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Virginia Politics Blog: July 20, 2008 - July 26, 2008

Byrne, Puckett, Petersen Choose Sides in LG Race

Former U.S. Rep. Leslie L. Byrne and state senators J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen (D-Fairfax) and Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) announced today they are supporting Jon Bowerbank in next year's race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. "Jon Bowerbank represents the kind of Democrat who will bring practical results for all Virginians, and who will always fight for what is right in Richmond," said Byrne, an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2005 who also lost her bid for the Democratic nomination for Congress this year in the 11th District. Petersen said Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, will stand up for "the people against the powerful special interests." Puckett, who lost his race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 2005 to Byrne, called Bowerbank "extremely impressive and well-qualified." The endorsements, the first of the 2009 race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, are not unexpected....

By Tim Craig  |  July 25, 2008; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2009 , Tim Craig  
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Albo Spending More Than He is Raising for 09

Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), who Democrats are targeting for defeat in the 2009 state legislative elections, is already spending money like his race is this year instead of next year. Albo's campaign finance report for the first half of the year has not yet been logged onto the State Board of Elections website, but in an interview today he said he spent $73,000 from Jan 1. to June 30. Albo said his report will show he raised $51,728 during the period. But Albo only has $43,710 in the bank, likely accelerating efforts by Democrats to unseat him through a strategy of pouring money into his district. "I've got a full operation here," said Albo, who represents West Springfield, Lorton and Fairfax Station. "Because of the district I am in, we are running a two-year campaign. We hired a campaign manager back in August a year ago."...

By Tim Craig  |  July 25, 2008; 3:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2009 , Tim Craig  
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Obama Seeks Out-of-State Volunteers for Virginia

Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) presidential campaign is recruiting out-of-state volunteers to come to Virginia, despite its claims that it already has more than 10,000 volunteers in the state. According to Obama's website, the campaign established a "Virginia Sister City Program" on Thursday to urge out-of-state supporters to travel to the state over the next 100 days. "The Sister City program will match volunteers in neighboring states with a nearby Campaign for Change office in Virginia that needs a little extra volunteer help," the statement said. "Sister City volunteers become part of a team, made up of other out-of-state volunteers, who adopt a town in Virginia for the last 100 days before the election." Depending on how you look at it, the effort is either yet another sign that Virginia this year really will be the Ohio of 2004, or it's an indication the campaign is a bit worried it won't...

By Tim Craig  |  July 24, 2008; 11:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , Tim Craig  
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Bowerbank Lacks Donors But Has Cash

Jon Bowerbank, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, is almost completely self-funding his 2009 campaign, including putting up $100,000 of his own money on the last day of the reporting period. In campaign finance reports filed earlier this month, Bowerbank revealed he has only one reportable cash donor, even though he has about $108,000 in the bank. Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, made a $5,000 contribution to his campaign on May 14, just before he announced his candidacy. A week later, Bowerbank donated $50,000 to his campaign. Bowerbank, founder and CEO of EMATS Inc. engineering firm, threw another $15,000 behind his campaign on June 26. Four days later, just hours before the end the of the fundraising period, Bowerbank wrote his campaign the $100,000 check, according to the State Board of Elections. Bowerbank also made $51,000 of in-kind contributions to his campaign. So who is Bowerbank's only reportable...

By Tim Craig  |  July 24, 2008; 5:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Democrats Press Fimian on Social Issues

Virginia Democrats are demanding that Keith Fimian, the Republican nominee for Congress in the 11th District, clarify his recent remarks that social issues are not a relevant to voters in Northern Virginia. In a conference call organized by the state party, three women from Fairfax and Prince William counties called on Fimian to publicly state his views on abortion-rights, stem-cell research and contraception. Jane Blechman of Fairfax Station, Zoe Vitter of Woodbridge and Penny Gross (D), the Mason District supervisor in Fairfax County, also sent Fimian a letter. They were responding to statements Fimian made in the Washington Examiner this week. "As women who live in Northern Virginia and are concerned about these issues that affect our lives, we would appreciate answers," the letter stated. Zack Condry, Fimian's campaign manager, said the candidate stands by his remarks to The Examiner....

By Tim Craig  |  July 24, 2008; 4:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2008/Congress , Tim Craig  
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Obama Set to Open 24th Virginia Office

Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, announced today his campaign is opening four additional offices in Virginia, including his fifth in Northern Virginia. The Virginia Campaign for Change, an offshoot of the Obama campaign funded by the Democratic National Committee, had already opened 20 offices around the state in support of Obama. It now plans to add four additional offices to the list. The campaign is opening new offices in Centreville and Leesburg in Northern Virginia, Emporia in Southside and Big Stone Gap in Southwest Virginia, near the Kentucky border....

By Tim Craig  |  July 24, 2008; 12:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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McCain Unveils Virginia Leadership Team

Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, announced today the members of his Virginia "grassrooots leadership team," who will oversee voter identification and get-out-the-vote operations in each of the state's 134 jurisdictions. Under McCain's organizational structure, each of Virginia's 95 counties and 39 cities will have a designated chairperson who coordinates local campaign activities, including recruiting volunteers. "We are organized and enthusiastic about getting John McCain's positive message to Virginians," said Bobby Lee May, the chairman for McCain's efforts in Buchanan County, which is located in Southwest Virginia. " John McCain will help protect coal miners' jobs and our Second Amendment rights. We believe that John McCain has been tested and is the best person to lead our country in these times as we continue to need strong, proven leadership." Later today, U.S. Reps. Thelma D. Drake, Eric Cantor and Rob Wittman, all Republicans, will hold a...

By Tim Craig  |  July 24, 2008; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2008/President , Tim Craig  
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Jim Wilson Moves Into New Role After Sign Flap

The Virginia Democratic Party's coordinated campaign announced tonight that Jim Wilson, a former Republican operative who still apparently supports Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential ambitions, will not be added to its payroll. Wilson, who used to do work for former senator George Allen (R), was supposed to join the coordinated campaign as a consultant because he now supports Democratic Senate candidate Mark R. Warner. But Mike Henry, Warner's campaign manager, issued a statement saying Wilson will now work for the Warner campaign instead of the state party....

By Tim Craig  |  July 23, 2008; 7:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2008/U.S. Senate , Tim Craig  
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GOP Has Fun With Kaine Video

A video promoting Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and the Democratic resurgence in Virginia is starting to pop up all over the Internet, just as the governor is being mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. Charles Kelly, Kaine's political director, said the Google ad is a "good way to engage potential voters" and draw them to the website of the governor's political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward. "We are entering a period when the campaign season is really beginning to heat up," Kelly said. "Virginia is an important battleground this year with huge potential, but to meet that potential, we need to make sure voters are engaged." But Virginia Republicans are mocking the video, which was also shown at the state Democratic convention last month. They say Kaine is just trying to build his national profile so Obama will...

By Tim Craig  |  July 23, 2008; 4:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Wagner Gears Up for LG Race; Kaine Names Successor

Jody W. Wagner, secretary of finance, may not have officially resigned to run for lieutenant governor yet but several people close to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) say he has already picked her replacement. Richard D. Brown, director of the Department of Planning and Budget, is expected to be named finance secretary after Wagner resigns next week to launch a bid for lieutenant governor in 2009. Wagner said last week that she plans to consider her options while on vacation this week. But several people in the Kaine administration say she has already told the governor that she will resign....

By Anita Kumar  |  July 23, 2008; 2:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Mark Warner  
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Coordinating Va Democrats: No Simple Task

The Virginia Democratic Party's decision to add Jim Wilson, a longtime Republican operative, to the payroll of its coordinated campaign may be a sign that Democratic efforts this year may not be so coordinated after all. The coordinated Democratic campaign has been established to boost U.S. Senate candidate Mark R. Warner, congressional candidates and Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the party's presumptive nominee for president. Although he is a Republican, Wilson supports Warner and travels the state putting up campaign signs for him. But at Saturday's U.S. Senate debate between Warner and Republican Jim Gilmore, Wilson was seen with a sign in his truck that included Warner's name and that of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive GOP nominee for president....

By Washington Post editors  |  July 23, 2008; 11:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/Local , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , Tim Craig  
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Virginia Democrats Have Cash; Republicans Have Debt

The Virginia Democratic Party continues to have a crushing advantage over the Virginia Republican Party when it comes to money that can be spent on the presidential, U.S. Senate and congressional races this year. In campaign finance reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission, the state Democratic Party had about $729,000 in its federal account, about $120,000 less than it had a month ago. The Republican Party of Virginia reported it has $101,000 in its federal account. But over the past month, the party has generated $91,000 in unpaid debt, according to its July FEC report....

By Tim Craig  |  July 22, 2008; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/Local , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , Election 2009 , Tim Craig  
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Democrats Plot Aggressive Press Strategy

The difference in how presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain are approaching this fall's election in Virginia can be seen in the campaigns' press strategies. While McCain and the Republicans are taking a regional approach when it comes to selling their message, Obama and the Democrats have embraced a local strategy. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, already had a Virginia communications director, Kevin Griffis. On Monday, the campaign also hired press secretary Ashley Etienne. The Campaign for Change, an off-shoot of the Obama campaign, hired press secretary Clark Stevens two weeks ago. All three are based in Obama's Richmond headquarters. While that may sound like a lot of overlap, Democratic officials say its a testament to their committment to get Obama's message out in the local, as well as the national, media....

By Anita Kumar  |  July 22, 2008; 2:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain  
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GOP Mocks Brian Moran

The Republican Party of Virginia is seizing on Del. Brian J. Moran's decision to pay Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake) $7,500 a month to be an "outreach coordinator" for his campaign for governor. In an article published today in the Virginian Pilot, Spruill is quoted as saying his salary is "no big money." "Anyone could have matched it," Spruill said of the $90,000-a-year salary. Spruill is vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Moran (D-Alexandria), who is running against Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) for the Democratic nomination for governor, is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus....

By Washington Post editors  |  July 22, 2008; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Tim Craig  
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Mark Warner on Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court

Democratic Senate candidate Mark R. Warner, who supports abortion rights, said over the weekend he would be open to voting to confirm a justice to the Supreme Court who is on record as opposing the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion rights. When asked the question after his debate with Republican candidate James S. Gilmore III, Warner said he would have "no single litmus test issue" when it comes to deciding in the Senate who gets to sit on the Supreme Court. "I don't think there should be any single litmus test issue, but I do believe that my reading of the constitution is that there is a right to privacy, and I would look at the potential judge's or justice's overall record," Warner said. Warner then added he believes the Roe v. Wade decision was decided on the question of the right to privacy."That would be part...

By Washington Post editors  |  July 22, 2008; 11:20 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Democrat files in House's 52nd District

It's a little early, but former U.S. Marine and retired Secret Service veteran Mike Hodge, has filed for the House of Delegates 52nd District. The seat isn't up until 2009. Hodge, a Democrat, apparently wants to stake his claim on the seat while the plans of Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William) are still up in the air. Frederick, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, initially vowed not to seek re-election next year if he was elected chair. But last month he said he may reconsider that pledge. Hodge, who lives in Montclair, is touting his military and law enforcement background. He oversees the corporate security department at Washington Gas....

By Kristen Mack  |  July 21, 2008; 4:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Election 2009 , Kristen Mack , Prince William  
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McCain, Obama Campaigns Hold Dueling Va Veteran Events

Sen. John McCain's campaign announced today the Virginia Veterans for McCain, a statewide group that will work to bolster the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's support within the veterans' community in the state. The organization boasts members from various generations, including veterans from World War II to the raq war, in all of the state's 11 congressional districts. "John McCain has the experience, judgment and character to lead this country as commander-in-chief,'' group chairman Paul Galanti said. "John and I were both POWs, and I know he has an unshakeable character and unwavering dedication to country; always putting country above himself."...

By Anita Kumar  |  July 21, 2008; 3:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain  
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Where Was Doug Wilder? (Updated)

Thousands of people withstood the 90-plus-degree heat today for the unveiling of a monument outside the state Capitol that commemorates those who helped bring about the end of school segregation across the state and nation. They included NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, actor Blair Underwood, poet Nikki Giovanni, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, former governor Mark R. Warner, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, House Speaker William J. Howell and several other members of the General Assembly. But L. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor, who now serves as Richmond's mayor, was noticeably absent....

By Anita Kumar  |  July 21, 2008; 3:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Creigh Deeds , General Assembly 2008 , Mark Warner , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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The Mysterious McCain-Warner Campaign Signs

Some motorists who traveled to The Homestead Friday night for the U.S. Senate debate between Democrat Mark R. Warner and Republican James S. Gilmore III were doing double-takes as they drove from Warm Springs to Hot Springs in Bath County. About four miles from The Homestead, blue and white "Warner for Senate" signs began to line the highway. Interspersed with those signs were about a half-dozen signs that included the Democrat's name as well as that of Arizona Senator John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee for president. The web address "Votebipartisan.com" was streaked across the bottom of the signs. The McCain-Warner signs caught the attention of the Gilmore campaign, which was shooting video footage of them. So how did the signs, which appeared professionally made, get there?...

By Tim Craig  |  July 21, 2008; 7:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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