Thursday, July 28, 2016

If Kaine Wins, Who Could Fill His Senate Seat?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 28, 2016 at 9:35 AM

With Sen. Tim Kaine accepting Hillary Clinton’s offer to run with her as vice president last night, who will take his place in the U.S. Senate should he win -- and when?

The answer is a bit convoluted.

If Kaine wins in November, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a fellow Democrat, would have to appoint a replacement for about a year. Then there would be a special election in 2017 followed by a regular election in 2018 for a six-year-term.

That is, of course, if the person McAuliffe appoints wants to keep the Senate job rather than just warm a seat temporarily.

If the former, names that come up are U.S. Reps. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Don Beyer and Gerald E. Connolly. Other Democratic possibilities include Attorney General Mark Herring and Brian Moran, McAuliffe’s public safety and homeland security secretary.

Potential placeholders could be former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and former Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, according to The Washington Post.

Scott might seem to have a leg up in the bunch. He’s a 12-term congressman and is an African-American who has the backing of key members of the Black Caucus. One drawback is that Scott is a ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, an important entity in shaping laws about teaching and labor.

“The two strongest choices are Bobby Scott and Beyer,” says Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. Both are from safe districts not likely to fall into Republican hands.

“The edge might go to Beyer,” he adds. Beyer was lieutenant governor for eight years and also served as a U.S. ambassador. That experience might make him more appealing to a broader, statewide electorate. Another reason is that Beyer has lots of experience raising campaign money and “that fundraising skill will be key,” Farnsworth says.

If not Scott, another possibility could be State Sen. A. Donald McEachin, a veteran legislator who's running for Congress from the 4th District, which was recently redrawn after a court fight over charges that Scott’s 3rd District had been gerrymandered by white politicians to back in blacks and thus dilute their voting strength in neighboring districts.

If there's a special election in 2015 for the U.S. Senate, GOP possibilities include former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli or U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman and Barbara Comstock.

Even U.S. Rep. Dave Brat, who got headlines by defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a stunning 2014 primary, might be in the mix.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tim Kaine Tapped by Hillary Clinton as VP

Democrat has long background in city, state, federal politics.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 22, 2016 at 9:00 PM

Hillary Clinton has chosen Sen. Tim Kaine, a longtime Richmond politician with progressive roots, as her running mate in November's presidential election.

Kaine -- a former Richmond councilman, mayor, lieutenant governor and governor and now U.S. senator -- was a leading candidate for the slot after Donald Trump’s firestorm GOP convention in Cleveland. But the announcement of his vice presidential choice late Friday night apparently was put off by news of a mass shooting in Munich, Germany.

Kaine has a reputation of being a solid executive with a mild manner and a sharp mind.

National news outlets such as Politico had diminished him as “Vanilla Nice” for his easygoing, bipartisan nature. But analysts say he may be what's needed in today’s harshly polarizing climate.

Minnesota-born Kaine grew up in the Midwest and came to espouse regional values of populism and fair play. He is also a devout, Jesuit-trained Roman Catholic, whose views on abortion and the death penalty might contrast those of his running mate. But in office Kaine stuck with Virginia law on both issues, drawing criticism from pro-life groups and progressives opposing the death penalty.

The choice of Kaine may balance Clinton’s ticket, but it also may estrange more liberal Democrats who backed Bernie Sanders. It also may draw in centrists who want more traditional economics measures and a strong military.

According to surveys, Virginia is either the No. 1 or No. 2 defense state. Kaine’s Senate position on the armed services and foreign affairs committees has given him important shoring in these areas. His Catholic missionary work in Honduras taught him fluent Spanish, which may help win Hispanic voters estranged by Trump’s anti-immigration views.

The next important step will be to see Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's choice as Kaine's replacement in the Senate, should he win.

For more: 13 Things About Tim Kaine.

Friday, July 1, 2016

National Media Rev Up Stories on Sen. Tim Kaine's Gift History

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 8:20 AM

  • Scott Elmquist

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine has been widely reported as being atop the list of Hillary Clinton’s potential running mates, but he faces a swirl of negative stories in national media about gifts he took when he was governor and lieutenant governor.

The recent round of stories seem to originate with a piece by Politico on June 30, which notes that as a top Virginia official Kaine accepted $160,000 in vacations, travel and clothing, among other gifts.

None of the gifts is apparently illegal under the state’s permissive ethics laws and they seem to have been reported properly. Some of the gifts were reported locally for years.

The timing couldn’t be worse. Clinton is ramping up for the Democratic convention later this month in Philadelphia, Kaine’s name is coming up for vice president and earlier this week the U.S. Supreme Court vacated all 11 federal corruption convictions against Republican former Gov. Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell had accepted more than $175,000 in loans, cash, a Rolex watch, travel and other gifts from vitamin supplement maker Jonnie R. Williams Sr., who wanted McDonnell to connect him with state university researchers to study one of his products.

Contrasts between the two former governors are inevitable, given that Kaine is undergoing routine scrutiny in the chance that he might be in a position that could make him president. The Kaine gifts story is being reported by ABC, CBS and CNBC, among various other news outlets.

Kaine declined an interview with Style, but his office has issued the statement: “During his eight years as lieutenant governor and governor, Sen. Kaine went beyond the requirements of Virginia law, even publicly disclosing gifts of value beneath the reporting threshold. He’s confident that he met both the letter and the spirit of Virginia’s ethical standards.”

Among other gifts, Kaine reported a weeklong vacation in 2005 that he and his family took after he was elected governor. They visited the West Indies island of Mustique, staying in a house owned by Charlottesville investor James B. Murray Jr.

The vacation was valued at $18,000. Murray was once rector at the College of William & Mayor and has served on a state higher education council.

In 2003 and 2005, Kaine accepted $5,500 worth of clothes from Stuart C. Siegel, a clothier and Kaine supporter, according to Politico and Virginia Public Access Project reports.

Among other gifts were travel worth $2,000 from utility Dominion for trips to governors meetings and to an NCAA Final Four basketball game. Others who gave gifts were Teva Pharmaceuticals, BET co-founder Sheila C. Johnson and ADR software chief executive E. Scott Kasprowicz.

Some of these gifts already have been widely reported. Kaine’s West Indies island vacation has long been criticized in various election campaigns.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Is Sen. Tim Kaine a "Safe" Pick for Hillary Clinton?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 10:23 AM

  • Steve Earley

For a few months now, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine has been rumored to be on the short list of vice-presidential picks for Hillary Clinton. Today, Politico Magazine explores the potential choice in an article, "The Left’s Beef With Tim Kaine":

Everyone assumes Senator Tim Kaine is Hillary Clinton’s “safe” pick for vice president. He’s geographically safe: hailing from the swing state of Virginia, where a Democratic governor can name his replacement. He’s demographically safe: a white male Catholic who speaks fluent Spanish. His résumé is safe, checking the senator, governor and mayor boxes. Even his personality is safe. “I am boring,” Kaine assured America on NBC’s Meet the Press last Sunday.

But ask anyone from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party about Kaine, and suddenly he doesn’t feel very safe at all.

“An establishment Wall Street Democrat like Tim Kaine … will do nothing but confirm to progressives she's learned nothing from this primary,” Jordan Chariton told Politico Magazine, who reports for the Bernie-friendly online talk show The Young Turks.

As many as 22 million potential voters in November are thought to be Sanders-leaning Democrats, and they’re looking for evidence that Clinton is paying some heed to the surprisingly strong insurgency of the socialist from Vermont. Bernie’s success was a clear anti-establishment uprising, strong enough that his supporters expect their agenda will now help shape the future of the party. But choosing Kaine may send them the opposite message: This is her party now, and you aren’t the ones calling the shots.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Leaves Office

Maurice Jones is out of Gov. Terry McAuliffe's cabinet to head LISC.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 3:38 PM

With Mayor Dwight Jones in the background, Maurice Jones speaks during an economic development announcement about Stone Brewing coming to Richmond in 2014. - SCOTT ELMQUIST / FILE
  • Scott Elmquist / File
  • With Mayor Dwight Jones in the background, Maurice Jones speaks during an economic development announcement about Stone Brewing coming to Richmond in 2014.

Virginia's secretary of commerce and trade, Maurice Jones, is out -- bound for a job as chief executive of the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corp., or LISC.

Jones is a native of Kenbridge who had a stint as deputy secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development after serving as president of Pilot Media, the parent of Style.

In its announcement today, LISC says:

Since its founding in 1980, LISC has invested more than $16 billion to help neighborhoods recover from what in many places has been decades of decline and abandonment. Working with community partners in 31 urban areas and across an expansive rural footprint, LISC invested $1.3 billion last year into building and preserving affordable housing as well as supporting a broad range of projects in health, safety and job-creation to revitalize neighborhoods.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who is LISC’s longtime board chair, said Jones’ experience working in federal and state government as well as in the private sector align with the group's mission to rebuild America’s disinvested communities.

“Maurice is highly experienced as a manager and in addressing the challenges of community development,” Rubin said. “He is also a policy expert with a strong strategic mindset, and has been a business builder. He understands the myriad difficulties facing low-income families. The board is excited to have such a compelling and talented leader.”

A year into Jones' term, Style spoke with him about the economic challenges facing Virginia.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a statement:

“Secretary Jones took on one of the toughest jobs in my Cabinet, and he has served our citizens well in the face of significant challenges from federal budget cuts and the threat of sequestration. He has been a strong partner as we worked together to build a new Virginia economy that is diverse and capable of withstanding future fiscal and political headwinds, and I will miss his thoughtful and strategic approach to economic development and work-force policy."

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

City Hall Employee Leaves to Run for Council

Andreas Addison says he wants to "make every project in City Hall work."

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 11:50 AM

Andreas Addison, a former City of Richmond employee with a knack for using computers to help citizens, is running for the First District seat on City Council. That spot is being vacated by Jon Baliles, who is running for mayor.

Addison says in a release that when he arrived in Richmond from Virginia Tech, “I was passionate to use what I had learned to help this place reach its full potential."

He worked for six years at RichmondWorks, a department that tracks performance. In his position as Civic Innovator he pushed Richmond to participate in the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, which provides advice from IBM consultants about management.

He also helped launch a system through which Richmond residents can access information about city government online and implemented SeeClickFix.

The 2004 Hokie grad has an MBA from the University of Richmond and serves on the board of CodeVa, which encourages digital education.

In an online post, Addison shares the reasons he's decided to leave his city post to run for Council.

Jonathan Cruise also is a candidate in the First District, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, as well as Harry Warner Jr., a consultant with West Avenue Associates who was part of the Save the Diamond committee, which offered an alternative plan for baseball on the Boulevard.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kathy Graziano’s Aide Makes Bid to Fill Her Council Seat

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 12:09 PM

Councilwoman Kathy Graziano’s political aide, Tim Grimes, is running to fill her 4th District seat when she retires at the end of the year.

Grimes has worked in Graziano’s office for three and a half years and was motivated to run because of his experience as a longtime political operative, the Times-Dispatch reports. Graziano says that she supports his bid.

The 61-year-old Westover Hills resident says that his work addressing the concerns of 4th District residents and learning their wants and needs makes him a strong candidate.

“While they’re concerned about many things, one of the things they’d really like someone to worry about basic services [and] to improve public safety and schools,” he says. “It’s not just fix the potholes and not worry about anything else.”

The aide worked on A. Donald McEachin’s campaign for attorney general in 2001. He later served as campaign manager for McEachin during a run for the Virginia House of Delegates. Before working for Graziano, he held a position at the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

Grimes would face School Board member Kristen Larson in the race, and perhaps others. The deadline to file to run is June 14.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story stated that Grimes managed McEachin's run for attorney general. He worked for the campaign but not as a manager. We apologize for the error.

Friday, April 22, 2016

City of Richmond Struggling to Catch Up on Overdue Medicaid Applications

Backlog across Virginia has resulted in millions of dollars of waste.

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 10:20 AM

Richmond’s Department of Social Services is scaling a mountain of paperwork to process overdue eligibility applications for Medicaid.

The effort is needed to tackle millions of dollars in waste paid to ineligible recipients in Richmond, one of the localities in Virginia where backlogs of paperwork are causing problems.

A state report released last year found that the state and federal governments paid out anywhere from $21 million to $38 million in incorrectly allocated benefits to Virginians because of lapsed eligibility applications in 2014. That number is estimated to have grown in 2015 because the number of late renewals more than doubled to more than 87,000 that March.

Administration of the state's medicaid program cost $8 billion in state and federal funds in 2014.

Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that Richmond was one of six localities in which half of the late renewals were concentrated. In October 2014, the city’s backlog was more than 27,000, which was reduced to about 4,400 as of last month, according to the city’s Social Services Department.

Federal guidelines require that eligibility applications be reviewed for renewal every 12 months. When renewals for those who are no longer eligible for Medicaid are late, the result is excess spending. For recipients with unchanged statuses, the report found that late renewals may delay access to care.

Shunda Giles, head of the city department, says that “there was no gap in services” for its clients because of late renewals.

The report cites factors that burden both the state’s Social Services Department and those of localities, such as an influx in applications under the Affordable Care Act and federal policy changes for evaluating financial eligibility.

Virginia had an 80 percent increase in new Medicaid applications between October 2013 and September 2014, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. A new case management-system for determining eligibility was implemented in 2013 and many local departments have fewer state-funded workers.

To fix the problem, the state is allocating more money to localities to hasten renewal. This month, Richmond City Council is scheduled to formally accept $333,025 toward overtime pay for social services staff to process the applications. Giles says that the department currently has seven dedicated full-time and two temporary full-time staffers who work overtime to process the applications.

But that extra money is expected to run out by the end of May, which means that those seven employees must deal with the backlog within a 40-hour work week. Giles says that the two temporary employees are funded through July.

Giles also says that the department is hindered by the loss of $1.3 million in city funding for 21 vacancies in the benefits division of her department this fiscal year. These positions are more than 84 percent funded by the state.

Social Services isn’t the only city office hit by reductions this fiscal year. The city shifted $9 million in vacancy funding for city administration to schools, which officials say has hurt services.

Republican legislators cited the report’s findings on flaws in the Medicaid system as reasons to not expand the program’s eligibility under the Affordable Care Act. Last year, Democrats countered that the General Assembly didn’t help solve the problem when it cut $4 million from a main state processing office, which led to more delays.

The report, which also found issues with fully detailing income and asset information for Medicaid recipients, is available here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Chris Hilbert Decides Against Richmond Mayoral Run

City councilman will run for re-elelction to his North Side seat.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 11:22 AM

Chris Hilbert, who publicly considered running for mayor, has announced that he will instead be seeking re-election to his North Side council seat.

Hilbert’s move came in a Twitter announcement the night before Levar Stoney made his entrance to the mayoral race.

Hilbert was one of a dozen potential candidates who attended a mayoral forum held by former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

A statement from Hilbert read that he considered the city’s needs, his talents, his family and a potentially high turnover for Council seats, in making his decision.

“I have decided that I will be seeking re-election as the City Council Representative of the Northside 3rd District. Next January, the City will have at least 4 new council persons and a new Mayor,” Hilbert wrote in a statement. “It is critical that we have someone with proven leadership experience on the next council. These are serious times that call for serious people and on the job training will not do.”

Council members Kathy Graziano and Charles Samuels aren’t seeking re-election, while Jon Baliles and Michelle Mosby have announced their bids for mayor.

Holdout Candidate Levar Stoney Joins Crowded Race for Richmond Mayor

Candidate resigned as Virginia's secretary of the commonwealth last week.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2016 at 10:31 AM

Kevar Stoney enters the Richmond mayoral race today, saying in a statement: "We need a leader with new ideas, a new approach, and new energy -- for a new Richmond." - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Kevar Stoney enters the Richmond mayoral race today, saying in a statement: "We need a leader with new ideas, a new approach, and new energy -- for a new Richmond."

Levar Stoney has officially jumped into the fray in the race for mayor. Stoney is in the North Side near Brookland Park now, gathering petition signatures and knocking on doors. Stoney held off on the announcement until he resigned from his post as secretary of the commonwealth last week.

The political operative, who has managed a number of Democratic campaigns throughout Virginia, has the advantage of state networking and fundraising ties. One made an appearance today: His campaign press secretary, Matt Corridoni, who worked for the presidential campaign of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

"I am running for mayor of Richmond because our city is on the rise, but we find ourselves at a crossroads,” he said in a statement from his campaign. “We cannot afford to have more of the same in City Hall. We need a new leader who will harness our momentum. We need a leader with new ideas, a new approach, and new energy -- for a new Richmond."

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