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Virginia Politics Blog: September 7, 2008 - September 13, 2008

Linwood Holton to Campaign For Obama

Linwood Holton, Virginia's first modern Republican governor, will endorse Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) on Monday and start campaigning for him around the state. Holton, who was in office from 1970 to 1974, is Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) father-in-law. Kaine was one of Obama's earliest supporters. Holton and his daughter, Anne, will campaign Monday and Tuesday in Southwest Virginia. The tour will be a homecoming for Holton, who was born in Big Stone Gap. Holton, a moderate, has endorsed other Democrats in recent years, including Kaine and Mark R. Warner (D) during his 2001 bid for governor....

By Tim Craig  |  September 13, 2008; 10:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
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Under Pressure, Warner Agrees to Another Debate

Democratic Senate candidate Mark R. Warner has agreed to participate in a televised debate with his GOP opponent, James S. Gilmore III, that may be aired statewide. Although details are still being finalized, the debate would occur Oct. 3, said Kevin Hall, a Warner spokesman. It would be held in Roanoke, but a free video feed would be offered to any Virginia television station that wants to air it. Gilmore and some media outlets have been critical of Warner because he chose not to participate in a debate proposed by the League of Women Voters. Warner cited a scheduling conflict. Gilmore has used the issue to draw attention to his campaign. He accused Warner, who holds a big lead in polls and a 40-to-1 money advantage, of wanting to hide from his stands on federal issues. "We are happy he has finally agreed to a statewide, televised debate, and Governor...

By Tim Craig  |  September 12, 2008; 4:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Poll Holds Good News for Obama, McCain in Va.

Republican presidential nominee John McCain is competitive with Sen. Barack Obama(Ill.) in Northern Virginia, but the Democratic nominee has opened up a 13-point lead in Hampton Roads and parts of Southside, according to the CNN/Time poll released this week. McCain has a narrow 4 point lead statewide, according to the poll conducted Sunday through Tuesday. McCain holds a 20-point advantage in the Shenandoah Valley and Southwestern Virginia, getting 56 percent of the vote compared to Obama's 36 percent. McCain holds a similar lead in central Virginia, which includes the Disrict's exurbs, the Northern Neck, Richmond and it suburbs and south-central areas of the state. But in Southeastern Virginia - which includes Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg and the other counties on the North Carolina border - Obama leads McCain by a margin of 54 percent to 41 percent. The numbers represent a significant reversal in attitudes compared to the 2004 election....

By Tim Craig  |  September 12, 2008; 11:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Polls , Tim Craig  
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Video: Northern Virginia Voter Voices

In this video, washingtonpost.com's Ed O'Keefe reports on what Northern Virginia Democrats and Republicans think of this week's political developments....

By Washington Post Editors  |  September 12, 2008; 11:01 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2008/President  
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Draft McAuliffe Campaign Debuts

Someone has created a website, which appears professionally designed, encouraging Terry McAuliffe to run for governor of Virginia next year. The site draftterry.com includes a big head shot of McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, next to Virginia's state seal. "Over the past seven years, Virginia's two Democratic Governors, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, have provided strong leadership -- leadership the commonwealth cannot afford to lose," the website states. It continues, "Virginia's next Governor needs to put people first. For nearly three decades, Terry McAuliffe has been promoting progressive values and helping Democrats win. For years, he has provided one of the premier voices articulating the values and priorities of the Democratic Party." The website is also collecting names and email addresses of potential supporters. The website's domain name appears as if it was registered on August 28, the same day the Washington Post published an article...

By Tim Craig  |  September 11, 2008; 4:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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Stewart Testifies Before House GOP

Prince William County Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) made his third appearance before members of Congress today. This time Stewart provided testimony to Republican members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration. The subject on tap this Sept. 11 was, "Unnecessary Crimes: The Toll of Illegal Alien Criminal on American Families." The hearing was stacked with a sympathetic audience. Tears interrupted the emotional testimony of the victims' families. But by the time the hearing turned to Stewart and a Houston Police Officers Union representative, the tears were substituted with applause. "Local leadership alone cannot get the job done," Stewart said, after citing crime rate statistics and telling stories about crimes committed in Prince William. When he spoke to the subcommittee a year ago, all its members were there. This time, only the GOP members heard what he had to say. "I am disappointed to see that the majority party...

By Kristen Mack  |  September 11, 2008; 4:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Immigration , Kristen Mack , Prince William  
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McCain Gets Into Organizing Game

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama got a big head start this summer in organizing supporters in Virginia, but there are now signs that Arizona Sen. John McCain's (R) campaign is starting to pay attention to some of the details. At yesterday's rally in Fairfax City, people who attended were handed a sheet of paper with the names and phone numbers of two voters. During the rally, they were asked to call their list from a cell phone or when they got home to tout McCain's candidacy. After the rally, nearly everyone who wanted them were given one, two, three - sometimes six or seven - lawn signs to put in their yard or distribute in their neighborhood. It appeared as if McCain had distributed thousands of lawn signs after the rally, and even more bumper stickers. Some Obama supporters in Virginia, meanwhile, have complained they are having a hard time...

By Tim Craig  |  September 11, 2008; 1:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , John McCain , Tim Craig  
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Business Group Rates Legislators

In its annual review of the General Assembly, the business coalition Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education penalized each legislator for failing to pass a transportation plan during this summer's failed special session. Virginia FREE's 24-page report opens with a statement on the partisan bickering that left the General Assembly unable to pass a plan to provide money for roads and transit. "We have not only a shortage of transportation dollars, but also a shortage of courage and leadership needed to elevate good governance above short-term partisan gain," it says. The group rates legislators using their voting records on key bills and business lobbyist evaluations. Republicans scored on an average rating of 59; Democrats scored an average rating of 46. Delegates scored an average rating of 53; senators scored an average rating of 52....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 11, 2008; 11:11 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2008  
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A Big GOP Rally But a Divided Electorate

The supporters of GOP presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, started lining up at 5 a.m. in Fairfax City for the Republican ticket's first rally in Virginia. And they kept coming. And coming. And coming. By the time the rally got underway at 11 a.m., McCain campaign officials and Fairfax City police were estimating 23,000 people were packed into Van Dyck Park, making it one of the largest political rallies for a statewide candidate in modern Virginia history. Some national and Virginia reporters were skeptical of the official crowd estimate, saying they thought it was too high. Nevertheless, the rally likely rivaled or exceeded the estimated 18,000 who attended Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) rally in Virginia Beach a few days before the Feb. 12 primary. An Obama rally in June at Nissan Pavilion in Prince William County attracted about 10,000. "The Republicans mean business,...

By Tim Craig  |  September 10, 2008; 11:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
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Fimian Extends a Hand to His Base

Keith Fimian, the Republican candidate for Congress in the 11th district, probably shook more hands today than any other person in Virginia, perhaps more than anyone else in the country. Fimian stood at the front of the single-file line to get in Republican presidential nominee John McCain's rally in Fairfax City. It appeared as if he introduced himself to many of the estimated 10,000 plus people who attended McCain's rally. But once inside the security gates, neither Fimian nor Republican U.S. Senate Candidate James S. Gilmore III had a speaking role at the rally, although U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) referenced both by name....

By Tim Craig  |  September 10, 2008; 10:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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New Poll Shows McCain Leads Obama in Va

Republican John McCain has a slight edge over Democrat Barack Obama in Virginia, according to a new CNN/Time poll. Registered voters preferred McCain over Obama by 50 percent to 46 percent. The telephone survey of 920 registered voters was conducted Friday through Tuesday and released today. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. No Democratic presidential candidate has carried Virginia since 1964, but an influx of voters and a stronger get-out-the-vote effort have helped Democrats win the past two gubernatorial elections, a high-profile Senate race in 2006 and the state Senate last year. Opinion Research Corp. conducted the poll for CNN and Time in four battleground states, including Virginia, Missouri, Michigan and New Hampshire....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 10, 2008; 8:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Polls  
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Palin Trip to Va Beach Will Be Rescheduled

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will not campaign in Virginia Beach next week as was previously reported. Attorney Robert F. McDonnell told reporters last week that Palin would visit Sept. 18 but the Republican presidential campaign never confirmed the trip. It will be scheduled for another date. Sen. John McCain and Palin held a rally today in Fairfax in front of record crowds while. Sen. Barack Obama appeared in Hampton Roads....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 10, 2008; 8:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/President , John McCain  
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Connaugton nominated for Maritime Commissioner

Looks like Sean T. Connaughton won't be returning to elected office anytime soon. President Bush announced today that he intends to nominate Connaughton to be Commissioner of the Federal Maritime Commission for the remainder of a five-year term, through June 2012. Connaughton has served as Administrator of the Maritime Administration at the Department of Transportation for the last two years. Connaughton, who resigned as Chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors to accept the Bush administration appointment, lost a bid to be the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor in 2005. There has long been talk he would run for statewide office again when the Bush administration ended, but he's apparently put those plans on hold. . . for now....

By Kristen Mack  |  September 10, 2008; 11:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Kristen Mack , Prince William  
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Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Endorses Obama

Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president tonight while the Illinois senator was on a campaign swing through Southwest Virginia. "After the last eight years, Virginia families need someone on their side, someone looking out for their interests, and I know Barack Obama will be that leader," Stanley said. "He'll make it easier for parents to send their kids to college and make sure they have more money left in their pockets at the end of the month." Stanley, 81, of Coeburn, received the National Medal of Arts in 2006, the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence. In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly designated him the Outstanding Virginian....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 9, 2008; 6:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President  
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Warner Strikes Back at Gilmore

Democratic Senate Candidate Mark R. Warner has responded to the ad that his GOP opponent, former governor James S. Gilmore III, is airing in television markets downstate. In Warner's ad, a narrator says even "leading Republicans are calling Gilmore's attacks on Mark Warner preposterous, ridiculous," referring to comments made by former delegate Vincent F. Callahan (R-Fairfax) and former Senate President John H. Chichester Jr. (R-Northumberland). The ad then features footage of Chichester praising Warner for working with Republicans to balance the budget when he was governor from 2002 to 2006. Insiders in Richmond know it's an exaggeration for Warner's campaign to refer to Chichester, and to a lesser extent Callahan, as a "leading" Republican. Chichester and Callahan, both moderate Republicans, are now disconnected from the GOP power structure. But the average voter wouldn't know that, so the ad is effective in getting out Warner's bipartisan message. Even so, Gilmore's ad...

By Tim Craig  |  September 9, 2008; 2:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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Delegate Suit Resigns from state House

Del. Terrie Lynne Suit (R-Virginia Beach) resigned from the state House of Delegates to run Williams Mullen's Hampton Roads lobbying operation. Her last day will be Oct. 12. "Delegate Suit's service to the people of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, the Commonwealth, and the House of Delegates has been exceptional and exemplary,'' House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said. "She has been a fierce and steadfast advocate for the people of the 81st District, as well as a prominent and effective champion for the men and women of the United States Armed Services." Suit's 1999 election led to Virginia's first-ever Republican majority in the House. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) will call a special election to fill Suit's seat....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 9, 2008; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Obama Will Be in Norfolk Tomorrow

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama will campaign tomorrow in Norfolk, the second time in less than a month that he will be spending two consecutive days in Virginia. Obama will hold a town hall meeting later today in Lebanon in Southwest Virginia, the town of 9,000 that U.S. Senate Candidate Mark R. Warner spoke about during his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Obama will speak at Norfolk's Granby High School tomorrow to discuss educational issues. Obama's visit to Norfolk may be an attempt to counter a rally that GOP presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), will be holding tomorrow in Fairfax County. McCain and Palin will be making their first public campaign swing in Virginia since before the Feb. 12 primary. Obama will be making his fifth visit....

By Tim Craig  |  September 9, 2008; 10:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Tim Craig  
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Chris Matthews Predicts McAuliffe Gubernatorial Bid

Hardball Host Chris Matthews has stoked the speculation that Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, plans to run for governor of Virginia in 2009. In between segments of his show on Monday night, Matthews referenced a Washington Post article from two weeks ago in which McAuliffe refused to bat down rumors he was interested in getting into the race. Matthews, without citing sources, then said, "the fact is Terry McAuliffe is running for governor of Virginia next year." Matthews added, "he's running hard" and will have a huge warchest. A few minutes later, Matthews asked Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) about the speculation that McAuliffe wants to run for governor. Kaine said he was "intrigued" by the idea. "It used to be, to get someone to run statewide as a Democrat, it was almost like getting Mikey to eat the cereal, no one wanted to do...

By Tim Craig  |  September 8, 2008; 5:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe  
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ACLU Urges Registrars to Let Students Register

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has sent letters to 30 registrars in parts of the state where college students are likely to live to encourage them to let students to register to vote in local elections. The letter follows reports that a Montgomery County registrar told students that their parents may no longer be able to claim them as dependents for tax purposes if they declare a separate college address for voting purposes. "While registrars should assist students who are uncertain about where they should register, no registrar should question students who make the choice to vote where they attend school,'' ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis said. The ACLU also sent emails to college newspapers asking them to warn students of the problems they may encounter when attempting to register and to let students know that they may contact the ACLU for assistance....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 8, 2008; 2:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Gilmore's First Ad (Updated)

As reported in Monday's Washington Post, Republican Senate Candidate James S. Gilmore III has begun airing his first campaign commercial. In the ad, which is airing in television markets downstate but not in Northern Virginia, a narrator criticizes Democratic Candidate Mark R. Warner and seeks to link him to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Gilmore tries to associate himself with Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee for president. The Virginia Republican Party is paying for the ad, but Gilmore authorized it. Democratic strategists describe the ad, which won't be released to the media until today, as a meager $80,000 buy, but it still underscores the following eight points:...

By Tim Craig  |  September 8, 2008; 2:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Campaign Ads , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Mark Warner , Tim Craig  
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Warner Wins Over FOP, Chamber of Commerce

Democratic Senate Candidate Mark R. Warner was endorsed today by both the Fraternal Order of Police and the U.S. Chamber Commerce, two groups that often align with Republicans in federal races. "Time and again, Mark Warner has proven his commitment to meeting the needs of law enforcement professionals," said Chesterfield County Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Carroll , who also serves as the Virginia FOP's legislative chair. The Virginia FOP represents 9,000 local, state and federal law enforcement officials. It's the first time since the group began making endorsements in 1985 that it has thrown its support behind a Democratic Senate candidate in Virginia. In making the Chamber;'s endorsement, Bill Miller, the U.S. Chamber's senior vice president and political director, said "Warner will continue to be an effective legislator and supporter of businesses of every size if elected."...

By Tim Craig  |  September 8, 2008; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Crunch Time to Register New Voters

With less than a month to go until the Oct. 6 voter registration deadline, it's crunch time for Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) campaign and other groups trying to register new voters. According to the State Board of Elections, 49,000 new voters signed up in August, a sharp increase from the 36,500 who signed up in July and the 28,000 who registered in June. In recent days, registration efforts appear as if they are picking up in the city of Richmond. Over the past 18 hours, I have been approached twice by someone trying to register me to vote. Last night, a student was positioned outside of a 7-11 store near the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University registering new voters. Earlier today, a man approached my window as I sat in my car at a traffic light in downtown Richmond to ask if I was registered to vote. Meanwhile, a group...

By Tim Craig  |  September 8, 2008; 12:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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McCain and Palin Planning Fairfax Event

Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, will campaign together Wednesday in Northern Virginia. McCain and Palin, who is the one who has really been drawing the crowds, will hold a rally at Fairfax High School. Delegate Chris Saxman (R-Staunton) and former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R), co-chairs of McCain's Virginia presidential campaign, will hold a conference call Monday morning to announce the details of the visist. Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William), chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, sent an email to GOP activists Sunday night telling them "clear you calendars for Wednesday." If it occurs, the event will be McCain's first public campaign event in Virginia since before the Feb. 12 primary. McCain's Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), has made three campaign swings through Virginia, and has a fourth scheduled for Tuesday, when he will appear in Southwest Virginia....

By Tim Craig  |  September 7, 2008; 7:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (162)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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