Del. Ken Plum: Lull Before the Political Storm

 

Del. Ken Plum/File photoIf the Virginia political scene seems to you to be quiet at the moment, stick around for we may just be experiencing a lull before the storm.

There are elections every year in Virginia, and at this point in the voting cycle there are numerous state and local offices on the ballot this fall. There are no federal elections.

At the state level, there are no statewide offices, but all seats in the General Assembly are up for election. State Senate seats are for four-year terms and contrary to the federal system where a third of the seats are up for election at any given time all 40 state senate seats are up this year. Delegates have two-year terms, and all 100 are on the ballot this fall.

Local elections vary by locality, but in Reston and Fairfax County all members of the Board of Supervisors are up for election this year as is the at-large chairman. In addition, offices referred to as “constitutional offices” because they are provided for in the state constitution are up for election this fall. In our region that includes the sheriff and clerk of the court. Judges in Virginia are elected by the legislature and not by direct election of the people.

Traditionally, election season has started the day after Labor Day, but increasingly it seems that the season never ends with one set of campaigns overlapping others. In instances where candidates are chosen by primary election, the primaries are not held until early June.

With the extensive gerrymandering of districts, there are fewer contested elections in the fall and greater attention to primary elections. With the divisions in the Republican Party among traditional Republicans, Tea Partyites, and other factions, there are significant primary elections this year. The Speaker of the House of Delegates is being challenged by a Tea Party member. As in previous decades with Democrats, a win in a Republican primary is tantamount to winning the general election in the fall.

Overlaying state and local elections are the activities at the federal level leading up to the presidential election next year. There are numerous Republican candidates that would provide much amusement if the business they are about would not be so serious. The Democratic field will narrow quickly.

As with any storm, we need to be prepared and to be vigilant. I fully recognize that most people do not get as excited about the political process as I do, but we do need to keep in mind that those persons offering themselves for office will determine the kind of government and future we will have.

Do not be turned away by the lighting and thunder that some campaigns generate. Inform yourself with knowledge of the candidates who will bring us a better future. Of course, I am biased in the persons I support, but ultimately I am concerned as we all need to be about the best future for the citizens of the Commonwealth.

Del. Ken Plum represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. His opinions do not represent those of Reston Now.

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