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Virginia politicos explore possible outcomes of 2020 election

Election Day winners could influence key issues over the next four years such as the pandemic, police reform and foreign policy, according to Virginia-based political analysts. 

Capital News Service

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By Joseph Whitney Smith

Election Day winners could influence key issues over the next four years such as the pandemic, police reform and foreign policy, according to Virginia-based political analysts.

Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden need their respective parties to land a majority in Congress. It’s the best way they can accomplish what they’ve promised on the campaign trail, said Stephen Farnsworth, professor and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.

Democrats currently control the House of Representatives (235-199), while Republicans hold the most seats in the Senate (53-45, and two Independents). All 435 House seats are up for grabs on Election Day. Thirty-five out of 100 Senate seats are up for election. Pundits believe the Democrats’ odds of winning the Senate have improved in recent weeks. The party needs to pick up four seats for a majority, or three if Biden wins.

It’s unlikely that  Democrats lose a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the chances are split that Democrats will gain control of the Senate, Farnsworth said. The next president will have a harder time getting legislation through Congress without a matching party controlling each chamber.

COVID-19

Politicians will continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic which has led to 230,380 U.S. deaths and 3,658 deaths in Virginia. Bob Holsworth, a political analyst and managing partner of Richmond-based consulting firm DecideSmart, said he expects Trump to continue promoting the reopening of the economy and schools. Trump also is likely to continue downplaying the COVID-19 crisis, Holsworth said.

Trump will likely continue to sideline expert opinions on the pandemic’s impact, Holsworth said. Since the pandemic began Trump has publicly criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.

Trump and Biden have both advocated for an accelerated development of a COVID-19 vaccine. In July, Trump hoped to have 300 million doses of vaccines available by early 2021.

If Biden wins the election, Holsworth said Americans can expect a different COVID-19 strategy.

“You’ll probably see sort of an empowerment of people like Dr. Fauci,” Holsworth said. “You’re going to see decisions that are going to be based on what he considers to be the basic science in this manner.”

A vaccine must be free to the public whether or not an individual is insured, Biden said during a campaign rally in Wilmington, Delaware.

“It will still be many months before any vaccine is widely available and we need a president who will take responsibility for making sure it gets to every single person in this country in a way that is equitable and accountable,” Biden said.

Trump’s administration announced agreements just weeks before the election with CVS and Walgreens to provide COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities with no out-of-pocket costs.

Police Reform

Biden will attempt to find balance between social justice and law and order, Holsworth said. Biden is walking a line between progressive activists who want to implement police reform and individuals that believe reform is not necessary, he said.

If Biden wins with a democratic majority in both the House and Senate, expect a shift in police reform, Farnsworth said.

Biden doesn’t support defunding the police, but he advocates giving police departments resources to implement reform.

“I’ve long been a firm believer in the power of community policing — getting cops out of their cruisers and building relationships with the people and the communities they are there to serve and protect,” Biden said in an opinion piece published in June.

He seeks to provide $300 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS program, which seeks to advance community policing.

Trump touts the passage of the First Step Act under his administration, which eliminates excessively long sentences and lowers the mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offences from 20 to 15 years.

Over the summer, Trump enacted an executive order that bans law enforcement’s use of chokeholds unless a police officer’s life is at risk.

The Trump administration also provided $98 million in grants to hire 800 community policing officers. The majority of that money was flagged for jurisdictions that assist with federal efforts to detain undocumented immigrants, Newsweek reported.

Foreign Policy

If re-elected the Trump administration’s foreign policy will mimic the previous four years, Farnsworth said. Trump’s foreign policy promotes the reassertion of American sovereignty and the independence and right of nations to determine their own futures.

The current president promotes increased military pay and the idea of “peace through strength.” The Congressional Research Service, a federal legislative branch agency, reported recently that Congress must assess if the role of the U.S. in the world has changed. The report details how Trump critics and supporters each have differing views on the current administration’s actions and the U.S. role in the world.

The agency stated that a change in the U.S. role could “have significant and even profound effects” on national security, freedom and prosperity. Such consequences could affect policy with allies, defense plans and programs, trade and international finance, foreign assistance and human rights.

Expect more alliances with countries such as Russia and Saudi Arabia if Trump is re-elected, Farnsworth said.

“You might see changes in alliances where he has criticized Europe and the fact that there are U.S. troops in South Korea,” Holsworth said.

The president will continue to push toward pulling away from traditional alliances, such as the World Health Organization and furthering alliances with Russia President Vladimir Putin, he said.

Holsworth and Farnsworth said that Biden would attempt to re-strengthen relationships with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an alliance between 30 North American and European countries. NATO was originally established to help deter and counter attempts by the Soviet Union (now Russia) to dominate influence in Eurasia. Trump has called on NATO support this year, in the Mideast.

Political experts also said that Biden would rejoin the 2015 Paris climate agreement, a collective of countries working to combat climate change. Trump officially announced last year the U.S. withdrawal from the 189-country pact and the official exit is the day after the election, the AP reports.

Other sharp policy divides between candidates include immigration, expanding the Affordable Care Act, and financial regulation.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Downtown

Children’s Hospital Foundation launches $100 million capital campaign for new “Wonder Tower”

Last week, the Children’s Hospital Foundation launched the public fundraising phase of its Built for Kids capital campaign, with a goal of raising $100 million from the community to support the construction of a new inpatient and emergency tower at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, affectionately known as the Wonder Tower.

RVAHub Staff

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Last week, the Children’s Hospital Foundation launched the public fundraising phase of its Built for Kids capital campaign, with a goal of raising $100 million from the community to support the construction of a new inpatient and emergency tower at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, affectionately known as the Wonder Tower.

As part of the public fundraising launch, Children’s Hospital Foundation launched a creative campaign throughout Central Virginia designed to raise awareness of the new hospital and inspire donations from the community, corporations and individuals.

Once complete, the Wonder Tower will be the culmination of years of planning to bring world-class pediatric facilities to Central Virginia. Located in downtown Richmond, the 16-story tower will be home to CHoR’s Level 1 pediatric trauma center, emergency room, inpatient units, new operating rooms, increased imaging capacity and family amenities —all in an environment created just for kids and families. The facility features free, convenient parking, all private patient rooms and kid-friendly design and architectural elements. Connected to CHoR’s outpatient Children’s Pavilion, the facility completes an entire city block dedicated to caring for kids.

“A hospital environment just for kids and families has been our community’s vision for many years, and it’s becoming a reality as we complete an entire city block dedicated to pediatric care – all under one roof,”  said Elias Neujahr, CEO of CHoR. “The Wonder Tower will be a place where every child in our growing community has a chance to heal, recover and celebrate their super powers. It will be a place where our nationally ranked care, innovative research and top-tier education programs come together to provide the best patient experience for kids and families.”

Reflecting the wonder of the new hospital, the creative campaign was concepted and designed by Markham & Stein, a Miami-based agency, along with Richmond-based Brand Federation, which handled research, brand and messaging work. At this stage, the “Built for Kids” campaign visually highlights the look of the new facility, while the messaging emphasizes the need to “defend childhood” and protect the most vulnerable among us – children.

“People understand and connect with the idea that childhood must be protected as it’s critical to a child’s development and vital for so many reasons,” said Lauren Moore, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Foundation. “The Wonder Tower is a place where children will receive world-class medical care close to home, and while they’re there, we’ll do everything possible to keep the spirit of childhood all around them.”

Children’s Hospital Foundation is currently running a dollar-for-dollar matching campaign to encourage the community to maximize their impact by 100% by taking advantage of the Foundation match commitment. To date, the Foundation has raised more than one-third of its $100 million fundraising goal.

CHoR is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary year treating all children in need of care. In June 2019, CHoR broke ground on the new inpatient tower adjacent to the current outpatient Children’s Pavilion, which when completed will create a free-standing, full-service children’s hospital on East Marshall Street between 10th and 11th streets. Construction is expected to be complete in 2023.

To follow along with the progress of the Built for Kids capital campaign or give to the Wonder Tower, visit builtforkids.org.

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Business

The Richmond Night Market launches holiday villages across the city to celebrate the season

The Holiday Villages are a multicultural holiday market shopping experience that will feature local goods, art, food, music, and the best of Richmond culture.

RVAHub Staff

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The Richmond Night Market, in partnership with the City of Richmond, Office of Economic Development, Flying Squirrels, Brok Productions, and media partner, Richmond Magazine, announced it will open five Holiday Villages across the city this holiday season to celebrate the Richmond community and its resilience. The open-air markets will be open every Saturday from 12 to 7 p.m. beginning November 28 to December 19. Vendors are encouraged to apply.

“Richmond is an amazing city and we want to make sure folks don’t forget about that, especially during these challenging times,” said Melody Joy Short, co-founder of Richmond Night Market. “We are a village and it’s important that we continue to support each other, especially our artisan and small business community. Let’s spread some holiday cheer, celebrate each other, and do our part to uplift the local economy.”

The Holiday Villages are a multicultural holiday market shopping experience that will feature local goods, art, food, music, and the best of Richmond culture. The open-air markets are spread across several locations to encourage social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19, with strict COVID-19 measures in place supported by the City of Richmond. Plus, attendees will have an opportunity to explore different neighborhoods including Manchester, Scott’s Addition, the Arts District, Jackson Ward, and Shockoe Bottom.

“Every neighborhood has its own vibe and flavor,” said Adrienne Cole Johnson, co-founder of Richmond Night Market. “The food, shopping experience, retailers and services are all unique to each part of the city and we want to recreate that with our Holiday Villages. We want people to shop and buy local, as well as showcase all of the gems in the city.”

“Artists and small businesses across the board should sign up to become a vendor,” Cole Johnson added.

The Richmond Night Market launched in April 2019 as a monthly gathering at the 17th Street Farmers’ Market in Shockoe Bottom as a way for locals and tourists to shop for clothing, jewelry, visual art, organic products and even artisanal food. Event organizers shifted their approach during the pandemic, launching a successful virtual experience that allowed patrons to engage with independent, small businesses in a new way on social media.

“We see our Holiday Villages as an extension of what we’ve been doing all year,” said Short. “Most, if not all businesses, have experienced some disruption and we want to ensure there is true recovery. Our efforts have increased sales by 40 percent for many artists. With the holiday season around the corner, our aim is to keep creating these opportunities to generate revenue and uplift this community.”

Patrons will be able to start their shopping experience on Small Business Saturday (November 28) and explore all of the Holiday Villages through Saturday, December 19. Those interested in becoming a vendor can apply at www.richmondnightmarketva.com.

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Community

New Law Prohibits Open Carry, Law not Enforced Last Night when Boogaloo Boys Show Up Last Night

To amend and reordain City Code 19-334.1, which prohibits the carrying of firearms within certain places, to modify the nature and extent of the firearms and prohibited places subject to inclusion as permitted by Va. Code 15.2-915.

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Infowars’ Owen Shroyer made a quick stop in Richmond last night so that Trump supporters, militia and boogaloo activists, and BLM counter-protesters could wave their various flags. The police were on hand to keep the two sides separate and @FordFisher on Twitter has a thread of how the evening went down.

Interestingly a new ordinance prohibiting open carry at protests did not seem to be enforced. The law was passed in September and prohibits the carrying of guns at public events such as protests, whether the gatherings are permitted or not, and also will apply to nearby public areas such as sidewalks and roadways. Violators could face a class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 dollars.

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