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Few Words, But The Blame Continues

Tim Craig

If you are eagerly awaiting a breakthrough in the standoff over transportation between Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and House Republican leaders, you should probably go onto the next posting.

They haven't even been talking.

When state legislators left Richmond June 26 after failing to reach a consensus on transportation funding, Gov. Kaine called Howell (R-Stafford) and Majority Whip M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) into his office to talk. But the meeting lasted only a few minutes, according to Cox and Howell, both of whom described it as a waste of time.

A few hours later, when Kaine met the press corps, he was still optimistic a deal could be ironed-out before lawmakers returned today for a last-ditch attempt to reach an agreement.

"I know I am going to be talking to a lot of folks over the course of the next couple of weeks," Kaine said on June 26. "In fact, I am sure I will be talking to the speaker."

Last week, Howell and Kaine attended a ceremony to promote land conversation at Washington's Ferry Farm in Stafford County, but they didn't discuss transportation, according to G. Paul Nardo, Howell's chief of staff.

"It has been disappointing," Cox said yesterday about the lack of communication with the governor, adding their previous meeting two weeks ago was "strange."

Instead of talking to Republicans, Cox accused Kaine of spending the last two weeks rounding up opposition to the GOP transportation proposal and plotting political strategy with Democrats.

But Delacey Skinner, Kaine's communications director, said Kaine is the one who has been waiting for an overture from House Republican leadership.

"The governor went to Ferry Farm at the speaker's invitation...I am not sure that standing on the entire stage in front of the press corps is the appropriate place to discuss transportation," Skinner said.

She added, "The governor would welcome an opportunity to have a discussion with Kirk Cox, the speaker or any member of the House Republican leadership who wants to have a serious discussion. But we haven't heard from them."

Skinner then recounted how Howell and Cox's went public with the details of their last brief meeting with Kaine. Howell and Cox told the Washington Post part of that discussion centered around answering a question from Kaine about what they had planned for the 4th of July.

"Given their response to the last meeting that governor had with them, that seemed like a pretty clear message they are not interested" in talking, said Skinner, who accused House Republicans of "coming to meetings with the governor and then essentially crossing their arms and refusing to speak."

By Tim Craig  |  July 9, 2008; 12:02 AM ET
Categories:  Election 2009 , General Assembly 2008 , Tim Craig , Timothy M. Kaine , Transportation  
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