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Virginia Politics Blog: September 21, 2008 - September 27, 2008

Thousands Turn Out For Obama Rally

Thousands of people are waiting in line to get into Sen. Barack Obama's rally this evening at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. The line to get through security stretches for more than a mile through the leafy campus. Obama will be joined by his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), the first time the two have campaigned together since the days immediately following last month's Democratic National Convention. The rally begins at 5:30 p.m., but the campus square where Obama and Biden will speak is already crammed with thousands of supporters. Those still waiting in line are being warned they may not get in. Dawna Vaughn of Fredericksburg is in line with her 9-year-old daughter, Lizzy...

By Tim Craig  |  September 27, 2008; 4:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (153)
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Richmond Democratic Committee Endorses Jones

The Richmond City Democratic Committee voted last night to endorse Del. Dwight Jones (D) in the Nov. 4 election to succeed L. Douglas Wilder as mayor of Richmond. Jones, the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, is locked in a five way race with Paul Goldman, a former Wilder ally, attorney Robert J. Grey Jr., City Council President William Pantele and community activist Lawrence E. Williams Sr. Goldman and Pantele are white. Jones, Grey and Williams are black. Jones is widely believed to the front-runner, although its unclear if he will win the five of nine wards needed to avoid a run-off in December. Adding to the uncertainty, there could be a record turnout in Richmond this year because of the presidential race. Many voters who show up at the polls may be unfamiliar with any of the candidates in the mayor' s race. Jones has also been endorsed by...

By Tim Craig  |  September 26, 2008; 2:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Kaine Holds Pizza Party to Rally Democrats

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) hosted 30 Democratic staffers at the Governor's Mansion last night for a pizza and beer party to show his appreciation for their efforts in this year's presidential and U.S. Senate race. "We just had pizza and he thanked us for our hard work, and I think we are energized to make sure Barack Obama and Mark Warner win in Virginia," said Levar Stoney, executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party. Kaine's political action committee - not taxpayers, of course - picked up the tab....

By Tim Craig  |  September 26, 2008; 1:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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Obama Opens Office in DC For Virginia

Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty opened a local headquarters for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in the District this morning. At first glance, you may think Obama's campaign has now really gone overboard when it comes to opening offices. Dating back to 1968, no Democratic presidential nominee has received less than 75 percent of the vote in the District. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) carried the District with 89 percent of the vote in his 2004 race against President Bush. But Obama's D.C. office will actually be focused on helping his campaign efforts across the Potomac River in Virginia, reports Washington Post reporter David Nakamura. Fenty and D.C. council members Kwame Brown and Muriel Bowser urged 200 volunteers at the office opening to get to Virginia to help knock on doors. Obama offices and local Democratic committees in the heavily-Democratic Maryland suburbs are also geared up to help turn out the vote...

By Tim Craig  |  September 25, 2008; 4:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
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McDonnell Returns Car, Slashes Budget

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced today that he will return his state car, reduce his salary by two percent and trim his office budget by nine percent following this week's news of a possible $3 billion state budget shortfall. "These are difficult times,'' he said. "This economic downturn, and sustained uncertainty, is forcing Virginia families and businesses to make hard decisions, and Virginia's government must do likewise." Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) will begin implementing the statewide cuts early next month after releasing the state's new forecast for the rest of the two-year, $77 billion budget period that began July 1....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 25, 2008; 3:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Abortion Fails to Sway Electorate

Arizona Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) are both making inroads into their opponent's political base in Virginia when it comes to the issue of abortion. In a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday, 60 percent of registered voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Thirty-eight percent said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Voter attitudes on the issue have essentially remained unchanged since 2000, according to previous Washington Post Virginia polls. McCain disagrees with the 1973 Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion rights. Obama supports Roe V. Wade. But 30 percent of voters who want to outlaw abortions say they also support Obama. Thirty-three percent of those who favor abortion rights back McCain....

By Tim Craig  |  September 25, 2008; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Summer of George, Autumn of Warner?

Jason Alexander, an actor best known as perpetually down-and-out George Costanza on Seinfeld , has weighed into Virginia's U.S. Senate race by helping former Democratic governor Mark R. Warner raise money. "If you thought Seinfeld was a show about nothing, you should check out Congress,'' Alexander in a fundraising letter emailed to supporters today. "I can't remember such a lack of productivity since the summer of George." The letter turns more serious after that. Alexander asks for donations, as small as $5, before Sept. 30, the latest filing deadline, and talks about why he is "throwing his full support" behind Warner in his race against former governor James S. Gilmore III. "He hasn't just talked a good game,'' he wrote. "As governor, he actually walked the walk by working across the aisle to deliver results and turn Virginia's struggling economy around." The two met when Warner was traveling the country...

By Anita Kumar  |  September 25, 2008; 12:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Mark Warner  
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Virginia GOP Seizes on Obama Yard Sign Shortage

In an effort to raise money, the Republican Party of Virginia is seizing on the shortage of yard signs for Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign. "While grassroots Democrats are getting discouraged by their lack of materials like yard signs, RPV is working hard to make sure all of our supporters have the yard signs, bumper stickers and materials they need," Frederick wrote in a fundraising appeal, which also took aim at liberals."For example, we've delivered tens-of-thousands of yard signs to our Victory offices in just the last two week. Your most generous gift will help us launch an all-out 30-Day offensive, and will enable us to continue to keep supplies coming." Frederick was referring to a report that some Democrats are disgruntled that Obama staffers have downplayed the importance of the traditional yard signs, which have long been a big part of Virginia campaigns. C. Richard Cranwell, the chairman of...

By Tim Craig  |  September 25, 2008; 12:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , Tim Craig  
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ACLU to Police: Registration Drives Are Allowed

The ACLU of Virginia has sent letters to all 185 police chiefs in Virginia asking them to educate their emplyees on the right of individuals to engage in door-to-door voter registration drives. The letters were prompted by recent complaints from people going door-to-door who were told by police or other officials that their actions violated a local ordinance or policy. ACLU officials say they are prepared to provide legal assistance to any person whose rights are violated. "The right to go door to door to register voters, to canvass for candidates or to promote one's religious beliefs is deeply ingrained in the American landscape, both legally and culturally," ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis said. "Thankfully, the Supreme Court has struck down every local ordinance that attempts to interfere with this basic First Amendment right." The ACLU's letter cites a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that political and...

By Anita Kumar  |  September 25, 2008; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/President  
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Obama, Biden Will Campaign in Va

Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will hold a rally Saturday in Fredericksburg. The Democratic presidential and vice presidential nominees will be at University of Mary Washington at 5:15 p.m. to talk about the economy, healthcare and the Iraq war. It will be the first time Obama and Biden have appeared together in Virginia....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 24, 2008; 5:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , Joe Biden  
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Anti-Bush Bus Travels to Martinsville

Americans United for Change, a progressive advocacy group, is bringing its Bush Legacy Bus to Virginia tomorrow. The 45-foot long, 28-ton clean bio-diesel powered "museum on wheels" features interactive exhibits that examine President Bush's two terms in office. The tour kicked off across the street from the White House June 24 and has traveled to more than 30 states....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 24, 2008; 5:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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Virginia Notebook: Signs of Discontent For Obama

Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is spending millions of dollars on television ads in Virginia, staffing 43 offices and sending the candidate and his running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., to every corner of the state. But Obama has apparently overlooked one important element of a successful campaign in Virginia: stocking up on those venerable lawn signs. Across the state, Democratic officials are clamoring to get hold of free Obama yard signs but are being told that none are available or that they have to buy them from the candidate's Web site. It can take weeks to get them delivered. The frustration of volunteers and Democratic officials over the campaign's inability to provide the signs is nearing a boiling point in some parts of Virginia....

By Tim Craig  |  September 24, 2008; 3:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , John McCain , Tim Craig , Virginia Notebook  
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Gilmore Responds to Poll

Dick Leggitt, a senior strategist for GOP Senate candidate James S. Gilmore III, distributed a memo today disputing the findings of a Washington Post-ABC News poll showing Democratic candidate Mark R. Warner with a 30-point lead. In the memo, Leggitt said the Washington Post is attempting "to influence the U.S. Senate election." "Don't be discouraged or disheartened by the Post's attempt to influence the U.S. Senate election," Leggitt wrote. "It is after all, the Washington Post. Their coverage is pro-Democrat, pro-Obama and pro-Mark Warner." Leggitt references a Washington Post poll in September preceding the 1997 election, when Gilmore was running for governor. The poll showed Gilmore drawing 38 percent of the vote in his race against Democrat Donald S. Beyer. "On Election Day when the voters finally had their say, Jim Gilmore won the election with 56 percent of the vote," Leggitt wrote. The final Washington Post poll of that...

By Tim Craig  |  September 24, 2008; 2:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Budget Blues May Boost McAuliffe

With Virginia facing a budget shortfall of up $3 billion over two years, Democrat Terry McAuliffe could emerge as the big political winner this spring if he decides to seek the Democratic nomination for governor. McAuliffe, who will be in Chesterfield County today campaigning for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has begun laying the groundwork for a campaign. He's hired Mo Elleithee, a veteran of former governor Mark R. Warner and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's successful campaigns, to begin organizing the preliminary structure of his effort in case he enters the race. McAulifee, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, would face Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) for the nomination. The budget shortfall means Moran and Deeds will be consumed when the General Assembly convenes in January with tough votes - including possible major spending cuts to schools and other government services as well...

By Tim Craig  |  September 24, 2008; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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Va. is Up for Grabs; Allen, Kaine Take Center Stage

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and former governor and U.S. senator George Allen (R) stood side-by-side this morning on NBC's Today Show. Host Matt Lauer was broadcasting from Williamsburg as part of the Today Show's tour of battleground states. NBC released a poll it commissioned with Mason-Dixon Polling Research Inc. that showed GOP presidential nominee John McCain with a 3-point edge over Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, in Virginia. McCain's 47 percent to 44 percent advantage is within the poll's margin of error, confirming that Virginia's 13 electoral votes are up for grabs. During the segment, Kaine and Allen took turns touting their favored candidate. "Virginias don't like the direction of the economy and national security in Washington," said Kaine, a co-chair of Obama's national campaign. "They want change. They want better." Allen countered, "The key issues for Virginia are national security, energy security, lower taxes and that is...

By Tim Craig  |  September 24, 2008; 7:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Virginia GOP Begins Robo Calls

Several residents of Northern Virginia report they received an automated call last night that critcizes the Democratic Party and Sen. Barack Obama for wasteful spending. The caller asks voters to fill out an absentee ballot, which will be mailed in the coming days. On one of the calls, a women named Kate accused Democrats in Congress of approving billions of dollars in unnecessary projects. "I can't stand the billions of dollars wasted by corrupt politicians on pet projects," Kate says. "You should get an absentee ballot in the mail this week....If you are like me and ... think the 'Bridge to Nowhere is an outrageous waste of taxpayer money, you should fill out your absentee ballot." The Republican Party of Virginia paid for and authorized the automated message. "We are looking for some absentee ballot voters." said Gerry Scimeca, a spokesman for the Virginia Republican Party. "We are looking for...

By Tim Craig  |  September 23, 2008; 5:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Campaign Ads , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Mark Warner , Polls , Sarah Palin , Tim Craig  
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Sen. Warner Named One of Richest Congressmen

Roll Call, a newspaper on Capitol Hill, placed Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) on its list of 50 richest members of Congress. Warner, who is retiring in January, ranked 45th with a net worth of $5.86 million. He has assets at several brokerage accounts, none of which is worth more than $1 million, and has no liabilities. The information came from the notoriously vague annual financial disclosure forms lawmakers turned in this week....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 23, 2008; 1:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Networks Converge on Virginia

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.) will be on NBC's Today Show tomorrow morning during the 7 a.m. hour. Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R-Staunton), one of Arizona Sen. John McCain's Virginia co-chairs, will also appear. The Today Show will be broadcasting live from Williamsburg as part of its ongoing series on battleground states. The network will also likely be releasing the results of a Virginia poll it commissioned with Mason-Dixon. Last night, ABC World News aired a story about Virginia's role in the presidential race. ABC focused on voters in Williamsburg and Virginia Beach. ABC also released the results of a Virginia poll it conducted with the Washington Post showing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with a three point lead among likely voters over GOP nominee John McCain, an Arizona senator....

By Tim Craig  |  September 23, 2008; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Biden Campaigns in Prince William Today

Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, will participate in an invitation-only campaign event today in Woodbridge. Biden will talk about Sen. Barack Obama's plans to try to turn around the economy and help financially strapped families by making college more affordable, reducing taxes for middle class families, cutting capital gains taxes on small business owners and investing $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy technology. He was in Loudoun County Friday and joined Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) at the annual United Mine Workers Fish Fry in Russell County Saturday....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 23, 2008; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President  
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Federal Response to Wall Street Scrutinized

Virginia voters are split on whether they approve of the steps the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have taken to deal with the current upheaval on Wall Street, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The poll found 46 percent of residents approve while 42 percent disapprove. But strong opponents outnumber strong supporters by 2 to 1 (21 to 10 percent). The poll was conducted just as the public was starting to absorb President Bush's proposal for a $700 billion bailout of the financial markets. Republicans were somewhat more likely than Democrats and Independents to support the government's efforts. White voters who graduated from college are also more supportive than those who did not....

By Tim Craig  |  September 22, 2008; 11:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2008/President , Polls , Tim Craig  
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Mixed Results for Palin in Va Poll

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP vice-presidential nominee, is not providing a major boost to Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) campaign in Virginia, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. The poll, conducted Thursday through Sunday, shows that slightly more than half of registered voters in Virginia have a favorable impression of Palin. But 38 percent hold an unfavorable view, a quarter of whom have a "strongly" negative impression. Palin appears to be slightly less popular in Virginia than she is nationwide. In a Washington Post-ABC News national poll conducted earlier this month, 58 percent of voters had a strongly or somewhat favorable impression of Palin while 28 point had an unfavorable view....

By Tim Craig  |  September 22, 2008; 11:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Democrats Get Money for Election Effort

The Virginia Democratic Party collected about $1.1 million last month to finance the party's voter identification and get-out-the-vote efforts in support of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign and Democratic congressional candidates. The party collected about a quarter million dollars in individual contributions for its federal account, but the vast majority of its money came via transfers from the Democratic National Committee or Obama's campaign. Virginia Democrats ended the month with $575,000 in the bank after they spent a little more than $1.3 million. Most of the money was spent on meeting the party's payroll. It appears the party now has more than 100 people on its payroll, many of whom are field organizers or staffers for Obama's campaign....

By Washington Post editors  |  September 22, 2008; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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Kansas Gov Campaigns for Obama in Va

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius will campaign in Virginia tomorrow for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Sebelius will hold town hall meetings in Richmond and Williamsburg with "four area families who are struggling with four issues that are affecting hundreds of thousands of Virginians in this economic downturn,'' according to the campaign. Sebelius will tout Obama's proposals to fix the economy, provide universal health care and offer relief for distressed homeowners and communities. They include cutting taxes for 95 percent of Virginians, investing in clean energy sources and making college more affordable by providing families with a $4,000 tuition tax credit, according to the campaign. Details are below:...

By Anita Kumar  |  September 22, 2008; 11:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President  
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McCain Opens More Offices in Virginia

Republican John McCain's presidential campaign has opened two more "victory" offices in Virginia, bringing the total to 13. The new offices are in Woodbridge in Prince William, a county that Republicans hope they can win, and the Democratic stronghold of Charlottesville. Each of Virginia's 124 cities and counties already has a designated chairman serving as a local contact for McCain and the campaign is working to assemble more than 1,000 precinct captains. Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign has opened a record number 43 offices around the state....

By Anita Kumar  |  September 22, 2008; 10:56 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain  
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