Introducing Winners and Losers
Today marks the start of a regular feature of the Virginia Politics blog called "Winners and Losers."
It's pretty self-explanatory. In this breezy feature you will find the week's political winners and losers, reflecting the ups and downs of the Virginia political world.
Kirk Cox- Cox (R-Colonial Heights), the House Majority Whip, got hit by a car near the State House Monday as he tried to get to a House Appropriations Committee meeting. But instead of rushing to the hospital, Cox continued on to the committee room so he could listen to a presentation about state finances. Two days later, Cox filled in for House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) at GOP policy briefing, where he gave a non-combative presentation on school construction funding. If the GOP loses a lot of House seats in the Nov. 6 election, Cox may be able assume the speaker's job full time.
Jim Webb - Even though Senate Republicans blocked Webb's (D) proposal to limit soldiers' tours of duty, Virginia's junior senator scored headlines nationwide. Since Webb was narrowly elected on an anti-war platform, he appears to be representing the wishes of his constituents when it comes to the war in Iraq. Webb's website, webbforsenate.com, also now includes a way for people to donate to his "reelection campaign" in 2012. Webb might finally be realizing he can't start his 2012 bid soon enough. He will be a top GOP target.
Ken Cuccinelli -- Sen. Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax) bested his Democratic opponent, Janet Oleszek, in fundraising during July and August. He also began airing a hard-hitting ad criticizing Oleszek's record on taxes. He may yet turn his race into a referendum on Oleszek instead of on his conservative record, which may be out of step with his district.
Tom Rust -- Del. Rust (R-Fairfax) may have been the author of those hated abusive driving fees, but that hasn't translated into financial support for his Democratic opponent, Jay O'Donahue. Campaign finance reports released Tuesday show Donahue has just $24,000 in the bank, compared to Rust's $215,000. With a difference like that, Democratic leaders may decide Rust can't be beat, despite the uproar over the fees and the changes in his district's demographics.
Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman candidate Gary H. Baise, who reported just $45,171 cash on hand in the latest round of campaign finance disclosures this week. Baise has raised $229,134 overall, a total that includes an $80,000 loan to himself. He's been pounded into the pavement by Democratic incumbent Gerald E. Connolly, who shows $818,535 in the bank. Baise took his search for funds to Chicago this week where his brother Gregory, president and CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, hosted an event for him. But the betting is that Baise, a wealthy corporate litigator, will have to write himself a big check sometime in October if he has a hope of staying competitive.
Tricia Stall - Patricia B. "Tricia" Stall may have unseated Sen. Martin E. Williams (R-Newport News) in the June primary, but that doesn't mean she can raise money. Stall, a conservative who once advocated for "ending government involvement" in public education, raised $42,000 in July and August and has just $21,000 in the bank. Her Democratic opponent, John Miller raised $195,000 and has $125,000 on hand. The business community is shunning Stall, which means its unlikely her fundraising will improve anytime soon. Stall will have to rely on donations from the same moderate Senate Republican leaders she railed against during her primary against Williams.
Local governments: Kaine's office was grumbling after officials with the Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties stood with GOP leaders at a pre-election press conference Wednesday about school construction. With six weeks until the elections, some say VML and VACO should have just avoided the obviously political event. VML and VACO should have remembered who their friends were during the budget battles over the past six years? It was Kaine and former Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), not the House Republicans Kaine and Warner are now trying to defeat.
Brian Moran: As a possible statewide candidate in 2009, Del. Moran (D-Alexandria) has been trying hard to boost his statewide name recognition. He's doing a good job on his own. He doesn't need help from his older brother, Rep. James P. Moran, Jr. (D-Va). Jim Moran made headlines this week after saying the "extraordinarily powerful" pro-Israeli lobby played a big role in promoting the Iraq war. Jewish groups condemned Congressman Moran's remarks, calling them anti-Semitic. Brian Moran certainly shouldn't be blamed for Jim Moran's loose lips. But as he gears up for a possible bid for governor, Brian Moran should realize voters in some parts of the state may have a hard time realizing he is not his brother. "Brian not Jim" bumper stickers may be showing up soon.
Political donors: The Virginia Public Access Project [vpap.org] releases data that shows House and Senate candidates have sucked $39 million from donors through August during this cycle, almost twice as much as was raised during the same period in 2003. And the election is still six weeks away. Need we say more?
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