Bob Lewis covered Virginia government and politics for 20 years for The Associated Press. Now retired from a public relations career at McGuireWoods, he is a columnist for the Virginia Mercury. He can be reached at [email protected]
Absent timely federal vaping regulation, Virginia and other states cobble together a regulatory patchwork
By: Bob Lewis - January 27, 2020
As the summer of 2019 gave way to autumn, a health crisis that had festered for years became frightful front-page news: children were falling gravely ill and even dying as a result of vaping, a smoke-free option once marketed as a lifesaving choice for smokers. But it quickly became the rage among teens, practiced by […]
Virginia’s Capitol as a dystopian landscape braced for battle. How did it come to this?
By: Bob Lewis - January 20, 2020
By the time you read this, thousands of people — maybe some intent on angry and perhaps violent confrontation— will be making their way to what was once the welcoming, parklike lawn of Virginia’s majestic hilltop Capitol. But on this Monday morning, they’ll find a barren and forbidding landscape ringed by six-foot-tall chain-link restraining fences […]
‘The myth of amateurism’: Va. considers letting college athletes earn money from name, image and likeness
By: Bob Lewis - January 13, 2020
Athletes at Virginia colleges, unpaid stars in one of America’s richest sports entertainment enterprises, could be compensated for the first time for the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses under new state legislation. Three bills, one by a Democrat and two by Republicans, await action in the just-opened 2020 General Assembly. All are […]
As Democrats seek a nominee, what qualities can they sell to Virginia’s voters?
By: Bob Lewis - January 6, 2020
It’s amusing to watch talking-head pundits pigeonhole Virginia as a blue state in the run-up to this year’s presidential election. November’s election, which gave the Democrats the keys to both the legislative machinery of Virginia government while controlling the executive branch for the first time in 26 years, only deepened the conventional wisdom that the […]
A survivor’s tale: How Northam emerged from a PR mega-disaster
By: Bob Lewis - December 23, 2019
As the dusky gloom deepened on the rainy first day of February, the news hit like a thunderbolt. A photo on Ralph Northam’s page in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook depicted one man in a Klan outfit and another in blackface. A conservative blogger had uncovered what opposition researchers and journalists for a […]
Va. law that seizes licenses for unpaid court debt appears doomed. Good riddance.
By: Bob Lewis - December 16, 2019
You’re driving along when blue strobes begin flashing not too far off your rear bumper and you pull to the side of the road. It’s a busted taillight, maybe expired tags or driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit. “License and registration please.” You know the drill. For most Virginians, it’s a […]
Will ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries’ test authority of Virginia government?
By: Bob Lewis - December 9, 2019
A fundamental clash over gun rights and gun control looms a few weeks away and resolving it could test the operational structure of Virginia government and the rule of law. Across the commonwealth, rural localities are declaring themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” in response to last month’s election that gave Democrats unfettered control of state government […]
Five women to watch in the 2020 Virginia General Assembly
By: Bob Lewis - November 25, 2019
Her time has come. Never have women enjoyed as much electoral success in Virginia as they achieved in this month’s legislative election. A record 30 women (six newly elected) will hold seats in the House of Delegates when the 2020 session convenes. And, for the first time in 400 years, a woman will preside as […]
Now that the Democrats own the 2021 redistricting, will they resist the temptation to derail it?
By: Bob Lewis - November 18, 2019
Has Virginia’s new Democratic legislative majority painted itself into a corner on redistricting? Can Democrats resist the temptation to derail a long-sought nonpartisan reapportionment commission already well on the road to becoming real? Back when they were the minority party (just two weeks ago), Democrats criticized majority Republicans for muscling brazenly partisan redistricting bills through […]
A commonwealth divided? Republican rural Virginia loses ground to Democrats’ suburban strongholds
By: Bob Lewis - November 11, 2019
The headline from Tuesday’s election was that Democrats had taken control of both the legislative and executive branches of Virginia government for the first time since 1993. The blue sweep of the House of Delegates and the Senate combined with the party’s owning the offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general were significant because […]
‘A great deal of happiness’: Remember, there’s a lot more to life than elections
By: Bob Lewis - November 4, 2019
Tomorrow, the 2019 campaign comes to its merciful and overdue end. There’s little new to say on election eve, and who isn’t bone-weary of politics by now. So allow me today to share something rarely found the past few months: a story about a young man who responded to his own adversity by putting others’ […]
A once-in-a-generation reboot election heightens stakes in Va. House, Senate races
By: Bob Lewis - October 28, 2019
The curse (or blessing, depending on your viewpoint) of Virginia public life is that every year brings an election. Each is distinct in rhythm and intensity. Presidential elections bring the most spending, passion and highest turnouts. One year later, Virginia elects its governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Then come the “off-year” federal elections for […]