Dan Catalano



Virginia’s Third Congressional District was so blatantly gerrymandered that even the conservative Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sent lawmakers back to the drawing board to rework its borders.

District nein: Virginia’s congressional map fails judicial review

Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, bi-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics. If we here at the Odd Dominion could wave a magic wand and implement a single federal law, it would be this: All current non-statewide voting districts in Virginia are hereby dissolved, and all future districts, on both the state and national level, […]

Virginia's Capitol Building in Richmond. File photo.

Charm offensive: Virginia’s Republicans pretend to play nice

Watching Republican Congressional candidate (and current Fairfax/Loudoun county delegate) Barbara Comstock debate her Democratic opponent John Foust last week, we couldn’t help but think of her as a walking metaphor for today’s GOP. She was poised, mostly well-spoken, and projected the sort of comforting, inclusive image the party is desperate to showcase following a number […]

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Photo by James Scheuren.

Saying farewell to Virginia’s 71st governor: A quiz

Dan Catalano’s Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, bi-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics. As we survey the Commonwealth’s current political landscape, we see so much worthy of our attention: Governor Terry McAuliffe’s recent (mostly ineffectual) efforts to expand health care coverage to Virginia’s uninsured, the burgeoning scandal surrounding Scott County Delegate Terry Kilgore’s propensity […]

Mark Warner on the campaign trail. File photo

November reign: Will Republicans romp to midterm victory?

Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, bi-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics. Reading political tea leaves is always a difficult proposition, especially in a rapidly mutating purple state like Virginia. As a recent spate of special elections has proved, our beautiful Commonwealth is basically two states now: a left-leaning northeastern bloc anchored by Washington D.C.’s […]

Bob McDonnell. File photo.

Trial by desire: The McDonnells’ fairytale romance takes a nasty turn

For a political columnist, the federal corruption trial of Bob and Maureen McDonnell is like a giant bowl of M&M’s dusted with cocaine sitting by your keyboard at all times: it’s such a constant temptation that it’s hard to resist gorging yourself every time you sit down to write. But with prosecutors finally resting their […]

File photo.

A gay old time: Virginia’s march toward marriage equality continues

If there’s one issue absolutely guaranteed to drive social conservatives crazy, it’s the rapidly shifting status of same-sex marriage in America. Once thought so powerful a political weapon that Republicans used it (to great effect) to help increase GOP turnout in the 2004 presidential election, marriage equality has now reached a level of acceptance—in both […]

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Photo by James Scheuren.

Court drama: The McDonnells trial begins

Just how much are we looking forward to the July 28 kick-off of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen? Well, let’s just say that any visitor to Odd Dominion headquarters over the next six weeks will encounter a giant “Do Not Disturb” sign and the wafting smell of […]

Virginia's Capitol Building in Richmond. File photo.

Irregular Joe: A pugnacious Virginia pol lands in hot water

It’s no secret that we here at the Odd Dominion lean a bit to the left. Luckily for us, Virginia Republicans make our job pretty easy, as barely a week goes by without some excitable elephant saying or doing something completely boneheaded somewhere in the Commonwealth. But that certainly doesn’t preclude us from making fun […]

Eric Cantor. Photo: James Berglie/ZUMAPRESS.

Prof vs. prof: Can a Democrat possibly carry Eric Cantor’s district?

The completely unexpected primary loss of congressional ambition machine Eric Cantor has created a deliciously unexpected situation: an actual competitive race in the ex-House Majority Leader’s Richmond-based 7th district. Now don’t get us wrong; the chances of a Democrat winning Cantor’s old district are slight indeed. The 7th, like all Virginia districts, has been so […]

Ed Gillespie may be GOP strategists’ dream, but can he charm the Tea Party? Photo: Nancy Kaszerman/ZUMAPRESS

Utterly conventional: Virginia Republicans bet big on boring with Gillespie

Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, bi-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics. In case you slept through it, the Republican Party of Virginia held a nominating convention last weekend, which ended—as widely expected—with the coronation of New Jersey native Ed Gillespie, a former lobbyist and longtime Republican political strategist, as the GOP standard bearer to […]

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Photo: Adrin Snider/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com

Everything bagel: The unlikely transformation of Mark Herring

Way back in November of last year, when State Senator Mark Herring squeaked into the attorney general’s office by a margin of 907 votes, nobody expected great things. Throughout his long career as a lawyer and elected official, Herring had developed a reputation as a capable-but-boring technocrat, a man who excelled at his job, but […]

Virginia Republican Eric Cantor is all but guaranteed reelection to his 7th District seat, but that’s not stopping him from running a fervent campaign. Photo: James Berlie/ZUMAPRESS.com

Split personality: Eric Cantor’s ongoing war with himself

Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, bi-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics. As longtime readers may have noticed, we here at the Odd Dominion have a minor obsession with Virginia’s 7th District U.S. Representative Eric “Ol’ Chiseled Chin” Cantor. The current House majority leader (and only Jewish Republican now serving in Congress), Cantor is the […]

Virginia's Capitol Building in Richmond. File photo.

House rules: Republicans fight to hold on to a bellwether seat

Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, bi-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics. By now it is generally accepted wisdom that Democrats are not going to do well in this year’s midterm elections. There are myriad reasons for this, but what it basically boils down to is this: A sizeable chunk of the 2014 Senate elections […]

Virginia's Capitol Building in Richmond. File photo.

Child’s play: Virginia’s lawmakers throw a tantrum, then take a time out

Odd Dominion is an unabashedly liberal, bi-monthly op-ed column covering Virginia politics. There are times when even we—who have observed the absurd theatrics of Virginia’s General Assembly for longer than we’d care to admit—are stunned by the level of immaturity and asinine behavior exhibited in our state capital. This, without a doubt, is one of those […]

Virginia’s legislature heads to a special session March 24 to try to end the impasse over Medicaid expansion. File photo.

Isn’t that special: The General Assembly reassembles

First the good news, Virginia: Sodomy for everyone! O.K., not everyone—but if you’re an amorously adventurous sort with a consensual partner of legal age? Go for it! If the members of our General Assembly did little else during the winter session (and, to be honest, they did little else), at least they managed to overturn […]

Republican State Senator Steve Martin was the first of two Virginia GOPers to make a very public gaffe on Facebook in recent weeks. File photo.

Smooth operators: Virginia Republicans turn on the charm

It’s an article of faith among top Republican strategists—both nationally and in Virginia—that the GOP desperately needs to improve its image (and vote totals) among women and people of color if it ever hopes to become a truly dominant political party again. Unfortunately, despite a slew of “inclusivity initiatives” and “minority outreach programs,” Republican efforts […]

Mildred and Richard Loving. Photo courtesy Virginia Film Festival.

Righting history: Virginia moves to the forefront of the gay marriage debate

As the results and ramifications of Virginia’s 2013 elections slowly unfolded, it seemed all but certain that the major political dramas attending the fledgling administration of Governor Terry McAuliffe would play out in the deeply divided chambers of the General Assembly. After (barely) securing Democratic control of Virginia’s senate, the McAuliffe camp girded itself for […]

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. File photo.

Odd Dominion: A loving look back at a dozen months of crazy

As always, we here at the Odd Dominion would like to take a moment to pause and reflect back over the previous year of political absurdity before we charge wildly into the next. And in keeping with tradition, we once again present our misty-colored memories in the form of a multiple choice quiz. Play along […]

Who will Virginia Republicans pick to run for Frank Wolf’s soon-to-be-empty seat? Photo: Douglas Graham

Odd Dominion: A surprise legislative retirement opens up a battlefield

Well, it looks like Virginia’s status as the most schizophrenic political state in the nation continues apace. With Republican Mark Obenshain finally conceding the Attorney General’s race to Mark Herring, Old Dominion Democrats now control all five of Virginia’s statewide elected positions for the first time in over 40 years. And yet, at the same […]

Governor-elect McAuliffe on the campaign trail. Photo: Prensa Internacional/ZUMAPRESS.com

Lessons learned: Five takeaways from election day 2013

Hard to believe it, but yet another election season has come and gone, leaving a combination of ebullience and bitter disappointment in its wake. The tighter-than-expected election of Governor Terry McAuliffe has been certified, and State Senator Ralph Northam is busy measuring drapes for the lieutenant governor’s office. Luckily for us, there is still some […]

Virginia's Capitol Building in Richmond. File photo.

The 10 percent man: Just how high can Libertarian Robert Sarvis fly?

Here’s an interesting fact for you to chew on (courtesy of Geoffrey Skelley, posting on Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball blog): The last time an independent candidate came even slightly close to winning Virginia’s governorship was way back 1973, when Henry Howell came within 1.5 percentage points of besting Republican Mills Godwin. The confluence of events […]

Eric Cantor. Photo: James Berglie/ZUMAPRESS.

Shutdown: Eric Cantor’s wheelbarrow full of frogs

Dan Catalano’s political opinion column, Odd Dominion, runs every other week in C-Ville. Sometimes that means he has to write ahead of the news cycle, as was the case with this week’s column. A few days ago, it was anyone’s guess what the stroke of midnight last night would bring. Sorry, Dan—the news ain’t good. […]

Virginia's Capitol Building in Richmond. File photo.

On your Marks: Who will be Virginia’s next top cop?

Although you might not know it from the media coverage, there is actually a statewide race currently underway that doesn’t involve Ken Cuccinelli’s ethical fungibility, Terry McAuliffe’s used-car-salesman smile, or Bishop E.W. Jackson’s endlessly entertaining series of outrageous statements. But with those characters sucking up all of the available political oxygen, you could be forgiven […]