What do you think of this scenario: A political candidate wants to meet with public school teachers to discuss funding and to request support for their re-election campaign? Sounds a little unethical or desperate, doesn’t it?
Well, this is occurring in a Northern Virginia State Senate race, as Toddy Puller’s campaign sent an email out to public school teachers in Prince William County about setting up private meetings in their schools. Below is the email that was sent out by Megan Fitzgerald, who serves as Puller’s Field Director:
Toddy Puller, the State Senator for most of Prince William County is
reaching out to school in hopes of meeting with teachers to talk about
education and the importance of funding our future. My name is Megan and I’m
the regional field director for Prince William County. I would love the
chance to meet with you one-on-one to talk about Toddy Puller. I am very
interested in talking to students about local government and emphasizing
its importance. I know that you all are very busy and have a strict curriculum
but I do think it could be beneficial. Please let me know if there is a
time I could come into the school to talk to you more about the State Senator
(preferably before school starts).
Toddy Puller for Senate
Puller is being challenged by Jeff Frederick in the November 8th General Election, and it seems that Puller is really fearing that this will be a tight race. My guess is that she wanted to rally public school teachers to help her, but this also brings up another issue regarding transparency. Since these will be held in the schools with teachers, these are closed meetings, thus meaning there is zero transparency to voters in the 36th District.
Frederick made the following comments regarding Puller’s meeting request:
“Why does a campaign operative need to discuss public school funding with teachers two months before an election. Why is Senator Puller sending her political campaign into our public schools to begin with? And most importantly, if everything is above board, why do these meetings need to be in private?”
“If the Senator Puller would like to engage teachers and students in the democratic process, then we should debate the issues at every high school in the district. However, clandestine political campaigning has no place in our public schools, and funding for our public schools should never be used as leverage with teachers. Senator Puller owes the taxpayers an explanation as to what exactly her campaign operatives are doing in the public schools.”
Frederick is right about these meetings. You would think that Puller would want her constituents to hear about her views on public school funding, instead it seems like she wants to keep these closed.
On Tuesday, the redistricting maps were released showing the proposals from the Senate Democratic Caucus (the Howell plan) and the Republican plan (the Watkins plan). The House proposal (Del. Chris Jones’ plan) would basically move House District 2, which is currently represented by Del. Bud Phillips in Southwest Virginia, to Prince William and Stafford Counties. The new District 2 is more conservative leaning, and it would be a perfect fit for Jim Riley, who was considering running for a seat on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. Could we be hearing Del. Riley in the future? The plan would also move District 10 from Southside Virginia to Clarke/Frederick/Loudoun Counties, and this would eliminate Del. Ward Armstrong (D-Statewide)’s seat, and Del. Paula Miller’s seat in District 87 in Virginia Beach to Loudoun and Prince William Counties. The suburbs in Northern Virginia are growing, and this will explain the shifting of the House seats.
However, the State Senate Boundaries are a disaster. The Howell plan, created by my state senator, Janet Howell, is drawn to protect incumbents and create primary challenges for two GOP seats. Virginia Beach, which is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the Commonwealth, will be losing a seat, and will be forcing Sens. Jeffrey McWaters and Frank Wagner into the same district. Why would Virginia Beach need to lose a seat? Something really doesn’t make sense here. Additionally, two state senators in the Roanoke area, Steve Newman and Ralph Smith, would be placed in the same district. If that sounds bad, the district lines have changed here in Northern Virginia. Senate District 31, which was retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple’s district, will spread from Arlington, cover most of the Dranesville District, and go out as far west as the Northern part of Sterling. This seat could be very competitive.
The Watkins plan, created by Sen. John Watkins, would keep the districts basically the same as they are now.
There will be public hearings tomorrow and Saturday to address the redistricting plans before Monday’s General Assembly session.
Below are the maps:
Del. Chris Jones' House GOP Caucus Plan
Sen. Janet Howell--Senate Democratic Caucus Plan
Senate GOP Caucus Plan
Today, both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly passed Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposal to raise the speed limit on rural highways to 70 miles per hour. This proposal had support on both sides of the aisle, and now, the two bills will be voted on again by the House and Senate before going to the Governor’s desk for a signature. In the House, Del. Bill Carrico (R-Galax) sponsored the bill, while Sen. Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg) was the patron of the Senate version.
McDonnell released the following statement on the speed limit increase:
Speaking about today’s vote, Governor McDonnell remarked, “I thank Delegate Bill Carrico and Senator Steve Newman for their successful advocacy of this important proposal to speed up traffic in rural and less populated sections of Virginia. As today’s votes in both chambers demonstrate, there is broad bipartisan support for this common-sense idea. 32 states already have 70mph speed limits, and 13 allow motorists to drive 75mph. This slight increase in our speed limit will be safe for motorists and help get Virginians to their destinations a little quicker each day. This is an important early step towards our common goal of improving transportation in the Commonwealth.”
Senator Steve Newman noted, “Increasing the speed limit to 70mph on Virginia’s highways will help commuters get to their destinations more quickly and safely. Virginia now joins 33 other states that have increased their speed limits above 65mph and I applaud Governor McDonnell’s leadership on this issue.”
Delegate Bill Carrico added, “I’m pleased that the bill to increase the speed limit on rural stretches of highway to 70mph has passed both houses of the General Assembly. This is a common-sense reform that will make sure highway traffic moves at a more uniform speed on Virginia’s highways.”
This is a good thing, as many states have enacted this in rural areas with little to no increases in traffic accidents.
Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67th) introduced legislation that would require that all votes taken in committee and on the floor of the Virginia House and Senate to be posted on the General Assembly’s website and indexed by name.
HB 778 has been referred to the Committee on Rules.
This is great news for bringing more transparency to the state government and helps to hold our leaders accountable for their votes on certain policies.
The Virginia General Assembly starts session next Wednesday, and we are already beginning to see fireworks from a Delegate-elect. Recently, a friend of mine, Steve Bierfeldt (you may remember him from a TSA scuffle in Missouri), wrote an email to his newly elected House of Delegates member, Patrick Hope, to ask whether or not he would be supporting Delegate Bob Marshall’s bill to empower Virginians to not be forced into buying mandated health insurance. Hope had the audacity to respond sharply to Bierfeldt. Just read the exchange and be shocked by the response. I thought those we elected to serve us are actually supposed to do just that. I guess this does not apply to the 47th House District.
From: Steve Bierfeldt
Subject: HB 10
To: Patrick Hope
Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 7:58 PM
Will you be co-sponsoring or getting on board with Delegate Bob Marshall’s bill to empower Virginia residents to not be forced to buy mandated health insurance.
On Jan 6, 2010, at 3:11 PM, Patrick Hope wrote:
Steve – no, health insurance should be affordable and mandatory. Mandates will bring down the cost for people like you and me and you should be supportive. This will also make it affordable. Everyone, individuals and businesses, could use a little more savings in this economic environment.
From: Steve Bierfeldt
Subject: Re: HB 10
To: “Patrick Hope”
Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 8:20 PM
Thank you for responding to my email.
As someone who currently does not have health insurance by choice, the bill being discussed in the U.S. House and Senate includes penalties for people who do not comply, including prison time.
Are you going to help the government to put me in prison? Please be frank, is that what I can expect from my elected Representative for the next two years of your term?
Now…for the response….
From: Patrick Hope
Date: January 6, 2010 3:30:13 PM EST
To: Steve Bierfeldt
Subject: Re: HB 10
it acts like a tax and so if you don’t pay your taxes, over time, you could be facing jail time. Steve, please pay your taxes.
Wow…it takes audacity to be nasty to your constituents. I am pretty certain 2011 might not be so hopeful for Hope, as he runs for re-election.
The Democratic Party of Virginia recently sent out a misleading, deceitful mailer on behalf of Kaye Kory, who is running against Danny Smith in the 38th District. Smith’s campaign has called on Kory to denounce the mailer sent out by the DPVA that said Smith stated support for cutting a certain amount of education funding out of the general fund. Smith said,
The Danny Smith Campaign demands the Democratic Party of Virginia and the Kaye Kory Campaign apologize to the voters of the 38th District for sending out a piece that blatantly misconstrues the truth and misleads thousands of voters. Sending out a mailer with falsified information the Friday afternoon before the election is the kind of dirty campaign tactics that do not belong in Virginia. The voters of the 38th District deserve to be represented by a leader who will not use deceitful campaign tricks to win votes.
Here are the mailers:
Just another hint of desperation and a dirty display of the political process.
What in the world was he thinking? Stevens Miller, who is running against Tom Rust in the 86th District held a tele-townhall meeting tonight. This is one of the most important sports watching nights of the year (outside of the Super Bowl): the World Series game 2 (where the Yankees will handily defeat the Phillies) and the UNC vs. Virginia Tech football game (Go Hokies).
Miller rambled on about his brilliant ideas from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, which is odd considering that he has made no accomplishments.
Words can come back to haunt you, especially when you are placed on the record for supporting bringing the Redskins Hall of Fame to Loudoun County. The Hall of Fame would have made Loudoun County, the corporate headquarters of the Redskins franchise and would have provided over $100,000 to promote the county. Who voted against it? None other than Stevens Miller, who is the Dulles District Supervisor running for Delegate in the 86th District…(Funny, he actually had to move into the district to run for Delegate).
At a recent debate, Miller decided to take credit for something he didn’t do. He claimed that he supported the Redskins Hall of Fame. It’s kind of hard to be against something, then turn around a year later to say you supported the measure. Flip-flop-itis has struck again!
The Washington Post released their endorsements of the House candidates starting on Friday. I’ll have more criticisms of their list in tomorrow’s edition regarding the candidates they should have endorsed, but in the meantime, I will praise their efforts for today’s endorsements.
As you have read several times on this blog, Del. Tom Rust is the better choice to his opponent, who is a carpetbagger (currently represents the Dulles District on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, owns a house in the Broadlands, and rents an apartment in Sterling). The Post agrees, and they endorsed Rust in his re-election bid.
District 86: Thomas D. Rust, the incumbent, is one of the more effective lawmakers in the General Assembly, a pro-business Republican who has also gained backing for some of his initiatives from environmentalists. Mr. Rust has enacted important legislation that will ease the way for more toll roads to be built, and he’s played a constructive, responsible role in securing funding for education and other priorities that many in his own party opposed.
In Arlington, two rising stars in the Republican party have also received the endorsements of the Post. Both Aaron Ringel (who is challenging Bob Brink) and Eric Brescia (who is running in the 47th District) are excellent candidates, who will bring refreshing change in Richmond for their respective districts.
By contrast, Mr. Brescia, an economist who’s just 24, is a relative newcomer. However, he is exactly what the Republicans need in Northern Virginia: an independent-minded thinker who has fresh and specific ideas for how to save money in health care and make government work better.
Robert H. Brink, the Democratic incumbent, has held this seat for a decade, and in that time he’s barely faced a serious challenge. This year he has one in the form of Republican Aaron Ringel, a bright young combat veteran of the war in Iraq who works for a defense contractor. Mr. Brink is a competent legislator but he has opposed widening Interstate 66. That wins points with some homeowners who’d be directly affected but does little for the tens of thousands of commuters who suffer that road daily. Mr. Ringel takes a broader regional view of that issue.
This is definitely good news and could add two more pickups for the Republicans in Arlington, which is typically a Democratic stronghold.
In the 38th District, Danny Smith has been working hard to get elected by sharing his vision for improving Fairfax County’s outlook on education, transportation, and the economy. From my first interview with Smith back in May, I knew that he stood a strong chance of winning this seat, especially after watching the performance of his opponent during a debate about a month ago.
Well, The Washington Post and Fairfax Times have endorsed Smith for Delegate.
Fairfax Times said:
We like what we’re hearing from Republican Danny Smith, who has some interesting thoughts on improving Fairfax County’s transportation, education, and economic outlook. Smith’s idea of setting smaller, more attainable transportation objectives in order to regain the trust of Fairfax residents who’ve been sending dollars to Richmond for 20-plus years certainly resonates with us. He also has strong opinions on tailoring K-12 education to our high-tech world, saying math and science need to be getting more attention in our classrooms.
The Washington Post said:
Danny R. Smith, the Republican candidate, is a bright, independent-minded civic leader who cares about promoting affordable housing. A Realtor and corporate executive, he would bring a refreshingly bipartisan sensibility to Richmond.
There’s still a lot more work to be done, and if you would like to help Danny to victory, visit his website.