Weekly Recap: VA Republicans did nothing on gun control, Scott Taylor announces run for Senate, VA is top state for business

Democratic Party of VA
Jul 10 · 14 min read

DPVA Chair Susan Swecker’s Statement on VA Republicans Abdication of Duty

RICHMOND, VA — DPVA Chairwoman Susan Swecker gave the following statement after General Assembly Republicans adjourned today’s Gun Violence Prevention Special Session with no recorded votes.

“Republican Senators and Delegates showed today they are cowards who could give a damn about keeping Virginians safe from gun violence. They ran away from their jobs at a time when Virginians needed them most.

We will make sure on November 5th that their 90 minutes on the floor today are their last 90 minutes in the majority.”

Virginia Republicans did nothing on gun control. Voters must take action. (Washington Post)

NO DEBATE. No action. No legislation. Total abdication.

That was the upshot Tuesday from Richmond, where Republicans who control the General Assembly short-circuited the special session called by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to deal with gun violence in the aftermath of the Virginia Beach mass shooting. The utter failure to rise to the governor’s challenge to address this issue — which Mr. Northam rightly called an emergency for both commonwealth and country — should prompt Virginia voters to take their own action. Come November, they need to vote out of office those who showed such contempt for the public interest that they refused even to consider — let alone pass — sensible gun-safety measures.

Mr. Northam ordered the special session in the wake of the May 31 mass shooting, in which 12 people were killed and four others were injured in a Virginia Beach municipal building. “Votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers” was Mr. Northam’s plea in calling lawmakers together. But an hour and a half after they were gaveled into session, lawmakers abruptly pulled the plug. The Senate voted 20 to 18 along party lines to adjourn until Nov. 18 — after the election in which all 140 legislative seats are up — and the House of Delegates quickly fell in line. Lawmakers did stick around long enough to pass memorial resolutions for each of the Virginia Beach shooting victims, adding grim irony to Mr. Northam’s plea for more than just thoughts and prayers.

“The most totally irresponsible act I’ve seen by a political party in four decades I’ve been here,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax). “Shocking. Disturbing,” said House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax). “How in good conscience can they sleep at night and not pass these bills?” Among the sensible measures proposed by Mr. Northam, many of which enjoy broad public support: universal background checks; a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and silencers; reinstatement of Virginia’s one-handgun-purchase-a-month law; strengthening of laws to secure guns from minors; and allowing localities to enact firearm ordinances that are stricter than state law.

The session actually started with some hope there might be an effort to find common ground. Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City) introduced legislation that would have banned firearms from local government buildings around the state and made any violation a felony. But there was intense backlash from the National Rifle Association and other gun rights activists, and Republicans followed their marching orders by going home. The rationale they offered was that the session was premature, the bills need further study and so they would be referred to a bipartisan commission for review and recommendation.

Virginia voters should have no illusion about the intended fate of these very sensible gun-safety measures, many of which have been introduced before but never got far with Republicans in control. The only way these measures will have any chance of being considered, voted on and enacted is if the equation of the General Assembly changes with the election of lawmakers who put public safety ahead of the interests of the gun lobby. We urge Virginia voters to look for candidates, such as those identified by Moms Demand Action, who will support rational gun legislation.

LGBT Democrats of Virginia

Our goals are simple, represent LGBT+ Virginians in the Democratic Party, act as ambassadors for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates to LGBT+ Virginians, and support LGBT+ and LGBT+ friendly candidates across the Commonwealth. To meet these goals, we travel extensively to events, lead door knock campaigns across the state, speak to groups, and provide support to candidates. We can’t do these tasks without a strong membership and without great donor support. We would love for you to join us by volunteering or donating. To donate or become a member, please go to our website at https://lgbtvadem.org/. If you would like to join us at our fundraiser this Sunday, July 14th in Alexandria, please go to https://secure.actblue.com/donate/lgbtalexandria. If you want to volunteer, please reach out to msacra@lgbtvadem.org.

Fresh Off Staffer’s Election Fraud Indictment, Scott Taylor Runs For Senate (Talking Points Memo)

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Group

Two months after a staffer on his unsuccessful reelection campaign was indicted for election fraud, former Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) announced he would be running for a higher office: the U.S. Senate.

“We are underdogs, there’s no question,” Taylor said on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning, referring to his potential race against Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), if nominated to be his Republican opponent.

But, he said, “we the people have been taking left hooks for years and years and years, and we might hit the canvas, but we’re gonna get back up, dust our knees off and move forward.” Taylor released a flashy YouTube video Monday as well.

“Scott Taylor is an experienced campaigner, having run or explored running for five different offices in the past decade,” Warner’s campaign manager, Bruce Sinclair, said in a statement Monday. “We welcome Scott Taylor to the race and wish him the best of luck in the Republican primary.”

In May, former Taylor campaign staffer Lauren Creekmore was indicted on two counts of election fraud for her role in a petition forgery scheme that a state judge had earlier called “out and out fraud.”

Several petition sheets collected by Taylor staffers on behalf of an independent candidate contained forged signatures, an apparent effort by the staffers to get a third name on the ballot and siphon votes from the race’s eventual victor, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA). Taylor kept paying Creekmore and others who submitted forged signatures even after the scandal made national headlines.

The special prosecutor investigating the forgeries said in a press release accompanying Creekmore’s indictment that “a number of the questionable petitions are confined to a group of six to eight people.”

The prosecutor, Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Don Caldwell, told TPM Monday that “[t]he investigation continues into all aspects of potential election improprieties surrounding the petitions filed by the Independent Candidate Ms. [Shaun] Brown which have been traced back to people associated with the Taylor campaign.”

Taylor’s first known reaction to the alleged signature forgeries, as reported by TPM, was an attempt to bury the story. After a local Democratic volunteer posted online about a forged signature belonging to her former neighbor, who’d moved to Nevada and wasn’t eligible to sign a petition form, Taylor called the Democrat and pressured her to scrub the allegation from the web. After the Creekmore indictment, Taylor, who’s claimed ignorance of his staffers’ activities, threatened defamation lawsuits.

Shamed Cheater (Fraud/Forgery) Scott Taylor Launches Yet Another Political Campaign (DPVA)

Despite losing his Congressional seat amidst embarrassing signature forgery scandal, 98% Trump-voting Scott Taylor announces 8th campaign since 2008

RICHMOND, VA — Scott Taylor lost his Congressional seat after his team was caught in what a Judge described as an “out and out fraud” — the forgery of hundreds of petition signatures, including those of at least four dead people. He may still be under criminal investigation by Virginia authorities for said fraud and forgery. He didn’t get the Ambassadorship he begged Donald Trump for.

Yes…cheating, forging, lying, Trump-loving, chronic political candidate Scott Taylor is running for the United States Senate. This marks Taylor’s eigth campaign since 2008.

“We will be keeping a close eye on Scott Taylor’s ballot petition signatures for possible fraud and forgery based on his recent history and the ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by the Roanoke City Commonwealth’s Attorney into his 2018 campaign,” said Democratic Party of Virginia Communications Director Jake Rubenstein.

Rubenstein added, “We will also be making sure Virginians know that he’ll vote with Donald Trump, not with them. After his House seat and the ambassadorship he really wanted, Scott Taylor is seeking a seat in the United States Senate, where his partisan, ethically-challenged style will only lead to more gridlock, instead of solving the problems that matter to Virginia.”

Here is a brief primer on a Republican statewide candidate whose flaws will fit right in with fellow perennial candidate, 2018 U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart.

  • Taylor is out of step with Virginians: Voted with Trump 97.8% of the time last Congress, even when it was not in the best interest of Virginia. He supported repealing the Affordable Care Act and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and voted for the Trump tax cut for the wealthiest Americans that exploded the deficit while raising taxes on middle-class families in Northern Virginia. In fact, Taylor voted with Trump more than any other member of Congress from Virginia. Maybe that has a little something to do with the fact that…
  • Taylor is an ambitious man in a hurry: This is now the fifth elected office Taylor has run for or explored running for in the past decade. His past is littered with failed and aborted runs for mayor, Congress, and Lieutenant Governor. Now that Trump failed to give him the ambassadorship he really wanted, Taylor is running for the Senate. Taylor would rather spend time plotting his next climb up the political ladder than on solving problems for Virginians. That probably also explains why…
  • Taylor is ethically challenged: Between his multiple failed campaigns for office, Taylor was the head of a dark money superPAC. Staffers from his most recent failed campaign are being indicted and investigated for a scheme to submit fraudulent petition signatures to get Taylor re-elected. And his one of his oldest political allies, Duncan Hunter, has been indicted for, among other offenses, misusing campaign funds while traveling to raise money for Scott Taylor — which didn’t stop Scott Taylor from accepting Hunter’s campaign contributions, even after he was charged. That’s why…
  • The voters who know Taylor best have rejected him time and time again: Virginians want a Senator who will get things done for them, not for Donald Trump. It’s time for VA to turn the page on Scott Taylor, his shady political operations, and abysmal voting record.

Virginia: America’s Top State for Business!

In a year marked by historic economic development deals and marred by a damaging trade war, Virginia lands at the top of CNBC’s 2019 ranking of America’s Top States for Business.

This is the Old Dominion’s fourth win in the 13 years since the study began. In fact, Virginia was CNBC’s inaugural Top State in 2007. But this is its first win since 2011. That year began a five-year leveling off in defense spending — a key part of the economy in Virginia. Defense spending accounts for nearly 12% of the Commonwealth’s GDP, more than any other state, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Now the Pentagon’s budget is back in a big way, rising to $686 billion for fiscal year 2019. In the state where the Pentagon is located, that is welcome news.

But Virginia’s success involves much more than the military. The state offers the best workforce in the country, reveals our 2019 study. Nearly 38% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, placing Virginia in the top 10 for educational attainment. And per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Virginia has the nation’s fourth highest concentration of crucial science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) employees, making up 9% of the workforce in 2018. All of this in a right-to-work state with a minimal union presence — something companies prize.

Aerial view of The Pentagon in Langley, Virginia. Getty Images

That workforce was a key factor in Virginia’s biggest economic development win in recent memory: Amazon’s decision to locate a portion of its coveted HQ2 project in Arlington, announced late last year. The retailer promises to ultimately hire 25,000 people for Virginia’s part of the facility and to spend $2.5 billion.

“We were really excited by Virginia, what it had to offer,” said Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president for public policy and part of the core site selection team, in an interview with CNBC. “Probably the most important thing was the attraction of this place to talent, and particularly tech talent.”

Workforce is the most important category in the CNBC study.

Huseman also pointed to Virginia’s focus on education, which he said was unique among the bids. Virginia Tech University plans to open a new “innovation campus” adjacent to the site.

“We were really excited by Virginia, what it had to offer. Probably the most important thing was the attraction of this place to talent, and particularly tech talent.” -Brian Huseman, AMAZON’S VICE PRESIDENT FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND PART OF THE CORE SITE SELECTION TEAM

In the CNBC study, Virginia ties with Massachusetts for first place in the Education category, with solid state support and strong test scores to show for it.

“They listened and really heard our needs about talent and infrastructure and education,” Huseman said.

Our methodology scores the states in 10 categories, weighted based on how frequently states cite them in their economic development marketing materials, for a total of 2,500 points. Virginia scores 1,610 points to take the 2019 Top States crown. This year’s categories and point totals are:

  • Workforce — 450 points
  • Economy — 375 points
  • Infrastructure — 350 points
  • Cost of Doing Business — 350 points
  • Quality of Life — 325 points
  • Education — 175 points
  • Technology & Innovation — 175 points
  • Business Friendliness — 175 points
  • Access to Capital — 75 points
  • Cost of Living — 50 points

Amazon originally planned to build an identical-sized facility in Queens, New York, but it pulled out after public opposition to the project surfaced. In Virginia, what little opposition there was has been much more muted, which business leaders attribute to a more cooperative spirit.

“Government officials, business officials, local citizens groups — people talk to each other a lot,” said Matthew Kelly, CEO of JBG Smith, the real estate investment trust that owns most of the real estate where Amazon plans to set up shop.

Indeed, Virginia rises to third place in our Business Friendliness category, up from fifth place a year ago and earning an A grade. Last year Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam signed into law a bipartisan program to cut business regulations by 25% within three years.

Other major companies headquartered in the Old Dominion include General Dynamics, Capital One Financial and Altria Group.

“When businesses large and small want to call Virginia home, that is a one-two punch for our economy that can’t be beat,” said Northam in his annual State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 9.

During his gubernatorial campaign, Ralph Northam greets supporters at an election-night rally on Nov. 7, 2017, in Fairfax. Win McNamee | Getty Images News | Getty Images

But it is Northam’s own past that has raised concerns about another aspect of Virginia’s business climate: inclusiveness.

Northam faced widespread calls to resign in February after his 1984 medical school yearbook page surfaced showing one person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam has denied that either of the individuals is him, but a subsequent investigation was inconclusive. He refused to resign, calling the incident an opportunity to heal the state’s fractious racial past and promising to devote the rest of his term to racial equality. But there have been no major initiatives since.

The CNBC study measures inclusiveness based on antidiscrimination laws as part of a state’s Quality of Life score. Virginia ties with California for 17th place with a grade of C+. The state does have strong legal protections against most forms of discrimination, but no explicit prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Another weak spot in the Top State is costs. Those smart workers command big salaries, and wage costs in Virginia are the 10th highest in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state finishes 35th for Cost of Doing Business and 32nd for Cost of Living — and that is before Amazon comes to town.

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