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Despite Howell, GOP Candidates Hate Those Fees

According to Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff, Republicans are still divided over those controversial fees on bad drivers.

Top GOP leaders, including Attorney General Robert F. McDonell (R) and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, went on a statewide tour Monday in hopes of boosting the fortunes of Republicans running in the Nov. 6 election. At a stop at Manassas Regional Airport, House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) took credit for the fees and said they are making roads safer.

But as soon GOP leaders ended their speeches and headed back to the tarmac for their next flight, the local Republican candidates who stayed behind rushed up to reporters to distance themselves from Howell's support of the fees, which can reach $3,000.

MIroff reports that Republican Faisal Gill, a Prince William County candidate for state delegate, said he thought his party's leaders in Richmond failed to comprehend the fees' unpopularity among Northern Virginia drivers.

"People want transportation improvements, but they see this is not the way to get it," said Gill.

Another local Republican, state senate candidate Bob Fitzsimmons, derided the fees a "weird funding scheme."

Eight-term Republican delegate Robert G. "Bob" Marshall-- who is challenging the fees in court -- joked that listening to GOP leaders defend the fees was so awkward that he began saying "Hail Marys" and "Our Fathers" in order to endure fellow party-members' speeches.

Marshall said the issue was a loser among the Northern Virginia electorate. "It's like a tar baby, you can't get rid of it," he said. "To make police and sheriffs into tax collectors is the wrong message to send to Virginians."

By Tim Craig  |  October 8, 2007; 4:50 PM ET
Categories:  Abusive Driver Fees , Election 2007 , General Assembly 2008  
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