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Cuccinelli The Poet, Coliseum Avoids Referendum, Whittman Pivots On Guns: Political Analysis | August 16, 2019

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Jeff Schapiro from the Richmond Times-Dispatch joins WCVE News Director Craig Carper for this week's political analysis. Topics include a new policy discriminating against low-income immigrants, the Richmond Coliseum redevelopment project avoids voter referendum, and Congressman Rob Whittman pivots on gun control.

CC:  From WCVE News in Richmond, I'm Craig Carper.  Joining me now from the Richmond Times-Dispatch is political columnist and WCVE’s political analyst, Jeff Shapiro.   Good morning, Jeff. 

JS:  Good morning everyone.

CC:  The conservative firebrand Cuccinelli rolled out a policy this week under which legal low-income immigrants who apply for public benefits would risk deportation.

JS:  Yes, and 13 attorneys general, among them Virginia’s Mark Herring, are countering with a lawsuit, a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration.  And this is sort of fascinating, among the defendants, the named defendants is Ken Cuccinelli.  This is a rarity.  How often does an incumbent attorney general, Virginia attorney general sue a former Virginia attorney general, in this instance Mark Herring's immediate predecessor?   More dramatic, however, is that Cuccinelli is taking poetic license.  He has been rewriting, in effect, Emma Lazarus’s famous poem at the pedestal, on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.  Rather than welcome the poor huddled masses, the United States should insist as part of its immigration policy that newcomers be able to pay their way.  And one of the things that Cuccinelli is hearing and the considerable pushback that this is generating is that it's interesting that these are the thoughts of someone who is descended from Italian and Irish immigrants and who, like Jews, were reviled by the Protestant elite of the United States in the late-1800’s.  And now it appears that the, the grandchildren of that, that wave of immigrants, largely white immigrants, are now looking down on the current largely non-white wave of immigrants.  And this is giving the, the Democrats in the upcoming legislative election yet another familiar target for voter turnout in a state in which the electorate has changed dramatically and is arguably multi-hued.

CC:  And moving to Richmond, the Coliseum renovation plan narrowly escaped a voter veto this week.

JS:  City Council voted 5-3-1, one abstention, to turn down this advisory referendum that had been proposed by Reva Trammell, a member of council.  This project, a billion and a half bucks is pushed by the city's mayor and Tom Farrell, the head of the local energy monopoly.  There was as well a separate effort to put a ballot question before voters, pushed by gadfly, dare I call him that, Paul Goldman.  The election bureaucracy at City Hall said that Goldman failed to generate the requisite number of signatures.  Now these are important political obstacles that are cleared, but there are obstacles nonetheless that remain.  Farrell, et al, and Stoney and his crew now need to convince council to, to go along with this.  And, and one of the, one of the lingering aftereffects of this referendum debate, I think is what Reva Trammell said when she suggested this referendum.  And, and she touched on a very politically sensitive point, and that is that this proposal is still widely seen as a government subsidy for a lot of very rich people.

CC:  This week a Virginia Republican congressman pivoted on gun control coming out for stronger background checks.

JS:  Yes, this is because of El Paso and Dayton.  Rob Whittman, the congressman from the first district that includes the Northern Neck, the Middle Peninsula, heavily rural areas where gun rights are an article of faith.  The district also reaches up towards the Washington suburbs.  This is a guy with an A+ rating from the NRA, and yet he is now in support of stronger background checks, in other words, making them really universal.  He had opposed that quite recently in the Democrat-pushed gun package, anti-gun package if one may call it that, that got out of the House and is now bottled up in the, in the Senate.  There are as well some pivots taking place at the legislative level.  Tim Hugo, who was the chairman of the House Republican Caucus and among the most endangered Republicans in the House, representing Fairfax, the only Republican left representing parts of very blue Fairfax.  He's now in favor of this so-called red flag law that would allow the authorities to seize guns from potentially dangerous people.

CC:  Just about 30 seconds left, Jeff.  On the second anniversary of white separatist violence in Charlottesville, a former governor and a former Charlottesville mayor are mixing it up over what happened.

JS:  Ah, yes.  Terry McAuliffe, the once, and he hints, perhaps future governor, has written a book on the chaos in Charlottesville in 2017.  It was clearly intended as a way to kind of immunize him from criticism had he stood for president, which he was clearly considering.   He's very tough on, on Charlottesville, even tougher on the ACLU, which sided with some of the white separatists over the venue for this rally.  They were very concerned about protecting that statue of Robert E. Lee.  Mike Signer, the former mayor, has countered that this is a, a somewhat specious and selective recollection of the, of the facts. Meanwhile, the widows of two troopers killed in that copter crash are suing the state each for $15 million.

CC:  Thanks to Jeff Schapiro, political columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Jeff, we will catch up again next week.

JS:  Good weekend to you.

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