Supreme Court seems sympathetic to former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27:  Former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (2nd R) speaks to members of the media in front of the U.S. Supreme Court April 27, 2016 in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court heard the corruption appeal from McDonnell, who and his wife were convicted of accepting more than $175,000 of gifts and favors from businessman Jonnie Williams, who wanted their help to promote his dietary supplement product called Anatabloc.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Bob McDonnell pleads his case | Getty Images


The Supreme Court heard former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s appeal of his sentence on political corruption charges Wednesday, and appears to be leaning in his favor. McDonnell was convicted and sentenced to two years for accepting gifts from a businessman, including a $20,000 Fifth Avenue shopping spree, more than $5,000 for a monogrammed Rolex and the use of a convertible Ferrari, a custom-made golf bag, and a sizable personal loan. The questions from the justices raised concerns that “the government’s concept of bribery was so broad as to criminalize many routine actions by public officials.”

After the hourlong argument, the last one for the current Supreme Court term, the question was less whether Mr. McDonnell’s conviction would survive, but whether the court would provide federal prosecutors a road map for revising its charges that could plausibly allow for a retrial. […]Justice Stephen Breyer said the government’s standard for criminal corruption was so vague that political figures wouldn’t know what conduct crosses the line and that federal prosecutors would become the ultimate arbiters of right and wrong through wide discretion over whom and what to charge.

He and other justices repeatedly sought a “limiting principle” to make sharper the distinction between permissible and illegal conduct in exchange for gifts or donations. […]

Justice Elena Kagan suggested the government had erred in the way it framed its charges, listing five separate things Mr. McDonnell did to help Mr. Williams as official acts. Instead, she suggested that there was one official action Mr. Williams sought, the Anatabloc study by state university researchers, and that the individual phone calls or meetings Mr. McDonnell arranged were better understood as evidence of the crime.


There’s widespread concern that the conviction has a chilling effect on how elected officials work with lobbyists and campaign donors. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that thousands of dollars, Rolexes, golf bags, and use of a Ferrari are all that commonplace for elected officials—but nonetheless, they’re kind of freaking out. It appears the court will ease their minds, at least a little.

Joan McCarter

10 things you need to know today: January 7, 2015

An injured person is evacuated in Paris.
An injured person is evacuated in Paris |(AP Images/Thibault Camus)

The Week

Gunmen kill 12 at French satirical magazine, Boehner keeps his job as House speaker, and more

1. Gunmen kill 12 at French satirical magazine
Twelve people were killed and 10 wounded by two gunmen who entered the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and opened fire, police said Wednesday. The attackers reportedly escaped in two vehicles after the shooting. Charlie Hebdo‘s offices were firebombed in 2011 after it published cartoons depicting Islam’s Prophet Mohammad on its cover. [Time, Reuters]


2. Boehner keeps his job as House speaker
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) fought off challenges from two hardline conservatives on Tuesday tohold onto his job as speaker of the House for a third term. Two dozen Republicans voted against Boehner, a rare upwelling of dissent compared to other such votes in recent years. The tweak came on the day Republicans assumed control of both houses of Congress for the first time in eight years after taking back the Senate in last year’s midterms. [The New York Times]


3. Former Virginia governor McDonnell sentenced to two years in prison
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell (R) to two years in prison for using his office to help a dietary-supplement tycoon in exchange for $177,000 in loans and gifts. Prosecutors initially pushed for McDonnell to serve more than a decade, but defense lawyers wanted him sentenced to community service rather than prison. McDonnell’s wife, Maureen, was also convicted, but she has yet to be sentenced. The judge ordered McDonnell to report to prison on Feb. 9. [The Washington Post]


4. White House threatens Keystone XL oil pipeline veto
The White House said Tuesday that President Obama would veto a bill introduced by Republicans in the Senate that would approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The proposal is the first piece of legislation introduced after Republicans officially took control of the Senate as the new Congress convened on Tuesday. All 54 GOP senators and six Democrats back the bill. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was “premature to evaluate the project before something as basic as the route of the pipeline has been determined.” [The Associated Press]


5. Divers confirm location of AirAsia jet’s tail
Indonesian authorities confirmed Wednesday that they had found part of the tail of AirAsia Flight 8501 at the bottom of the Java Sea. The country’s search-and-rescue agency, Bambang Soelistyo, said divers had managed to take pictures of the wreckage and would investigate further. The find could lead to the recovery of the plane’s flight data recorders, or black boxes, which are located in the tails of jetliners. So far, the bodies of 40 of the 162 people who were on the plane have been recovered. [The Wall Street Journal]


6. Car bombing kills 31 outside Yemeni police school
A car bomb blast killed 31 people and wounded 64 more outside a police college in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on Wednesday. “The situation is catastrophic,” a paramedic said. “We arrived to find bodies piled on top of each other.” The attack came less than a week after a suicide bombing south of the city. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has stepped up its bombings and shootings since Shiite Muslim Houthi militia seized the capital in September. [Reuters]


7. 220-year-old Boston time capsule opened
Boston Museum of Fine Arts conservators on Tuesday night opened a time capsule placed under the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House in 1795 by then-governor John Adams, and Paul Revere. The contents of the box were no secret, as they had been cleaned and carefully cataloged by workers who made emergency repairs to the building’s foundation in 1855. The box contained five newspapers, 23 coins dating as far back as 1652, and other artifacts. [The Boston Globe]


8. U.N. accepts Palestinians’ request to join the International Criminal Court
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said late Tuesday that he had accepted the documents Palestinian officials submitted ratifying the International Criminal Court, clearing the way for the Palestinians to join the war-crimes tribunal in April. That, in theory, would give Palestinian leaders the ability to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel, although Palestinians could be accused, too. The U.S. opposed the move, saying it would be hurt the chance of peace. [The Associated Press]


9. Kepler spots its 1,000th Earth-like planet
NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has detected its 1,000th potentially life-sustaining planet, and the latest finds include what appear to be the most Earth-like planets yet. Those worlds are called Kepler 438 b and Kepler 442 b. They are both orbiting within the habitable zones surrounding their stars, where the temperature would be just right for liquid water, and life. These finds, along with the detection of six other small exoplanets, were announced Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle. [Scientific American]


10. Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz, and Biggio elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame
Former ace pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, along with star hitter Craig Biggio. The three pitchers earned nine coveted Cy Young Awards among them, with Johnson leading the pack with five. Biggio had 3,060 hits in 20 seasons with the Houston Astros. Johnson, Martinez, and Smoltz all ended their careers in 2009, winning entry in their first year of eligibility. It was the first time in 60 years that four players were chosen in the same year. [The New York Times]

Under law signed by McDonnell, convicted felons lose pensions


Former Governor of Virginia and his wife: Bob and Maureen McDonnell | No attribution listed

Irony, thy name is Bob McDonnell…(ks)


The  verdicts in the federal corruption case against former state governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen could bring each decades in prison, though many say that is unlikely.

It was a historic day in the Commonwealth as the state’s 71st governor became the first to be convicted on felony charges. He joins just a handful of state governors to be convicted on felony charges, not all whom were incarcerated.

With the couples’ crimes being non-violent, with no prior record, and neither seen as a flight risk, they will return to federal court for sentencing on Jan. 6.

Throughout the trial, McDonnell and his wife arrived and left the courthouse separately in a display at the heart of their defense. Now they have a handful of holidays to share with their family before sentencing with federal judge Judge James Spencer.

Maureen has been staying in their Glen Allen home, separate from Bob, who has been staying with the family priest. It is not clear if the couple will return to the home now that the trial is over, but friends and family were gathered there the night the jury reached a verdict.

A family friend said the McDonnells have  received an “outpouring of support from well-wishers,” many of them who visited the house  after the verdict was read. The man added that family and friends of Bob and Maureen feel a lot of “sadness,” but they’re very appreciative for the support.

Former U.S. Attorney Chuck James says there is a possibility the couple may not wind up behind bars, though that is highly unlikely. Over the next few months the Bureau of Prisons well assess the couple and make their suggestions to the judge ahead of the sentencing date.

Neither individual has a prior criminal history, and will likely be designated for a  lowest security facility.

Lawyers for both McDonnells indicate they will appeal. Both Maureen and Bob entered not guilty pleas. Bob previously turned down a plea deal to accept one felony charge, with no criminal charges made against his wife.

Legal analyst Todd Stone said that Maureen is in a better position because she did not get on the stand, and she was not a public official.

While the couple may manage to avoid embarrassing headlines for the next four months, there could still be plenty of humiliation left ahead for the couple.

McDonnell will have his license to practice law removed once the Virginia State Bar receives notice of his felony convictions.

There is also chance that he could lose his pension, due to a law he signed into effect in 2011. The legislation states that retirement benefits are forfeited upon certain felony convictions.

This means that McDonnell could lose the pensions he earned while serving as an Army Reserves lieutenant colonel, Virginia Attorney General, and as a lawmaker in the House of Delegates.

Ironically when McDonnell served as governor, he restored the voting and other civil rights to more than 6,800 non-violent felons.

Evening News Headlines 9-4-2014 (New Feature)

Bob Mcdonnell | Mark Wilson via Getty Images

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Tough-Guy Pols Let Wives Take the Fall, Maureen McDonnell Edition

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.|Mark Wilson/Getty

The Daily Beast

Like so many politicians before him, ex-Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is blaming his wife. And though she may have signed off on the strategy, she doesn’t seem happy about it.

People are expected to protect the people they love, which is why spouses aren’t compelled to testify against each other. It’s called spousal privilege. But some politicians operate under a different set of rules—call it “Blame the wife”—and as a strategy, it’s on full display in the corruption trial of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

McDonnell has been accused of taking more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams in exchange for government assistance promoting a health food product made from tobacco. A coterie of aides and political consultants helped the McDonnells project the image of the perfect family: Governor, Boy Scout, former Redskins cheerleader mom, five children, values up the kazoo. Behind the scenes, it was more like the Home Shopping Network. Emails reveal Maureen McDonnell lobbying Williams for an inaugural dress, eventually spending $17,000 of his money on a shopping spree in New York to cover her inaugural wardrobe and sundry other events befitting the first lady of Virginia.

There was also a Rolex watch for the governor, plenty of pricey golf trips, top of the line golf clubs for their sons, and a $15,000 catering charge for their daughter’s wedding. “They did what they thought they could get away with,” says Larry Sabato, founder and director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “And they almost did. If the chef hadn’t been fired from the mansion, none of this would have come out.” The ex-chef, accused by Maureen McDonnell of “embezzling” food from the mansion, went to the FBI, triggering its investigation.

The governor wants the two-to one-male jury sitting in judgment in Richmond, Virgina, to believe he had nothing to do with any of this questionable activitythat he was busy working, and as he testified Friday and again Monday, his wife was a problem from Day 1, insecure about her new role and acting out like a harridan. He told the federal prosecutor on Monday that she eventually agreed to medication and mental-health counseling to curb her outbursts.

“The first spouse role is one of the most traditional roles out there,” says pollster Celinda Lake, who specializes in women and politics. “We make demands on these women we would never make of women in ordinary life. And any scandal that involves shopping gets covered more vividly.”

A political wife taking the heat for what are ultimately her husband’s transgressions is not a new phenomenon. Richard Nixon famously invoked wife Pat’s modest cloth coat in his Checkers speech in 1952 as dubious evidence that he had not taken improper campaign gifts. Hillary Clinton took the brunt of the blame for her husband’s failure to get health-care reform passed, and she was the primary target in the Whitewater and Travelgate scandals that plagued her husband’s White House.

“Political wives have been traditional scapegoats,” writes Myra MacPherson, author of the 1975 book The Power Lovers and this year’s The Scarlet Sisters, in an email. “Opponents accused Florence Harding of poisoning President Warren G. Harding, who died in office. During Watergate, Nixon and cronies accused Martha Mitchell of lying while ‘shooting off her mouth’ to the press when she was telling the truth…When bimbo eruptions occur, wives have often assumed the ‘Stand by your man’ position—Joan Kennedy, Lee Hart, and most noticeably Hillary Clinton, to name a few. Jeb Bush’s wife was able to ride out the torrent of publicity when she was fined for lying at customs after carting nearly $20,000 in jewelry and clothes back from France. Her husband, unlike female spouses, distanced himself. ‘She knew what she did was wrong,’ he said, ‘and she made a mistake.’”

Bush’s response in that 1999 incident was downright gallant and graceful compared to how Bob McDonnell is throwing his wife under the bus. The difference, of course, is the jail sentence that looms for both McDonnells if the jury doesn’t buy their soap operatic defense.

It’s important to realize that as all the abuse is heaped on McDonnell for the way he’s blown the whistle on his marriage and revealed his wife’s faults is that she and her lawyers are working with him and his lawyers in tandem as a defense team. In other words, she’s in on the deal to portray her in the most unflattering light. “I’ve had so many people say, ‘Gee, what a cad, chivalry is dead,’ If he had taken the rap for her, he would have had the admiration of some people,” says Sabato. “But if you’re facing jail time, you do what your attorneys tell you.”

Even so, aspects of this case are puzzling. Why didn’t McDonnell take the plea deal that was offered? He could have pleaded guilty to one felony count and shielded his wife and family from having to air their dirty laundry. The answer is likely because the felony charge wasn’t specified, and it would have come with some jail time, which he clearly wants to avoid. So he decided to go for broke with the risky strategy that is playing out in the courtroom, and in public opinion.

Another puzzle: Since governors in Virginia serve just a single four-year term, why couldn’t he do what every other Virginia governor has done, leave office in good standing and then cash in? McDonnell was poised to be the beneficiary of a bidding war among the biggest law firms. He easily would have earned the millions to support the lifestyle his wife wanted. That opportunity has been squandered, says Sabato: “It’s hard to see how either one of them has any public life after this, and I don’t mean running for office, I’m talking about just showing your face.”

Maureen McDonnell may have signed off on the legal strategy. But the strained look on her face as she enters the courtroom, and the reporting on how she and her estranged husband never exchange even so much as a glance, suggest she didn’t know how awful the trial would get—that whitewashing his behavior would mean blackening hers and turning them both into objects of ridicule, not

Gov. Ultrasound Gets Ultra Indicted As Bob McDonnell Is Hit With 14 Counts

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

Power corrupts…


On Tuesday afternoon, Bob McDonnell and his wife were indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from gifts they had accepted while McDonnell was in office. The former Republican Governor of Virginia, McDonnell just recently left office after serving his single term (Virginia only allows one term for a Governor.) The scandal had been plaguing McDonnell for months to the point that he was a detriment to Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign, his hand-picked successor.

Among the 14 counts that McDonnell and his wife are charged with are three counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of lying to a federal credit union and multiple counts of obtaining property under color of official right. The indictment states that McDonnell and his wife received at least $140,000 worth of gifts, which included a Rolex, expensive designer clothes and golf clubs, among other things.

Obviously, McDonnell denied any wrongdoing whatsoever. After the indictment came down, the former Governor had this to say:

“I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility. However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship.”

McDonnell has insisted that the gifts and ‘loans’ that he received from Johnnie Williams, the CEO of a pharmaceutical company, were only received as a friend, and that Williams received nothing in return for his generosity to the McDonnells. McDonnell has stated that he has repaid Mr. Williams all the money that Williams ‘lent’ to him, as well as gave him back the gifts.

Even if McDonnell can somehow avoid jail time or a guilty verdict, his political career is pretty much toast. At one time, he was looked at as a rising star in the Republican Party, as he was being groomed for a potential run at the Presidency. He easily won election in 2009 as Governor of Virginia when he defeated Creigh Deeds by 18 points. This was after serving as the Attorney General of Virginia.

However, things started getting sour for McDonnell even before the corruption allegations as, in 2012, he advocated for a measure that would require women who were seeking an abortion to submit to a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Many critics saw this as a way for conservatives to shame women if they chose to have an abortion. The bill was changed prior to passage to require an abdominal ultrasound be done prior to an abortion being performed. Regardless, it was still seen as both intrusive and unnecessary and McDonnell started to see his approval ratings plummet.

By the middle of 2013, McDonnell and his family were plagued by allegations of improper spending at the Governor’s mansion. McDonnell paid the state back thousands of dollars to try to put it away, but by that time, the bigger scandal was starting to brew, as the word was out that McDonnell was using his position to straight up accept gifts and money in return for government favors.

Bye bye, Bob. It was nice knowing you. (Not really.)

The 9 best sore-loser moments in politics

A fan wears a paper bag on his head during the Detroit Lions-New Orleans Saints NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008. New Orleans won 42-7 to drop Detroit to 0-15. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
A fan wears a paper bag on his head during the Detroit Lions-New Orleans Saints NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008. New Orleans won 42-7 to drop Detroit to 0-15. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Washington Post – Chris Cillizza

Ken Cuccinelli is declining to call and congratulate Terry McAuliffe on his win in Tuesday’s Virginia governor’s race.

Meanwhile, in the other governor’s race held that day, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) blamed her loss on an “onlslaught of betrayal” from her own political party.

But these two are hardly the first to take losing so hard. Here’s a look at some other notable sore-loser moments in recent political history.

Did we miss any? The comments section awaits, and we may re-visit this if Fix readers come up with a bunch of good ideas.

Steve Lonegan

As the GOP New Jersey Senate candidate conceded to Cory Booker in last month’s special election, his wife lovingly rubbed his back to comfort him. After she did it for a while, he decided that was enough, and promptly brushed her hand aside. No word on whether he slept on the couch that night.

Joe Lieberman

Lieberman, in his 2006 reelection campaign, lost the Democratic primary but, through a quirk in election law, was allowed to file as a third-party candidate under the newly created “Connecticut for Lieberman” party. Other states have laws that prevent such maneuvering, not coincidentally called “sore loser” laws.

Lieberman, of course, went on to retain his seat, so it’s hard to call him a “loser” at all.

Al Gore

Gore’s decision to press on with challenging the results of the 2000 presidential race eventually earned some detractors among his fellow Democrats and led Republicans to label the Gore-Lieberman ticket,  Sore-Loserman.

Of course, many Democrats still think they were robbed and that Gore was right to pursue the matter to the full extent of the law.

Bill Bolling

The Virginia lieutenant governor was none-too-happy that Cuccinelli decided to run for governor this year, believing it was his turn to grab the Republican nomination (after being leapfrogged by Bob McDonnell in 2009). And given the state party chose to nominate via convention rather than primary, the more moderate Bolling saw the writing on the wall.

Bolling said Cuccinelli had promised him he wouldn’t run and had manipulated the state party’s decision to use a convention. He also questioned Cuccinelli’s electability, praised McAuliffe’s work on a bipartisan transportation bill and publicly weighed an independent campaign that Republicans feared would torpedo Cuccinelli’s changes in the general election. He eventually opted against it.

Bill Clinton

After Barack Obama won the South Carolina primary in 2008, former president Bill Clinton appeared to try and downplay the victory by noting that Jesse Jackson had carried the state twice in the 1980s. The comment was roundly criticized as racially insensitive and for being dismissive of Jackson.

Anthony Weiner

After his embarrassing loss in this year’s New York mayoral primary, the former congressman exited with a one-finger salute to photographers snapping pictures of him in his car exiting his election night party.

We’re a family newspaper, so we won’t post the photo here, but feel free to click through and have a look.

Maotan Dalimbang Kasim

Behold, from just this week:

A candidate for chairman of a remote village in Maguindanao (Philippines) who was defeated in the barangay (village) elections last October 28 and his followers burned down a daycare center in their community on Monday night, the military said.

Captain Antonio Bulao, spokesperson of 602nd Brigade, said Maotan Dalimbang Kasim, who lost in his bid for the chairmanship of Barangay Nabundas in the Municipality of Datu Montawal, and his brother Tatoh led an undetermined number of followers in setting the center on fire.

Gary Smith

This 2012 New Mexico congressional candidate was arrested after allegedly slashing the tires of his primary opponent — and got caught doing it on video! The worst part: He wasn’t even close to defeating her, taking just 3 percent of the vote.

Richard Lugar

After losing to Richard Mourdock in his 2010 primary, the longtime senator pointedly refused to campaign for Mourdock and took issue with a mailer that said he supported the GOP nominee.

Of course, Lugar wound up being on the right side of history on this, as Mourdock wound up bungling the race.

Richard Nixon

Update 11:54 a.m.: As longtime political reporter Walter Shapiro notes, this list somehow excluded Richard Nixon’s “You won’t have Nixon to kick around any more.”

This egregious oversight needed to be corrected immediately, so we’re appending video of it here.

7 reasons why Terry McAuliffe is going to win

FILE - In these Oct. 10, 2013, file photos Virginia candidates for governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, talk during a forum at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va., prior to the November election. With polls indicating more public resentment toward Republicans than Democrats in the budget battle raging on Capitol Hill, federal work stoppage directly affecting thousands of Virginia residents has put Cuccinelli on the defensive, while giving McAuliffe an opening in a race that has been neck-and-neck for months. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
In these Oct. 10, 2013, file photos Virginia candidates for governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, talk during a forum at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va., prior to the November election. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

I don’t always follow Chris Cillizza’s column, but in this instance, I totally agree with him…

The Fix – Chris Cillizza

There are lots of reasons for McAuliffe’s expected victory — GovBeat’s Reid Wilson hits on a number of them, including the Democrat’s massive spending edge – but the new WaPo poll is chock full of data points that provide a roadmap for how the race got to this point. We combed through the poll — it’s like Christmas morning for us when a new poll comes out — and came up with seven reasons that McAuliffe is almost certainly going to be the next governor of the Commonwealth.

1. People don’t like Cuccinelli. Roughly six in ten likely voters (58 percent) have an unfavorable opinion of the state Attorney General including 43 percent who have a “strongly” unfavorable view of him.  In fact, more people are strongly unfavorable toward Cuccinelli than are either strongly  (17 percent) or somewhat (24 percent) favorable about him.  You almost never win races when you unfavorable ratings are so high and/or when the intensity behind those unfavorables is so strong.

2. People think Cuccinelli is too conservative. A majority (54 percent) of likely voters said that Cuccinelli’s views are “too conservative” for them while 36 percent said his stances were just about right. (Forty percent said McAuliffe’s views were too liberal while 50 percent said they were just about right.) When more than half of the electorate believes you are well outside of their political beliefs — to the right or left — it’s bad news.

3. Women, especially, think Cuccinelli isn’t their candidate. McAuliffe is beating Cuccinelli 58 percent to 34 percent among women voters in Virginia. (By way of comparison, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) beat Democrat Creigh Deeds by eight points among women in 2009.) Asked which candidate would do a better job handling “issues of special concern to women”, McAuliffe leads by 27 points. On which candidate would do a better job handling abortion, McAuliffe’s edge is 17 points.

4. Cuccinelli is losing the values fight.  Cuccinelli’s great strength in past races for state Senate and Attorney General was that even if voters didn’t agree with all of his issue stances, they believed he was a principled candidate who genuinely believed what he said. That reputation has taken a major hit in this race.  McAuliffe, whose reputation coming into this year was that he would say or do anything to get himself (or his preferred candidates) elected, has a nine-point lead over Cuccinelli on which candidate is “more honest and trustworthy”.  And, McAuliffe has an eight-point edge when voters are asked which candidate “more closely shares your values”.

5. The race is a referendum on Cuccinelli. Two-thirds of McAuliffe supporters say their vote is more against Cuccinelli than for the Democrat.  That number makes clear that the McAuliffe campaign has successfully turned this contest into a referendum on Cuccinelli and his views.

6. The federal government shutdown hurt Cuccinelli. Eighty two percent of likely voters disapprove of the government shutdown and a majority (51 percent) say that Republicans were mainly responsible for it. (Thirty percent say the blame primarily rests with President Obama.) When asked how important the government shutdown was in deciding their votes, 55 percent of the sample say it was “very” important. Worth noting: Aside from the damage the shutdown did to Cuccinelli, it also kept attention away from the disastrous launch of, a potentially terrific issue for Cuccinelli who was a leading voice nationally in opposition to the law.

7. The Republican brand stinks in the state. The GOP brand is struggling in the Commonwealth. Fifty seven percent of likely voters view the Virginia Republican party unfavorably and 65 percent view the national Republican party in an unfavorable light. By contrast, a majority — albeit it a slim one — have a favorable view of the state Democratic party (53 percent) and the national Democratic party (50 percent).

Add those seven factors up and combine the fact that McAuliffe is outspending Cuccinelli by $8 million and you see that this race is lost for Republicans.


Democrat McAuliffe leading Tea Party [Candidate] Cuccinelli in latest poll for VA Governor’s race

Ken Cucinelli should not become Governor of the State of Virginia.   The following article poits out how Cucinelli’s warped view of governing won’t be good for Virginians.

Forward Progressive

With elections just a few months away, the latest Quinnipiac Poll is showing Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe with a 6 point lead over Virginia’s current attorney general and Republican hopeful Ken Cuccinelli. The poll has McAuliffe at 48% while Cuccinelli sits at 42% with a 2.9% margin of error.

This is going to be a very important election for the state of Virginia, as Ken Cuccinelli embraces many conservative ideals that will without a doubt set this state back a few decades. With his almost comical quest to reinstate Virginia’s age-old anti-sodomy statute and regressive opinions on abortion, immigration, marriage equality and LGBT rights, it is a must that Virginia’s progressive independent voters make their way to the polls in November.

While most have made a joke out of his quest to have a stay of execution for the anti-sodomy law, there is a very real, very scary agenda being pushed here that tells you just how he will handle his duties as Governor if elected — with his bible in one hand and gavel in the other.

The law was struck down by a three-judge panel of the 4th United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia in March of this year as it was declared unconstitutional. Judge Robert King and Diana Gibbon Motz both voting to overturn the law against oral and anal sex on the grounds that it violates the Constitution’s due process clause. They based their decision on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in the Lawrence v. Texas case, which brought the end to a similar anti-sodomy law in other states through-out the country.

“It is shameful that Virginia continued to prosecute individuals under the sodomy statute for 10 years after the Supreme Court held that such laws are unconstitutional, this ruling should bring an end to such prosecutions.” –Rebecca Glenberg, Virginia ACLU

Cuccinelli filed an appeal with the Supreme Court over the decision, but his request was denied by Chief Justice John Roberts.

This is exactly the type of action by Cuccinelli that leaves him at odds with many Virginia voters, and not just for the obvious reason. A blanket law banning oral and anal sex would leave a massive grey area leaving the door open for broad prosecutions not in the spirit of the law’s intent, which Cuccinelli has argued was to protect minors from sexual predators. Some Virginians have expressed concern that the law, if reinstated as-is, could also be used to prosecute gay and lesbian residents of the state.

With all this working against Cuccinelli among the states growing progressive population, he is likely also feeling some negative effect from the dark cloud hovering over current Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R), who is embroiled in scandal over whether or not he and his wife received gifts and financial compensation in exchange for aiding Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr. on the launch of his company’s latest product. While he has said he plans on serving out the rest of his term as the state’s governor, many are calling for his prosecution and/or resignation. None of this scandal bodes well for Cuccinelli, who in the past has had close ties to Governor McDonnell.  In 2009, the pair were on stage together raising their hands in victory when both were elected to their current positions — and yet now McDonnell can’t even endorse him publicly due to concern it could further hurt his turnout.

Both McAullife and Cuccinelli are showing at least 90% support from their base and a 44 to 42 percent split among independent voters; the poll also found that the number of likely Democratic voters should outnumber Republicans 39 to 32 percent. Coincidentally, that’s the same number from the exit polls in the 2012 presidential election.  It will be a very interesting race to say the least, and one that could have great influence in the 2016 presidential election depending on the victor in November. Both candidates have also ramped up the attack ads of late, and we’re coming down to the wire so it’s bound to get even nastier.

Here’s to hoping that independent voters could be the group that helps keep the progressive train chugging in Virginia.

PA GOP Governor Defends Ultrasounds Bill: Tells Concerned Women ‘You Just Have To Close Your Eyes’


I’m speechless…

Think Progress

More than 10 state legislatures are considering or have passed bills forcing women to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion. And Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering one of the most far-reaching ultrasound bills in the nation.

Gov. Tom Corbett (R) reaffirmed this week that he supports the anti-abortion measure so long as it’s not obtrusive because women could simply close their eyes during the procedure:

QUESTION: Making them watch…does that go too far in your mind?

CORBETT: I’m not making anybody watch, OK. Because you just have to close your eyes. As long as it’s on the exterior and not the interior.

Watch his answer:

Critics say Corbett’s comments show he doesn’t understand how the bill would even work. While the Pennsylvania legislation has been amended to remove references to invasive transvaginal ultrasounds, the language suggests a transvaginal ultrasound could still be required if the embryo is too small. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat running for attorney general, called for Corbett to apologize for his statement. “It’s unthinkable that he would so casually dismiss this by advising women to just close their eyes,” Murphy said.

The state House canceled a vote on the bill this week because medical associations have voiced concerns about the measure. And 48 percent of Pennsylvania voters oppose the ultrasound bill, with 42 percent supporting the measure, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. And 64 percent of voters oppose requiring transvaginal ultrasounds.

Meanwhile, Corbett’s approval rating among Pennsylvanians is dropping.