Jeff Schapiro analyzes the week in Virginia politics
Summary: Reaction to Webb's column on affirmative action; McDonnell will travel to push liquor store privatization.
Farrar: Jeff Schapiro joins us now from the Richmond Times Dispatch for his regular Friday morning analysis of Virginia political news. Hello, Jeff.
Schapiro: Hi there, Wayne.
Farrar: U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, a week or so ago, wrote a column in which he questioned affirmative action and other similar government diversity programs.
Schapiro: Webb specifically and clearly and rather crisply calling for the dismantling of affirmative action programs. His perspective is this, that these programs have strayed beyond their original purpose, way beyond their original purpose, and that was correcting government-sanctioned prejudice against African-Americans.
Now, Webb is of the view that whites are essentially victims of discrimination. This has rattled a lot of the cages in the political world and sent a number of ripples heading off in a number of directions; surprisingly, a good number of Democrats have been either very mute on this or quite supportive. This is a tricky issue for Webb, given that he had somewhat soft African-American support against George Allen in 2006, presumably will be looking for more robust African-American support in 2012 in what looks like a re-match with George Allen.
But Webb knows as well that white votes are important in a re-match, and the general, the conventional wisdom seems to be that this is an effort to try to hem George Allen on the right, to some degree. Matt Thornhill, who's the President of the Boomer Project and an occasional Op-Ed contributor to the Times Dispatch, wrote about this and he said, his words were, "Webb's perspective mirrors that of boomers," so maybe, maybe this is a pretty cagey gamble on the part of the senior senator.
Farrar: The Tea Party group in Virginia is going to have a convention in Richmond.
Schapiro: Yes, and among those attending will be George Allen, and of course, this links up nicely with the matter we just discussed, Jim Webb and race; of course, Allen has his problems on that issue, and the Tea Party has its problems on that issue. Yet, Allen is among those who are expected to appear; organizers are predicting attendance of 3000 to 5000 or so fellow travelers; also on the docket will be Ken Cuccinelli, the Tea Party Republican Attorney General.
Farrar: Some polls are out, showing that the majority of Virginians approve of the job Governor McDonnell is doing so far.
Schapiro: Yeah, the latest Rasmussen shows McDonnell at 64%; there was one last week by VCU that showed voters evenly split, McDonnell's own polls seem to track those of Rasmussen. I suspect the truth is somewhere in between; it is probably safe to say that the public, for the most part, thinks McDonnell is doing okay, but I would suggest that's because voters really don't know much about him or his programs, I mean, consider the competition, Barack Obama, two wars, the BP spill, and I guess until the weather broke last night, this awful summer heat.
Farrar: The sale of the state liquor stores is an on-going issue for state government. Governor McDonnell is going on the road to try to sell the idea of going private in the sale of liquor in the Old Dominion.
Schapiro: Perhaps this campaign-style trip, or trips, over the month of August is an indication of how Bob McDonnell has not closed the deal on this. His campaign polls show that voters are generally supportive of the idea, particularly if the proceeds from the sale go to transportation, but this is clearly a sign that Bob McDonnell has to do a better job of selling this. There are a number of very committed free-market capitalists who aren't so sure that this is a very good deal for Virginians, and then there is Mark Warner, who's a former governor, and of course, who has sterling business credentials, and he is becoming more public in his concerns about this as well.
Farrar: About a minute and a half to go now. The head of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors is pushing an Arizona-type immigration bill for Virginia.
Schapiro: Yes, Corey Stewart had been talking about this for some time; he rolled out his ideas yesterday. He is looking indeed for Arizona-type restrictions, of course, a number of these are on hold because of that federal judge's decision. This is perhaps a welcome boost for Stewart's bill, at least as far as Stewart and his supporters are concerned; he's gotta find a member of the legislature to carry this bill for him.
There's another interesting feature, it would be supported by, essentially, a fee on wire transfers which, of course, are very popular with foreign immigrants. It's a way that they use to get American dollars back to their families in, often, Central America and South America.
Farrar: You mentioned that former Senator George Allen is planning what appears to be an attempt at a comeback. Another name from the past, Terry Macauliffe, was in the headlines this morning and he may have some plans for the future as well.
Schapiro: Yes, Terry Macauliffe never really quite faded from view after his defeat for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in '09; he's the head of an investment group that wants to buy that shuttered paper plant down in Franklin and turn it into an electric generator, a green-powered electric generator; another idea he has is to open an automobile plant, an electric automobile plant, perhaps also in southside. This is clearly an effort by Macauliffe to use that Mark Warner-type approach to building political support, presumably for a second run for governor in 2014.
Farrar: Thanks to Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times Dispatch. Jeff, I'll talk to you next Friday morning at this time on Morning Edition.
Schapiro: Roger that, Wayne.
Farrar: And you can find Jeff's analyses at ideastations.org/radio/archive.