It’s not over yet, Virginia.
With the State Board of Elections deciding not to certify the results in two close House of Delegates races just yet, which party will control the General Assembly come January is still unknown.
Republicans are putting a brave face on the situation. In the days immediately following the election, the press shop of Del. M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) — sorry, “speaker designee” Kirk Cox — insisted it had scraped by with just enough votes to give it control of the House.
They since have gone further, choosing a majority leader, conference chairman and majority whip.
In accepting the nomination to be speaker, Cox said he looks forward “to continuing to uphold the longstanding traditions of civility and decorum” in the House.
Events since then have shown all of these pronouncements have a certain Kevin Bacon in Animal House quality to it.
There’s a fair chance the House will be split 50-50. If so, who gets to claim the title of speaker?
Some wags have floated the idea of choosing a non-House member to take up the gavel. One name suggested? Former governor Doug Wilder (D).
Wilder was a state senator before moving to statewide office. He’s also shrewd and charming, and he knows the ropes and all the players. Plus, he’s a bona fide budget hawk.
On second thought, he might be too good for the House.
But the worthies who will be on hand are already filing their bills and making their priorities known.
Republicans are out of the gate thinking small.
The top three bills, dubbed “practical solutions to everyday problems,” tackle such burning issues as access to student data and records, teacher license reciprocity and quality issues with student transfer credits.
We can only assume that Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie’s big binder of policy ideas that included a tax cut were casualties of the Election Day Massacre.
Hint to the GOP: The statewide wins of yesteryear that hastened the growth of your legislative majorities were built on big ideas. Playing small ball is not the way to make a comeback.
Democrats, meanwhile, have some intriguing ideas in their top three that make the GOP’s offerings look even worse.
Also on the list: a bill that would eliminate the $10 fee credit reporting agencies charge individuals who wish to place a security freeze their credit reports. That’s a smart, pro-consumer move. And it’s certainly a more “practical solution” to an “everyday problem” than what the GOP has offered.
Where did that Gillespie policy binder go, anyway?
We know Corey A. Stewart doesn’t have it. The only declared candidate for the GOP 2018 Senate nomination, though, may want to send out a search party for the elusive binder because he may have a challenger on his hands: 2013 lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson.
Jackson is giving the idea of a Senate run very serious thought. He should think a lot harder. There is no room to Stewart’s right on issues such as immigration, and there certainly isn’t room for more than one populist in the race.
Plus, there was that whole loss to Ralph Northam in 2013. Then again, Stewart is 0-2 in nominating contests, so Jackson has an advantage there.
But let’s be honest: Any Republican is likely to lose against Sen. Tim Kaine (D), even if not on the order of Sen. Mark Warner’s (D) blowout win in 2008.
What Republicans should be looking for — and hoping and praying for — is that someone comes along who can stomach the loss but make it close. And, in doing so, help save the state party from spiraling deeper into dysfunction.
That’s an exceedingly tall order.
We’ll just have to see whom the Libertarians nominate for Senate. That person isn’t likely to beat Kaine either. But that candidate could do something truly useful: establish a genuinely viable alternative to a sick and listless GOP.