Bob Lewis

Bob Lewis

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]


In its arrogance, Virginia government continues walling off the public’s right to know

By: - March 28, 2022

It may sound almost laughable now – a cruel joke, to be sure – but there was a time when Virginia had a decent Freedom of Information law. Maybe not the strongest, but workable. The commonwealth first enacted laws to reasonably make government documents and meetings open to the public in 1968. It was a […]


Mark Warner meets a moment in history

By: - March 21, 2022

Mark Warner knows things. “Damn scary” things. These are things he can never speak of to anyone outside the very small and tight circle of officials with the top U.S. security clearance. Things that, with a miscalculation here or a blunder there, could unleash the apocalypse. It is the job of Virginia’s 69th governor and […]


Every dog has its day: the best thing Virginia’s General Assembly did this session

By: - March 13, 2022

If you really want to know my weakness, here’s a hint: they have four paws, a cold nose, silky ears that they love to have scratched and pleading eyes that could extract affection from even the flintiest human heart. I ascribe to the theology of Will Rogers: “If there are no dogs in heaven, then […]


By allowing political cash for personal use, Virginia remains a campaign finance backwater

By: - March 7, 2022

Virginia’s General Assembly has always set a low bar for campaign finance accountability. And every winter, our legislators fail to clear even that. The way the state invites corruption by steadfastly rejecting even modest attempts to rein the influence of runaway, unlimited money in politics has put Virginia at the back of the class for […]

Former Va. Gov. Jim Gilmore, says Ukraine invasion starts global struggle with authoritarianism

By: - March 4, 2022

The unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine marks the start of a 100-year global struggle between the forces of authoritarianism and the democratic nations of the world, former Virginia Gov. and U.S. emissary to Europe Jim Gilmore said Thursday. “This is a long war that is ahead of us here. I’m not talking about the Ukrainian […]


Youngkin may have White House dreams. But it’s been a while since a Va. governor made the leap.

By: - February 28, 2022

It’s a familiar script. Virginia elects a new governor who, in our off-off-year cycles, briefly captures half the nation’s imagination and becomes the hottest new thing since clip-on neckties. But it takes on even greater breathlessness when the new governor bursts onto the scene seemingly from nowhere to upset a towering politico with national stature […]

A "Virginia is for Lovers" hat on display in the gift shop at the Virginia Capitol. (Photo by Graham Moomaw)

Gambling grab for Va.’s iconic slogan is distasteful. But is a state law necessary?

By: - February 21, 2022

News item: A Virginia senator pushes legislation to prohibit gambling companies from ripping off the commonwealth’s universally recognized, trademarked tourism marketing pitch line, “Virginia is for Lovers.” The story left me torn, as I suspect was true for a lot of Virginians. Bookmakers and casino operators had bastardized the commonwealth’s 53-year-old slogan with “Virginia is […]


Newbie governors with no governing experience face a steep learning curve

By: - February 14, 2022

There ought to be a crash course – an orientation of sorts – for guys like Glenn Youngkin who get elected governor having never spent a moment in elective public office. It’s almost unfair. Youngkin, a Republican, came to office like Mark Warner, 20 years before him, and Terry McAuliffe, the former governor he defeated […]


In a time of plenty, can we spare a little more to modernize Virginia infrastructure?

By: - February 7, 2022

It’s rare that Virginia’s governors and budget writers have the luxury to look over a state treasury flush with cash and struggle to figure out how to spend it all. Maybe while it’s top-of-mind, just a thought: Pour as much as you can into modernizing Virginia’s public infrastructure. Consider for a moment: revenues that feed […]


‘Eating our seed corn’: Struggling young workers, our economic backbone, need help

By: - January 31, 2022

You don’t have to get out much to know that our commonwealth and our nation aren’t doing so well. You see it in the volatile stock markets, as fickle and easily spooked as a school of minnows, with freak-show dips and rebounds in just one day’s session. You see it in the supermarkets, with some […]


Bipartisanship in Richmond: Is that even a realistic expectation?

By: - January 24, 2022

  Can we just agree that we can’t agree? Can we just acknowledge that the passing, oblique nod to the ideal of finding common cause in Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 27-minute inaugural address was already a punch line before the bleachers and bunting on the Capitol steps came down that day? The partisan back-biting and recriminations […]


Going to jail for giving someone the finger? Mattaponi governance dispute deepens.

By: - January 17, 2022

What if you could do time for flipping somebody off? It’s not a classy move, but the middle-finger salute has been deemed by the courts as free expression protected by the First Amendment. When Steven Custalow was accused of doing it a month ago to the chief of the Mattaponi Indian Reservation, it landed him […]