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Political Outsiders, Trump Disapproval, and Twitter Troubles for John Gray: Political Analysis for Friday, October 4, 2019

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Jeff Schapiro from the Richmond Times-Dispatch joins VPM News Director Craig Carper for this week's political analysis. Topics include conflict within state political parties, Trump trails in Virginia polls, and Twitter troubles for John Gray.

Phil Liles:  This is VPM news, and I'm Phil Liles in studio with VPM News Director Craig Carper and the Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Schapiro for this week's commentary, and good morning to both of you.

Craig Carper:  Good morning, Phil, and good morning, Jeff.

Jeff Schapiro:  Hi there.

Liles:  And in the Richmond area this morning, gentleman, Senate districts - a tale of two outsiders concerning Amanda Chase and Joe Morrissey.  Now, Amanda Chase on Monday was a kicked out of the Chesterfield County GOP, and Joe Morrissey being supported at a fundraiser on Wednesday by former governor Terry McAuliffe.  Craig?

Carper:  That's right.  Yes, these are two lawmakers who haven't made a lot of friends inside or outside of their party.

Schapiro:  Perhaps that's the point. [laughing] The senator from Chesterfield County was installed four years ago in large part because she was considered more approachable and, and better mannered than Steve Martin, a longtime incumbent.  But you know, one wonders even in this strongly Republican senate district south of the, the James, if, if Amanda Chase might be one of the first politicians in some time, at least in Virginia, to essentially embarrass her way out of a senate seat.   We will see.  One would think that is unlikely.  She, of course, is running against Amanda Pohl.  This latest problem - being booted from the, the Republican Committee, has done nothing to diminish Chase's full embrace of Donald Trump and her application, if you will, of Trump-like techniques.  She has been removed from the committee because she's refusing to support the party's nominee for sheriff, the incumbent.   She has publicly attacked him saying he's weak on illegal immigration and that he's responsible for Chesterfield becoming something which it is not -a sanctuary city.  Then over on the north side of the James at mid-week Fightin’ Joe Morrissey was fully embraced by the party establishment, which had organized to stop him for the Senate Democratic nomination for that district that reaches from Petersburg up, up to Richmond.  This endorsement by Terry McAuliffe, Dick Saslaw, the Minority Leader, has alarmed many, in particular, women's rights advocates.  Joe Morrissey has, has fathered probably as many personal controversies as children, but the Democrats, knowing that Morrissey can be unpredictable, want him on their side.  If there is a 20-20 Senate after November 5th, what's to prevent the ever unpredictable Joe Morrissey from aligning with the Republicans and giving them organizational control of the Senate?  So the remedy here for the Democrats is to win more seats, a minimum of 22.  That would checkmate Morrissey, as well as the Republicans.

Carper:  Jeff, you invoked Donald Trump just a moment ago.  It seems like we're getting weekly reminders now that Virginia isn't Trump country.  

Schapiro:  A fresh poll by the University of Mary Washington (That is an awkward, clunky name, isn't it?) shows that the top four Democratic presidential candidates defeat Trump in Virginia.  So that's Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris.  This is not a surprise.  I mean, Virginia is the least southern state in the South.  It sided with Hillary Clinton in 2016.  It’s the only state in the Old Confederacy that Trump didn't win.  He remains a deeply unpopular figure here, and that's because of the continuing suburbanization of Virginia.  Two in three Virginians live in metropolitan areas, and what make them so blue, large numbers of women, minorities, and new Virginians, is really what's propelling all this hostility for Trump.  His approval rating is 38% - more people disapprove of Trump in Virginia than approve.  He is clearly underwater.  No wonder Republican legislative candidates don't mention his name.  Two other tidbits in that poll - Ralph Northam, despite his winter of discontent, is clawing back.  His approval ratings at 47%, pretty close to 55%, where it was before the black face calamity.  And “roll another one,” if you will - 61% say marijuana should be legal for adults in Virginia [laughing].

Carper:  And Jeff, just about a minute to go.  In Prince William County, the Republican running to succeed Corey Stewart, the Trump sound-alike, on the Board of Supervisors is trying to out-Corey Stewart, Corey Stewart.

Schapiro:  Well put [laughing].  John Gray, who's running for the Board of Supervisors has been posting or had posted on Twitter racially derogatory observations about African-Americans.  He’s also attacked Muslims and gays.  He had, or at least he thought he had this stuff erased from Twitter, paying some firm $30 to do so.  Apparently money not well spent.  His opponent, Ann Wheeler, tracked down those offensive tweets, slipped them to the Washington Post.  Of course, it's the loudest, biggest bugle in the Northern Virginia media orchestra, and now it's all over the place.  And it is creating so many difficulties for Republicans in that majority-minority jurisdiction that all of them are running from Gray.  This is another reminder that demographics can be destiny.  That's what undid, if you will, Corey Stewart as a statewide candidate.  Gray and his Republican ticket mates may learn that lesson next month.

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

Schapiro:  Roger that.


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