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Posted at 9:33 PM ET, 07/31/2009

Why I Endorsed Bob McDonnell

By Vince Rinehart

By Sheila Johnson

I am a Democrat. This year I have endorsed the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell. I have done so because in an election focused on jobs and the economy, I believe Bob is uniquely suited to provide the leadership we need here in the commonwealth.

Unemployment in Virginia is at a 25-year high. The global economic crisis has hit home. As a businesswoman who employs nearly 100 Virginians, I see it every day. That is why, before this gubernatorial election, I resolved to do my homework. I met with all the candidates and studied their records and proposals for Virginia. Bob McDonnell stood out.

Bob’s record is one of leadership. Raised in Fairfax County, he has served as an Army officer, a prosecutor and a delegate, and for the past three years he has run a major state agency as Virginia’s attorney general. He oversaw a budget of $30 million and hundreds of employees. On his last day in office, he was praised by Democrats and Republicans alike for bringing people together across party lines to get things done. That is most evident in the fact that 92 of his legislative initiatives became law during that time, with broad bipartisan support.

His campaign for governor has been marked by an unwavering focus on advocating policies that will get Virginians back to work and our economy back on track. He is the only candidate for governor with a transportation plan. He will commit Virginia’s colleges and universities to awarding 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years so that more of our children can gain access to our great schools, where they can get the educations they need to get the jobs they deserve. He is the only candidate calling for more charter schools and performance pay for our teachers, joining President Obama in this bipartisan effort to achieve real education reform. He has set a goal of making Virginia the best state in America in which to open a small business. On every issue, Bob’s focus is jobs: how to create the jobs we need, how to protect the jobs we have and how to help young Virginians get the jobs of tomorrow.

Bob’s message has resonated with me and with so many other Democrats and independents. In endorsing Bob, I’ve joined former Cabinet secretaries who served then-Gov. Mark Warner, independent sheriffs and commonwealth’s attorneys from across the state, and prominent members of “Virginians for Mark Warner.”

For me, this isn’t about party. This is about policy and the person. Bob McDonnell is the right person to serve as Virginia’s next governor.

As I said when I joined Bob in Richmond to announce my endorsement: I’m a Democrat. I’ll always be a Democrat. But this Democrat is very impressed with this Republican candidate for governor.

Sheila C. Johnson is president of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and founder and CEO of Salamander Hospitality.

By Vince Rinehart  | July 31, 2009; 9:33 PM ET
Categories:  Va. Politics, economy, schools, traffic, transportation  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Why I Endorsed Creigh Deeds
Next: Closing the Achievement Gap


Ms. Johnson,

Mr. McDonnell and his team want to de-fund Planned Parenthood, they want to criminalize abortion -- even in cases of rape and incest.

I don't care what kind of "businessman" this McDonnell is. You have turned your back on women and on freedom of choice in your endorsement decision.

There are Democrats who are Pro-Life and that is fine -- we are a tolerant and a "big tent" party. But I do not think you are one of them. For you to throw a woman's right to over her own body in the garbage for "business" is unbelievable.

If McDonnell ends up winning -- I hope you will use some of your considerable fortune to fund private family planning clinics to make up for the ones that McDonnell and his extremist pals in the VA GOP will de-fund and destroy.

And I hope other women will forgive you -- but I will not. I will NOT use your spa and I will never go to your restaurant again.

Posted by: rebeccajm | August 1, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Ms. Johnson but diverting millions from education to fund road projects is NOT a transportation plan. I guess when you can afford to send your kids to top private schools it doesn't matter but a lot of us are actually invested in how the public schools work on a local level. I respect you and think your success as a businesswoman should be applauded; you certainly have the right to support whomever you want, but I think Mr. Creigh Deeds is the best candidate for governor of the Commonwealth of our great state. He's the only candidate with solid legislative accomplishments and he fought to craft a compromise gun rights bill last year. When Bob McDonnell decided to oppose common-sense restrictions that would not have restricted gun rights for law-abiding citizens, Mr. Deeds was avoiding the political game that too many in our state have chosen to play over the years.

One last question--How can you support President Obama and his stimulus plan, yet support someone who work do everything in his power to fight against its benefits? Mr. McDonnell has already fought to have unemployment benefit extensions stopped, a very radical act on his part. Is this the type of "job-creating" action you support? Its hard to look for a job or secure a position if you're out on the street because you couldn't pay your mortgage with help from unemployment benefits.

Posted by: profyle424 | August 1, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

As an Independent, I am turned off by party hacks (from both sides) like the comments posted above. Virginia has more priorities than abortion clinics and bitter politics that only party hack adhere to.

Many independents are pretty impressed with McDonnell's record as Attorney General and his policies... even though he is not perfect, and regardless of his party label.

Posted by: letsfroggy1 | August 1, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Committing to 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years sounds great until you question how to fund this. Mr. McDonnell plans to cut funding for schools to pay for transportation. Less money does not equal more degrees.

Posted by: tryingtobeindependentlyminded | August 1, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: californicationdude | August 2, 2009 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Many independents are pretty impressed with McDonnell's record as Attorney General and his policies... even though he is not perfect, and regardless of his party label.


Are you an Independent or Republican? No comment thus far implies that MCDonnell should be perfect,that is a strawman. The criticisms is of his Right Wing Agenda and record, by the way, he states unequivocally that the Bush Tax Cuts benefited our Economy when in fact it contributed to the Mess that our Nation is in now. Also the question is posed to Ms Johnson, how could she support President OBama and support the man who fights to thwart all of his Policies that will Benefit Virginia. You call yourself an Independent but I notice you dismiss a Woman's right to her own Body. Come on, be honest, you are a Right Winger who has this sense of entitlement and I bet you are a Caucasian Male.

Posted by: aunkmaa1 | August 2, 2009 5:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't know Johnson so my comments are not directly aimed at her...however, a Pat Robertson protégé from his Virginia Beach University? automatically excludes McDonnell from consideration in my mind. I would be interested in understanding how Johnson can ignore McDonnell’s radical values that if in the governor’s office would help “Carry Us Back To Ole Virginny” . I should think that she would be particularly interested in not risking that trip.

Posted by: dbax | August 2, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse


I offered a base of FACTS on why I thought Deeds was a better candidate, one of which was his ability to work with both sides of the Senate to try and pass independent redistricting and common-sense gun restrictions for those flagged with severe mental illness. How exactly does that make me a "partisan"? I chose not to act as Bob McDonnell's personal lapdog and I refuse to act apologetic because of that. What exactly are McDonnell's policies? You don't write anything of the sort, yet I voiced my opinion on his proposed plans for transportation and education. Please take your conservative blinders off for a second and you will see that you just contradicted yourself.

Posted by: profyle424 | August 2, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Dr Johnson, you're really testing my loyalty as a Mystics season ticket holder. You've endorsed someone who is opposed to everything you believe in - the rights of women and children, elevating powerful young women of color as role models, even your support for global women's rights with your exceedingly generous contributions to CARE. Unbelievable! I've made my last Saturday afternoon drive out to Salamander Market and you've just made it very easy for me to skip all of the properties owned by Salamander Hospitality. Shame!

Posted by: bgressler | August 2, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Johnson, my hat is off to you to take a bold step in the direction you feel is right. What I am ashamed of are the threats and remarks on this post from obvious racist Democrats towards you and your decison. You are a proud black educateddemcocratic woman who believes she can and will make the best decision of who she chooses to vote for. You can endorse some of Obama's policies and support McDonnell on other issues. But some of these Stalin/Hitlerish remarks from those who threaten to quit going to Mystics games (petty)and threaten you with someone wants to stop abortion, (save a life) regardless of it's terms, the decision lie with the person...Ms. Johnson you are brave and again my hat is off to you, not the bigoted Democrats who were the label only when it suits them. Stand tall my sister, they wont quit here.

Posted by: Fred23 | August 2, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Hey, My white Dems that condemn this woman, Ms. Sheila Johnson, why dont you get together and create a bill in Virginia to give reparations to all the ancestors of African Americans who were enslaved because of the Democratic Party back in the days of slavery. Hey, step forward now and propose a bill, forget about defunding Planned Parenthood, forget about dangling the Mystics tix above the trash can, let's deal with an issue your ancestors forgot about and you choose to do the same with also. Now go hide under the sheet you came from.

Posted by: Fred23 | August 2, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Like Sheila, I am a Democrat (and will remain a Democrat) who began her first volunteer work with Bobby Kennedy’s campaign. From there the hard work and talent went to Hillary, and then McCain as I lasted 2 weeks within the Obama management. Integrity is a primary virtue I hold myself to as a citizen of the US and believer in the Constitution. With that I ended up in the only place one could feel good about working so diligently in anything political, without pay, and that was with Sarah Palin. Frankly, Sarah is the only candidate that showed me she is "REALLY" in it for the people.

What I have learned in working the last primary campaigns is to also do my homework, forget party and politics, and be smarter in voting than I have been in the past. Actually, this aspect rubbed off from being around Palin.

Obama--the vocal cord for Pelosi, Reid and the new Chicago, extreme liberal, party--does not represent the party "OF" and "FOR" the people. Examples include bailout bills, pay-as-you-go-card check policy favoring unions, socializing of everything while singling out specific sectors of the economy, and bankrupting the American piggy bank over a health care program. I lived with NHI in London—it doesn’t work and ends up meaning little or no healthcare with increasingly high tax rates? Add to all that a Democratic Party flip-flop on middle income taxes coming very soon to a neighborhood near you? This is the CHANGE we all now can believe in and there is more lobbyist control than ever?

As a teacher I am against merit pay as it only breeds the same stuff that SOL's (Standard of Learning levels) do for the state stifling real teaching creativity, and promoting partisan politics within administrative processes in search of funding. In this Bob is very wrong. Throwing out SOL's make far more sense if one desires to listen to those of us in the trenches, so to speak?

However, when it comes to moving Virginia toward a more productive economic environment Deeds can only be described as “DITTO” on everything going wrong on Capitol Hill. If you are watching the town meetings with the Congressional recess you will understand that the tide is turning and people want Congress and Obama to do as we wish? I have decided to work for McDonnell and become quite vocal in the Fredericksburg region.

As for the National Organization of Women and feminist concerns, I have torn up my membership card, along with AARP, and will no longer support their liberal, single-minded issues as the female & retirement arm of the Democratic Party. I am finding the Internet as a more powerful source in pursuit of such concerns? I support ERA, Bob does not, but I will work on that, and not let it dissuade me from supporting the right candidate for my state of Virginia. You should do the same--not buy into politics as usual and vote with your head.

Posted by: rosest | August 3, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

"Mr. McDonnell and his team want to de-fund Planned Parenthood, they want to criminalize abortion -- even in cases of rape and incest."

I'm sorry..he wants to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Well, good for him. I don't think taxpayers should have to pay for PP. That is what fundraising is about. Hold a fundraiser and those who believe in it will donate money for that. I for one will not pay for anyone to have an abortion. If it's your body and you want to do with it what you please then you foot the bill. If you can't afford one then ask for donations. By the way, in America, it is legal to have an abortion. I don't see the Supreme Court changing that ruling. So lets move on from the abortion issue. No matter wether you agree or disagree with it you will always be able to have one. Whether you can afford one or not, that is your own problem, not mine.

As for education, I don't believe you have read his transportation plan in its entirety. One essential aspect of it is auditing VDOT. Lord knows we don't need one man digging a hole while four men stand there and watch him. ChaChing, now there's a change I can believe in.

Suffice it to say, you cannot compare Deeds with McDonnell. Deeds has no plan for anything. He just wants to wait for the governorship to fall in his lap and then he will worry about all those pesky issues. Like card check and the job killer that it is. Cap and trade, also a job killer. Also, Deeds does not work across party lines look at his record. McDonnell is the only one who can get done what needs to be done for this great state.

Hats off to Mrs. Johnson for seeing who the better leader for Virginia is. Those of you who will no longer visit her establishments because of her endorsement should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: 5xamum | August 3, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Well I'm glad to hear a self-proclaimed "Democrat" is endorsing Bob McDonnell. I, for one, am looking forward to an election where we have an opportunity to turn back the clock 8 years and go back to ineffectual leadership for Virginia. I wonder how quickly our budget will be destroyed and anti-tax nonsense will reduce our bond rating. I'm really looking forward to switching horses in mid-stream when Tim Kaine and Mark Warner made Virginia the best managed state in the union.

Yup -- Bob McDonnell is the candidate for me too! That's cause I hate Virginia and Virginians.


Posted by: jjhare | August 4, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

"Business" as usual. "I have mine, the rest of you are on your own" mentality.

Posted by: jckdoors | August 5, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow! I can't believe Ms Johnson would betray her party for a notorious right wing ideologue like McDonnell. He is so pro-big business it isn't funny. I guess she is now too. The average guy would have a hard time during a McDonnell governorship. Poor people will really get screwed by McDonnell's GOP big business corporate welfare platform.

McDonnell has been running to the middle as hard as he can. I guess he is depending on the public's short memory of the right wing extremist issues he has built his career on.

I don't believe Ms Johnson supports McDonnell for his transportation plan. He has a terrible record of COMPLETE FAILURE on transportation. As Attorney General in 2007 he declared the unpopular HB3202 to be constitutional when even the common man on the street knew otherwise. THE SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA UNANIMOUSLY REVERSED HIS RULING, DECLARED IT UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND THAT MCDONNELL WAS WRONG. WHEN DO YOU EVER SEE THE VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL UNANIMOUSLY OVERTURNED BY THE STATE SUPREME COURT ON SUCH AN IMPORTANT ISSUE? NEVER!!!

He actually approved taxation authorities that were unelected and unaccountable to the people being taxed. If he had any guts he would have suggested taxes himself, instead of sticking others in front to take the heat for a plan that was tilted to certain wealthy special interests, certainly not to the working person.

The only transportation plan he has gotten his hands on he essentially killed by incorrect legal analysis as Atty General. Ms Johnson couldn't possibly support McDonnell for a Jim Gilmore style transportation sham. It is something else.

He must have promised her something very big for her support. Maybe he discovered something about her when he was Attorney General that he promised to overlook if she would endorse him. I don't think it is genuine, but I do think it stinks. He stands for everything she has spoken out about in the past. Think about it.

Posted by: DarkStar2 | August 15, 2009 2:13 AM | Report abuse

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