Archive: October 2008

Groups Insist College Students Can Vote

Three voter groups are urging the Radford registrar to fix a problem that they say will prevent eligible Radford University students from being able to cast ballots Tuesday. The Brennan Center for Justice, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the ACLU of Virginia sent a letter after learning that local election officials have rejected registration applications for students who use their university addresses instead of their parents' home address. They say the affected applications number in the hundreds, if not the thousands. "We are concerned that there is a pattern across Virginia of arbitrary and unlawful barriers to student voting rights, and this is a particularly bad example of it,'' said Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center. "Students have a right to vote not only in national elections, but in local elections and on the issues that affect the community where they live." The letter states that...

By Anita Kumar | October 31, 2008; 5:18 PM ET | Comments (2)

Obama Responds to RNC and John Warner

Barack Obama's campaign has launched a new ad responding to charges by the Republican National Committee and Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) that the Illinois senator and Democrats in Congress want to slash spending on defense. The RNC began airing a television ad this week noting that U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was quoted recently as saying Democrats could push for a 25 percent cut in defense spending. Yesterday, GOP presidential nominee John McCain also released a radio ad in which Warner argues Obama's defense policies would be bad for Virginia's economy. In its ad, the Obama campaign accuses the GOP of lying about his record....

By Tim Craig | October 31, 2008; 2:23 PM ET | Comments (2)

ACLU Sets up Voter Hotline in Va

The ACLU of Virginia has established a hotline to answer questions from voters who encounter problems at the polls on Election Day and is prepared to advocate for those who were not able to vote. The group will be offering advice about what voters should do if they are told they are not on the registration rolls, they do not have identification with them, they make a mistake while completing their ballot or their vote is challenged by someone else. The ACLU distributed more than 50,000 cards describing voters' rights. The number is 804-644-8080....

By Anita Kumar | October 31, 2008; 2:06 PM ET | Comments (0)

Groups Urge State Employees To Work at Polls

Leaders of three national groups sent a letter to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), urging him to assign all "non-essential public employees" to work at the polls on Election Day. "Adequate staffing can mean the difference between a demonstrably fair election, or questions and challenges about the validity of the results,'' they said in a letter signed by leaders of Change to Win, a coalition of unions, People for the American Way, a progressive advocacy group, and the Sierra Club. Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said the governor was not assigning state workers to the polls, but has "encouraged those who can take the day off to volunteer at the polls."...

By Tim Craig | October 31, 2008; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (2)

Clinton Will Visit NoVa Sunday

A day before Sen. Barack Obama ends his presidential campaign in Northern Virginia, Sen. Hillary Clinton will make a stop there on his behalf. Clinton will hold a rally at George Mason University in Fairfax County Sunday afternoon. She will talk about Obama's proposals to provide affordable health care, cuts taxes and create new jobs. Event details have not been announced yet....

By Anita Kumar | October 31, 2008; 8:18 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Will End Campaign in Northern Virginia

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama announced tonight his final event of the campaign will take place Monday evening in Northern Virginia. Obama plans to hold a large rally in or near Manassas Park, although an exact location has yet to be determined. Obama's decision to end his 20-month campaign in Virginia is yet another sign that he views Virginia, which last voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in 1964, as a crucial battleground. Obama has made 10 stops in Virginia since June, when he kicked off his general election campaign with stops in Bristol and at Nissan Pavilion near Manassas. Considering Obama has drawn crowds that exceed 100,000, Monday night's rally could be a massive affair, although its unclear if the campaign can find a large venue in that part of Prince William County....

By Tim Craig | October 30, 2008; 10:33 PM ET | Comments (4)

Union Gives $205,000 to Va. Democrats

Organized labor continues to dump unprecedented amounts of money into the Virginia Democratic Party. Last Tuesday, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association donated $205,000 to the party's state account. The air traffic controllers appear to have made the largest contribution to any Virginia political committee in at least a decade. On the same day, the Communications Workers of America also donated $50,000 to the party. "We appreciate the gift," said Levar Stoney, executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party. Last month, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union donated $100,000 to the party's state account. Under Virginia law, individuals and organizations are not restricted on how much they can donate to a state political committee....

By Tim Craig | October 30, 2008; 7:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

John Warner Hits Obama Over Defense

U.S. Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) hammered Barack Obama for a second consecutive day over his belief that the Democrat would cut defense spending and send Virginia's economy into a tailspin. Warner also cut a hard-hitting radio on the subject that will begin airing in Hampton Roads tomorrow. Speaking at an event in suburban Richmond, Warner noted that U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was quoted as saying recently that Democrats in Congress may slash defense spending by 25 percent. Obama, who has called for increased spending on defense, including more ground forces, has distanced himself from Frank's remarks. But that didn't stop Warner from trying to use the issue to bolster his friend, GOP presidential nominee John McCain. "This is serious, serious potential business," Warner, a former Secretary of the Navy, told about 50 McCain supporters at a rally. "For 30 years, I have been wrestling Democrats on cutting back...

By Tim Craig | October 30, 2008; 6:02 PM ET | Comments (1)

McCain Gaining Ground in Va. Polls

Two new polls out today show Sen. Barack Obama with a 4-point lead over Republican John McCain in Virginia. The polls indicate that McCain is starting to gain a little ground on Obama in Virginia. Last week, several polls showed Obama with a lead of between 7 and 11 percentage points. In a poll released today by National Journal, Obama draws 48 percent vs. McCain's 44 percent. A second poll by Marist College Institute for Public Opinion shows Obama leading McCain 51 percent to 47 percent among likely voters. But only 2 percent of voters questioned in the Marist poll say they could switch their votes before Election Day, suggesting Obama is still well-positioned to withstand any late surge by McCain in Virginia....

By Tim Craig | October 30, 2008; 12:37 PM ET | Comments (16)

McAuliffe Gears up for "Tour" of Virginia

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe appears to be inching closer to making up his mind about whether he plans to run for governor next year. McAuliffe was a guest on the Larry King Live show on CNN last night in support of Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama. King asked McAuliffe if he will run for governor next year. "Well, we are going to get through Tuesday with Senator Obama and then I'm going to take a tour around the state of Virginia and talk to the voters, let the voters tell me where they think we stand and I'll make a decision quickly thereafter," McAuliffe said. King responded, "That sounds like he is running."...

By Tim Craig | October 30, 2008; 10:40 AM ET | Comments (4)

Paltrow Cancels Va Appearances

Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who was set to headline get-out-the-vote kickoff events tomorrow at Democratic offices in Richmond and Arlington, canceled "due to an illness." With just days left before Tuesday's election, Obama's campaign is ramping up its efforts with rallies, phone banks and canvasses across the state. Thousands of volunteers are expected to go door-to-door to urge their neighbors to vote....

By Anita Kumar | October 30, 2008; 9:02 AM ET | Comments (8)

Obama Will Cost Va. Jobs, RNC Says in Ad

The Republican National Committee is airing a new Virginia-specific ad to raise questions about whether Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama would slash defense spending. The ad seeks to tie Obama to U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who was quoted last week as saying Democrats in Congress may seek a 25 percent cut in defense spending. "America's safety depends on Virginia, and Virginia's economy depends on our military," a narrator says. "But what would happen if Barack Obama wins? One of Obama's top allies in Congress has already announced plans to cut our military by 25 percent. Twenty-five percent. What would that mean for your job?" Kevin Griffis, an Obama spokesman, called the ad "dishonest and dishonorable." Griffis noted Obama has called for more defense spending, including additional ground forces to "finally finish the fight against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda."...

By Tim Craig | October 29, 2008; 8:39 PM ET | Comments (2)

Radio Ad in NoVa Blasts Obama

A radio ad supporting Republican presidential nominee John McCain is airing on at least one station in Northern Virginia. "More for big government, less for you. Just as you suspected, Barack Obama's wrong for you,'' a woman tells listeners. "Your savings, your job and your financial security are under siege. Congressional liberals will make it worse. Congressional liberals plan nearly a trillion dollars in new government spending,'' a man continues. "To pay for it, congressional liberals promise higher taxes on American families making over $42,000 a year. Congressional liberals call it spreading the wealth. We call it higher taxes for you." The ad is authorized by McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee. Gail Gitcho, a McCain spokeswoman in Virginia, said she did not have any information about the ads. The RNC did not return messages....

By Anita Kumar | October 29, 2008; 4:48 PM ET | Comments (1)

Drill, Baby, Drill

There's not much chance that Republican presidential nominee John McCain is going to win Maryland's 10 electoral votes. So some Maryland Republicans, including one of the state's political stars, are traveling to Virginia and other battleground states to try to keep the state red. Former lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele will headline a "Drill Baby Drill" tour across Virginia tomorrow and attend rallies in Winchester, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Charlottesville and Fredericksburg. Steele, who lost a U.S. Senate race two years ago, is chairman of GOPAC, a group that recruits Republican candidates across the country. Other prominent Maryland Republicans, including former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold, have already traveled to Virginia or other key states....

By Anita Kumar | October 29, 2008; 4:30 PM ET | Comments (1)

Wilder Asks Kaine to Extend Polling Hours

Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder asked Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Wednesday to extend polling hours on Election Day. Wilder, a former governor, requested that polls remain open for three extra hours to 10 p.m. in certain areas of the state where historic levels of voter turnout are expected. "By all accounts, the presidential election of 2008 is expected to generate historic turnout, not only because of the significance of the race - the country's opportunity to elect the first African-American president or the first woman to hold the office of vice-president - but also due to the record increase in voter registration," said Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor and a strong supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Kaine said yesterday on his monthly call-in show on WTOP radio that he has no authority to extend the...

By Anita Kumar | October 29, 2008; 2:36 PM ET | Comments (8)

Virginia Notebook: Democrats Ahead in '09 Race

One year before voters go to the polls to elect a new governor, Virginia Democrats appear well positioned to stay in power and continue their winning streak in major state races, according to a new Washington Post poll. In one of the first surveys to explore the 2009 political landscape, Democrats have a 17-point advantage when voters are asked which party they want to win the governor's race. The question, included in a Washington Post Poll on the presidential race published Monday, highlights the challenges facing Republicans as more Virginia voters identify themselves as Democrats and independents. Of registered voters, 48 percent prefer a Democratic governor vs. 31 percent who want a Republican....

By Tim Craig | October 29, 2008; 1:46 PM ET | Comments (2)

Groups Prepare to Sue Over Clothing Ban

Three groups plan to sue the state to challenge a controversial State Board of Elections policy that bans the wearing of buttons, T-shirts and other clothes with political messages in polling places. The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, the Rutherford Institute and the ACLU of Virginia say the policy violates the First Amendment rights of voters. "Thomas Jefferson understood that the first duty of government is to protect the freedom of expression," said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute. "Regrettably, the State Board of Elections shirked this important civic duty when it adopted what essentially amounts to a dress code policy. This policy not only undermines the First Amendment right to free speech but will most likely affect the right to vote."...

By Anita Kumar | October 29, 2008; 1:19 PM ET | Comments (2)

McCain, Palin Return to Va

Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will campaign in Virginia on Saturday. McCain will hold a pair of rallies in Springfield and in Hampton Roads area. Palin will hold a rally in Richmond. The Fairfax County "Road to Victory" Rally will begin at 11 a.m. at Interstate Van Lines in Springfield....

By Anita Kumar | October 29, 2008; 12:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Leads by 7 in Virginia

Democrat Barack Obama holds a 7-point lead over Republican John McCain in Virginia, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. In the survey conducted Wednesday through Sunday, Obama draws 49 percent among likely voters compared to McCain's 42 percent. By wide margins, Virginia voters trust Obama to address the economy, financial crisis and health care. The two candidates draw even on the question of who can best handle national security issues. The Associated Press polled in Virginia along with seven other battleground states. Obama holds double-digit leads in Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Obama is up by at least 5 percentagage points in Colorado, Ohio and Virginia. He holds a two point advantage in North Carolina and Florida, according to the Associated Press....

By Tim Craig | October 29, 2008; 7:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Final Push (Updated)

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who is attending a rally in Norfolk this evening, will return to Hampton Roads Thursday night for an event at the Virginia Beach Amphitheatre. The trip, which also follows a stop today in Harrisonburg, will be Obama's tenth visit to Virginia since June. On Saturday, GOP presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, plan to hold multiple campaign events in Virginia, according to GOP officials. One of those stops will be in Virginia Beach. The candidate visits are just a small part of the final push in Virginia to the Nov. 4 election. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) will campaign for Obama on Thursday and Friday. He plans to stop in Arlington, Falls Church, Charlottesville and Richmond. Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, will campaign in Portsmouth, Hampton, Clifton and Richmond for Obama Saturday. Sen. Hillary Rodham...

By Tim Craig | October 28, 2008; 9:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

Huckabee Hopes to Shore up McCain in Southwest

Former GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will campaign for his one-time rival, John McCain, tomorrow in Southwestern Virginia. Huckabee was the last Republican to drop out of the race nomination after McCain opened a clear delegate lead. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Baptist preacher, proved to be popular in many rural communities in the south. Although McCain carried Virginia during the Feb. 12 primary, Huckabee performed well in Southwest Virginia. Huckabee will be campaigning with Sandy Froman, a former president of the National Rifle Association. Meanwhile, Democrat Barack Obama is relying on musicians to help him turn out voters in Richmond. On Sunday, Dave Matthews performed a free concert in support of Obama at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Sheryl Crow, a nine-time Grammy winner, is also appearing at an event for Obama today in Richmond....

By Tim Craig | October 28, 2008; 2:09 PM ET | Comments (1)

Kaine Makes Bold Prediction

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) is boldly predicting that Democrats will pick up at least two GOP-held congressional seats in Virginia this year. In an interview on WTOP, Kaine said he expects that Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) will win the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.). Considering the Democratic tilt of Davis's Northern Virginia district, Kaine's prediction on that race isn't much of a surprise. But Kaine said he also expects that either GOP Reps. Frank Wolf, Virgil Goode or Thelma Drake will be unseated next week. Of those races, Drake would appear to be the most threatened incumbent due to the demographics of her Tidewater district, but Goode is also locked in a tough fight with Democrat Tom Perriello in Southside. "They are all races that are doable depending on the size of the Obama turnout," Kaine said. "In all of...

By Tim Craig | October 28, 2008; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

For the Wealthy Voter, It's Palin vs. Taxes

The Washington Post Virginia poll published today includes one finding that may have caused a few Republicans to grimace: Democrat Barack Obama has a 15-point advantage over Republican John McCain on the issue of taxes. A historicaly low tax state, Virginia Republicans have been using the tax issue for decades to gain advantage. But Virginia voters by a margin of 54 percent to 39 percent say they trust Obama more than McCain to handle tax policy. But the question breaks down along economic lines, which may still allow the issue to work in Republicans' favor. By an 11-point margin, white voters with household incomes under $50,000 a year side with Obama on the issue. Those white voters who make more than $50,000 side with McCain by an almost equal margin. That may be one potential bright spot for the GOP nominee as he tries to improve his standing in well-off...

By Tim Craig | October 27, 2008; 8:53 PM ET | Comments (3)

Va's Single Women Encouraged to Vote

A non-profit, non-partisan group created to urge single women to get involved is sending out more than 23,500 information packets to new voters in Virginia to encourage them to vote next Tuesday. Women's Voices Women Vote is mailing more than 325,000 packets to women in 18 states, including battlegrounds Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Packets include Election Day information, such as polling hours and sources to find identification requirements. "Making sure they have the information they need on Election Day will ensure more single women make their voices heard in our democracy," said Page Gardner, president of Women's Voices Women Vote. "For the first time in history, unmarried women are equal in number to married women, yet historically they register and vote less." Unmarried women are potentially 26 percent of the electorate yet they are 9 percentage points less likely to register and 13 percentage points less likely to vote than...

By Anita Kumar | October 27, 2008; 4:48 PM ET | Comments (1)

Let The Games Begin

It's that time of year. Virginia Democratic officials say someone is handing out fliers in Hampton Roads that mislead Democrats and Independents into thinking the election is Wednesday, Nov. 5. The election is actually on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The flier, which includes numerous misspelled words, appears as if it is written on official State Board of Elections stationary. "For Immediate Release," it states. "Due to the larger than expected voter turnout in this year's electorial process (the word electoral is misspelled), an emergency session of the General Assembly has adopted the following emergency regulations to ease the load on local electorial precincts and ensure the a fair electorial process." It continues, "All Republican party supporters and independent voters supporting Republican candidates shall vote on November 4th as pecribed by law. All Democratic party supporters and independent voters supporting Democratic candidates shall vote on November 5th as adopted by emergency regulation...

By Tim Craig | October 27, 2008; 2:20 PM ET | Comments (10)

Wolf Campaign Apologizes for Staffer who Struck Feder Worker

Rep. Frank R. Wolf's campaign is apologizing this morning for the actions of a congressional staffer, who apparently struck a campaign worker for opponent Judy Feder after a candidate's forum in Winchester Friday. The incident was caught on tape and posted on the blog www.raisingkaine.com last night by Feder's paid blogger, Lowell Feld. According to both camps, the two Feder staffers, one carrying a video camera, approached Wolf and peppered him with questions. Dan Scandling, Wolf's campaign spokesman, said the two workers had been "circling" Wolf, his wife Carolyn and congressional staffer Ben Dutton, and asking aggressive questions in an attempt to provoke an angry response....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | October 27, 2008; 11:51 AM ET | Comments (63)

Two New Polls Show Obama Pulling Away

Coming on the heels of this morning's Washington Post Virginia poll that showed Democrat Barack Obama with an 8-point lead over Republican John McCain, Virginia Commonwealth University plans to release a statewide poll today. According to an advance copy, VCU also finds Obama with a healthy lead in Virginia. Among likely voters, Obama is drawing 51 percent compared to McCain's 40 percent, according to VCU. "Obama's lead looks strong in both Northern Virginia as well as in the Tidewater region," said Cary Funk, director of the Commonwealth Poll and associate professor at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. Obama is up by 27-points in Northern Virginia in the VCU poll, compared to his 30-point lead in the region in the Washington Post poll. VCU also has Obama leading McCain by 21 points in Tidewater; the Washington Post pegged the Democrat's lead there at 17 percentage points....

By Tim Craig | October 27, 2008; 9:52 AM ET | Comments (3)

Group Takes Aim at Warner Over Unions

With Democrat Mark R. Warner holding onto a steady 30-point lead in the U.S. Senate race, there have not been many independent groups investing resources in Virginia this year trying to sway the outcome of his race against Republican James S. Gilmore III. But the National Right to Work Committee has apparently decided to invest a least a little bit of money on television ads to try to undercut Warner's appeal. The committee is airing an ad on Richmond television that calls into question whether Warner will uphold Virginia's status as a right-to-work state. The ad notes Warner has not come out against the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to unionize. Gilmore is a strong opponent of the proposal. Gilmore also received a boost today when he picked up an endorsement from the Richmond Times Dispatch. Although the endorsement was tepid, it marks his...

By Tim Craig | October 27, 2008; 9:37 AM ET | Comments (2)

Kaine Hits the Road for Obama

Following a weekend of campaigning, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will hit the road to continue to talk up Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Kaine, a national co-chairman of Obama's campaign, will give a 10-minute convocation speech this morning at Liberty University in Lynchburg. He is likely to speak about Obama's Christian faith, but votes for the Ilinois senator at the socially conservative school are going to be difficult to come by. University chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. launched an ambitious drive this fall to get the school's 10,500 students registered to vote and on Election Day, he plans to cancel classes and provide buses to shuttle them to the poll. Tonight, Kaine and fellow Democrat, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, will speak at the "One Week to Victory" Maryland Democratic Party Annual Gala in Baltimore....

By Anita Kumar | October 27, 2008; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Palin Remains Big Draw in Va.

For the third time in six weeks, the McCain campaign has to adjust where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin holds a rally in Virginia because she is proving to be such a big draw. The campaign announced today that Palin's visit Monday to Salem, located near Roanoke, is being moved from the city's civic center to the Salem Football Field to accommodate the expected crowd. Gail Gitcho, a McCain spokeswoman, said there has been "overwhelming response" for tickets for the event. Two weeks ago, a Palin rally in Richmond had to be relocated to the parking lot of the Richmond Motor Speedway because of demand to see her. And in early September, a McCain-Palin rally in Fairfax City scheduled for a high school gymnasium had to be moved to a city park after all the tickets were snatched up in hours. Although many Democrats believe Palin is one reason Democrat Barack...

By Tim Craig | October 25, 2008; 8:25 PM ET | Comments (5)

Obama Returns to Va Tuesday

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama will hold rallies Tuesday at Harbor Park Stadium in Norfolk and James Madison University in Harrisonburg. Obama will tout his proposals to improve the economy, provide affordable health care and make college more affordable. It will be Obama's ninth trip to the state since he secured the nomination in June....

By Anita Kumar | October 25, 2008; 4:49 PM ET | Comments (1)

Counting Down to the Election

Virginia Democrats will spend this weekend kicking off a massive canvassing effort in the final days before the Nov. 4 election. Surrogates will visit several of Sen. Barack Obama's campaign offices across the state to rally volunteers before they begin the last 12 days of knocking on doors and calling potential voters. Today, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a national chairman for Obama's campaign, will appear in Fairfax and Prince William counties and Donna Brazile, a political strategist who was Al Gore's campaign manager in 2000, will be in Richmond. Tomorrow, former Navy Secretary John Dalton and Vice Admiral Kevin Cosgriff, former commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, will visit offices in Winchester, Harrisonburg and Staunton. C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the state Democratic party, will be in Roanoke. Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe will appear in Arlington. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian J. Moran of Alexandria...

By Anita Kumar | October 25, 2008; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Obama Airs New Ad in Virginia

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama launched a new TV ad In key states, including Virginia, today about the Illinois senator's proposed tax cuts. The 30-second ad, entitled Try This, tells views that millions of Americans are visiting TaxCutFacts.org, where they can use an online calculator to learn about Obama and his Republican opponent John McCain's tax plans....

By Anita Kumar | October 24, 2008; 6:54 PM ET | Comments (1)

Taxpayer Group Endorses Gilmore

The political action arm of the National Taxpayers Union announced today that the group has endorsed former governor James S. Gilmore III (R) in his U.S. Senate race against former governor Mark. R. Warner (D). "When he held Virginia's executive position, Jim Gilmore time and again proved his commitment to fiscal responsibility," said Duane Parde, president of the National Taxpayers Union Campaign Fund. "He espoused pro-growth economic policies, chief among them a number of tax cuts, which inspired many similar platforms across the country." Gilmore has pledged to work to cut taxes, including making permanent the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts permanent, reducing income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, repealing the death tax and abolishing the marriage tax penalty. The National Taxpayers Union, the nation's largest grassroots taxpayer organization, has 362,000 members. Campaign Fund endorsements require a unanimous vote on a nonpartisan basis by a five-member committee...

By Anita Kumar | October 24, 2008; 6:35 PM ET | Comments (2)

GOP Vows To Make Felons a Big Issue

Republican presidential nominee John McCain's campaign is stepping up the pressure on Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Democrat Barack Obama over Kaine's decision to restore voting rights for about 3,000 felons since he took office. In a conference call with Virginia reporters today, former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore and former governor George Allen accused Kaine and Obama of engaging in a "conspiracy" to put more felons on the voting rolls. The McCain campaign noted that one man who had his rights restored by Kaine in 2006 has a prior conviction for sexual battery. "How many additional murders, rapists and drug dealers have been added to the rolls?" Kilgore asked. "We need to know that." The McCain campaign also released a video in which Penny Blue appears on a television station in Southside in June and instructs felons how they can apply to Kaine to have their voting rights...

By Tim Craig | October 24, 2008; 12:43 PM ET | Comments (5)

Both Va. Parties Rake in Cash in October

The Virginia Democratic Party's coordinated campaign took in nearly $3 million during the first 15 days of the month, according to federal finance reports filed today. This comes as both political parties are vowing to spend unprecedented amounts of money in Virginia in the days leading up to the Nov. 4 election. The coordinated campaign, a partnership between Barack Obama's presidential campaign and Democratic congressional candidates, is designed to turn out voters on Election Day. Since the start of the year, the coordinated campaign has raised $10.6 million. It has $1.6 million in the bank. The campaign, which pays the salaries of 266 staffers and field organizers, took in a crush of money earlier this month from various labor unions and donors from across the country. Obama's campaign also transferred about $1 million to the state party earlier this month. Democratic Senate candidate Mark R. Warner and the Democratic National...

By Tim Craig | October 23, 2008; 10:41 PM ET | Comments (2)

Joe McCain Makes News

WJLA in Washington reported tonight that GOP presidential nominee John McCain's brother, Joe, apparently called Alexandria's 911 emergency system earlier this week to complain about traffic. According to the report, a man berated the 911 operator with an expletive after being told he shouldn't be calling to complain about traffic on the Beltway. When the operator called back, he got a voice mail that said, "Hi, this is Joe McCain, I can't take this message now because I am involved in a very important family political project." After the operator left a message, the man called 911 again to complain about being given the "riot act." Gail Gitcho, a McCain spokeswoman, declined comment. Joe McCain has been campaigning across Virginia for his brother. Last month, Joe McCain made news at a campaign stop in Loudoun County when he referred to Arlington and Alexandria as "communist country." He later apologized, saying...

By Tim Craig | October 23, 2008; 10:39 PM ET | Comments (5)

Glenn Nye Wins Pilot Endorsement

Democrat Glenn Nye, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.), announced tonight that the Virginian Pilot has endorsed him. In the editorial, The Pilot said Nye has the "bipartisan instincts" and the "experience in the world" to serve the 2nd District, which includes the Virginia Beach area. Two years ago, The Pilot endorsed Drake in her race against Democratic candidate Phil Kellam. The endorsement was widely credited with helping Drake win reelection in what otherwise was a very big year for Democratic candidates. But Nye, a 33-year-old career diplomat, still faces an uphill climb in defeating Drake this year. The National Republican Congressional Campaign committee is airing a hard-hitting ad that questions Nye's experience....

By Tim Craig | October 23, 2008; 10:33 PM ET | Comments (0)

Gilmore Signs Energy Pledge

Former governor James S. Gilmore III, a candidate for U.S. Senate, today signed the American Conservative Union's energy freedom pledge that confirms his opposition to a national ban on offshore oil and gas drilling. Gilmore agreed to "support efforts to increase domestic energy production which will provide for American's future energy needs and make the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of energy". "During these tough economic times, never has America's need to tap into its vast resources of oil and natural gas been clearer," Gilmore said. "Doing so would not only set the course for energy independence, but would create thousands of jobs right here in the U.S and in Virginia."...

By Anita Kumar | October 23, 2008; 2:05 PM ET | Comments (2)

Giuliani, Forbes Campaign for McCain in Va

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes will campaign for Republican presidential nominee John McCain in Virginia on Saturday. Giuliani and Forbes will hold a small business rally in Richmond with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore. Giuliani will then attend a veterans victory rally in Virginia Beach with Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and John McCain's son, Doug, who lives there....

By Anita Kumar | October 23, 2008; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (4)

Obama Addresses "Real Virginia"

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama took a swipe at Nancy Pfotenhauer, an adviser to Republican John McCain, when he took the stage a huge outdoor rally in Loudoun County this evening. On Saturday, Pfotenhauer said on MSNBC that Democratic-leaning Northern Virginia isn't "real Virginia" because it's being infiltrated with people moving in from Washington D.C. Pfotenhauer added she was confident McCain can carry the state on Nov. 4 by winning "real Virginia" that is " is more southern in nature." "I know some folks may not think so, but this looks like real Virginia to me," Obama told the crowd gathered at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. "This looks like authentic Virginia and you look like real Virginians." Later in the speech, Obama noted he has campaigned in the state eight times since June. "I haven't seen a real Virginia and a fake Virginia, I've just seen Virginia." Regardless of...

By Tim Craig | October 22, 2008; 6:12 PM ET | Comments (66)

Palin, Biden Return to Virginia (Updated)

The vice presidential candidates are coming back. U.S. Sen. Joe Biden (D) will hold rallies Friday at the Danville Community Market and Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville and Saturday at Nansemond River High School in Suffolk. It's his fifth trip to the state. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) will campaign Monday at J.R.'s Festival Lakes in Leesburg, Hurkamp Park in Fredericksburg and the Salem Civic Center. It's her third trip to the state.....

By Anita Kumar | October 22, 2008; 5:01 PM ET | Comments (7)

Webb, Clyburn Hold Rallies for Obama

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) will campaign for his colleague, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, at a rally tomorrow morning for seniors at the Greenspring Retirement Village in Springfield. Webb will tout Obama's proposals to protect Social Security, eliminate income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000 per year and bring an end to the Iraq war. Also, U.S. House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn will headline a series of rallies tomorrow and Friday in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Petersburg and Richmond. Clyburn will talk to potential voters about their rights on Election Day and encourage them to vote on Nov. 4....

By Anita Kumar | October 22, 2008; 3:55 PM ET | Comments (1)

Mason Dixon Shows Tight Race

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are locked in an extremely close race in Virginia, according to a new poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. for NBC News and several newspapers. In the survey, Obama receives 47 percent of the vote compared to McCain's 45 percent. But the survey indicates Obama has been gaining ground in Virginia. In a Mason-Dixon poll earlier this month, McCain led Obama by a margin of 48 percent to 45 percent. The poll finds Obama with a 30 -point lead in Northern Virginia, 61 percent to 31 percent. McCain leads by 23 percentage points in the Shenandoah Valley, and by 15 points in Southwest Virginia. He holds a smaller 11-point edge in the Richmond media market, but Obama now has a 5-point advantage in the critical Hampton Roads region. Another Virginia poll commissioned by CNN has Obama leading McCain by 10...

By Tim Craig | October 22, 2008; 12:48 PM ET | Comments (35)

Virginia Notebook: Obama or Bust For '09 Race

With Election Day approaching, the four major candidates for governor next year almost certainly have one fact about Virginia politics on their minds: Since 1976, the party that wins the White House loses the governor's race the following year. Virginia is one of only two states to have a governor's race the year following a presidential contest. And because Virginia voters have developed a reputation for shunning the party that controls the White House, the national pundits often use the outcome to suggest that a new president is off to a rocky start. But that could all change next year. If Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama wins the White House, the organization he has built in Virginia this year holds the potential to alter Virginia's political landscape into the next decade....

By Tim Craig | October 22, 2008; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (3)

Kaine Sets Special Election

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has set Jan. 6 as the date for voters to go to the polls to elect a replacement for Del. Terrie Lynne Suit (R-Virginia Beach) who resigned to become a lobbyist. "It is important that we have a delegate in place when the session begins on January 14th," Kaine said. "Holding the special election on January 6th will allow the new delegate to participate in the legislative session and to represent the interests of citizens of the district." State law prohibits special elections 30 days after a general election. The last date to file to run for the seat is Dec. 8. The 81st House District includes parts of the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake . Suit resigned to run Williams Mullen's Hampton Roads lobbying operation. Her last day was Oct. 12. Her 1999 election led to Virginia's first-ever Republican majority in the House....

By Anita Kumar | October 22, 2008; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Warner Ads for Obama Begin Tonight

Former governor Mark R. Warner (D) has recorded a series of radio ads for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama that will begin airing around the state tonight. In the ads, Warner talks about how Obama will take a bipartisan approach to restoring the economy, creating jobs, lowering taxes for middle-class families and providing affordable healthcare. "This is exactly the kind of change our economy needs,'' Warner says in the ad while folksy music plays in the background. "So please join me, Mark Warner, in supporting Barack Obama for president. His steady hand, family values and common sense approach will help get our country back on track." The 60-second ads will run across the state including Northern Virginia, central Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley and Southside and Southwest, rural areas that have traditionally supported Republicans but where Warner is extremely popular. Warner, who is running for U.S. Senate against former governor James...

By Anita Kumar | October 21, 2008; 2:30 PM ET | Comments (1)

Gilmore Raises $1.9 Million for Race

Former governor James S. Gilmore III (R) has raised $1.9 million for his U.S. Senate campaign and has $121,000 in the bank to use for the final stretch leading to the Nov. 4 election. He raised another $265,000 through a joint fundraising committee with the Republican Party of Virginia, and has $46,000 of that left in the bank. Gilmore's campaign refused to give out his financial information to reporters last week, at the close of the reporting period. But his campaign released the figures to the Washington Post today. Gilmore's opponent, former governor Mark R. Warner (D), announced last week that he has raised $12.3 million for his campaign and has $3.6 million left in the bank. Warner raised about $3 million in the last three-month period that ended Sept. 30 while Gilmore raised $644,000....

By Anita Kumar | October 21, 2008; 1:18 PM ET | Comments (2)

Virginia Democrats Outraise GOP

The Virginia Democratic Party has raised nearly four times as much money as the state GOP over the past four months, according to campaign finance reports. Friday was the deadline for both parties to submit state campaign finance reports that show how much money each side has in its state account. From July 1 to Sept. 30, the Virginia Democratic Party raised $732,000. It now has $444,000 in the bank to use to influence the outcome of state races. The Republican Party of Virginia raised $196,000. It has $144,000 in the bank. Although the money in each account is generally restricted to state races, a portion of it can be transferred to the respective party's federal account. Those accounts, which must abide by federal fundraising restrictions, can be used to finance get out the vote efforts in this year's presidential and congressional races. The Virginia Democratic Party has transferred more...

By Tim Craig | October 20, 2008; 11:14 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Takes in $261,000

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's political action committee raised $261,000 from 36 individuals or entities from July 1 to September 30, according to recently released campaign finance reports. The PAC, Moving Virginia Forward, spent $286,000 during the quarter and now has $154,000 in the bank. As was the case in the first half of the year, Kaine raised very little money from small donors, instead relying on those who can afford to write large checks. Kaine received three $500 contributions, but all of his other reportable donors gave at least $2,000. Kaine also received $375 from donors who do not have to be identified in the report because they gave less than $100. One man, businessman R.J. Kirk, donated $100,000 to the PAC last month. The bulk of Kaine's political spending went toward staff salaries and the costs associated with attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver. But the PAC also...

By Tim Craig | October 20, 2008; 10:54 PM ET | Comments (0)

Surrogates Flock to Virginia (Updated)

With just two weeks left before the Nov. 4 election, a slew of big-name politicians are flocking to battleground Virginia to stand in for Sens. John McCain (R) and Barack Obama (D). Both parties are ramping up efforts to win the state's 13 electoral votes but with more money and staff the Democrats are usually holding more events, sometimes several each day. Just take a look at the schedule for the next couple days: The Democrats will hold events with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in Arlington tomorrow; Ethel Kennedy, widow of the late senator and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, in Southwest tomorrow and Wednesday; former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus in various locations, mostly in central Virginia, tomorrow and Wednesday and retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark in Roanoke and Harrisonburg Wednesday. The Republicans will hold events with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) in Harrisonburg and...

By Anita Kumar | October 20, 2008; 2:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Brings Campaign to Richmond

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama will make his eighth campaign stop in Virginia on Wednesday when he holds a rally at the 13,000-seat Richmond Coliseum. The rally, which follows an event GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin held in Richmond a week ago, will begin at noon. Obama's campaign is also bringing musician Dave Matthews to Richmond on Sunday. Matthews and guitarist Tim Reynolds will perform a free concert at Virginia Commonwealth University to encourage people to vote on Election Day....

By Tim Craig | October 20, 2008; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (29)

Real Virginia?

In an interview with MSNBC today, Sen. John McCain's advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer says Northern Virginia isn't "real Virginia" and that the Republican presidential nominee still has a chance of winning the battleground state because of support in southern regions of the state, which she calls "real Virginia." Northern Virginia, home to McCain's campaign headquarters and McCain's condo, has trended Democratic in recent years and voters there are expected to turn out heavily for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. ">...

By Anita Kumar | October 18, 2008; 5:23 PM ET | Comments (7)

Veterans Groups Support Gilmore

Two veterans groups, Vets for Freedom and IFVPP, endorsed former governor James S. Gilmore III (R) today in his U.S. Senate bid against former governor Mark R. Warner (D). "Jim recognizes and acknowledges the success of our current military strategy in Iraq, and has been a steadfast source of support for all the men and women who are winning the global war on terror,'' Vets for Freedom Virginia State Captain Coby Dillard said. Vets for Freedom, a nonpartisan organization established by combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has more than 600 members in Virginia. IFVPP, a group of Iraqi veterans who strive to preserve the memory of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, based its endorsement on Gilmore's support of the surge, his experience chairing a national advisory committee on homeland security and his service as a veteran. The group has more than 250 members in Virginia. "After...

By Anita Kumar | October 17, 2008; 7:48 PM ET | Comments (1)

Hampton Roads Leaders Endorse Wagner

Several mayors and other local elected officials from Hampton Roads today endorsed former Finance Secretary Jody W. Wagner for lieutenant governor. "Local governments across Virginia are facing tough times in this economic climate," Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim said. "We need strong leaders in Richmond who can maintain the fiscal discipline and strong management we've grown accustomed to under Governors Warner and Kaine. Jody Wagner will be that kind of leader." Wagner, a long time resident of Virginia Beach, served as Virginia treasurer under former governor Mark R. Warner (D) and as finance secretary under Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). She resigned earlier this year to run for lieutenant governor. Wagner's main opponent for the Democratic nomination is Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County. A third possible candidate for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, state Democratic Party Chairman C. Richard Cranwell, is not expected to make up his...

By Anita Kumar | October 17, 2008; 7:33 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Leads McCain in Prince William County

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama appears well positioned to win Prince William County this year, according to a new poll by Politico and Insider Advantage. As part of its series on battleground counties nationwide that could decide the election, Politico's poll found Obama with a 8-point lead over GOP nominee John McCain in Prince William. Obama gets 50 percent of the vote compared to McCain's 42 percent. In 2004, President Bush carried Prince William by 7 points. Politico notes Prince William County supported Republican presidential candidates by an average margin of 18 points between 1976 and 2004, but Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) both narrowly carried it in their races in 2005 and 2006. If Obama handily wins the Prince William this year, McCain would likely lose Virginia's 13 electoral votes. McCain plans to make his first campaign stop in Prince William tomorrow when he...

By Tim Craig | October 17, 2008; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (2)

Todd Palin Campaigns at Speedway

Todd Palin, the husband of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, will be the honorary race official at the Tums Quikpak 500 NASCAR race at the Martinsville Speedway on Sunday. Palin will be joined by former governor and senator George Allen and U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) at the race to meet with voters and NASCAR drivers. The victory 2008 bus tour will stop in Martinsville at noon....

By Anita Kumar | October 17, 2008; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (1)

A Case of the Mistaken Legislator

State Sen. Ralph K. Smith (R-Roanoke) has received letters from many angry Virginians about his vote for the $700 billion federal bailout for Wall Street. But they've got the wrong Sen. Smith. The Sen. Smith who voted for the bailout is Sen. Gordon H. Smith, a Republican U.S. senator from Oregon. The Sen. Ralph Smith is a state legislator, unable to vote on congressional legislation. For the record, he would have voted no if given the chance. "A number of Virginians wrote to me angry that Sen. Smith voted for the pork-laden bailout,'' he wrote in a letter to the public posted online. "They were correct to be angry, but it was U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon who voted for the bill, not state Sen. Ralph Smith of Botetourt County. If I had a vote on this legislation, I would have been happy to join (Virginia) Reps. Bob Goodlatte...

By Anita Kumar | October 17, 2008; 9:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

Precursor to the Gov's Race?

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), both candidates for governor next year, will represent the two presidential candidates in a debate Oct. 29 in Lynchburg. McDonnell is the presumed Republican nominee but Deeds faces a tough primary fight with Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) and possibly Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Deeds will represent Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and McDonnell will represent Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Deeds narrowly lost the race for attorney general in 2005 to McDonnell in one of the closest races in Virginia history....

By Anita Kumar | October 16, 2008; 4:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

Roanoke Attorney Considers AG Run

Roanoke attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced today that he is forming a campaign committee to consider running for the Democratic nomination for state Attorney General next year. Fishwick, 51, has started raising money and traveling the state in preparation for a possible run. "It is time that the middle class of Virginia had an attorney general who will fight for them,'' he said. "The banks, power companies and large corporations get what they want in Richmond to the detriment of the middle class. We need an Attorney General who will stand up and fight for hard-working Virginia families."...

By Anita Kumar | October 16, 2008; 3:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Has 6 Percent Lead in CNU Poll

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has a six point lead in Virginia amid growing concern about the nation's economy, according to a poll released today by Christopher Newport University. The poll shows Obama drawing 49 percent of the vote while GOP presidential nominee John McCain receives 43 percent. When the pollster presses undecided voters to cite which they candidate they are leaning toward supporting, Obama maintains his 6 percentage lead, 53 to 47 percent. A Christopher Newport University poll one month ago had McCain ahead of Obama by 8 percentage points in Virginia. But that poll assumed that African Americans, who make up about 20 percent of the state's population, would account for a little less than 10 percent of the electorate. The latest poll assumes African-Americans will be 20 percent of the electorate. McCain may be at a disadvantage in Virginia because of his selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah...

By Tim Craig | October 16, 2008; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Warner Has $3.6 Million in the Bank

Democratic Senate candidate Mark R. Warner announced today he has raised $12.3 million for his campaign and still has $3.6 million in the bank for the final stretch. Warner raised about $3 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 from 11,000 donors. Wednesday was the deadline to submit quarterly financial reports to the Federal Election Commission. Warner's GOP opponent, James S. Gilmore III, has struggled all year to raise money for his campaign. Gilmore campaign officials refused to voluntarily release his financial report to the media, saying they were so focused on ramping up their get-out-the-vote operation they didn't have time to distribute the information. Gilmore's report will eventually be posted on the FEC's website....

By Tim Craig | October 15, 2008; 11:19 PM ET | Comments (0)

Va First Ladies Campaign for Obama

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's wife, Anne Holton, and former governor Mark R. Warner's wife, Lisa Collis, will headline a series of town hall meetings across the state tomorrow to try to attract women to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign. Holton and Collis will tout Obama's proposals that impact families and working parents, including plans to promote pay equity, provide tax cuts and lower health care costs, according to the campaign. The tour marks Holton's fourth event for Obama and Collis' first event. Details of the events are below:...

By Anita Kumar | October 15, 2008; 5:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Virginia Adds 436,000 New Voters

The final voter registration numbers have just been released. Just under a half-million million people registered to vote this year. Combined with people who died or moved away, there are now 436,000 more registered voters than there were at the start of the year. Of those new voters, 60 percent are under the age of 34. And communities with a history of supporting Democratic candidates appear to have highest percentages of new voters. In 2004, the last presidential election year, Virginia added about 300,000 registrants....

By Tim Craig | October 15, 2008; 2:24 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Up by 10 In Va. in CNN/Time Poll (Updated)

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has a 10 point lead over GOP nominee John McCain in Virginia, according to a new poll by CNN/Time. Obama draws 53 percent of the vote to McCain's 43 percent, according to the poll Obama's lead appears to stem from an unusually strong showing in Hampton Roads, which calls into question his overall 10-point advantage in the poll. The poll has Obama getting 60 percent of the vote in Southeastern Virginia compared to McCain's 36 percent, although the margin of error for the regional breakdowns is plus or minus 8.5 percentage points. President Bush carried the region by 4 percentage points in 2004, and few political strategists expect Obama to rack up a 24-point victory in Hampton Roads this year. Obama will campaign in Roanoke on Friday. McCain will be in Prince William County on Saturday....

By Tim Craig | October 15, 2008; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (1)

Kaine Seeks to Boost Glenn Nye

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) will headline a fundraiser tomorrow for Democratic Congressional Candidate Glenn Nye, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.). Tickets for the event, which is billed as "jamboree," range from $100 to $2,300. Democratic strategists were optimistic earlier in the summer that Nye would give Drake, who was narrowly reelected in 2006, a serious challenge this year. Although only 33, Nye has built up an impressive resume, including serving as a diplomat in Iraq. The 2nd District, which includes the Virginia Beach area and the Eastern Shore, leans Republican, but it also has a large black population, about 21 percent. With Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at the top of the ticket, Nye would benefit from a large black turnout. A few months ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was touting polls that showed Nye to be very competitive with Drake. But in recent days, GOP...

By Tim Craig | October 15, 2008; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (1)

Obama Asks Va Democrats to Prepare Ads

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) cut a radio ad for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama that will run in southwest Virginia and perhaps North Carolina and other states in the South. Obama has also asked Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and former governor Mark R. Warner (D) to do the same, according to Democratic sources. Kaine, who was on Obama's short list for vice president, is likely to appear in an ad for his friend Obama. It's unclear whether Warner, who is trying to draw bipartisan support for his bid for U.S. Senate against former James S. Gimore III, will star in an ad. In his ad, Webb, a veteran and NRA member, recounts his own gun history and then explains why listeners can trust Obama, who he calls a friend, to not infringe on their Second Amendment rights. Webb, elected in 2006, will campaign for Obama in southwest Virginia Thursday....

By Anita Kumar | October 14, 2008; 10:52 PM ET | Comments (7)

McCain to Hold Rally in Prince William County

Republican presidential nominee John McCain will hold a rally Saturday in Woodbridge in Prince William County, according to GOP sources. The event will be McCain's second campaign stop in Virginia in less than a week. Yesterday, McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), held a rally in Virginia Beach. Palin also held her own event in Richmond. In recent weeks, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart and other Northern Virginia Republicans have been urging McCain to return to Northern Virginia. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), have already held several events in Prince William County. Prince William could be a key swing county in the Nov. 4 election. Although President Bush won it easily in 2000 and 2004, both Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) narrowly carried Prince William in their races...

By Tim Craig | October 14, 2008; 6:45 PM ET | Comments (10)

Warner Unveils New Ads

Former governor Mark R. Warner will begin broadcasting new radio and television ads tomorrow in his U.S. Senate race against former governor James S. Gilmore III. The 30-second TV ad, called "Fresh Approach," features Warner discussing the nation's economic crisis. A similar 60-second version will be broadcast on statewide radio. "For too long, there were too many people both in Washington and on Wall Street asleep at the switch," Warner says in the ad. "We need a fresh approach where we don't allow CEOs on Wall Street to walk away with millions of dollars while their companies go into the ditch. We've got to have leaders in Washington who put our country's interest first, not partisanship. That's what I'll do if you send me to Washington."...

By Anita Kumar | October 14, 2008; 5:24 PM ET | Comments (0)

McCain Downplays Frederick's Remark

Republican presidential nominee John McCain responded this morning to the comments Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick made over the weekend comparing Democratic nominee Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden. Speaking on Richmond's WRVA radio this morning, McCain said it's not fair to compare Frederick's remarks to those made recently by U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). Lewis said over the weekend that GOP ticket was "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" at its rallies. Lewis compared McCain to the segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace, and through Wallace to the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham that killed four girls. Frederick told a group of GOP volunteers in Prince William County on Saturday that Obama can be compared to bin Laden because "they both have friends that bombed the Pentagon," a reference to Obama's past association with Bill Ayers. In his interview with host Jimmy Barrett, McCain said he's already...

By Tim Craig | October 14, 2008; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (57)

Gilmore Gets Support From Former House Leader

Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R), known for his opposition to higher taxes and earmarks, praised U.S. Senate candidate James S. Gilmore III this morning on a conference call with Virginia reporters. Armey said the popularity of earmarks in Congress is "so far out of control" that only members who stand up and oppose them can halt them. In recent weeks, Gilmore, a former governor, has come out against the $700 billion federal rescue package and earmarks. He signed a "no earmarks" pledge today. Gilmore said that he opposed the bailout bill, party because it was filled with earmarks including money for rum manufacturers and a company that makes wooden arrows. He said the practice of securing earmarks is open to "fraud and abuse." Armey, a former Texas congressman, is chairman of FreedomWorks, a group dedicated to "lower taxes, less government and more freedom." Gilmore faces former governor...

By Anita Kumar | October 14, 2008; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Kaine, Allen Square Off in Debate

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and former governor and senator George Allen (R) will represent the two presidential candidates in a debate about energy and the environment tomorrow morning in Northern Virginia. Kaine, who was on the short list for vice president, and Allen have been filling in as surrogates for Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain regularly in recent months. The debate, sponsored by the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce, will be held at the Washington Dulles Airport Marriott. The debate begins at 8 a.m. and will be moderated by Norah O'Donnell, MSNBC chief Washington correspondent. "Energy and the environment are going to be huge issues facing the next president," said Peter Ryus, chairman of the chamber's environmental committee. "Virginia is an important setting for this debate because of its swing electoral votes, its demographics and its strategic proximity to Washington."...

By Anita Kumar | October 14, 2008; 8:37 AM ET | Comments (2)

"Mine, Baby, Mine"

Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin were greeted by throngs of red-clad fans at the Virginia Beach Convention Center today. Palin, who introduced McCain, received more cheers than any other speaker, even more than country music legend Hank Williams Jr. In her 10-minute speech, Palin talked about energy independence, among other issues, touting offshore oil drilling and coal mining. The crowd started chanting "Drill, baby, drill." But she corrected them: "It's 'Mine, baby, mine.' " Supporters didn't seem to mind that she mispronounced the word "Norfolk" and awkwardly used the term "the" Hampton Roads. "It's going to come right down to the wire here and it's pretty clear that the road to victory in 2008 is going to run right through the Hampton Roads," Palin said. Williams, wearing a Washington Redskins jersey, sang several of his classics, including "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down" and "A Country Boy...

By Anita Kumar | October 13, 2008; 5:47 PM ET | Comments (201)

Will Guns Sink Obama in Va.?

The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence announced today it is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill) presidential campaign. "Senators Obama and Biden know that we make it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in this country," Brady President Paul Helmke said in a statement. "They know that our weak gun laws have too many loopholes, which lead to over 30,000 deaths and 70,000 injuries from guns every year." But in a state like Virginia, which his home to the National Rifle Association and more than one million hunters, the endorsement carries considerable risk. The NRA, which has endorsed GOP nominee John McCain, is already running ads in Virginia noting that Obama once supported a ban on handguns in Chicago. And if Obama has made any gains in rural Virginia, it will be tempting for Republicans to use the Brady Campaign endorsement to undercut Obama on the gun...

By Tim Craig | October 13, 2008; 2:35 PM ET | Comments (25)

Black GOP Leader Condemns Frederick

Donald Scoggins, a prominent African-American Republican in Prince William County, has condemned Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick for comparing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to Osama bin Laden. Scoggins said he's been involved in the Republican Party for 40 years, but said Frederick's remarks are "totally unacceptable." Scoggins once headed Republicans for Black Empowerment, which sought to recruit more African-Americans Republicans to run for office. "At this point in time, not just in Virginia, but all over, there needs to be a lowering of the decibel of hatred and that was very much uncalled for," said Scoggins, who has been in touch with other GOP activists and leaders this morning to discuss Frederick's remarks. "For him to equate (Obama) with someone as vile and destructive as bin Laden is just very much beyond the pale."...

By Tim Craig | October 13, 2008; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (32)

Huge Crowds Expected for McCain, Palin on Monday

Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is expecting tens of thousands of people at a pair of rallies on Monday. McCain (R) and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, will appear at 10 a.m. at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, which holds 20,000 people. Palin will then travel to Richmond for a rally 2 p.m. The demand for tickets prompted the campaign to move the rally from the Arthur Ashe Center to the Richmond International Raceway. "The demand for tickets to see Gov. Palin has been so overwhelming, we are changing locations so everyone who wants attend the rally has the opportunity to do so,'' said Trey Walker, a McCain spokesman said. "The energy and enthusiasm for the campaign in the Richmond area is very exciting."...

By Anita Kumar | October 10, 2008; 4:40 PM ET | Comments (57)

McDonnell Condemns Bobby May

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, a GOP candidate for governor, issued a statement today condemning Bobby May, the Republican official from Southwest Virginia who wrote controversial remarks about Sen. Barack Obama in a local newspaper. Until this week, May had been on GOP presidential nominee John McCain's Virginia leadership team. But May was forced to leave the campaign earlier this week after the Los Angeles Times published part of a column that May had written. "The Attorney General condemns the offensive rhetoric in this column," said J. Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. In the column, May wrote Obama would hire the rapper Ludacris to paint the White House black, change the national antemm into the "black national anthemm," raise taxes to "pay for Obama's inner-city political base" and replace the U.S. flag with one that had "a star and crescent logo." May, the treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party,...

By Tim Craig | October 10, 2008; 1:25 PM ET | Comments (2)

Military Leaders Hold Town Halls for Obama

Lieutenant General Claudia Kennedy and the15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John Estrada will hold a series of town hall meetings this weekend in Virginia. They will be in Roanoke, Staunton and Winchester on Saturday and in Prince William County near the Quantico Marine Corps Base and Virginia Beach on Sunday. They will tout Obama's plan to end to the Iraq war, build international alliances, defeat al Qaeda and complete the U.S.'s work in Afghanistan. Kennedy, who retired in 2000, was the first woman to reach the rank of three-star Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army. Estrada, who retired last year, was the first African-American to hold the rank of 15th Sergeant Major of the U.S. Marine Corps. Details of the events are below:...

By Anita Kumar | October 9, 2008; 4:03 PM ET | Comments (4)

Fairfax Helps Some Inmates Vote, GOP Cries Foul

Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (Prince William), the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, is blasting Fairfax County officials for allowing some inmates at the detention center to register to vote. According to the Washington Examiner, Fairfax County General Registrar Rokey Suleman and Sheriff Stan Barry allowed registration forms and absentee ballot information to be delivered to inmates with misdemeanor convictions and those awaiting trial. In Virginia, a felon loses their right to vote unless they get their rights restored by the governor. People without felony convictions maintain their rights, although its unusual to register them in a jail. "This might not be illegal, but it sure stinks to high heaven. Is this really how Obama expects to win the presidency with - a coalition of criminals? I guess it's Obama's latest big government program: 'no inmate left behind'" Frederick said. There is no evidence that Obama's campaign had anything to...

By Tim Craig | October 9, 2008; 1:16 PM ET | Comments (10)

Hank Williams Jr. Set to Hit Va. Beach for McCain

Apparently, GOP presidential nominee John McCain has decided it's not so bad to have a little bit of "celebrity" power behind his campaign after all. Country music star Hank Williams Jr. will perform at a McCain rally Monday in Virginia Beach, the campaign announced yesterday. Williams will be the latest - and perhaps most well known - music or Hollywood star to travel to Virginia in support of a presidential candidate. Until now, most have been to Virginia in support of Obama. But Obama has not deployed his really big name supporters to Virginia. Last weekend, Bruce Springsteen performed free concerts for Obama fans in Philadelphia and Columbus Ohio. Rap music icon Jay Z also performed free concerts in support of Obama last weekend in Detroit and Miami. No word yet from Obama campaign officials on whether they plan to try to top Hank Williams Jr.'s star power....

By Tim Craig | October 9, 2008; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (6)

Bolling Looks to Shed A Few Pounds

A year ago, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling pledged to lose 30 pounds. This year, his goal is 20 pounds. This week, Bolling (R) and a group of health care officials kicked off a new campaign to promote heart health education, healthier living, increased physical activity and improved diet and nutrition. "By taking simple steps toward healthier living - losing weight, increased physical fitness and proper dieting - Virginians can significantly mitigate their risk of contracting heart disease," Bolling said. Bolling, who plans to run for re-election next year, lost 28 of the 30 pounds and hopes to lose 20 more through a program put on by the National Lieutenant Governor's Association. Virginia was the first state to participate....

By Anita Kumar | October 8, 2008; 11:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Tom Ridge to Stump for McCain

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will campaign for GOP presidential nominee John McCain Thursday in Arlington. Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor, will be joined by McCain's mother, Roberta. They will hold a rally for GOP volunteers at McCain's Virginia headquarters at noon. Roberta McCain will then travel to Suffolk without Ridge for an event with former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift (R). The tour, sponsored by the Republican National Committee, will on Friday move to Williamsburg and Newport News, where Ridge will appear with U.S. Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.)...

By Tim Craig | October 8, 2008; 3:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bill Clinton to Campaign For Obama in Va.

Former President Bill Clinton will campaign for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) Sunday in Roanoke and Richmond. Clinton will hold rallies in both cities. The time and locations have yet to be determined. The fact Obama feels comfortable enough to bring Clinton into Virginia is a testament of how dramatically the state's political climate has changed in recent years. During statewide elections in the 1990s and earlier this decade, Democratic candidates largely kept their distance from Clinton, although Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) brought him in for an election-eve rally in liberal-leaning Alexandria in 2006. But Virginia Democrats now believe the former president can help Obama win over working class voters who live in rural areas of the state. In the Feb. 12 primary, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-Ill.) ran very strong in Southwestern Virginia and parts of the Shenandoah Valley. Obama is still trying to win over those Clinton voters. And...

By Tim Craig | October 8, 2008; 2:16 PM ET | Comments (6)

Kaine Heads West for Obama

Virginia may be a key battleground in this year's presidential race, but Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) will turn his attention this weekend to helping to shore up Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) presidential campaign in the Rocky Mountains. Kaine will headline events for Obama Sunday in Colorado, another fiercely contested state in Obama's race against GOP nominee John McCain. Kaine will then travel to Phoenix to be the keynote speaker at the Arizona Democratic Party "Hall of Fame" dinner Sunday evening. Coming less than one month before the election, some Democrats may question whether it's smart for Kaine to spend time in another state instead of stumping for Obama or Democratic congressional candidates in Virginia. But Kaine and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), who is hosting the Democratic fundraiser in Phoenix, have developed a good relationship because they were both early Obama supporters. Kaine also speaks Spanish and Hispanics are...

By Tim Craig | October 8, 2008; 12:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

Va Republicans Try to Boost Membership

In an effort to boost the army of Republican volunteers who make calls and knock on doors, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who are running for governor and lieutenant governor next year, challenged local parties to double their membership over several months. The results are in: Fifty-four of the 124 cities' and counties' parties met or exceeded the goal. At least thirty-two units increased membership but fell short of the goal. Total, the exercise added more than 3,000 new members to the party, according to the Republican Party of Virginia....

By Anita Kumar | October 8, 2008; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (2)

War Veterans Enter Va. Campaign in Big Way

Virginia's airwaves are going to be cluttered with ads from Iraq veterans who are backing either Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama or Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP nominee. The NRA is running an ad in which an Iraq war veteran condemns Obama for once supporting a ban on handguns in Illinois. "Like all the guys I fought with in Iraq, I was honored to defend my country and its freedom," Kurt Rusch, a former Marine, says in the ad. "But when I got back stateside, I learned Barack Obama opposes my right to own a handgun for self defense. It's ridiculous." Meanwhile, Washington Post reporter Matt Mosk is reporting that VoteVets is launching a $1.3 million ad buy in Virginia. In the ad, an Iraq war veteran criticizes McCain for skipping the vote on Sen. James Webb's (D-Va.) GI Bill or Rights. "When John McCain was about my age,...

By Tim Craig | October 8, 2008; 11:13 AM ET | Comments (2)

Webb Hits the Campaign Trail

Sen. Jim Webb, who is not exactly known for his love of campaigning, starting stumping today for fellow Democrats running for election next month. This week, he is appearing at events for Gerry Connolly, Fairfax County Board chairman who is running for Congress; former governor Mark R. Warner, who is running for U.S. Senate; and Tom Perriello, who is running against Rep. Virgil Goode in a south central district stretching from Charlottesville to Danville. Next week, he will campaign for Judy Feder, who is running against Rep. Frank Wolf in Northern Virginia and Glenn Nye, who is running against Rep. Thelma Drake in Hampton Roads. He will also participate in an event for Democratic senate candidates with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and make a two-day swing through Southwest Virginia for Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Webb, elected in 2006, has been criticized by some constituents and party activists for his...

By Anita Kumar | October 7, 2008; 2:30 PM ET | Comments (3)

Elizabeth Edwards Speaks Out Against McCain

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, was in Richmond today to speak out against John McCain's health care plan. Edwards held an event at the State Capitol with several Democratic legislators. Several labor unions sponsored the event....

By Tim Craig | October 7, 2008; 10:37 AM ET | Comments (9)

Community Voters Project Registers 82,000 Minorities

Community Voters Project announced yesterday it has registered at least 82,000 minority voters in Virginia. For the past several months, the non-partisan group has had 370 staffers working in cities across the state. The group paid special attention to Petersburg, Hampton, Richmond, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Roanoke, Lynchburg, Fredericksburg and Falls Church. If its estimates are correct, the 82,000 figure is the first real indication of the percentage of newly registered voters in Virginia who are black or Hispanic. The State Board of Elections does not collect such data, but the board announced last week nearly 350,000 people have registered to vote between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. County registrars are also currently processing thousands of additional applications that arrived between Sept. 30 and yesterday, which was the deadline to register in Virginia. If the number of total new registrants this year eventually swells to 400,000, the efforts by Community Voters...

By Tim Craig | October 7, 2008; 12:07 AM ET | Comments (10)

McCain, Palin Head to Virginia

Republican presidential nominee John McCain announced today that he and his running mate Sarah Palin will campaign in Virginia on Monday. McCain and Palin will hold a rally at 10 a.m. in Virginia Beach at the convention center. Palin will then hold at 1 p.m. rally in Richmond at the Arthur Ashe Center. "Voters statewide are excited to have the next president and vice president of the United States bring their message of reform back to Virginia,'' Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, McCain's campaign co-chairman. "John McCain and Sarah Palin will bring some much needed straight talk to the voters in Virginia about strengthening our economy, finding innovative solutions to our energy crisis and keeping America safe. It is going to be a tough race in Virginia, but we are focused on winning Virginia so that John McCain and Sarah Palin can shake things up in Washington."...

By Anita Kumar | October 6, 2008; 2:05 PM ET | Comments (24)

Obama Leads McCain in New Va. Poll

A new poll by Suffolk University shows Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with a double-digit lead over GOP nominee John McCain in Virginia. Obama draws 51 percent to McCain's 39 percent, although the poll's sample skews heavily toward the Democrats, which may be inflating Obama's margin. "Barack Obama has built a coalition of suburban DC area progressives from the north, African-American voters from the south, and young voters statewide," said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University in Boston. "That broad-based support suggests a 44-year Republican run in the Old Dominion State, dating back to Lyndon Johnson's victory in 1964, is in jeopardy." The poll conflicts with one last week by Mason Dixon that showed McCain leading Obama by 3 points in Virginia. The Suffolk poll also shows Democratic Senate candidate Mark R. Warner beating GOP candidate James S. Gilmore by 33 points, similar to the advantage...

By Tim Craig | October 6, 2008; 1:00 PM ET | Comments (74)

Fairfax Democrats Set Fundraising Record

The Fairfax County Democratic Committee will announce this week it raised a record $138,000 during the month of September. Since the start of the year, the committee has taken in $415,000 for its state and federal accounts, smashing their previous fundraising record of $267,000, which was set in 2007. The committee will report it has $160,000 remaining in its federal account, money it can use to help Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Democratic congressional candidates. The Fairfax County Republican Party has only $13,000 in its federal account, according to campaign finance reports. With that sizeable advantage, the Fairfax Democratic Party becomes another outlet that the state and national party can turn to for help in turning out voters on Nov. 4. If Obama can approach or top 60 percent of the vote in Fairfax, the state's largest jurisdiction, it will be very difficult for GOP presidential nominee John McCain to...

By Tim Craig | October 6, 2008; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (4)

Palin to Appear at GOP Fundraiser in Fairfax

Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be in Tysons Corner in Fairfax County next Monday to help raise money for the national party, according to GOP officials. Palin's visit comes as some Virginia Republicans are increasingly nervous that GOP presidential nominee John McCain is not campaigning hard enough in the state, where polls indicate he is tied with Democratic nominee Barack Obama. McCain and Palin have held only one public event in Virginia, which took place a month ago. In news stories this weekend in the Washington Post and Politico, some Virginia Republicans expressed concern that the GOP ticket is taking Virginia for granted. Gail Gitcho, a McCain spokeswoman, said she is not ready to release when, or if, Palin or McCain will be in Virginia for an event other than a fundraiser....

By Tim Craig | October 5, 2008; 7:22 PM ET | Comments (8)

Joe McCain Says Inner Suburbs Are "Communist"

Sen. John McCain's brother, Joe, made an apparent joke today that Democratic-leaning Alexandria and Arlington are "Communist country." Speaking at an event in support of his brother in Loudoun County, Joe McCain said, "I've lived here for at least 10 years and before that about every third duty I was in either Arlington or Alexandria, up in communist country," according to a Washington Post reporter who was there. Joe McCain, who like his brother is a veteran of the Vietnam war, then apologized, but he drew laughter from the GOP faithful at the event. Joe McCain's remarks may not sit well with some residents of Arlington and Alexandria, who by the way include his brother. John McCain owns a condominium in Arlington County. The McCain campaign's national and Virginia headquarters are also located in Arlington County. "This was Joe McCain's unsuccessful attempt at humor," said McCain spokeswoman Gail Gitcho. "John...

By Tim Craig | October 4, 2008; 8:21 PM ET | Comments (53)

Biden Cancels Va. Stops on Sunday; Bayh to Fill In

Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, has cancelled his scheduled appearances tomorrow in Roanoke and in Henrico County because of an illness in his family. Biden's spokesman, David Wade, issued the following statement: "The campaign has cancelled Senator Biden's schedule today and tomorrow because of a serious illness in Jill Biden's family. Hospice has advised the Bidens to remain close by, and we appreciate everyone's respect for the family's privacy," Wade said The campaign announced this evening that Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (D), who Obama had considered as a running mate, will fill in for Biden....

By Tim Craig | October 4, 2008; 5:07 PM ET | Comments (66)

Obama in Newport News

Thousands of people crammed into Victory Landing Park in downtown Newport News today to hear Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) speak during his sixth visit to Virginia since June. With a Navy ship as a backdrop, Obama unveiled a new blistering attack on Arizona Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) health care policies. It will be Obama's first big rally in Hampton Roads, a key swing area in the election, since February, when he drew 18,000 to Virginia Beach. There were also an estimated 18,000 people at today's event. "This isn't politics for me, this is personal," Obama said, referring to his late mother. "I know something about our broken health care system." He later added, "everyone knows the health care system is not working...The question is not whether we can afford to fix health care. The question is how can we afford not to?" Obama said McCain wants to tax existing health...

By Tim Craig | October 4, 2008; 1:13 PM ET | Comments (32)

McCain's Campaign Holds Events in Va Today

Republican presidential nominee John McCain's campaign is holding a flurry of campaign events in Virginia today, perhaps in response to yet another visit to the state by Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Events will take place in Prince William, Loudoun, Greene and Henrico counties and will include appearances by Joe McCain, McCain's brother; Jeffrey Frederick, state GOP chairman; Paul Galanti, a former prisoner of war; U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf; and Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board, among others. Obama is holding a rally in Newport News today. His running mate, Joe Biden, will appear in Roanoke and suburban Richmond tomorrow. See the list of McCain campaign events below:...

By Anita Kumar | October 4, 2008; 12:19 PM ET | Comments (19)

Gilmore Finds His Issue

With a month to go until the Nov. 4 election, tonight's debate may have been U.S. Senate Candidate James S. Gilmore III's last opportunity to make a dent in Democratic candidate Mark R. Warner's huge lead in the polls. Although it's difficult to know how many people were watching, Gilmore delivered a strong performance by framing it as a contrast between two candidates with differing views of the bailout. Gilmore came out strongly against the $700 billion plan, arguing in a concise way that it amounted to government run amok. Warner supported the bailout, saying it was needed to prevent economic turmoil. Warner tried to pin the need for Congressional intervention on lax oversight by the Bush administration and "greed" on Wall Street. Warner noted that both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama voted in favor of the plan, prompting Gilmore to say at one point, "I'm not in this...

By Tim Craig | October 3, 2008; 9:00 PM ET | Comments (7)

Gilmore Meets Warner For Final Showdown

7:55 p.m Both candidates are now giving closing statements. Gilmore is talking about the bailout, noting again he would have opposed it while Warner supported it. "The tax man will come, and undoubtedly ladies and gentleman, he will come for you," Gilmore said. Warner reiterated that the bailout was needed. "You just can't push off problems," he said. Warner then framed race as a contrast between the "future versus the past." 7:54 p.m Gilmore said he would vote to confirm Supreme Court justices who support overturning Roe v. Wade. Warner said he wants to protect Roe v. Wade. 7:53 p.m.Warner said he wants to eliminate earmarks for transportation but said he would advocate for additional federal funding for some Virginia institutions. Gilmore said he will not request any earmarks. Gilmore is now talking about how the bailout bill was "full of earmarks." "Mark Warner would have voted for this bill,"...

By Tim Craig | October 3, 2008; 7:44 PM ET | Comments (3)

Kaine Looks to Budget Showdown

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and his pollster, Pete Brodnitz, held a conference call with Senate Democratic leaders yesterday to begin preparing a strategy for dealing with the state's budget shortfall, according to officials familiar with the call. Kaine didn't offer a lot of specifics on how he plans to trim spending, but he said Democratic internal polls show the party has the upper hand with the public when it comes to making budget decisions. Kaine also noted his approval rating remains high despite the budget shortfall. Brodnitz also told legislators that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is in a strong position to win Virginia this fall....

By Tim Craig | October 3, 2008; 5:40 PM ET | Comments (2)

Deeds Wins Labor Award

The Washington D.C. Building and Construction Trades Council has given Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), a Democratic candidate for governor, its "Legislator of the Year" award. The council is affilated with the AFL-CIO as well as the electricians, ironworkers, painters and other construction unions in Northern Virginia. The award, which comes from a key Democratic constituency, comes as Deeds is gearing up to potentially face Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) and Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in next year's primary. McAuliffe, who has not yet made up his mind on whether he plans to run, and Moran are both from Northern Virginia. "The simple fact is Creigh Deeds is a leader in the fight for working families and getting our economy back on track," said Vance Ayres, executive secretary-treasurer of the Washington D.C. Building and Construction Trades Council. "Deeds' plan to make Virginia a leader...

By Tim Craig | October 3, 2008; 1:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Final U.S. Senate Debate Today

Former governors James S. Gilmore III (R) and Mark R. Warner (D) will square off at 7 p.m. tonight in Roanoke in their final debate in the race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat. Come back to the blog at 7 p.m. for the latest, as we live blog the event. It is Gilmore's last chance to change the dynamics of the race and prove that he can compete with his popular rival. A month before the Nov. 4 election, Warner has a big lead in polls and fundraising. The two are running to replace the retiring Sen. John W. Warner (R) in a race that could help determine whether Virginia's gradual shift toward Democratic statewide candidates is solidifying. The 60-minute debate, sponsored by WSLS -TV in Roanoke and moderated by its anchor Jay Warren, will be held at the Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke. A three-person...

By Anita Kumar | October 3, 2008; 9:04 AM ET | Comments (1)

Biden Returns to Virginia Sunday

Sen. Joe Biden will headline a community gathering Sunday in Roanoke, and will then hold a similiar event in Henrico County, to tout Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's plan to turn around the economy. Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, will appear at Century Park Plaza at 12:30 p.m. He will then appear at J.R. Tucker High School in Henrico County in suburban Richmond at 5 p.m. Biden will talk about creating jobs by investing $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy technology, cutting taxes for middle class families and lowering health care costs. In the last two weeks, Biden has appeared with Obama in Fredericksburg and has also campaigned in Woodbridge, Loudoun County and the annual United Mine Workers Fish Fry in Russell....

By Anita Kumar | October 2, 2008; 10:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

New Spanish Radio Ads Start in Virginia

A series of new Spanish-language radio ads will begin airing in the Washington metro area to urge residents to "move forward and vote." The New Policy Institute, an affiliate of the NDN progressive think tank and advocacy organization, has been airing in Nevada and Colorado. The Washington area ads start tomorrow. The media campaign, Adelante, Spanish for "Moving Forward," is a public education campaign that encourages people to vote, explains the process of voting (including early and absentee voting) and targets what is projected to be a large pool of first-time Hispanic voters. Three ads will start airing on three radio stations, which serve Northern Virgina, southern Maryland and the District. Ads will air through Nov. 3....

By Anita Kumar | October 2, 2008; 1:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bluegrass Legend Releases Ad for Obama

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign announced today a new folksy radio ad in Virginia featuring bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley. The spot is playing on stations in Southwest Virginia. "Howdy, friends. This is Ralph Stanley, and I think I know a little something about the families around here,'' Stanley says in the ad with banjos picking in the background. "and after the last eight years - I know we all need a change. Now, nobody's looking for a handout, but we could use a leader that's on our side. That leader is Barack Obama." 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. He endorsed Obama last month....

By Anita Kumar | October 2, 2008; 1:29 PM ET | Comments (12)

New Poll Shows McCain With Narrow Lead in Va.

Arizona Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) holds a narrow lead over Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) in Virginia, according to a new poll by Mason-Dixon Research Inc. for several state newspapers, including the Richmond Times Dispatch. The poll has McCain getting 48 percent of the vote compared to Obama's 45 percent. But McCain's lead is within the 4 point margin of error. According to the Times Dispatch, McCain leads among men, whites and military voters. MCain also leads in rural areas and in Richmond. The two candidates are running even in the Hampton Roads but Obama has a big lead in Northern Virginia. He is also ahead among blacks, younger voters -- those 18 to 34 -- as well as women, according to the Times Dispatch. On Wednesday, CNN/Time published a poll that showed Obama ahead of McCain, 53 to 44 percent, in Virginia. A Washington Post published last...

By Tim Craig | October 2, 2008; 1:18 PM ET | Comments (96)

Warner Wins Support From GOP Officials

More than 600 local officials, half of whom are Republicans or Independents, announced today they are supporting Democratic Candidate Mark. R. Warner over GOP nominee James S. Gilmore III in Virginia's U.S. Senate race. The "Virginians for Warner" coalition includes several former GOP officials who have grown disenchanted with their party in recent years, including former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Russ Potts, former delegate Del. Vincent F. Callahan Jr. (Fairfax) and former Senate President John H. Chichester Jr. (Northumberland). Warner also picked up an endorsement from former Republican governor Linwood Holton, who also endorsed Warner in his 2001 bid for governor and is supporting Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid this year. But Don Upson, who served as Secretary of Technology when Gilmore was governor, also announced his support for Warner. Warner was also endorsed by former GOP delegates Bob Bloxom (Accomack), Hank Lampe (Arlington), Ed Robb (Albemarle), Jim Dillard...

By Tim Craig | October 2, 2008; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (1)

Actors Hit Trail for Obama

Actors Blair Underwood and Megalyn Echikunwoke will stump for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) this weekend across Virginia to try to encourage residents to register to vote before Monday's registration deadline. Underwood, a Petersburg native, currently appears in the HBO series, In Treatment, and ABC's drama Dirty Sexy Money. Echikunwoke recently starred in Who Do You Love and is best known for appearing in the first season of 24. They plan to hold public campaign events Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Richmond, Emporia, Norfolk, Hampton Roads, Alexandria and Springfield. They also plan to attend some private church services Sunday morning in Richmond. The full itinerary is below....

By Tim Craig | October 2, 2008; 9:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Will Campaign in Newport News

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois will hold a rally Saturday afternoon at Victory Landing Park in Newport News. Obama will tout his plans to restore the economy, create jobs and cut taxes for Virginia's middle class families, according to the campaign. Saturday's trip marks his sixth trip to the state since he secured the Democratic presidential nomination. He was in Fredericksburg last weekend. Sen. John McCain of Arizona has held one public event in Virginia since he secured the Republican presidential nomination....

By Anita Kumar | October 1, 2008; 8:59 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Opens Up Lead in Va.

A new CNN /Time Magazine poll out today shows Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) with a 9 point lead over Arizona Sen. John McCain in Virginia. Obama receives 53 percent of the vote to McCain's 44 percent. In a CNN/Time poll two weeks ago, McCain led Obama by 4 points in Virginia. The most recent poll was conducted Sunday through Tuesday during the height news coverage of the ongoing economic crisis involving the credit markets and Wall Street. The timing of the poll may have skewed the results in Obama's favor, but he now holds commanding leads in both Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. He and McCain are tied in the Richmond area, according to the poll. In Northern Virginia - which includes Loudoun, Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William and Alexandria - Obama received 60 percent of the vote compared to McCain's 37 percent. The regional breakdowns have a margin of error...

By Tim Craig | October 1, 2008; 4:31 PM ET | Comments (23)

New Voter Registration Figures Released

Nearly 350,000 people have registered to vote so far this year in Virginia, according to statistics released today by the State Board of Elections. Combined with people who have died or moved out of state, Virginia has a net increase of 306,000 newly registered voters since the start of the year. About 65,000 people have registered to vote since September 15, according to the statistics. As in earlier reports, people appear to be registering at the fasted clip in more Democratic-leaning areas. But the city of Lynchburg, where officials at socially conservative Liberty University are trying to register students, has also added about 3,000 new registrants in the past 15 days. The deadline to register is Oct. 6....

By Tim Craig | October 1, 2008; 4:14 PM ET | Comments (1)

Planned Parenthood Takes Aim at McCain, Palin

Planned Parenthood will start running a television ad tomorrow in Northern Virginia that takes aim at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, for their alleged views on providing assistance to rape victims. In the ad, titled "heartless," a rape victim says Wasilla Alaska made women pay for rape testing exams when Palin was mayor. The ad, which will also air in Wisconsin and Missouri, also criticizes McCain for voting against the Violence Against Women Act in Congress. "The McCain-Palin ticket is dangerously out of touch when it comes to women's rights and women's health care," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, called the ad a "vicious smear" against McCain and Palin. "This ad is patently false and represents the worst kind of politics," Diaz said. "What Barack Obama and his most...

By Tim Craig | October 1, 2008; 1:58 PM ET | Comments (9)

McCain Adds A Dozen New Offices in Va.

GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and the Republican National Committee announced today they are opening 12 additional regional headquarters across Virginia. The new offices will be located in Sterling, Yorktown, Charlottesville, Woodbridge, Blacksburg, Norfolk, Abingdon, Richmond, Springfield, Gainesville, Danville, and Mechanicsville. The additional offices come amid growing indications that McCain is locked in a dog fight in Virginia with Democratic candidate Barack Obama. An average of several recent polls show Obama is opening up a small lead in the state. Mccain will now have two dozen offices in Virginia. Obama, who passed the two dozen mark months ago, has opened 43 offices. Obama and the Democratic Party also have about 200 paid staffers working in the state, according to Democratic officials and campaign finance reports.....

By Tim Craig | October 1, 2008; 1:27 PM ET | Comments (39)

The Coal War Continues

U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) held a conference call with reporters this morning to accuse Republican presidential nominee John McCain of airing "misleading" ads about Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) position on coal. The fight over coal has become a central issue in the presidential race in Southwest Virginia, which Boucher represents in Congress. The McCain campaign has latched onto comments Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) made earlier this month about not wanting more coal power plants to be built in the United States. McCain is running ads in Southwest Virginia accusing Obama of being against clean coal technology. Boucher says McCain's ads are untrue. Boucher said Obama is "a greater friend of coal than virtually any member of the United States Senate." "If you look at the comparison between the records of Senator Obama and Senator McCain, it is clear who is the friend of coal, it's not...

By Tim Craig | October 1, 2008; 1:25 PM ET | Comments (2)

 

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