Bipartisan 'good government' trio win Virginia legislative primaries
Three candidates who emphasized collaboration and democracy reform have triumphed in hotly contested Virginia legislative primaries.
The bipartisan trio of off-year victories Tuesday are a small but emblematic sign that such campaigns can succeed despite the highly polarized and partisan nature of politics at all levels of government.
The notable winners are likely to cruise to election November because each of their districts is safe for their parties. Two are Democrats running for open and solidly blue seats in the state House, Suhas Subramanyam in the Washington exurbs and Martha Mugler in the Hampton Roads area. The other is a two-decade veteran Republican who represents conservative areas north of Charlottesville in the state Senate, Emmett Hanger.
Another longtime GOP incumbent running on similar reformer themes, state Rep. Chris Peace from outside Richmond, declared victory but so did his rival and the winner will likely be determined in court.
The campaigns of the four were elevated to prominence because they were the only legislative candidates endorsed by Unite Virginia, a state affiliate of Unite America, which seeks to elect "candidates who put people over party." The group praised them all for their commitment to reform — all support proposals to turn political mapmaking in the state over to a bipartisan commission, for example — and a commitment to working with politicians of the other party.
Unite Virginia's Matt Scoble emphasized Hanger's efforts to advance an anti-gerrymandering bill in Richmond as evidence he was a "pragmatic and effective legislator."
Subramanyam, who worked in the Obama administration, and Mugler, a Hampton school board member, were both singled out for their interest in bipartisanship. Additionally, Subramanyam campaigned for government transparency, better campaign finance reform and a more fair voting system.
Unite Virginia's goal is not to pick candidates based on ideology, Scoble said, but "to make the system more functional and bring more governance to the people."
An increasing number of the country's largest publicly traded companies are disclosing more than ever about political spending habits that the law permits them to keep secret.
That's the central finding of the fifth annual report from a group of academics and corporate ethicists, who say the average score among the biggest companies traded on American exchanges, the S&P 500, has gone up each year since 2014.
Though corporate political action committees must disclose their giving to candidates, those numbers are very often dwarfed by the donations businesses make to the trade associations and other outside groups that have driven so much of the steady rise in spending on elections. Conservatives say robust disclosure of these behaviors is the best form of regulating money in politics and is working fine, and this new report reflects that. Those who say campaign finance needs more assertive federal regulation will argue such corporate transparency is inconsistent and inadequate to the task, and the new report underscores that.
A year from the presidential election, U.S. intelligence agencies have adopted a new framework for how they will inform candidates, groups and the public about attempts to disrupt our country's elections by foreign operatives.
But the one-page summary of the plan, released late last week, is so general that it remains unclear what the intelligence community plans to do if and when it discovers something suspicious.
The summary by the director of national intelligence states that the federal government will "follow a process and principles designed to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that notification decisions are consistent, well-informed and unbiased."
The new framework is designed to prevent a repeat of some of what happened after the 2016 election.