Some Fear Political Fallout Smears State

By: Michael Gorsegner Email
By: Michael Gorsegner Email

January 19, 2007

For the third time in five months, a Virginia politician is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Some fear these incidents may shine a negative light on the Commonwealth.

First it was MacacaGate.

Then it was Congressman Virgil Goode's remarks about Muslims.

Now delegate Frank Hargrove is the latest Virginia politician making national headlines for all the wrong reasons. His statement telling African Americans to "get over" slavery came in reaction to a proposed resolution apologizing to the descendants of slaves. Matt Smyth with the Center for Politics says Virginia has become a bigger player on the national political stage, thus catching the eye of more people.

"When you get a brighter spotlight, it shines on more things, so you have an opportunity to see a lot of the good things and then some of the things that might not reflect in the best light," he said.

Some people on the Downtown Mall worry the political blunders are painting Virginia in a negative light.

"I don't think people should universalize and say that Virginia is backwater and hillbillies and that kind of stuff," said Linda Terrill.

While others say the comments were out of place, but in the end, could have been much worse.

"These things should not be said. People have to be very careful about the words that they choose in today's society," said James Wright.

"What he said was kind of dumb but he could of said worse things," said Martin Bailes.

Hargrove contends that slavery happened 140 years ago and no one that suffered through its pains are alive today. He says that the Legislature should focus on the problems of 2007.

Right now, Hargrove has made no formal apology.

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