Monday, June 09, 2014

Virginia Democrats Shouldn't Be Surprised By Puckett's Perfidy


Democrats are rending their garments over Virginia state Senator Phillip Puckett's decision to throw the Senate over to the Republicans by trading his seat for a job as deputy director of the state tobacco commission and for his daughter, Martha Ketron, to get a judicial appointment. But they shouldn't be surprised. Puckett is the kind of conservative, corporate shill who has always played footsie with the GOP and who Virginia Democrats should never have backed in the first place. His record shows that he often sided with the Republicans on the closest and most crucial issues, voting a few months ago, for example, against the bill to repeal forced ultrasounds (which came down to a 20-20 split). Last January, when the Republicans were able to pass a primitive bill allowing for religion in public school classrooms, it passed 20-18, Puckett voting with the Republicans.

Puckett is an anti-choice fanatic fem the southwest part of the state with a zero rating from NARAL. He's generally horrible on women's issues, gay issues, gun issues, environmental issues and adamantly against affirmative action. A banker from a pretty red area, Puckett has been supported for office with gigantic financial aid from the Democratic Party and from labor unions-- just so he could go off to Richmond to vote with the Republicans on issue after issue. Sound familiar?

There are lots of Democrats like Puckett being promoted by corporate shills like themselves. On a national level, that's what Steny Hoyer, Steve Israel,John Barrow, Joe Crowley and Ron Kind do. Look at how hard prospective Hillary Clinton campaign manager, Guy Cecil, worked to give former Blue Dog chair Stephanie Herseth Sandlin the South Dakota Senate nomination without a primary fight. When a real Democrat, Rick Weiland, frightened the Blue Dog off, Cecil had a fit and decided he'd rather see a Republican win than allow the DSCC support the progressive Weiland.

Look at the DCCC's decision to spend massively on Democrats, like Puckett, from the Republican wing of the party, anti-gay fanatics like Jennifer Garrison, anti-Choice throwbacks like Jerry Cannon (MI), Patrick Henry Hays (AR), Nick Casey (WV), James Lee Witt (AR), Glen Gainer (WV), corporate whores and military-industrial complex shills. The DCCC Red-to-Blue list has a tiny handful of token progressives and almost all Blue Dogs, New Dems and future Phillip Pucketts. This morning he resigned, leaving Virginia Democrats one vote shy of the majority they need to control the chamber-- and expand Medicaid.
Puckett's stunning resignation throws Democratic budget strategy into chaos and opening the way for Republicans to seize control of the chamber and reorganize its committees with GOP majorities, the Richmond Times Dispatch said in a report issued late Sunday.

“I am deeply disappointed by this news and the uncertainty it creates at a time when 400,000 Virginians are waiting for access to quality health care, especially those in Southwest Virginia,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.

“This situation is unacceptable, but the bipartisan majority in the Senate and I will continue to work hard to put Virginians first and find compromise on a budget that closes the coverage gap.”

With the current fiscal year set to expire June 30, the Democrat controlled Senate and Republican controlled House of Delegates have been locked in a political stalemate over a new, two-year budget.

Democrats and three Republican senators have insisted that the new state spending plan include a provision to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid to 400,000 uninsured Virginians, while Republicans have opposed the plan, doubting the federal funding promise and saying the current program needs reforms before expanding.

…Sources familiar with Puckett's resignation, submitted this weekend, said the longtime Southwest Virginia senator cited family reasons for his sudden departure. At least two sources speculated that one of the family reasons involved Puckett's daughter, Martha P. Ketron.

Ketron, who was admitted to the bar in October 2006, was appointed last July to serve as a judge in Juvenile and Domestic relations Court in an interim capacity by judges of the 29th District Circuit Court, which covers Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties in Southwest Virginia.

But her bid for reappointment to a full, six-year term was put off earlier this year in the General Assembly, in part due to a tradition against awarding bench appointments to family members of sitting legislators.

Puckett may not be unemployed for long.

Del. Terry G. Kilgore, R-Scott, chairman of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, said he is interested in Puckett taking a job with the commission and has discussed it with him.

"If he's available I think he'd be great for us," Kilgore said."He'd be a great asset because he knows the region, and he's a former banker and JLARC said we need more follow-up so he'd be a perfect fit for us."

Kilgore said the issue of Puckett's employment could come up at the Tobacco Commission's next meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday. That schedule could change, however, if lawmakers are called back into session in Richmond to take up the budget.

Kilgore said he believed the difficulty in Puckett's daughter, Martha P. Ketron, gaining Senate approval for a judicial appointment given his status as a sitting senator "played a big role" in his decision to resign.

"Martha is fantastic, and I think he would hate to see her lose that opportunity, becaus she has done such a good job," said Kilgore.

But Kilgore refused to speculate as to whether Puckett had cut a deal with Senate Republicans to tender his resignation at this time-- a move that effectively enables Senate Republicans to take control of the chamber from Democrats, who had been holding onto the budget as leverage to win the inclusion of Medicaid in the spending plan.

"I don't know what goes on over there," he said. "For me to predict what's going on over in the Senate would be way out of line."

Interviewed about the flap in February, Puckett recalled a December 2013 conversation with Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, then the Senate Majority Leader, what he could do to “to help the situation. And he said 'if you weren't a senator, it wouldn't be an issue.'“

Puckett also said in February that he was not willing to leave the Senate. He said he had already discussed his position with his daughter “long before” she decided to seek Circuit Court appointment.

It was unclear what role Ketron's potential appointment played in Puckett's decision. Judicial appointments, and the budget, are the two major issues remaining to be resolved by the legislature.

The resignation sent shockwaves through the commonwealth's political circles. Republicans said the resignation would allow them to move the budget process forward, though Democrats said that with three Republican senators in favor of including Medicaid expansion in the spending plan, getting a majority vote on the issue might not go along with organizational control of the chamber.
If you want to see lots more Phillip Puckett betrayals of Democratic values, and an undermining of what's left the party brand, just keep sending money to the DSCC and the DCCC and their horrible candidates. Otherwise, take a stand and help elect real Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson-- candidates like Rick Weiland in South Dakota and Shenna Bellows in Maine.

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At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He has thrown 400,000 poor Virginians under the bus so his daughter can have a job. Disgusting! And his daughter should be ashamed that she had to ask daddy to get her the position. I hope those two can sleep at night. How many poor people will die because of their selfish decision. Shame, shame, shame.


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