Old School Democrats, Democratic Caucus, Tom Moss discussed on Transition Virginia
Your head doesn't explode because we have the PODCAST RECORD. So let's get right into the theme of our podcast as listeners. Know is the transition of power. Republicans have been in charge in the General Assembly for two decades. Now Democrats are in charge and they've got the TRIFECTA 'cause they also have the governor all the statewide so Delegate Davis let's start with you You spent most all of your time until recently in the majority what is it like to suddenly find yourself in the minority an afterthought and don't really have much to do. You don't have much power. What has the transition been like for you. it's definitely different. You know It's not the first time that I've been in this body in the minority. I was McDonald's aid in the mid ninety S in braggers aid in the early nineties when the Democrats had I think sixty six and the Republicans had thirty so I remember what it was like. A scene others go through it. It's not that bad back then. Never Mind Republicans being scared of Tom. Austin Dick Campbell. Democrats were scared at Tom. Watson dickey while so It was definitely a little bit more heavy handed There is still a era of working together. as there was when the Republicans were in the majority but it is different You know to sit there and see really bad. Bills come in front of you in subcommittee and Committee in other darn thing you can do about. It is really tough I didn't sign up to be in the minority. I signed up to continue moving Virginia forward on helping Virginians and This was a little bit different die. You really couldn't get lead was playing defense knowing that it almost didn't matter and you just have to pray when things got to the Senate can I ask. Glenn was the three bill thing that Dickie cranwell did. I know there was a big conversation in the Susan's Schweiker episode about the next three bills get killed. Was that a thing back in the day. Like I WANNA know because Susan said it was not it was B S. I want to know. Is that real so? I don't know I heard this rumor says well. I don't know if it was up to three things it would not surprise me And it would not surprise me if there is a lot more things behind the scenes. But Yeah you you did not take on. Dickey cranwell back in those days Republican or Democrat. So just for the record. I spent some time looking at this and speaker. Howell told me that he personally witnessed. This happened with the three fingers. Kirk Cox told me that he personally witnessed this happened. They actually saw it happen. So there I witnesses to it. I also interviewed Dickey cranwell and he denied it so Susan's Wecker also denied it so We actually have totally divergent opinions about reality here in terms of whether it happened or not. So delegate Davis. You're not an eyewitness to this I take it. I am not. I was an aid and we did not have streaming back. Then do not have Internet back then. so Did Not have a chance to witnesses witness it but definitely heard stories so. I didn't realize that you are around us an aid for the Dickie Cranwell era so talk about what the old school Democrats were like when they were in the majority. Oh it was. It was extremely heavy handed. And you could get away with that. I guess back in those days because things were strained in powerplays didn't become public till well after session even at that you know it. It definitely obviously was not a ratio of seats on committees. Like there's now based on your ratio in the house or the Senate there were some Republicans. I believe there was a few. That didn't even have committees so Wouldn't make sure that we understand what we're talking about here with the ratio so when the old school Democrats were empower. They loaded up their committees with Democrats and there were way more. Democrats on the committee's than Republicans and that did not reflect the ratio in the overall house explained what that actually looked like and what that meant. That just meant that. There was an overwhelming majority of Democrats on the community to make sure that whatever that agenda was that year could get through it ensured that Republicans were not on certain. You know on committees that could benefit them There were penalties for a certain things and it was definitely more reflective of to the winner goes to spoils much more so than exists today. So that's something definitely that also politics that you hear about back in those days and I've also heard stories about bill's being sent to committees. That literally never met like they didn't exist and so when you sent them to. The committee just died And then also the Democrats would have these committee. The Old School Democrats. Have these committee meetings. That went very very late into the night like one. Am and the chairman would say to this freshman Republican Sorry Dude we're not going to hear your bill you know it's like it's am you've been sitting there for like six or seven hours and they're not even going to listen to the bill right. Oh yeah and so a powerplay that thin. I'll give you a story for one. Legislator worked with That he ran on elected school boards and he was in the committee. Obviously this was a freshman legislator they were not gonNa let him get something like this out. The bill comes up the bill dies. You know once again. This is prior to cell phones right. So you're not texting your legislative. You're running pages all over the place with notes trying to get the legislature so the bills that had voted on were voted Onto Democrats. And you know a number of Democrats and Republicans left that committee to go to another committee. They had someone run around. Bring the Republicans back. Moved the reconsider that bill reconsidered? It voted it back to committee and all of a sudden. That's how that bill to the floor. Job That legislator was immediately. Brought up to the speaker's office and told that that bill is not going anywhere and next year. Democrats going to put that bill gear the bill and it will pass and that's what transpired so that was the definition of power play back in those days. Those kinds of stories are just completely fascinating to me because I got to serve as an aide win. The house stems were in the minority and I cannot conceive of that much organization coming out of that caucus We all the impression seems to be that the Republican Party when they were in the majority just had Just the complete working knowledge of the rules could run circles around the the Democratic Caucus at least in the house you know the Senate is always different But it didn't matter what we tried. You guys were better at it than we were as Democrats and how I watch from the outside the Democratic Caucus now have to govern I see the manifestation of a lot of the arguments and discussions that had behind the scene. Start to play out in their own way on the floor right so There's a big fight in the caucus on the redistricting amendment right and that goes onto the floor Some of the Labor bills on minimum wage winds up on the floor having a fight right and these are things that boil over quietly from behind the caucus closed caucus door meetings. That they can't resolve right. So how do you compare the current Democratic Caucus which arguably is still just you know getting at sea legs under it to the Republican caucus when they were in the majority and if you can step back and just how would you rate speaker Filler corn? Compared to you know Tom Moss and and some of the other democratic speakers you were around for well I mean so. I was only around for Tom. Moss and keep in mind that when the Democrats majority when I was in aid They had been in the majority for decades just like the Republicans were when I was elected. Right I mean. That was a time of Thomas. Sticky cranwell hundred Andrews. Amin and that party had been in charge. You know in power for decades so they had it down to a science move forward to may be elected in twenty thirteen and being seated in fourteen and the Republicans had been in the majority for a couple of decades right. You I mean that that doesn't that organization that discipline doesn't happen in one year or two years. It happens over time It fast forward to this year. I think there's two things that impacted the efficiency of of the House of delegates this year Was there is a learning curve. I mean when a new party takes over for the first time in decades. There's going to be that learning curve. The second thing is so many members of the Democrat Party were young New Right. I mean what up half of the Party I think of their caucus was elected in the last four years. So you have subcommittee chairs with two years their belt. And it's not that it's a new person becoming a subcommittee chair because a funeral thing about bringing no. I really don't care about seniority. But it's having the experience of sitting there and watching different unique circumstances come in the play and how to handle them and a lot of cheers have didn't have that experience of seeing that type of stuff occur prior so when it occurred with them they kind of you know had been through a couple of times as a watching so. I think that's part of the equation. The second thing is over the course of the elections that I have seen as a member of the House of delegates when we were in the majority we never had a influx of new members of the caucus that had a ideological difference with the existing members right and all of a sudden now. I would say that you've got almost half a caucus that fundamentally disagrees maybe with that existing group of of caucus members that had been there and the fights that are probably haven't happening in caucus are boiling over onto floor. A little bit and part of. It's because it's not just a few people that may disagree pockets. It's almost half the caucus. I've always said the job of a speaker is extremely difficult because not only do they preside over the whole house of delegates but their job is really to prevent a mutiny inside their own caucus and in many of the the a big issues that we dealt with in the majority now the other party is dealing with a majority so I think that is a new more on display than now matt. I'd love to get your perspective as a senior contributor for bearing drift looking at Richmond. Looking at what happened this year. What has the transition been like for you. So I think about when I'm hearing this conversation with Glenn I think about the old days and I think about when we when you know. I think about when Vance Wilkins took charge the majority when I was like a kid and I hear the old stories from my dear friend. Morgan Griffith about when Vance Wilkins and Morgan Griffith ran that house. The delegates like it was clockwork and it was just switched watch expertise..