64th: Don’t be Mislead by Last Minute Smears

I recently received a creepy flier in the mail accusing Bill Barlow of voting to make it possible for convicted felons to work at your child’s school or coach their soccer team. The flier also says “Barlow was 1 of 26 out of 100 Delegates who said ‘YES.’”

I don’t know what vote is Rick Morris talking about. The flier doesn’t say. It’s as vague as Morris’s other accusations against Barlow. Whatever vote Rick Morris is talking about, the “1 of 26 … who said ‘YES’” phrasing is interesting. It doesn’t say anything about the “No.” votes.

Who's Watching Our Kids at School

I looked through the Legislative Information System and found no recorded votes on any bill related to felons or convictions with 26 yea votes. This means that the vote Rick Morris is talking about, unless he’s simply making it all up, was probably a voice vote. These votes are usually one of a few votes that a proposal will go through on its way through the General Assembly, and rarely do more than a handful of delegates even participate in the vote. So these 26 yeas probably represent unanimous support for a bill, not to be passed, but just to be pushed along to the next phase.

Bill Barlow has been strong supporter of tough-on-crime legislation. He voted to expand the death penalty to accomplishes and voted against limiting the death penalty to ages 18 and up. He voted to increase restrictions on sex offenders, including a rather tough bill to prohibit convicted sex offenders entry onto school grounds or other property. And he has voted to increase funding for police.

On the other hand, Bill Barlow has also supported bi-partisan legislation like that championed by Governor Bob McDonnell to streamline the civil rights restoration process for ex-offenders who have proven themselves worthy of a second chance. Thanks to Governor McDonnell’s efforts, along with Republican and Democratic legislators, a non-violent felon, after serving his sentence and clearing all court costs and fines, can, after another two years of proving to be a good and productive citizen, request to have his civil rights restored. So maybe Rick Morris is upset that Bill Barlow has worked with his Republican counterparts and Governor McDonnell in order to pass important, sensible, bi-partisan crime legislation.

I don’t know what vote Rick Morris is talking about in his creepy flier. I do know:

  • There were no final votes in the house on any crime legislation with 26 yeas.
  • Bill Barlow has repeatedly voted for tough-on-crime legislation.
  • Rick Morris’s creepy flier is vague and provides absolutely no information to back up it’s outrageous accusation.
  • Rick Morris’s creepy flier arrived late in the campaign, leaving little time for Bill Barlow to respond to this vicious smear.

I’m pretty certain that Rick Morris’s campaign staff combed through the legislative records, and in their efforts to paint Bill Barlow as a weak-on-crime liberal, the best they could come up with was a procedural vote to push a legislative proposal up for further consideration. And “26 out of 100” is almost certainly misleading, since this vote was probably unanimous with only 26 delegates even bothering to participate.

In fact, Bill Barlow’s voting record on crime as well as other issues would be distressing to many liberals. I certainly don’t like his votes on the death penalty. But I’m not supporting Bill Barlow because I agree with everything he does. I’m supporting Bill Barlow because he supports public schools, the police, tax credits for small businesses, and has honestly, faithfully, and intelligently served his constituents for two decades.

Bill Barlow is being attacked by an opponent who falsely accuses him of everything from fiscal irresponsibility to putting “felons ahead of the safety of our children”. We simply should not support such a dishonest politician.

This Tuesday, vote for the honest guy. If you’re in Virginia’s 64th, vote Bill Barlow.

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