Last year Republicans routed Democrats in the Virginia elections. In addition to winning the governorship and lieutenant governorship, they also took control of the Virginia House of Delegates. One of the last races to be decided in the VA House was the race between black Republican A.C. Cordoza and Democratic incumbent Martha Mugler. After a recount, Cordoza won the race by roughly 100 votes.
This week, Cordoza tried to join the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus but on Tuesday the group voted to deny his request. Thursday, Cordoza gave a speech on the House floor in which he criticized the Black Caucus as more about being leftist than about being black.
In his speech, Cordoza revealed that he had applied to join the VLBC but was voted out, and he said it was based on his answers to a questionnaire. He said the questions included topics such as his top three environmental justice priorities, whether he favored charter schools, if he would favor overhauling the process for recalling public officials to “end harassment,” and if he would work to repeal sovereign immunity for police officers.
Other topics, he said, included if he supported collective bargaining — which he called “turning our state into a union state” — and standing up for abortion rights, mask mandates and gun control.
“These questions … spit in the face of our ancestors who fought to have all of our rights guaranteed,” Cordoza said. “I asked myself what any of those things mentioned have to do with being Black. The answer is it has nothing to do with being Black. … The caucus is not about being Black, it’s about being leftist.”
The Black Caucus has 21 members — 17 in the House and four in the Senate. All are Democrats.
In recent history the Black Caucus has only had two Republican members, one of whom was Winsome Earle-Sears, now the state’s Lt. Governor. Earle-Sears told the Post, “I really wasn’t wanted when I joined. And 20 years later, nothing has changed.” This morning she mocked the decision of the caucus by proposing a bunch of names for a new caucus.
The We Shall Overcome Caucus
The I Can’t Believe They Didn’t Accept Me Caucus
The Watch the Trolls Come Out Caucus
The Tear Down This Wall Caucus
The Becky With The Good Hair Caucus
— Winsome Earle-Sears (@WinsomeSears) February 4, 2022
The chairman of the Black Caucus suggested Cordoza didn’t really want to join.
Del. Lamont Bagby, D-Henrico, said he had several conversations with Cordoza before the membership’s vote.
“I met with him privately to ask him what he agreed with us on. I also discussed with him that if he were a member of the Black caucus, that he could help make amendments to our agenda,” Bagby said in an interview. “But he said that he did not agree with anything on our agenda.”
Bagby said that some members of the caucus still supported Cordoza’s bid, but those in opposition won. Bagby declined to say what the vote was, and who supported Cordoza’s membership.
Bagby he said he was skeptical of Cordoza’s intentions. Bagby said it was “disturbing” that he was contacted by Fox News shortly after delivering the news of the vote.
Here’s Cordoza’s full speech. It’s pretty strong as these things go. I especially like this part: “Yesterday one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle said that we want black voices at the table. Well, my black voice came to the table and it was rejected.
“So Mr. Speaker, I don’t know what I should do. I’m a legislator. I’m black. And I want to help the black community. Maybe I need to start my own caucus, the Virginia Non-Leftist Black Caucus. Right now it’ll be a caucus of one but that’s okay. As Thoreau said ‘Any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already.’ I’m proud to be a majority of one.
That brought a strong round of applause from the chamber.