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How Virginia Republicans plan to execute an unassembled convention

Republicans across Virginia will be casting their vote for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general in an unassembled convention on May 8. Nearly 54,000 delegates have signed up to participate in the process that is usually complicated even during a normal year.

Each convention is unique, but this year will be distinctive due to COVID-19 protocols still in place limiting large gatherings of people. After months of deliberations among party leaders on how to execute the nomination contest, the specifics of how the process will function have been mostly finalized.  

The delegates had to register to represent their local unit by filing a form prior to the deadline, which varied by locality. The local committees then voted to approve their list of registered delegates before submitting the lists to the State Central Committee (SCC), the body that governs the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV). This is done to try and ensure that only Republicans participate in the nomination process. 

“It is to determine that they are fairly reliable Republicans in some way,” said RPV Chairman Rich Anderson in an interview. “[Like] the Kiwanis club doesn’t invite the Lions club to come in and vote for their president.”  

In a typical convention, those delegates would then prepare to possibly spend an entire day at the convention site voting in different rounds until a candidate earns 50% plus one. But due to COVID-19 restrictions, this convention will look different compared to ones of the past. It will be unassembled with delegates voting at 39 different locations across Virginia in a ranked-choice fashion. 

At the busier locations, delegates will pull up and vote from their car. Anderson says some locations will have multiple lanes, like a Fairfax location that will have eight lanes for example. Once the delegates reach the front of the line, they will be given a ballot with three groupings, governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. 

The delegates will then rank the candidates in order of preference — one through seven for governor, one through six for lieutenant governor, and one through four for attorney general. “When they are through they will drop that in the ballot box located next to their automobile and they’re free to drive off,” Anderson said. “This lets there be one transaction and then they’re out of there.” 

The vote-from-car method won’t necessarily be universal, Anderson said. Some of the smaller locations will be able to let delegates enter into a building to vote while still following COVID-19 protocols. 

After voting is completed Saturday at 4 p.m., the ballots will be transferred to a central location in Richmond for hand counting — which is set to begin Sunday. 

While the exact location has not been finalized, Anderson says it will need to be a large enough location to follow COVID-19 guidelines and support the convention staff as well as the sixty people tasked with counting and tabulating the results.

One important aspect of counting the votes includes the fact that not all votes are equal. Individual votes are weighted by locality depending on past turnout in elections. “Each unit is allocated one delegate vote for each two hundred fifty votes or major portion thereof cast for the Republican nominee in the most recent elections for President and Governor, provided that each unit shall be entitled to at least one delegate vote,” the Party Plan reads. 

Anderson says they will be live streaming the counting and tabulation process and bringing in an independent oversight team from another state to monitor the process. Additionally, each of the 17 candidates will be allowed to have one representative in the room to observe counting. “I want them to feel comfortable with the process, to understand it, and to have confidence in the final outcomes,” Anderson said. “Every individual ballot will be seen by several eyes at the same time.”

Party officials have not decided yet as to whether they will announce the results of one race if they have a winner, or wait until all of the winners have been chosen. Anderson said they are discussing how to handle that and will likely seek input from the candidates. 

As far as the timing of the results, they are prepared to count until Thursday if needed, but Anderson expects the counting process to be finished by Tuesday. Either way, he says he wants to take the time to make sure the results are accurate. “Even though there will be suspense associated with this, I believe it is better to move carefully and methodically to have a good outcome that everybody trusts,” Anderson said. 

List to the full interview with Anderson


Aide traveling with Va. gubernatorial candidate Amanda Chase brandishes gun amid ‘road rage’ incident - Washington Post

by Laura Vozzella

An aide traveling with Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Amanda F. Chase brandished an AR-15 pistol this week at a man who Chase said threatened them during a "road rage" incident.

Audio from Chase’s campaign van was captured as the episode unfolded because Chase (Chesterfield) was participating by phone in a candidate forum put on by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun-rights group. She was touting her staunch support for the Second Amendment when she abruptly excused herself.

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McAuliffe opponents struggle to break through in Virginia - Politico

by Maya King

In Virginia, 2021 was the best chance yet to elect a Black politician — and possibly the first Black woman in any state — to the governor’s mansion.

But with five weeks until the commonwealth’s Democratic primary, Terry McAuliffe, its white male former governor, is on track to secure the nomination easily.

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At Virginia’s GOP convention, being second choice in governor’s race is a good Plan B - Washington Post

by Laura Vozzella

The seven Republicans running for Virginia governor are making their final appeals to the record 53,000 delegates who’ve signed up to vote in their party’s May 8 nominating convention.

Because it’s a ranked-choice contest that requires a majority to win, ballots will be tallied over and over — meaning when a voter’s first choice is cut, their second choice gets counted.

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Terry McAuliffe Hosts Virtual Conversation with Dr. Patricia Turner, Civil Rights Leader and Member of the “Norfolk 17”

Dr. Turner was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia. Only five years after the landmark ruling in Brown v. Board, Dr. Turner was among the first students to integrate Norfolk Public Schools. She graduated from Norview High School first in her class and went on to receive a doctorate in education from William & Mary. Dr. Turner worked as a math teacher in Norfolk Public Schools for over forty years, where she continued her legacy as a trailblazer and hero for civil rights in the Commonwealth.

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Jennifer Carroll Foy issued a statement on the implementation of collective bargaining rights in Prince William County

“I know what it’s like to be paid an unlivable wage and to lack the protection of a union that fought to ensure workers were treated with respect and dignity. That’s why I’ve been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with working people –– from protesting on the picket line, to inside the legislature, fighting to ensure that workers' rights were not only protected, but expanded.

“I’m proud to have helped pass HB 582, an important first step to allowing public servants – from our teachers to our firefighters and more, all of whom have sacrificed deeply during this pandemic – to collectively bargain in Virginia. I join our public employees in their push to ensure the recognition of collective bargaining in Prince William County, so working people here can have a real voice in determining their pay, benefits, critical job safety conditions, and more. As Governor, I’m committed to the continued fight for workers’ rights, so that Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth have the just and equitable workplace they deserve.”

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Lt. Gov. candidate McClellan visits Herndon, launches small business plan - Reston Now

by Scott Fields

Andria McClellan, a Democratic candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, released a plan on Thursday (April 29) outlining her policy platform to support small businesses coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In conjunction with the plan’s launch, McClellan visited the Town of Herndon to talk to Mayor Sheila Olem and community members about the state of local small businesses. The Herndon visit was a part of an ongoing tour of Northern Virginia and the state as early voting in the Democratic primary gets underway.

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Delegate Betsy Carr Endorses Delegate Hala Ayala’s Campaign for Lieutenant Governor

"I have worked closely with Delegate Ayala during our time as colleagues in the General Assembly and I am so excited to endorse her candidacy for Lieutenant Governor,” said Delegate Betsy Carr. “Delegate Ayala knows first hand how to build bridges and pass meaningful legislation that impacts people's lives for the better. I know she'll continue this work as Lieutenant Governor and I hope you'll join me in supporting her." 

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Sean Perryman for lieutenant governor releases May Day platform

“After Virginia was ranked the worst state for workers in the entire country, Democrats in the General Assembly set to work reversing that shameful ranking,” Perryman said in a press release Saturday. “Despite the progress that has been made, there’s still a long list of policies that we need to prioritize in order to lift up the multi-racial working class in Virginia. We can’t let special interests continue to hold us back from building a stronger and more resilient economy. I’m running for Lt. Governor to fight for the following agenda in Richmond.”

  • Strengthening the ability of workers to organize by repealing the so-called “Right to Work” law that hurts workers and keeps wages low.

  • Guaranteeing the right to collectively bargain for all public sector employees at both the state and local levels.

  • Ensuring Virginia’s minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour by the end of 2023, and indexing it to the cost of living in perpetuity.

  • Guaranteeing paid sick, family, and parental leave for all Virginians, no matter where they work.

  • Passing a Virginian Green New Deal that provides good-paying, green jobs in the growing energy, infrastructure, technology, and transportation sectors.

  • Realigning our tax code to promote families and the services they rely on and ensuring that wealthy Virginians and big businesses pay their fair share.

  • Making Virginia’s tuition-free community college universal and available for all while working to lower tuition at Virginia's public colleges and universities and pushing for federal student debt cancellation.

  • Investing in our future by passing an equitable budget for Virginia’s public schools that leaves no community behind and raises teacher pay, as well as providing affordable childcare and universal PreK to all of Virginia’s parents.

  • Expanding Medicaid to cover more working-class Virginians, offering a Medicare-rate public option through a controlled state insurance exchange for those without employer-sponsored insurance, and pushing for a federal Medicare-for-all system.

  • Investing in green, accessible public transit that allows workers to commute to higher-quality jobs and provides employers with a more diverse labor force.

  • Closing the gender pay gap for women and women of color and supporting pay transparency.

“As Lt. Governor, I can’t introduce legislation,” said Perryman. “What I can do is use the platform I am given to be advocate-in-chief for the labor movement; not just to rally the public but to also push elected and party leadership. I can invite organizers and activists into the process of lawmaking and work together to set the agenda in Richmond.”

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From the campaign of Jay Jones (D) for Attorney General: “Mark Herring Still Refuses to Investigate Isaiah Brown Shooting in Spotsylvania County

“Mark Herring’s deafening silence on police accountability speaks volumes to Virginians everywhere looking for real reform,” said Delegate Jay Jones. “We cannot afford to continue engaging in this same cycle of thoughts and prayers, performative calls for reform, then inaction. Virginia needs leaders who will stand up and fight for transparency and accountability in policing. As Attorney General, I will never back down from that fight so that we can ensure every community is safe.”

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Virginia public colleges can mandate COVID vaccines, attorney general says

By Hunter Britt

Capital News Service

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia colleges are beginning to announce mandatory fall COVID-19 vaccine policies following the state attorney general’s opinion that higher education institutes can require the vaccine. 

Virginia public colleges and universities can mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for faculty and students returning to campus this fall, Attorney General Mark Herring stated in late April. 

“Virginia’s college and university students deserve the chance to go to classes in-person and take advantage of all that their schools have to offer, but over the past year we have seen numerous COVID outbreaks on school campuses, so we must make sure that they are doing so with the health and safety of their peers and communities in mind,” Herring stated.

School leaders questioned the legality of mandating the COVID-19 vaccine because the vaccine is currently authorized for emergency use. That means people must be given the choice to take it and be informed of the consequences if they don’t, Lisa Lee, professor of public health at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, told Capital News Service before Herring issued his statement.

Currently, Virginia colleges request documentation that a student was vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles and mumps.

At least three Virginia-based private universities will require the vaccine for students and employees returning to campus in the fall. HamptonMary Baldwin, and Virginia Wesleyan universities updated their policies mandating the vaccine. Hampton made its decision weeks before the attorney general issued the opinion.

Michael Porter, a spokesperson for Richmond-based Virginia Commonwealth University, stated in an email that VCU still does not require the COVID-19 vaccine for returning students. The university is “reviewing the Attorney General’s guidance” as it plans for the upcoming semester.

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville recently released a statement acknowledging Herring’s opinion but has not yet updated its policy.

Virginia Tech is still deliberating whether to require the COVID-19 vaccine, university spokesperson Mark Owczarski stated in an email. Once a decision is made, the university will communicate it to students and staff.

The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg recently told students and staff to expect an update on mandatory vaccination in mid-May. The college encouraged students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated if possible.

George Mason University in Fairfax is considering whether to require the vaccine, the university said in a mid-April statement posted before Herring’s announcement. Mason encouraged students to get the vaccine and ask their health care provider if they had questions. 

Bri Bittenbender, a criminal justice major at VCU, said Virginia schools need to enforce the COVID-19 vaccine if things are ever going to return to normal.

“I think it could provide a level of safety for students going back to in-person classes,” she said. “But if the schools don’t enforce it, then we’re stuck where we are now.”

Bittenbender is not alone, as many college students across Virginia feel the same way. Isabella Chalfant, a William & Mary student majoring in environmental law and art history, said that aversion to the vaccine from a political standpoint is “imbecilic.”

“The most important thing about the vaccine is being able to protect the people you love,” she said. “When I finally got the email to make my appointment, I cried because it meant that I didn’t have to be scared to live my life anymore.” 

Chalfant said she prioritized the vaccine to protect her mother who is considered high risk.

“I can also protect my family, because my mom has underlying conditions,” she said. “It is extremely important for me and for my family to protect her.”

While there are many college students across Virginia who support requiring the vaccine, there are others who are uncertain. Kaitlyn Whitehead, a health sciences major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, said giving colleges leeway to make the vaccine mandatory is “not a positive thing.”

“I believe that, just like anything else, that there should be a choice,” she said. 

Whitehead said that since the flu vaccine isn’t mandated at Virginia colleges, then the COVID-19 vaccine shouldn’t be either. She said the flu and COVID-19 both kill many people, but only the latter vaccine is being mandated.

It’s also too early to tell if the vaccine is effective, Whitehead said. Initial trials have found all COVID-19 vaccines are effective to varying degrees, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Emily Porter, a student majoring in media studies and Chinese at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said there is support for the vaccine among U.Va. students, but some students oppose it.

“The student population is largely liberal, though I would say there are contrarians and conservatives who might have an issue,” she said. “As a proportion of the student population, the latter is much less. I would also guess that the majority of the faculty and staff would also be in support of it.”

Emily Porter supports the vaccine and believes it to be a “wonderful feat of science.”

“There will definitely have to be some developments, especially with the new strains and everything like that,” she said. “But overall, I think it’s incredible, and I had no problem getting it.”