Archive: January 2008

Delegates and Senators for McCain

Here is a list of delegates and senators who announced today they are supporting John McCain's bid for the Republican nomination for president. Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R-Staunton) Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) Del. Thomas D. Gear (R-Hampton) Del. Philip A. Hamilton (R-Newport News) Del. Terry G. Kilgore (R-Scott)...

By Tim Craig | January 31, 2008; 7:44 PM ET | Comments (1)

Delegates For Obama

Here is a list of the 17 state delegates who announced today they are supporting Barack Obama's bid for the Democratic nomination for president. Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) Kristen J. Amundson (D-Fairfax) Kenneth Cooper Alexander (D-Norfolk) Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington)...

By Tim Craig | January 31, 2008; 7:27 PM ET | Comments (2)

Obama Set to Launch Virginia TV Ads

Barack Obama's presidential campaign announced today they will begin airing two televisions ads in Virginia as the state gears up for the Feb. 12 Democratic primary. The ads are here and here....

By Tim Craig | January 31, 2008; 2:32 PM ET | Comments (1)

Mark Warner Hauls In $2.7 million

Former governor Mark R. Warner (D), a candidate for U.S. Senate this year, will report today that he raised $2.7 million in the last quarter, on top of the $1.1 million he had already raised. Former governor James Gilmore (R), a candidate for the GOP nomination, will announce his fundraising totals later today. He entered the race in November....

By Steve Fehr | January 31, 2008; 1:59 PM ET | Comments (2)

Tim Hugo on Run For Congress: "We'll See"

Is Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) rethinking his decision not to run for Congress in the 11th congressional district? Earlier this month, Hugo said he decided not to seek the GOP nomination to replace Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va), who announced yesterday he is retiring after 13 years in the House. With Davis now out of the race, Hugo may be reconsidering. "I've had a lot of calls," said Hugo, who some Republicans believe would be their strongest candidate. "I need to talk to my wife. We'll see."...

By Tim Craig | January 31, 2008; 12:46 PM ET | Comments (0)

Ward Armstrong Will Endorse Obama

House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) will announce this afternoon he is supporting Barack Obama in Virginia's Feb. 12 Democratic primary, sources said. Armstrong had been a supporter of former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who suspendend his bid for the White House yesterday. Armstrong will appear at a 2 p.m. press conference being organized by the Obama campaign to unveil several new Virginia endorsements. Meantime, Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said he has already cast his absentee ballot for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)....

By Tim Craig | January 31, 2008; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (7)

Kaine Talks About 2010 Job Prospects

Some people in Richmond are already speculating about what Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who just passed the midpoint of his term, plans to do when he leaves office in 2010. One option is future president of a college or university, including either the University of Virginia or Virginia Commonwealth University. In an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors Wednesday night, Kaine wouldn't discuss what his future options are, but said he really enjoyed the "community building aspect" of being Richmond mayor and governor. "I'm likely to do something that has a community building component," said Kaine, who said he could be interested in a job with non profit organization....

By Tim Craig | January 31, 2008; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (2)

Virginia Notebook: Names To Keep in Mind For AG

The positioning for lieutenant governor and attorney general is just beginning in advance of the 2009 statewide election. Here are some of the people mentioned by pundits as possible candidates for attorney general. Look for a similar discussion of possible candidates for lieutenant governor in the coming weeks....

By Tim Craig | January 31, 2008; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (1)

Obama Staffers Hit The Ground in Virginia

Several staffers for Barack Obama's presidential campaign arrived in Richmond yesterday to head up his effort to win the Feb. 12 primary. Kevin Griffis, who worked for the Virginia Democratic Party during the 2005 governor's race, walked around the state capitol this afternoon letting the press know the Obama campaign is in town. Griffis will be joined in by Mike McCauley and Stacey Brayboy. All three were transferred from South Carolina, where they helped Obama rack up a 28-point victory over Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)....

By Tim Craig | January 30, 2008; 6:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

He's Out

U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) said today he will retire from Congress at the end of the year, bringing to a close a 14-year stint in the House of Representatives during which he rose rapidly through the ranks of Republican leadership and championed such issues as D.C. voting rights and a vibrant defense-contracting industry. "It's time for me to take a sabbatical," Davis said. "I would say I'm not ruling out future public service, but it's time to be refreshed, to see what it's like in the private sector. That doesn't mean I will or won't come back." Davis, 59, a self-described political wonk who has wanted to serve in Congress since childhood, said the decision was remarkably difficult. He said that even as some media outlets were reporting this week that he would retire, he had not made up his mind....

By Amy Gardner | January 30, 2008; 1:04 PM ET | Comments (12)

House Democrats Want Regular Talks With Republicans

After three weeks of partisan bickering, House Democrats are asking House Republicans for weekly joint meetings between leaders of both parties. A letter signed by House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) was sent to Republican leaders today....

By Anita Kumar | January 29, 2008; 5:23 PM ET | Comments (0)

Is The Race On?

Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, still hasn't moved past the "exploratory" phase of his bid for Congress. But his committee very proudly shared some early fundraising numbers to make the point that Connolly has the ability to run a well-financed campaign. According to James Walkinshaw, who runs Connolly's exploratory committee, Connolly has raised $161,000 since the beginning of January, when he announced the formation of the committee to pursue a bid in the 11th Congressional District. By contrast, fellow Democrat Leslie L. Byrne will report at the end of the month that she raised $115,000 between the November elections and the new year, she said in an interview yesterday. "That's in just three and a half weeks," Walkinshaw said....

By Amy Gardner | January 29, 2008; 12:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

Will He or Won't He?

The suspense continues to build about whether U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) will seek an eighth term representing Northern Virginia this year. Davis has said for months that he would announce a decision by the end of January. And here we are. Despite media reports that Davis has decided to retire, he told WTOP this morning that he has not yet made a decision. Most observers believe retirement is the likelier of the two possibilities, but as a source close to Davis not authorized to speak for the congressman said today: "Anyone who says they know what Tom is doing knows more than Tom, because he hasn't made a decision yet." A Davis retirement has all kinds of implications for the region. Most immediate is the likelihood that Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, would upgrade his "exploratory campaign" to a full-fledged...

By Amy Gardner | January 29, 2008; 12:27 PM ET | Comments (0)

Edwards Proposes "Gun Show Loophole" Compromise

Last week, bills that would have closed the so-called gun show "loophole" died in committee, in part with the help of Sen. John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke), who on Wednesday voted against advancing the bill to the floor of the Senate. But today, Edwards -- whose district includes Virginia Tech -- tried to reopen the debate....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | January 28, 2008; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

House Democrats Will Try to Fight Back

Stayed tuned for more partisan rancor coming up Monday in the Virginia House. Del. Robert H. Brink (D-Arlington) will ask his House colleagues to vote to rescind a new Republican-written rule that allows Speaker William J. Howell to bypass the usual committee process and send bills straight to the House floor for a vote. The first time that happened was Thursday when Democrats revolted and abstained from voting on a controversial labor bill. Republicans responded by using an obscure House rule to force almost all the Democrats to vote, against their wishes, on the bill....

By Anita Kumar | January 25, 2008; 4:05 PM ET | Comments (4)

This Week's Winners and Losers

This Week's Winners: Tom Perriello - A Democratic candidate for Congress in the 5th District, Tom Perriello is being touted as a possible serious challenger to Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va) this year. Some Democrats in Richmond say Perriello, who raised $263,000 last year, will be well funded, considering the relatively cheap television advertisements costs in southern Virginia. Goode remains heavily favored to win, but Perriello can't be disappointed with the free press he got this week in the Martinsville Bulletin and the Roanoke Times. You can find the articles here and here....

By Steve Fehr | January 25, 2008; 2:15 PM ET | Comments (3)

Kaine Names Lottery Director

Arlington native Paula I. Otto has been named executive director of the Virginia Lottery, state officials announced today....

By Steve Fehr | January 25, 2008; 1:58 PM ET | Comments (1)

Dueling Banjos

Hundreds of activists on both sides of the gun control debate crammed into the General Assembly's office building Monday to lobby for or against measures addressing the issue. Many of the gun rights activists were armed, which is legal under Virginia's concealed weapons law. The spectacle of armed men and women trolling the halls of the General Assembly makes some lawmakers nervous, especially those who represent areas of the state that generally support gun control. John Pierce, cofounder of Open Carry.org, said he and other activists got into the same elevator as Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) at one point on Monday....

By Tim Craig | January 24, 2008; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (37)

GOP Chairman Ready to Take on Frederick

John H. Hager said today he plans to seek a full term as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, despite a challenge from Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William). Hager, who became chairman in July after Ed Gillespie joined the Bush administration, said he wants to continue his efforts to put forward "a reform agenda" for the state party. "I am not in a career job and I think I can do a good job," Hager said. "We are in good shape financially, which had not been the case before...We are working on being more of a service organization for our elected officials. ... I am imminently involved with all these pieces of the building blocks, so it is probably not a good time to make a change."...

By Tim Craig | January 23, 2008; 1:49 PM ET | Comments (3)

Connolly Rallies Democratic Family

By day, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) confines his public pronouncements largely to the nuts and bolts of local government. Last night, however, evoked a little of the old time religion for the general membership meeting of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee....

By Steve Fehr | January 23, 2008; 11:14 AM ET | Comments (6)

House Squabbling, Part 2

Did Virginia Democrats just beat House Republicans at their own game? Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R-Staunton) sponsored a bill that would ban any legislator or statewide official from attending a fundraising event to benefit a political party during the legislative session. The proposal, which was defeated last year, was seen as a partisan swipe at the Democratic Party of Virginia, which holds its biggest fundraiser, the Jefferson-Jackson Day celebration, in the middle of the legislative session....

By Anita Kumar | January 22, 2008; 6:23 PM ET | Comments (0)

Del. Hargrove Compares Asteroids, Climate Change

Del. Frank D. Hargrove Sr., a Republican from suburban Richmond, apparently doesn't believe in the phrase "think globally, act locally." At a House Rules Committee hearing today, Hargrove couldn't understand why Dels. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria) and Kenneth R. Plum (D-Fairfax) sponsored a bill to create a permanent commission to study climate change. "Virginia is a small dot on the map," Hargrove said. "When you look at the entire universe, what advantage do we have to duplicate what the federal government and what international organizations are already doing?" Englin said states are taking the lead in addressing the issue because the federal government is not doing their part. "We have a significant population and a significant economy and therefore a potential significant impact on this issue," Englin said....

By Tim Craig | January 22, 2008; 5:48 PM ET | Comments (0)

Could Huckabee, Obama Battle For Virginia Votes?

Some black ministers, who tend to be conservative on social issues and liberal on economic policies, are having a hard time deciding who they will support in the Feb. 12 Virginia primary. In an interview at the state capitol today, Joe Ellison Jr. said he is "torn" over whether he will vote in the Democratic or Republican primary. Ellison, pastor of Essex Village Ministries in Richmond, is executive director of Pastors for Family Values, an offshoot of the socially conservative Family Foundation. In past elections, Ellison has supported Democrats and Republicans, including voting for President Bush in 2004 and former president Ronald Reagan during the 1980s....

By Tim Craig | January 21, 2008; 5:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

Cat Thieves, Abortions and the Courts Committee

When it comes to watching how Virginia's laws are really made, there is no better venue than the House Courts of Justice Committee, which takes up hundreds of bills each year dealing with the criminal code. Legislation that can mean the difference between a fine and a lengthy jail term are churned through the committee in a matter of minutes, with little or no debate. Earlier today, the committee gave tentative approval, without debate, to a bill by Del. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) to make it a class six felony to steal a cat. A few minutes later, the committee gave tentative approval to a bill by Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) to charge someone with a class 1 misdemeanor if they coerce a woman to have an abortion against her will. Sounds simple enough....

By Tim Craig | January 21, 2008; 5:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Boucher Says Obama Can Win Rural Vote

U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va) formally endorsed Sen. Barack Obama today, saying he is the only Democratic candidate who can carry rural America and Virginia in the general election. Boucher represents a district that is 93 percent white and includes all of rural southwestern Virginia. During a conference call, a reporter from a local paper asked Boucher if Obama's race would be a factor with voters. Boucher responded Obama's "message of hope and his clear focus on the future...transcends all other issues." "After watching all of the candidates in their performances so far, the most compelling of the candidates is Senator Obama," Boucher said. "He clearly, in my mind, offers the best opportunity to win the general election." You can read Boucher's full statement below....

By Tim Craig | January 21, 2008; 1:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Boucher Will Endorse Obama Today

U.S. Rep Rick Boucher, a popular Democrat who represents Virginia's coal country, will announce this afternoon that he is endorsing Barack Obama's presidential bid, according to the Obama campaign. The campaign has scheduled a 1 p.m. conference call with reporters to announce the endorsement. Boucher refused to comment yesterday, but said he would "talk about the presidential campaign" during a conference call today. Boucher's support could give Obama a bit of a boost heading into Virginia's Feb. 12 primary. The 9th congressional district still represents an important source of Democratic votes, although it has been trending Republican because of the region's cultural conservatism....

By Tim Craig | January 21, 2008; 6:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Frederick Launches Campaign for GOP Chair

The Potomac News reported today that Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William) will run for chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. Frederick, 32, and his wife, Amy, have been considering the move for several weeks. In a conversation last week, Frederick said the party needs young leadership who can bolster its finances, organizational skills and outreach efforts....

By Tim Craig | January 18, 2008; 9:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

Winners & Losers

This week's winners House Speaker William J. Howell -- Despite lots of pressure from delegates, Howell stands firm in opposing an increase in the daily allowance, or per diem, citing the state's budget shortfall. Del. Steve Shannon (D-Fairfax)- Campaign finance reports show that Shannon, a possible Democratic candidate for attorney general next year, has over $202,000 in the bank. Shannon is also speaking more often on the House floor, which may help raise his profile in preparation for a statewide campaign. Del. Lionel Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake) -- Spruill earns headlines nationwide over his bill to make it illegal to hang rubber testicles from a vehicle hitch....

By Tim Craig | January 18, 2008; 3:18 PM ET | Comments (140)

Petersen Jumps On the Train

State Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax), who just the other day sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration urging a "time out" on the approval process for a proposed Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport, has now signed a letter urging "immediate action" to approve the project's final design....

By Amy Gardner | January 18, 2008; 2:48 PM ET | Comments (0)

House Republicans and Democrats Continue Squabbling

Republicans and Democrats in the House have been bickering since the legislative session started last week. First, there was the flare up about changes to the rules, then committee assignments and yesterday, it was the question of whether raising per diems would be used later in campaign attack ads. Today, Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) brought the per diem issue back for a second day in a row by accusing Democrats of trying to smear GOP candidates in last year's legislative elections....

By Anita Kumar | January 17, 2008; 6:43 PM ET | Comments (26)

Howell First Woman Conferee From Senate

Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) is set to become the first woman from the State Senate to become a budget conferee. The conferees are the handful of lawmakers who duke it out at the end of each session to finish the budget. On Wednesday, Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), chairman of the finance committee, and Del. William J. Howell (R-Stafford), speaker of the House of Delegates, took the unusual step of announcing the conferees, whose names typically are unveiled toward the end of the session. The House, too, has a woman conferee, Beverly J. Sherwood (R-Frederick). But she won't be the first from that chamber. That was Dorothy McDiarmid (D-Arlington), who served in 1984....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | January 17, 2008; 5:59 PM ET | Comments (3)

Democrats Collect Money From Tobacco Giants

Two different tobacco companies donated a combined $30,000 to House and Senate Democratic committees in recent days as both chambers prepare to consider Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's proposal to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. Reynolds American, parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, donated $10,000 to The Commonwealth Victory Fund last week, according to the State Board of Elections. The fund is a joint fundraising committee for House and Senate Democrats. R.J. Reynolds, the second biggest largest tobacco company in the United States, manufactures Camel, Kool, Winston and Salem cigarettes. On Jan. 2, Altria Corporate Services also made two separate $10,000 donations to the Senate Democratic Caucus. Altria is a parent company of Philip Morris International, a Richmond-based tobacco company that produces Marlboro cigarettes....

By Tim Craig | January 17, 2008; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Petersen Throws Himself in Front of a Train

State Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax), just a few days into his first legislative session since upsetting Republican Jeannemarie Devolites Davis last November, did something pretty interesting the other day: He sent a letter to Federal Transit Administration chief James S. Simpson urging him to take a "time out" on approving federal funding for the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport so that a tunnel through Tysons Corner can be more thoroughly studied....

By Amy Gardner | January 16, 2008; 9:12 PM ET | Comments (15)

Byrne gets serious

Leslie L. Byrne declared herself the frontrunner today in the battle for the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional District -- but others have something else to say about her numbers. Byrne released polling numbers today that show her with a 10-point lead over potential primary opponent Gerald E. Connolly, the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors who recently formed an exploratory committee to consider running for Congress....

By Amy Gardner | January 16, 2008; 8:25 PM ET | Comments (76)

A Rough Road Ahead

Chaos reigned at today's meeting of the Senate Courts of Justice committee, which took the state legislature's first crack at killing the unpopular abusive-driver fees. The panel struggled to combine 10 bills that essentially did the same thing-- repeal the fees. Senators argued along party lines over two issues: should the thousands of motorists who have already been assessed the fees get their money back, and should the committee attach an "emergency clause" to the bill so it takes effect as soon as the governor signs it?...

By Sandhya Somashekhar | January 16, 2008; 5:30 PM ET | Comments (2)

Potential Candidates for Gov. Have Money in the Bank

Earlier today, we told you how much money Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) has in the bank as he considers a run for governor in 2009. Some of his potential rivals have as much or more money than he does. Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling's political action committee, Building a Better Virginia, had $418,000 cash on hand at the end of the year. On the Democratic side, Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), had about $600,000 in his two accounts for Friends of Brian Moran and Leadership for Virginia's Future. Meanwhile, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) has almost $300,000 in his three accounts....

By Anita Kumar | January 16, 2008; 3:06 PM ET | Comments (62)

An Early Look at the Feb.12 Primary--And Beyond

Get ready to be inundated with a series of potentially competitive elections. Because of the Democratic resurgence in Virginia, voters are going to be facing more choices at the polls over the next two years than they have in decades. It all starts Feb. 12, with the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries....

By Steve Fehr | January 16, 2008; 2:45 PM ET | Comments (7)

Kaine Chat on Dulles Rail, Smoking Ban, Abusive Driver Fees

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was online today at washingtonpost.com....

By Steve Fehr | January 16, 2008; 2:29 PM ET | Comments (0)

Power Struggle on the Fairfax Board

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) may already be missing Elaine McConnell. He seldom clashed publicly with the six-term Republican supervisor from Springfield who retired on Dec. 31. The two got along so well that critics in McConnell's district tagged her a RINO (Republican in Name Only). But Connolly could be in for a different experience with her successor, Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield)....

By Bill Turque | January 16, 2008; 12:21 PM ET | Comments (4)

McDonnell Has $500,000 in the Bank

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell's campaign committee, McDonnell for Virginia, raised $605,040 in the second half of last year, according to newly released financial reports. He contributed more than $123,000 to local and state Republicans in the November election. The committee has $585,812 on hand that could be spent on candidates for office -- that includes his own possible run for governor in 2009....

By Anita Kumar | January 15, 2008; 6:15 PM ET | Comments (1)

Va GOP Has Edge in Money

After being badly outspent by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and the Democrats in last year's state legislative elections, Virginia Republicans have at least one reason to be optimistic as they gear up for this fall's elections. According to year-end campaign finance reports released today, the Virginia Republican Party has twice as much money in the bank as the Democratic Party of Virginia. Republicans reported $219,524, compared to the Democrats' $71,900....

By Tim Craig | January 15, 2008; 5:38 PM ET | Comments (1)

Bolling Endorses Party Registration

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) has endorsed a bill by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) that would allow Virginia voters to register with a political party. Bolling sent a letter to lawmakers today that says party registration would "maintain the integrity of the party nomination process in Virginia" and allow candidates "to more effectively identify voters and efficiently communicate with them."...

By Tim Craig | January 15, 2008; 4:19 PM ET | Comments (3)

Kaine Takes Question On Clinton's Electability

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a key supporter of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, is wading into the debate over whether Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) is electable in the general election if she is the Democratic nominee. In the past, Kaine has largely steered clear of questions about whether Clinton could win in a traditionally red state like Virginia. But in an article titled "Red State Dems Sour on Clinton," Kaine tells the Politico newspaper and website that he thinks Obama has a better chance of winning the general election....

By Tim Craig | January 15, 2008; 2:34 PM ET | Comments (2)

Feder Building Campaign Warchest

Judy Feder, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 10th District, announced today she raised $600,000 in 2007, including almost $250,000 during the last three months of the year. Feder, a professor at Georgetown, is trying to unseat Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) for the second time. Mike Turner also has filed as a Democratic candidate. The primary is June 10. Although Wolf easily defeated her In 2006, Feder proved herself to be a proficient fundraiser, having raised over $1.6 million for that campaign...

By Steve Fehr | January 15, 2008; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (6)

Gilmore, GOP Hire New Staff

The Virginia Republican Party and GOP Senate candidate James S. Gilmore III are both beefing up their communications staffs in preparation for the fall elections. State Party Chairman John Hager announced today that Josh Noland will be the party's new communications director. Noland, who replaces Sean Kenney, used to work for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign....

By Tim Craig | January 14, 2008; 1:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

Herndon Race Heats Up

It didn't take Herndon Mayor Stephen J. DeBenedittis long to jump into re-election mode. Less than a week after Town Council member Harlon Reece announced his candidacy for mayor in the May 6 elections, DeBenedittis has formally declared that he will seek a second term....

By Bill Turque | January 14, 2008; 1:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Ken Plum, Mr. Speaker

At the start of each legislative session, House and Senate members receive their vanity license plates that identifies them as a member of the legislature. The license plate includes a number based on their seniority. This year, Del. Kenneth R. Plum (D-Fairfax) had a surprise when he got his plate because it identified him as the speaker of the House. Earlier today, Plum spoke about the error on the House floor. "Mr. Speaker, this is a prediction of things to come," Plum told House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), referring to Democrats efforts to win back control in the 2009 elections. Howell responded, "You need to save that, maybe it will be a collector's item some day."...

By Tim Craig | January 14, 2008; 1:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Registration Deadline Today

Today is the deadline to register to vote in Virginia's Feb..12 Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. Virginia residents wanting to register for the first time or change their address have until the close of business to fill out an application at their county Board of Elections office. Virginia does not register voters by political party, so voters someone can decide on Feb..12 whether they want to participate in the Democratic or Republican nominating contest. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Feb. 5. --Tim Craig...

By Steve Fehr | January 14, 2008; 11:17 AM ET | Comments (0)

Reece Runs for Mayor of Herndon

Herndon Town Council member Harlon Reece, who says he is disturbed by the tone of the debate over illegal immigration in the western Fairfax community, has announced that he will run for mayor this spring....

By Steve Fehr | January 12, 2008; 2:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Gilmore Says GOP Senators Behind Him

Since announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in November, there have been questions about whether former governor James S. Gilmore III could attract support from Republicans in Washington. But Gilmore sent an email to supporters today that notes he's already received campaign donations from 13 GOP senators. Gilmore says he's received contributions from Trent Lott of Mississippi, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Wayne Allard of Colorado, Richard Burr or North Carolina, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma , Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas. It's worth noting one prominent Republican senator wasn't on the list - Virginia Sen. John W. Warner....

By Tim Craig | January 11, 2008; 3:34 PM ET | Comments (0)

Republicans, Mark Warner Trade Jabs

The National Republican Senatorial Committee came after Democratic Senate candidate Mark Warner today on the issue of illegal immigration. In a release titled "Marky Mark Flips on Immigration," the NRSC accused Warner of changing his position on the issue. The NRSC referenced comments Warner, who was governor between 2002 and 2006, made to a Virginia television station yesterday. Warner was quoted as saying he supports sanctions on employers who hire illegal immigrants. NRSC Communications Director Rebecca Fisher said Warner's get-touch approach contrasts with his record as governor because he vetoed a bill to deny in-state tuition to illegal immigrants....

By Tim Craig | January 11, 2008; 3:04 PM ET | Comments (0)

Romney Wins Republican Women Straw Poll

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won the Virginia Federation of Republican Women presidential straw poll Thursday in Richmond. Romney received 26 percent of the vote, followed by John McCain with 24 percent, Fred Thompson with 21 percent, Rudy Guiliani with 17 percent, Mike Huckabee with 11 percent. Ron Paul got less than 1 percent of the vote....

By Anita Kumar | January 10, 2008; 8:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

Speaker Draws Ire for Committee Assignments

House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) raised some eyebrows when he released long-awaited committee assignments to delegates last night. The two highest ranking Democrats in the Republican-controlled House were removed from two of the three committees they had each spent a dozen years or more on. Del. Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry), House minority leader, was left on Courts of Justice and taken off General Laws and Counties, Cities and Towns. Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), House Democratic caucus chairman, was left on Courts of Justice but taken off Transportation and Health, Welfare and Institutions....

By Anita Kumar | January 10, 2008; 11:26 AM ET | Comments (0)

Senate Gets Tough on Raising Money

Democrats in the state Senate have successfully pushed through a rules change that tightens restrictions on senators who try to raise money during the legislative session. For years, state law has prohibited delegates and senators from raising money for their campaigns during the legislative session. But two years ago, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax) solicited funds for an anti-abortion organization that was gearing up to support legislation before the General Assembly. Some senators, including Republicans, condemned Cuccinelli, saying he was violating the spirit of the law. Cuccinelli, who argued he did nothing wrong because he wasn't raising money for himself, successfully argued he was on solid legal ground. But now the Democrats set the rules in the Senate....

By Tim Craig | January 9, 2008; 11:31 PM ET | Comments (3)

Kaine Seeks Nonpartisan Redistricting

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) said tonight he wants Virginia to expand access to absentee ballots and create a new system for drawing legislative boundaries. In his third State of the Commonwealth address, Kaine said a non-partisan redistricting process would allow districts to be drawn "with people, not the politicians, first in mind." Kaine's proposal comes as Democrats took control of the Senate today, which will assure their party has a seat at the table during the next round of congressional and legislative redistricting in 2011. "With different parties in the majority in each house, now is the perfect time to make this necessary change," Kaine said....

By Tim Craig | January 9, 2008; 7:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

Text of Kaine Speech

One part of our transportation package clearly is not working. The imposition of higher fees on drivers who commit serious traffic offenses was designed to both increase transportation revenue and encourage safer driving habits. After six months, neither goal has come to pass.

By Steve Fehr | January 9, 2008; 7:06 PM ET | Comments (2)

More Steam For Rail

Increasingly impatient with the silence emanating from the Federal Transit Administration, the Dulles Corridor Rail Association will publish a full-page, $100,000 ad in The Washington Post tomorrow reminding the FTA and the public just how important they view the proposed $5-plus billion extension of Metro to Dulles Internatonional Airport. "We're ready to ride," states the ad, which supporters described as "positive," and which also states: "The Dulles Metrorail has never had so much support."...

By Amy Gardner | January 9, 2008; 4:55 PM ET | Comments (2)

Hillary Clinton Wins Prince William Straw Poll

Sen. Hillary Clinton won the Prince William County Democratic Committee presidential straw poll on Tuesday night. Clinton received 40 percent of the vote. Sen. Barack Obama finished second, earning 32 percent. Former senator John Edwards received 17 percent and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson got 11 percent....

By Tim Craig | January 9, 2008; 4:26 PM ET | Comments (2)

The Fight Begins for Allen Supporters

In an interview last night, former governor and U.S. senator George Allen said he probably would not be taking sides in the brewing fight between Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell for the GOP nomination for governor in 2009. "They are both well qualified and would be outstanding governors," said Allen, who yesterday ruled out his own bid for governor. Even if the former governor stays on the sidelines, McDonnell and Bolling will immediately start battling to win over his supporters....

By Tim Craig | January 9, 2008; 11:14 AM ET | Comments (4)

Political Establishment React to Allen's Decision

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Tuesday that he was surprised that former U.S. senator George F. Allen announced he would not run for governor in 2009. "I'm a little surprised. Signs were suggesting to me that he might,'' Kaine told reporters at a press conference. "There's a lot of moving pieces in Virginia politics." Allen's decision leaves the door open for Attorney General Robert McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and perhaps others to compete for the GOP nomination. "Throughout his career, Sen. Allen has been a strong leader and a true friend,'' said John Hager, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. "While I have full confidence that George Allen would have done great things for Virginia in a second term as Governor of the Commonwealth, I respect his decision to turn down this opportunity."...

By Anita Kumar | January 8, 2008; 4:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell Unveils Legislative Agenda

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) unveiled his legislative priorities Tuesday, a day before the state's lawmakers get to work for this year's 60-day session in Richmond. It came the same day former governor and U.S. senator George Allen announced he will not run for governor in 2009. Allen's announcement clears the field a bit for McDonnell, who could face Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling for the Republican nomination....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | January 8, 2008; 3:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Could Give Va GOP a Scare, Bolling Says

Lt. Gov Bill Bolling (R) said today Virginia Republicans believe they would have a much harder time defeating Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) than they would Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in this year's presidential race. A Democratic presidential nominee has not won Virginia since 1964, but Democrats believe their luck may change this year. Bolling, who is state chairman of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in Virginia, said he thinks a Republican will still win Virginia's 13 electoral votes. But Bolling said "without a doubt" he thinks Obama would pose a stiffer challenge to the GOP nominee. "He is a new face, a fresh face with a very appealing message, and no where near as divisive as Hillary Clinton," Bolling said in an interview. "Clearly, he would be a stronger candidate for Democrats."...

By Tim Craig | January 8, 2008; 2:22 PM ET | Comments (6)

Saslaw, Democrats Raise Money

Senate Democrats in Richmond are celebrating their new majority by raising as much money as they can before the legislative session starts tomorrow. Earlier today, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) headlined a fundraiser for the Senate Democratic Caucus at the Colony Club in downtown Richmond. At the event, about 100 lobbyists and business leaders schmoozed with Kaine and the new Democratic committee chairmen. "When you got a majority, you get a lot more people at these things," Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) quipped at one point, according to someone who attended. Saslaw also held a seperate fundraiser Monday night that featured Sen. James Webb (D). State law prohibits Kaine or legislators from raising money during the legislative session....

By Tim Craig | January 8, 2008; 11:58 AM ET | Comments (1)

George Allen's Statement

As first reported this morning by the Associated Press, former governor and U.S. senator George F. Allen (R) announced today he will not run for governor again in 2009. Allen's decision sets up a potentially nasty fight for the GOP nomination for governor between Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. Allen's statement:...

By Tim Craig | January 8, 2008; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (6)

Armstrong Opens Door For Lobbyists

The Democratic presidential candidates may be tripping over themselves to prove who can be tougher on lobbyists, but some Democrats in Richmond have an open door policy, at least today. Last month, House Minority Leader Ward H. Armstrong (D-Henry) sent out an email to lobbyists and interest groups inviting them to come meet with him in his office to discuss their legislative agenda. The hallway to Armstrong's office has been jammed all day. Someone even hauled in an extra couch for lobbyists to sit on....

By Tim Craig | January 7, 2008; 2:36 PM ET | Comments (1)

Bob Marshall Set to Make it Official

Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall of Prince William will announce Monday he is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Marshall, who is known for his conservative views on social issues and taxes, has scheduled a 1:30 p.m. press conference at the state capitol to make his announcement. Marshall will challenge former governor James S. Gilmore III for the GOP nomination. Marshall says Gilmore is too moderate on some issues, including his past support for abortion rights during the first trimester. "I did a lot of calling around the state and I got an excellent response from Republican Party officials," Marshall said. "I just concluded I matched their aspiration for the views they think should be expressed and defended by a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate."...

By Tim Craig | January 6, 2008; 6:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

"D" Is for Democrat and Dollars

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors lost two wealthy Republicans in November but is gaining one pretty well-off Democrat. John W. Foust (D-Dranesville), who will attend his first board meeting on Monday, holds between $620,000 and more than $2 million in stocks and mutual funds, according to his statement of financial interests on file with the county. (Members are not required to be specific and can report assets within wide brackets) That's in addition to at least $500,000 in annual income from his Vienna law practice, and from his wife, Dr. Marilyn Jerome, an ob-gyn in Northwest D.C. It places him, at least according to what can be gleaned from the barebones disclosure forms, on a par with Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence), as among the most well-to-do board members. Smyth and her husband, lawyer Nigel S. Smyth, hold stocks and mutual funds worth between $730,000 and more than $1.6...

By Steve Fehr | January 4, 2008; 1:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Doug Wilder Endorses Obama

L. Douglas Wilder, Richmond's mayor and former Virginia governor, announced today he is endorsing U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) for president. "Our country needs a leader who can unite and inspire our citizens, a leader who can see things with a fresh eye, and a leader who can move beyond the parochialisms of the past. We need a leader whom people want to rally around with the confidence that positive change is on the way,'' Wilder said in a statement. "Sen. Barack Obama brings forth all of these qualities. I am tremendously impressed with him." Just last month, Wilder, the nation's first black governor, said he had not endorsed Obama even though a magazine reported that he had. Today, Wilder says he plans to campaign for him across the country "to the fullest extent possible that my schedule will allow."...

By Anita Kumar | January 4, 2008; 12:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

Hillary Picks Up Support From Ebbin, McClellan

Delegates Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) announced today their support for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. "For decades, Hillary Clinton has been a national champion for our children's health and education," said Ebbin, the House Democratic whip. "We need someone with her proven experience and track record in Washington and Hillary has the experience and knowledge to make change happen." Neither Ebbin nor McClellan probably carry the weight of U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va) and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), both of whom endorsed Obama. But Ebbin and McClellan have significant ties to crucial constituencies within the Democratic Party. Ebbin is the only openly gay member of the General Assembly. McClellan, who is also a Democratic National Committee member, is an African-American who represents heavily Democratic Richmond....

By Tim Craig | January 4, 2008; 12:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Congratulates Obama

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, one of the national co-chairmen for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, congratulated the Illinois senator on his victory last night in the Iowa caucus.   "Barack's success indicates his broad support and his ability to appeal to folks from across the political spectrum,'' he said. "We have seen that Iowans, like people here in Virginia and across America, are looking for real change in Washington." The Virginia primary is Feb. 12.  ...

By Anita Kumar | January 4, 2008; 9:51 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bolling Wants Abuser Fees Repealed

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) sent a letter today to Republicans in the General Assembly today outlining his support for a repeal of the abusive driver fees and encouraging them to support a repeal as well. Bolling, a potential GOP candidate for governor in 2009, said he and many Republicans initially thought the fees would be a legitimate way to raise money for transportation and make Virginia's highways safer. But, he said, the legislation inadvertently applied the unpopular fees to less serious offenses and will generate less money than expected. " While this was the most noble of efforts, it simply has not worked out the way it was intended, and it has become terribly unpopular in the public eye,'' Bolling wrote. "That is why I favor the total repeal of the abusive driver fees, as opposed to their modification."...

By Anita Kumar | January 3, 2008; 3:29 PM ET | Comments (6)

Moran Moves Closer to Gubernatorial Bid

Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) will announce tomorrow he is forming a new political action committee that will set the stage for his expected run for governor in 2009, according to Democratic sources. The committee, Virginians For Brian Moran, will start raising money and organizing potential supporters. Veteran Democratic strategist Mame Reiley, a confidant and former adviser to former governor Mark R. Warner (D), will be the director of Moran's PAC. Steve Jarding will be the general consultant. Jarding ran Warner's 2001 campaign for governor. Last year, Jarding was a senior strategist to Sen. James Webb (D). Jarding currently serves as campaign manager to U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD)....

By Tim Craig | January 3, 2008; 1:29 PM ET | Comments (0)

Loudoun Chairman Likely To Get Powers Back

A former aide to Loudoun County Chairman Scott K. York said that York must be the happiest man in the country today. That's because tomorrow York could become a powerful player in the region. At the first official meeting of the new Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, the board is likely to return to York a host of powers that were stripped from him from the previous board....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | January 2, 2008; 4:58 PM ET | Comments (1)

Kaine Spends a Cold Day in Iowa With Obama

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, one of Barack Obama's national co-chairmen, said today that the Illinois senator and presidential hopeful feels like there is "real good momentum" leading up to the Iowa caucuses. Kaine (D) spent New Year's Day with Obama in Sioux City and Council Bluffs, where more than 1,000 supporters turned out for each event on a day that had temperatures in the single digits. "It's so close and it's all about turnout and getting folks excited,'' Kaine said. "From what I could tell yesterday, people are pretty excited." Kaine traveled to South Carolina the weekend before Christmas to campaign for Obama but was not able to go to Iowa as he had planned because of a snow storm. Kaine spent a weekend in Iowa in November....

By Anita Kumar | January 2, 2008; 4:44 PM ET | Comments (3)

 

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