Webb will not seek re-election, filmmaker educates Virginia legislators on gerrymandering
Senator Jim Webb has decided not to seek a second term ... and a filmmaker has brought his work to Virginia legislators to inspire them to change the way they draw electoral districts. Craig Carper reports.
Democrat Jim Webb, a former Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan and a man who never seemed quite comfortable in the U.S. Senate, has decided not to seek a second term. It’s a move that is sure to frustrate fellow Democrats, who will be fighting hard in 2012 to maintain their majority in the Senate.
Brian Moran is the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.
Moran: With an incumbent Senator Webb, we would have had the advantage. I have no doubt that Jim Webb would have won re-election, but now that he is not running again, I don’t see us any worse off than the Republicans. Senator Allen is facing stiff Republican primary challenges, at least by one person and then maybe others, so he will have to go through a grueling Republican primary.
Political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth says a lot of early support is building around one potential Democratic candidate for Webb's seat, but so far he has said he doesn't want the job.
Holsworth: There are a lot of national Democrats who are going to put pressure on former Governor Tim Kaine to run, largely because he’s been recently elected in Virginia and he is probably the best-known Democrat who would potentially consider running, who is not in office right now. At the same time, the former Governor has said very, very recently that he had no interest in running and that he really wasn’t going to consider elected office even if Jim Webb decided not to run and Governor Kaine at the end of his term proposed tax increases, sending Jens Soering back to Germany, closed the rest stops, issues that he felt were matters of principle, but were not the kind of issues that you might be endorsing if you were considering a near-term run for a statewide office in Virginia.
If Tim Kaine doesn’t decide to run, you really have a wide-open Democratic field and all kinds of names are being bandied about now from people such as Tom Perriello, who lost his congressional seat, to individuals such as the former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer, who’s now Ambassador to Switzerland, and my guess is that you’re going to hear name after name for the next two weeks or month, particularly if Tim Kaine sticks to the statement of a few weeks ago that he’s really not interested in further elected office.
Also yesterday, the Richmond First Club, a non-profit group who encourages civic engagement, came to the Capitol to tell legislators to change the way they redistrict. With them was Jeff Rykert, Director of the 2009 documentary "Gerrymandering." Rykert and the Richmond First Club delivered copies of his movie to every member of the state legislature.
Rykert: The problem we have is that the processes by which we do our districting and constitute our legislatures, they sort of inevitably result in nonfunctioning bodies and citizens who feel kind of, their voices don’t matter, that they can’t un-elect that person who’s been in office for so long, the challengers don’t have an opportunity to bring fresh voices to legislatures. We found that coast-to-coast.
Generally, what we've seen is that oftentimes, when you get to redistricting, it’s incumbent protection time first and once you protect all the incumbents, then you balance out the needs of the parties and how they want the maps to look and then we can think about the voting rights act and citizens and voters. That, I don’t think, is the way that it was supposed to be when we established this thing that we call the United States of America. The means by which we send people to legislatures is over 200 years old and we have not really done much about it in that time.
Last year, Rykert's film was sent to 660,000 California voters in advance of a proposition that would take Congressional redistricting power away from the legislature and giving it to an independent citizens' redistricting commission. The ballot measure passed overwhelmingly.
Clips of the film are available online at Gerrymanderingmovie.com
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Capitol Square