First, a correction. In our segment last night about Virginia changing the rules for electing a president, we reported that the bill had gone to a full committee of the Virginia Senate, and that the committee has a 10 to five GOP majority. That was incorrect, and my mistake. Republicans hold a majority of eight to seven. As Think Progress reports, one of those Republican senators is not sold on the idea of rigging the election. Senator Jill Vogel told them:
“… I am generally not in favor right now of the bill and it’s very unlikely that I will vote for it in full committee or the Senate floor.”
A couple of factors argue against Virginia Republicans gaining from a change in the way they apportion the state’s electoral college vote. For one thing, under that system they would have given votes to Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Al Gore. For another, the history of openly changing election rules to benefit one side does not end well for that side.
With the Virginia Senate equally divided, a unified Democratic caucus plus Vogel could defeat the bill. You might remember that last year Vogel dropped her own bill for mandated ultrasounds, saying she had not realized they would be mandated vaginal ultrasounds. (She then supported the bill reworked and signed into law by Governor Bob McDonnell. In this session, she broke with her party to move an LGBT nondiscrimation bill forward.)
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the Virginia House of Delegates is having cold feet about the Senate’s surprise gerrymandering this week:
“My sense is the House is getting squishy,” said the Republican, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid about internal party discussions. “These guys are freaking out. . . . I think they’d like to pass the hot potato.”
It might be that Virginia Republicans are in the process of figuring out how far is too far for Virginia Republicans.