Category Archives: Virginia Politics

Former Lt. Gov. John Hager Honored by Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership

Photo courtesy of Del. Richard Anderson.

Former Lieutenant Governor John Hager. Photo courtesy of UVa Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.

The University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership dedicated its Spring Gala earlier this month to honoring former Lieutenant Governor John Hager for his services to Sorensen and to the Commonwealth. The Gala, an annual fundraiser dinner held in Richmond that brought in Sorensen alumni and friends, also included a silent auction and a jazz band.

John Hager, who has worked closely with Sorensen and is the immediate past Chairman of the Sorensen Institute Statewide Advisory Board, is a pillar in the ranks of Virginia Republicans and a supporter of the party for decades who served as Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth from 1998-2002 during Governor Jim Gilmore’s administration.  Throughout the years, John Hager was Director of Homeland Security for Virginia, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, and served on numerous other boards and organizations. He also served as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services from 2004-07, nominated by President George W. Bush in the years before Hager’s son, Henry, met and married the president’s daughter, Jenna, in 2008.

During the program that included remarks from notable leaders, the Lieutenant Governor was presented with an award that was inscribed with the Sorensen Institute logo and the following words:

John H. Hager

In recognition

of extraordinary service to the

Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership

and to the Commonwealth of Virginia

April 3, 2017

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Republican John Adams Seasoned and Ready For November

Look out, Mark Herring … there’s a new guy in town, and he has a name every American should recognize.

Republican John Adams is coming on strong in his campaign for Virginia Attorney General, and he has the “it” factor that political types are always looking for in a candidate: Qualified, good looks, beautiful all-American family that includes a supportive wife and four sons, VMI grad, UVa Law School, and military veteran, clerked in D.C., and hometown boy who never forgot his roots and eventually moved back home ready to serve Virginia. Indeed, on his website he says, “I am a Virginian, not a politician.”

And, yes, he is related to that John Adams.

For Richmonders who remember Dr. Theodore F. Adams, the longtime, very well-known pastor at Richmond’s First Baptist Church … well, he was John’s grandfather. John Adams’ roots go deep in the Richmond community. He practices at McGuireWoods where he leads the firm’s Government Investigations department, managing more than fifty lawyers worldwide. He and his wife Lisa met in high school, and their four sons attend the same Chesterfield County public schools their parents did.

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Del. Dave Albo Will Not Seek Re-election to HOD-42

Brian Schoeneman (left) and Delegate Dave Albo.

Republican Delegate Dave Albo (HOD-42) announced to his colleagues Wednesday that, after 24 years serving the citizens of his district, he will not seek re-election to the Virginia General Assembly.

That was not the news expected out of the Veto Session taking place in Richmond. His announcement was also posted on his website along with  a highlight of his accomplishments. It’s a list that is worth a look.

As news of Albo’s retirement spread, political reporter Graham Moomaw with the Richmond Times-Dispatch noted the blue-leaning district created the potential for a Democratic pickup, and added:

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General Assembly Convenes Veto Session Wednesday

Virginia’s General Assembly will reconvene in Richmond on Wednesday, April 5, for this year’s veto session. Legislators will take a look at bills that were struck down by Governor Terry McAuliffe on his way to setting a record for the most vetoes ever by a Virginia governor.

An email from Delegate Rob Bell touched on some of his legislation including the Tebow Bill that McAuliffe vetoed for the third year in a row. Bell concluded:

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Elevate YRFV Sweeps Young Republican Elections

Saturday’s Young Republican For Virginia Convention (YRFV) in downtown Richmond saw a slate of YRFV candidates headed by Kishore Thota sweep the event, winning every position and picking up three seats on State Central Committee.

In a pull between the tea party Fellowship faction of the Republican Party of Virginia, and mainstream Republicans, this one was a win for mainstream Republicans.


A straw poll held during the convention saw Ed Gillespie for Governor with a convincing win (84 percent) followed by Corey Stewart (9 percent), and Frank Wagner (6 percent). In the Lieutenant Governor’s race it was Jill Vogel (46 percent), Bryce Reeves (28 percent), and Glenn Davis 24 percent).

The Republican primary will be held on June 13.

2017 GOP Primary Candidates Listed, Chuck Smith Fails to Make Ballot for AG

On Friday the Republican Party of Virginia released the list of 2017 Republican Primary candidates who qualified for the June 13 ballot.

Missing from the list was Virginia Beach attorney Chuck Smith who was vying to run for attorney general.

From the RPV press release:

Earlier today, RPV Chairman John Whitbeck sent a letter to the Virginia State Board of Elections certifying the following candidates met the legal requirements to appear on the June 13 Republican Primary Ballot.
They are (listed in order of office and pre-check qualification):
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George W. Bush To Attend Ed Gillespie Fundraiser

Ed Gillespie will have help on his gubernatorial campaign when a fundraiser to be held this weekend in Texas will be attended by his old boss, former President George W. Bush.

Gillespie, who was the state chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia in 2006, left to serve as the president’s top aide toward the end of the Bush administration. Gillespie also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

CNN reported:

“Ed will travel to Dallas this week to raise money for his campaign. He’s proud to have the support of President Bush and conservative leaders from across the commonwealth and the country,” said Abbi Sigler, a Gillespie spokeswoman. “This is a crucial campaign for Virginia Republicans, and Ed will work tirelessly to ensure we have the resources necessary to defeat Ralph Northam or Tom Perriello in November, and bring conservative leadership back to Richmond.”

The latest polls show Gillespie 25 points ahead of his nearest competitor, and ahead of both Democratic candidates in a hypothetical head-to-head contest.

Here are the numbers:

Head to Head Match ups:

  • Gillespie 40, Northam 39
  • Gillespie 39, Perriello 39
  • Northam 41, Stewart 33
  • Perriello 40, Stewart 34
  • Northam 40, Wagner 34
  • Perriello 38, Wagner 35

Among Independents:

  • Gillespie 40, Northam 30
  • Gillespie 40, Perriello 30

The Republican Primary is June 13 when Gillespie will be on the ballot with Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner. The winner will go on to compete in the general election against either Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, or former Congressman Tom Perriello.

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Ernesto Sampson Announces for HOD-72

Ernesto Sampson has officially announced as a candidate for the House of Delegates seat being vacated by Delegate Jimmie Massie:

Today, I’m announcing my candidacy for the House of Delegates representing the 72nd District.

Our nation was built by a band of young Virginians willing to sacrifice for a cause greater than themselves. As Virginians, this heritage inspires us to answer the call to serve. My mother, a United States Army veteran, instilled my earliest lessons in service while raising me on her own. Later, at VMI, the principles of honor, loyalty, hard work, and sacrifice formed the bedrock … on which I have built a family and career here in Henrico County.

I want my own daughters to know there is no higher calling than to serve your country and your community. For this reason, I am announcing to my friends and neighbors my intention to seek the Republican nomination for the Virginia House of Delegates.

My own life experiences have taught me that our shared conservative principles are the foundation for a strong Virginia, and especially for the least among us.

As your Delegate, my priority would bringing those principles to bear on the issues most important to our community—bringing good jobs and workforce development to our communities, making our streets safe for our families, and ensuring every Virginia child has the quality of education I would wish for my own kids.

Savon and I have been proud to call Jimmie Massie our Delegate and we wish him and his family the very best in this next chapter. It would be my honor to succeed this great public servant as your next Delegate from the 72nd District.

In the coming days, we will be hitting the streets to talk to our neighbors about the issues and to earn your vote.

Sampson has garnered the support of former 7th Congressional District Chairman Linwood Cobb who wrote, “You have my support Ernesto! Thanks for running.”

Sampson’s community involvements have included serving as a trustee at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), board member of Southside Community Development and Housing Authority, and board member of the Benedictine Society of Virginia Finance Advisory Board.

Eddie Whitlock, Henrico Republican Committee chairman, has also announced for HOD-72.


On this day in 1775 … ‘Give me liberty, or give me death’

[It has been 242 years since Virginia’s own Patrick Henry issued his “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond. Remembering that important part of Virginia and American history, I was reminded of 2007 and a special recognition presented from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Originally published March 11, 2007.]

In 1775, unrest in America was growing (see background history here). When Delegate Patrick Henry stood up to speak, his words rang out in St. John’s Church but it was the closing lines that most remembered, then and today.

“Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

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McAuliffe Vetoes Glenn Davis Bill That Would Have Protected Taxpayers

On Monday Delegate Glenn Davis, the pro-jobs Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, denounced Governor McAuliffe’s third consecutive veto of Davis’ bill to protect taxpayers from skyrocketing local taxes and keeping Virginia a right-to-work state.

“The Governor vetoed taxpayers once again by vetoing HB1753, which stops local governments from demanding union-level expenses from contractors. That drives up the costs of local projects and local taxpayers pay the price,” said Davis, who labor unions have always seen as a threat. In fact, labor unions have given over twice what the House Democratic Caucus has given to his liberal opponents since 2013 to try to defeat Davis, who has consistently prevailed.

“When government demands private companies pay union wages, you’re on your way to being a union state,” added Davis. “No wonder Virginia’s falling behind among the best states for business. We need to lower the cost of doing business and stop government from imposing greater costs.”

Virginia’s current Lt. Governor, Ralph Northam, also voted against this bill in the Senate in an effort to prevent its passage.

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Del. Jimmie Massie Will Not Seek Re-election in HOD-72

Facebook has certainly become the crossroads of political announcements recently, and Saturday was no exception. Republican Delegate Jimmie Massie (72 HOD)announced his decision not to run for reelection:

Representing my 72nd District constituents in the Virginia House of Delegates, for the past decade, has been the greatest honor of my professional life! I have always been immensely humbled by the trust and confidence my constituents have bestowed upon me to represent them in the oldest continually meeting legislature in the United States. Interacting with, helping, representing my constituents and all the persons I have met over the past 10 years from all walks of life has been the best part of the job.

After a tremendous amount of prayer, numerous consultations and deep thought I have decided not to seek re-election this year. This was a very tough decision!

I want to thank my constituents for their trust in me, my family for their sacrificial support of me, all the great Virginians I have met on the political and public policy trails, all the volunteers who have helped me, my wonderful colleagues in the House of Delegates (Republicans, Democrats and Independents) and the hardworking staff at the General Assembly. May God bless you all!

The news had barely begun making the rounds when a candidate announced his intention to seek the seat, again by Facebook. Attorney Edward Whitlock III, who serves as chairman of the Henrico County Republican Committee, wrote:

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Del. Farrell Won’t Seek Re-Election for HOD-56, Candidates Lining Up

In a surprise move, Republican Delegate Peter Farrell (HOD-56) announced last week he would not seek re-election to the House of Delegates district he has represented since 2011 when he won the GOP nomination against another candidate, Dave Brat, who quickly got over it and moved on to seek another GOP office.

Farrell, whose dad is powerful CEO Tom Farrell of Dominion Resources, was a rising star within the party but made the decision to step aside because of family and work considerations, writing on his Facebook page:

Many folks know that I have been deliberating whether to run again. After lots of prayer and consideration I will not be seeking re-election. Being a member of the House of Delegates has been the greatest honor of my professional life. Thank you to all who I have met along the way as the best part of the job is getting to meet a lot of great people from all walks of life. It was a tough decision, but with a young family and a growing business I cannot give the job as Delegate the time and energy that it deserves. Thank you to everyone who has given me the opportunity to be your representative and thank you to all the wonderful staff at the General Assembly who are some of the best public servants around!

Democrats have already fielded a candidate for the seat, Lizzie Drucker-Basch.
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McAuliffe Vetoes ‘Tebow Bill’ for Third Time


Really, Governor? Vetoed again?

On Monday Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe again vetoed — for the third year in a row — Delegate Rob Bell’s “Tebow Bill” that would allow homeschooled students accessibility to public high school sports.

The governor has, it would appear, capitulated once again to the high school sports league and teachers’ union even though homeschool parents pay every tax dollar as parents with public school students.

Florida has had its own version of the Tebow Bill for over 20 years … 29 states in all allow access to their sports programs for homeschooled students.

This was the twelfth year Bell carried the bill to the General Assembly, and in 2015, 2016, and 2017, it passed both the House and the Senate only to be shot down by McAuliffe.

So Rob Bell can fold up shop for another year, and Virginia homeschoolers can only hope he is willing to carry the bill yet a thirteenth time. There’s an election before next year, and McAuliffe will no longer be sitting in the governor’s office.
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For Bob McDonnell, Life Is Sweeter After Walking Through Fire


Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA 6th) and former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. February 11, 2017.

bob-mcdonnell-16We gathered for a joyous party at Dan and Trixie Averill’s house with friend to all, Bob McDonnell. Everyone there had some part in his political life over the years. It was the first opportunity we all had been together at the same time since the governor, who never stopped maintaining his innocence, was vindicated when he was cleared of his legal case with the federal government.

trixie-averill-1I’ve got to admit, he had more faith and trust in the justice system than I did but he was, indeed, vindicated. On June 27, 2016, the United States Supreme Court made a rare unanimous decision to vacate Governor McDonnell’s conviction. On September 8, 2016, the U.S. Government announced it was asking the court to dismiss the case.

trixie-averill-3It was a long ordeal and extremely wearing on the entire McDonnell family, and left them $10 million in debt for legal expenses. It is unbelievable that the federal government can come in and cause American citizens to incur that kind of debt, especially for charges that are proven to be false. Bob has walked through fire, but a weight has been lifted from his shoulders and his spirits and pep in his step have returned. He is returning to the Bob McDonnell we all knew throughout the years.

trixie-averill-4So it was a night to rejoice with friends, and relax, and say thank you. He and Trixie have worked together for 30 years as he worked his way from Delegate in the House to Attorney General to Governor, and he led us the entire way. She never lost faith in him. He was our leader to rally around, and many feel that may have something to do with the federal government going after him.

trixie-averill-7We drank Dan’s Hurricanes — a throwback to the New Orleans background for he and Trixie — and enjoyed his chili and other goodies. Congressman Goodlatte had just returned to Roanoke so he and Maryellen joined us as well as Delegate Chris Head. It was a night to celebrate in Roanoke.



Many thanks to Dan and Trixie for the hospitality, and to Bob for all his service to the citizens of Virginia and the nation from his years in the military and as a public servant. When he swept into office in 2009 with Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli — an all-Republican ticket that won — Virginia Republicans were riding high. It was the last time.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Glenn Davis Takes Lt. Governor Race to Shenandoah Valley

glenn-davis-11On Wednesday night, the sheer number of vehicles parked outside the meet-and-greet location was the first clue for Delegate Glenn Davis, who is vying for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, that a huge crowd was inside.

Smiling as he walked in the front door to a packed venue, Davis found himself wading through a standing-room only crowd of nearly a hundred Valley residents (see video). Reaching out to shake hands, he listened to comments and hugged supporters who eagerly leaned in for a few words. “Thank you,” he said repeatedly, clearly grateful and maybe a little surprised at the overwhelming turnout on a cold winter night in February in this quiet corner of western Virginia.

They had turned out to meet the 42-year-old candidate who had dashed out of Richmond as soon as the day’s General Assembly session ended and boarded “Mello Yellow,” his traveling RV, arriving a few minutes later than anticipated because of a busy session that lasted longer than expected. His smile broadened as an excitement radiated from the crowd that filled the entire downstairs of Anne and Scott Seaton’s home. The living room was full. The sitting room was full. The kitchen, dining, and family rooms were crammed with a sea of faces.

Davis, a self-made businessman who thrives on the techie side of commerce, and who served in his youth as then-Delegate Bob McDonnell’s legislative aide, made his way to the window-lined alcove behind the dining table filled with appetizers. From the framed niche with children’s pictures taped to the panes, he spoke to the hushed room about his background growing up in an Italian family where he learned his strict work ethic, and his reasons for running (see video). It was not, he said, for the title, the glory, or the power. It was for what he felt he could contribute and give back to Virginia.

His remarks were vintage Glenn Davis — part businessman, part technology junkie, part entrepreneur … animated and friendly yet direct, with his thoughts pouring out in a rush of words as he described growing the economy and creating jobs, issues that encourage him to continually think outside the box. He is a problem solver, and you get the sense he actually enjoys the challenge of searching for answers to demanding issues.

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