Yesterday Richmond Deputy Commonwealth Attorney Tracy Thorne-Begland was denied nomination as judge for the Richmond General District Court. He was denied through the Commonwealth’s bipartisan election system which voted 33 to 31 appointing Thorne-Begland as nominee. In order to succeed the nomination, however, Thorne-Begland needed a majority vote in the 100-member House. 51 votes is what he needed.
Here’s what happened:
33 votes for “yes” – including 6 Republicans
31 votes for “no” – all Republicans
10 Republicans abstained from voting
26 delegates – including a handful of Democrats – didn’t vote at all. At. All.
I don’t know about you, but when I don’t show up to do my job, I don’t get paid. Ladies and Gentlemen of Virginia, meet the delegates who didn’t go to work yesterday:
Robert H. Brink, D-Arlington
David L. Englin, D-Alexandria
C. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah
Gregory D. Habeeb, R-Salem
Christopher T. Head, R-Roanoke
William J. Howell, R-Stafford
Johnny S. Joannou, D-Portsmouth
Joseph P. Johnson Jr., D-Washington County
S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk
Joe T. May, R-Loudoun
Jackson H. Miller, R-Manassas
J. Randall “Randy” Minchew, R-Leesburg
Richard L. Morris, R-Isle of Wight
John M. O’Bannon III, R-Henrico
Robert D. Orrock Sr., R-Caroline
Christopher K. Peace, R-Hanover
Kenneth R. Plum, D-Fairfax
Harry R. Purkey, R-Virginia Beach
Margaret B. Ransone, R-Westmoreland
Robert Tata, R-Virginia Beach
Roslyn C. Tyler, D-Sussex
Onzlee Ware, D-Roanoke
R. Lee Ware Jr., R-Powhatan
Michael J. Webert, R-Fauquier
Thomas C. Wright Jr., R-Lunenberg
David E. Yancey, R-Newport News
You should know that each delegate represents approximately 71,000 Virginia citizens who trust their delegates as a legislative representative. 71,000 x 26 = 1,846,000 citizens who were not represented during this election. Why? What was more important? Worse: does this happen often?
It’s been said that this is an embarrassment for Virginia. That’s true. It’s true because we’ve almost a third of elected officials electing not to do their job.
The outcome of this election is also an embarrassment because many right-wing legislators like Delegate Bob Marshall are running around making statements that sound a lot like discrimination and bigotry. And that is embarrassing. You see, readers, Thorne-Begland is an openly gay man. Marshall contends that Thorne-Begland is unfit for judicial appointment because he pursues an ”aggressive activist homosexual agenda.” Whatever that means; he offers no real evidence supporting this wild allegation.
Unfortunately he’s not alone. ”For me it’s not not about fear and bigotry and ignorance and so forth,” said Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William. ”It is very definitely about duty.” Interesting. Fear and bigotry and ignorance and so forth. Just, you know, yadda yadda ya, no big deal for Lingamfelter. Of Thorne-Begland’s qualifications, he’s been serving the Commonwealth in his current position for about 12 years, successfully – he is more than qualified for the job as judge.
Virginia was founded on principles of freedom and tolerance. It does not matter that Thorne-Begland lives with his partner, is openly gay, and is currently raising twins. It doesn’t matter if the judge seated to his right (or left) is straight, listens to gangster rap, and raises llamas. It doesn’t matter because it.simply.doesn’t.matter.
Virginians absolutely feel yesterday’s election is embarrassing for the state and is blatant discrimination at work, being spilled across the House floor as a public officer was judged not on his proven experience to perform a task he’s qualified for, but for his sexual orientation. This post is also a wake up call to Virginia citizens about the delegates we trust to do their jobs representing us. Local elections are incredibly important – please get involved.