Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Campaign veteran enters Bedford race
Jerry Johnson faces 50-year incumbent Lacey Putney wielding a proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution.
General Assembly 2011
Among the major issues: The state's continuing efforts to provide services with fewer dollars and Gov. McDonnell's plan to privatize liquor stores. Session ends Feb. 26.
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In 1974 he ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Herman Talmadge, a Georgia Democrat who served 24 years in that post.
After moving to Virginia in the early ’90s, Johnson made a bid to challenge then-Democratic state Sen. Virgil Goode as a Republican. The Franklin County GOP turned Johnson down.
Now, Johnson is running -- again as a Republican -- against 50-year incumbent Virginia Del. Lacey Putney, I-Bedford. He joins a race that also includes Democrat Lewis Medlin.
Although Putney is an independent, he has caucused with Republicans in the House of Delegates since 1998.
“The Republicans tried not to give me the nomination,” Johnson said. “They love Lacey. The hierarchy of the Republican party does, anyway.”
Johnson, 72, is running on one major proposal he said separates him not just from Putney, but from any other elected official.
Johnson wants the Virginia General Assembly to propose and ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would: repeal the 17th Amendment, which requires popular election of U.S. senators; give each state one senator who would be appointed by the state legislature; and limit all federal judges to three-year terms.
Johnson argued that state legislatures can initiate the process to amend the Constitution instead of waiting on Congress.
“If 38 states ratify, it becomes part of the Constitution. Congress and the courts can’t do anything about it,” Johnson said. “I maintain they can do this on any proposed amendment. But mine will solve all of our problems.”
Johnson’s proposed amendment would give the states greater control of the federal government, which he argues would reduce the budget deficit and eliminate national debt.
“Right now the states can’t do anything,” Johnson said. “The federal government has its heel on our neck. We are their slaves. ...
“Everybody gripes about the national problem. My proposal would solve the national problem,” Johnson said.
The relevant portion of the U.S. Constitution, Article V, requires Congress to call a convention to consider constitutional amendments whenever two-thirds of both the House and Senate, or two-thirds of the state legislatures petition it to do so. For a proposed amendment to be valid, three-quarters of state legislatures or three-quarters of state constitutional conventions must ratify it.
The 19th House District, redrawn in redistricting this year, includes Bedford, part of Bedford County, most of Botetourt County and all of Alleghany County and Covington.