Del. Scott Surovell (D-44) has announced his intention to run for election to replace the retiring Sen. Linda "Toddy" Puller (D-36) in the Virginia Senate. I hope that during this election cycle, Delegate Surovell will explain to those he hopes will become his constituents his positions on certain issues of interest and importance. By his positions, I don't mean what he says, I mean how he has voted.
I reviewed some of Delegate Surovell's votes as displayed on the Project Vote Smart website. Several of his votes require explanation. He voted against a bill that would authorize the House of Delegates or the Virginia Senate to intervene as a party representing the Commonwealth if the Governor and Attorney General choose not to defend an enacted Virginia law or Virginia Constitutional provision. He consistently votes against allowing home-schooled students to participate in extracurricular activities in public schools, even though the parents of those home-schooled students are paying taxes supporting those public schools like anyone else. He consistently opposes legislation to require photo identification of voters. He opposed a bill prohibiting disclosure by Virginia Courts of concealed firearm permit information. He opposed a bill requiring law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status during an arrest. He voted against a bill providing civil immunity for use of force against intruders. He voted against a bill authorizing physical force against intruders.
The House of Delegates is populated by about 2/3 Republicans and 1/3 Democrats. Thus, without detailed analysis, where a bill is opposed by fewer than 1/3 of the delegates, one may conclude it passed with bipartisan support. Several of Delegate Surovell's nay votes formed a part of a decided minority. For example, the bill that passed the House of Delegates prohibiting disclosure of concealed firearm permit information had only 23 nay votes including his. The bill that passed the House of Delegates requiring law enforcement to ask about immigration status during an arrest had only 25 nay votes including his. The bill that passed the House of Delegates providing civil immunity for use of force against intruders had only 22 nay votes including his, and the bill authorizing physical force against intruders had only 28 nay votes including his.
Hopefully, Delegate Surovell will explain to the voters the votes he takes that appear to be well out of the mainstream of political thought in Virginia, sometimes even mainstream Democratic thought. As he departs the House of Delegates hoping to become a state senator, voters must keep in mind that the House of Delegates will remain 2/3 Republican. The Senate, on the other hand, is virtually evenly split, 21 Republican to 19 Democratic. Thus, Delegate Surovell's extreme positions on a number of issues can never become law in Virginia since they would never pass the House of Delegates. Voters should consider whether electing a more moderate Democrat or even a Republican would better serve the interests of Northern Virginians. One example of an issue of relevance is that of the desire to extend the Yellow Line toward Fort Belvoir. I agree with this proposal but note that so long as the Northern Virginia delegation to the General Assembly is overwhelmingly Democratic politically, it is unlikely our transportation desires will sit in the front seat for a super majority Republican House of Delegates.
This is an election year. The voters can decide who should represent our interests in Richmond and who are the representatives most likely to achieve our goals in Richmond.
H. Jay Spiegel