The Byrd machine’s continuing influence

My latest op ed, title above, appeared in Wednesday’s The Virginian-Pilot.

Harry F. Byrd, Sr. (AP file photo)

The shadow of Harry F. Byrd, Sr. is a long one, despite his death almost 45 years ago. It permeates so much of what we do in modern day Virginia. I found it ironic that Byrd’s rise to prominence was based on his opposition to using debt to build roads, a step the current day General Assembly is about to take at the urging of Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Although he was a Democrat, I doubt many would recognize him as such today. He believed in low taxes, was no fan of unions and supported states rights. And from the mid 1930s on, he basically supported Republican candidates for president.

The lingering influence of the Byrd machine fascinates me. I find it hard to believe sometimes that our elected officials have not thrown off its shackles. Steve is right: change comes slowly in Virginia.

5 thoughts on “The Byrd machine’s continuing influence

  1. How do bonds that were approved in 2007 become “a step the current General Assembly is about to take at the urging of Gov. McDonnell?”

    Kaine signed the bill with the original bonds.

  2. Vivian, here’s how slowly Virginia changes…there’s still a member elected as part of the Byrd Machine serving in the House of Delegates …Del. Lacey Putney, I-Bedford, chairman of House Appropriations. Del. Putney was first elected about three weeks before JFK was assassinated.

      1. Well, you’re right. I cheated Lacey out of two years of his record-breaking run. He was part of the Byrd machine though, got in when the machine turned against the incumbent who had some qualms about Massive Resistance.

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