Sunday, May 24, 2009

Separate but Conjoined

As a long-time Virginia political junkie, I find it ironic that Virginia elections are now milestones in the national electoral cycle. The whole idea of separating state and national elections was to insulate the Commonwealth from pernicious influences that might endanger Byrd Organization control of state and local politics.

Things are different now. Virginia's off year election is a perfect opportunity to continue the never-ending political race. Consultants and functionaries can try out different strategies in a politically competitive state. Candidates benefit by the profile; they can appeal for funds in a year when demand is down and high-profile endorsements are readily available. Harry Byrd would not be pleased at the process. which is definitely too open and messy, not his style at all. He would gag at the size of the state government but he would probably be awed by the highway system.

Some things haven't changed. Virginia remains the least democratic states measured by the number of statewide offices open for election. Three. Governor, Lt Governor and Attorney General. Everyone else is appointed, another Harry Byrd legacy.



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