Virginia Democrats Get Petty, And It Is A Glorious Sight
We've often argued that Democrats need to play hardball, and the new Democratic Senate majority in Virginia is showing how it's done. Yesterday, Republican state Sen. Amanda Chase learned she was serving on just one committee -- local government -- after the Democrats approved committee assignments. She used to serve on three more -- education and health; privileges and elections; and transportation. She's the only senator to serve on just one committee and the only Republican not in their first term who isn't on at least three.
But no one likes Amanda Chase for the complicated reason that she's terrible. Chase, who likes to pack a visible pistol on the Senate floor, ran a Facebook ad last September stating that she "wasn't afraid to shoot down gun groups." She later claimed the digital media company she hired "screwed up" her original ad. In July, she posted on her official Facebook page: "It's those who are naive and unprepared that end up raped. Sorry but I'm not going to be a statistic." Facebook hasn't done Chase many favors.
Chase capped off an awesome year politically with her withdrawal from the Republican caucus. She vowed to continue voting Republican and doing awful Republican things but she just couldn't stomach fellow Republican Tommy Norment, who was re-elected Senate minority leader. This was probably more a "you can't fire me, I quit" situation after the Chesterfield GOP expelled her from membership in September. She'd refused to support the Republican candidate for sheriff.
But Chase isn't the only Republican to get (rightly) marginalized in the new Democratic world order. Democrats have a 21 to 19 edge in the Senate and are dominating the committee assignments accordingly. Notably, there are 12 Democrats and just three Republicans on the Commerce and Labor committee, and the Finance and Appropriations committee has 11 Democrats and just five scraggly-ass Republicans. Minority Leader Norment is shocked and appalled.
NORMENT: A 12-3 distribution seems a little disproportionate to me.
Isn't it, though? Democrats don't dispute this. In fact, they point to how Republicans ran things when they were in power. The Commerce and Labor committee used to have 11 Republicans and four Democrats. The new Senate majority leader, Dick Saslaw, responded to Norment with epic shade.
SASLAW: We just figured this is what you all preferred. We tried to copy what you all did.
Oh snap! Let's hope US Senate Democrats are paying attention. We don't want to hear any bullshit about "restoring Senate norms" when Democrats regain the majority. No, we want them to out-McConnell Mitch McConnell. We want to see middle fingers extended, not olive branches. Hell, let's just go ahead and burn every olive tree to the ground. Republican Siobhan Dunnavant insisted that "two wrongs don't make a right." She can go teach kindergarten with that nonsense.
Chase vowed to stalk all the other committees as an observer. She also claimed that the Democrats did her a favor because they're "freeing" her to "really represent" her district.
CHASE: What was meant for evil is actually going to turn out for good.
Then she vanished in a puff of smoke.
The local government committee is set to review a bill that will grant localities the power to remove Confederate monuments (finally!). Chase was part of the Republican majority that stopped that bill in 2018. Now she's one of seven Republicans who'll watch eight Democrats replace Robert E. Lee statues with something that's not racist and treasonous. It's truly her version of the Bad Place.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.