AP Day at the Capital set for Dec. 3

What is the outlook for the new state budget and for Medicaid expansion, education funding and gun control following  the Nov. 3 election that settles control of the state Senate?

What are Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top priorities as he commences the last two years of his term?

Which party – and which candidate – has the edge as Virginia heads into 2016 as one of the three key swing states in the presidential election?

These are some of the questions that panelists – and the governor – will explore at this year’s AP Day at the Capital on Dec. 3  at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The annual event is a great way for reporters, editors and editorial page writers to prepare for the upcoming session and to meet some of the movers and shakers in state government.

We’ll start with registration at 9 a.m. Our opening panel, from 9:30 to 10:30, will feature newly elected Virginia Senate and House of Delegates leaders. Times-Dispatch reporter Michael Martz will moderate that discussion on legislators’ priorities heading into the January session.

From 10:30 to 11:30, two seasoned political operatives – experienced in state and presidential efforts – will offer perspectives on Virginia in the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.  Tucker Martin, who served as communications director for Gov. Bob McDonnell, is now advising America Leads, a Super Pac launched in support of Chris Christie’s presidential bid. Ellen Qualls, director of surrogate communications for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, is a former senior adviser to Nancy Pelosi and served as press secretary to Gov. Mark Warner. Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington, who has spent decades researching how media and politics intersect, will moderate the panel.

This panel is especially timely coming a week before prospective presidential candidates must submit their signatures in order to qualify for Virginia’s March 1 primary ballot.

We will break for lunch from 11:30 until noon. The  governor will close out the event with an appearance from noon to 1 p.m. McAuliffe will give an overview of his priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session, highlighted by the two-year budget that will be his fiscal legacy. The governor also will take reporters’ questions, which could lend more insights on the pivotal 2016 campaign.

A tour of the Virginia Capitol – organized by the Virginia Capital Correspondents Association – will follow for any attendees who are interested.

Our registration fee will be just $15 per person and will include lunch.

Virginia Press Association has joined AP as a sponsor and will be handling the registration. Download the 2015 AP Day registration form or you can contact Kim Woodward at kimw@vpa.net to register. The registration deadline is November 20.

In addition to VPA, sponsors include the AP Managing Editors, Virginia Capital Correspondents Association and the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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