The news broke on April Fools' Day, making Virginians feel we were the victims of a bad joke: Dominion Power announced it had bought six California solar projects, for a total capacity of 139 megawatts (MW). "This investment is another important step forward for Dominion as we expand our renewable energy portfolio," said Dominion Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Farrell II. "These projects fit well within our portfolio of regulated and long-term contracted assets," which also include 41 MW of solar in Georgia, Connecticut and Indiana.
Don't get excited, Virginia: this solar investor is not Dominion Virginia Power but Dominion Resources, the parent company. You can be sure executives will take every opportunity to brag about the company's stake in the national solar market, but none of this power will reach us here in the Commonwealth.
Here, Dominion owns a grand total of one solar array at a university, all of 132 kilowatts, and a 500-kilowatt array on an industrial building. That brings the grand total to about 70 houses' worth, if the owners don't leave the lights on too much. Dominion is supposed to be developing a total of 30 MW of solar under a law passed in 2012, but the glacial pace of deployment is discouraging. Oh, and neither of its first two projects employed Virginia solar companies, further minimizing their impact in the state.
Why isn't Dominion investing in Virginia? "The cost of large solar projects such as this are still too high for a regulated market in Virginia," Dominion spokesman Dan Genest told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
I was playing with numbers in the 8th CD Democratic primary, and came up with a couple scenarios for final results that seem plausible to me. Both scenarios assume that Fairfax County plus Falls Church will make up 42% of the vote; Arlington County 36% of the vote; and Alexandria 22% of the vote. In Scenario 1 (click on image to "embiggen"), Don Beyer wins Fairfax/Falls Church 48%-20%-17% over Patrick Hope and Adam Ebbin, respectively; Ebbin wins Alexandria 23% over Beyer, Lavern Chatman and Bill Euille at 20% each; and Hope wins Arlington with 45% of the vote over Beyer with 32% and Ebbin with 11%.
In Scenario 2 (click on image to "embiggen"), Beyer wins Fairfax/Falls Church with 41%, while Hope and Ebbin tie at 23%; Ebbin wins Alexandria with 23% over Beyer, Chatman and Euille at 20% each; and Hope wins Arlington with 35% over Beyer (30%) and Ebbin (25%). This is basically the "Ebbin's Being Underestimated Scenario." In this scenario, Ebbin surges in Arlington, going from 11% in Scenario 1 to 25% in Scenario 2, and cutting into Hope's Arlington share (goes down from 45% to 35%). I don't think it's highly likely that will happen, but it's possible. Plus, I'm never going to underestimate Adam Ebbin, having done that once before (in his Senate primary against Rob Krupicka and Libby Garvey), which Ebbin won in come-from-behind fashion.
As it looks to me right now, in both scenarios, Don Beyer would win the election. For Patrick Hope to win, he'd have to significantly increase his share of Fairfax County/Falls Church. In Scenario 2, for Adam Ebbin to win, he'd have to really eat into Hope's share of Arlington County, while increasing his Fairfax/Falls Church share.
As for the other candidates, let's just say that in playing around with the numbers - which are based on whatever information I've been able to glean from the various campaigns, FEC reports, etc., plus discussions with knowledgeable Dems - I'm not seeing paths to victory for them. The problem for the Alexandria candidates (with the exception of Don Beyer, who really isn't an Alexandria candidate per se; even though he lives in Old Town now, he has a much wider profile for a variety of reasons, such as that he was LG for two terms and ran for Governor), is that there are so many of them, meaning they cannibalize each others' support in Alexandria, plus they don't have much name ID outside of Alexandria, and most don't have the financial resources to gain that name ID over the next 7 weeks.
Note that these are nothing more than my best guesses at the moment, that a LOT can change, and that I could be wildly wrong. I'd love to hear your (substantive) responses, based on your own analysis of the numbers and how the election might play out. Thanks.
P.S. It's worth noting that in the 2013 Democratic LG and AG primaries, Arlington accounted for 39.5% of the vote, Alexandria for 24.8%, and Fairfax/Falls Church for 35.7%. In my scenarios, Arlington is 3.5 points lower, Alexandria 2.8 points lower, and Fairfax/Falls Church 6.3 points higher. If the shares are closer to the 2013 primary, that would tend to help Patrick Hope and hurt Don Beyer. We'll see...
Richmond, VA - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today improvements to Virginia's rights restoration process, including removing drug offenses from the list of crimes that are subject to a waiting period before an individual can apply to have their rights restored and reducing that waiting period from five years to three years. The administration will also provide a definitive list
of offenses that require a waiting period.
"We are very happy to see Governor McAuliffe expand upon the automatic rights restoration process that was put in place last year," stated Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of Virginia New Majority. "We believe that once an individual has served their time and fully paid their debt to society, they should have their civil rights restored without any additional burdens or punishments. The changes announced today are great steps forward to more efficiently re-enfranchise these individuals and sends a message that citizens who want a second chance are welcome as full members of our communities."
While today's announcement represents continued progress forward, Virginia still needs a more permanent solution. "We look forward to continuing to work with Governor McAuliffe and members of the General Assembly to achieve legislative action to automatically restore the civil rights for all citizens who have served their time," added Nguyen.
And that's not even counting the millions of Americans who have gained coverage through expansion of Medicaid (not here in Virginia, due to Republicans' politically-driven idiocy and viciousness), the hundreds of millions of Americans who now have more healthcare benefits and protections (e.g., no exclusions for preexisting conditions), the fact that healthcare costs are rising more slowly under the Affordable Care Act, etc., etc.
The bottom line, according to President Obama, is that "this thing is working." That's why Obama (and a lot of other people) finds it "strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been; they can't bring themselves to admit hat the Affordable Care Act is working." Thus, Republicans said: "nobody would sign up; they were wrong about that. They said it would be unaffordable for the country; they were wrong about that. They were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is working when they have no alternative answer for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who'd be denied coverage again or every woman who'd be charged more for just being a woman again."
Republicans: wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong some more. Sensing a pattern here? Meanwhile, let's repeat for emphasis: the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," is working. And that's in SPITE of relentless Republican efforts to try to sabotage it, slow it down, make it less effective than it could be, you name it. Fortunately for the country, Republicans don't control the White House or the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately for the country, they DO have the power to do quite a bit of damage. Which is about the only thing they're good at, by the way. Remind me again: why does ANYONE vote for people who want Americans to go backwards and be worse off?
An online petition hosted by the American Tradition Institute opposing cap and trade makes the following assertions about climate change: 
"... the claims of carbon-driven anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are unproven and are, in fact, contested by over 31,000 scientists..."
"... global temperatures have not risen since 2000 and data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration demonstrates that the earth has actually been cooling for the last 4 years..."
One of the leaders of ATI is one David Schnare, "a Virginia attorney" who was "involved in the ATI legal action seeking to let him and Horner review thousands of climatologist Michael Mann's University of Virginia emails, including emails deemed exempt from FOIA." (another one who was involved was none other than our friend, the bat****-crazy "Sideshow Bob" Marshall).
Among other things, Schnare has stated that environmental activists are "very sick people" who "quietly rejoice over the potential of millions (billions?) of starving people;" and that "the Scandinavian moose emits 2,100 kg of methane a year, equivalent to the green house gases emitted by an automobile trip of 13,000 km," so "Thank goodness hunters shoot 35,000 of them each year." Yeah, that's the calibre of "argument" we're dealing with here.
It might not be so insidious if ATI were just an isolated bunch of extremists. Instead, unfortunately, they are part of a massive, well-funded, not to mention evil effort to harass climate scientists, waste their time and prevent them from doing their urgently important work, and deny/minimize climate science in service of their fossil fuel industry masters. Not surprisingly, another big-time fossil fool, Ken Cuccinelli, also was a big player in all this, as were numerous right-wing publications and organizations, a few of which Mann is suing for defamation (if he wins, which is quite likely, I sincerely hope he sues a bunch more of them).
Bottom line: we should all celebrate, along with Michael Mann, this "victory for science, public university faculty, and academic freedom." Hopefully, as Mann writes, this ruling "can serve as a precedent in other states confronting this same assault on public universities and their faculty." I'd add the hope that this ruling, along with Mann's likely victory in his defamation case, make these anti-science, anti-environment, fossil fuel tools think twice before they try anything like this again. More importantly, if we can clear out all the trolls in our path, we need to make rapid progress in combating climate change, first and foremost via a rapid transition off of fossil fuels and into a clean energy economy.
This year's version of the annual event just outside of Wakefield accomplished little. Though there was a hint of the lunacy usually present at Shad Planking; what there wasn't was much of a crowd nor interest. The biggest symbol of the times was the state-maintained road to the event.
There really wasn't much in the way of genuine politics going on. It was more of an alumni meeting than a political rally; more of a gathering of cronies practicing the Virginia Way interrupted a couple of times by a couple of hecklers. It seems that the last few seasons of rowdies have driven away the attendees who used to come show some civil revelry on behalf of their candidates. And now, with no one in any race to rally around, the most demonstrative types stayed home; and that would leave a big hole in what had become this Ruritan charity event attendance.
Additionally the candidates themselves, apparently led by the Republicans, declared a tacit truce on the sign war; they realized surrender was the better part of valor in that battle. There were a few signs along the road, but not the plastering to which we've become accustomed; maybe a dozen on 460 coming in from Richmond.
And then there was that road. We've discussed here the slow strangling that the McDonnell administration orchestrated during his four years in office in the name of balancing the budget. Well, now it is manifest here. What has been a well-maintained macadam rural route has deteriorated. In fact, the last half mile or more to the event parking area entrance and everything beyond is now feathered with gravel to cover the potholes. It really is symbolic of the treatment of Virginia's infrastructure, from schools and social programs to health care and public safety; not to mention the fraud perpetrated on the Virginia Retirement System when McDonnell announced that the unfunded obligations had been resolved.
There is more to discuss about what was less and that will come in a subsequent post. But if this level of enthusiasm is any indication of the turnout for this fall's election, the margin will come down to the grassroots get-out-the-vote effort. Problem is, for both sides, yesterday showed the grassroots really haven't been fertilized.
Ms. Comstock also supported legislation that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds. She backed a measure intended to outlaw abortion by granting individual rights to an embryo from the moment of conception. She voted to repeal a law limiting handgun purchases to one per month. And she opposes expanding Medicaid, which would provide health coverage for up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians.
Being a sycophant to Mr. Limbaugh is bad enough; it's even worse when the sycophancy is based on a fabrication...
Ms. Comstock's past primary votes are her business. But by jockeying to appeal to the most extreme fringe of the electorate, Republicans run the risk of alienating centrist, level-headed and educated voters in the 10th District.
Of course, Trump is just the latest in a long line of extremists, warmongers, bigots, and right-wing hate radio hosts to endorse Comstock. The question is, will 10th CD voters lurch to the right, as the Post warned this morning, or will it elect the sane, sensible, capable John Foust in November? Is this like THE easiest rhetorical question ever? LOL
U.S. Senate Sen. Mark Warner: $4,528,330 in receipts, $7,161,950 cash on hand.
Ed Gillespie: $2.2 million in receipts according to press reports.
2nd CD Rep. Scott Rigell: $994,478 in receipts, $665,310 cash on hand (also $549,500 in debt)
Suzanne Patrick: $301,587 in receipts, $195,832 cash on hand.
8th CD Dems Don Beyer: $672,104 in receipts, $449,637 cash on hand.
Bruce Shuttleworth: $57,188 in receipts, MINUS $23,258 cash on hand. The initial report on the FEC website was incorrect. The Shuttleworth campaign has submitted an amended report indicating receipts of $332,188 (including $275,000 in loans to himself), and cash on hand of $252,276.
Mark Levine: $322,808 in receipts (of which $250,000 was a loan to himself), $299,278 cash on hand.
Lavern Chatman: $298,697 in receipts (including a $20,000 loan and a $100,000 donation to herself), $213,468 cash on hand.
Bill Euille: $214,572 in receipts, $173,509 cash on hand.
Patrick Hope: $186,534 in receipts (including a $10,000 loan to himself), $138,733 cash on hand
Adam Ebbin: $178,800 in receipts, $114,879 cash on hand.
Charniele Herring: $121,315 in receipts, $89,675 cash on hand
Derek Hyra: $26,049 in receipts, $14,470 cash on hand.
P.S. Mark Sickles, who withdrew from the race, ended with $15,360 cash on hand. Alfonso Lopez, who also withdrew from the race, had receipts of $79,904 (including an $8,000 loan to himself) and cash on hand of $63,630.
10th CD John Foust: $775,761 in receipts (including $250,000 loaned to himself), $626,544 cash on hand
Barbara Comstock: $761,354 in receipts (including $93,632 apparently loaned to herself), $520,030 cash on hand.
Howard Lind: $140,838 in receipts (including an apparent $120,000 loan to himself), $38,313 cash on hand.
Robert Wasinger: $82,742 in receipts, $9,302 cash on hand.
Bob Marshall: $55,240 in receipts, $40,862 cash on hand.
The shad are running and Virginia politicians will swim with them today. Last year Democratic candidates gave the Wakefield Ruritan event a cold shoulder. The event's organizers made an insincere attempt to dampen the tea party spirit, discouraging stars and bars. This is a charity event, they cried, after all.
This year Virginia's senior Senator Mark Warner will deliver the keynote and his almost certain Republican opponent will make one of his rare public appearances. It will be informative seeing if Team Warner laid the groundwork for a more civil and less homogeneous atmosphere than this annual carnival for reactionaries nourishes. Earlier this year, they stumbled out of the block when, despite refusing to commit to Democratic events closer in than 60 days, they accepted the Shad Planking appearance well in advance. Maybe, tied to an old playbook, they failed to notice that last year's Democratic statewide success demonstrated the irrelevance of the event. One would hope that the acceptance came with some assurance that the event would be more civil, sane, and inclusive.
The impact of the "traditional" sign war has diminished considerably since the Kaine and Webb surprises during the past decade. When this became a war of paid "volunteers" it was no longer a genuine indicator of anything more than a campaign bankroll. And if the intent is to make this event relevant, where is the outreach from the Ruritan Club or encouragement from more progressive constituents to draw in displays and support from the Democratic Party, the NAACP, or the LGBT community?
So what will today provide? Boney fish, cold beer, and the themes that Senator Warner will employ to shore up and broaden his own constituency, an impressive coalition of common interests. This could also provide the national bellwether for the Democratic strategy that will be used to counter this year's onslaught by Republican reactionaries against the Affordable Care Act. There couldn't be a more promising petri dish.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, April 16. Also check out Krystal Ball as she rips violent extremist Cliven Bundy, his gang of thugs, and the right wingnuts who back him as a so-called "patriot" (which he is absolutely NOT!).
Here's an excellent live version of the Don Beyer "blue cup song," from earlier this evening in Arlington. Around 200 people attended the event with Howard Dean; more video to come - including speeches by Beyer and Dean - when it uploads to YouTube. Meanwhile, enjoy the song!
What issue is your issue? What drives your passion for politics?
I’m a relatively new transplant to the Northern Virginia community, but I understood from the start how fortunate this place is to be filled with such strongly progressive voices. Battling climate change, expanding access to affordable health care, pushing for compassionate immigration reform – the residents of Virginia’s 8th congressional district are guided by staunchly progressive values.
But as Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard often says – while each of these issues is deeply important, they cannot be the first issue. The first issue is tackling the systemic corruption that has engulfed the American political system. Special interests and the power of money in our political system have rewritten the rules.
I have been following the race to succeed Jim Moran with interest. This is a field of remarkably qualified candidates, each ready to profess their progressive credentials. But from the very start, I have been shocked at how rarely political reform issues have been raised.
Virginia needs to be ground zero of this debate. The values instilled in the 8th district bleed into the perspective of the greater Washington community. On a state-wide level, the desire for real ethics and campaign reform are on the rise. In many respects, this state will come to represent the challenges in framing these issues across the nation leading up to the midterm elections this year.
Let’s stand up and make these reform issues our issues. Let’s actively shape the debate.
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