It took a while, but it was the result we expected. After a brutal election season that culminated in a football Sunday featuring more political attack ads than beer commercials, we Virginians finally have a new governor. Terry McAuliffe defeated Ken Cuccinelli last night by a slim margin. A look at the electoral map shows the state as a sea of red with scattered blue patches in the southeast and a cap of cerulean in the north. Northern Virginia decided it was so turned off by Cuccinelli’s social policies that it elected a loudmouthed Clintonian bagman nicknamed “The Macker” who boosted his job-creator credentials by setting up a Potemkin Village hybrid car company and who abandoned his wife in the delivery room to attend a Washington Post soiree. McAuliffe was a candidate only a D.C. insider could love, and these days Virginia is bulging with D.C. insiders. It’s a curious change for the Old Dominion. Virginia is the state of Jefferson and Madison, Patrick Henry and George Mason, where Anti-Federalists who believed the Constitution allowed too much federal power found a significant beachhead. The core of its early economy was the tobacco plantation cultivated by slaves—culturally foreign to Yankees who often regarded the state with suspicion or scorn. “In Virginia, all geese are swans,” John Adams once said, an opinion shared by many of his fellow New Englanders. By the mid-1800s, those differences would reach irreconcilable levels and Virginia would become the eighth state to secede from the Union. Richmond was later named the capital of the Confederacy. Today’s Northern Virginia is a Washington satellite existing on top of a Confederate past. Twenty-somethings employed by federal agencies cram into apartment buildings on the Jefferson Davis Highway. High-powered D.C. operatives who want a taste of country living move to Manassas, where General Stonewall Jackson drove back the Union army in 1861. Political nonprofits share a block with General Robert E. Lee’s preserved childhood home in Old Town Alexandria. This is The Macker’s Virginia, where these days you’re more likely to hear bureaucratese than a southern accent. Arlington County, which borders D.C., saw its population increase 6.5 percent between 2010 and 2012. Nearby Fairfax County grew by 3.4 percent, Loudoun County shot up 7.9 percent, and Prince William County increased 7 percent, all in a state where the average population growth was 2.3 percent. Many of these new Virginians are young, relatively liberal, and, most importantly, work in the vast solar system surrounding the federal government. Last night they delivered for The Macker who won Arlington County 71 to 23 percent, Fairfax County 58 to 37 percent, Loudoun County 50 to 45 percent, and Prince William County 52 to 44 percent. Virginia has sent plenty of Democrats to the governor’s mansion and Congress before, but none as offensive to the senses as Terry McAuliffe. Mark Warner, the former Democratic senator and governor, ran as a moderate and pledged not to raise taxes. Jim Webb, the one-term senator, ran on a robustly pro-military platform. Even Tim Kaine, the uncharismatic former governor who always had a whiff of the technocratic about him, talked up his Catholic faith and pledged not to alter the state death penalty. Virginia has long been awash in federal dollars, thanks to D.C. and the state’s many military facilities. But culturally it was always southern, and Democrats ran as such. As recently as 2009, The Macker was toxic in Virginia, trounced in the Democratic gubernatorial primary by political unknown Creigh Deeds. Deeds, born in Richmond and raised downstate, showed the reluctance of state Democrats to align themselves with the fortunes of the city to the north. Four years later, the dynamic has shifted. You could scour K Street with a Geiger counter for months without finding a Democrat as shamelessly, obnoxiously Washington as Terry McAuliffe. This is the first gubernatorial election where culturally distinct Northern Virginia elected one of its own. Ken Cuccinelli, born in New Jersey but unquestionably more of a Virginian than The Macker, couldn’t catch a break. According to Real Clear Politics, the last time Cuccinelli led in a poll was in early July. The Virginia attorney general has taken some hard-line stances, though his positions aren’t all that different from those of Governor Bob McDonnell, who led the statewide GOP ticket to decisive victory in 2009. There are other factors that made Cuccinelli’s life difficult. Robert Sarvis, the third-party libertarian candidate, siphoned off some Republican votes. McAuliffe tugged every one of his fundraising strings and severely outraised Cuccinelli. The scandal-plagued McDonnell probably tainted the GOP a little. Cuccinelli had some good luck too, most helpfully from the recent crumbling of Obamacare which helped him close the gap. But the real story of this election is Virginia’s changing identity. Local radio stations have started referring to the greater Washington area as the DMV, the initials of the District and its satellite states, and, appropriately enough, a stultifyingly incompetent government agency. Virginia’s identity is caught in a tug of war between the DMV and the Old Dominion—and the DMV looks to be winning. Just as great swaths of Connecticut have fallen under the influence of nearby New York City, so too is Virginia gravitating towards its proximate metropolis. It’s The Macker’s state now. The good, gentle people of rural Virginia can’t keep up with rampaging government. Photos: UPI
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The Macker and the DMV
Wow!!! Well, things sure looked bleak for the Massachusetts Nine. After striking out 17 times and nearly being no-hit in Game 1 of the ALCS by Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers bullpen (Daniel Nava singled off Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit with one out in the ninth) it appeared to be a case of deja vu all over again in Game 2. Probable AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer did not allow a hit until the sixth and in seven innings of work gave up one run on two hits and struck out 13 batters.
Parody is now reality when it comes to guns in public schools. In the name of preventing violence since the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. last December, schools across the country are suspending students for bringing toy guns to school, making gestures that look like guns and in one absurd case in Maryland, suspending a student for biting a toaster pastry into the shape of a gun. I can picture the documentary now: “An Inconvenient Pop-Tart.” The latest incident involves a sixth grader in Calvert County, Md., who was suspended for making a gun gesture while on a bus heading to school. According to the Washington Post , Carin Read, the mother of the 11-year-old student, filed an appeal of the suspension last week, following a principal denying her request to remove the incident from his school records. This follows an episode in May in another Calvert County school where a five-year-old boy was interrogated for two hours — without his parents first being notified — for bringing a toy cap gun to school and suspended for 10 days, although the suspension was later lifted. In another incident in Prince William County, Va., last February, an 8-year-old boy pointed his finger like a gun at a classmate after his friend pretended to shoot him with a bow and arrow. The interchange followed a lesson on Native American culture and the class learning a song about deer hunting, according to reports. He was suspended for “threatening to harm self or others” – a punishment also reserved for bringing a weapon to school. Similar incidents have been reported in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. In none of the incidents outlined above did the students who were punished pose a danger to their classmates or teachers. And in the Prince William County case, the student was role playing what he learned in a school lesson, showing the hypocrisy of a school policy that punishes elementary school students for reenacting its own curriculum. Would the school also suspend students for practicing Hamlet