Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 29, 2014

Virginia: Warner, Kaine Disappointed With Controversial State Senate Bills

Virginia: Warner, Kaine Disappointed With Controversial State Senate Bills

Kaine said the Virginia state Senate will continue to be the butt of late night TV jokes. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — both former governors of the commonwealth — are disappointed with a couple of bills moving forward in the state Senate, including a proposal that would allocate the state’s presidential electoral votes by congressional district.

That bill, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bill Carrico, would give presidential nominees an electoral vote for each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts they carry, plus two at-large votes to the nominee that wins a majority of the districts. If the bill had been law last year, President Barack Obama would have won just four of the state’s 13 electoral votes, despite winning the state by some 150,000 votes.

“The vote is sacred,” Kaine said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “No legislative chamber should use this kind of partisan stunt to gain a temporary advantage at the expense of the electorate. It’s dirty tricks like this that will keep the Virginia legislature a staple on late night TV.”

Warner concurred with that sentiment just before walking into the party’s weekly Senate luncheon.

“It’s so unlike the state Senate. The state Senate has always been the more reasonable of the two bodies in Richmond,” Warner said. “Let’s put it this way: It’s not the Virginia way.”

A state Senate subcommittee advanced the bill on Wednesday to the full committee, two days after springing a mid-decade state Senate redistricting bill on Democrats and quickly passing it — on a day when a Democratic state senator was in Washington, D.C., attending the inauguration. Republicans control the state House and the governorship, while the state Senate is split 20-20.

Kaine and Warner released a joint statement on the redistricting proposal Tuesday, urging “legislative leaders and other elected officials to do the right thing to correct this disappointing and disruptive partisan action.”

Republicans hold eight of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts. CQ Roll Call contacted each Republican’s office Thursday for comment on the electoral college proposal, but with no votes scheduled in the House, none were available for immediate comment.

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