Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The State Senate & Stay Tuned for Healthcare News!


November 15, 2011

Dear Fellow Virginians,

It's been a week since the Virginia elections.  The House of Delegates picked up 7 new Republican seats - running downhill, while the State Senate picked up two more Republican seats - running uphill.

Downhill? Uphill? What gives?


The House Republicans drew the House lines and the Senate Democrats drew the Senate lines, and the House Republicans had a deal with the Senate Dems not to touch each other's lines.  Thus, it was a lot easier for the GOP to pick up seats in the House (downhill) and a lot tougher for the GOP to pick up seats in the Senate (uphill).

I have been slow to put out an assessment of the election, other than to say it's good news, because a fuller understanding of how things are going to go for the next two years really awaits the results of the organization of the Senate Republican Caucus and the Senate itself.

It will be important to see how the conservatives are treated in the Senate GOP Caucus.  I.e., what chairmanships and caucus leadership positions will conservatives have?  What committee slots?  Whether this all gets settled cooperatively will play a significant role in how productive the GOP can be in the Senate for the next few years.

I expect that most, but not all, of the Senate committees will be 8-7 Republican.  There will probably be a committee or two that have Democratic majorities, as I expect there will be an attempt to keep the overall number of committee slots close to evenly divided. I.e., close to 75-75 total split.

There are 10 committees x 15 Senators/committee = 150 total committee slots.  Since they probably won't be exactly evenly decided, it will probably be a split near 78-72 or 80-70... something in that range.

At 22-18 Democrat control, the split was 86 Democrat and 64 Republican.

Meanwhile, on the House side, the GOP is at its all-time high: 67 seats plus one independent (Lacey Putney) that caucuses with the GOP.  This is a majority for the forseeable future.

So, what's next on the election front in state politics?

My prediction (pure speculation here) is that Senator Chuck Colgan will retire next year in an attempt to have his seat go Democratic in his absence by relying on the Presidential-year turnout - especially in the Eastern end of his district. Sen. Colgan's district includes part of Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.  The Eastern end of the district is in Dale City, which votes more Democratic than the rest of the district.  It will be important for us to win that race, but it will seem like small potatoes if it's on the ballot at the same time as the Presidential election!

Totally separately, the Florida healthcare case was taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, so we know the individual mandate will be decided by June 2012.  Virginia's case is in a conference with the Justices next Tuesday, November 22nd, so we'll have to see what comes out of that conference.  After I get a chance to digest what the Supremes have done, I'll let you know.


Ken Cuccinelli, II
Attorney General of Virginia

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