Virginia onAir News

Ralph Northam gives coronavirus update
PBS NewsHour, June 18, 2020 (53:30)
A Message from Governor Northam on Juneteenth
Governor Ralph Northam, June 19, 2020 (02:20)
An extraordinary reconvened session
Virginia Mercury, Ned Oliver et al., April 23, 2020 (Long)

Lawmakers delay minimum wage, maintain election schedule in extraordinary session

Protesters in cars honked endlessly as they circled the Capitol. The Speaker of the House collapsed on the dais as she led a floor session. A lawmaker cast votes from a Plexiglas enclosure.

The typically sleepy reconvened session of the Virginia General Assembly on Thursday fully reflected the bizarre world into which we’ve all been thrust by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If anyone in this room is going to die from the virus if they get it, it’s me,” said Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, who worked from the transparent enclosure constructed by Senate staff. He said he was still recovering from open heart surgery and a bout of pneumonia.


Images from a reconvened session like no other
Virginia Mercury, Robert Zullo , April 22, 2020 (Short)

Images from a reconvened session like no other as lawmakers return to Richmond

Lawmakers were back in Richmond Wednesday for the reconvened, or veto, session, when they act on gubernatorial vetoes and amendments. But, given the pandemic, it was one like no other, drawing right wing protesters opposed to Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order and other social distancing restrictions.

To keep be able to keep their own distance from each other, the House met in a tent on the Capitol grounds, beset by blaring horns from the drive-by protesters and technical difficulties. The Senate met in a space commandeered from the Science Museum of Virginia across town.

Senator Mark Warner's tuna melt atrocity
13News Now, April 23, 2020 (03:17)
Embattled Dems stockpile cash ahead of November
Virginia Mercury, Robin Bravender, April 28, 2020 (Medium)

Embattled Va. Dems stockpile cash ahead of November

WASHINGTON — Targeted Democratic incumbents from Virginia’s U.S. congressional delegation were padding their war chests as the election year kicked off.

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the landscape for politicians in Virginia and across the country as many have been forced to cut back on active fundraising and campaigning. But the most recent campaign finance reports show that Virginia Democrats who are expected to face the toughest reelection challenges this fall had stocked up more cash than their competitors by the end of March.

The Republican expected to face the toughest race — freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman — had less cash on hand than his top-raising Democratic opponent, although Riggleman has raised nearly twice as much during the election cycle.

Voting in Virginia

For the better part of a decade, many Virginia Democrats, some Republicans and anti-gerrymandering advocates have pushed to take away the General Assembly’s constitutionally derived power to draw political maps and give it to an outside commission.

After the House of Delegates voted 54-46 Thursday to approve a constitutional amendment creating that commission, Virginia voters will get to decide whether they agree, just in time to change the system for the 2021 redistricting process. After several days of tense closed-door caucus meetings, nine House Democrats joined with 45 Republicans to approve the measure.

If Virginia voters give it final approval in a November ballot referendum, the commission will be formed to redraw the state’s General Assembly and congressional districts next year using new census data.

But the commission concept that won bipartisan approval in the General Assembly for the second year in a row did so over strong objections from some black lawmakers who said their concerns were ignored in a rush to embrace a flawed proposal. If the House had rejected the proposal, Democrats who won control of the General Assembly last year would have had the final say over the next redistricting process.

Both the May General/Special Elections and the June Primary dates have changed per the Governor’s Executive Order 56 and Executive Order 59. The Virginia Department of Elections encourages voters to protect their health during COVID-19 outbreak.

Voting absentee in the coming May and June elections is strongly encouraged. Voters may choose reason “2A My disability or illness” for absentee voting in the May and June 2020 elections due to COVID-19. Voters who choose the absentee option should do so as soon as possible so they can get their ballots in time to return them by mail by Election Day. Apply online for a Virginia absentee ballot.

Covid-19 and VA Governance

Why Covid-19 testing was delayed in VA for weeks
Virginia Mercury, Kate Masters, May 1, 2020 (Medium)

Supply shortages and poor coordination delayed COVID-19 testing in Virginia for weeks

Amid continued concern over the shortage of COVID-19 testing in Virginia, several commercial labs have expressed surprise that their capacity for running tests remains above the demand for them.

Asked Wednesday why the state of Virginia couldn’t have contracted with private labs to boost testing capacity, former Health Commissioner Dr. Karen Remley — recently announced as co-director of Gov. Ralph Northam’s new testing task force — said that none were ready at the time when the state needed them most.

“One could have — but those labs were not available to test,” she said. “Four or five weeks ago, everybody was struggling to bring up their laboratories.”

A recent analysis by The Virginian-Pilot ranked Virginia’s testing rate lower than nearly every other state other than Kansas and Arizona. The Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center shows that the number of tests administered in Virginia trails nearby states — including Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, and Tennessee — by several thousand.

Northam urges ‘larger role’ for feds on worker safety
Virginia Mercury, By Sarah Vogelsong , April 30, 2020 (Short)

Northam urges ‘larger role’ for feds on poultry worker safety but advocates press state to step up

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order Tuesday invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure meat processing facilities remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam is calling on the administration to provide additional assistance to protect plant workers.

“If we declare that workers at meat processing plants are essential, then it is imperative that we continue to support their health and well-being,” said Northam at his regular Wednesday press conference.

“I sincerely hope that with this executive order, the president is signaling that the federal government will play a much larger role in keeping the employees of these meat processing plants safe and provide federal support to ensure every worker has protection, i

2020 VA General Assembly Leaders

Virginia top state elected officials include:

Ralph Northam, Governor Commonwealth of Virginia
Justin Fairfax, Lt. Governor
Mark Herring, Attorney General

Dick Saslaw, Senate Majority Leader
Louise Lucas, Senate Pro Tempore
Tom Norment, Senate Minority Leader

Eileen Fillen-Corn, Speaker of the House
Charniele Herring, House Majority Leader
Todd Gilbert, House Minority Leader

VA US Senate – 2020 Election

Incumbent Senator Mark Warner first won election in 2008 getting 65% of the vote over former governor Jim Gilmore. In 2014, during the Tea Party movement, Senator Warner won re-election with 49.1% of the vote defeating former chairman of the Republican National Committee Ed Gillespie by 0.8%. Warner is running for a third term.

Dr. Daniel Gade is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, professor, and public policy leader running to serve the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S. Senate. Gade has served in President George W. Bush’s administration, working on veteran issues and military healthcare, and has since served on several national-level policy councils, including the National Council on Disability and the VA Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation.

US House District 2 – 2020

Adapted from the Washington Post:

The GOP primary to decide who will challenge Rep. Elaine Luria (D) in the military heavy 2nd District was won by Scott Taylor. Taylor, a former congressman, who lost the Virginia Beach seat to Luria in the 2018 blue wave, defeated two Republican opponents, paving the way for a rematch in November.

An uptick in anti-Trump sentiment, and a scandal over fraudulent signatures that his campaign collected to help a potential spoiler candidate get on the ballot, sunk Taylor’s campaign against Luria two years ago, analysts say.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report considers the general election a toss-up.

US House District 5 – 2020

A practicing physician, Cameron Webb returned to Charlottesville where he treats patients as a general internist, teaches students and serves as the Director of Health Policy and Equity at UVA’s School of Medicine.  Cameron is running for Congress to serve his community at this critical time. In Washington, he will be a fierce advocate to ensure opportunities for health and success for all Virginians.

Bob Good is running for Congress to bring the conservative principles of financial stewardship and respect for hard working taxpayers back to Washington. President Trump’s policies have delivered a growing, vibrant economy and we must ensure that our representatives back his agenda.


About Virginia Politics & onAir Hub

Virginia is located in the Southern region of the USA with Richmond as its capital. The Richmond General Assembly has 40 Senate members and 100 House of Delegate members. Virginia’s current political leaders are:

Governor Ralph Northam (D) since 2018
Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax (D) since 2018
Attorney General, Mark Herring (D) since 2018

Senior Senator Mark Warner (D) since 2008
Junior Senator Tim Kaine (D) since 2014

Lead onAir Chapter: @George Mason University
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