On Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated again for real. Yesterday he went thru the motions for the public, even though the Constitution has no requirement he the Vice President recite any oath. Instantly, speculation began about a possible presidential run in 2016. He would be 72 at the start of a first term and 80 at the end of a second term. That has to be a factor in everyone's calculations. In contast, Hillary Clinton would be 67 at the start of a first term and 75 at the end of a second term. If Clinton decides to run, she would be a strong favorite to get the Democratic nomination and Biden would probably not run. But Clinton's future plans aren't clear at all yet. With her universal name recognition and prodigious fund-raising ability, she doesn't have to say a word about her plans until well after the 2014 congressional elections. Out of courtesy to other potential Democratic candidates, however, if she decides not to run, she is likely to make a definitive announcement as soon as she has really made a decision. So Biden just has to wait it out.
In what has to be one of the sneakiest moves by a state legislature since Tom Delay had Texas redraw its congressional districts in 2003, the Virginia state Senate redrew the boundaries of the state Senate districts yesterday, while long-time civil rights activist, state senator Henry L Marsh III was in D.C. attending President Obama's inauguration. Currently the Virginia state senate is split evenly, with 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. As we learned after the 2010 elections, when one party controls all the levers of power in state government, it can gerrymander all districts to its hearts' content, pass laws making it harder for people to vote, and more. With the state senate split evenly between the parties, it was impossible for Republicans to pass openly partisan laws, even though they control the state house and the governor's mansion.
So the Republican state senators waited until one of their members, Marsh, was out of state, and then rammed through new state senate district lines yesterday by a vote of 20 to 19. The plan was a tightly held secret. Even the governor didn't know about it and has said he has to think about whether to sign it or not. If he signs it, Republicans will have a good shot at taking back the state senate in 2014. But the downside of signing it is that the Democrats in the current state senate are likely to block everything in the current session of the legislature and blame the Republicans.
To make things more complicated, Virginia will elect a new governor in Nov. 2013, as Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) is term limited. Likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Terry McAuliffe, is almost sure to use this sneaky redistricting as a weapon to say that Republicans don't accept election results unless they win. As Virginia becomes bluer and bluer, that could help him. The likely Republican nominee is state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is a conservative firebrand. Thus the move by the state senate yesterday could easily spill over into the gubernational race in this key swing state. Whichever party wins the governor's mansion in November, will no doubt use that to the fullest in 2016.