Politics Virginia's off-year elections could pose key test for both parties
Virginia is poised to reform its HIV criminalization laws. Is the rest of the U.S. next?
“Being HIV positive is itself not a threat to public safety,” state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat, said.Passed after two versions of the bill were reconciled, the legislation would repeal the felony criminal ban on blood, tissue or organ donation by people with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; make HIV-testing for people convicted of certain crimes, including prostitution and drug charges, optional rather than mandatory; and strike down a statute making failure to disclose HIV-positive status before sex a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months jail time.
A 16-year political shift has transformed the Commonwealth of Virginia from a solidly red state to a blue one.
Democrats in the state now control all levers of power -- the Governor's mansion, and both chambers of the state legislature -- for the first time in a generation. And they are leading in an unapologetically progressive direction.
The story of Virginia politics in 2021 is a tale of two political parties. Democrats are riding a wave of demographic change and suburban revolt away from the GOP to political power. And Republicans are searching for a way forward, while trying to placate a base increasingly loyal to Trump and motivated by conspiratorial views.
What the Media Are Missing About Joe Manchin
The senator has skillfully managed his image, to stay viable in a state that went from a Democratic to a Republican majority. He has done that by having a keen sense of what issues and bills are popular at any given moment and of how he can be seen as being on the right side of those issues for the electorate—no matter which party is in favor of them.All politicians like to think of themselves as problem solvers, but Manchin’s confidence in his ability to build consensus and master the process of politics is extraordinary.
Virginia's off-year elections have always made it a proving ground for both political parties. But this year more than normal, it could be a potential harbinger of things to come for both parties.
For the first time in the chamber's 402-year history, the Speaker of the House of Delegates is a woman: Eileen Filler-Corn.
Under her leadership, Democrats have moved quickly to pass a wave of legislation seeking to fulfill campaign promises to their voters and push the state further to the left. They have passed bills legalizing marijuana, instituting universal background checks, raising the minimum wage and loosening voting restrictions. If Gov. Ralph Northam signs their latest high-profile bill into law, Virginia will also soon become the first southern state to abolish the death penalty.
Leftist political parties abandoned the working class for globalization
The economic condition and security of the working class has declined as globalization undermined their well-being and political influence. Stagnating wages and disappearing jobs devastated a traditional way of life.As the workers' fortunes declined, corporate interests gained in strength and prosperity through rapidly growing globalization. Jobs, and even whole industries in Western nations, could be relocated to foreign product centers where dramatically lower costs caused profits and wealth to soar. Additionally, globalization allowed money to move about the planet largely unhindered by national borders.
"We are doing exactly what we told Virginians we would do. And I think that's important," Filler-Corn told CNN in an interview. "Campaigning on the issues and the values that are important to you -- and following through."
And on other issues, like Confederate monuments and theon the US Capitol, Filler-Corn and other state Democrats haven't hesitated to take a strong stance.
After the riots in Washington, shefrom three GOP state lawmakers who expressed support for overturning the results of the November 2020 presidential election -- a position pushed by former President Donald Trump.
George Floyd's friends reflect on his striving, at times stumbling life
George Floyd's friends reflect on his striving, at times stumbling lifeHOUSTON (Reuters) - Travis Cains looks over to the spot where he and George Floyd watched the world go by when they were young.
And as Trump sought to make protecting Confederate monuments a key part of his pitch to voters in the lead up to the 2020 election, Filler-Corn moved swiftly to remove a life-sized statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the old House Chamber, leaving behind a slab of cement.
"It was an easy decision," Filler-Corn said. "You know, the only thing I had thought of in addition to removing them as quickly as possible, was doing so safely."
The decision was controversial, prompting a lawsuit from opponents of the move. But for Black members of the House of Delegates, it was a relief.
"One conversation in particular, remember, the tears streaming down, a friend of mine's face, actually happens to be one of the first Black women chairs of a committee," Filler-Corn said. "And she told me that she couldn't walk in this room. It was so painful to her."
"You know, that struck me as it was past due to remove the statutes, and the pain that it was causing her -- likely the pain that it was causing so many others -- was too much to bear. It should have been removed a long time ago," she added.
"Pure America" author Elizabeth Catte sees "the shadow of eugenics on almost everything"
"People who want to control women have taken tremendous advantage of their anatomy," Catte says Pure America by Elizabeth Catte Photo illustration by Salon/Josh Howard/Belt Publishing
Democrats are moving with a confidence that the political winds are at their backs as the state has become more diverse racially and in terms of socio-economic and educational backgrounds.
But the response in the state Republican Party to a loss of leadership at the state level and Trump's almost 10-point drubbing in the November election, has not been to turn away from the politics pushed by the former president.
With Northam prohibited by the state constitution from running for a second consecutive term, the race for governor is wide open for both parties. Six Republicans and five Democrats are in the running for their party's nomination.
Perhaps no other candidate for the GOP nomination for governor is seeking to embody Trumpism more than State Sen. Amanda Chase.
"I think President Trump embodied a lot of the principles that Virginians feel," Chase said. "I've been campaigning for over a year now talking to everyday average Virginians, and what they like about President Trump, what they like about me is that we speak the truth."
But Chase has hinged much of her statewide and increasingly national profile on mimicking misinformation and lies touted by Trump. Most notably, her continued support for the debunked falsehood that the 2020 election was fraudulent.
Democratic refusal to open schools is on the ballot in Virginia and New Jersey in 2021
President Biden claimed he would unite the country, turn down the temperature, and forge bipartisan consensus, but he has spent his first month in office unilaterally killing jobs through executive orders and trying to pass a partisan stimulus package that has little to do with defeating COVID-19. The president is failing to live up to his campaign rhetoric, and all people are now finding out what it’s like to live under complete Democratic control during a pandemic.
Her comments in the wake of the January 6 riot, seemingly praising some rioters (she later said she was referring to other peaceful demonstrators who attended the rally in the Capitol) was one of several controversies thatin a bipartisan fashion.
Chase has now taken to waging a war on the Republican Party itself, unsuccessfully attempting to stop the party from holding a nominating convention instead of a primary to select its nominee.
Chase said the move to hold a convention is an attempt to stop her from winning.
"Make no mistake, there are people who are terrified of strong, independent, conservative women," Chase said. "If they get to the point where the 72 members don't allow the people to participate, I will declare the Republican Party as dead, and I will start the Patriot party of Virginia."
She is one of a half dozen Republicans running for the party's gubernatorial nomination, most of whom, like her, echo some version of Trump's election fraud claims.
Chase has also battled over Covid-19 restrictions -- refusing to wear a mask during the legislative session resulting in lawmakers placing a plexiglass box around her desk.
In an interview, Chase said that she does not wear a mask because she has a medical condition preventing her from doing so, but she also refused to endorse mask wearing in general, which public health officials have said will help control the spread of the virus.
Her theories on Covid-19 go even further into conspiratorial territory. Asked how she would control the virus if she were elected governor, Chase said the vaccine would bring the virus under control -- but she would not say whether she believed the vaccine was safe.
Virginia attorney general dedicates team to investigating worker exploitation
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced on Wednesday that his office would be designating a group of attorneys and prosecutors to investigate and stop individuals and businesses that "unlawfully engage in worker exploitation."According to a press release from Herring's office, the Worker Protection Unit will also seek to educate Virginia workers on their rights."Misclassification, payroll fraud, and wage theft are somewhat complicated terms, but at their simplest they are all instances of business owners and managers stealing from their hardworking employees," Herring said.
"I do believe that the, you know, that this virus is just going to run its course and people are going to develop natural immunities to it," Chase said, espousing a theory that natural herd immunity could be achieved if the virus were allowed to spread freely. Public health experts have said that such a policy would result in a level of death orders of magnitude greater than what the US has already experienced.
Asked to elaborate on her plan to control the virus if she were elected, Chase also touted hydroxychloroquine, a drug once pushed by Trump as a treatment for Covid-19 that has since been found to be ineffective. And she added that people could be protected from the virus by taking supplements such as Vitamin D. Both suggestions are contrary to the best available science and could potentially be harmful.
If the Republican Party is seeking to move away from this sort of rhetoric, Chase is hoping to make that task more difficult. She carries around her willingness to push these claims as a badge of honor.
"We have two different types of Republicans. We have firebrand Republicans, and I believe we have weak kneed Republicans. I'm a firebrand Republican," Chase said. "I'm not afraid to speak what I believe is the truth and what a lot of other Virginians and Americans across Virginia -- I'm going to be their voice."
Amid the intra-party debate in the GOP over Trumpism and Chase, Democrats in the state of Virginia see an opportunity.
"I think they will continue to lose, and Virginia will continue to shift," said Filler-Corn when asked how the GOP would fare if they continued to push Trump-inspired politics. "What does that mean for the election? It means we have to work hard to make sure that the other side doesn't flip things around and roll it all back. Because it could be rolled back like that."
The NBA is trying to prevent partying at All-Star Weekend and all signs say they are going to fail miserably .
The NBA won't have fans at the All-Star Game or be hosting any fan events, but people are still heading to Atlanta to prepare to party.The NBA is going forward with its All-Star Game and skills competition, despite player objections, but will be holding the event without fans or public events during the weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players will be flying in on private planes and under strict quarantine rules.