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Virginia Politics Blog: October 12, 2008 - October 18, 2008

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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Mark Warner  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Mark Warner , Timothy M. Kaine  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Debates , Election 2008/President , Robert F. McDonnell  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , Mark Warner , Timothy M. Kaine  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Campaign Ads , Election 2008/President , James Webb  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Campaign Ads , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , Mark Warner  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (57)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Mark Warner  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Timothy M. Kaine  
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"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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (201)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/President , John McCain , Sarah Palin  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
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