Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I almost forgot about those guys

We're not just electing a governor in Virginia this coming November. We also have a lieutenant governor and attorney general to elect. I'm guilty, I confess, of forgetting about the down-ticket. I meant to write about them, but like last week's laundry, I simply forgot to do it. Thank goodness the Richmond Times-Dispatch didn't.

You know, you really don't think about these people anymore. Especially in the post-national election craze, people expect the second-in-line to simply wait around for the executive to kick off. And the attorney general at the national level isn't even elected. He's chosen by the president, and confirmed by the Senate. Here in the Commonwealth, though, that's all just a little different. We'd all do well to keep that in mind.

The lieutenant governor, first of all, isn't just the governor's running mate. They run on separate tickets, so candidates for governor and lt. governor don't even need to have the same platform, technically (though, for party unity, it would certainly be a good idea to get along with each other). Currently, we have a governor, Tim Kaine, of one party and a lt. governor, Bill Bolling, of another, so you don't even need to vote for the entire ticket. I'm sure there are many in this country who would have voted for Sarah Palin in November but not John McCain if they could have. (Imagine a country with President Obama and Vice President Palin.)

The attorney general is also chosen by the voters. This gives us the chance not only to decide who we want to lead us politically and economically, but in terms of law and order as well. Bob McDonnell was our Attorney General until he recently resigned in order to devote his full attention to his campaign for governor.

If you've read my earlier posts, then you know that McDonnell is unopposed in the Republican primaries, while the Democrats are in a threeway fight for the nomination. That's just for the governorship, though. For lieutenant governor, Bill Bolling is also unopposed on the right, while there is currently a face-off between Democratic contenders Mike Signer and Jody Wagner about who will fill the second slot on the ticket. There were others, but they've dropped out and supported one or the other. As for the attorney general contenders, it's reversed. There's only one Democrat in the race, Stephen Shannon of Fairfax County, who will face one of three Republicans in the general election.

The separate conventions, Republican and Democrat, take place in a matter of weeks. Unless you're a delegate to one convention or another (which would be kind of cool, I admit, having you read my blog *grins*), then there's not much I can say about one of these "down-ticket" candidates or another that will make much difference in who is selected to contend for them. But remember the importance of the offices for which they strive.

And don't just think of them, either. Look even farther down the ticket. There are delegates and state senators and local elections all over the Commonwealth. Keep your eyes open for information about the candidates, no matter which party they are or which party you support. Government doesn't just exist at the national or state level. Every one of us is represented by literally dozens of elected officers, and it is our responsibility to know who they are and what they will or will not do for us.

So, whether you are a Virginian or not, whether you will vote for someone this year or not, don't adopt the attitude that whatever happens will happen without you. Are you tired of thinking that there's nothing you can do? It starts with knowing who represents you.

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