Local Commentary

Senator Saslaw’s Richmond Report

Each year there is an election in Virginia. June 11 is primary day in the Commonwealth. The polls are open from 6 a.m. – 7 p.m. This year we will be voting for all members of the House of Delegates as well as for the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and the Attorney General in the November election. Next week we have the opportunity to vote for the Democratic candidates that will face the newly minted Republican statewide ticket that was selected at a convention dominated by the far right and its Tea Party Agenda.

For the past four years we have had a Republican Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. The House of Delegates has a clear Republican majority that often has been the source of some of the most controversial legislation we have seen in Richmond for many years. Since 2012, the Senate of Virginia has been evenly divided with 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. The Lieutenant Governor has cast dozens of votes to break legislative ties. I don’t think it is a mystery as to how the bulk of those votes fell when they were cast.

Our state constitution limits the term of the Governor to four years without succession. Many of you already are familiar with the extreme actions Ken Cuccinelli has taken as Attorney General. He has used that office to oppose the Affordable Health Care Act; oppose the science of global warming; and even tried at the eleventh hour to block the transportation bill. Unlike his predecessors, he refuses to step down from this all-important job while campaigning for a promotion!

The primary is about choices. We are fortunate to have some very dedicated and competent individuals seeking your vote. However, there is little doubt in my mind that Mark Herring is the clear choice as the Democratic candidate for Attorney General. As a state senator, Mark has worked to protect our families, our quality of life and keep our economy headed in the right direction. He knows the law and will work to restore the integrity to the office of Attorney General. Make no mistake that the Republican candidate, Mark Obenshain who is a Cuccinelli clone will try to run as a moderate. Mark Herring is the best choice who will work for all Virginians in a fair and even-handed manner.

Despite a 20-20 tie in the Senate, the Republicans have used the tie-breaking vote of the Lt. Governor to further their agenda while trying to turn back the clock for Virginians. They have stacked the committees disproportionately and even attempted to redistrict the state to further ensure dominance. Ralph Northam is a friend, colleague and most respected legislator. As a physician he has taken the lead on many important public health issues including access to health care choices for women, protecting our student athletes and it was his bill that banned smoking in restaurants. Ralph has the temperament and experience to use that tie-breaking vote in a just way to help further economic growth, protect the environment and share his professional expertise as we transition into the Affordable Health Care Act.

July 1 marks the enactment date for most of the legislation that has passed and been signed into law. The media will be highlighting a number of the issues and you can go on line to www.lis.virginia.gov to session highlights for in-depth coverage. Best wishes for a safe and fun summer. I look forward to seeing you in our community.


 Senator Saslaw represents the 35th District in the Virginia State Senate. He may be emailed at district35@senate.virginia.gov.