House Republicans Nominate Gilbert to be Speaker, Both Caucuses Elect Leadership

The Virginia House Republican Caucus unanimously nominated current Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) for Speaker of the House in a Sunday caucus meeting. They also elected Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Scott) to be majority leader in the 2022 session, the result of a compromise between the two former rivals for House minority leader.

“I am proud to serve with and lead a strong and united Republican majority as we look toward the 2022 General Assembly session and beyond,” Gilbert said in a press release.

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Deal Struck: Gilbert for Virginia Speaker of the House, Kilgore for Majority Leader

Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Wise) have come to an agreement where Gilbert will run unopposed for Speaker of the House, and Kilgore will run unopposed for Majority Leader. The two delegates jointly sent a message to the caucus Friday afternoon, describing the agreement.

“We are writing to you today to let you know that we have come to an understanding with one another about our intentions with respect to seeking leadership roles. Todd is proud to endorse Terry for Majority Leader, and Terry is proud to endorse Todd for Speaker. Ultimately, any final decision will be left up to you,” they wrote.

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Minority Leader Todd Gilbert Previews Republican Priorities for New Virginia House Majority

House of Delegates Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenadoah) outlined Republicans’ legislative goals for when they take majority control of the House, governor, attorney general, and lieutenant governor’s seats. In a press conference Friday, he said that win did give Republicans a mandate, but said he was also aware of the need to work across the aisle since the Senate remains in Democratic control. He said the issues that Republicans raised during the campaigns would drive their agenda, including schools, cost of living, and public safety.

“We know we have a divided government now, and for lots of reasons, we think at least in terms of administration of the institutions, we will probably work better with the Democratic leadership  than the House leadership did,” Gilbert said.

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Republicans Flip Seven Seats and the Virginia House Majority

Virginia Republicans retook the House of Delegates by protecting their incumbents and flipping seven seats, giving them a 52-48 majority, according to unofficial election results. Those flips included some predictable results. Otto Wachsmann defeated Delegate Roslyn Tyler (D-Sussex). Republicans won in four out of five competitive Virginia Beach races. Mike Cherry protected Republican control of outgoing Delegate Kirk Cox’s (R-Colonial Heights) district.

Republicans also pulled off some surprises. A.C. Cordoza has apparently defeated Delegate Martha Mugler (D-Hampton) 49.68 percent to 48.70 percent — a nail biting result since mail-in ballots can still come in.

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Virginia Lawsuit to Force Multiple House of Delegates Elections in a Row Survives Challenge from the Attorney General

A lawsuit that could force House of Delegates candidates to run multiple years in a row had a win Tuesday. Paul Goldman’s lawsuit lists multiple Virginia officials and agencies as defendants, but the Office of the Attorney General argued that they were protected by sovereign immunity. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Judge David Novak ruled that while defendants including Governor Ralph Northam are protected, the lawsuit can proceed against the State Board of Elections and Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Christopher Piper.

“That’s fine with me because I’ve still got four defendants left, you only need one,” Goldman told The Virginia Star.

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Gubernatorial Candidates Use Ads and Political Appearances to Boost Enthusiasm

Gubernatorial candidates Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe have launched competing ads. A McAuliffe ad links Youngkin’s calls for election integrity to Trump’s claims about the 2020 election, while the Youngkin ad fact-checks McAuliffe’s recitation of recent COVID-19 case numbers.

“On at least three separate days – September 28, September 29, and October 7 – McAuliffe claimed there had recently been 8,000 cases in Virginia, a gross inflation that amounts to nearly three to four times the actual number of cases,” a Youngkin press release explains.

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Cook Political Report: Virginia Gubernatorial Race Is a Toss Up

Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe

Glenn Youngkin’s tightrope walk between suburban moderates and hard-right Republicans seems to be paying off — on Friday the Cook Political Report (CPR) announced a rating shift in the gubernatorial contest from Lean Democratic to Toss Up. That matches with polling from a variety of sources that show an increasingly close race.

“We can no longer say this is a contest where the Democrat has the advantage. While many of the fundamentals favor [Terry] McAuliffe — and we expect he still has a slight edge — it’s Youngkin who seems to have the enthusiasm on his side,” CPR reported.

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At Conference, Northam Says Virginia Is Ideal for Offshore Wind Industry

RICHMOND, Virginia — Governor Ralph Northam and Dominion Energy CEO Robert Blue announced that the Port of Virginia will lease 72 acres of the deep-water Portsmouth Marine Terminal for staging and pre-assembly of Dominion’s offshore wind project.

“This announcement is yet another milestone toward making Virginia the national leader in offshore wind power,” Northam said. “The Commonwealth and Dominion Energy are standing together to promote clean energy, reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, and build a new American industry on the East Coast of the United States.”

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Virginia General Assembly Approves Bill That Would Require Absentee Provisions at Conventions

The Senate and the House of Delegates passed HB 2020, a bill that, after it goes into effect in 2024, could effectively ban completely in-person nominating conventions like the one the Republican Party of Virginia is planning to hold this year. On Tuesday, the Senate passed their version of the bill, and on Wednesday, the House approved the Senate’s changes. Sponsor Delegate Dan Helmer (D-Check) said the bill isn’t meant to target any specific process, but rather to ban processes that don’t allow legitimate voters to participate.

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Coalition of Churches Opposes Bristol Casino

Eight churches in Bristol, Virginia are fighting against a proposed $400 million Hard Rock casino; residents will vote on the referendum this November. The coalition cites studies claiming that casinos prey on gambling addicts and questions whether a casino would draw high numbers of tourists as claimed by supporters of the referendum. Proponents say the casino would bring Bristol $15-$20 million a year in taxes and over 2,000 jobs averaging salaries of $46,500.

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