Seal of the U.S. Senate
Seal of the U.S. Senate

In the race to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States Senate, incumbent Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) is challenged by Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart (R) and Matt Waters (L). Kaine was first elected to the Senate in 2012 and is serving his first term. He had previously served one term as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Each of the fifty states have two seats in the Senate, for a total of one hundred seats. There is no representation, voting or non-voting, for U.S. territories or the District of Columbia. Senators serve six-year terms, and elections are held on a staggered schedule with roughly one-third of the Senate up for election every two years. This year, thirty-three seats are in contention, with an additional two up for special elections.

The Republican Party currently holds a 51-47 majority over the Democratic Party in the Senate. Two seats are held by independents who caucus with the Democratic Party, giving the Democrats an effective 49-seat minority. Currently, both of Virginia’s Senate seats are held by Democrats. . . . Continued

Seal of the U.S. House of Representatives
Seal of the U.S. House

In the race to represent Virginia’s Tenth District in the United States House of Representatives, incumbent Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA 10th) is seeking reelection and is challenged by Virginia Senator Jennifer Wexton (D-VA 33rd).

The Tenth District encompasses Clarke County, Frederick County, Loudoun County, the cities of Manassas and Winchester, and parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties. Comstock was first elected in 2014 and is nearing the end of her second term.

All seats in the House of Representatives are up for election every two years. There are 435 seats, representing each of the fifty states in rough proportion to their population as recorded in the most recent national census. There are an additional six non-voting delegate seats representing U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

The Republican Party currently holds a 235-193 majority over the Democratic Party in the House, and seven seats are vacant. Virginia has eleven seats in the House, with seven held by Republicans and four held by Democrats. . . . Continued

Seal of Virginia
Seal of Virginia

Article XII, Section 1, of the Constitution of Virginia establishes a process for amending the constitution. The state Senate or the House of Delegates proposes amendments and, after having been passed through both houses, they are then presented to the voters for approval. Once approved by the voters, the state constitution is amended as specified, and that change can only be reversed by repeating the amendment process.

Citizens of Virginia will be voting on two constitutional amendments in this year’s November election, each of which would change or add text to the Constitution of Virginia.

Question 1: Flooding Tax Amendment

To exempt certain properties from local property taxes, the Constitution of Virginia must be amended to permit that exemption, and then the Virginia General Assembly must pass legislation to enact it. Many such exemption authorities have been added to the state constitution in the past . . . five times since Off on a Tangent began making political endorsements.

This year, yet another such exemption is on the ballot. This one would allow for partial exemptions for properties subject to flooding if the owners of the property make substantial improvements to the property to mitigate future flooding. . . . Continued

Seal of Loudoun County
Seal of Loudoun County

Article VII, Section 10, of the Constitution of Virginia requires local governments to obtain voter approval to issue bonds. Voters in Loudoun County, Virginia, will be asked to consider two bond referendums on this year’s ballot.

Bonds are debt. When they are sold, the issuing government receives an influx of cash from the purchasers. But, like a bank loan, that money must be repaid over time with interest.

Like any other loan, bonds should only be used when necessary. Most projects should be funded directly from the general fund (i.e., from the “money in the bank”). Only when some specific project is very important, but too large to fund directly, should we turn to using bonds for financing.

Transportation Projects Bonds

Voters in Loudoun County, Virginia, will be asked in a referendum to authorize the county to issue up to $152,585,000 in general obligation bonds for transportation projects. These would be used to finance improvements to Braddock Road, Evergreen Mills Road, Farmwell Road, and the Route 50 corridor; building new segments of Crosstrail Boulevard and Prentice Drive; building a roundabout at the intersection of Route 9 and Route 287; making intersection improvements throughout the county; and “other public road and transportation projects.” . . . Continued

Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed by a 50-48 majority in the United States Senate, and will replace retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court. Kavanaugh, a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, was President Donald Trump’s (R) second Supreme Court nominee, following the nomination of now-Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch to replace Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

Justice Kennedy announced his retirement in June, and Kavanaugh was nominated by Trump in early July. Kennedy was a moderate justice, often serving as a tiebreaker between the “conservative” and “liberal” wings of the court. Kavanaugh is generally viewed as a nonpartisan and pragmatic conservative jurist. He is a proponent of textualism, which is the judicial philosophy that the Constitution should be applied as written and not continually reinterpreted as a “living” document. Kavanaugh’s confirmation shifts the ideological balance of the court from essentially tied to a narrow conservative majority.

The U.S. Constitution charges the Senate with providing “advice and consent” on judicial nominations. Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation process turned unusually contentious after Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) publicized an accusation that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford at a party in the early 1980s. Feinstein released this information to the public six weeks after receiving it, apparently timing that release for maximum political effect. Ford later testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the alleged assault. Kavanaugh strongly denied the accusations, which remain uncorroborated by any of Ford’s named witnesses.

Following efforts in 2017 by Democratic senators to filibuster Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch, the Senate invoked the “nuclear option” and prohibited the filibuster of Supreme Court nominations, expanding a rule that already prohibited the filibuster of lower judicial nominees. Accordingly, Kavanaugh’s nomination moved quickly to a straight up-or-down vote after being brought before the full Senate.

Kavanaugh is likely to be sworn-in and begin performing his duties on the Supreme Court some time next week.