Virginia

 
 

Election Day 2015

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(ANMNews.com) – Today is the day that many states will hold statewide and executive office elections.

Gubernatorial elections will take place in Kentucky and Mississippi. Louisiana will hold their special election on November 21, 2015.

Various other elections will be held for officeholders in numerous cities, counties, school boards, special districts and others around the country.

It is a civic duty to get out and exercise your right to vote. Today is that day for local politics. Your voice and your vote matter.


Kentucky

Governor: 

Conservative Republican Matt Bevin who won his party’s primary by just 83 votes back in May takes on Democrat Jack Conway, Kentucky’s Attorney General.

This has been a toss-up throughout the campaign season and most insiders predict it will go down to the wire to determine who will become the state’s next Governor.

Bevin, a Louisville businessman, husband, and father of nine is pro-life, supports right-to-work, is against common core, wants to update and simply the tax code, and fix the public retirement system with pension reform.

Conway, the state’s Attorney General, a husband and father of two is pro-choice, against right-to-work, supports expanding early childhood education, and wants to continue with much of what current Gov. Steve Beshear (D) has implemented.

Governor Steve Beshear (D) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

Attorney General:

Republican Whitney Westerfield, State Senator takes on Democrat Andy Beshear, attorney and son of Gov. Steve Beshear.

Attorney General Jack Conway (D) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

Secretary of State:

Republican Stephen Knipper takes on incumbent Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

State Auditor:

Republican Mike Harmon, State Representative takes on incumbent Democrat Adam Edelen.

State Treasurer:

Republican Allison Ball, attorney and former staffer to Sen. Mitch McConnell takes on Democrat Rick Nelson, attorney and State Representative.

Todd Hollenbach (D) is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

Agriculture Commissioner:

Republican Ryan Quarles, State Representative takes on Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann, businesswoman and agriculture activist.

James Comer (R) decided not to run for re-election. He ran for Governor and lost in the Republican primary by just 83 votes.

Kentucky polls are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Ohio

Ohioans will decide if they will become the Buck-High state when they vote on Issue 3, which would amend the state constitution to legalize recreational marijuana use.

If it passes, Ohio will be the first state to do so without first allowing medical marijuana.

Ohio polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.


Mississippi

Voters are choosing a governor and seven other statewide officials, three public service commissioners, three transportation commissioners, all 174 legislators, and county officials.

They also vote on Initiative 42, which would allow the state legislature to have complete freedom in how they fund their public schools.

Mississippi polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Virginia

Voters will decide which party controls the state’s Senate. All 140 seats in Virginia’s General Assembly are up for grabs.

Currently, Republicans control the Senate 21 to 19.

Virginia polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Again, today is the day for local politics. Be sure to do your duty and get out there and vote. Bring a friend and family member. Just vote. It matters.


ALL POLITICS ARE LOCAL

Virginia Congressional Races – Part 1

Election 2014My original intent has been to write a series of stories to profile the candidates in the 5th, 6th, & 7th districts of Virginia. After several attempts to reach nine different candidates across three districts through press offices, communications directors, and candidates personally. Nearly all I found was a lot of quiet. The 5th district proved to be tough to just find out who the democratic challenger was. I contacted the state Democratic Party Press Secretary, Ashley Bauman. I asked several questions about the races in these three districts. She knew that filing deadlines were fast approaching and couldn’t tell me who the candidates would be. She knew of a 7th district candidate named Mike Dickinson but couldn’t say who would be running in the 5th & 6th districts. The 6th district’s presumptive candidate, Bruce Elder, dropped out of the race due to a skin cancer diagnosis. To her credit, she did have Ben Hudson, a former Lt Col in the Army, and candidate in the 5th district, to get in touch with me. At this time he has agreed to an interview but has not returned any answers to my questions, despite repeated requests. The sitting congressman, Republican Robert Hurt, has not responded despite several emails and calls to his Communications Director Caroline Califf. In the 6th district, Congressman Goodlatte’s office has refused my request for an interview and one primary challenger who had declared at the time of the request, Paul Bevington has returned his answers. Politically this was an understandable move for Congressman Goodlatte as his primary opponents have little chance and he is running practically unopposed. I expect them to be more open with to interviews after the Republican primary on March 27th.

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That leaves us with the 7th district. That district is currently represented by House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor. While I wouldn’t call this district the most competitive this is the district with the most competition. Rep. Cantor has two primary challengers with Pete Greenwald, another military retiree and College Economist Dave Brat. There is a Libertarian, James Carr and a Democrat who is gaining notoriety, Mike Dickinson. You may have seen Mr. Dickinson on a recent episode of Hannity. It was widely reported that the appearance on Hannity did not go well for Mr. Dickinson. I had the refreshing opportunity to speak at length with Rep. Cantor’s Press Secretary Megan Whittemore. I was pleased that such a high ranking member of congress’ staff would speak with me for 40 minutes on the phone and agree to return answers to my questions. I am certain that this type of response is why Rep. Cantor’s competitors have been so open to the request for interviews. The only one I am waiting on is the answers I have been promised from the campaign manager for Mr. Brat.

Now, while this website leans pretty conservative, ok I mean VERY CONSERVATIVE, I have promised all of these candidates three things. One, there will be no “softballing” questions, there are background and platform questions but the real questions will not let anyone off easy. Two, I’ll only edit for brevity and not edit their message from their campaigns. Three, I’m offering them ‘right of refusal’, if they think I haven’t been fair in my editing, I won’t publish it. These are profiles for the most part, voters should decide who they like not bloggers. While I plan to let people know, as I have done in this story already, if they refuse to answer or if they don’t get back to me, I am not going to endorse any candidate or their message. I’ll let them speak to you and let you decide.

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So, how do you write a series about nine candidates when you can only get responses from five? Well, the best you can do is write the info you have. The 5th District has two candidates, two term congressman Robert Hurt and retired Army Lt Col Ben Hudson. The 6th has six term congressman Bob Goodlatte, who is head of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, and primary challenger and school teacher, Paul Bevington. The 7th District has Republicans – House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor, retired Navy Commander Pete Greenwald and College Economist Dave Brat. Libertarian candidate and Healthcare Business Manager James Carr and Democratic candidate, self-described, restaurant and bar manager Mike Dickinson. I would be remiss in saying that two of the sitting congressman hold pretty high leadership positions in the current congress. In a time when many Republicans are railing against party establishment, incumbents like these are still difficult to unseat. In every Republican primary challenge in the house or senate since 2010 there has been only one candidate (Tea Party or otherwise) who has beaten an incumbent for the nomination. That was when the disastrous Richard Murdock (and his ‘children of rape are a blessing’ campaign) beat Indiana Senator Dick Lugar. He lost in the general to Democrat Joe Donnelly.

In the questions submitted to them the candidates have stated that they’ve done everything from teach at colleges, been janitors & cooks, managed rock bands, managed bars, led soldiers, taught at elementary schools, and been defense contractors. Most have no record of elected service but most have done some work for government at one time or another. In researching bios, published or unpublished, one candidate has been either a CEO or a Lobbyist for the adult entertainment industry, based on when they were asked the question, one has served governors on economic advisory boards, and several give little or no reference to what experience qualifies them to hold public office. One candidate’s website is so benign that they don’t describe whether they are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Independent anywhere on the site.

What do you make of the races such as these? Is it business as usual? Is it politics or some refreshingly honest candidate that makes us dream of ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’? Is there a party machine to grind out some cookie cutter congressman or do we have a good and noble public servant doing the best they can to serve their constituency? Is this set to be a partisan affair or another party bloodbath where the candidates come out of a primary so battered, bruised, and broke that they have nothing left for the general election? I intend to offer the most honest and forthright profiles of candidates in their own words as much as I possibly can. Somewhere I’ve heard the mantra “We report, you decide”, well I’ll be doing my best to leave it to you. Stay tuned to find out.


Hey GOP: Don’t Just Take Your Ball & Go Home

06-terry-mcauliffe-ken-cucinelliMost of you know there were a couple of races in New Jersey and Virginia yesterday. Republican Chris Christie was running to be re-elected as Governor of New Jersey against his Democrat challenger Barbara Buono. He won in a landslide as expected. In Virginia, Republican Candidate and Tea Party guy Ken Cuccinelli was running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Libertarian Robert Sarvis. This race proved to be very close after McAuliffe  had been leading by double-digits for most of the race. We all know that Democrat Terry McAuliffe won. He won narrowly by under 3% points, but he won nonetheless. Many will now say that this proves a Tea Party favorite cannot win an election due to this and the performances during the 2012 cycle. Diving into the specifics tells a different story though.

The Republican Party lost the Presidential election in 2012, again. They knew they needed to make some changes, but what were the issues and where do you begin? They seem to put their tools in different bags, but take all those bags to the same project. This makes it seem as if they are helping all candidates on the surface, but in reality not all are helped the same. Take Virginia for instance with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli running for Governor. He is a Tea Party guy who is a social conservative, but he was the Republican nominee going up against a Clinton and Obama favorite in Terry McAuliffe. Meaning, he wasn’t an “establishment” Republican, so no need to help him right? RNC Chairman Reince Priebus came out and said the GOP helped out a lot in the Virginia race and made it very competitive. It was actually many of the Grassroots groups such as ‘Women for Ken’ and others that helped make this race competitive, not the groundwork of the GOP.  Cuccinelli was outspent by $15 Million by his Democrat challenger. There was also a Libertarian candidate in the race, Robert Sarvis who ended up taking away 145,470 votes. Even Ron Paul said it was ‘insane’ to vote for this guy. Now that is saying something. Here is a guy who was put in the race and funded by Obama Campaign bundlers to split the conservative votes. Job well done guys. This proved to work in your favor.

ap_chris_christie_nt_120828_wgAll of this and the GOP claims they truly helped out equally in the races in New Jersey and Virginia. The funny thing here is, Chris Christie in New Jersey was never in doubt of losing. Another strange fact to mention is that Christie refused to help campaign for Cuccinelli in Virginia. You know, helping out a fellow Republican from a neighboring state at that, but no not Christie. He couldn’t be seen helping out a Tea Party guy. That would not fit his style. He is looking out for himself and his 2016 aspirations after all. What happened to becoming a unified party and coming together to actually start winning elections again? Cuccinelli had a great chance to win in Virginia and to give Republicans another Governor’s seat, but the GOP failed to provide enough resources to make this happen. There are some other reasons for the loss such as campaign tactics and aggressiveness, but the GOP provided zero heavyweights to help stump for Cuccinelli. Democrat Terry McAuliffe  had Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama all campaign for him while Ken Cuccinelli continued to stare at their tail-lights. He still managed to only lose by under 3% points. This is a positive.

The Republican Party needs to keep their ball and stay in the game regardless if the nominee is a Tea Party guy or gal. They should be standing behind whomever gets the nomination and fight just as hard in all states to help ensure a GOP victory. We are tired of losing. We must unite as a party and do it now, so that we can begin repairing this great country of ours. We have some battles ahead, but we have to come together and use our resources more efficiently and effectively to truly make a difference. We need to see some changes, but we need the GOP to stay in the game. In Virginia, we were there and we were close. We were very close and had most of the cards stacked against us, but we battled. We came up short, but never threw in the towel. The GOP must have this same attitude regardless if “their” guy is running. Mitt Romney was not the first choice of many conservatives in 2012, but once he got the nomination we fought very hard for him. Unification is a must if we are going to win elections from here on out. GOP: Do not just take your ball and go home! Again, we are tired of losing elections.


The Virginia Governor’s Race – What you didn’t know

Many of you across the country have heard of the most hotly contested race this election cycle will be the Virginia Governor’s race between Republican & current VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and longtime Democratic fundraiser and former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. Not only does this race have national implications for 2014 mid-terms but it has turned into a bloody, mud-slinging event. While McAuliffe is using the usual democrat talking points like “war on women” allegations the Cuccinelli campaign has echoed more serious allegations of wrong doing against McAuliffe first brought up by former VA Gov. Tim Kaine’s office in 2009 about McAuliffe’s former company – Green Tech Automotive or GTA.

In one of his campaign ads Cuccinelli quotes a former Kaine administration office who actually said they feared the company’s investment plan was nothing more than a “VISA for sale” scheme. You have to ask, how is this possible? How can a privately held company sell VISA’s to foreign investors? It turns out there is a legitimate program by the US Government known as the EB-5 program. What this does is allow foreign investors who have invested at least $500,000 in a company in the US and create 10 jobs (over a two-year period) to obtain US VISAs. The government approves approximately 10,000 of these VISAs per year. Like other high dollar government programs, private companies have sprung up around it. One of them, Gulf Coast Funds Management (GTFM), specializes in helping investors obtain EB-5’s and is a major investor in McAuliffe’s GTA.

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In a series of emails obtained by Politifact of Virginia through a FOIA request you can see the concern that the Virginia Governor’s office had about GTA and the effort that they put in to bring the company to VA despite McAuliffe’s later claim VA didn’t bid on the project. A claim Politifact VA calls “False”. The emails examined are from a series of emails from October through November of 2009.

In a heavily redacted email on October 6, 2009 the Lead of the Transportation Team at the VA Economic Development Partnership (VA EDP), Mike Lemkuhler, expressed concerns about McAuliffe, GTA President Tony Wang, & GTA COO Gary Tang by saying

  • “McAuliffe/Wang’s group has not demonstrated [the] ability to run an automotive company”
  • “In our opinion the GCG project (GTA’s Go-Clean-Green project) is not the best reason to support use of an EB-5 center”
  • “A failed EB-5 project could be disastrous for VA’s international image, especially if the management team is somehow able to individually profit from it in spite of a bad outcome for investors’
  • “Our biggest concern we have at this moment is the possibility that their access to the investors’ money is more important than the viability of the project”

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In the above email Lemkuhler and separate emails Jeff Anderson of VA EDP, and Patrick Gottschalk the VA Secretary of Commerce and Trade expressed concerns that former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour did not attend the announcement for GTA’s MS facility. Wondering how much weight this gave to the validity of the project

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Lemkuhler seems to have always been skeptical about the project but on October 22, 2009 he expressed greater concern.

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And on November 18, 2009 his concerns extended to the owners of GTA major investor GCFM.

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This is where the story gets interesting. GCFM, the investor in McAuliffe’s company, the purveyor of EB-5 VISAs, was bought by a company named American Immigration Center or AIC. A Google search for AIC brings up nothing. It wasn’t until seeing news about them on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website I find their website name www.US-immigration.com. A very official looking website the BBB has described as “looking like an US Government website”.

While exploring the BBB website about AIC you see the company has 102 complaints against it for bad business practices for their marketing and billing. In one part you can see the BBB has given AIC a D- rating there. While the company has resolved many of the complaints, you have to wonder how many immigrants don’t know how to post a complaint there and how many don’t know that they were scammed at all. Apparently charging people for a service that is completely free through the US Government’s actual immigration website is their specialty. The company has several other websites in their Google search that describe their poor business practices. All in all I would describe the company as disreputable.

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Now, the next part, while not damning by itself, taken in context with the fact AIC is such a dirt-bag company who takes advantage of those immigrants desperate to stay in the US seems, to me, pretty damning. Let’s digress to Gulf Coast Funds Management, whose parent company is AIC, & who is a major investor in Mississippi for GTA (McAuliffe’s company). We’ll look at GCFM’s website again & see who is on their management team. One name that stands out is on their Board of Directors, Kathleen Blanco, the former governor of Louisiana during

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Hurricane Katrina who, along with “Mr. Chocolate City” Ray Nagin (facing charges now himself), failed so badly to prepare her state and New Orleans for the impending disaster. Another name is Margaret Richardson the former director of the IRS under President Clinton. But, one name stands out to me above all others. You may not catch it on first glance but here it is:

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That’s right, Anthony Rodham, brother to former First Lady, Senator, & Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Former fundraiser for the DNC and aide on every Clinton campaign in the last 30 years (both Clintons) is president and CEO of a company owned by an immigration scamming company. A company heavily invested in Terry McAuliffe’s company Green Tech Automotive. While McAuliffe has stepped down from the company, even recently he admitted to still having a stake in the company.

While it may be viewed as conjecture or may be viewed as being done for shock value of name dropping the possible 2016 democratic frontrunner to show all of this. I view it as something else. The old adage applies, “if you lay down with dogs, you come up with fleas”. I have to wonder if Terry McAuliffe’s company was just what former Democratic VA Governor Tim Kaine’s administration called it. If they are heavily invested and assisted by a company that does EB-5 VISAs and is owned by a company making millions to scam the most vulnerable of our population, those ignorant of our law, culture, language, and that these questionable business practices even exist. I cannot believe that my simple Google search that turned this up in a day got by such savvy operators as Blanco, Richardson, & Anthony Rodham before they accepted such high-ranking positions with the company. I have done enough research on Terry McAuliffe to know what a great fundraiser he was for the DNC and for individual candidates. I cannot believe for a minute that he couldn’t follow this money trail that makes I-81 look like a donkey path. I only hope the voters of Virginia see it as well this November.