Political Animal


January 22, 2013 11:12 AM Meanwhile, Down in Richmond….

By Ed Kilgore

Eric Cantor is a pretty big cheese in Virginia Republican politics, right? So you have to figure that while he was making all those billing and cooing noises in Washington yesterday about bipartisanship, he was probably aware his buddies in Richmond were in the midst of pulling off a vicious partisan stunt that would have embarrassed Boss Tweed. In case you missed it, here’s TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro with the story:

The state Senate is split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats. On Monday, while state Sen. Henry Marsh (D) — a 79-year-old civil rights veteran — was reportedly in Washington to attend President Obama’s second inaugural, GOP senators forced through a mid-term redistricting plan that Democrats say will make it easier for Republicans to gain a majority.
With Marsh’s absence, Senate Republicans in Richmond had one more vote than Senate Democrats and could push the measure through. The new redistricting map revises the districts created under the 2011 map and would take effect before the next state Senate elections in Virginia and would redraw district lines to maximize the number of safe GOP seats.

Since the Virginia House and the governorship are controlled by Republicans, the “dirty trick” is likely to be consummated, though Gov. Bob McDonnell—who is what passes for a moderate in Virginia GOP politics these days—claims he knew nothing about it and isn’t promising to sign the new plan.

Two other aspects of the gambit deserve particular scorn: the Republican sponsor of the re-redistricting plan claims he was just trying to create a new African-American district (which is why he waited until one of the legislature’s most prominent African-Americans was away before unveiling the bill, right?). And after the vote, the Virginia House adjourned “in memory of General Stonewall T. Jackson” (part of Virginia’s complex system for dealing with the conjunction of MLK, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson holidays).

No wonder these people have brushed aside McDonnell’s lieutenant-governor and chosen to run Ken Cuccinelli for governor this year.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on January 22, 2013 11:47 AM:

    Yes, holding a vote advantgeous to Republicans while a 79 year-old Democratic State Senator, who was a Civil Rights activist, is attending the Inauguation of a reelected “Blah” President, and then closing the chamber in honor of Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson, is a fine way to reach out to minority voters.


    Why not afterwards, also run around spraying one another with packets of Chinese soy, and Taco Bell hot, sauces, and pink paint, while wearing sequined gowns, and carrying tomahawks in one hand, and waving around trans-vaginal devices at the same time in the other, to, you know, make ALL of the people who didn’t vote for you happy with your party

    Is there anyone I missed?

  • DTR on January 22, 2013 12:03 PM:

    I wondered why the little weasel prick acted in such a congenial manner yesterday. While his home state legislature was celebrating the confederacy, he was shaking the hand of our black president. The hypocrisy behooves his lack of any character.

  • K in VA on January 22, 2013 12:03 PM:

    Bob McDonnell is trying to play the adult in the room these days, but he's far from a moderate. As a state legislator, he worked hard to merit the nickname "Taliban Bob."

  • T2 on January 22, 2013 12:06 PM:

    Never have truer words been spoken about the Republican Party than calling them a collection of "crooks and liars"........spoken by soon to be Secretary of State John Kerry. Words of wisdom proven daily.

  • daveminnj on January 22, 2013 12:33 PM:

    a chickenshit move.

  • Napoleon on January 22, 2013 12:49 PM:

    Stuff like this are dry runs for passing legislation changing how the electoral college is allocated in certain states. Dems have to absolutely howl about this until the media pays attention.

  • Zachary Pruckowski on January 22, 2013 12:51 PM:

    No note on the plan's blatant unconstitutionality? There's no wiggle room in the state constitution to allow for mid-decade redistricting.

  • martin on January 22, 2013 12:58 PM:

    Isn't VA covered by the Voting Rights Act and won't this have to be approved by the Justice Dept? Or did Texas screw that up for good?

  • John on January 22, 2013 7:04 PM:

    That is actually really smart. I think Democrats need to learn how to play the game. Goal for 2014: Try to win back as many state legislatures and governorships possible in order to re-draw as many house maps as possible. Then in 2016 win back the house. No need to wait until 2020.

  • exlibra on January 22, 2013 7:54 PM:

    Martin, 12:58PM. I'm pretty sure that the Voting Rights Act applies only to the federal elections, not the state ones; this is a state coup.

    It'll be interesting to see how Li'l Bobby McD blows on this one; had Marsh been there, the Senate would have had 20-20 Dems and Repubs, with Bolling (Lt Gov, R) breaking the tie. But, according to Think Progress, Bolling is against the move. Hard to tell whether he's just saying that, now that the dirty deed is done, or whether he'd have actually broken the tie against the Repubs because he's still sore at being outmaneuvered by the Cuckoo (Cucinelli) Faction, when it came to running for Gov later this year (VA Repubs decided not to hold primaries and choosing the nominee by convention, instead).

    I actually have a horse in this race, because it's "my" Senate district (25th) that will get clobbered by this. My State Senator, Creigh Deeds (he who lost gubernatorial campaign to Li'l Bobby), already had a hard time winning the seat in the newly redistricted environment. But, apparently, the '11 redistricting wasn't screwy enough and he managed to squeak through. The still newer district... Who knows; Creigh may well give up even trying to run, he'll be so far away from the bedrock support he gets in my area (even from Repubs, as likely as not)

    I most sincerely hope that someone finds a very serious constitutional (VA Constitution) barrier to this mess; not sure I can trust Li'l Bobby to behave himself on this one.