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Come Statewide Candidates: Steal My Platform Ideas

I did give some prayerful consideration to seeking political office this cycle.  If there had been a convention, there would be a opening for a new kind of candidate to run and place ideas out there without spending a lot of money.  But there was a primary and you need 10,000 signatures to either get on the primary ballot for the GOP or 10,000 signatures to run as an independent (I would have almost certainly run as a Libertarian).  That is an onerous situation and frequently requires paid solicitors.

I have suggested the LP should run a statewide candidate but not for Governor but LG instead.  My thesis in a nutshell was:

Governor tends to be a “lesser of two evils” race.  The LP (or other party seeking to open up the electoral system in the Commonwealth) would need a compelling candidate and a compelling message – not to mention millions of dollars – to get the 10% the party needs to get ballot access for four (0r some legal scholars claim – eight years) years.  Something like sixty million dollars was spent in the 2013 Cuccinelli/McAuliffe/Sarvis race.  And Sarvis was a great candidate and his 6+ percent showing was impressive.  But no cigar.  And the 2017 race seems to be the same:  Northam/Perriello v. Gillespie/Wagner/Stewart.   It will be a polarizing race at best.  Maybe Northam v. Wagner might be an “ordinary” election.  Very unlikely.  I think it will be Perriello v. Gillespie.  The new LP hopeful about to announce for Governor seems to be a solid legitimate candidate although I have not thoroughly researched Cliff Hyra yet.

Attorney General has this election cycle the same problem:  The Democrat incumbent Herring needs to be defeated at the polls for his refusal to defend the state and its laws.  The Dems will think he is a hero.  The GOP will think otherwise.  I do not think without millions of dollars to raise, there will be any realistic chance of a LP candidate getting ten percent.  Maybe in 2021.  Rather I am about to support John Adams for AG.

But Lieutenant Governor is not usually a “lesser of two evils” race.  The LG in the Commonwealth has two constitutional jobs:  Check every morning on the health of the Governor (Did you know that no Virginia Governor has ever had to leave office due to health or any other reason – let’s keep that streak going until Jesus comes again!) and preside over the legislature when it is in session (and break ties in certain cases).  It is in fact a part time job with a part time salary.  The LG does sit on boards and commissions and the job is a huge bully pulpit.  You can keep your day job, too.  Has huge potential.

So that’s my thesis.  Now here’s what would be my platform:

  • Some sort of initiative/referendum for laws and constitutional amendments.
  • Term limits for the General Assembly.
  • Better ballot access (I am playing with the idea that the party can get ballot access with say 15/20,000 signatures for the party for the next two/four years and if the party does not get 4/5% in that statewide election the process starts all over again) to open up elections in Virginia.
  • Solar power for western Virginia and maybe Eastern Shore and other places where the sun shines frequently.  I would also consider a economic zone in both areas where some regulations and taxes would be modified to encourage business to settle there.  If the business moves in say 10/20 years of establishment they have to pay back at least some of the local/state tax relief.
  • A statewide indigent defense system with appellate and post-conviction units.
  • Modification of sovereign immunity to a system where sovereign immunity is waived for state agencies to the extent of their liability insurance policy (which would be required by law to be a certain amount).  The sovereign immunity doctrine serves some useful purposes but also prevents civil damages accountability for servants of the people.
  • Some kind of collaborative divorce law where husband and wife hire lawyers to represent them but they do not go to court (perhaps protective orders and similar abuse and neglect remedies excepted) and instead work out details.  Full disclosure will be required between husband and wife (and yes gays and live-ins would be in this system equally) and the agreement would be:  NO court action at all until it is worked out.  Child support and spousal support would be paid as part of the process.  If a party seeks to break the agreement, there is a 30 day waiting period to go to court and the breaking party is liable to pay the fees for BOTH lawyers since neither lawyer could represent either party in court due to conflicts of interest and exchange of confidences and secrets.  If the parties work it out – immediate divorce without a wait and no fault is required to be shown or proven (I suppose there could be an agreed adultery grounds for religious reasons) in the final decree.  I am also concerned about the abuse of child/spousal support collection efforts as becoming imprisonment for debt or vehicle to gratify revenge.
  • Voucher system for education where even homeschooling and virtual schools would be able to participate.  Competition is great and will help the inner cities.
  • Speaking of the inner cities:  Serious consideration needs to be given to selling the projects like RRHA to the residents with some restrictions on sales to prevent house-flippers from turning them into slums.  Also a Jack Kemp style urban homesteading system for boarded up foreclosures.
  • A review of welfare laws to see if they discourage families and marriage or for working poor to get ahead.  if so, amend them to make them more effective.
  • Income tax relief – find a way to reduce the state income tax and maybe gradually do away with it.
  • I am not sold on the Libertarian plank of the platform that says:  End the drug war.  However, criminalizing drugs seems not to work well and is harmful to civil liberties (I would abolish civil forfeiture or change it so the proceeds go to indigent defense and legal aid.) so I am open to ideas.
  • Yes abortion is the willful taking of a human life.  We all ought to get that on either side.  And I get it, pro-choicers:  Women ought not be treated like property or regulated by the government just because they are or can get pregnant.  I would not vote for items like required ultrasounds before an abortion.  Male politicians ought to be very gracious and sensitive in discussing this issue at all.  For my position I would cite a surprising source:  Hillary Clinton.  Abortion should be safe, legal and rare.  (I mean it a bit differently than she does.)  It should only be legal in extreme circumstances (life, health, rape/incest and serious deformity) and not after 20 weeks.  I would have some regulations on abortions not for other similar industries, especially to ensure safety.  Why?  It is a willful taking of a human life.  Yes Planned Parenthood should be off the public dole.
  • Guns?  I adhere pretty much to the VCDL position on guns.  I would also increase penalties for felons possessing guns to ten years and also the use of a firearm in a crime to ten additional years.
  • Decriminalization – yes.  Oh, yes!  We need to have a commission to review the criminal code (and traffic too) for repeal.  Also need for white collar and other non-violent crimes some sort of misdemeanor treatment available to judges and juries as a lesser included offense.  Juries also ought to be told the range of punishment in voir dire and when it gets the case.

Now candidates, get out there and study this platform.  It will be an important basis for who I support for the statewide positions in 2017.  Steal it from me.  We will be better off.  I am not running for any office in this election cycle.  But Lord willing we will have elections again in the Commonwealth.



About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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