Heading into the 2015 elections, Republicans held a narrow 21-19 lead in the Virginia Senate. And now that all of the votes have been counted, that seat count remains unchanged. A few of the establishment politicians retired and were replaced by people who campaigned on a message that was more liberty-minded, more limited government than their predecessors. Are they more principled? Well, I guess we will have to wait and see.
Unfortunately, the current majority leader and the most powerful person in the Virginia Senate is Tommy Norment (R-James City County). Four years ago, I wrote an article lamenting the fact that the Republicans selected Norment as the majority leader given that he is arguably the least conservative Republican in that body. Although I lobbied my state senator to vote for a better candidate at that time, my suggestion went nowhere. As you might imagine, I was (and am) worried that if the Republicans retained the senate after the 2015 elections then we would be saddled with another four years of Norment’s leadership.
However, this year there may be hope. Yesterday, Senator Tom Garrett (R-Buckingham County) called for a new senate majority leader. This development is important because it marks the first time that a Republican legislator has publicly opposed the election or re-election of Norment.
Senator Garrett’s argument is that Senator Norment wields too much power given that he is both the majority leader and the finance chairman. It certainly is a valid concern. After all, one senator should never have so much authority that he can make the wishes and votes of the others largely irrelevant. As Senator Garrett explained to The Washington Post, “No one person needs that much power. It’s happened before, and it’s never ended well.”
However, there are a variety of other reasons why conservatives and libertarians should oppose Norment. As perhaps the best example, he was a leading proponent of the massive 2013 transportation tax hike. While Mark Warner was governor, Senator Norment also voted for what was then the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history.
Besides taxes, Norment has repeatedly voted to expand the power of the state government and has opposed efforts to shrink the size and scope of their authority. In matters of crony capitalism, does it concern anyone else that Senator Norment has received $92,740 from Dominion Power, the state promoted energy monopoly?
Switching to personal issues, Senator Norment’s name appeared on the leaked Ashley Madison list and Norment admitted that he cheated on his wife when he was thinking about getting a divorce. One does have to ask the question, if a politician is unfaithful to his or her spouse, how faithful can he or she be to the Virginia Constitution he or she swore to uphold and the voters who placed their trust in him?
Virginia Republicans claim that the senate has gotten more conservative. But, if that were indeed the case, why would they continue to elect one of their least conservative members as majority leader? Their actions certainly don’t match their rhetoric.
It’s great that Senator Garrett has taken this public stance, but he needs our help! Therefore, I encourage each of you to contact your state senator, assuming he or she is a Republican, and urge him or her to stand with Senator Garrett and push for new leadership. Here is a handy phone list from the Virginia Senate’s website. You don’t have to be a Republican to be a part of this effort, just a Virginia citizen who is tired of the politics as usual attitude in Richmond.
In addition, although not associated with the official effort, a new community has just sprung up on Facebook called Dump Norment. I don’t know who runs the page, but I suggest giving it a like to get updates and connect with fellow individuals who also want a new senate majority leader.
Please contact your state senator and let them know that you stand with Senator Garrett and for new leadership in the Virginia Senate. Call, email, or, better yet, visit your legislators in person. If enough of us speak out, we can and will make a difference!