Mid Primary Day Update: The 1%

Vote HereAt 1 PM today, I stopped by the Massanetta Springs precinct, the largest and typically busiest precinct in all of Rockingham County.  Unlike with most primaries and general elections, the parking lot was sparsely occupied and none of the four Democratic campaigns had volunteers or staff handing out materials to the voters as they went inside.  At that time, turnout was exceedingly low, 44, or slightly less than 1% of the registered voting population.

From there, I traveled to the Keister Elementary precinct in Harrisonburg, my polling place.  Again, the scene was the same as it was in Rockingham County, rows of empty parking spots and absolutely no one outside asking for my support.  At about 1:10, I registered as voter number thirty-two, which is about 1% of their registered voter total.  Not only was there no line in front of me, but also there was no one else voting at that same time.  I spent a few moments chatting with the various poll workers.  Having served as election official in a previous election, I know that they ware in for a particularly long and boring day.

Although I am not a member of any Democratic Party, I did find it curious that none of the campaigns sent me any mailings over the duration of the primary season.  After all, my voting history shows that I have voted in a handful of Democratic contests over the years, such as the 2004 Democratic Presidential Primary, the 2006 U.S. Senate Primary, and the previous 2009 statewide contests.

Yes, turnout is low in this part of the state today and given that fact, my prediction for the outcome remains the same.  Aneesh Chopra should win the LG race by a small margin over Northam, while Mark Herring will enjoy a convincing victory for AG over Fairfax.

Tomorrow’s Primary

Vote HereTomorrow features a number of party primaries across Virginia.  In some districts, incumbent members of the House of Delegates are facing challengers from within their own party.  For example, in the northern Shenandoah Valley, Delegate Bev Sherwood faces Dr. Mark Berg and Delegate Todd Gilbert squares off against Mark Prince.  All in all, about half a dozen Republican delegates have an interparty challenge.  In addition, two Democratic delegates also will also have to defend themselves from within their own ranks.

Delegates in a vast majority of the commonwealth are unchallenged.  However, regardless of the delegates’ races, in every single polling place there will be a primary; the Democratic Party will be selecting their nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general for the 2013 general election.

Given that Virginia does not have party registration, every voter, regardless of party preference, can vote in tomorrow’s primary.  It is not merely a contest for Democrats, but for Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, Constitutionalists, and independents.  However, with those thoughts in mind, one important exception is that no one can vote in both parties’ primaries.  Therefore, if you vote in a Republican contest on Tuesday, you will be ineligible to participate in the Democratic one as well (or vice versa).

Now, many Republicans I know are abstaining from voting tomorrow, claiming that it would be improper for Republicans to participate in a Democratic Party issue.  I take a different approach.  If the Democratic Party didn’t want outsiders to participate, then they would have held a convention like the Republicans did on May 18th and the Libertarians did on April 21st.  In addition, given that the contest is decided by a primary, that means that the Virginia taxpayers pay for Tuesday’s contest.  If a party takes my money, either directly or indirectly, then I believe that I am entitled to voice my opinion in that process.

With these thoughts in mind, how can we differentiate among the candidates?  After all, the Democratic Party offers two choices for lieutenant governor and two choices for attorney general.  They are (with a link included to their websites):

Lieutenant Governor

Aneesh Chopra

State Senator Ralph Northam

Attorney General

Mark Herring

Justin Fairfax

But for which of the candidates should you vote?  Well, there are several competing theories, that I discussed more in depth in an article four years ago.  You could vote for the candidate who you believe is the strongest (or weakest), in order to give the Democratic Party the best (or worst) chance of victory.  However, my recommendation is to support whichever candidate best represents your political principles.  After all, if a Democrat does win in the general election in November, I’m hoping we would get the most conservative of the candidates (assuming such a candidate exists).

For me, control of the Virginia Senate is a very important issue in the LG race.  Given his openness to creating a power sharing agreement in the Virginia Senate (which is currently evenly split between Democratic and Republican Parties), I will be casting my primary vote for Ralph Northam.  Then again, this very same issue may be the driving point which convinces some of my more liberal friends to choose Aneesh Chopra.

Although I know that many of my readers have no plans to vote in tomorrow’s primary, I still encourage you to learn about the various choices and cast a ballot based upon your research.  Never go to the polls in ignorance; arrive well informed.  Our political system requires a knowledgeable electorate.

Don’t forget tomorrow’s primary!

Thanks to Lowell Fulk for indirectly reminding me to write this piece through his Facebook post.

Chopra in Harrisonburg

Aneesh Chopra
Aneesh Chopra

Earlier today, Aneesh Chopra, one of the two Democratic candidates to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor, spoke to a crowd in Harrisonburg.  About 40 people were in attendance at the Beyond restaurant; this group included a number of JMU students, local high school students, and a bevy of Democrats including past and present members of the Harrisonburg City Council.

Mr. Chopra discussed his experience, including his time working for the Kaine administration, as well as his plans to stimulate economic growth in the Commonwealth.  After these remarks, he opened the floor to questions from the audience.  Then, at the end of the gathering, Larry Rogers, the former mayor of the city endorsed Chopra.

I took the opportunity to ask Mr. Chopra about his opinion regarding the organization of the Virginia Senate.  If you may recall, the body was split evenly between Democratic and Republican members after the 2011 elections.  Rather than engaging in some sort of power sharing arrangement, the Republican Party declared that they were in the majority due to the fact that the lieutenant governor was a Republican.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Aneesh Chopra mentioned that, if elected, he would act as the 21st Democratic senator, which would allow the Democratic Party to assume control that body in much the same precedent as set by Bill Bolling several years ago.

Unlike the Republicans who are running a convention, the Democratic Party will be holding an open primary on June 12th to select their nominees for statewide office.  As any registered voter will be allowed to participate, it is important for interested citizens, be they Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, or independents to learn about our choices and to select which one of them best represents their values.

The (More Important Than It Should Be) LG Race

Good afternoon, readers.

Glad to be with you once again.  First, let me apologize for the two-week hiatus in posts.  If you are wondering why the lengthy break took place, every time that I would come up with a topic that I wanted to write about, my mind would keep drifting to thoughts of a rather remarkable woman.  But the Virginia Conservative must go on and go on it will!

Now that Virginia Republicans have come to terms with the disappointing results of 2012, they are turning their attention to the 2013 contests.  After all, every year is an election year here in Virginia.  Next November, Virginians will vote for a new governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.  In addition, all 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be up for grabs.

Normally, the race for lieutenant governor is a rather low-key affair.  In most circumstances, the lieutenant governor has about as much relative clout and power as the vice president of the United States.  He or she presides over the Virginia Senate, only casts a vote to break a tie in legislative matters, and assumes the role of governor if the sitting governor resigns or is incapacitated.  Typically, the office is also a placeholder for a person who will seek the role of governor in the next election.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling also was given the role of Chief Jobs Creation Officer from Governor McDonnell, a rather curious title.  After all, don’t conservatives believe that it is not the role of government to create jobs, but rather to create the most business friendly environment possible where taxes are kept low and bureaucratic red tape is minimized?  But we can delve into that topic on another post.

However, after the 2011 election, the lieutenant governor gained an additional function.  When the dust settled in November of that year, the 40-member body of the Virginia Senate was split evenly between members of the Republican and Democratic Parties.  In that rare circumstance, many people assumed, given that neither party held a majority in the body, a power sharing agreement would be the outcome.  However, as the lieutenant governor was a Republican, the GOP declared that they controlled the Virginia Senate and thus no power sharing agreement was reached.

Although the move to claim victory in the Virginia Senate may have been politically smart for the Republican Party at the time, I personally opposed the plan.  In some ways, it felt as if it circumvented the will of the people.  After all, the voters elected an equally divided Senate and ought to have a Senate that reflected this result.  However, this action gave the lieutenant governor considerably more power.  As a result, I knew that it would put a greater emphasis on a race that is typically considered second tier.  After all, even though we will not elect a single new senator on November 5th, 2013, control of that body will hinge upon the outcome of the lieutenant governor race.  If the Democrats win,  given what happened in 2011, I’m certain that they will ignore any pleas for a divided Virginia Senate.

Unlike the election for governor and attorney general, the Republican nomination for lt. governor is very much up in the air.  There are a whole host of candidates: former State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate E.W. Jackson, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, State Senator Steve Martin, Chairman Corey Stewart of Prince William County, Chairwoman Susan Stimpson of Stafford County, and 2012 Virginia GOP Victory Chairman Pete Snyder.  Although many liberty-minded folks that I know are lining up behind Stimpson, I still need to learn more about the candidates and thus remain uncommitted at this time.  At this point, none can claim front-runner status and, if the field remains so large, the outcome of the 2013 GOP convention could very well yield surprising results.

On the Democratic side, we have Aneesh Chopra, the first person to hold the role of the Chief Technology Officer of the United States and State Senator Ralph Northam.

Will the Libertarian, Constitution, and/or Green Parties field a candidate to run for lieutenant governor as well?  And, if so, what sort of impact will he or she make in the race?

The bottom line is that due to outcome of 2011, the 2013 race for Virginia’s lieutenant governor is far more important than it has been in previous cycles.  Therefore, I encourage all of my fellow conservative activists to consider each of our choices carefully before selecting or dismissing a candidate prematurely.