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VaNews
May 8, 2021
Top of the News

GOP seeks a candidate that can end its exile in Virginia

By MATTHEW BARAKAT AND BILL BARROW, Associated Press

Few places in the country have moved as quickly toward Democrats as Virginia, where Barack Obama ended his party’s 44-year presidential losing streak just 12 years ago. Republicans have won the governor’s mansion just once since then. And in 2020, the state wasn’t even considered a battleground. The shift has left Republicans in Virginia searching for a path back to power and looking primarily on the right.


As Virginia GOP readies for nominating convention, Trump looms large

By LAURA VOZZELLA, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Republicans will pick their nominees for Virginia governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general Saturday at a novel and unpredictable convention with just one certainty: former president Donald Trump still dominates the GOP in a state where he got walloped. Seven candidates — a modern record — are vying for the gubernatorial nomination in an ­“unassembled” convention, in which party delegates will cast ranked-choice ballots in 39 polling places around the state. The untested format was borne out of coronavirus pandemic restrictions and a protracted game of chicken between rival factions of the state party’s governing board.


VPAP Visual Some GOP Ballots Worth More Than Others

The Virginia Public Access Project

Not all the ballots cast in Saturday's state Republican Party convention will be weighted equally. Under rules used by both parties, each local delegation is assigned a fixed number of delegate votes -- regardless of how many people register and show up on Saturday. For instance, Smyth County has 68 delegate votes, but only 48 county residents registered to participate. If everyone shows up in Smyth, each ballot will be worth 1.4 delegate votes. Conversely, Prince William County has 511 delegate votes and 3,810 certified delegates. If everyone from Prince William shows up, each ballot cast will be weighted a bit more than 1/10th of a delegate vote. This visual looks at the estimated weighted vote of each local GOP unit.


Roughly 62% of likely voters consider flooding a serious threat to Virginia’s economy, poll shows

By PETER COUTU, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

A majority of likely voters view flooding and climate change as serious threats to Virginia and its economy — and want the state to do more to combat the issues, a new poll shows. The poll shows that many voters believe those are pressing concerns the government needs to address, with nearly half of the polled coastal voters reporting they believe sea level rise will directly impact them in the next decade.


Biden's goal is to have 70% of the adult population vaccinated with at least one dose. Can Virginia reach it?

By SABRINA MORENO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

In its newest vaccination target to reduce coronavirus case counts even further, the Biden administration is aiming to vaccinate 70% of adults with at least one dose in the U.S. by July 4. Is that goal likely to happen in Virginia within the same time frame? The short answer: maybe. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows 61.6% of Virginians in the 18-and-up age group, or 4.1 million people, have already received a shot.


In the shadows of Richmond Raceway, vaccination irony becomes evident

By TOM LAPPAS, Henrico Citizen

The Henrico community that’s proven the most difficult to vaccinate is the one that sits within eyesight of the region’s most successful vaccination hub, where more than 150,000 doses of vaccine have been administered. That irony, though, may not be surprising. The communities adjacent to the Richmond Raceway, where Henrico and Virginia Department of Health officials have been holding mass vaccination events for more than three months and which just this week surpassed that 150,000-vaccination mark, are among the most vulnerable in the county.


How a rural Virginia town came together for an unforgettable pandemic prom

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Prom started off the way all proms do — a bit awkward. A teen with magenta hair plopped down at a corner table and locked eyes with an iPhone screen. Four girls giggled as they rushed to the empty dance floor, while two boys eyed them nervously from the fringes of the room, their hands plunged into rented-tuxedo pockets.

The Full Report
34 articles, 18 publications

FROM VPAP

VPAP Visual Why We Don't Know Who is Behind $1 Million Attack Ads

The Virginia Public Access Project

For weeks, the four leading candidates for the GOP nomination for Governor have been hit with a barrage of mailed flyers, emails and text messages. While we know the names of the four PACs behind the attacks, little is known about who is funding the $1 million effort. This visual explains three reasons for the lack of transparency.


From VPAP Maps, Timeline of COVID-19 in Virginia

The Virginia Public Access Project

Our Virginia COVID-19 dashboard features VDH vaccination data, including what percentage of the state's population has received at least one shot and the number of vaccinations per 100,000 residents in each city and county. Our dashboard also makes it easy to track the latest available data for tests performed, infections, deaths and hospital capacity. There's also a filter for each city and county, plus an exclusive per-capita ZIP Code map. Updated each morning around 10:30 a.m.

STATE ELECTIONS

Can the GOP Win in the Suburbs Again? Virginia Offers Early Test

By JOSHUA JAMERSON, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

Republican officials and activists in Virginia will gather Saturday to choose their gubernatorial nominee, the party’s first major effort during President Biden’s tenure to win back voters in a state where Democrats made significant gains during Donald Trump’s presidency. Many in the GOP are optimistic about keeping this fall’s race for governor competitive, citing historical trends that suggest Virginians tend to use their off-year gubernatorial elections as a check on the most recent presidential election.


Virginia gubernatorial hopefuls key on 'election integrity' in major post-Trump contest

By ZACH MONTELLARO, Politico

The first statewide Republican nominating contest since former President Donald Trump left office has added a new issue to the top tier of traditional GOP campaign messages: “election integrity.” All four of the leading Republican candidates for this weekend’s “unassembled convention,” where Republican delegates will vote for their nominee at 39 sites around the state, are talking about election and voting rules on the trail and in ads, with some putting forth detailed plans for how they would change Virginia’s election rules.


GOP united in ire over energy law in Va. governor's race

By TIMOTHY CAMA, E&E News

Republicans will be picking their nominee for Virginia governor this week, and the GOP candidates generally agree on one thing: They hate the state's new energy law and want to overturn it. There are seven Republican hopefuls vying for the top job, and most have consistently bashed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, major legislation passed last year by the Democratic-majority Legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.


Virginia Democratic candidates for governor clash over style more than substance in second debate

By GREGORY S. SCHNEIDER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The five Democrats seeking their party's nomination for Virginia governor met in a debate Thursday night in Bristol that brought stylistic differences into sharper focus but highlighted few substantial policy disagreements. Former governor Terry McAuliffe seemed to look past his rivals in the June 8 primary election and instead attacked Virginia Republicans, who are choosing their nominee through a complicated convention process beginning Saturday.


Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Carroll Foy stumps in Charlottesville

By TYLER HAMMEL, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

With just over a month until the primary, Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy stopped in Charlottesville on Friday as part of a push for early voting. Despite dreary weather earlier in the day, Carroll Foy attracted a couple dozen supporters Friday evening at the Free Speech Wall on the Downtown Mall.


This weekend, 4 Republicans compete to be Virginia’s next attorney general

By ANA LEY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Virginia Republicans this weekend will choose a candidate to represent their party in this year’s race for attorney general, a job held by a Democratic incumbent who is seeking a third term in office. Among the Republican contenders, Virginia Beach state Del. Jason Miyares leads in fundraising, followed by Virginia Beach attorney Chuck Smith, Northern Virginia lawyer Jack White and Leslie Haley, an elected county supervisor in Chesterfield County, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

CONGRESS

Hampton Roads leaders make the case for infrastructure needs in visit with Sen. Mark Warner

By JOSH REYES, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Leaders of several regional authorities presented a united front Friday to Sen. Mark Warner as they laid out projects and efforts in Hampton Roads that would benefit from federal dollars. Warner said that kind of partnership is key to helping him funnel dollars toward Hampton Roads, especially as federal lawmakers develop pandemic stimulus packages and state and local governments prepare for an “unprecedented amount of one-time dollars.”


Area restaurant owners 'see light at the end of the tunnel'

By JOSH JANNEY, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-10th, met with several local business owners Thursday evening at the Hideaway Cafe on the Loudoun Street Mall to hear how they've dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic and to discuss how they can seek financial relief from the federal government. Kaine asked the business owners, most of them affiliated with the restaurant industry, how effective the CARES Act, American Rescue Plan and Paycheck Protection Program have been in providing aid.


Excitement Builds For Potential Rail-To-Trail Project From Broadway To Front Royal

By JESSICA WETZLER AND JIM SACCO, Daily News Record (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

In the past several weeks, the small town of Broadway, with a population of less than 4,000, has become a hot spot for elected officials visiting to learn more about a proposed linear park along a rail corridor spanning from the town to Front Royal. On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., made a stop in Broadway during his three-day swing through the Shenandoah Valley to meet with local volunteers and leaders at the potential location for the rail trail’s southern terminus — Heritage Park.

ECONOMY/BUSINESS

NFL will allow off-site training camps this year, but no decision yet on if Washington will come to Richmond

By MICHAEL PHILLIPS, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Metered Paywall - 7 articles a month)

In a memo to teams on Friday, the NFL relaxed its restriction from 2020 on teams holding training camp at a remote facility. That opens the door for the Washington Football Team to return to Richmond, though an appearance this August is by no means a certainty, and the team said it hasn’t yet made any decisions.

TRANSPORTATION

Miles of George Washington Parkway will see lane reduction as part of plan to boost safety

By JUSTIN WM. MOYER, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

The National Park Service is planning to put parts of Northern Virginia’s George Washington Memorial Parkway on a “road diet,” the agency says, reducing the number of travel lanes on the southern part of the route. Opened in 1932, the parkway was built by the federal government, designed as a “commemorative pilgrimage route to Mount Vernon as a memorial to George Washington,” the Park Service said in an April report outlining its latest plan. The report, which focused on a six-mile span between Alexandria and Mount Vernon, said the Park Service is seeking to improve the road while “maintaining the Parkway scenic and historic character.”


Kaine, regional officials discuss using American Rescue Plan funds to improve I-81

By BRIAN BREHM, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan approved by the federal government in March to address the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic includes billions of dollars that Virginia and its localities can use for road improvements. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Virginia Transportation Secretary Shannon Valentine were in Winchester Friday morning to hear how local and state representatives would like to use that money to better the 325-mile section of Interstate 81 that runs through the commonwealth.


Rockfish rockslide falls in a hard place

By BRYAN MCKENZIE, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

It started with a few rocks dribbling onto the pavement from above and ended with tons of soil, rock and debris shutting the road down. Rockfish Gap Turnpike, also known as U.S. 250, was shut down Monday as chunks of greenstone bedrock broke free and slid down the steep mountain side sandwiched between Interstate 64 and the turnpike.


Luray Airport marks major milestone with addition of mechanic shop

By RANDY ARRINGTON, Page Valley News

The Luray Caverns Airport has undergone improvements and changes in recent years, such as the addition of 24 hangers in 2008 to the creation of the Luray-Page County Airport Authority just six years ago. But over the next six years, this regional resource could see more than $9 million in upgrades and more leaps forward than at any point in its 53-year history. On Thursday, local officials gathered at the airport to celebrate one of the key catalysts for the growth that is coming — the opening of Aircraft Maintenance Solutions.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Lawsuit accuses VMI of racial discrimination

By LAURENCE HAMMACK, Roanoke Times (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

An Asian professor at Virginia Military Institute was denied tenure based solely on his appearance, he claimed Friday in a racial discrimination lawsuit. Lunpeng Ma’s lawsuit cites an ongoing investigation — commissioned by the state following concerns raised by Black cadets and alumni — that found VMI has a higher percentage of white tenured faculty than any other college or university in Virginia. “VMI has a glass ceiling that hinders Asian American professors from being promoted to tenured positions,” the lawsuit claims.


Blosser: Renaming LFCC may feel 'like a real loss,' but it's time to move forward

By ANNA MEROD, Winchester Star (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Lord Fairfax Community College is pressing forward to change its name after sharing how it came to the decision during an hour-long town hall held via Zoom and telephone Thursday night. Nearly 110 people attended the event. Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, a member of the LFCC College Board, told the audience it "wasn't a hasty decision." "We had 50 wonderful years of Lord Fairfax," Freakley said about the college founded in Middletown in 1970. "And we honor and respect those years."

CORONAVIRUS

James City County leading Historic Triangle with 41% of residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19

By EM HOLTER, Virginia Gazette (Metered Paywall - 4 Articles per Month)

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration set to authorize Pfizer vaccines to children ages 12 to 15, health professionals in the Historic Triangle are gearing up to administer those life-saving shots. Williamsburg Drug Co. has already begun planning to administer Pfizer vaccines to folks 16 and older as well as folks in low-income areas and home-bound residents. With walk-in clinics scheduled from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at the company’s on-site location at 240 McLaws Circle, folks are steadily pouring in to receive their vaccinations and they are not alone.


More Fredericksburg area doctors' offices getting the vaccine

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

When Dr. Kurt Graham realized the “perilously low” vaccination rate at his facility, he implored his co-workers to take a shot. He’s the medical director at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Fredericksburg, which deals with patients recovering from strokes or physical deterioration after long hospital stays. He learned on Monday that only about 42 percent of Encompass staff had been vaccinated, a rate comparable to what he’s heard anecdotally for health care workers at hospitals and nursing homes in the Fredericksburg area.


New reporting standards grow COVID-19 outbreaks in Pittsylvania-Danville Health District

By CHARLES WILBORN, Danville Register & Bee

The Virginia Department of Health on Friday changed the way it reports COVID-19 outbreaks, giving a one-day jump to a database dashboard. In Danville, that meant three more at long-term care facilities, one at a correctional unit and another at a school. The increase doesn’t indicate new outbreaks are occurring. Instead, outbreaks meeting this new criteria since Jan. 1 were included Friday under the new standards. A state database updated Friday did not list any active outbreaks in Danville or Pittsylvania County.


A Gloucester woman died after being vaccinated. A state investigation ruled she had COVID-19, but the family disagrees.

By ELISHA SAUERS, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

The state’s investigation into a woman’s death shortly after receiving a coronavirus vaccine ruled that the shot did not contribute to the fatality but she had COVID-19 and suffered other medical complications. The family of Drene Keyes, a 58-year-old Gloucester resident who died in January, disputes that determination. They paid for an independent medical examination that Keyes’ daughter, Lisa Jones, says conflicts with the state’s findings.

LOCAL

N.Va. schools willing to ditch three feet of distancing come fall

By HANNAH NATANSON, Washington Post (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

Northern Virginia schools are planning for the overwhelming majority of their students to return for in-person classes five days a week this fall — and some districts are willing to forgo social distancing to accomplish it. In school board meetings this week, the superintendents of Arlington Public Schools and Alexandria City Public Schools both said their divisions will not be able to maintain three feet of social distance in classrooms next year, as is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Arlington County firefighters allege extreme hazing, fear for their lives

By REBECCA BURNETT, WDVM-TV

Over a year ago, firefighter EMT recruit Brett Ahern alleged extreme bullying and hazing at the hands of one firefighter who was an instructor with the Arlington County Fire Department’s Training Academy. “He went out of his way to make a spectacle out of me and that usually wasn’t done with other recruits, at least not as brazenly as it was with me,” he said.


Prince William superintendent's lawyers explored settlement in defamation case

By NOLAN STOUT, Inside NOVA

Lawyers for the Prince William County Public Schools superintendent explored a settlement in a defamation case by the former chair of the School Board, but are still inching toward trial. In documents filed in Prince William County Circuit Court in late March, attorneys for Superintendent Steven Walts said they had explored “whether settlement discussions would be fruitful” with former board chair Ryan Sawyers.


Virginia Beach police find weapons in Oceanfront parking lots after landscapers trim bushes

By STACY PARKER, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Eight weapons have been found “in and around” the 19th Street municipal parking lots at the Oceanfront in the past two weeks, the police confirmed on Friday afternoon after The Virginian-Pilot inquired about it. “As a matter of protecting the public, any weapons found abandoned in public are taken into evidence,” Virginia Beach Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Cragg wrote in an email.


Chesapeake school board chairwoman under police investigation regarding unemployment benefits, court records show

By GORDON RAGO AND MARGARET MATRAY, Virginian-Pilot (Metered Paywall - 2 articles a month)

Chesapeake police are investigating School Board Chairwoman Victoria Proffitt’s collection of unemployment benefits while serving in her elected role, a search warrant affidavit filed in court shows. In February, a Chesapeake detective obtained a search warrant for Proffitt’s contracts, documents and pay records from Tidewater Community College, where she had worked as an adjunct math professor since 2015.


Stafford supervisors back away from parking fees at county beaches

By JAMES SCOTT BARON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

A $15-per-vehicle fee proposed by Stafford supervisors last month to allow visitors access to either of the county’s two beach parks during the summer months has been deferred indefinitely, meaning access to those parks will remain free. On Tuesday, supervisors voted 5–2 not to charge a fee at either Aquia Landing or the Historic Port of Falmouth, with Supervisors Mark Dudenhefer and Gary Snellings opposing the measure.


Space Force becoming key presence at Dahlgren Navy base

By CATHY DYSON, Free Lance-Star (Metered Paywall - 10 articles a month)

For more than a century, the King George County base has been the place where the Navy developed and tested the most powerful weapons used by warships on the high seas. Naval Support Facility Dahlgren also has recently become home to a small group that keeps its eye on military satellites—and other objects—in the sky. That’s the 18th Space Control Squadron, Detachment One, which is part of the U.S. Space Force, the sixth branch of the Armed Forces that focuses entirely on the great beyond.


Survey: More Black families in Albemarle favor staying all-virtual next year

By KATHERINE KNOTT, Daily Progress (Metered Paywall - 25 articles a month)

About one-fifth of Black families in the Albemarle County school division who weighed in on a recent survey want to stay virtual for the coming school year, compared with 6% of white families, according to results released this week.For the coming academic year, the division is planning to offer a full-time in-person option along with an all-virtual school, schools Superintendent Matt Haas announced last month.


Fine specimens: Get to know Charlottesville’s six newly protected trees

By ERIKA HOWSARE, Cville Weekly

Charlottesville wouldn’t be Charlottesville without its trees. When the city adopted a Tree Conservation Ordinance in 2013 to allow special protected status for certain trees, it was an acknowledgment of all their many benefits: beauty, history, a sense of place, and all the “ecosystem services” that trees provide for free. . . . The ordinance has previously been used to protect only 11 trees, but in early April, City Council used it to designate six more—individuals, all on public land, that are now protected from removal unless council specifically authorizes it.

 

EDITORIALS

Republicans hold their most unpredictable convention ever

Roanoke Times Editorial (Metered Paywall - 5 articles a month)

Virginia Republicans meet today — sort of — to pick their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. It’s safe to say this will be the most unusual and most unpredictable convention the party has ever held. How do you hold a convention during a pandemic? Here’s how: Convention delegates will go to one of 37 drive-in sites around the state to cast their ballots. That’s not even the most unusual part of the process: Virginia Republicans will be using ranked-choice voting, which means Republicans delegates will list their first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh choices for governor.


Get White’s Ferry running again

Washington Post Editorial (Metered Paywall - 3 articles a month)

There has been plenty of finger-pointing about the shutdown of the historic White’s Ferry, which provided a critical link between Maryland and Virginia. Some blame the owner of the land where the ferry docked in Loudoun County for being unreasonable — some say greedy — in demands for compensation over use of the land. Others fault operators of the private ferry for stonewalling any kind of fair payment. What’s not in dispute is who is paying the price: hundreds of daily commuters ...

COLUMNISTS

Schapiro: Investor Bills goes long on Virginia politics

By JEFF E. SCHAPIRO, Richmond Times-Dispatch (Access to this article limited to subscribers)

Michael Bills is going long on Virginia politics. “There are voices that deserve to be heard,” said Bills, the Charlottesville hedge fund guy. He, his political action committee (PAC) and his wife, lawyer Sonjia Smith, collectively have given $6.7 million this campaign season to Democratic candidates who share their left-of-center, bright-green agenda, which includes shackling Dominion Energy.