawyer and lobbyist Barbara Comstock unseated community leader Margi Vanderhye. In another newsworthy turnabout, Del. Phillip Hamilton, an educator, was defeated by lawyer and consumer advocate Robin Abbott. Lawyer Scott Surovell has won the seat of businesswoman Kris Amundson, who resigned.
In the negative column for lawyers, Del. Frank Hall, an attorney, also resigned this year. His seat is being taken by a non-lawyer, Betsy Carr.
Other attorneys won and lost, but we have not identified any other contests where the outcome changed the “lawyer count” in the House.
Botetourt County lawyer Bill Cleaveland was elected to the seat of lawyer Del. William Fralin, who resigned.
Two lawyers sought the seat of Steve Shannon, who resigned to run for attorney general. The winner was Mark Keam.
A number of incumbent lawyers resisted challenges from other lawyers. Del. Dave Albo held off a bid by Greg Werkheiser. Del. Bill Janis defeated James Towey. Del. Manoli Loupassi beat Bill Grogran. Del. William Barlow withstood the challenge of Stan Clark.
Elsewhere, lawyers fell short in efforts to unseat incumbent non-lawyers. Del. Dave Nutter withstood a challenge from prosecutor Peggy Frank. Del. Matt Lohr defeated lawyer Gene Hart. Gary Reinhardt failed to unseat Lee Ware. Del. Thomas Rust retains his seat, beating Stevens Miller. Del. Glenn Oder outpolled lawyer Gary West.
There currently are 20 lawyers in the House, 19 in the Senate, according to officials at the capitol. A total of 15 lawyers were among the 91 candidates challenging incumbents or seeking open House of Delegates seats this year.
By Peter Vieth
November 2nd, 2009 · ELECTIONS
It’s almost guaranteed — nearly every football game features at least one angry coach yelling about a referee’s call. In scenes not far removed, the week before election day always seems to bring a spate of campaign dramas.
This year, its campaign literature that’s fueling the anger. In Prince William County, an incumbent delegate was dismayed to read fliers sent out by his opponent telling voters the incumbent had once been charged with assaulting an officer. A judge had dismissed the charges and the record was officially expunged.
Because the state code generally bars disclosure of expunged criminal records, the incumbent took to running TV ads suggesting the challenger is the real law breaker.
In the Shenandoah Valley, another incumbent delegate got the drop on his challenger by getting hold of some literature before it was mailed and posting a preemptive strike on a Facebook page. Of, course, the challenger cried foul.
In Blacksburg, a minor stir arose when fliers were sent out with a list of supporters of four candidates running for the town council. It turned out not all of the listed citizens were crazy about all four candidates. On election eve, The Roanoke Times reported, one candidate stopped forward to take the blame for the snafu and try to smooth ruffled feathers.
With an election every year, campaign follies are an annual diversion in the Old Dominion. See you next fall.
By Peter Vieth
October 8th, 2009 · ELECTIONS
State Sen. Robert Hurt (R-Chatham) says he’ll challenge Rep. Tom Perriello for the 5th District seat in Congress next year.
Hurt, a Chatham lawyer who has served in the Virginia Senate since 2008, says Washington needs a conservative voice for his district, reports the Star-Tribune.
Although Hurt faces opposition from other Republican nominees, he will likely be the front runner against Perriello, a Democrat from Albemarle County currently serving his first two-year term.
October 7th, 2009 · ELECTIONS
The White House is focusing on New Jersey, at the expense of Virginia, in support for Democratic gubernatorial candidates.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Democratic strategists are seeking to conserve the party’s political capital and avoid close association with a candidate who might lose.
Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds currently trails Republican Bob McDonnell by about 7.3 percentage points.
While President Obama has yet to schedule any future appearances in Virginia on behalf of Deeds, he has already planned a second appearance in New Jersey for Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine.
The White House spokesperson says the president remains strongly supportive of Deeds, and that spending decisions are made by the Democratic National Committee.
Gov. Tim Kaine hopes to collect $48 million for the state’s general fund through a tax amnesty program.
Persons – in the broadest legal sense of that term: individuals, corporations, trusts and partnerships – can take advantage of the offer. Those who pay delinquent taxes between Oct. 7 and Dec. 5 will have to pay only the taxes due plus half interest.
If the taxes are not paid then, the taxpayers will be liable for full interest plus a 20 percent penalty. The Virginia Department of Taxation is sending 550,000 notices of outstanding tax bills. The average delinquent bill is $2,315.
Additional information is in the governor’s press release and at www.GetSquareVA.com.
By Alan Cooper
September 28th, 2009 · ELECTIONS
The two men vying for Virginia attorney general were in Charlottesville recently, promoting their campaigns.
Del. Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee, appeared at C’ville Coffee this past Friday, along with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, reports The Daily Progress. If elected, Shannon said would help put more resources in place to protect children from sex offenders.
Meanwhile, Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli recently visited the Daily Progress newsroom to outline his views, which include an effort to stop gang activity in Virginia and continuing reform of the state’s mental health system.
September 16th, 2009 · ELECTIONS
Former Richmond prosecutor Matthew Geary plans to run against incumbent Wade Kizer for Henrico County commonwealth’s attorney.
Geary left his position as chief deputy in the commonwealth’s attorney’s office in April to join a private practice in Richmond, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Kizer announced yesterday that he is running for re-election.
Both candidates will reportedly run as Republicans.
Gov. Tim Kaine has asked the U.S. Department of Labor for a $252 million loan to pay unemployment compensation benefits through the end of the year.
The state will need the money because of an increased demand for benefits and reduced employer contributions to the unemployment insurance trust fund.
The increase in demand has reduced the trust fund to levels that trigger a Fund Builder Tax to replenish the account. The state code requires an increase in contributions to $171 per employee because the fund has fallen below half the level deemed “sufficient” by the Virginia Code.
Kaine noted that Virginia now has the lowest unemployment tax in the region and will have the third lowest rate after the increase.
By Alan Cooper
Those who attended Washington and Lee University with South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson in the late 1960s probably would have picked him to be among those least likely to heckle a president during a joint session of Congress.
Wilson shouted, “You lie!”, last night when President Obama said his health plan would not include coverage for illegal immigrants.
The outburst was condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike, and Wilson issued a statement apologizing for “this lack of civility.”
It also got him a lot of attention. His congressional Web site was at least temporarily unavailable today because of heavy traffic.
Wilson was a strongly partisan Republican even in college, but he exuded Southern gentility and decorum during the last days of the coat-and-tie tradition at the Lexington school.
He served in the South Carolina legislature for 17 years before winning a special election after Floyd Spence, his predecessor in the congressional district that includes part of Columbia, died in 2001.
By Alan Cooper
September 10th, 2009 · ELECTIONS
A former prosecutor hoping to win the commonwealth’s attorney’s job in Virginia Beach is struggling to maintain a residence there.
Mark C. Hardman, a 28-year-old running on an Independent ticket, has not had a permanent address since June, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
Hardman was fired from the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office in March. He alleges that his intent to take on Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey Bryant cost him his job. Due to his unemployment, Hardman has had trouble securing a lease on a home.
He spent most of the past summer staying at the houses of friends and family, and camping at First Landing State Park. He is currently in Ecuador, reportedly volunteering at an orphanage.
Candidates for constitutional offices, however, are required to have a fixed address in the city or county in which they’re running.
Hardman says he now has a place in Virginia Beach to live upon his return. But he could still face a penalty for not amending his campaign paperwork within the required 10 days of leaving his original Beach address.