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."
The Federal Election Commission has once again punted on establishing rules for identifying who is sponsoring online political advertisements. Thursday marked the fourth consecutive meeting in which the topic fell to the wayside without a clear path forward.
FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub revived debate on the topic in June when she introduced a proposal on how to regulate online political ads. In her proposal, she said the growing threat of misinformation meant that requiring transparency for political ads was "a small but necessary step."
Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioner Caroline Hunter put forth their own proposal soon after Weintraub, but the commissioners have failed to find any middle ground. At Thursday's meeting, a decision on the agenda item was pushed off to a later date.
Weintraub's proposal says the funding source should be clearly visible on the face of the ad, with some allowance for abbreviations. But Petersen and Hunter want to allow more flexibility for tiny ads that cannot accommodate these disclaimers due to space.
The California Supreme Court is fast-tracking its review of a challenge to a new law that would require President Trump to make public his tax returns in order to get on the state's ballot for the 2020 election.
A lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the law was filed August 6 by the California Republican Party against Secretary of State Alex Padilla. It claims the law violates California's constitution.
Two other challenges, one filed by Trump's personal lawyers, are pending in federal court.