Archive: November 2008

Deeds Campaign Coming Alive

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a Democratic candidate for governor, announced additions to his campaign team today as he prepares for a heated three-way battle for the nomination. Deeds said Joe Abbey, who most recently worked for Senator-elect Mark R. Warner (D), will serve as his campaign manager, overseeing day-to-day operations. Deeds also confirmed that many of his senior advisers from his unsuccessful campaign for attorney general in 2005 will once again be helping him next year. David Petts and his partner, Jill Normington, will serve as Deeds' pollster, as they did in 2005. This year, Normington worked for Democrat Glenn Nye in his successful race for Congress in Hampton Roads as well as various Democratic candidates around the country. David Dixon, of Dixon/Davis Media Group, will be Deeds media consultant. And Kevin Mack, who worked in Virginia on Tom Perriello's apparently successful congressional campaign this year, will be Deeds'...

By Tim Craig | November 26, 2008; 3:16 PM ET | Comments (0)

Capitol Square's Thanksgiving Tradition

In Virginia, we have many traditions. This one dates back more than three centuries. Members of Virginia's Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes came to Capitol Square this morning to offer Gov. Timothy M. Kaine their annual tribute of wild game in lieu of paying taxes on their reservations in King William County. Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, greeted members of the tribes in front of the Executive Masion while hundreds of members of the public braved the cool morning to watch the ceremony. Each tribe presented the Kaines with a dead deer, placed on the brick walkway in front of the mansion, as well as other handmade gifts, including pottery and a peace pipe. Female tribe members danced around the animals. "What do you think?" Kaine asked his wife when they were presented with the first deer. "I don't think we'll be hungry,'' she quipped....

By Anita Kumar | November 26, 2008; 12:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Dominion and Other Big Donors Give Kaine $30,000

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) gave an impression yesterday that he was taking a brief hiatus from politics. Speaking on his monthly call-in show on WTOP radio, Kaine refused to answer a question on whether he planned to work hard next year to unseat the remaining Republican members of the House of Delegates from increasingly Democratic Northern Virginia. "My focus right now is the legislative session," Kaine said. "From now to March, my focus is on the budget and policy and after the session, I will think about elections." But Kaine's fundraising tells a different tale. On Tuesday, the State Board of Elections reported that Kaine had collected an additional $30,000 for his political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward, from three of his biggest donors. Kaine picked up $10,000 each from Dominion, G. Gilmore Minor, president of Richmond-based Owens & Minor Inc. and Radford billionaire Randal J. Kirk. Dominion, the...

By Tim Craig | November 26, 2008; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (0)

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. Dwight Clinton Jones (D-Richmond) who resigned to become the mayor of Richmond. Jan. 6 is also the date set for a special election to replace Del. Terrie Lynne Suit (R-Virginia Beach) who resigned to become a lobbyist. "The residents of the 70th District deserve to have their voice heard in the General Assembly when it convenes its session in January," Kaine said. "Holding the special election on January 6th will ensure that the needs and interests of these citizens are represented and considered in the legislative process."...

By Anita Kumar | November 26, 2008; 10:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Meets With Obama, Other Governors

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) will travel to Philadelphia Tuesday to meet with President-Elect Barack Obama and most of the nation's other governors. The last-minute meeting of the National Governors Association will address how the growing economic crisis is affecting states and their budgets. At least 40 states are facing budget shortfalls. Kaine announced last month that Virginia is facing a $2.5 billion shortfall for the two-year 2009-10 budget. He will revise the estimate next month....

By Anita Kumar | November 26, 2008; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Where in the World is Cranwell?

C. Richard Cranwell, the chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, said all fall he would make up his mind about whether he plans to run for statewide office next year shortly after the Nov. 4 election. Well, the Washington Post took him at his word and called him a few days after the election. Cranwell said he still hadn't made up his mind, but should have a decision by Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is in two days. But Cranwell's phone has gone straight to voice mail for the past two days. And Democratic officials say he is out of town. There does not appear, however, to be any indications that Cranwell is putting together a campaign, officials say. And while Cranwell takes his time in making up his mind - or announcing his decision - his potential rivals in the lieutenant governor's race continue to rack up endorsements. Jody Wagner, a Democratic...

By Tim Craig | November 25, 2008; 1:38 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Vows to Stay out of Primary Fight

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has never been one to shy away from getting entangled in a contested Democratic nomination fight. When he was lieutenant governor in 2004, Kaine waded into the battle for the Democratic nomination for president by endorsing Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman (I), a move widely viewed as an effort by Kaine to boost his credentials with moderates as he prepared to run for governor. Three years later, Kaine endorsed President-Elect Barack Obama in February of 2007 when few analysts would have predicted that Obama would end up defeating Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY.) for the nomination. This year, Kaine surprised many when he endorsed Gerald E. Connolly (D) in his race against Leslie Byrne for the Democratic nomination for Congress. But speaking on WTOP-Radio this morning, Kaine said he has no plans to endorse one of the three contenders for the Democratic nomination for governor. "I...

By Tim Craig | November 25, 2008; 1:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

"Yea, I am Sure," Kaine tells Obama

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) said today he has twice made it clear to President-Elect Barack Obama that he does not want to be considered for a cabinet position until after he leaves office in 2010. Speaking on his monthly call-in show on WTOP radio, Kaine said the first discussion occurred this summer during Obama's vice-presidential selection process. Kaine said he would have left office early for the vice-presidency but told Obama "I really can't leave early for the cabinet." After the election, Kaine said he and Obama also briefly conversed about the cabinet.. "We communicated right after the election to say, 'hey are you sure? Yea I am sure'," Kaine said. But Kaine said today he hopes to be helpful to Obama "in a volunteer way" next year, perhaps as a liaison between the administration and governors....

By Tim Craig | November 25, 2008; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (0)

Going to the Dogs

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell received a surprise visit at his office in downtown Ruchmond from Waggles, the Richmond SPCA "spokesdog," and Nemo the pit bull, the Richmond SPCA's mascot. The dogs, along with a volunteer dressed as a chicken, showed up to congratulate McDonnell for being awarded the 2008 Humane Law Enforcement Award by the Humane Society of the United States. He received the award for his role in helping pass animal fighting legislation in the General Assembly this year....

By Anita Kumar | November 24, 2008; 5:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine's Political Team Staying Put for '09

At least so far, there does not appear as if there will be major changes in Democratic party leadership heading into the 2009 races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates. Levar Stoney, executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party, said recently he plans to remain in the job through next year. Stoney, who was an aide to Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) during his 2005 bid for attorney general, took over as executive director earlier this year. Don Mark, the party's political director, also plans to stay in his job. Meanwhile, Charlie Kelly says he plans to remain the executive director of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward. In his role as Kaine's political adviser, Kelly also partly directs the state party's operations. Kelly and Stoney both come from the field organizing side of the Democratic political world. As was the case...

By Tim Craig | November 24, 2008; 4:28 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bedell In Running for Fairfax GOP Chair

GOP strategist Anthony Bedell appears well positioned to replace James E. Hyland as the next chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee. Hyland, a possible candidate for the House of Delegates next year, is stepping down as county chairman after two years. Bedell has worked in support of numerous GOP candidates over the years, including former governor and senator George Allen, President Bush, and former delegate and state senator James K. O'Brien....

By Tim Craig | November 24, 2008; 3:39 PM ET | Comments (2)

Kaine Ramps Up Fundraising for '09

With the federal election over, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) is stepping up his efforts to raise money for his state political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward. Since late October, Kaine has collected $115,000 from eight individuals or organizations. Kaine collected $25,000 from Robert Smith, a Northern Virginia real estate developer. The Virginia Democratic Party also transferred $25,000 to the PAC immediately after the election. Genworth Financial , an insurance and financial services company with offices in Richmond, gave Kaine $15,000....

By Tim Craig | November 24, 2008; 12:21 PM ET | Comments (0)

Perriello Wins House Seat

The State Board of Elections certified Virginia's Nov. 4 election results, which includes a win for Democrat Tom Perriello over Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr., a longtime incumbent in southern Virginia. Goode has not conceded the close race and has 10 days to ask for a recount. Calls to his spokesman were not immediately returned. "The citizens of the fifth district have spoken, every vote has been counted and certified, and they have elected Tom Perriello to be their new representative in Washington to bring the change and economic recovery they need,'' said Jessica Barba, a Perriello spokeswoman.....

By Anita Kumar | November 24, 2008; 12:10 PM ET | Comments (11)

Moran's Decision

In selling his decision to consider running for both his House seat and the Democratic nomination for governor next year, Del. Brian J. Moran's (D-Alexandria) staff point to Vice-President-Elect Joe Biden. After he was tapped by President-Elect Barack Obama, Biden remained on the ballot in Delaware for his U.S. Senate seat. He won both races so the governor of Delaware will now be filling his Senate seat. But Biden was already his party's nominee for the Senate when he was selected by Obama. Moran would be starting the year with his eye toward winning two races at the same time. According to legislative sources, 1993 was the last time a delegate ran for reelection to their seat while also running for higher office. Delegate Clint Miller sought the Republican nomination for Governor at the 1993 Republican Convention while simultaneously running for reelection. Miller lost the GOP nod for governor, placing...

By Tim Craig | November 24, 2008; 11:36 AM ET | Comments (1)

Moran Picks up Endorsements

Del. Brian J. Moran (Alexandria), a Democratic candidate for governor, announced today he has been endorsed by a majority of the members on the state party's steering committee. The individual endorsements do not reflect a collective decision from the committee, but Moran has picked up support from several longtime party activists and local district chairs. The list of officials now backing Moran include: party secretary Pixie Bell, George Burke, 11th District Chair, Sandra Brandt, 2nd District Chair, Marjorie Clark, 7th District Chair, Audrey Collins, 4th District Chair, . Kerry Donley, Immediate Past Chair,. Treasurer Abbi Easter, Rich Galecki, 10th District Chair, Margo Horner, 8th District Chair, Frank Leone, Jr., DNC Member, Gene Magruder, Chair of the Va. Association of Democratic Chairs, Suzette Matthews, 1st District Chair, Evelyn Morris-Harris, Chair of the Democratic Black Caucus of Va., Rachel Rifkind, Chair of the Women's Caucus and Justin Wilson, vice chair of Technology...

By Tim Craig | November 20, 2008; 1:05 PM ET | Comments (3)

Virginia Is Still for Lovers

It was a family affair at the state Capitol this afternoon. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and his father-in-law, former governor Linwood Holton, kicked off the 40th anniversary of the state's well-known slogan Virginia is for Lovers to a standing-room only crowd in the ornate Jefferson Room. Supporters wore flashing red heart buttons. Holton was governor as the state began using the catchy, but then-controversial, slogan to attract more young tourists to Virginia. He quickly became its chief promoter, handing out Virginia is for Lovers buttons. "I wasn't quite sure what the reaction was going to be when I first saw that slogan,'' Holton said....

By Anita Kumar | November 19, 2008; 6:08 PM ET | Comments (2)

Kaine and Obama Trade Emails

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and President-Elect Barack Obama have not spoken by phone since the Nov. 4 election but the two friends have traded a number of emails. Kaine said today that Obama and his transition staff have not asked him about serving in the new Cabinet. "I'm here,'' he said. "I'm not going anywhere." Kaine, who was a national co-chairman of Obama's campaign and on his short list for vice president, said he continues to shoot down rumors that he will leave the Governor's Mansion for a job in the administration. He said he doesn't know why people don't believe him. "Why is that? Because I'm in politics?'' he said. "I said I wasn't going to do it. Find an example of me saying equivocally one thing and then doing the opposite." In recent days, Kaine has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Democratic National Committee Chairman...

By Anita Kumar | November 19, 2008; 4:33 PM ET | Comments (0)

Virginia Notebook: Jeff Frederick vs. McCain Camp

As Virginia Republicans continue to assess their Nov. 4 losses and plot their comeback in time for the 2009 state races, one big obstacle hangs over them: coordination. The 2008 presidential and congressional races exposed a huge discrepancy in how the Democrats worked with other Democrats compared with how Republicans worked together....

By Tim Craig | November 19, 2008; 11:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

Moran May Seek Two Jobs (Updated)

Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) is considering running simultaneously this spring for both his House of Delegates seat as well as the Democratic nomination for governor. Jesse F. Ferguson, Moran's communications director, said Moran will decide by Jan. 1 whether he plans to seek both positions. If Moran runs for both jobs, he would be all but guaranteed a job in 2010 if he loses his race for governor. If he wins the Democratic nomination for governor, Moran would most likely have to give up his House seat this summer, allowing the local Democratic comittee to decide the nominee for his House seat. Ferguson said Moran is contemplating seeking reelection to the House as well as run for governor because the Alexandria Democratic Committee asked him to. But Susan B. Kellom, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, said Moran approached her about seeking both jobs. "That is a decision Brian...

By Tim Craig | November 19, 2008; 9:42 AM ET | Comments (2)

Kaine's Biggest Donor Endorses McAuliffe

In a major coup, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's largest financial backer said today he will support Terry McAuliffe's bid for the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia. Billionaire Randal J. Kirk has contributed more than $600,000 to Kaine since he took office in 2006. Kirk, an investment and pharmaceutical mogul in Radford, also recently gave the Virginia Democratic Party $100,000. In an interview today, Kirk said he will support McAuliffe if he officially enters the race. Kirk said McAuliffe, a former businessman and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is best suited to manage Virginia's economy and carry on the policies of Kaine and former governor Mark R. Warner (D). "I think the main issue for Virginia is the main issue nationally, which is the economy," said Kirk, who also supported President-Elect Barack Obama. "I think Terry McAuliffe can move the dial in a significant way."...

By Tim Craig | November 18, 2008; 5:56 PM ET | Comments (11)

McDonnell's Made-For-TV Event

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the GOP nominee for governor, is starting to flex the big advantage he will have in next year's campaign by being the only candidate in the race who currently holds a statewide office. McDonnell held an event for the media today, which drew nearly a dozen television crews and print reporters, to unveil a new video aimed at preventing youths from joining gangs. McDonnell was flanked with a made-for-television, mutli-racial, backdrop of law enforcement officials. "It's a wake-up call against gang violence," McDonnell said of the 25-minute video, which will be distributed to law enforcement agencies and the media. "It's tough, its straight talk and its hard-hitting." In producing the video, McDonnell worked closely with Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Michael Herring. Herring, an African-American Democrat, praised McDonnell's office for its efforts in combating gang violence....

By Tim Craig | November 18, 2008; 4:19 PM ET | Comments (0)

Petersburg, The Little Town That Could

Here is a piece of post-election trivia to ponder. Virginia's Petersburg appears to have given President-Elect Barack Obama his third best showing of any incorporated city or county in the lower 48 states, according to Politico's map of election results. Petersburg, where African-Americans make up about 80 percent of the population, gave Obama 88.7 percent of its votes. Petersburg fell just short of supplying Obama with his second biggest percentage margin. That distinction goes to Prince Georges County, Maryland, where Obama got 88.9 percent of the vote. Obama appears to have performed the best in the District of Columbia, where he got an astounding 93 percent of the vote. The following cities and counties finished just behind Petersburg: Bronx County New York,(88.2 percent) Jefferson County Mississippi (87.9 percent), Baltimore Maryland (87.3 percent), Macon County Alabama, (86.9 percent), Menominee County Wisconsin (86.9 percent), Manhattan County, New York (85 percent), Starr County...

By Tim Craig | November 18, 2008; 1:16 PM ET | Comments (0)

AG Race: Brownlee Announces Support, Foster To Enter Race

Republican John Brownlee, the former top prosecutor for Virginia's western district, announced today that he has received support for his bid for state attorney general from 75 sheriffs and Commonwealth's attorneys. "Virginia's law enforcement community has made it clear that they want a conservative prosecutor to serve as Virginia's next attorney general,'' he wrote in an email to supporters. "These brave leaders understand that protecting our citizens and making our neighborhoods safer are the top priorities for the next Attorney General." The list of supporters includes officials from Southside, Southwest, the Shenandoah Valley and central Virginia. But few from the state's two most populous areas, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. David M. Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, will hold a news conference tomorrow morning in Richmond to announce his candidacy for the GOP nomination for attorney general. State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax) has also announced...

By Anita Kumar | November 18, 2008; 9:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Judge May Count Late Absentee Ballots

A federal judge is considering whether to force the state to count thousands of late overseas absentee ballots -- a decision that may affect Virginia's voting procedures in future elections. However U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams decides the case, it probably will not alter the outcome of any contests in the Nov. 4 election. But the ruling will provide an opportunity for every voter to be heard, said attorneys who filed a lawsuit seeking to mandate the count. "A candidate has the right not just to win or lose, but to see his or her votes counted,'' said William Hurd, a lawyer for defeated Republican presidential candidate John McCain. McCain's campaign filed the suit before the election, but Williams removed the campaign from the case Monday because he said it did not have standing to sue. Instead, the U.S. Department of Justice will serve as the plaintiff. The department...

By Anita Kumar | November 17, 2008; 6:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

Moran and McAuliffe Camps Trade Charges

The first skirmish has developed between the campaign teams of Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) and Terry McAuliffe, both potential Democratic candidates for governor next year. Mo Elleithee, a senior McAuliffe advisor, sent out a statement today condemning what he calls Moran's "surprisingly negative" tone when it comes to McAuliffe's potential candidacy. Earlier today, Jesse Ferguson, a Moran spokesman, sent out a statement titled "Virginians Respond to McAuliffe Candidacy." Ferguson's memo included snippets of recent editorials and columns that have been written about McAuliffe, including a Richmond Times Dispatch column comparing McAuliffe to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R). Last week, when McAuliffe announced he will spend the next two months deciding on whether he plans to formally enter the race, Moran's campaign took a swipe at the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee by noting Florida Democrats had encouraged him to run for governor in that state in 2005....

By Tim Craig | November 17, 2008; 3:57 PM ET | Comments (1)

Warner Names Chief of Staff

Mark R. Warner (D) announced today that he hired Capitol Hill veteran Luke Albee to serve as his chief of staff in January after he is sworn in as Virginia's junior senator. Albee has been a Senate aide for two decades, including 11 as chief of staff to Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and one of the Senate's most senior members. "I am pleased to have someone with Luke Albee's experience working with us in the Senate," Warner said in a statement. "Luke has earned respect from both sides of the aisle, and he's widely known for his ability to bring people together to create common-sense solutions." Albee, 48, left the Hill in 2005 to join the political consulting firm Ricchetti, Inc....

By Anita Kumar | November 17, 2008; 1:16 PM ET | Comments (0)

A New Frederick

Jeffrey M. Frederick, state GOP chairman and a Prince William delegate, and his wife, Amy, had a second daughter. Isabel Mary Frederick was born at 1:20 a.m. on Nov. 11th. They have another daughter, Gracie, a regular visitor to the Capitol....

By Anita Kumar | November 17, 2008; 10:58 AM ET | Comments (1)

McAuliffe To Hit Campaign Trail Saturday

Terry McAuliffe, a potential Democratic candidate for governor next year, will kick off his two-month listening tour this weekend. McAuliffe, who plans to announce Jan. 7 whether he will enter the race, will have breakfast with Prince William County Democrats tomorrow morning in Occoquan. McAuliffe will then attend the Norfolk State University vs. Delaware State football game in Norfolk. "Terry will be rooting on the Norfolk State Spartans," his campaign said in a statement. McAuliffe will end his day by attending a black-tie gala in Portsmouth to raise money for scholarships. McAuliffe's visit to Hampton Roads appears to be an effort to target African Americans. A Washington Post survey last month showed McAuliffe running particulary strong among black females although black males favored Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), who is also a candidate for the nomination. The poll also showed Moran with a slim overall lead statewide, but he and...

By Tim Craig | November 14, 2008; 12:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Gilmore Continues Raising Money (Updated)

His campaign for U.S. Senate ended 10 days ago but former governor James S. Gilmore III is still fundraising. Gilmore (R) is looking for donors to help him erase a $50,000 debt in his unsuccessful race against former governor Mark R. Warner (D). He also has another $140,000 in debt from his failed presidential campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. "I want to continue to play a role in restoring our party and adding to the public debate of the future,'' he wrote in a fundraising letter to supporters this week. "It will be difficult to play this role with this unresolved debt. If you can help me one last time with a contribution of $100, $75, or even $35 , I would be most grateful." Gilmore raised more than $2-million during his campaign while Warner raised more than $12-million. Text of the letter is below:...

By Anita Kumar | November 14, 2008; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (1)

Loudoun Officials Endorse Moran

A majority of Loudoun County's elected Democrats endorsed Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) today in his bid for governor next year. The officials cited Moran's ability to win the swing county as well as his understanding of suburban communities and his history of working with the last two Democratic governors, Timothy M. Kaine and Mark R. Warner. "Loudoun is the key to victory in Virginia and Loudoun Democrats know Brian Moran can win here," said Kelly Burk, a member of the Board of Supervisors. "We have to make sure that the Democratic nominee can win decisively in Northern Virginia and the suburbs. That's what it takes to win."...

By Anita Kumar | November 13, 2008; 5:33 PM ET | Comments (0)

More Labor Money for Va. Democrats

Organized labor continues to play a major role in bankrolling the Virginia Democratic Party. On Monday, the Treasury Employees Democracy in Action committee gave the state party $15,000. The organization is made up of federal employees. Since Sept. 1, the state party has collected more than $625,000 from organized labor for its state account. Labor unions also contributed tens of thousands dollars to the party's federal efforts this year in support of President-elect Barck Obama and Senator-Elect Mark R. Warner. The volume of money the party is collecting from labor could certainly become a campaign issue in 2009, given Virginia's status as a right-to-work state. Virginia Republicans are already asking what, if anything, the labor unions hope to accomplish by pouring so much money into the state party....

By Tim Craig | November 13, 2008; 1:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Top McCain, Obama Counties

With most of the votes now apparently counted, the results from the Nov. 4 election show President-elect Barack Obama received at least 70 percent of the vote in six jurisdictions. Obama got 88.6 percent of the vote in Petersburg, 79.1 percent in Richmond, 78.3 percent in Charlottesville, 71.7 percent in both Alexandria and Arlington and 71 percent in Norfolk, according to State Board of Elections. Arizona Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) eclipsed the 70 percent mark in two locations, Poquoson, where he got 74 percent and Scott County, where he got 71 percent. McCain also received at least 68 percent of the vote in Bedford, Augusta, Powhatan and Rockingham counties as well as Colonial Heights. Sentor-Elect Mark R. Warner (D) topped 70 percent in 29 jurisdictions, including 90 percent in Petersburg, 84.5 percent in Richmond, 83.6 percent in Charlottesville and 82 percent in Martinsville....

By Tim Craig | November 13, 2008; 12:16 PM ET | Comments (1)

As '09 Race Begins, Obama Supporters Up for Grabs

As the race for the Democratic nomination for governor gets underway, one question is still awaiting an answer: Will any of the candidates be able to latch into the extensive political network that President-Elect Barack Obama built in Virginia this year? In what may turn out being the biggest missed opportunity of the 2009 race, none of the Democratic candidates got behind Obama early in the presidential campaign. Fearful of getting entangled in the primary battle between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY.), both Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) remained neutral. The third contender for the nomination, Terry McAuliffe, served as national chairman of Clinton's campaign. Had Deeds or Moran been associated with the Obama campaign during the presidential primaries, they would have likely been rewarded with intense loyalty from his supporters in 2009. Obama also may have decided to throw his support...

By Tim Craig | November 12, 2008; 6:30 PM ET | Comments (1)

Cranwell Still Undecided on Statewide Bid

C.. Richard Cranwell, the chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, said today he's still not sure whether he will step down so he can seek his party's nomination for lieutenant governor. For months, Cranwell has been mentioned as a potential statewide candidate next year, but he had been telling people he would not make an announcement until after the election. The election has come and gone, but Cranwell now says he will "probably" reach a decision before Thanksgiving. "I haven't made up my mind yet," Cranwell said. Since Cranwell took over as chairman, Democrats won the 2005 governor's race, two U.S. Senate seats, three House seats, control of the state senate and President-Elect Barack Obama became the first Democratic nominee in 44 years to carry the state. Not a bad talking point to take to Democratic primary voters....

By Tim Craig | November 12, 2008; 2:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

Poll Time

POLL...

By Tim Craig | November 12, 2008; 12:10 PM ET | Comments (10)

Virginia Notebook: How The Swing Counties Swung

In July, Virginia Notebook published a list of 10 Virginia locations that were likely to be up for grabs in the presidential race between Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). At the time, many pundits thought it would be an uphill climb for Obama to become the first Democratic nominee in 44 years to carry Virginia. For Obama to win, he needed to carry many of the 10 locations that we wrote about in the summer. Now that the election is over, it's time to review the results in those counties and cities. Obama carried seven of them, helping him rack up a statewide lead of nearly seven percentage points. Below are the earlier explanations of the 10 swing locations as well as the results, based on unofficial returns as of Tuesday....

By Tim Craig | November 12, 2008; 11:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

Democratic Candidates Seek Voter Input

Someone is trying to recruit women in Northern Virginia to participate in a focus group about next year's race for governor. People are being called and offered $75 to participate in the focus group. In screening potential participants, the caller is asking a series of questions about former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who set up a political committee this week as he explores whether to seek the Democratic nomination for governor. Meanwhile, another Democratic candidate for governor, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), will be hosting a conference call with "supporters and friends" tomorrow evening to begin plotting strategy for next year. The people on the conference call will become "an informal group of advisers" for Deeds' campaign, according to an email advertising the call....

By Tim Craig | November 12, 2008; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fairfax GOP Chair Eyes Steve Shannon's Seat

GOP officials say James E. Hyland, the chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Party, has emerged as the leading possible contender to be the party's nominee for Del. Steve Shannon's (D-Fairfax) House seat next year. Shannon will likely give up his seat to run for Attorney General. His central Fairfax-District has been tough for Republicans in recent years, but GOP officials believe it is winnable next year if the current political environment starts shifting away from the Democrats once President-Elect Barack Obama takes office. At the very least, by fielding a strong candidate, the GOP is sending a signal it plans to fight hard for several Democrat-held House seats in Fairfax and Loudoun counties to try to stall recent losses in the region....

By Tim Craig | November 11, 2008; 1:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

Unsure if Kaine Will Hold the Ticket to History

As Inaugural fever builds across the Commonwealth, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) staff said they are not sure yet how many tickets to the swearing-in ceremony they will get to distribute. Kaine was one of President-elect Barack Obama's earliest supporters, so the governor will surely have some influence in getting some Virginia Democrats into the ceremony. But Charlie Kelly, Kaine's political director, said they have not yet received an allottment of tickets. "We look to be as helpful as possible," Kelly said of requests for tickets. For daily tidbits on inaugural planning, logistics and intrigue, check out the Post's inaugural blog. Send tips about local or state festivities, tickets and the like to our colleague David Nakamura at nakamurad@washpost.com...

By Tim Craig | November 11, 2008; 1:14 PM ET | Comments (0)

McAuliffe Begins Staffing Up

Terry McAuliffe has begun retaining staff as he explores whether he will officially enter the race for the Democratic nomination for governor next year. Jenny Nadicksbernd, who was Senator-elect Mark R. Warner's (D) Virginia finance director this year, will help McAuliffe establish his fundraising operations in the state. Nadicksbernd also served as Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) Northern Virginia finance director during his 2005 campaign. McAuliffe has also brought on Mike Henry to serve as an unpaid adviser. Henry has been a heavy weight figure in Virginia Democratic politics for years, most recently serving as Warner's campaign manager. Henry also oversaw Kaine's 2005 campaign, and is widely credited with helping Democrats' implement their recent successful strategy of reaching out to voters in Virginia's suburban community. Henry, as of now, will not take on an official title for the McAuliffe campaign. He will join Mo Elleithee, a former adviser to Sen....

By Tim Craig | November 11, 2008; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Nearly Pulls Ahead in Va. Beach

As local registrars finish canvassing the vote totals and complete the counting of absentee ballots, President-Elect Barack Obama continues to gain ground in several Virginia localities. Obama is now up to 57.5 percent of the vote in Prince William County, and 53.7 percent of the vote in Loudoun County. In both Northern Virginia locations, Obama gained about two percentage points since his initial showing the day after the election. Obama also now appears as if he will win traditionally conservative Chesapeake City in Hampton Roads with 50 percent of the vote, even though the results Wednesday morning had him trailing Arizona Sen. John McCain (R). Virginia Beach is also in danger of flipping into Obama's column. On the day after the election, McCain led Obama by about 3 percentage points in Virginia Beach. But when the results were updated earlier today, McCain's lead had dwindled to less than one...

By Tim Craig | November 10, 2008; 8:16 PM ET | Comments (1)

Obama's Decisive Virginia Victory

With the exception of Democrat Mark R. Warner's crushing, although somewhat expected, 65 percent to 35 percent win in the Senate race Tuesday, President-Elect Barack Obama has achieved a milestone for a Democrat running in Virginia in recent times. According to unofficial results, Obama got 52.6 percent of the vote, the highest margin a Democratic candidate running statewide has achieved in Virginia since 1993. That year, Democrat Donald S. Beyer defeated Republican Michael P. Farris by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. Since then, no other Democrat has been able to match the percentage Obama received in Virginia on Tuesday. In 2004, then Sen. Charles S. Robb (D) won reelection in a three-way race with less than 50 percent of the vote. In 2001, Warner received 52.2 percent in his bid for governor. Four years later, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) was elected with 51.7 percent of the...

By Tim Craig | November 10, 2008; 7:08 PM ET | Comments (1)

The Race is on for Obama Inaugural Tickets

Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) reports his office is being overwhelmed with requests for tickets to President-Elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony Jan. 20. As of this morning, Webb's office had already fielded 15,000 requests for tickets. But there is one major problem: He expects he will have only 500 tickets to distribute. "Space is limited and we have an extensive waiting list, but we will do our best to accommodate as many Virginians as possible," said Jessica Smith, a Webb spokeswoman....

By Tim Craig | November 10, 2008; 5:41 PM ET | Comments (1)

McAuliffe Files Papers To Run for Governor

Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, filed paperwork today to run for governor of Virginia next year. McAuliffe said he's still not certain he will formally enter the race, but plans to spend the next two months traveling around the state talking to voters. He will also begin assembling a campaign team. In an interview today, McAuliffe says he will campaign as an outsider who will make improving the state's economy his central issue. "Tim and Mark have done a great job, but they have continually been held back and I think Richmond has been a road block," said McAuliffe, referring to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and former governor Mark R. Warner (D). "Richmond is not doing what needs to be done in terms of forward thinking, big bold ideas and if I decide to run I will be all about big, bold ideas." In...

By Tim Craig | November 10, 2008; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (55)

Google Exec. Donates to Kaine

Eric Schmidt, the chairman and chief executive officer of GOOGLE, appears to have made his first foray into Virginia politics. Schmidt, a supporter of President-Elect. Barack Obama, donated $10,000 to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's political action committee on Oct. 31, according to the State Board of Elections. Schmidt made the donation to Moving Virginia Forward one day after he campaigned for Obama at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, it's the first time Schmidt has given any money to a Virginia political candidate or committee....

By Tim Craig | November 10, 2008; 11:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Frederick Hopes Obama Brings in Cash

Less than one week after Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) became the President-Elect, the Virginia Republican Party is using the outcome of the election to try to raise money for a party that suffered a humiliating defeat at the polls. On Nov. 4, Obama became the first Democratic nominee in 44 years to carry the Virginia and the party picked up one Senate and three House seats. The poor showing for the GOP has caused some party insiders to grumble that Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (Prince William) failed his first test as chairman of the Virginia Republican Party. But Frederick is trying to capitalize on Obama's victory. Over the weekend, he sent out a fund-raising appeal warning donors the country will undergo "a radical shift" unless they donate to the state party. Frederick's appeal is based on a series of unsubstantiated rumors, including statements that Obama has already offered jobs in...

By Tim Craig | November 10, 2008; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (2)

Perriello Leads by 800+ Votes

Democrat Tom Perriello leads Republican Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. by more than 800 votes as local officials continue to examine ballots in a race that will determine whether Republicans maintain a majority of Virginia's House seats. As of 3 p.m., the State Board of Elections lists the difference at 834 votes. "As we've said all along, we feel confident that Tom Perriello will be declared the winner in this race,'' said Jessica Barba, a Perriello spokeswoman. "Our win margin has been growing wider as the results have been coming in from the official vote tally and now it appears that we now have a substantial lead in the race." The State Board of Elections will certify election results Nov. 24. If the margin is less than 1 percent, the losing candidate can ask for a recount....

By Anita Kumar | November 6, 2008; 3:03 PM ET | Comments (2)

Obama wins Virginia

Obama turned Virginia blue for the first time in 44 years. He captured close to 51 percent of the vote in the Old Dominion. His win in Virginia helped complete his plan to redraw the electoral map....

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 11:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Turnout not as high as expected

Turnout was not anywhere near the 90 percent state elected officials projected. The presidential race appears to have attracted around 60 percent of Virginia's 5 million registered voters. While the Commonwealth netted an increase of voters this year, the turnout was roughly the same percentage as past presidential election years. There was a drop off in the number of votes cast in the down ballot races. Roughly 55 percent of voters cast a ballot in the U.S. Senate race. The Congressional races, however, saw an average of 50 percent of people voting....

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 11:01 PM ET | Comments (5)

Warner victory party

Here are scenes from Warner's victory party at the Hilton McClean in Tysons Corner. My colleague Sandhya Somashekhar sent this dispatch: Warner took the stage around 10, three hours after the Washington Post called the election for the former governor and after triumphant speeches by Webb and Kaine. He was greeted with chants of "Warner, Warner" from the crowd. He sought in his remarks to stress bipartisanship and the diverse groups that supported him, from business groups to labor unions, and voters from urban and rural environments. "Tonight, by a record margin, Virginians said they want their next U.S. senator to focus on results, not rhetoric. Virginians understand at this critical moment for our nation that we're not going to get our country back on track if we continue to look at our problems through the old ideas of red versus blue, left versus right...Tonight this campaign ends about 18...

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 10:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

Connolly wins

We're calling the 11th Congressional District, with 75 percent of precincts reporting. As results came in, Connolly maintained his edge, holding onto 52 percent of the vote....

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 10:27 PM ET | Comments (1)

We're closer

The presidential race is still evenly split. But we're closer to a result, with 86 percent of precincts reporting. Waiting on Fairfax to count its votes - a little more than half are in now. The Prince William and Loudoun tallies are almost complete, with 89 percent and 79 percent of precincts in respectively. Guess this is what it means to be a swing state - late results....

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 10:17 PM ET | Comments (0)

Moran, Wolf and Wittman win

We're calling Moran, Wolf and Wittman, with roughly sixty percent of precincts reporting in each of the Congressional races. Moran won a 10th term to the 8th Congressional District. He had 66 percent of the vote to Ellmore's 31 percent. Wolf held onto his advantage over Feder, 62 percent to 35 percent, in the 10th Congressional District. In the 1st District, Wittman maintained a 58 percent lead over Day's 40 percent. The 11th Congressional District is still too close to call. Connolly has 52 percent to Fimian's 45 percent....

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 10:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

Evenly split in presidential race

9:45 The race remains evenly divided, with 75 percent of precincts reporting. Much of Fairfax and Prince William counties have yet to be counted. The Northern Virginia counties have 26 percent and 32 percent of precincts reporting, respectively. Loudoun County has 65 percent of precincts reporting. Obama is maintaining a lead in each of the vote-rich counties. 9:25 p.m. The difference is marginal now. With 67 percent of precincts reporting, McCain has 49.58 percent to Obama's 49.3. 8:54 p.m. The gap is tighter. With 56 percent of precincts in, McCain has 50 percent of votes to Obama's 48 percent. 8:40 p.m. In the presidential race McCain is holding a steady lead over Obama. With 42 percent of precincts counted, McCain has a 52 percent edge over Obama's 46 percent. That total, however, does not include several vote-rich Northern Virginia cities and counties....

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 9:45 PM ET | Comments (2)

Early returns in Congressional races

8:25 In the closely-watched 11th Congressional District, the race is tight. Democrat Gerald E. Connolly (D) had 50 percent to Republican Keith S. Fimian's 47 percent, with 8 percent of precincts reporting. Fimian, a successful business owner, lacks the name-recoginition of Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. But Fimian appears to be holding his own in early returns. Democrats are counting on Connolly's popularity and the changing demographics of Northern Virginia, which has increasingly trended blue, to support a win. 8:15 p.m. In Virginia's 8th District, Democrat James P. Moran had a commanding lead over low-profile newcomer Republican Mark W. Ellmore. With 10 percent of precincts reporting, the nine-term incumbent Moran held a 67 percent advantage over Ellmore's 30 percent. 7: 54 p.m. It's very early, but Republican incumbent Frank R. Wolf appears to have a strong lead over Democrat Judith M. Feder in the 10th Congressional...

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 8:25 PM ET | Comments (1)

Warner wins

We're calling Mark R. Warner (D) in the U.S. Senate race. In early returns, Warner took a insurmountable lead over GOP rival James S. Gilmore III. That means Virginia will have two Democratic senators for the first time since 1970....

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 7:17 PM ET | Comments (1)

Polls have closed

Now we wait for results to come in. But here's one thing we already know: Virginia mattered this year. Sen. Barack Obama's decision to make a play for Virginia's 13 electoral votes meant that Sen. John McCain had to fight for votes in what had once been considered a reliably Republican state. Democratic presidential candidates used to say "why bother?" campaigning in Virginia, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) said at the Obama rally in Manassas last night. Republican presidential nominees said "we don't need to." Well that won't work anymore. This election year we got to relish in our new swing state status. Regardless of the outcome, we'll retain that. Here's what else is at stake in down ballot races: A U.S. Senate race that pit two former governors against each other - Democrat Mark R. Warner and Republican James S. Gilmore III. In Virginia's 11 Congressional races, Democrats hope...

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 7:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Time's Almost Up: More Details About the 7 p.m. Cut-off

If you haven't voted in today's elections and you still want to, you've got about 51 minutes left to get out the door and plant yourself in line. No more time for procrastinating if you want your vote to count in Virginia. State officials will close off all lines at voting sites precisely at 7 p.m. All voters who are in line by that time will have the opportunity to vote, and ballots will be accepted for as long as it takes to move voters through the line. An election official will stand at the end of each line beginning at 7 p.m., taking his or her place directly behind the last voter of the day. If you're behind the election official, you're out of luck. State Board of Elections officials also warn not to expect vote tallies from Virginia until at least 8 p.m. or later, in part because...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 6:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Scene from Va.'s "Chocolate City"

The community of Nauck in Arlington was founded in 1844 by freedmen, former slaves who had either bought their own freedom or were released from human bondage. Over the decades, like so many African American communities, it became isolated from the often hostile white world around it and self-sufficient out of necessity. It's the kind of place where memories of segregation and sitting on the back of the bus aren't all that distant. So for many, Tuesday dawned as a day of wonder. A day that Marvin Gardner, who works as a janitor at the Drew Model Elementary School, never could have dreamed would come in his lifetime. "I didn't think I'd ever see this," he said. The line to vote started shortly after 3 a.m. and stretched from the building, through the parking lot and out into the street. "It was Chocolate City," laughed John Lett, Nauck precinct captain...

By Kristen Mack | November 4, 2008; 6:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

State Board of Elections Shoots Down Allegations

At an afternoon news update in Richmond, the State Board of Elections worked to address ongoing rumors about some voting problems that have been reported by the political parties and independent voting rights groups. First, Susan Pollard, the board's spokesperson, told reporters that the board has confirmed reports that one Chesapeake precinct had as many as 1,000 people standing in line, accounting for 50 percent of that precinct's voters. Second, Pollard said the Board is looking into reports that at a Hampton polling place, ballots are being placed in a duffel bag. Those allegations came from the McCain campaign in Virginia, after an authorized representative of the Republican Party at the Jones Magnet School in Hampton witnessed regular paper ballots being stored in an open, unsecured duffel bag accessible to passers by. According to the Mccain campaign, the person "also witnessed provisional ballots and spoiled ballots laid out on an...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 5:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Voting in Northern Virginia "Smooth" Nearing Final Stretch

Registrars in Northern Virginia told me this afternoon that voting has gone extremely well thus far, with unprecedented turnout across the board, very few problems inside the polls, and just a few minor glitches here and there that are nothing out of the ordinary for a presidential election. Linda Lindberg, the Arlington County registrar, said more than 60 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots by mid-afternoon before the after-work crush, and her expectations are to have about 80 percent of the 149,000 registered voters cast ballots today. Aside from "very heavy" morning turnout, a few minor problems with optical scanners jamming and a few electronic pollbooks taking some time to boot up, Lindberg said voting has gone well. "I am very pleased it has turned out so smoothly," Lindberg said. Fairfax County Registar Rokey Suleman said that after the "typical morning hiccups that occur with every election," things have...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 5:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

Update: George Mason Hoax -- They Said It

The George Mason e-mail hoax reached 35,000 people, most of them college students. Reporter Susan Kinzie found a few of them this afternoon on campus, and many said they had heard about the hoax but didn't fall for it: "I don't think anybody bought it," said Alex Katzenstein, 21. "If you're that out of it, you probably shouldn't be voting anyway." Zubair Awan, a senior from Herndon, said he heard about the hoax, along with signs that a friend told him had been placed near campus saying "Republicans vote Tuesday. Democrats vote Wednesday." Awan said the e-mail might have seemed legitimate to some people because the provost's office appeared to be a legitimate source. "I'm pretty sure some people would be tricked by it," Awan, 22, said....

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 4:38 PM ET | Comments (0)

Three Cheers for The Newbies

As if voting for the first time in a presidential election weren't exciting enough, poll workers at Victory Lakes Elementary School in Prince William County gave first-time voters a little extra encouragement after their hour-and-a-half wait in line to cast ballots. According to investigative reporter R. Jeffrey Smith: "The poll workers let out a big whooping cheer every time a first-time voter came to the head of the line. It was baffling at first, and then fun when we figured out what was going on. (It was) a bit like going into a sushi parlor and having the waiters all cheer." The voters were probably just as thrilled to get to the front of the line. Elections officials reported extremely long lines this morning -- in Chesapeake, there was one line that was 1,000 people long, more than 50 percent of that precinct's voters -- but the lines eased this...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 4:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

Knowing Where to Vote Is Half the Battle

We've heard about a few problems involving voter confusion, such as going to the wrong polling place or forgetting which polling place to go to. There also have been reports of fake robocalls instructing voters in the Charlottesville area to go to the wrong precincts, allegations that the Virginia State Police are currently looking into. Post reporters today have also come across voters who have been told to go from precinct to precinct to find their correct voting location. Jonathan Mummolo reports this from Gainesville: There were no lines around 3 p.m. at the polls inside the Heritage Hunt Golf and Country Club in Gainesville, but the precinct still faced some mishaps. About 50 or 60 voters at that point had shown up there mistakenly because of a recent precinct redistricting, the precinct's chief election officer Harry Beaver said. He said when precincts are redistricted, voters receive an updated registration...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 4:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Urges Virginians to Vote, Emphasizes Patience

Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine, who was long discussed as a potential vice presidential candidate on Sen. Barack Obama's ticket, issued a statement just now about the elections. Fresh off a stage appearance with Obama in Prince William County last night, Kaine urged people to vote before time runs out. "Virginians are turning out in record numbers to vote in today's historic Presidential election, despite the weather," Kaine said in a statement. "The State Board of Elections is working closely with local election officials to make sure that voting runs smoothly, and we are confident that the problems that some precincts have encountered are being addressed promptly and resolved quickly. "Those still waiting to vote should be aware that turnout is very heavy, but precinct volunteers are working hard to make the lines move as quickly as possible," Kaine continued. "Voters should remember that polls close at 7 p.m. and...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 3:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

Don't Worry, They Didn't Vote

Elections always carry tales of dead people somehow managing to vote, but very few of those stories include the deceased actually making it into the polls on Election Day. Brigid Schulte, out and about in the rain tracking down voters, came back with this touching anecdote: Lisa Schumaier arrived before 6 a.m. at the Cora Kelly Recreation Center in Alexandria, the biggest and most diverse precinct in the city. And she brought company. Her parents, Peter and Dee, had been big activists for the Democratic party for years. And though both died and were cremated in 2006, she knew they would want to be part of what she called "this historic election." So she brought a piece of each. Dad in her right pocket. Mom in her left. "This is the last thing I did before I left the house this morning," she said, pulling miniscule bits of hardened white...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 2:33 PM ET | Comments (1)

Voter Intimidation, or Just Cleaning Up?

Reports of voter intimidation, or "suppression" as elections officials call it, can come in many forms, and there have been scattered reports of such activities in Virginia today. But this one, reported by Mark Berman, caught my eye: The Alexandria Sheriff's Office had a detail of four inmates picking up trash this morning at George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, which is also a polling precinct where 1,930 people voted in the 2004 presidential election. One voter, who declined to be identified, expressed concern that voters might feel intimidated and said while voting at 11:30 a.m. he saw at least two other voters turn away to return later rather than walk past the prisoners in order to vote. Alexandria Sheriff Dana A. Lawhorne said that the four prisoners and a sheriff's deputy were in a courtyard on the opposite side of the building from the polls and their work "has...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 2:16 PM ET | Comments (1)

Update: George Mason Hoax E-Mail Tracked

Here's an update from my colleague Brian Krebs, who writes this washingtonpost.com blog: An e-mail hoax telling 35,000 George Mason University students, faculty and staff, that the election had been moved to Nov. 5, was sent through servers run by a D.C. based company that seeks to help political campaigns promote their messages online. The fake e-mail, sent just after 1 a.m. this morning to a campus listserv, was crafted to appear as though it was sent from GMU's provost. In a follow-up e-mail sent this morning by the real GMU provost, the university said the hoax was perpetrated by someone who had apparently "hacked into" the school's e-mail system. But information sent to washingtonpost.com by a GMU student indicates that the hoax succeeded because of a lack of proper filtering on the university's e-mail servers. In addition, it appears that the message was routed through e-mail servers at a...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 2:11 PM ET | Comments (1)

Virginians Voting in Record Numbers as Lines Dwindle Midday

While it's not much of a surprise that voter turnout is looking to set records, the rain and long lines haven't been a deterrant across Virginia today. According to the state's top election official, close to 50 percent of eligible Virginians had already voted as of 10 a.m. That total includes the 500,000 absentee ballots, which make up about 10 percent of all eligible votes. Registrars around the state were reporting massive numbers in the early hours of voting, with 30 percent to 40 percent of some precincts' voters going to the polls shortly after they opened this morning. Lines of several hundred people -- and in one case as many as 1,000 people -- have dwindled midday to lines of less than 15 minutes or better. Election officials urged voters to vote before 4 p.m., when lines are expected to grow again as people get off of work. "All...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 1:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

Election Watchers Report Problems Across Virginia

The Election Protection Coalition, a non-partisan election protection group, is reporting problems with electronic voting machines and optical scanners in parts of Virginia, most related to the same issues the Virginia Board of Elections identified early in the morning. At the Math and Science Center in Henrico County, for example, five electronic voting machines broke down, and voters waited for as long as four hours for the machines to be brought online. The coalition reported that there were no paper ballots available, so voters had to tough it out. In Galax, sandwiched between West Virginia and North Carolina in the far western part of the state, machines reportedly were not bringing up the choices in the state Senate race, and some voters apparently cast ballots and left before the problem was discovered. "There has been a wide range of problems, ranging from machines not booting up to machines not bringing...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (3)

State Board of Elections Experiencing High Call Volume

The Virginia State Board of Elections just sent out a notice that its call center in Richmond is experiencing an "unprecedented number of calls" related to today's voting. This after the call center earlier this morning was having many of its voter calls dropped unexpectedly in the middle of conversations. To avoid extended waits, voters can go to the board's website at www.sbe.virginia.gov, where you can find information about registration status, polling locations and other Election Day information. Voters can also engage staff members in live chats. "We appreciate our callers' patience and ask everyone to be patient when calling the SBE line," the board said in a news release....

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Hoax voting e-mail targets George Mason University community

It appears someone hacked into George Mason University's e-mail system late last night and sent out a hoax message intending to deter the Northern Virginia school's voters from going to the polls today. The short message, which looked as if it came from the office of Provost Peter N. Stearns, was addressed to the Mason Community at large: "Please note that election day has been moved to November 5th. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you." George Mason officials said this morning that the message went to approximately 35,000 people at the school's three campuses in Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William County, including about 30,000 students and 5,000 employees. University officials do not know who is responsible for the hack but said GMU is working with University police and the FBI to determine the source. "Somebody was able to access a closed list, and the question we're trying...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (1)

Virginia reports some early voting problems

The Virginia State Board of Elections has discovered problems with some electronic voting machines in isolated parts of the state, and some precincts have been encountering an unusual weather-related issue: Wet voters coming in from out of the rain have been causing some ballots to become unreadable by optical scanners. Susan Pollard, a spokesperson for the Board of Elections, said this morning that "there have been no widespread problems" in Virginia but that there have been reports of electronic pollbooks failing. She assured voters that all polling places have paper ballots as back-ups and that state officials are working to send working machines to precincts that have had electronic pollbooks go down. Optical scanners in some parts of the state have been experiencing trouble because of wet ballots affecting the machines. "Apparently what is happening is some of the problems that are occurring is voters coming in out of the...

By Josh White | November 4, 2008; 9:47 AM ET | Comments (2)

Big Va. Crowd Wraps Up Obama Campaign

Barack Obama brought his 21-month campaign to a close tonight before what was called one of the largest gatherings in Prince William County history. Tonight's "Change We Need" rally in Manassas was the Democrat's final campaign appearance before Tuesday's election. Obama ended his general election campaign where it started -- in Virginia. After winning the Democratic nomination in June, Obama held rallies in Bristol and at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow in Prince William County. "Despite what our opponents may say, there are no real or fake parts of Virginia, any more then there are real or fake parts of America," Obama said. "Virginia, your voice can change the world tomorrow."...

By Kristen Mack | November 3, 2008; 8:45 PM ET | Comments (63)

Biden Makes One Last Stop in Va

Sen. Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife, Jill, will make his final campaign stop of the presidential election in Virginia tomorrow. Biden will stop in the Richmond area on Election Day to meet voters in person, ask for their support and urge them to get out and vote. Campaign officials say they will not release details of the stop so that "the Bidens can meet with voters informally and without interrupting important get out the vote activities." It will be the 17th trip made by either Sen. Barack Obama or Biden....

By Anita Kumar | November 3, 2008; 8:01 PM ET | Comments (2)

Voters Warned to Check on Polling Place

A small number of the hundreds of thousands of campaign brochures left on front doors across the state this morning by Democratic volunteers encouraging people to vote directed them to the wrong polling places. The door hangers, which encouraged people to vote for Sen. Barack Obama for president and former governor Mark R. Warner for U.S. Senate, includes a printed address for the precints for each particular house. Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Virginia Democratic Party, said a small number of locations were wrong in some cases across the state, including a portion of the City of Richmond. Democratic volunteers plan to leave updated door hangers on the houses where they made mistakes. State election officials said today they received reports from several locations across the state that automated calls are also providing incorrect polling place locations. They warn voters to double check the information by contacting their local...

By Anita Kumar | November 3, 2008; 5:59 PM ET | Comments (2)

Good News for Democrats in Arlington County?

In a sign there could be a huge Democratic turnout for tomorrow's election, two out of every 10 voters in Arlington County has already cast an absentee ballot. According to statistics from the State Board of Elections, 22 percent of Arlington's 149,000 registered voters have submitted an absentee ballot. Democrats leaders are hoping that Barack Obama can get at least 75 percent of the vote in Arlington, a Democratic stronghold. Arlington is on pace to double the statewide average. Earlier today, the State Board of Elections announced that about 10 percent of all registered voters statewide had already cast an absentee ballot. But Arlington County has received 33,294 completed absentee ballots, three times as many as it process in the 2004 presidential race. That year, just 8 percent of registered voters in Arlington County voted by absentee ballot. By comparison, traditionally Republican Virginia Beach has processed 21,383 absentee ballots so...

By Tim Craig | November 3, 2008; 3:38 PM ET | Comments (4)

Obama Rally Will be Fed Into Market Square

Sen. Barack Obama's election-eve rally tonight at the Prince William County Fairgrounds will be broadcast live in Alexandria's Market Square. U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.) and the Democratic Party of Virginia are setting up a jumbotron in the square so people who can't travel to Manassas can watch the event. For years, Democrats have been ending their final election swing in Market Square, including an election-eve rally during the 2006 Senate race featuring Former President Bill Clinton. At tonight's event, the band The Constituents will perform until the live-feed begins....

By Tim Craig | November 3, 2008; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

Democrats Improperly Disclose Big Donation

The Virginia Democratic Party failed to properly disclose a $200,000 donation it received in early September from a labor union, party officials admitted today. In Virginia, there are no limits on how much an individual or organization can give to a political candidate or party, but all donations of $10,000 or more have to be reported to the State Board of Elections within three business days. The information is then uploaded on the State Board of Elections' website so the public can keep track of who is funding political committees and candidates. On Sept. 4, the Laborers' Political League Education Fund gave the state party $200,000, which at the time was the largest contribution the state party had received in at least a decade, excluding transfers from candidates or other Democratic committees. But the state party never reported it until Oct. 15, when it filed its quarterly campaign finance report....

By Tim Craig | November 2, 2008; 6:42 PM ET | Comments (1)

The Final Push (Updated)

Here are some of the numerous campaign activities happening in battleground Virginia in the final two days before voters go to the polls to elect Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama: Republicans: Today, Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks in Lynchburg and several former POWs, including Paul Galanti, Orson Swindle and Tom Moe will appear in Danville. Tomorrow, the former POWs will be in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Yorktown, Mechanicsville and Richmond. Former Sen. Fred Thompson, former governor George Allen, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R-Saunton) and former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore will fly around the state, stopping in Harrisonburg, Norfolk, Richmond and the Tri-Cities area. McCain will hold a rally in the Tri-Cities area tomorrow night. Democrats: Today, Sen. Hillary Clinton holds a rally in Fairfax County. Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe will be in Bristol, Castlewoood and Tazewell. Sen. Creigh Deeds is in Grundy, Big Stone Gap...

By Anita Kumar | November 2, 2008; 2:27 PM ET | Comments (1)

NRA Runs Anti-Obama Ads in Va

The National Rifle Association, which had to halt plans to run anti-Barack Obama ads on Election Day because newspapers declined to run them, found a home for its ads today. Two days before Tuesday's historic election, the NRA is running full-page ads in some Virginia newspapers listing eight reasons to vote against the Democratic pesidential nominee under the banner "Can Obama be Trusted to Protect Your Gun Rights? You Decide." The NRA, based in Fairfax County, contacted some newspapers in Virginia and other battleground states about wrapping their newspapers Tuesday in plastic bags that would read: "Vote for Freedom... Defeat Obama." Two of the state's biggest newspapers, the Virginian-Pilot and Richmond Times-Dispatch, declined the ads. The NRA endorsed Republican presidential nominee John McCain. The group's political action committee created an anti-Obama Website that says he "would be the most anti-gun president in American history." "In his many trips to the...

By Anita Kumar | November 2, 2008; 10:54 AM ET | Comments (0)

Final Mason-Dixon Poll Shows Close Race

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain remain locked in a close race in Virginia, according to the final Mason Dixon Polling & Research Inc. survey. The poll, conducted for several Virginia newspapers, has Obama drawing 47 percent vs. McCain's 44 percent. A Mason-Dixon Virginia poll two weeks ago had Obama ahed by 2-points, 47 to 45 percent.. According to the Virginian Pilot, pollster J. Bradford Coker found large numbers of white, undecided voters. Coker said McCain can still carry Virginia if those voters break his way during the final 48-hours of the campaign. But Obama remains well-positioned to win Virginia. The Mason-Dixon poll shows him beating McCain by 30-points in Northern Virginia and by 10-points in Hampton Roads, a crucial battleground in statewide elections. McCain leads in the rest of the state. In the 2006 Senate race, the final Mason-Dixon poll had U.S. Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) ahead of...

By Tim Craig | November 2, 2008; 12:07 AM ET | Comments (42)

Last Minute Attack Ads Underway

An outside group is airing a harsh ad in the Richmond television market that seeks to connect Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama to William Ayers, who has confessed to domestic bombings as a member of the Vietnam War-era Weather Underground. Obama has admitted to cursory interactions with Ayers, who lives in the Illinois senators Chicago neighborhood and teaches at a local university. But a man in the one-minute ad suggests people should be afraid of Obama because of Ayers. "Senator Obama, we live in a world where terrorists wish to destroy us. How can we, with a clear conscious, elect a president with such, close documented ties to a terrorist?" the man states. "Senator Obama, How can we trust you? What happens when we elect the colleague of a terrorist to the White House? Please America, lets never find out." The ad notes that Obama and Ayers once served together...

By Tim Craig | November 1, 2008; 11:38 PM ET | Comments (3)

Five-Hour Wait Today for Richmond Voters

In heavily-Democratic Richmond City, there was a five-hour wait today to vote in-person by absentee ballot. Hundreds of people, many in walkers and wheelchairs, waited in a line that snaked around City Hall. "I wouldn't be able to come Tuesday cause I need assistance, I just had knee replacement," said Ella Garland, 64, who waited 5 hours. "It was worth it. Obama is worth it. I'd do it all again." Patricia Scudder also waited with her ailing father in the line, but she wasn't nearly as up-beat when she emerged from City Hall. "I thought we were going to be in and out," said Scudder, who wondered why there were only six voting machines set up. "My dad has dementia. He kept wanting to leave - he kept wanting water and then to go the bathroom - but I told him we had to stick it out for Obama." Although...

By Anne Bartlett | November 1, 2008; 3:37 PM ET | Comments (3)

 

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