Weekly Recap: Virginia Democrats Announce Launch of “Take the Majority 2019” Coordinated Campaign, Arthur Ashe Boulevard is Dedicated in Richmond…
Virginia Democrats Announce “Take the Majority 2019” Coordinated Campaign
Virginia Democrats Announce "Take the Majority 2019" Coordinated Campaign - Democratic Party of…
Virginia Democrats Announce "Take the Majority 2019" Coordinated Campaign Field program will be the largest coordinated…
Field program will be the largest coordinated campaign in Virginia history to flip the House of Delegates and State Senate
RICHMOND, VA– Virginia Democrats announced on Wednesday that they will run the largest coordinated field campaign in the Commonwealth’s history to win Democratic majorities in the House of Delegates and State Senate this year. “Take the Majority 2019” is a coordinated campaign by the Virginia House and Senate Democratic Caucuses, the Democratic Party of Virginia, the Way Ahead PAC, and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
Take the Majority 2019 will include at least 44 House and 31 Senate districts in regions across the Commonwealth, stretching from Northern Virginia through the Valley region and Central Virginia down to parts of Southwest, and over to Hampton Roads. The districts will be organized into pods, in which field organizers will be working for the House and Senate campaigns in that area. The program will launch in July.
The participating Democratic organizations have hired Andrew Whitley to serve as Take the Majority’s Coordinated Campaign Director. Whitley recently ran Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw’s successful bid for the Democratic nomination in SD-35. He also managed Delegate Chris Hurst’s flip of HD-12 in 2017. A Virginia native, Whitley has extensive experience running field programs for Virginia legislative candidates including Delegate Sam Rasoul and Senator John Edwards.
“Democrats like making history in Virginia,” said Democratic Party of Virginia Executive Director Chris Bolling. “We sent Donald Trump a historic message in 2017 when we swept all three statewide offices and picked up 15 House of Delegate seats. With the work of Andrew and the robust Take the Majority team, we will make history yet again this November by giving Democrats control of the House, Senate, and Governor’s Office for the first time in 26 years. We are on the cusp of making Virginia all blue, we just need to TAKE it.”
“We know the numbers are on our side,” said House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Trevor Southerland. “There are more Democratic voters in Virginia than Republicans, especially as the Republican Party moves further to the right and alienates moderate Virginians. This year is about turnout, and Take the Majority 2019 will mobilize voters to get to the polls and flip the House of Delegates for the first time in 20 years.”
Senate Democratic Caucus Executive Director Kristina Hagen celebrated the strength of the candidates, saying, “Senate Democrats are proud to work with partners from across the state to create the largest, most robust program we have ever built to win Virginia legislative races. Our candidates are the reflection of the communities they are looking to represent: they are veterans, they are educators, they are mothers and fathers, they are community leaders. With a record number of Democrats vying for the Senate, we are eager to get to work to retake the majority in November so we can deliver on the common sense agenda Virginians are yearning for.”
“We are committed to securing a Democratic majority in the Virginia Assembly for the first time in two decades,” Way Ahead PAC Director Mark Bergman said. “Working together, we can build a more equitable Commonwealth for all who call it home and make progress on priorities like increasing access to quality, affordable health care, improving support for Virginia’s public schools, and passing common sense gun safety legislation.”
“The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is committed to working with our partners to Take the Majority this November,” said Jessica Post, executive director of the DLCC. “This field program will be of an unprecedented size. Along with our early investment pledge of $1 million, dedicated staff on the ground and our data — the DLCC will share the lessons and best practices we’ve learned in other states to ensure its success.”
Kathryn Gilley, House Democratic Caucus — firstname.lastname@example.org, 804–402–2183
Hailey Barringer, Senate Democratic Caucus — email@example.com, 336–430–8883
Jake Rubenstein, Democratic Party of Virginia — firstname.lastname@example.org, 412–860–2020
Matt Harringer, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee — email@example.com, 561–301–2883
‘A spectacular and momentous day’: Richmond celebrates newly renamed Arthur Ashe Boulevard (Richmond Times Dispatch)
'A spectacular and momentous day': Richmond celebrates newly renamed Arthur Ashe Boulevard
Thousands gathered Saturday to celebrate the formal renaming of Arthur Ashe Boulevard, an occasion leaders hailed as a…
Thousands gathered Saturday to celebrate the formal renaming of Arthur Ashe Boulevard, an occasion leaders hailed as a long overdue step toward honoring Richmond’s native son and embracing African American history.
“This is truly a spectacular and momentous day,” said David Harris Jr., Ashe’s nephew. Harris led the successful push to rename the road formerly known as the Boulevard for his uncle, who overcame prejudice to become a legend in a sport dominated by white athletes. Off the tennis court, Ashe was renowned for his humanitarian work and anti-apartheid activism.
Between 2,000 and 3,000 people, including dozens of Ashe’s relatives, gathered on the lawn of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture to witness the unveiling of new Arthur Ashe Boulevard signs that will now mark the busy thoroughfare.
Local, state and congressional officials, among them U.S. Rep. John Lewis from Georgia, sung Ashe’s praises and marked the occasion as a significant milestone in Virginia’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in 1619.
“Think about Arthur Ashe, what he did, the contribution he made, coming out of this city, out of this state, out of this country,” said Lewis, the celebration’s keynote speaker.
Ashe was born in Richmond in 1943. He died in 1993 at 49 of complications related to AIDS after contracting HIV through a blood transfusion during surgery. He is the only African American man to win Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open tennis titles.
In 1996, the city unveiled a bronze statue of Ashe at the intersection of Monument Avenue and Roseneath Road, making him the first — and to date, only — African American honored on Richmond’s most famous street.
In remarks Saturday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Ashe was “the only true champion” on the street that features prominent iconography of Confederate leaders from the Civil War. The newly named Arthur Ashe Boulevard intersects Monument Avenue in what Stoney said symbolized progress the city is making toward becoming a more inclusive and accepting community.
“By naming this boulevard after Arthur Ashe, we’re once again parting with our darker past and embracing our brighter future,” Stoney said.
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia called the new name “an act of healing” of which all of Richmond could be proud.
Ashe grew up in a different Richmond, one where racial divisions were starker and enforced unceasingly.
As a child, he was barred from practicing at the tennis courts at Byrd Park, located at the south end of the Boulevard, because of the color of his skin. Instead, he practiced at segregated courts on the North Side, honing abilities that would launch him to the pinnacle of a sport no African American had reached before.
Once a professional, Ashe returned to the Byrd Park courts as the first black member of the U.S. Davis Cup team and led them to victory in 1968.
Fifty years after the triumph, the Richmond City Council voted this past February to rename the Boulevard. It was the third effort to rename the street for Ashe; previous attempts failed in 1993 and 2003.
Councilwoman Kim Gray proposed the name change this time, calling it an opportunity to demonstrate the progress Richmond has made toward racial reconciliation. Gray, whose district includes a portion of the street, met with civic associations, residents and business owners in the area to rally support for the initiative.
Some were wary. A group of Boulevard residents made a last-ditch effort to delay a decision on the matter, saying there hadn’t been enough input. Some suggested renaming another street in Ashe’s honor, not theirs.
Heading into the vote, it remained an open question whether the nine-member council would endorse the idea. But after an overwhelming show of support at a public hearing before the vote, it did.
Fighting back tears after unveiling the new street signs Saturday, Gray said she would remember the day for the show of unity she saw on display.
Throngs of people climbed the museum’s steps after the ceremony concluded to get a closer look at the new signs. Some ventured inside to see an exhibit that opened Saturday called “Determined: The 400-year Struggle For Black Equality.” The museum also unveiled a special virtual reality exhibit featuring archival footage from Ashe’s famed 1968 U.S. Open victory.
Standing amid the scene, Gray said, “I’m just overwhelmed with emotion.”
Click here to read the full article and see photos from the dedication.
Special Session on Gun Violence Hinges on Whether Speaker Cox Will Allow Floor Votes (VA House Democrats)
Special Session on Gun Violence Hinges on Whether Speaker Cox Will Allow Floor Votes
RICHMOND - As legislators prepare for the special session to address gun violence on July 9, the greatest uncertainty…
RICHMOND — As legislators prepare for the special session to address gun violence on July 9, the greatest uncertainty is whether Republican Speaker Kirk Cox will even allow members of the House of Delegates to do their jobs and vote on common-sense gun violence prevention proposals.
Historically, Republican Speakers, including Cox, have sent priority legislation to small subcommittees stacked with the most conservative Republican members to effectively declare the bills dead on arrival — if the bills are given a hearing at all.
Cox’s initial reaction to the special session, even in the wake of the tragedy in Virginia Beach, indicated that he intends to do just that. In a statement following the announcement, Cox called the session “hasty and suspect,” despite that fact that some one thousand Virginians die every year from gun violence. He also said that the Virginia Tech Review Panel, which was formed after the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007 in which 32 students and faculty were killed, resulted in “substantive and bipartisan reforms to keep our communities safer” — even though in 2017, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that, “In fact, the opposite occurred. Gun rights, not gun restrictions, have grown stronger.”
Recently, Delegate David Yancey (R-Newport News), who won his seat in 2017 by a random tie-breaker, announced he will put forth his own bill during special session. Yancey’s proposal, while narrow and far from the comprehensive approach Virginians are requesting, may be part of Speaker Cox’s broader strategy to protect his vulnerable members while appeasing the right-wing hardliners in his caucus. In fact, Cox has used this strategy time and again.
In the 2019 general session, House Democrats put forth a resolution to enshrine gender equality in the U.S. Constitution by ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment. Republicans opposed the ERA, despite the 81 percent of Virginians who support its passage. But Yancey, conscious of his uphill re-election campaign this year, expressed support for the ERA. Even so, Speaker Cox refused to allow the ERA for a floor vote, and when House Democrats put forth a procedural resolution to attempt to force a vote, Yancey was given a pass to vote with the Democrats while confident the other members of his caucus would block the resolution — and they did.
Similarly, another vulnerable Republican in this year’s elections, Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach), posted on his social media this weekend that he was celebrating Pride. Yet Davis sits on the General Laws committee, which refused to even hold a hearing this year on the Equality Act or a bill that would end discriminatory practices against LGBTQ+ Virginians in housing. By not even hearing the bills, Davis was spared having to vote on them, and Cox and his Republican hardliners were able to once again block LGBTQ+ equality.
“Speaker Cox and House Republicans have a policy — when it looks like common-sense legislation might pass with a full floor vote, they block the bills from ever getting to the floor,” said House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Trevor Southerland. “Cox spares his vulnerable members from ever having to be accountable to their communities, while the right-wing hardliners set the policy agenda. This special session, we can pass gun violence solutions — but only if Cox allows them to the floor.”
Recently, Cox’s Democratic challenger, Sheila Bynum-Coleman, earned national media attention in a Vanity Fair profile, which noted, “Bynum-Coleman, whose daughter is a gun violence survivor, is an advocate for gun control legislation; Cox has called efforts to study the issue after the Virginia Beach mass shooting ‘hasty and suspect’.”
Wexton wants to reinstate gun silencer regulation after Virginia Beach shooting (Washington Post)
Wexton wants to reinstate gun silencer regulation after Virginia Beach shooting
June 21 Rep. Jennifer Wexton on Friday introduced a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to block people who…
Rep. Jennifer Wexton on Friday introduced a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to block people who they determine are a danger to themselves or others from buying gun silencers and machine guns.
The freshman Democrat from Northern Virginia filed the legislation in response to the May 31 shooting in Virginia Beach that left 12 victims dead. The shooter’s use of a silencer brought national attention to the devices.
“As we saw in Virginia Beach, silencers in the wrong hands pose a serious safety risk to the public,” Wexton said in a statement. “No one knows their local communities better than law enforcement. And no one is better suited to determine if an individual should have access to a dangerous accessory, like a silencer, than the men and women who protect us every day.”
Gun-control advocates say silencers are dangerous because they mask the sound of gunfire, making it hard to recognize. Survivors of the Virginia Beach shooting said the gunfire sounded like a nail gun.
Opponents of stricter gun laws say silencers, also called suppressors, are legal in 40 states for hunting and reduce the sound of a gunshot for hearing protection purposes.
Wexton’s bill, HR3404, applies to types of weapons regulated under the National Firearms Act, including silencers, machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and other high-powered weapons.
Currently, someone who wants to buy a silencer or other NFA-regulated weapon must pass an extensive background check — including fingerprints, photographs and the firearm serial number — and pay a $200 tax.
Applicants must also notify the top law enforcement officer, usually a police chief or sheriff, where they live, according to Wexton’s office.
Under Wexton’s bill, law enforcement officials would have a 90-day window to block the sale or transfer of the weapon if they determine applicants pose a danger to themselves or others, or there’s a reasonable likelihood they plan to use the weapon to commit a crime.
If law enforcement does not act within 90 days, and the applicant passes the background check, the sale or transfer goes through automatically.
Co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Gerald E. Connolly and Don Beyer (both Va.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting representative — all Democrats.
“My constituents sent me to Congress to try to end the gun violence epidemic,” Wexton said. “As lawmakers, we have an obligation to do everything in our power to save lives and make our communities safer. We must put politics aside and work together to pass common sense protections that keep our constituents safe. This is practical legislation that both Republicans and Democrats can support.”
The National Rifle Association opposes Wexton’s attempt to revive the sign-off provision, which spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen called “part of a failed gun control agenda.”
“Giving local law enforcement an additional three months to delay a person’s application is just more government pile on. Finally, there is zero evidence a suppressor had any impact on the lethality of the Virginia Beach shooting,” she said in a statement.
In 1934, Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which put restrictions and special taxes on machine guns, in hopes of curtailing gang violence.
Law enforcement had to sign off on the purchases or transfers until 2016.
At that time, the Obama administration closed a loophole that allowed people to avoid background checks by purchasing NFA-regulated weapons as part of a trust.
Anticipating an increase in the number of checks and potential burden on law enforcement to approve or deny each request, the law enforcement sign-off was removed.
Days after the Virginia Beach shooting, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to federal regulation of gun silencers . Eight states urged the court to affirm that the Second Amendment protects “silencers and other firearms accessories.”
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has called a July 9 special session of the Virginia General Assembly to address gun laws after the Virginia Beach shooting.
Democrats at the state and federal level have called for increased regulation to ban silencers and high-capacity magazines, such as those used in the Virginia Beach incident.
Republicans who control the General Assembly have repeatedly stifled efforts to consider any form of gun control.
Number of locals on Medicaid surges (Daily Progress)
Number of locals on Medicaid surges
More adults and children than expected have signed up for health coverage under Virginia’s expanded Medicaid, according…
In Albemarle County, local officials have seen a “doubling of the number of ongoing cases,” according to Wanda Hoerman, a program manager at the Albemarle’s social services department and the University of Virginia’s Medicaid unit.
Hoerman’s office, which has hired additional staff to handle the influx, takes applications from Albemarle residents and, through contract work with the UVa Medical Center, also helps hospital patients from across the state access services.
That includes signups from all population sectors of Central Virginia and the state. According to Hoerman, more children, parents and women have signed up, and more people who already would have been eligible for benefits, such as disabled people, have signed up due to the expedited process.
“There are many people who would already have been eligible under a different program but, rather than waiting for a disability claim to be verified, say, also qualify under the income requirement, and that’s much quicker,” Hoerman said. “There’s no lines, no taking numbers and it’s a very streamlined process.”
Hoerman said she expects the workflow will become more steady as new cases become less frequent and existing cases come up for review.
According to the state’s Department of Medical Assistance Services, more than 290,000 people have signed up for the program since Jan. 1.
Within Central Virginia, Charlottesville has 1,592 new enrollees; Albemarle County has 2,245; Greene County has 726; Orange County has 1,287; Louisa County has 1,472; Fluvanna County has 744; Buckingham County has 833; and Nelson County has 647.
According to a presentation made to the Virginia Senate Finance Committee by DMAS Director Dr. Jennifer Lee, the state is now able to get a picture of the new participants’ health.
The data show that many new members have chronic health issues. Statewide, nearly 35,000 have hypertension. Roughly 16,600 have diabetes. More than 15,000 have a substance abuse disorder. And about 2,500 have been diagnosed as having cancer.
The good news is that many new enrollees appear to be seeking out medical care for their conditions now that they have access to coverage. According to Lee’s presentation, more than 175,000 Medicaid expansion members have visited a provider since signing up, and more than 81,000 have received a prescription.
Virginia has asked for a federal waiver that will let it add a work requirement; that application is still pending while court challenges in other states move forward. Any requirement likely would not apply until 2020, and no penalty will be instituted until 2021, according to Lee.
If approved, a work requirement would ask non-disabled adults to work, be in school or perform community service in order to receive health care.
Until then, income is the main requirement for eligibility. Single adults making up to $16,754 annually or a family of three making up to $28,677 can qualify.
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