The Real Lesson from South Carolina

The murders in South Carolina aren’t about a flag or even guns. This is about someone who is evil and committed an evil act. He can’t even be called mentally ill because he reportedly told the police that he nearly didn’t go through with the shooting because the people there were so nice to him, but he decided he had to go through with his “mission.” He knew right from wrong, so say goodbye to an insanity defense.

He didn’t need a flag to inspire him to kill. He didn’t need a gun to commit murder, either — he could just as easily have built a pipe bomb using common household products or used a kitchen knife to inflict the same carnage.

If you want to stop things like this from happening, we must have the courage to confront evil itself because if we don’t all the weapons bans and flag bans in the world won’t do the job.

“Disney’s America” Theme Park Plans Revived for Virginia?

disney's americaThe School of Athens blog is reporting via a post by edmundrandolph1753 that Disney is moving quickly to revive its plans for the Disney’s America theme park in Virginia. Instead of Prince William County where it was to have been located 20 years ago, word is they are looking at Amherst County just north of Lynchburg on the site where the soon-to-be closed Sweet Briar College is located.

Head on over to School of Athens for more details.

This location would be roughly a 2 hour drive from the Richmond International Airport via I-64 and U.S. 29, a 1 hour drive from the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport on Route 29, and a 3 to 3/12 hour drive from Reagan National Airport depending upon the route taken (Route 29; I-66 to I-81; or I-95 to VA 20 to U.S. 15).

As School of Athens put it with regard to accessibility:

Likewise, there are already many plans in place to widen and develop the Route 29 corridor so that the new Disney America would be accessible from Northern Virginia, Central Virginia via Route 64, all the way down to Charlotte, North Carolina.


This could get quite interesting!

(H/T School of Athens)

Mark Dudenhefer Lost My Vote This Weekend

I began my weekend on Friday fully intending to vote for former Del. Mark Dudenhefer in the Republican primary on Tuesday. Now, as I write this on Sunday evening I am struggling between not voting in the primary and voting for his opponent Tim Ciampaglio.

What changed my mind? Two contacts made to my household by the Dudenhefer campaign that backfired in a big way.

First was a mailer that we received on Friday in which Dudenhefer attacked Ciampaglio on two issues — having voted in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary and supporting a sales tax increase. Ciampaglio seems like a pretty conservative guy so it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what these are really about.

As to the Democratic primary — I seem to recall Rush Limbaugh advocating something called “Operation: Chaos” in 2008 where he encouraged Republicans to vote in the Democratic presidential primary in order to prolong the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the hopes of weakening their eventual nominee. As to the second issue of a sales tax increase, which the Dudenhefer mailer was rather vague about, I would wager that Ciampaglio probably at some point stated that he favored replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax and that is what they are using to attack him on. The mailer ended with a statement that Dudenhefer was the only “real Republican” running in the primary. That was strike three for me with that mailer. All in all, this was the work of bad campaign staff and bad consultants.

The second contact from the Dudenhefer campaign that sealed the deal for me came this afternoon in the form of a robocall. This one really takes the cake.

After invoking the “real Republican” mantle in the mailer, the last person I would think that the Dudenhefer campaign would roll out in a robocall would be Potomac Dist. Supervisor Maureen Caddigan, but that is exactly what they did.

If ever there truly was a RINO, it would be Caddigan. In fact, I cited her past actions as reasons why I had to resign from the county GOP since I was unable in good conscience to comply with the bylaws of the party requiring members to support all of the nominees in the general election and she is on the ballot this year:

Supervisor Caddigan has repeatedly flouted the principles of the Republican Party and even the specific bylaw that I cited above as my reason for resigning from the party. Mrs. Caddigan supported the Democratic nominees for county board chairman in 1999 against Republican nominee Sean Connaughton, in the 2006 special election for county board chairman against Republican nominee Corey Stewart, again in 2007 for county board chairman against Republican nominee and incumbent Corey Stewart and in 2005 for state delegate against Republican nominee and incumbent Jeff Frederick.

Furthermore, Mrs. Caddigan has been a consistent advocate for higher taxes and increased spending on programs that are not core services for county residents thereby violating the Republican Party of Virginia’s creed which states, “That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government.” In addition, she has a long history of abusing her office that includes use of county resources, both personnel and office discretionary funds, for political purposes. Finally, there are items on her campaign finance disclosure filings that make it appear she has converted campaign funds for personal use in the past via paying her husband a salary as campaign treasurer for work not commensurate with the amounts paid.

If that is the kind of supporter the Dudenhefer campaign is rolling out in order to win Republican votes, I would recommend to Mark Dudenhefer that he get a refund for the consulting services he is receiving because his staff and consultants are not serving him well at all. That is unfortunate because 1.) I like Mark and 2.) he had my vote until this weekend. However, in a campaign the person ultimately accountable for everything done in its name is the candidate and I found these actions, particularly the mailer, to be dishonest and desperate.

Police Bicycle Ride Snarls Traffic In Eastern PWC

It was incredibly inconsiderate to schedule the Law Enforcement United Bike Ride for the morning rush hour along U.S. 1. Thousands of school children were late for school today along the Route 1 corridor in Prince William County (and in the public schools, today is the first day of SOL testing). Police closed off large sections of U.S. 1 at a time and denied egress from all neighborhoods while the bicyclists traveled north towards Washington, D.C. at their slow rate of speed. Thousands more people were late for work at Quantico Marine Corps Base as a traffic jam of enormous magnitude was created that spilled over onto every road from usually quiet residential streets to I-95 — there was even a helicopter hovering overhead.

While the ride is for a good cause, honoring police officers “who have died in the line of duty, and ensuring that their surviving family is supported and not forgotten,” they need to make sure that they never impact traffic like this again. The military veterans who participate in the Rolling Thunder motorcycle ride travel the same route on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend at around the same time of day — however, it is not rush hour and there is plenty of advance notification that it is taking place. Law Enforcement United should take notes on how to do this right.


Will PWC Fail History Again In Naming Its New High School?

Prince William County is preparing to select a name for the county’s 12th high school. There has been much controversy about the school — the fact that it is the costliest high school ever built in Virginia as well as its location next to the county dump, the discovery of an unmarked graveyard on the property, the inclusion of two swimming pools (which has led some to deride it as “Capt. Nemo High School”), an automated orchestra lift and a black box theater while many students throughout the county are relegated to trailers in overcrowded schools. Regardless of whether you support the design of the school or not, those are topics for another time and should not play a role in any serious discussion surrounding the selection of the school’s name. As InsideNOVA reports:

A Prince William School Board committee will hold its final meeting tonight to discuss names for the county’s 12th high school, scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

The Board of Supervisors weighed in on the matter last week by passing a unanimous resolution calling for the new school to be named for retiring state Sen. Charles J. Colgan, who served Prince William and Manassas voters in the 29th district for 40 years.

There’s also a petition circulating on social media to name the school for Firefigther Kyle Wilson, a Hylton High School graduate who died while fighting a local house fire on April 16, 2007.

These are legitimate suggestions, although in the case of Sen. Colgan I do not believe that we should be naming things after anyone who is still alive and hope that it is many years before he would qualify for such an honor.

Those suggestions, however, are not taking a broad view of county history and instead are focused on the immediate past or even the present.

According to the Prince William County’s own Historical Commission, the county has two famous sons who played significant roles in the founding of the United States:

“Light-Horse Harry” Lee won a Congressional medal as General Washington’s cavalry commander during the War. Subsequently, he became Governor of Virginia and a U.S. Congressman. William Grayson was an aide-de-camp to General Washington, fought as a regimental commander, and sat on the policymaking Board of War. He later became one of the first two senators to represent the State of Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Unless you count Leesylvania Elementary (the name Leesylvania was used to honor Lee however it does not appear that the school’s name is derived directly from the man), neither of these men have a school named after them.

Shouldn’t we be honoring at least one of them who built the very foundation that we stand on today?

My Letter of Resignation from the PWC GOP

March 4, 2015

Chairman Bill Card
Prince William County Republican Committee
4431 Prince William Parkway
Woodbridge, VA 22192-5301

Dear Chairman Card,

I regret to inform you that I must resign my membership in the Prince William County Republican Committee effective immediately.

While I have served the party faithfully in a variety of capacities since moving to Virginia including as the county committee’s Operations Director for 2001-2002 and its Dumfries (now Potomac) Magisterial District chairman from 2002-2003; Young Republican Federation of Virginia’s State Vice Chairman for 2001-2003; and as a Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee member representing the YRFV from 2003-2005, I can no longer maintain my membership in good conscience and remain in compliance with the bylaws of the party.

At this time, I am unable to fulfill the requirement in the bylaws that members must “support all of its nominees for public office in the ensuing election” for the 2015 elections. In particular, I must decline to support Potomac Supervisor Maureen Caddigan for reelection.

Supervisor Caddigan has repeatedly flouted the principles of the Republican Party and even the specific bylaw that I cited above as my reason for resigning from the party. Mrs. Caddigan supported the Democratic nominees for county board chairman in 1999 against Republican nominee Sean Connaughton, in the 2006 special election for county board chairman against Republican nominee Corey Stewart, again in 2007 for county board chairman against Republican nominee and incumbent Corey Stewart and in 2005 for state delegate against Republican nominee and incumbent Jeff Frederick.

Furthermore, Mrs. Caddigan has been a consistent advocate for higher taxes and increased spending on programs that are not core services for county residents thereby violating the Republican Party of Virginia’s creed which states, “That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government.” In addition, she has a long history of abusing her office that includes use of county resources, both personnel and office discretionary funds, for political purposes. Finally, there are items on her campaign finance disclosure filings that make it appear she has converted campaign funds for personal use in the past via paying her husband a salary as campaign treasurer for work not commensurate with the amounts paid.

Had a primary challenger to Mrs. Caddigan arisen (or if I had not been precluded by my circumstances at work from undertaking the challenge myself), I would not be forced to take such a drastic measure. While I do not intend to vote for or support either of her Democratic challengers, I cannot support her for reelection and intend to write in the name of former Del. Jeff Frederick for the seat. I also intend to encourage others to write-in Mr. Frederick’s name for this office in November and understand that in doing so either he will win as a write-in over the Republican nominee or he will syphon enough votes away from the Republican nominee to hand victory to the Democratic nominee.

I look forward to the future when I can once again support all of the Republican Party’s nominees for office in the ensuing election, but regret that I cannot do so this year.


James T. Riley, Esq.
Southbridge, Virginia

Virginia Steps Towards Statewide Election Run-Offs

The Virginia State Senate voted 22-16 yesterday to implement run-off elections for statewide offices where no candidate receives a majority of the vote.

The Washington Times article reporting on this gets the analogy wrong, however — it wouldn’t turn Virginia’s system into one like Louisiana’s since Louisiana holds a “jungle primary” on Election Day and runoffs are held about a month later. They do not have primary elections in Louisiana, which is why two Republicans split the vote for U.S. Senate there in November necessitating the December run-off. Instead, this bill would turn Virginia’s electoral system into one like that in Georgia where you first have a primary, then the general election and a runoff if there are more than two candidates on the ballot and no one gets a majority.

It makes sense for elected officials to be able to claim a majority of the vote when they seek to implement their agendas, so why not have a runoff in Virginia if no one gets 50% +1? It works in Georgia and it isn’t employed very often. It would also allow for voters to support third-party or write-in candidates, either out of conviction or protest, and in turn those third-parties could grow and flourish without serving as merely spoilers. Those same voters could then come back in the run-off and vote for their second-choice candidate or abstain from voting if they so choose.

Two years in a row Virginia has seen statewide offices won by individuals without a majority of the vote — in 2014 Mark Warner was reelected to the U.S. Senate with 49.15% and in 2013 Terry McAuliffe was elected governor with 47.75% and Mark Herring was elected Attorney General with 49.89% of the vote (the exact same percentage that his opponent Mark Obenshain had with the remaining 0.22% going to write-ins.) This would have also impacted the 2006 U.S. Senate race where Jim Webb received 49.59% and the 2005 Attorney General race won by Bob McDonnell with 49.96%. No other statewide race going back to at least 1997 would have resulted in a run-off.

By no means would a run-off election be a “gimme” for Republicans to have won all or any of those seats and the equation could just as easily tip the other way as can by seen by McDonnell’s ’05 victory. However, this is an idea whose time has come and one that should be embraced by both Republicans and Democrats. Republicans in the House of Delegates should vote to pass this measure and Gov. McAuliffe should sign it into law.

PWC In No Hurry To Get New Businesses Open

Prince William County is infamous for being a terrible place for new businesses to get started (unless you are a home builder with a treasury full of potential campaign contributions) as I have previously detailed here, here and here. Well, right next to the Sweet Frog frozen yogurt shop I wrote about in my post from 2013 there is a new Indian restaurant called Curry in a Hurry and it has suffered even greater regulatory delays at the hands of the county. In fact, it has become such a joke in my community that a topic was started on our HOA online forum called “Curry (not) in a Hurry.”

Posted Under Topic: Curry (not) in a Hurry
Good news, Curry in a Hurry opened this week.  According to the owner they were ready to open eight months ago but were held up by the county.  That’s what I figured was happening.  Regardless, they are open now and I had some very tasty curried goat yesterday.

Whether you have a taste for curried goat or not (and I fall into the latter category myself), it is unconscionable that the county can delay the opening of a business for such an extended length of time on account of bureaucracy and regulatory red tape. These are small businesses that people have sunk their savings into starting, whether from scratch or by purchasing a franchise. How they can continue to survive financially without a source of income from their business can only be chalked up to being a testament to their determination to succeed.

In this case, they were paying rent on space for at least a year going back to when they first started to renovate it. I’m sure that they had no idea Prince William County would delay their opening by a period of time longer than it took to actually build out the space and ready it for opening. If their problems were anything akin to their next door neighbor Sweet Frog, the issues that kept them from opening were just downright stupid and would not have impacted the health or safety of employees or customers.

The regulatory climate in PWC is downright onerous and until someone does something about it, businesses will rightfully continue to pass it by for friendlier places such as Loudoun and Stafford counties.

Complaint Filed Against Mark Warner With Senate Ethics Committee Over The #VirginiaWay

On Jan. 16, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins filed a formal complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Sen. Mark Warner. The law at issue is the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA) passed by Democrats in the wake of former Congressman Tom Delay (R-TX) and his so-called “K Street Project.” The complaint alleges that Sen. Mark Warner used his influence or offered to use it to obtain private sector employment for Democratic former state Senator Phil Puckett’s daughter for partisan reasons, which is a direct violation of HLOGA carrying a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. Ironically, it wasn’t the suggested federal judicial appointment at issue here, but his raising the possibility of getting her a job at CGI.

The complete statement follows as well as a link to the complaint letter:

RPV Chairman Pat Mullins issued the following statement:
“Today, acting at my direction, the Republican Party of Virginia filed a formal ethics complaint against Democratic Senator Mark R. Warner in connection with his ‘brainstorming’ about a job for former Senator Phil Puckett’s daughter during the 2014 campaign.”“After examining the published reports and Warner’s own statements during the campaign, it appears that Warner may have violated a Federal law that prohibits Senators and Representatives from using their influence or offering to use their influence to secure employment for another, solely on the basis of political affiliation.”“Said simply, if Warner offered to use his influence to land a job for anyone based simply on political considerations, he has violated Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, which is punishable up to 15 years in prison.”

“Democrats will argue that this complaint is nothing but poor sportsmanship, and a childish reaction to a close electoral loss. Nothing could be further from the truth. This complaint comes at a time when Virginia Democrats are publicly calling for ethics reform. As our Democratic colleagues wrote in a fundraising email just this week, ‘We need to hold our elected leaders accountable for their actions and demand a more transparent and honest government.’”

“This request for an investigation is just that – an effort to ensure that Democrat Mark R. Warner did not violate the law in an effort to aid in the expansion of Obamacare in Virginia. And if he did violate the law, that he is held to account.”

“Holding our elected leaders accountable begins with enforcing the laws we have on the books, and that is what we ask the Senate Ethics Committee to do.”

Download the letter by clicking here.

As someone who is engaged in lobbying disclosure and congressional ethics law, I have been familiar with HLOGA since before it was enacted. This is a serious matter that Sen. Warner is accused of being involved in despite the spin Warner’s office is putting out on it.

“This is the last pathetic partisan attack of the 2014 campaign,” Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said of the RPV complaint.

“It has no merit, and everyone else has moved on.”

The only thing pathetic and without merit here is that response. Sen. Warner may have become accustomed to getting away with things that others would pay the price for doing, but eventually everyone’s luck runs out. HLOGA is pretty black and white on this. It will be interesting to see what the Senate Ethics Committee may turn up beyond what is already public.

Bob Marshall, Dick Black Write Pres. Jeff Bezos on Haymarket Facility

Letter to Amazon Exec Jeff Bezos

Dear Friends:

On Monday Senator Dick Black and I sent a letter via email and fax to President, Jeff Bezos, asking him to reconsider the location of his data center in Haymarket, Virginia. The current location is in rural crescent area of Prince William County and will require Dominion Power to build a Transmission Power line through neighborhoods in the Haymarket area.

As a result we have asked Mr. Bezos to work with Prince William County to find an alternative location like the Innovation @ Prince William site which already has the necessary power infrastructure for data centers. Alternately, if they want to stay at their current location we have asked them to work with Dominion Power to ensure that the proposed underground line along I-66 is the route chosen for the necessary power supply.

In addition, I have requested legislation to require that in the future data centers like this are built only in areas where there is existing infrastructure to keep something like this from occurring again.

I am strongly in support of businesses like Amazon locating in Virginia but we need to ensure that we also protect the property values and quality of life of our citizens.

The Washington Business Journal has written an article about the letter we sent and you can see a copy of the letter we sent there.


Delegate Bob Marshall

The Innovation @ Prince William technology park has largely been a bust to date, but it would be an ideal location for something along the lines of the Amazon data center which would in turn bring in more high-profile companies with good paying jobs.

Scott Jacobs Campaign Still Claiming GOP Label; PWC GOP Notifies Him of His Ouster

In a comment to a post on The Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince William County, a voter in PWC’s Brentsville District states that he/she received

a call from [Brentsville Dist. supervisor candidate Scott] Jacob’s campaign a couple of days ago and they said he was the Republican candidate [in the Dec. 23 special election]. I told the caller I thought Jeanine Lawson was the Republican nominee. The caller said Lawson was “another” Republican.

To which another commenter replied:

Lawson might be THE Republican nominee but Jacobs is still a Republican and therefore a Republican candidate.

That is incorrect. In Virginia, since voters do not register by party, one can only be a member of a party by joining your local party committee. Jacobs, by running as an independent against a Republican nominee, automatically ousted himself from membership in the local county party when he “violated the letter and spirit of the agreement” he made when he joined the party. Therefore, he is not “still” a Republican.

To that end, the Prince William County Republican Committee took action on Nov. 24 and the meeting attendees unanimously voted that he be dropped from the committee. An official letter from county Republican chairman Bill Card detailing the circumstances and proceedings was emailed to Mr. Jacobs on Dec. 8 and a hard copy is being mailed to him today. You may view the letter here.

Mr. Jacobs is obliged to inform his campaign staff that they need to cease and desist any claims that he is a Republican candidate in their communications with voters. To continue to do so would perpetuate an image of dishonesty.

Agenda 2015: A Plan to Reform Prince William County Government

Two weeks from tomorrow, Dec. 23, voters in Prince William County’s Brentsville District head to the polls in a special election to fill the seat vacated by former Supervisor Wally Covington (R) who has been confirmed by the Virginia General Assembly for a judgeship in the county. Virginia Virtucon’s endorsed candidate, Jeanine Lawson, is looking very strong in the run-up to election day and we have high hopes that she will join Gainesville Supervisor Pete Candland and Occoquan Supervisor Mike May as another voice for the county’s taxpayers on the Board.

Candland and May were the only two supervisors to vote against the 5-year, 22.5%+ tax increase that passed the Board earlier this year. In a good news / bad news item, May has decided to run for Commonwealth’s Attorney in 2015. While we will finally be gaining someone in that office far superior to the current occupant whose abilities we have long questioned, we will be losing May from the Board of Supervisors where he has served with distinction. The addition of Lawson will at the very least help maintain the status quo for advocates of good government.

In deference to Mrs. Lawson’s campaign, I am holding off on making any announcements about my political future until after the first of the year so as to not detract any attention from where it should be these next two weeks. We need to do all that we can over the next 15 days to ensure that Jeanine Lawson is the next supervisor from the Brentsville District.

Why is it so important that we elect Lawson and others who share this basic good government philosophy? Because good governance ultimately benefits all citizens regardless of party, race, gender or current economic situation and that is the primary function of local government. We need people willing to commit to reforming our county government because we cannot keep going in the same direction that we have been for the past two decades in Prince William County — taxes are up, schools are more crowded, traffic is worse and businesses are bypassing us for Loudoun and Stafford counties. That is not good for anyone (unless you live in Loudoun or Stafford.)

This is why I have drafted “Agenda 2015: A Plan to Reform Prince William County Government.” Agenda 2015 is a series of common sense proposals aimed at solving our county’s current tax, spending, budget, education, economic, transportation, governance and ethics problems. By no means is this a panacea for these issues, but the start of what I hope is a long conversation that must be held in order to move forward on developing and implementing workable solutions. We cannot wait until after next year’s elections to start this discussion with new people, but must begin it now.


AGENDA 2015:




This twist on zero-based budgeting sets clear measurable goals, verifies progress, and makes adjustments as necessary.  Not only would agencies and departments have to justify every dollar they request each year rather than start from the previous year’s baseline and grow from there, but requests for funds must be accompanied by specific measurable goals against which progress can be ascertained.  This will allow for future budgets to make adjustments based upon what works and what doesn’t work. Perhaps if the county budgeted according to such straightforward principles, residents would not be facing a 4.5% tax hike for FY ’15 and a massive 22.5%+ tax increase over the coming 5 years.



The Board of Supervisors currently hands over nearly 60% of all tax revenues to the school system via a revenue sharing agreement, yet our classrooms remain the most crowded in the Commonwealth and our teachers are among the lowest paid in the region. The revenue sharing agreement must be scrapped and the supervisors should ask the school board members to put together a budget that sets as its priorities: 1.) reducing class sizes, and 2.) increasing teacher pay. The school board can then do this as they see fit, present their plan to the county supervisors who then have the option to approve the budget or ask the School Board to make additional changes before approval. That would ensure the school board’s legal autonomy while also maintaining the board’s oversight for nearly 60% of our tax dollars. That certainly makes much more sense than what we have now – a backwards process where the supervisors hand the money over first and then relinquish all oversight responsibility.



Fundamental reform of our tax structure in Prince William County is needed in order to protect taxpayers as well as to ensure the county’s future economic development and prosperity. We should be upfront about what taxes the county collects. County taxes on electricity, telephone service (both landline and cell), and cable as well as the personal property tax decal fee should be abolished and be made transparent by utilizing real estate taxes to raise the same revenue instead. Likewise, special assessments for fire, gypsy moth eradication and other services should be included in the real estate tax, not separated out. By doing these two things, taxpayers would know precisely how much they truly are paying in taxes and would also be able to deduct the full amount from their federal taxes.



We need to reform the county’s personal property tax, which is one of the most onerous taxes that we have to pay. Every October residents get hit with a bill that they must pay in a lump sum unlike the real estate tax that most people pay each month via payments to an escrow account as part of their mortgage. This is unconscionable and the portion that taxpayers must pay should be eliminated. Since the state reimburses the county for a portion of the car tax and we should not forgo that, the county should credit taxpayers with the amount they would owe on the tax with money paid by them in real estate taxes. Even renters indirectly pay real estate tax by way of the rent they pay to the property owner, so everyone would be paying their share in one way or another. Simply put, just as the phone or cable company has been able to bundle your phone, TV and internet into one package for a single price, the county should bundle all the revenue that it needs to raise into one tax and eliminate the rest. It will be simple, fair and easy to understand as well as beneficial to taxpayers.



Our county’s tax base remains disproportionately residential resulting in a heavier than necessary tax burden on homeowners.  The county has not even been able to meet the all-too-modest goal of a 75% / 25% residential to commercial split – and that includes counting apartment complexes as commercial property rather than residential. The continuous rezoning of commercial property to residential, which is the heart of the tax ratio problem, can no longer go on unabated. The Board of Supervisors should adopt a rezoning “swap” policy where commercial property may only be rezoned for residential if an equal amount of unused residentially-zoned property is converted to commercial use. At the same time, policies must be put in place to attract businesses to the county that will offer high quality jobs rather than simply more hospitality and retail sector positions.



The Business, Professional, and Occupational License or BPOL tax (which is a relic of the War of 1812) is on gross receipts, not actual income. Stafford County’s elimination of their BPOL tax is something that their economic development department has used to great effect in luring high-end businesses that might otherwise have located in Prince William County. As a result, Prince William County attracts low-wage retail and hospitality industries as its primary employers while Stafford and Loudoun counties struggle to keep up with the demand for office space from high-end, good paying private sector employers.



The county bureaucracy responsible for issuing building permits and conducting inspections is riddled with problems ranging from lost site plans for parcels of land to ridiculously high fees for permits to do something as minor as moving a fire sprinkler head a few feet to accommodate the reconfiguration of commercial office space. When it is easier to obtain a building permit for a house in the county than it is for a simple outdoor covered structure that has no walls, doors, windows, power or plumbing, there is something drastically wrong. When new businesses have their openings delayed by several months because of this bureaucracy, resulting in lost wages for employees and lost tax revenue for the county, it should be a priority for the Board of Supervisors to fix the process.



Our Board of County Supervisors is supposed to be a part-time position and represent the typical county citizen. Due to the county’s lack of quality employment, many residents must travel to other parts of Northern Virginia or into Washington, DC for their jobs. Most people have 9-to-5 types of jobs, yet too often our county supervisors hide in broad daylight by way of afternoon meetings that citizens cannot attend without taking time off from work. As a result, a majority of current supervisors are either self-employed or retired because they are the only ones who can participate. In order to encourage better civic involvement, both in terms of residents attending meetings to have their voices heard as well as encouraging them to serve on the board themselves, all meetings should be held during the evening.



Establish four board committees: Finance, Government Services and Operations; Transportation and Land Use; Economic Development; and Joint Schools/BOCS. Items would be introduced before the full Board and then the Board would have the option of sending them to committee for a more in depth discussion and study. The committees would have 3-5 members, meet monthly, and make recommendations to the full Board. During the budget process, Finance would hold additional meetings and work out a Capital Improvement Plan for adoption by the full Board using different metrics on things such as debt capacity, load, ratios, etc. This will serve to make BOCS Business Meetings more efficient and more focused on making decisions as opposed to exploration and/or oversight.



Our current Board has been plagued by numerous scandals with one of the most egregious being the use of taxpayers’ money in the form of office discretionary funds that were used instead for personal and political purposes. While this has been reined in somewhat, other avenues for abuse of our tax dollars still exist including the budget carryover process. The ethics and conflict of interest statutes that currently only apply to Loudoun and Fairfax counties must be extended by the General Assembly to cover Prince William County as well. Our county should be at the forefront of lobbying for this change and until it is instituted should put in place rules that mirror it.



Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) can be implemented at a fraction of the cost of extending Metro, providing more immediate service and getting customers where they need to go much faster than Metro ever could.

The county needs to better publicize the OmniRide Metro Direct service (prominent Metro Direct signs at pick-up locations and recognizable signs on the buses like the DC Circulator would help).  BRT can serve the needs of people to connect with Metro now at a fraction of the cost.  The service should be tweaked – the buses could go directly to Metro stations in Fairfax from their origination point in Prince William and the departure/arrival stations could be prominently located close to entrances for the EZPass Express lanes on I-95 or the I-66 HOV lanes. This would also enable the county to avoid becoming a member of the Metro system and paying millions of dollars each year for system-wide maintenance of Metro that would gut the county’s transportation budget.



Stimpson Launches Primary Challenge To Howell

This just came in over the window transom into Virtucon’s virtual offices. We’ve known about this for a while, but have held off on releasing this so that Susan could do so on her own terms…

Over the last two years, I’ve heard the same thing from people across Stafford County and Fredericksburg: the politicians in Richmond are out of touch.  They raise our taxes, waste our money and always ask for more—all while we’re forced to cut our household budgets and sit in traffic.

That’s why earlier today I announced my candidacy for the House of Delegates in House District 28, which has been held for nearly 28 years by Delegate Bill Howell, the Speaker of the House.

Bill Howell has been the consistent force behind every major tax increase in Virginia in the last decade. He has voted for them, he has engineered them and they are his legacy.

Simply put, Bill Howell has lost his way and is the chief architect of a tax-and-spend agenda that rewards the politicians and punishes the middle class. It is time for a change.

<spanstyle=”text-decoration: underline;”>Bill Howell has been a friend, but we have profound policy disagreements. We’ve helped each other in the past and we have worked together at many levels to elect Republicans to office.  I was thrilled in 2009 when Republicans won all three statewide offices in Virginia and gained a super majority in the House of Delegates. But instead of leading as a conservative to transform government, Bill Howell squandered that opportunity by crafting the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history in 2013.

Howell repeatedly sides with the liberal Democrats and The Washington Post editorial pages and thinks government needs more money. The truth is Richmond has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.

To make matters worse, Speaker Howell promised those new tax dollars would be spent to improve our roads. But after the 2013 tax hike, in their very next budget, the General Assembly unlocked the transportation “lockbox” and rolled the money into the general fund breaking that promise. Republicans must put a halt to the duplicitous nature of the tax-and-spend crowd in Richmond.

Speaker Howell has equally been a champion of skyrocketing spending. Virginia’s budget has doubled under Howell’s leadership. This year alone he grew the budget over 13%.

Conservative Republicans do not continually raise taxes and grow the size of government.

Governing is about making tough decisions, actually living within our means like families do every day, and doing right by the people who elect us.

I look forward to highlighting my record of cutting taxes, cutting spending and making government more efficient while prioritizing funds for roads, schools and public safety with Speaker Howell’s tax hiking, big spending record.  

For the first time in decades, voters will finally have a real choice and Bill Howell will have to explain why his engineering of massive tax increases in 2004, 2007 and 2013, and the doubling of Virginia’s budget while we still sit in traffic, are good things for Virginians.


Susan Stimpson

P.S.: Deep-pocketed special interests in Richmond will spend whatever is required to protect Speaker Howell.  Please consider making a generous contribution now to help us build a strong campaign and make the choice clear to voters: conservative governance or tax hikes and out-of-control spending. Contribute Now!
Paid for and Authorized by Virginians for Susan Stimpson

The Perfect New Assistant Planning Director for PWC

Sometime between Nov. 19 and Nov. 21, Prince William County lost its Assistant Planning Director. No, he didn’t die or mysteriously disappear on a Malaysia Airlines flight. Ray Utz was arrested on the 19th and sometime between then and when InsideNOVA published an article on the 21st about his arrest on two counts of indecent exposure and two counts of obscene sexual display, Utz was either fired or resigned.

So, the county needs a new Assistant Planning Director and I know the perfect person for the job.

My son who will turn 5-years old later this month.


1. He is a Lego fanatic, particularly the Lego City line of items. He understands that you need a broad diversification of commercial and residential properties as well as many different transportation options. That alone puts him light years ahead of where the county is today.

2. He asks questions when something doesn’t make sense to him or he doesn’t understand it. Maybe our county’s planning wouldn’t be such a mess if the leaders of the planning department thought a bit about the big picture and asked some more questions.

3. Apparently unlike the previous occupant of the office (given the allegations against him), my son knows that you shouldn’t show your private parts to other people, especially in public.

Those are three solid reasons right there why my son would be a better Assistant Planning Director for Prince William County than Ray Utz was.

Scott Jacobs’ Statement of Economic Interests Makes for Interesting Reading

Scott Jacobs, the Republican-turned-Independent candidate for Brentsville Dist. supervisor in Prince William County, has filed his Statement of Economic Interests as a candidate (see here and here). It appears that once again, just as his sloppy handling of a simple filing fee cost him the chance to compete for the GOP nomination, Mr. Jacobs put his incompetence on display once again with this filing (and perhaps revealed an intriguing issue with the county’s assessment system.)

While The Derecho has already delved into these statements and discovered some interesting things of his own (with one correction – it is the 12923 Fitzwater parcel that is not listed on the statements submitted by Jacobs), there are other things to pick apart here as well.

Let’s take a closer look —

13460 Nokesville Rd. LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
.89 acres of Vacant land
Zoned agricultural
Assessed for $3500 in 2014
Purchased by Scott Jacobs 3/5/2014 for $50,000

12814/16 Fitzwater Dr. Zoned General Business LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
1 home and 1 commercial building (formerly Nokesville Flowers) on .8679 acres
Purchased 10/14/2010 for $330,000 (I think it was a short sale)
Property was purchased and still is held under Scott and Kim Jacobs
Assessed in 2014 for $390,100

This property fronts the large undeveloped tract known as Hale Farm (owned by real estate investors since late 90’s, including Bob Sowder). The Hale property is a huge property along the railroad tracks that the owners want to develop with high density housing and a VRE station

Then things really become interesting in January 2012 when Scott was appointed by Wally Covington to the Prince William County Strategic Plan Committee. As a member of the committee, Jacobs received briefings on various future county plans functions including transportation – specifically VRE and transit.

After the Prince William Strategic Plan Committee transportation briefing in November 2012, Scott Jacobs purchased the following properties along the railroad tracks in Nokesville at the location of the proposed future Nokesville VRE:

12917 Fitzwater Dr. SFH on .5583 acres, Zoned General Business LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
Purchased 9/27/12 for $240,000
Property was bought by Scott and Kim Jacobs but sold for $330,000 to 7/30/14 to Fitzwater Dr. Acquisition LLC, which made Scott and his wife $90,000 for the two years they held the property.
Assessed in 2014 for $234,500
Fitzwater Dr. Acquisition LLC. Was formed 7/2/14
The registered agent is Nicholas Jacobs (Scott’s brother) but there could be multiple others in the LLC
Because the property is listed on Scott Jacob’s Schedule H-2 of his Statement of Economic Interests as one of his properties, that means Scott and/or his wife Kimberly are also partners in Fitzwater Dr. Acquisition LLC.

12523 Marsteller Dr. Vacant lot 1.0 acres, zoned General Business LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
Purchased by Scott Jacobs 11/1/2012 for $30,000
Assessed in 2014 for $22,200

12615 Marsteller Dr. Vacant lot 1.0 acres, zoned General Business LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
Purchased by Scott Jacobs 11/1/2012 for $30,000
Assessed in 2014 for $22,200

12923 Fitzwater SFH on .4851 acres, Zoned General Business NOT LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2
Purchased 8/1/2014 by Scott and Kim Jacobs for $270,000
Assessed in 2014 for $207,700
Scott has told people he is going to relocate his growing real estate business to this house.

All the Fitzwater lots would be in the section of Nokesville that Scott wants to develop and make walkable with shops and restaurants.
The Marsteller lots are alongside the railroad tracks where the Nokesville VRE would be built if it was put into the transportation plan.

Properties outside PWC:
120/230 Executive Center Parkway Fredericksburg, VA LISTED ON Scott Jacob’s Statement of Economic Interest H-2

With the exception of 12814/16 Fitzwater Dr. parcel, each of the properties Jacobs owns in Prince William county are assessed for lower than what he paid for them even though some of these parcels were purchased at times when the real estate market in the county was further depressed than it is today. Since the county assesses real estate every year and it bases values on the sale prices of nearby properties, why does Jacobs appear to be getting such a discount on his property taxes via the curiously lower assessment values?

So, in addition to “forgetting” to disclose his most recent property purchase made on Aug. 1 of this year on these filings made on Oct. 20, one has to wonder if Jacobs is getting some sort of preferential treatment (a “Friends and Family Discount”?) from the county on his property taxes thanks to their current assessment values vis-a-vis their actual purchase prices.

Big Changes Are Coming To Virtucon…

Virginia Virtucon first went live March 23, 2006 after several of us split from another blog that we were affiliated with at the time. For nearly the past nine years I have played a major role with this blog, serving as Editor-in-Chief for most of that time. A lot of contributors have come and gone during those years while others have been with us this entire time. I am proud of the work that we have done here and also that we have had fun doing it. This is a passion for us – we don’t get paid, we do it because we have strongly held principles and beliefs that we want to apply to current events and share with our readers.

Today marks a new chapter in Virginia Virtucon’s history as I turn over the reigns to my successor as Editor-in-Chief, Terrence Boulden. As I look ahead to possible new endeavors, I want to ensure that what we have built with Virginia Virtucon lives on and I believe that is best served by having someone at the helm who can give it the full attention that it deserves. Terrence represents the best aspects of what Virtucon attempts to offer — thoughtful analysis, interesting policy prescriptions and a sense of humor.

While I am stepping back from the leadership role I have had here, I will still offer occasional commentary as time and circumstances may dictate. To use a FOX News analogy, think of Virtucon as Special Report. Brit Hume started it and then handed it off to Bret Baier who has taken it to the next level. Hume still makes the occasional brief appearance, but it is Baier’s show now. Please join me in wishing Terrence success in going forward and taking Virtucon to the next level!

– Jim Riley

Guest Post: Natural Gas – Virginia’s Small Business Boon

Guest Post by Willie Deutsch

In the 2014 Midterm Elections, voters supported candidates whose platforms focused on job creation for small businesses. This comes as no surprise, given that between 2005 and 2012 overall employment declined, adding the strain of economic turbulence to all of the other challenges small businesses face throughout the commonwealth. Most Virginians believe a healthy economy is reflected by small business growth, and they want policies that promote growth.

In a recent report by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council titled “Benefits of Natural Gas Production and Exports for U.S. Small Businesses,” economist Ray Keating explains how expanded natural gas production across the country has spurred job creation within the small business community, especially in Virginia. The report states that the Commonwealth’s production has expanded by over sixty-five percent from 2005 to 2012. As a result, businesses supporting oil and gas operations have quickly grown. For example, jobs within the oil and gas pipeline and related structures construction sector have grown by over 100 percent over the same period. While overall job growth was barely one percent, Virginia’s energy sector has continued to produce job and business growth opportunities.

These job increases correlate directly to Virginia’s small business community. According to the report, Virginia’s energy sector is overwhelmingly populated by small and mid-size businesses. In the five energy industries evaluated in his report, Keating notes that businesses with less than 500 employees make up at least 90 percent of employer establishments. Native small business enterprises are able to capitalize on the domestic shale revolution by hiring more employees to handle operations.

It would make sense, then, to support policies that allow oil and gas related small businesses to continue to grow. Unfortunately, current federal policies restricting natural gas exports undermine this effort. If Virginians want to support the continued expansion of oil and gas sector small businesses, it would be prudent to support unencumbered natural gas exports. As Economics 101 teaches us, a larger market will incentivize production which will in turn allow businesses to hire more employees. Doing so would create more jobs, increase GDP, and promote economic stability throughout the state.

PWC-Loudoun Split Politically For First Time In Modern Era

I noticed something very interesting in last week’s election results. For the first time in at least 20 years, Prince William County and Loudoun County split in how they voted for the top of the ticket. While Ed Gillespie narrowly carried Loudoun County by about 0.5%, Mark Warner carried PWC by almost 3%. I have reviewed the top of the ticket for every statewide race in Virginia going all the way back to 1996 and this is the first instance of this occurring. As our friend “The Derecho” pointed out last week in his post-election summary, the approval of several high density developments in Prince William County by the Republican-dominated Board of Supervisors has ironically led the county to becoming more Democratic in its leanings. As he wrote:

It would be ironic however if the greatest source of campaign funds to several of our GOP Supervisors ultimately led to the loss of their seats as their districts become more dense and more blue.

I have been sounding the warning on this for years (and most recently predicted this outcome in June of this year.) I fear that we may have reached the tipping point now with this year’s election as PWC and Loudoun split. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure this out. Cities and the inner suburbs of many cities tend to vote Democratic. Just look at any map from the past 100 years or so. Why any political body controlled by Republicans would advance land use planning and other policies that would lead to their own political defeat is simply baffling. However, that is exactly what has been taking place in PWC for the past 15 years and has accelerated over the past five or so. More apartments, more townhouses, more condos only bring more Democratic voters.

For a review of the past several statewide elections that were at the top of the ticket and how PWC and Loudoun voted, see below. Given the trendlines, I would not be surprised to find this split becoming permanent.


Candidate Votes Percent
Ed W. Gillespie Republican 45,500 49.08%
Mark R. Warner Democrat 45,042 48.59%

Candidate Votes Percent
Ed W. Gillespie Republican 45,366 47.49%
Mark R. Warner Democrat 48,140 50.39%


Candidate Votes Percent
DEM Party Terry R. McAuliffe 44,369 49.55%
REP Party Ken T. Cuccinelli II 40,464 45.19%

Candidate Votes Percent
DEM Party Terry R. McAuliffe 50,441 51.94%
REP Party Ken T. Cuccinelli II 42,431 43.69%


Mitt Romney 75,292 47.03%
Barack Obama 82,479 51.53%

Mitt Romney 74,458 41.32%
Barack Obama 103,331 57.34%


Robert F. “Bob” McDonnell 39,996 61.04%
R. Creigh Deeds 25,430 38.81%

Robert F. “Bob” McDonnell 43,993 58.70%
R. Creigh Deeds 30,847 41.16%


Barack Obama and Joe Biden 74,845 53.66%
John McCain and Sarah Palin 63,336 45.41%

Barack Obama and Joe Biden 93,435 57.51%
John McCain and Sarah Palin 67,621 41.62%

Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
J H Webb Jr Democratic 40,381 50.07%
G F Allen Republican 39,249 48.67%

Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
J H Webb Jr Democratic 44,503 50.51%
G F Allen Republican 42,409 48.13%


Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
T M Kaine Democratic 31,074 51.64%
J W Kilgore Republican 27,539 45.76%

Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
T M Kaine Democratic 33,364 49.95%
J W Kilgore Republican 32,178 48.17%


Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
Bush/Cheney Republican 60,382 55.69%
Kerry/Edwards Democratic 47,271 43.60%

Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
Bush/Cheney Republican 69,776 52.84%
Kerry/Edwards Democratic 61,271 46.40%


Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
J W Warner Republican 40,196 82.67%
N B Spannaus Independent 4,490 9.23%
J G Hornberger Independent 3,530 7.26%

Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
J W Warner Republican 43,375 81.44%
N B Spannaus Independent 5,660 10.63%
J G Hornberger Independent 4,186 7.86%


M L Earley (R) 53.44% 24,372
M R Warner (D) 45.84% 20,907

M L Earley (R) 52.35% 30,543
M R Warner (D) 46.79% 27,297


Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
Bush/Cheney Republican 42,453 56.12%
Gore/Lieberman Democrat 30,938 40.89%

Candidates Party Vote Totals: Percentage
Bush/Cheney Republican 52,788 52.52%
Gore/Lieberman Democrat 44,745 44.52%


D S BEYER JR (D) 13,697
J S GILMORE III (R) 20,997

D S BEYER JR (D) 18,110
J S GILMORE III (R) 32,049


DOLE/KEMP (R) 25,715

DOLE/KEMP (R) 39,292

ELECTION DAY OPEN THREAD – Share Your Stories Here!

Polls are now open in the Commonwealth of Virginia and will remain open until 7 p.m. tonight. So long as you are in line by 7 p.m., you will be allowed to vote.

Have you voted yet? How long did it take you to get through the line? What sort of turnout has there been in your precinct so far? How were the various campaigns and parties represented at your polling place? Share your stories here throughout the day and keep checking back to see what others are saying!

Real Clear Politics Downgrades Mark Warner’s Chances for Reelection

Yesterday, we brought you news that Real Clear Politics said to keep your eyes on the Virginia senate race as one that may blindside pundits and pollsters on election night.  Today, we get further confirmation of such movement towards Ed Gillespie as RCP downgrades Mark Warner’s chances of holding the seat for Democrats from Likely Democrat to Leans Democrat.

va senate

The Christopher Newport University poll has show Gillespie closing fast on Warner, going from 20 points down to 12 and now 7 in their latest poll. If you thought Dave Brat upsetting Eric Cantor in the primary was huge, this would be just as big. Furthermore, if Warner does go down or at the very least underperforms and doesn’t break 50%, you could see an upset in the 11th District with Suzanne Scholte defeating Gerry Connolly who has run a campaign just as lackluster and devoid of purpose as Warner’s has been.

UPDATE: Throwing even more gasoline on the fire, the only poll that showed Dave Brat with a chance of defeating Eric Cantor in the primary, Vox Populi, has this as a 4-point race, 44% Warner-40% Gillespie-5% Sarvis. This poll has a sample of 34% Democrats, 31% Republicans and 35% independents with an Obama approval/disapproval rating of 44%/56%.

Real Clear Politics Says Pollsters and Pundits May Be Blindsided in VA Senate Race

Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics says keep your eye on the Virginia Senate race as it could be the one that blindsides the pollsters and pundits on Tuesday:

The first scenario involves the working hypothesis I’ve used for most of this cycle: Gravity wins out. In that scenario, Democrats are effectively capped by the president’s job approval, and undecided voters break heavily toward Republicans. Indeed, most of what we see right now is perfectly consistent with this theory. Democrats tend to run a few points ahead of the president’s projected job approval in their states: They are generally polling in the low 40s in the red states, in the mid-to-high-40s in the purple states, and in the low 50s in the bluer states.

Under this scenario, we should expect to see something akin to what we’ve seen over the past few months: A gradual improvement of the GOP’s position in most races. The most prominent example of this is in New Hampshire, where Scott Brown has won over virtually every undecided voter, but you can also see a gentler version of this in the Virginia Senate race. This would be something like what occurred in 1980 and 1994, when we really were blindsided by a number of the races that broke for Republicans. If this happens, we’d see double-digit gains for the GOP in the House and probably nine or 10 seats picked up in the Senate. (emphasis added)

Virtucon’s 2014 Pre-Election Congressional Analysis

One thing is certain no matter which party holds the majority in the Senate after the elections – they will likely have a narrower majority than the current 55-45 split Democrats have now. National Journal writes, “Republicans now are positioned to net between six and nine Senate seats in the upcoming midterms, with the higher end looking more likely. Most of the battleground Senate contests are now either trending in a Republican direction or remaining stable with a GOP advantage.” The RealClearPolitics’ electoral map is predicting that Republicans pick up a net of seven seats.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC/Annenberg survey helps explain this potential political sea change. Among likely voters’ congressional preferences, 52% favor Republicans to 41% for Democrats. Even among the larger registered voters sample, Republicans hold a four-point edge, 46%-42%. This points to a less energized Democratic base without a presidential candidate running at the top of the ticket.

Following are brief rundowns on the key races in play.

* indicates incumbent

ALASKA: Mark Begich (D)* vs. Dan Sullivan (R)

Sen. Mark Begich has trailed former Alaska Attorney General/Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources Dan Sullivan in all nine public polls conducted since Sullivan captured the Republican nomination in August. Begich has been unable to get above the 45% threshold in any poll and remains mired in the low 40s. Most analysts and election models have moved this race into the “Republican Pick-Up” column.

ARKANSAS: Mark Pryor (D)* vs. Tom Cotton (R)

Many of the same dynamics in Alaska are at work in Arkansas where another incumbent Democrat senator representing a red state is battling stiff winds. Out of the 19 polls taken in Arkansas since May, Mark Pryor only led in two of them. The five polls taken so far during October give Rep. Tom Cotton an average 5.0% lead with the most recent polls showing him closing in on 50%. Meanwhile Pryor’s polling average of 41.8% is dangerous territory for an incumbent. The conventional wisdom of political pundits is that Republicans will gain this seat as well, inching them closer to the net six seat increase they need to win control of the Senate.

COLORADO: Mark Udall (D)* vs. Cory Gardner (R)

Until early September, Udall appeared to be defying the forces that were dragging down Begich and Pryor. However, Rep. Cory Gardner has taken the lead over Udall in 11 of the last 12 polls conducted in the state. Udall’s current poll average is just 43.9%. Compounding matters for Udall, the state’s largest liberal-leaning newspaper, The Denver Post, endorsed Gardner. While not as certain a pick-up as Alaska and Arkansas, this race has shifted from Lean Democrat to Lean Republican on prognosticators’ radar screens.

GEORGIA: (OPEN – R) Michelle Nunn (D) vs. David Perdue (R)

Georgia offers Democrats their best opportunity to offset Republican gains elsewhere if they can win this seat being vacated by Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Democrats nominated Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, who previously headed up the Points of Light Foundation started by President George H.W. Bush. Republicans did not select their candidate until a runoff in July when Fortune 500 businessman David Perdue, cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, claimed the nomination. The race is tied at this point with each candidate leading in two polls and tied in a fifth. A third-party candidate in this race makes it possible that no candidate receives the 50% needed to avoid a Jan. 6 runoff. Democrats need to win this seat outright in November as Republicans are favored to retain it if this goes to the runoff.

IOWA: (OPEN – D) Bruce Braley (D) vs. Joni Ernst (R)

If Georgia is the Senate seat Republicans should not have had to worry about this late in the game but must, then Iowa is that one for the Democrats. Rep. Bruce Braley (D) was chosen early on as his party’s successor to Sen. Tom Harkin (D). Braley quickly dispelled the air of inevitability around his campaign with a series of gaffes including one in which he disparaged both the farming profession and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) who is one of the state’s most popular politicians. State Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has led Braley in the seven out of ten of the most recent polls and was tied with him in two others. Her Real Clear Politics average lead over Braley is currently 2.1%. Early voting data being reported out of Iowa appears to indicate an advantage for Ernst consistent with her slight poll advantage.

KANSAS: Pat Roberts (R)* vs. Greg Orman (I)

Sen. Pat Roberts survived a multi-candidate primary with 48% of the vote in early August only to find himself in another multi-candidate election against Independent Greg Orman and Democrat Chad Taylor. That race became even more complicated for Roberts when Taylor dropped out of the race. Issues stemming from Roberts’ Kansas residency and his length of time in Washington hurt his standing with voters in the state and Orman quickly jumped to a lead. Roberts has since fought back painting Orman as a stealth Democrat and the race is now tied with each candidate leading in four October polls. Orman has said that he will caucus with whichever party holds the Senate majority, but has not stated which party he would caucus with if he held the deciding vote.

KENTUCKY: Mitch McConnell (R)* vs. Alison Lundergan Grimes (D)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced in mid-October that they were pulling their resources out of Kentucky and leaving Grimes to fend for herself. (They have since reversed themselves and reengaged after receiving pressure from their top donors.) McConnell appears to have taken command of this race, leading his opponent in nine of the ten polls conducted since Labor Day. The one organization that showed a Grimes lead during this time gave McConnell the lead in a later poll.

LOUISIANA: Mary Landrieu (D)* vs. Bill Cassidy (R) vs. Rob Maness (R)

Louisiana holds what they call an “Open Primary” on the day the rest of the country holds the general election. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, the top two candidates proceed to a Dec. 6 runoff. Sen. Landrieu currently leads the open primary polling with an average of 37.5% of the vote followed closely by Rep. Cassidy with 34.3% and Maness at 9.3%. Polling for the runoff gives Cassidy a 5.8% advantage, 47.3%-41.5%. It is possible that the runoff may decide control of the Senate meaning Election 2014 could head for overtime between this race and the one in Georgia.

MONTANA: (Open – D) Steve Daines (R) vs. Amanda Curtis (D)

Rep. Steve Daines is the prohibitive favorite in this race after Sen. John Walsh (D) dropped out following revelations that he plagiarized his thesis while a graduate student at the Army War College. Daines holds a 20-point lead over Curtis.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Jeanne Shaheen (D)* vs. Scott Brown (R)

Sen. Shaheen faces her former Senate colleague Scott Brown as he attempts a political comeback in his home state after representing Massachusetts in the Senate. Shaheen holds an average lead of 2.2% over Brown, but remains shy of the 50% mark and trails him by 1% in the most recent poll. Since winning the Republican nomination in September, Brown has steadily closed the gap in polls and The Cook Political Report has now moved this race into the “Toss-Up” column. If there is an upset on election night, this is the state to watch. Most polling places close in New Hampshire at 7 p.m., but a handful remain open until 8 p.m., so results will not be known until after all the polls in the state have closed. The results in this race, especially if the race is called quickly for one candidate or the other, should be a good bellwether as to how the two parties will fare nationwide.

NORTH CAROLINA: Kay Hagan (D)* vs. Thom Tillis (R)

For much of the year, Sen. Hagan has been on the offense against Tillis as she worked to tie him to the unpopular North Carolina legislature where he is Speaker of the House. While the race had been see-sawing throughout the summer, a massive Democratic ad blitz took its toll on Tillis in September as Hagan opened up a lead. Republican outside groups joined the fray in October and a shift in issue focus to the federal level – in particular the government’s response to Ebola and revelations that Hagan had skipped a briefing on ISIS to attend a campaign fundraiser as well as her family business profiting from the federal stimulus she voted for – has closed the gap once again. Hagan’s poll average is 43.6%, just a point over Tillis.

SOUTH DAKOTA: (OPEN – D) Mike Rounds (R) vs. Rick Weiland (D) vs. Larry Pressler (I)

South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds was viewed as easily picking up the seat of retiring Sen. Tim Johnson for the Republicans. While Rounds is still viewed as the favorite to win the seat, the entrance of former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler as an Independent has complicated matters. Sensing an opportunity, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dropped $1 million in the state on behalf of Weiland, forcing the National Republican Senatorial Committee to do likewise. Pressler’s leftward drift, including his support for President Obama, has been the focus of Republicans as of late and appears to have taken the wind out of Pressler’s sails.

VIRGINIA: Mark Warner (D)* vs. Ed Gillespie (R)

This race appeared to be “the one that got away” for Republicans despite nominating the candidate they wanted in former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie. Sen. Warner consistently held a double-digit lead over Gillespie throughout the year despite hovering at or just below the 50% threshold. This race was thrown a curveball just before Columbus Day when The Washington Post reported that Sen. Warner was under investigation by the FBI for suggesting he could arrange a federal judicial appointment for the daughter of a Virginia state senator in exchange for the state senator not resigning from office and thus handing control of the chamber to Republicans. Every election there tends to be one race where pundits wake up the next morning and ask themselves, “How the heck did that happen!?!?!?!?” This is the dark horse race to watch on Tuesday night.

WEST VIRGINIA: (OPEN – D) Shelley Moore Capito (R) vs. Natalie Tennant (D)

The only question remaining in this race is the size of Capito’s victory. Rep. Capito has been polling over 50% since July while her opponent has been mired in the 30s. This race could have larger implications for the Senate majority as there has been speculation that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin could either switch parties or become an Independent who caucuses with the Republicans should the GOP win a Senate majority. If Capito’s victory margin is sizable enough, it could prove to be a catalyst for such a move by Manchin who is rumored to be unhappy in Washington and considering a return to the governorship. A shift in Manchin’s partisan allegiances would mirror the shifting electorate in West Virginia.

POST-ELECTION: The Impact of Independents

In addition to the wildcards of Orman in Kansas and Manchin in West Virginia, one cannot forget Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with the Democrats, indicated in April that if Republicans retook the Senate he would consider crossing the aisle to caucus with the GOP. King previously has stated his decision on which party to side with would be determined by what is best for his state and the committee assignments he would receive.

While we may have a fairly good picture of the state of the Senate after Election Day, we probably will not know the final composition of it until two months later once Georgia holds its likely runoff election.


The House currently is comprised of 233 Republicans and 199 Democrats with three vacancies. There are 228 seats that are now rated as solid, likely or lean Republican (10 more than the 218 needed for a majority) while Democrats have 187 seats in those same categories. Twenty seats, 13 Democratic and seven Republican, remain as toss-ups.

Republicans have instituted what they are calling their “Drive to 245,” an effort to win an additional 12 House seats. Such a gain would give them their largest House majority since the Truman presidency.

Democrats currently hold seven out of the top ten House seats most likely to change parties.


  1. UT-4 (Open – D)
  2. NC-7 (Open – D)
  3. CA-31 (Open – R)
  4. NY-11 (Grimm – R)
  5. NY-21 (Open – D)
  6. AZ-2 (Barber – D)
  7. CA-52 (Peters – D)
  8. IA-3 (Open – R)
  9. WV-3 (Rahall – D)
  10. NH-1 (Shea-Porter – D)