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

Richmond Times-Dispatch - RTD Virginia Insider

As Spanberger urged civility, a campaign associate profanely attacked Republicans


Patrick Wilson reports that Rep. Abigail Spanberger laments incivility in politics, but one of her campaign speechwriters has spent months profanely attacking Republicans on Twitter.

A Twitter account run by Gordon "Max" Heyworth is riddled with profane attacks and vulgar references to Spanberger's opponents, Republicans and others. Among the top recipients of Heyworth’s attacks is state Del. John McGuire, R-Henrico, a conservative freshman and potential 2020 challenger to Spanberger.

In Twitter posts trolling McGuire, Heyworth, an unpaid Spanberger volunteer, called him “a mindless cretin without any sense of service to your country,” “the worst type of American,” “a sniveling, brain-dead propagandist,” and a “f---ing dullard.”

This week Spanberger, D-7th, publicly disassociated herself from her former speechwriter's decidedly uncivil Twitter account, a week after being alerted to it by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. READ MORE

- Andrew Cain

A Peace offering?


Graham Moomaw reports that the chairman of the Hanover County Republican Committee has asked departing Del. Chris Peace to disavow a "very public write-in campaign" allegedly being run by Peace supporters disillusioned by the incumbent's primary loss earlier this year.

Peace declined to do so. In a brief letter to Hanover GOP Chairman Nick Collette Friday, Peace said only: "I am not nor will I be a candidate for election in the November 5, 2019 general election."

In an interview Friday afternoon, Peace said he's not encouraging or discouraging any write-in campaign. He said his constituents are free to vote their conscience. READ MORE

Anorexic woman lands at ground zero of state mental hospital crisis


Michael Martz tells the story of Angel Love Fuller, who was frail and emaciated from an eating disorder when she landed in Building 96 at Central State, a mental hospital in Dinwiddie County.

"I'm terrified of being in this place," she said on her final night of a two-week stay. "They're bringing in these violent people and I'm trapped in the ward with all of these people."

Martz writes that Building 96 is ground zero for a statewide mental health crisis that began with the best intentions.

Five years ago, the General Assembly adopted a law that requires state hospitals to provide the "bed of last resort" to involuntarily detained people who pose a danger to themselves or others, or, like Fuller, cannot care for themselves.

Now, the legislature and Gov. Ralph Northam's administration face an urgent struggle to reverse a trend that has allowed private psychiatric hospitals to shift a greater portion of patients under temporary detention orders to state hospitals that don't have enough staff to handle them safely. READ MORE

Airbnb is thriving in Richmond - though they're still illegal to operate in the city


Karri Peifer reports that Airbnb hosts operating in the city of Richmond raked in $3.8 million in collective income as they hosted an estimated 27,500 guests in their homes, spare bedrooms, rental properties or even in their treehouses, according to data released Thursday by Airbnb.

Richmond ranked as the second-highest destination in Virginia for folks using the site from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

The catch? All of the estimated 1,200 Richmond Airbnbs listed on the short-term and vacation rental website are illegal in the city, though operators are unlikely to face any penalties if they have them.

Above, Carrie Rogers' Trailside Treehouse in Richmond's Westover Hills neighborhood has attracted national attention as a cool rental. READ MORE

AG Herring says couples do not need to give race information for marriage licenses

Christophe Genty Photography

Frank Green reports that Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has concluded that while circuit court clerks must ask people seeking a marriage license their race, it does not require they have to answer the question in order to obtain a license.

As a result, the Division of Vital Records has revised the marriage certificate form so it is clear that applicants for a marriage license can decline to answer the question about race.

The developments come after three couples, including Brandyn Churchill and Sophie Rogers (above) filed suit in federal court  last week challenging a state law requiring people applying for a marriage license to classify themselves by race. READ MORE


Stacey Abrams, Georgia's Democratic candidate for governor in 2018, will canvass Saturday for Del. Hala Ayala, D-Prince William. Ayala's opponent is former Del. Rich Anderson, a Republican who lost the seat to Ayala in 2017.

• Del. Jay Jones, D-Norfolk, has endorsed Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., for president, saying in a Facebook post that Booker "has a bold vision for America and the backbone to lead."

• Mel Leonor reports that Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday tapped Mary Broz-Vaughan to lead the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, an agency she has led on a temporary basis since its former director, Jay DeBoer, was removed in January over allegations of mismanagement. READ MORE

• Politics columnist Jeff Schapiro says there is judging trouble for a familiar Virginia name - Cullen the younger. READ MORE

• In our latest Capitol Chat podcast, Schapiro and politics reporters Graham Moomaw and Michael Martz discuss Virginia's new gambling and gaming ventures and the legislative battles to come. LISTEN HERE

• Patrick Wilson reports that Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has filed a $400 million defamation suit against CBS. READ MORE

• Wilson also reports that a TV ad for Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Chesterfield, made a misleading attribution to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Sturtevant campaign said it was accidental and stopped using the ad. READ MORE

• Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring says he has not agreed to a tentative settlement that Purdue Pharma, maker of the painkiller OxyContin, reached with 22 states and more than 2000 localities that sued the company, citing its role in the opioid crisis. Here's The Washington Post's story on the tentative settlement. READ MORE

• Richard Chumney of The (Lynchburg) News & Advance reports that Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says he won't "turn the other cheek" against leakers who have helped fuel a cascade of recent media reports alleging misconduct under his stewardship. READ MORE

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Photo of the week


Gov. Ralph Northam and Stephanie Sill, representing the Blue Star Families of Richmond, lay a wreath during the Commonwealth's Patriot Day Ceremony Wednesday at the Virginia War Memorial to mark 18 years since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Quote of the week

"I'm sorry that my wife still supports me. We have a good marriage."

Del. Chris Peace, R-Hanover, on news that his wife, Ashley, was removed from the Hanover GOP committee after saying in a social media post that she plans to write in her husband's name in the Nov. 5 election.