Could politics derail priorities?

Posted at 11:41 PM, Jan 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-28 05:58:55-05

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Could partisanship in the General Assembly derail legislative priorities? 

That is the question being asked around Richmond following a week of partisan battles.

It began on Monday when Republicans voted to redistrict seats.

The vote occurred when St. Senator Henry Marsh was in Washington, watching the inauguration of President Barack Obama. 

"It was a surprise attack - like pearl harbor," Marsh said.

The State Senate is equally split between 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans.

With Marsh missing, it gave Republicans in the Senate enough of an advantage to pass it.

"Redistricting is the most political thing that is done here. It always has been and it always will be," Republican Senator John Watkins said in defending the move.

Democrats erupted in frustration following the vote with Democrat State Senator Don McEachin calling it "plantation politics."

Then, just days later, a Republican sponsored bill by Senator Bill Carrico passed a subcommittee that would change the way Virginia elects its president.

Instead of a winner take all scenario, under the bill electoral votes would be awarded by congressional district.

In the last election that would mean Governor Mitt Romney would of received 9 electoral votes while President Barack Obama would of received four.

"This is one of the most bizarre weeks we could of imagined," Dr. Bob Holsworth, who has studied the General Assembly for 25 years, said.

"The Democrats - if this redistricting goes through - are going to be a bear to deal with. There is no doubt they'll try retribution," Holsworth added.

The redistricting bill is scheduled to be voted on by the House of Delegates on Tuesday.

Regarding whether or not the partisanship could derail legislative priorities like Transportation or Education, Speaker William Howell issued the following statement:

"The people of Virginia want good jobs, strong schools, a reliable transportation network and smart state government... Those issues are too important to be de-railed by Richmond insider baseball."