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]


Decades, tragedies and heartaches later, Virginia’s mental health system still struggles

By: - April 25, 2022

It’s been decades — at least three of them — with a continuous litany of embarrassments, mismanagement, tragedy and even death that have dogged Virginia’s dysfunctional system of mental health services and hospitals. And the drumbeat continues. A little over a week ago, two felons broke out of the Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg where […]


When a student newspaper calls for banning campus speech, basic freedoms are threatened

By: - April 18, 2022

The last place where the free expression of ideas and robust debate about them should be inhibited is a college campus. And the last institution that should call for such a thing, particularly at a university founded by one of the nation’s earliest champions of unfettered speech, is a newspaper. But that’s what happened at […]


Frozen: Report on Va.’s response to I-95 hellscape on ice is fitting epilogue to Northam’s term

By: - April 11, 2022

The knock on former Gov. Ralph Northam was that he tended not to address problems until they bit him in his derriere, and even then only after considerable embarrassment. Now, three months after Dr. Northam resumed his pediatric neurology practice, an independent after-action assessment shows that a combination of problems left him poorly informed about […]


A tough choice ahead for the secretary of the commonwealth on the Mattaponi tribe’s future

By: - April 4, 2022

One thing any politician hates is a no-win situation, one in which he or she has to decide between two opposing groups and, no matter what you decide, somebody’s going to be pissed off. Virginia’s secretary of the commonwealth, Kay Coles James, seems to have such a decision in her future. Kay James has been […]

Virginia Employment Commission backlog eliminated, Younkgin administration says

By: - March 29, 2022

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration says that it has wiped out a backlog of nearly 250,000 jobless claims it inherited a little more than two months ago and has reduced the number of unpaid claims pending adjudication to a few thousand. The Virginia Employment Commission, an agency whose performance during the height of the pandemic in […]


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 […]