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]


‘It’s gone too far’: Exploiting cultural fissures for political gain has unraveled our social fabric

By: - December 7, 2020

Don’t imagine for a second that electing a new president is going to close or salve the open wounds and raw nerves that the 2020 political campaigns exposed. Not even close. Passions have not cooled from President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump last month. That’s clear from Trump’s own delusional tweets and public […]


The 2021 governor’s race presents an opportunity for Virginia to join the Good Ol’ Girls Club

By: - November 30, 2020

We’re about to see how serious Virginia is when it comes to advancing women in the highest elective offices in the commonwealth, and that’s particularly true for Democrats. After the briefest respite, Virginia politics revs back up and enters the national spotlight when we elect our 74th governor next year. Not one of the first […]


2020: The year that keeps on taking. But here are two powerful reasons to be thankful.

By: - November 23, 2020

History will remember 2020 as the year that kept on taking. I could fill this column enumerating all that this hell-beast of a leap year has robbed from us and still have enough left over for a multi-part series, but I doubt The Mercury budgeted for that. A virus no one had heard of last […]


Could a Biden White House be just the thing to break the Virginia GOP’s election drought?

By: - November 16, 2020

Bromides come and go in politics. Conventional wisdom tends to persevere until it’s no longer either conventional or wise. But there’s one truism in Virginia politics that, with one exception over the past five decades, has been validated repeatedly: you don’t want to be running for governor representing the same party as the president. That’s […]


Virginia deserves credit for making it easier for people to vote, but reporting the results needs work

By: - November 9, 2020

That sense of whiplash you may have felt as you watched election returns in Virginia after its largest turnout election ever —more than 4.1 million votes — is not your imagination. Some Republicans were excited for most of Tuesday evening as ballots cast on Election Day at Virginia’s nearly 2,500 polling places were tabulated and […]


Tomorrow, America’s worst-ever presidential campaign dies. Good riddance.

By: - November 2, 2020

The electric blue arc from an exploding transformer nearby lit up the blustery, gray gloom of Hurricane Zeta’s remnants as it barreled across Virginia Thursday, just hours after it battered poor ol’ whupped-down Louisiana. It was the fifth named storm this year to ravage Cajun country and, landfalling at the end of October, was the […]


Fatally flawed or a ‘step in the right direction’? Democrats deeply divided on redistricting reform.

By: - October 26, 2020

By Bob Lewis A lot of people worked decades for this: taking decennial reapportionment of Virginia’s legislative districts from the self-serving hands of partisan lawmakers, at least in part, and giving the job to a new commission. Finally, they believed, voters could soon pick their representatives instead of the other way around. And they were […]


A new generation of poll workers steps forward to run the machinery of democracy

By: - October 19, 2020

If you vote, you know them. They greet you at the doorway to your polling place. They examine your identification, match it to registration records and verify that you’re an elector eligible to vote at that precinct. They hand you a ballot and show you to a voting booth where you exercise, in secure secrecy, […]


‘Do something’: Confessions of a reformed Rebel

By: - October 12, 2020

A Black Lives Matter flag flies proudly in my front yard. I’ve become estranged from people I’ve known forever for insisting that monuments to Confederate figures come down and that peaceful protests over the slayings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other unarmed Black people were not only justified but righteous and overdue. […]


The budget conference: the secretive, transactional process where a dozen people write Virginia law

By: - October 5, 2020

In the wee hours of an unseasonably balmy, humid Sunday in mid-March, legislative staff on the ninth and 10th floors of Capitol Square’s decrepit, old General Assembly Building had opened their windows wide to mitigate the swelter from unrelenting, clanking steam radiators. Beyond exhaustion from a week of late nights, many hours of work lay […]


The coming confirmation fight ― and potential responses to it ― threaten an independent judiciary

By: - September 28, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg deserved a more dignified epilogue than the angry, absurd circus that is about to become a full-blown crisis as Republicans rush to confirm her replacement on the U.S. Supreme Court and Democrats ponder nuclear options to counter it. Year after year, she beat back five diagnoses of cancer and continued to […]


A sawbuck here, a Grant or a Benjamin there: The outsized impact of small donors in today’s politics 

By: - September 21, 2020

Guess who just emailed me. Jeb Bartlet! You know, the greatest president of the United States in the last million-and-a-half years! President Bartlet sent me a really nice note – addressed me by name and everything! – asking if I could spare a few bucks ($20, $50, $100 … every little bit helps) for U.S. […]