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Virginia Politics Blog: August 17, 2008 - August 23, 2008

Va Republicans Blast Biden

Virginia Republicans came out swinging this morning at Sen. Barack Obama's pick to be his running mate. The quick response is another indication that the GOP is not taking Virginia for granted, even though Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will not be on the ticket. Until recently, it was Virginia Democrats who were known for their quick response in the race between Obama and Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee. Here are statements released this morning from McCain's leadership team in Virginia: Del. Chris Saxman, campaign co-chairman: "By selecting Joe Biden for vice president, Barack Obama has shown voters that not even Governor Tim Kaine can hide the fact that he is out of touch with the core values held by the hard-working families of Virginia. Virginians deserve a president and a vice president who understand that we need a comprehensive solution to the energy crisis, lower taxes for Virginia's...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 23, 2008; 11:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (65)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Kaine Responds to Obama's VP Pick

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who was on the short list to become Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, released the following statement this morning after Sen. Joe Biden was selected to be the vice presidential candidate. "I am very excited that Senator Obama has selected Senator Biden to be his running mate. Senator Biden is a tremendous leader and a great complement to Senator Obama and his candidacy. He has worked as a committed public servant, has a proven track record, and understands the complex challenges facing our nation. "The Obama-Biden ticket provides the United States with a new and meaningful dialogue with world leaders and will improve America's standing with our allies and the global community....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 23, 2008; 9:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (51)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Virginia Democrats Target McCain's Wealth

The Virginia Democratic Party will try today to localize the controversy over Arizona Sen. John McCain's (R) not knowing how many houses he owns by holding a press conference outside of McCain's Crystal City condominium. Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria) and Peter Rousselot, chairman of the Arlington County Democratic Party, will speak at the event at McCain's condominium building, which the party said in a statement is "the most enviable address in Virginia." "Englin, Rousselot and others will ask how McCain can represent middle-class families who are struggling with the rising cost of living, soaring gas prices and the foreclosure crisis," the state party said in a news release. The effort is apparently part of a national strategy by Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill) presidential campaign to keep the pressure on McCain by localizing the house story, which sidetracked the GOP campaign yesterday. But efforts by Virginia Democrats to make the...

By Tim Craig  |  August 22, 2008; 9:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , John McCain , Mark Warner , Tim Craig  
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DNC Transfers $374,000 to State Party

The Virginia Democratic Party picked up $744,000 last month for its efforts this year in support of federal candidates, two-thirds of which came from the Democratic National Committee and Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) presidential campaign. Campaign finance reports filed yesterday show the state Democratic party's coordinated campaign received $374,000 from the national party last month. Obama's campaign also transferred $131,000 to the state party. The state party also received $76,000 from two joint fundraising committees it set up with Democratic Senate candidate Mark R. Warner (D). The party's remaining money came from 30 individual contributions, including $10,000 from Bernard Rapoport of Waco, Texas, who made millions in the insurance industry. The party also collected $5,000 checks from the Sheetworkers, International Association of Firefighters, National Air Traffic Controllers and American Federation of State County & Municipal Workers unions. Despite all the national money, the Virginia Democratic Party still spent $33,000 more...

By Tim Craig  |  August 21, 2008; 9:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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McDonnell Criticizes Obama

As Sen. Barack Obama spent his second straight day in Virginia, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) blasted the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee for his lack of experience. "Senator Obama is clearly an historic figure and an articulate spokesman for his party but he is perhaps the most inexperienced person to run for president of the United States,'' he said. McDonnell, who will run for governor next year, told reporters that Obama is "wrong" for Virginia on the key issues of national security, taxes and spending and energy....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 21, 2008; 3:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McCain's Bus Travels to Virginia

The Straight Talk Express -- Sen. John McCain's campaign bus -- will visit the Bristol Motor Speedway Friday and Saturday to help register people to vote. McCain will not be coming to Virginia this weekend or anytime before the Republican national convention, which starts Sept. 1, Virginia officials say. The bus will be at the display area of the Speedway during the Food City 250 and Sharpie 500. Details are below...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 21, 2008; 1:48 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain  
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From the Floor: Meet Your Delegate

Chrisi West is a Virginia delegate to the Democratic National Convention who will be blogging for Virginia Politics from Denver. She is from Fairfax County's Alexandria neighborhood. When I attended my first informal meeting of Alexandria Obama supporters back in March 2007, I figured it was my first foray into politics and I'd probably just end up handing out flyers on election day or something. No big deal. I couldn't have been more wrong....

By washingtonpost.com  |  August 21, 2008; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Election 2008/President  
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Moran Offsets Delegation's Carbon Footprint

Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) has purchased "carbon offsets to neutralize the carbon footprint" of the Virginia delegation while at the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week. A carbon footprint measures the affect human activity has on the environment through greenhouse gases. Moran, who is not a delegate but will be attending the convention, purchased carbon offsets that will be invested in renewable energy through Native Energy. "Democrats have a long track record as champions of our environment," Moran said. "Leaving a clean and healthy world for the next generation is both a moral obligation and an economic necessity. It's important we show our commitment to this cause with both our words and our actions."...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 21, 2008; 1:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009  
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Even Republicans Are Waiting By The Phone

Richmond's political chattering class is on edge as it relates to Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill) expected imminent announcement on who his vice-presidential candidate will be. Numerous Republicans in Richmond have signed up to receive the text message from Obama's campaign announcing his selection. "I signed up last night, I couldn't take it anymore," said one senior GOP staffer, who declined to be identified so they are not outed for now being on Obama's mailing list....

By Tim Craig  |  August 21, 2008; 12:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Just Pictures, Nothing More

Several members of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) senior staff accompanied him to the Omni Hotel in Richmond this morning, which was where Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) stayed last night. But it doesn't appear as if the visit by Kaine's staff, including his communications director and chief legal counsel, had anything to do with the rampant speculation surrounding Obama's choice of a running mate. "We had our picture taken with him," said Gordon Hickey, Kaine's press secretary. "We weren't involved in anything else. We just stood there, had our picture taken and we left...(Obama) came walking in, we stood there, had our pictures and he left." Also this morning, Kaine appeared on CNN's American Morning. Kaine's remarks during the interview have been picked up by media outlets across the country because he mocked Arizona Sen. John McCain's (R) apparent confusion yesterday over how many houses he owns. Kaine is now...

By Tim Craig  |  August 21, 2008; 11:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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Jody Wagner Staffs Up for LG Race

Jody W. Wagner, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor next year, announced today her senior staff, most of whom have close ties to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). Mo Elleithee, who most recently served as a senior national spokesman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) presidential campaign, will become a senior adviser to Wagner's campaign. Elleithee served as Mark R. Warner's press secretary during his 2001 campaign for governor. Elleithee also served as Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) communications director during his 2005 campaign. Veteran Democratic pollster Pete Brodnitz will be Wagner's pollster. Brodnitz is also Kaine's pollster. Until recently, Brodnitz had worked for Wagner's opponent for the Democratic nomination, Jon Bowerbank, according to a statement his campaign put out recently. It's unclear why Brodnitz left Bowerbank's campaign, but Wagner is Kaine's former Secretary of Finance. Alan Moore, a former executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party, will handle Wagner's...

By Tim Craig  |  August 20, 2008; 3:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
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Obama Airs New Ad in Virginia

Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, released a new television ad today in key states, including Virginia. The 30-second ad, Three Times, touts Obama's plan to cut taxes for middle-class families while criticizing Republican Sen. John McCain's plan to target billions in tax cuts to big corporations, according to a press release. The ad will air in Virginia, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. ">...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2008; 2:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Campaign Ads , Election 2008/President , John McCain  
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GOP Finds Issue in Warner Speech

Virginia Republicans are stepping up their efforts to tie U.S. Senate candidate Mark R. Warner to the national Democratic party and Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. The strategy of linking Warner to liberals in Washington has long been a part of the GOP playbook. But Warner, apparently confident of his big lead in the polls, gave the GOP new ammunition by agreeing to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention next week. Privately, some GOP insiders have been frustrated that Warner's GOP opponent, former governor James S. Gilmore III, has appeared curiously silent as it relates to Warner's speech next week. Unwilling to wait for Gilmore to make the attack on his own, the Virginia Republican Party is taking the lead in trying to link Warner to national Democrats. In a lengthy memo sent out Tuesday night to GOP supporters and reporters, Del. Jeffrey...

By Tim Craig  |  August 20, 2008; 1:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Mark Warner , Tim Craig  
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McCain Attacks Obama in New Radio Ad in VA

As Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) begins a two-day presidential campaign swing across Virginia, his GOP opponent has released a hard-hitting radio ad in the state over the issue of taxes and spending. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive GOP nominee for president, accuses Obama in the ad of wanting to raise taxes to pay for an ambitious new round of government spending. "Celebrities like to spend their millions. Barack Obama is no different," a narrator says. "Only it's your money he wants to spend. Obama's got plans. Big plans, for your money." Taxes and spending have long been potent political issues in Virginia, where many residents take pride in the state's reputation as a historically low-tax state....

By Tim Craig  |  August 20, 2008; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Kaine, Obama Will Stump in Va. Thursday

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) will join Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday at a campaign event in suburban Richmond, the Obama campaign announced today. Obama plans to hold an invitation-only town hall meeting in Chesterfield County, which President Bush won with 63 percent of the vote in 2004 but which ran out of Democratic ballots during the Feb. 12 primary because so many people turned out to vote. After the Chesterfield event, Obama will travel to Chesapeake in Hampton Roads for another town-hall meeting. Kaine, who has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate, is not scheduled to attend the Chesapeake event, according to the Obama campaign. Campaign officials say no other events in Virginia are scheduled for that day. But Obama will be in Martinsville Wednesday morning with Democratic Senate Candidate Mark R. Warner. He will then appear with Sen. James Webb (D-Va) in Lynchburg on Wednesday evening. Kaine...

By Tim Craig  |  August 19, 2008; 6:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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McCain Leads in Loudoun, Prince William, Davis Says

U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va) said today internal Republican polls show Arizona Sen. John McCain has a "substantial lead" in both Loudoun and Prince William counties, which are expected to be the swing counties in the fight for Virginia's 13 electoral votes. Davis joined U.S. Sen. John Warner (R-Va), who is vowing to campaign vigorously for McCain over the next three months in Virginia, on a 35-minute conference call with the state capitol press corps. "Our polling today shows McCain well outside the margin of error in both of those counties," said Davis, who is helping to head up McCain's efforts in Virginia. "But they will be battlegrounds, I give Senator Obama credit for coming in trying to fight it out there for every vote." Davis and Warner said they were confident McCain can beat Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) statewide. They said McCain will run strong among veterans and do...

By Tim Craig  |  August 19, 2008; 3:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
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Bolling Ready to Take Over From Kaine

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) has begun cursory, internal discussions with advisors about assuming the role of governor should Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) be selected as Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) running mate this week. "In the event it comes to it, Bill is prepared to assume his constitutional responsibility as governor," said Randy Marcus, Bolling's chief of staff. "There has been due prudence, and we have had some initial thoughts about how we would handle things." If Kaine were to join Obama on the ticket, Kaine would only have to step down as governor if he and Obama won the Nov. 4 general election. But some Republicans say Kaine, whose term ends in January 2010, should consider stepping down immediately if he is selected given the fact the governor himself said Monday "difficult" decisions will have to made this fall because the state is facing a potentially big budget...

By Tim Craig  |  August 19, 2008; 12:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
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John Warner Set to Enter the Fray

Has Democratic Senate Candidate Mark R. Warner finally met his match when it comes to dabbling in the presidential contest in Virginia? On Wednesday, Warner will campaign with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in Martinsville. Democrats hope Warner, a popular former governor, can help Obama win over working-class voters in Southside. Before either Obama or Warner step in Martinsville, U.S. Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va) will have had his say as it relates to his support for Arizona Sen. John McCain's (R) presidential campaign. John Warner, who is retiring from the Senate after 28 years, plans to join U.S Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va) on a conference call Tuesday afternoon to "discuss Virginia's significance in the 2008 presidential election and Barack Obama's visit to Virginia," according to the McCain campaign. In a Washington Post poll last fall, John Warner had a 65 percent approval rating. Mark Warner, who is trying to succeed...

By Tim Craig  |  August 18, 2008; 7:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Webb to Campaign With Obama in Lynchburg

Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) will campaign with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Lynchburg, according to party sources. Obama (Ill.) has apparently scheduled a stop in Lynchburg, which is home to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, after he campaigns with U.S. Senate candidate Mark R. Warner (D) in Martinsville. But Webb won't be Obama's choice of a running mate, Webb aides say. Last month, Webb sent out a statement saying he did not want Obama to consider him as a potential running mate. "He has said he is not interested in the position and is out of the running," said Jessica Smith, Webb's spokeswoman. After his Lynchburg stop, Obama is expected to spend the night in Richmond....

By Tim Craig  |  August 18, 2008; 4:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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No Ruling Yet In Death of Webb Aide

Three weeks after a 26-year-old aide to Sen. James Webb (D) was found dead alongside a highway in Botetourt County in Southwest Virginia, the cause of his death remains a mystery. The Roanoke Times reported on Saturday that the State Medical Examiner's Office still has not released its findings on the circumstances surrounding the death of Fred Hutchins, who headed Webb's Roanoke office. Police believe Hutchins, who was a rising star in the Virginia Democratic Party, died of a single gunshot wound to the head, but it's unclear whether foul play was involved. The newspaper reported the Botetourt County Sheriff's Office has executed at least two search warrants in the case, and authorities have retrieved a number of personal items from Hutchins' condominium....

By Tim Craig  |  August 18, 2008; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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GOP Raises Concerns about Kaine, VP Speculation

Given the state's budget shortfall and an expected painful round of spending cuts this fall, Virginia Republican leaders said today Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) should consider whether he will step down as governor if he is selected by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) this month to be his running mate in the presidential race. Kaine's four-year term ends in January 2010. If Kaine were to leave office early, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican, would become governor. GOP leaders made their remarks after Kaine told the House and Senate money committees "difficult" spending decisions will have to made this fall. If Obama were to choose Kaine, the governor would most likely be expected to be on the campaign trail between now and the Nov. 4 election. "It is going to be problematic," said House Majority Whip M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights). "I am not going to immediately jump up and...

By Tim Craig  |  August 18, 2008; 1:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
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If Not Wednesday, What About Thursday?

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) won't be with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Wednesday when the presumptive Democratic nominee for president campaigns with U.S. Senate candidate Mark R. Warner in Southside. In an interview today, Kaine said he will be focused on being governor that day. Kaine, a possible vice-presidential candidate, is holding a "community cabinet day" in Hampton Roads while Obama and Warner attend the invitation-only town hall meeting in Martinsville. But Washington Post reporter Shailagh Murray reported today that Obama also plans to be in Virginia on Thursday, although the stop has yet to be officially announced by the campaign. Kaine said he doesn't know if he will see Obama on Thursday. Obama could announce his vice-presidential candidate sometime this week. "Schedules are in flux," Kaine said. "Only the Martinsville event has been announced, but Wednesday I am really tied up wall-to-wall with this cabinet community day." Kaine...

By Tim Craig  |  August 17, 2008; 9:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
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Templeton Gives Va GOP $80,000

The Republican Party of Virginia received a big check recently from John M Templeton Jr., who has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Republican and conservative causes over the years. The son of the late finance guru Sir John Templeton, John M. Templeton Jr. of Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania gave the Virginia Republican Party $80,000 on July 30, according to the State Board of Elections. He appears to have made the largest contribution from an individual to the Virgnia Republican Party since 2000, according to information from the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in state politics. John M. Templeton Jr. is one of the founding members of Freedom's Watch, an organization that seeks to be the conservative version of Moveon.org. Freedom's Watch has aired millions of dollars in television ads in support of the war of Iraq. The group also plans to spend tens of millions of dollars...

By Tim Craig  |  August 17, 2008; 2:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/Local , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , Election 2009 , Tim Craig  
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