1. Justice Bobby Scott?
That’s what reports are saying the Congressional Black Caucus would like on the Supreme Court. I’ve known Congressman Scott for some time. He’s a very, very smart guy. He relishes intellectual and political argument. And he’s not afraid to take controversial stances, even when he’s disagreeing with his own party and President. Some of the stands that Scott has taken– on the faith-based initiative, on the war in Iraq, on potential prosecution for torture– would make for one heck of a confirmation hearing, though he can clearly hold his own one-on-one against anyone. Some pundits think that Scott’s political expereince may be a plus, but others think that his age, 62, could be a consderation for a President looking to make a long-term impact on the Court.
2. Democratic Primary Gets Personal
The race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination got very personal this week, especially with the attacks made by the Moran campaign against Terry McAuliffe. The Moran camp is issuing a regular “Pinocchio Report” that claims to detail McAuliffe’s exaggerations and misstatements. And they called for an investigation of McAuliffe’s activities in heading a bank during the 1990’s. The campaign is beginning to look a lot like the three way, brutal GOP brawl of 1989 when the frontrunner Paul Trible was subject to a withering set of ads by Marshall Coleman. The big difference is that McAuliffe is, at least up to now, is using his resources, his field operation and his personality to esure that the campaign is not primarily defined by these assaults.
3. Rush Rips Eric
Talk about a rocky start. Eric Cantor and John McCain hoped that their new group, The Council for a New America, could be a grasssroots vehicle for rebranding the Republican Party. But it has spent the first week of its existence fending off attacks from GOP conservatives. Rush Limbaugh, who may be the powerful voice of American conservatism at the moment, called the Council’s listening tour a “scam” and conservatives everywhere were wondering why John McCain, of all people, would be viewed as having the capacity to rebrand the GOP. It probably didnt help the Council that Jeb Bush observed that it was time for Republicans to get beyond Reagan. Given the standing of the two Bush presidencies on leaving office, it was more than peculiar that a family member would instruct the party that it was time to forget about the last successful GOP President.
4. McDonnell Prepares to Respond
While the Democrat candidates have been pounding on one another, Tim Kaine and the Democratic Governors Association have been blasting away at Bob McDonnell on television for his endorsement of the GOP refusal to take stimulus dollars for expanding unemployment insurance benefits in Virginia. Whatever you might think of the meits of the argument, this has been a smart move on the Democrats part, refusing to give McDonnell a free ride during their own primary contest. McDonnell ads will be on the air this Monday, trying to prevent the Democrats from driving down his favorability ratings that have been enviably high in recent polls.
5. Another NOVA Election, Another Surprising GOP Performance
This week it was the Alexandria City Council. Frank Fannon , a Republican, won a seat on the Democratic-dominated chamber as did Alicia Hughes, a federal employee who ran as an independent but was backed by the GOP. There have been at least four elections in NOVA since November in which Republicans have either won or lost in extremely close races. The Democrats claimed this week, as they have after every previous contest, that the results have no implications for November because the turnout was low. Does anyone really believe this any more? It seems to me that in NOVA the Democrats are increasingly seen as the establishment party and the change argument is moving over to the GOP side. The Democrats may be skillful enough to counter it, but not if they pretend that everything’s hunk-dory.
6. Virginia’s First Cyber Hostage
Is the 8 million peson state prescription drug database held by the Department of Health professions. Hackers this week claimed to have the database and demanded a $10 million ransom for its return. How the state was supposed to deliver the money which it bviously refuses to do is still unclear. Phil Hamilton, Cahir of the House’s health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, sent the Governor a letter noting that he was “appalled” that the breach was even a possibiity. If the perpetrators of the cyber kidnapping (or even the hoax) aren’t caught soon, expect Virginians to hear a lot more about this as November approaches.
7. Topless Politics
This is what we had going on in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond this week. The city had attempted to force the owner of Velvet, a topless “gentleman’s” club to remove a large banner protesting a proposal to place a new ballfield in downtown Richmond on the grounds that it exceeded the size limit noted in a local zoning ordinance. The ACLU weighed in on Velvet’s right to political free speech and the city has withdrawn its effort to make Velvet take the sign off.