Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here
Frank Bernheisel
Frank Bernheisel
Posted 4.21.21
Just Outside Washington



There are things in governance that are a little different here in Virginia, many of which have come down from colonial times, for example:

Political authority starts at the state level and flows down to the local level, Local powers start with a specific grant of authority by the state's General Assembly, known as the Dillon Rule, Virginia state courts and judges limit local authority to just those powers that were clearly granted by the General Assembly, When an election results in a tie, it is decided by a flip of a coin*, Virginia refers to itself as a commonwealth, not a state, and It holds its elections in off years, that is not the same years as federal election.

Therefore, we are having an election in 2021 in which the three executive branch leaders; governor, lieutenant governor and the attorney general are up for election, as are all of the Members of the House of Delegates, who serve for two years. In 2023 the election will be for all of the Members of the Virginia Senate, who serve for four years.

Last week I went to lunch with a friend, and we discussed the upcoming election. He brought a copy of Terry McAuliffe's campaign brochure Virginia's Road Forward in which McAuliffe summarizes his plans for his four-year term, if elected. I mentioned that I had received a copy also. We both marveled that McAuliffe was so far ahead in campaigning in the race for governor of Virginia this year.

There are five Democratic candidates who are campaigning for the June 8th primary: Lee Carter, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Jennifer Carroll Foy, Terry McAuliffe, and Jenn McClellan. The last three are leading in fundraising and noteworthy endorsements. A couple of

days ago, the Washington Post had an article on McAuliffe maintaining a hefty fundraising lead as he seeks to have as second term as governor. (Virginia's governor is limited to one term but can run again after a one term wait.) He has raised about $12 million overall and raised about $4 million in April, alone. His nearest Democratic rival is former delegate, Jennifer Carroll Foy from Prince William County, who has raised a total of $3.7 million.

There are seven candidates are vying to be selected at the May 8th Republican convention (Republicans have not been doing primaries) for Governor: Amanda Chase, Kirk Cox, Peter Doran, Octavia Johnson, Pete Snyder, Sergio de la Pena, and Glenn Youngkin. According to Brandon Jarvis of the Virginia Scope<./i>, "Amanda Chase and Pete Snyder have fully embraced the Trump voters and their talking points while Kirk Cox and Glenn Youngkin have moved towards the establishment and moderate voters."

Because of covid, the 2021 Virginia Republican convention will not be an assembly but held in 37 locations around the state. Unlike previous Virginia conventions, there will be no limit on how many delegates can votes. Each delegate will cast a single ballot using ranked-choice voting, which will be weighted according to the number of delegate votes allocated to each locality. The candidate with the most votes on a single vote will be the winner.

Currently, all three of the executive offices are held by Democrats, and the Democrats hold a majority of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates, 55 to 45.

This is the first time since WWII that Virginia government has not been controlled by Jim Crow politicians.

Also, in the 2020 presidential election, Biden won Virginia with 54.11 percent of the vote, the best performance for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944. The numbers were: Biden 2,413,568 votes, Trump 1,962,430 votes, with Biden votes concentrated in the urban areas and Trump votes in rural areas. However, Virginia was one of sixteen states where Trump received a lower percentage of the vote than he did in the 2016 election.

Does this mean that Jim Crow is dead in Virginia? I would not count on it, but stay tuned for the November election.

* In 2018 to decide the 2017 Delegate election, the state elections board chairman pulled a film canister containing Republican incumbent David Yancey's name from a bowl. Thus, defeating Democrat Shelly Simonds and giving Republicans a 51-49 advantage in seats in the House of Delegates. This allowed Republicans to determine the House speaker and committee chairmen.