Insight to the Virginia General Assembly from the RTD political team.

Richmond Times-Dispatch - RTD Virginia Insider

Who can swing the 97th?


On Saturday the Republican State Central Committee, meeting in Richmond, will try to sort out the tortured nomination fight between Del. Chris Peace, R-Hanover and Hanover Supervisor Scott Wyatt.

Ella Fitzgerald (above), a daughter of Newport News who made Virginia a swing state long before Barack Obama, knew how to sum up a showdown like this (h/t Johnny Mercer).

When an irresistible force such as you

Meets an old immovable object like me

You can bet as sure as you live

Something's got to give

Something's got to give

Something's got to give

- Andrew Cain

A hard road to glory

Associated Press

On Saturday Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, will be the keynote speaker at the dedication of Arthur Ashe Boulevard, newly named for a native son of Richmond.

Metro columnist Michael Paul Williams writes that renaming the boulevard for the tennis great and humanitarian resonates in a changing Richmond.

"To finally honor him in the fashion he deserves represents more of a triumph for Richmond - over itself and its demons - than for Ashe, whose legacy hardly requires burnishing." READ MORE

Schapiro: Virginia gun debate - more standoff than shootout


Politics columnist Jeff Schapiro writes that ahead of Gov. Ralph Northam's special session on gun violence, "the lines seem pretty much set: Democrats will propose new limits on firearms. Republicans will dispose of them."

Some Republican lawmakers who broke with fellow conservatives by supporting Medicaid expansion, such as Sen. Ben Chafin (above), R-Russell, are highlighting their gun-rights credentials ahead of the July 9 session. READ MORE

A primary concern for Virginia Republicans


The Peace-Wyatt drama is not the only important business Virginia Republicans will take up Saturday. They also will choose a convention, a primary, or both to pick 2020 nominees for president and to challenge Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.

In 2014, the last time Warner’s Senate seat was up, Republicans nominated Ed Gillespie in a convention and he nearly knocked off Warner in the November election.

Warner's 2020 bid comes in different circumstances. In the last two years President Donald Trump's unpopularity in Virginia's population centers has spurred Democratic gains.

Then there's turnout. In the 2014 contest, 41.6 percent of registered voters went to the polls. Virginia's history tells us that next year's turnout will spike above 70 percent. That usually helps Democrats, because some young people and minorities who don't vote in off-year elections do vote in presidential years.

All of which explains why - as yet - no prominent Republican has come forward to take on Warner next year.

Yheskel's farewell


Gov. Ralph Northam's communications director, Ofirah Yheskel, is heading home to Texas to work for Beto O'Rourke's presidential campaign,  adding to a growing roster of Virginia vets who are flacking for 2020 hopefuls.

O'Rourke also has added Rachel Thomas, a veteran of then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe's press shop.

Tim Murtaugh, a former Capitol Square TV reporter and a veteran of Virginia GOP campaigns, is director of communications for President Donald Trump's re-election bid.

Sen. Kamala Harris' team includes communications director Lily Adams - who worked for Sen. Tim Kaine - and national press secretary Ian Sams, spokesman for Tom Perriello's 2017 run for governor and for Kaine's 2018 re-election campaign.

Jared Leopold, senior campaign adviser to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, was spokesman for Creigh Deeds' 2009 run for governor and later worked for the state Democratic Party.


• Bridget Balch reports that two years into a four-year, nine-step plan to reform mental health services across Virginia, the state is on step two. READ MORE

• Patrick Wilson reports that Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, who had backed Eileen Bedell in the Democratic primary, on Friday endorsed Ghazala Hashmi, who is taking on state Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Richmond, in a marquee legislative battle this fall. READ MORE

• Wilson reports that a Richmond judge has again ruled against Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney in the mayor's effort to withhold documents related to a downtown development proposal. It would use property tax revenues to pay for a project that includes a new coliseum. READ MORE

• Former Vice President Joe Biden took heat this week over his past working relationship with segregationist U.S. senators, as Matt Viser and Annie Linskey of The Washington Post report. Biden also got some good news - he led by a wide margin in a Hampton University poll of Virginia Democratic primary voters.

• Former Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton has been named the interim president of George Mason University. She is not seeking the job on a permanent basis. READ MORE

• Mel Leonor reports that Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is "thinking very seriously" about running for governor in 2021 and that the scandal has raised his public profile. READ MORE

• Karri Peifer reports that Virginia restaurants can advertise their happy hour specials effective July 1. READ MORE

• Graham Moomaw reports that the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the Virginia House GOP's appeal in the long-running gerrymandering case. That means the House elections will proceed in redrawn districts. READ MORE

• In Jeff Schapiro's latest Capitol Chat podcast, Greg Lucyk, a former state lawyer and adviser to redistricting reform group OneVirginia2021, says the Supreme Court decision could take some of the politics out of drawing legislative seats, but it could have little impact on this year’s General Assembly elections. LISTEN HERE

• The Supreme Court also upheld Virginia's right to prohibit uranium mining at the nation's largest deposit in Pittsylvania County. READ MORE

• Michael Martz reports that there's a management shake-up at Virginia's biggest mental hospital, Eastern State, outside Williamsburg. READ MORE

Photo of the week


"Determined: The 400-year Struggle for Black Equality" opens Saturday at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.

Quote of the week

"In short, the State of Virginia would rather stop than fight on."

- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who delivered the majority opinion that one state legislative chamber controlled by Republicans could not continue to fight a redistricting ruling that Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring had accepted.