What will the New Year bring to Prince William County? Hold on to your hats folks, it’s going to be a rather bumpy ride.
Wally Covington is pretty sure to be a lock for a judicial appointment early this year, which is going to open up a special election for the Brentsville Magisterial District. Jeanine Lawson has already announced and has her campaign off and running and is favored to win this. Don’t count out developers or other special interests that might try to derail this though, as they aren’t going to see Jeanine as a Supervisor who will be eager to do their bidding, and they may pony up someone and throw a bunch of cash at the campaign in order to preserve the developer-friendly majority on the Board of County Supervisors.
If Jeanine makes it on to the board, that threatens to some degree Corey Stewart’s ability to cobble together the bare majorities that often, but not always, thwart Gainesville Supervisor Peter Candland’s reform efforts. The potential for a Candland-Lawson-May minority to draw one or two other supervisors desperate to hang onto their positions in the 2015 elections by not being so blatantly in-the-bag for crony capitalism holds quite some potential. Marty Nohe, he of “I have no principles I’d be willing to die for” fame, is famous for jumping sides, as is Maureen Caddigan who is a bit better at not being so blatantly obvious about it.
Will John Jenkins finally bow out this year? Don’t expect that Neabsco is ever going to elect anyone better than Jenkins for the Board of Supervisors unless the highly impressive Lisa Bell decides that land use policy might be more of an interesting challenge than watching Chairman Milt impersonate a bobble-head doll the next time Dr. Walts wants to spend a hundred million dollars on Captain Nemo High School Part Deux. It’s going to happen sometime, it’s just hard to peg when that will be, and we all pray it’s a voluntary decision on John Jenkins’ part, who many of us admire even if we often disagree with him. If he retires this year, that makes two special elections for the Board of Supervisors and that could potentially bring us to a 4-5 split on the Board of Supervisors if everything turns out right.
Speaking of potential retirements, the question of Chuck Colgan always looms large. Clearly his seat is too valuable to Democrats to put it in play right now, especially when for the first couple of weeks of the General Assembly session Republicans will have a majority in the Senate pending the outcome of the special election in the 33rd Senate District that Mark Herring is vacating. If either of the two special elections to fill Senate seats being vacated by Democrats elected to state-wide office are won by Republicans, the entire reason Democrat leadership have been pounding on Colgan to stay entirely evaporates. Yes, we in Prince William County have a real interest in the outcome of the 33rd Senate District election on January, and throwing some extra bucks at John Whitbeck while tossing some well-deserved insults at Joe “Benedict Arnold” May are quite worthwhile. If Whitbeck wins, we might get to replace Chuck Colgan, finally. I could easily see Colgan announcing his retirement after this session of the General Assembly if Democrats lose the majority in the Senate.
Also on the subject of retirements, the retirement of Frank Wolf in the 10th Congressional District is going to enormously stir the political pot in Northern Virginia. The Republican nomination will almost certainly be decided at a convention and there are likely going to be plenty of candidates to draw a packed crowd in whatever venue can be found in the region for a convention of the kind of size that this will probably be. Most district conventions like this draw about 1,500 or less and I’m figuring we could easily see twice that for this. That makes it pretty challenging to find a venue - we could end up with one of the first outdoor conventions ever in a place like Jiffy Lube Live. That could be a lot of fun.
The expected candidates for this include Dick Black (yuuup!), Barbara Comstock (meh), Keith Fimian (?) and a few others are quite likely to throw their hat in the ring. The establishment (particularly Eric Cantor) wants Comstock to be the pick and will probably throw quite a bit of money behind her, while Black is going to be the grassroots favorite and he’s no slouch at fundraising. Fimian, despite his great success at fundraising is not going to find getting traction in this race will be anywhere as easy for him as it was during his runs against Gerry Connolly in the 11th. Regardless of what the field ends up to be, it should be an interesting reprise of the 2012-2013 political battles within the Republican Party and at least at the primary stage, and those haven’t been settled yet. In the 10th, the grassroots are the big dog so I’m expecting Dick Black is going to have the inside track at least for a while.
Terry McAuliffe as our new Governor is going to have more of an impact at the local level than previous governors, simply because of the example of the Obama perpetual campaign and how McAuliffe is a product of that mentality from his time as DNC Chairman. In McAuliffe’s book “Oh What A Party” he didn’t at all mince words about how he viewed the power of a Governorship to hand out contracts and other favors to political interests and there’s no reason to believe his outlook has changed at all since he’s written that. The business community wants the Bi-County Parkway and they have money, his contributors can benefit from road construction contracts, so expect McAuliffe to do whatever he can to reward them. That’s just the beginning. Fortunately the General Assembly can really put a muzzle on such efforts and McAuliffe is going to face a pretty steep learning curve during this first session of the General Assembly as he inherits a budget proposal crafted by his predecessor. It’ll take a bit of time, but McAuliffe is going to try to make his mark on every locality in Virginia.
That’s going to give activists in Virginia plenty to do during the next four years.
So get ready for quite a ride in 2014. It’s been relatively quiet for a while and that’s coming to a rather abrupt end.
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