Archive: December 2008

McDonnell Reaches Out To Wilder

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, sent out a statement today praising Democrat L. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor who is ending his tenure as Richmond mayor today. "As the nation's first African-American Governor, Wilder made history. He governed Virginia well during a period of economic difficulty, and ensured that the Commonwealth would be well positioned to benefit from economic recovery,'' McDonnell said. "L. Douglas Wilder has dedicated his life to public service, and his contributions to Virginia will long be remembered." None of the three Democratic candidates for governor sent out a statement on Wilder. Wilder, who did not run for re-election, has been a fixture in Virginia politics for four decades. The charismatic, often flamboyant Wilder was known as an outspoken, sometimes combative Democrat who was not shy about breaking ranks with his party....

By Anita Kumar | December 31, 2008; 5:26 PM ET | Comments (1)

Fundraising Deadline Approaches

Candidates running for statewide office in 2009 are sending a flurry of last-minute emails to supporters to raise the last bit of money before tonight's fundraising deadline. Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, sent out an email with the subject line: "Only 24 hours left!" "While our Republican team is united, the Democrats are waging a costly, contentious nomination battle,'' McDonnell wrote. "With your help , we have a great opportunity to build our organization and spread our message." Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) and Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) are running for the Democratic nomination. Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is expected to announce Tuesday that he is running. "Every single donation shows the strength of our organization and helps us build momentum,'' Deeds wrote in his email to supporters....

By Anita Kumar | December 31, 2008; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Republicans Target Democratic District

Northern Virginia Republicans, already facing an uphill battle to win a House seat in a largely Democratic district in Alexandria, are upset it took until today to get a list of voters seeking absentee ballots. Chris Marston, chairman of the Alexandria Republican party, said he had been asking for the lists -- which are public record -- from the Fairfax and Alexandria registrars since Dec. 19. A State Board of Elections glitch prevented them from receiving lists until today. Republicans are looking to target the more than 300 voters who requested absentee ballots in the special election Jan. 13 in the hopes that they can sway enough of them to make a difference in what is expected to be a low-turnout election. Democrat Charniele Herring, who was homeless as a teenager but rose to become an attorney and civic activist, will face Joe Murray, a special assistant to U.S. Rep....

By Anita Kumar | December 30, 2008; 8:00 PM ET | Comments (2)

Chopra Volunteering for Obama

Aneesh P. Chopra, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's secretary of technology, has been putting in long hours in Washington helping President-elect Barack Obama's transition team get ready for his first day on the job Jan. 20. Chopra is one of about 50 volunteers from across the nation serving on the transition's technology, innovation and government reform policy working group. Their primary responsibility is to support Obama's policy agenda by preparing briefing documents. "We need the new administration to be ready on day one,'' Chopra said. "I'm honored to be amongst a number of talented volunteers to lend a helping hand."...

By Anita Kumar | December 30, 2008; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

GOP May Lodge Complaint Against Kaine

Republicans are considering lodging a complaint against Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who they say is violating state law by raising money during next month's legislative session. Kaine, along with Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) and Sen.-elect Mark R. Warner (D), are hosting a Virginia inaugural ball Jan. 19 at the Westin Arlington Gateway. The 45-day session begins Jan. 14. The black-tie event, which sold-out in hours, is a fundraiser for the Virginia Democratic Party and the Arlington Democratic Party. Tickets are $200 but donors can be listed as sponsors for a $10,000 contribution. House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) said Kaine is violating both "the spirit and the letter of the law." "The event is taking place during session,'' he said. "They knew or should have known that this was a violation of state law."...

By Anita Kumar | December 29, 2008; 5:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds Wants Cheaper Homegrown Meat

With Brian J. Moran no longer serving in the House of Delegates, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) has the field to himself when it comes to pushing legislation in the General Assembly. Deeds' new role as the lone legislator in the governor's race gives him an opportunity to grab the spotlight during the 45-day legislative session that begins next month. He can either find one, overarching issue to pursue that will generate statewide headlines or he can push several issues simultaneously that are targeted at specific blocs of voters. It appears he may be embracing the latter strategy. Deeds' first stab at making his mark appears aimed at making inroads with the farmers market crowd, who have a reputation for skewing to the left and being more politically active then the typical Kroger's shopper....

By Tim Craig | December 29, 2008; 4:44 PM ET | Comments (0)

GOP Hopes to Question Kaine on Fundraiser

Virginia Republican leaders say they plan to press for answers from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) on how he can be a sponsor of a Virginia Democratic Party inaugural ball, which is a fundraiser, during the legislative session. Under Virginia law, state office holders and the members of the General Assembly are barred from raising money during the regularly scheduled legislative session. The session begins on Jan. 14. Kaine, Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) and Sen.-elect Mark R. Warner (D) are hosting "Virginia's Inaugural Ball" on Jan. 19 at the Westin Arlington Gateway. The black-tie event, which sold- out in hours, is a fundraiser for the Virginia Democratic Party and the Arlington Democratic Party. Tickets are $200 but donors can be listed as sponsors for a $10,000 contribution. Democratic officials say Kaine's role at the event is within state law. They say the fundraiser is no different than the state Democratic...

By Tim Craig | December 24, 2008; 3:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell Hires Campaign Manager

No surprise here. Phil Cox, a general consultant for Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R), officially became the campaign manager for his run for governor next year. Cox was also a consultant for Republican Rep. Virgil Goode, who lost to Democrat Tom Perriello in November, and John Brownlee (R), the former top prosecutor for Virginia's western district who is running for attorney general next year. Cox has been involved in Virginia and Maryland politics since the mid-1990s, and has worked with more than a dozen members of the General Assembly....

By Anita Kumar | December 22, 2008; 4:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Coelho, Fraioli Say McAuliffe Is In

Former Congressman Tony Coelho and Democratic fundraiser Michael Fraioli are telling their contacts that Terry McAuliffe "is running for governor" of Virginia and needs help raising money before the Dec. 31 campaign finance reporting deadline. In an email, Coelho and Fraioli are directing people to McAuliffe's website so they can make a contribution. "Please excuse us for the mass email," the two write. "As the subject line of this email indicates, and we suspect you already know, our friend Terry McAuliffe is running for governor of Virginia....forward this email with your own message encouraging your friends to make a contribution to Terry's campaign. Please make your contribution before December 31." The email suggests McAuliffe, who had said he will wait until Jan. 7 before officially announcing whether he would be a candidate, has begun ramping up his fundraising operation. Coehlo served in the House of Represenatives from 1978 to 1989....

By Tim Craig | December 22, 2008; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Democratic Candidates Give to Others

As Terry McAuliffe considers a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, he has to overcome the impression that he has thin ties to the Virginia Democratic party and its activists. But when it comes to spending his own money, campaign finance reports outline how McAuliffe has been far more interested in helping federal versus state candidates for office. McAuliffe, a wealthy businessman and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, has contributed more than $200,000 to presidential, congressional and national party committees since 2000, according to the Federal Election Commission. McAuliffe's wife, Dorothy, has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to federal candidates. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in state politics, McAuliffe has made only one contribution to a candidate running for state or local office in Virginia in the past eight years. On Oct. 28, after it was clear he was eyeing...

By Tim Craig | December 19, 2008; 2:38 PM ET | Comments (4)

Bowerbank Picks Up Support

The chairmen of 10 local Democratic parties announced today they are endorsing Jon Bowerbank's bid for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Eight of the ten chairmen lead local committees in Southwest Virginia, where Bowerbank lives and runs an engineering company. But Bowerbank was also endorsed by the chairs of the Prince William County and Fairfax City Democratic parties. "Jon Bowerbank is the only Democrat in this race who can win statewide in November," said Pete Frisbie, chair of the Prince William County Democratic Committee. "Jon started a business from nothing, he knows how to balance the books in tough financial times and create jobs in the Commonwealth." In addition to Frisbie and Joseph Harmon, chair of the Fairfax committee, Bowerbank was endorsed by Tom Graham, chair Congressional District Democratic Committee, Clinton Kegley of Bland County, Vern Presley of Buchanan County, Pete Sumpter of Lee County, Mike Fleenor of Pulaski...

By Tim Craig | December 18, 2008; 3:23 PM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds Unsure of Cigarette Tax Hike

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, said today he's not sure whether he will support Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) proposal to double the state's cigarette tax to 60 cents. On a conference call with reporters, Deeds praised Kaine for his leadership on the budget but added he is not "prepared to say yea or nay" on a tax increase. "I'm going to look at the whole budget picture," Deeds said. "I'm not going to take a position on that yet."...

By Tim Craig | December 18, 2008; 12:36 PM ET | Comments (0)

Boucher Endorses Deeds

U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) endorsed Sen. R. Creigh Deeds' bid for governor today, saying he is the candidate who can win over voters in rural Virginia. "He can carry rural Virginia and the state and that is critically important for a candiddate who is seeking statewide office," Boucher said. Boucher also praised Deeds' policies on the economy, transportation and energy. "He has the experience. He has the vision and he has the deep roots in our region," said Boucher, who represents Southwest Virginia. A reporter then asked Boucher if Terry McAuliffe, who is also a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination, has deep enough roots in Virginia to be elected in a general election. Boucher said he preferred to answer that question "in an affirmative way" about Deeds. "I think rural voters deeply value the fact that someone has roots in our state," said Boucher, who has been close...

By Tim Craig | December 17, 2008; 6:20 PM ET | Comments (1)

Moran Picks Up Hampton Roads Support

Former Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) picked up the endorsements of the mayors of Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach in his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2009. The mayors cited Moran's understanding of the diverse Hampton Roads area, his commitment to improving the region's struggling economy and his plans to invest in transportation and education. "I know Brian Moran understands the needs of Hampton Roads," Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim said. "His dedication to finding real transportation solutions has been impressive. But more than that, he's been a fighter for our Commonwealth for two decades." Moran told the mayors this afternoon at an endorsement announcement that he will work to fight for the military and its families in Hampton Roads. "Our area needs strong leadership that believes in regional cooperation, understands the importance of our military community, and is committed to growing our economy,'' Virginia...

By Anita Kumar | December 17, 2008; 2:05 PM ET | Comments (1)

Virginia Notebook: Putting The Squeeze on Moran

Brian J. Moran's sudden decision to resign his House of Delegates seat is an indication he is starting to feel squeezed by his two rivals for the Democratic nomination for governor, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath) and Terry McAuliffe. And being in the middle is the worst possible scenario for Moran as he prepares to campaign full time for a job he has been seeking since Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) took office in 2006. Moran is emerging as the establishment candidate who faces well-financed McAuliffe on one side and Deeds, the underdog, on the other....

By Tim Craig | December 17, 2008; 1:29 PM ET | Comments (2)

Delacey Skinner Leaving Kaine Administration

Delacey Skinner, who has served as Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's communications director since he took office in 2006, will be leaving the administration at the end of the month. Skinner said she is considering a number of future job opportunities, including joining Terry McAuliffe's potential campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor. Skinner has a close working relationship with Mo Elleithee, a senior strategist for McAuliffe. But Skinner cautions she has not made any decision about her next step and is also considering other potential opportunities in government or politics or the private sector. Skinner has been with Kaine since his 2005 campaign for governor, when she served as his press secretary. Prior to joining Kaine, Skinner worked for Americans Coming Together, a liberal advocacy group, in New Hampshire during the 2004 presidential campaign. She also worked on Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's unsuccessful presidential campaign in late 2003...

By Tim Craig | December 17, 2008; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

Herring Defeats Gonzalez; Murray Wins GOP Nod

In the race for the Democratic nomination to replace Brian J. Moran in the Alexandria-based 46th House district, Charniele Herring defeated Ariel Gonzalez after only 234 people voted in the special election. Herring, who was homeless as a teenager but rose to become an attorney and civic activist, received 191 votes. Gonzalez, director of governmental affairs for the American College of Radiology, received 43 votes, according to unofficial returns. In the race for the GOP nomination, only 49 ballots were cast. Joe Murray, a special assistant to U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), won with 20 votes. Phil Cefaratti, a local realtor, received 16 votes. Sasha Gong, a scholar who runs a blog for Chinese Americans, received 13 votes, according to unofficial returns. Murray, who is also a law student at Catholic University, decided to file as a candidate for the Republican nomination a few hours before the voting began, according...

By Tim Craig | December 16, 2008; 9:49 PM ET | Comments (5)

Cranwell Won't Run For LG

C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, told supporters in a brief email today that he will not run for lieutenant governor next year. Cranwell, a 30-year fixture in the House of Delegates who plans to step down from his post when his term expires in 2009, practices law in Roanoke. "This past Sunday, after much thought, I decided I could not make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together,'' he wrote. "Thus, I will not be a candidate for statewide office in 2009." Former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner and Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, are seeking the Democratic nomination. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) will face lawyer Patrick Muldoon for the Republican nomination....

By Anita Kumar | December 16, 2008; 7:27 PM ET | Comments (0)

Giuliani To Help McDonnell Raise Money

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will host two fundraisers next month for Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor next year. Giuliani will host events Jan. 6 in the District and Jan. 8 in New York and is expected to be involved in other activities for McDonnell later in the spring. A number of Republican stars from across the nation are expected to help out McDonnell in the coming months. Last week, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal came to Richmond for a press conference and a closed-door fundraiser....

By Anita Kumar | December 16, 2008; 6:16 PM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell Proposes Election Reforms

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) unveiled a package of election reforms today that would reduce long lines at polls and add more election officials to count ballots. Proposals also include adding more voting precints, overturning a ban on political clothing while in a polling place and creating guidelines to improve the accuracy of voter registration lists to ensure residens, including college students, are not registered in more than one location. McDonnell, who is the Republican nominee for governor next year, and Lt. Gov Bill Bolling (R) will also propose changes to the mailing and counting of military absentee ballots. "Democracy is alive and well in Virginia. We saw that clearly this past Election Day with a record number of first-time voters,'' McDonnell said. "However, for our democratic process to stay healthy we must constantly seek prudent reforms and improvements based on what we learn each election." State legislators would...

By Anita Kumar | December 16, 2008; 12:44 PM ET | Comments (5)

Alexander Named Black Caucus Leader

Del. Kenneth Cooper Alexander (D-Norfolk) was elected the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. Alexander replaces former Del. Dwight Clinton Jones (D-Richmond), who was elected Richmond's mayor on Nov. 4. In the past, the caucus has worked to reform the payday lending industry, make voting more accessible, increase gun control, expand health insurance for low-income residents and add money for training on racial-profiling awareness. The General Assembly has 14 African American legislators. Last year, members led four Senate committees and gained seats on the legislature's two powerful money committees....

By Anita Kumar | December 16, 2008; 11:19 AM ET | Comments (0)

Gonzalez Lashes Out at Moran, Local Party

The election to select the Democratic nominee in the race for Brian J. Moran's replacement in the House of Delegates is not until Tuesday night, but one candidate is already questioning the outcome. Ariel Gonzalez, the director of government affairs for the American College of Radiology, sent out a statement today accusing the Alexandria Democratic Committee and Moran of conspiring to hand the seat to his opponent for the nomination, Charniele Herring. Gonzalez is responding to Moran's decision to endorse Herring as well as questions about whether the contest is being held on too short of notice. "The recent news of the manner in which tomorrow's special election will be held is troubling," Gonzalez said. "I am troubled that the people of Alexandria and Fairfax...must be subject to this unjust selection process." Gonzalez, who his supporters view as a rising star in the party and a fresh face, went on...

By Tim Craig | December 15, 2008; 10:44 PM ET | Comments (20)

Amundson Seeks Caucus Post

Del. Kristen J. Amundson (D-Fairfax) is running to replace Del. Brian J. Moran as leader of the House of Delegates Democratic caucus, the second-highest ranking Democratic in the House. She is phoning delegates to talk to them about the job. Amundson, who is currently the caucus political director and chairwoman of the campaign committee, is the only delegate actively running so far. Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake), who recently resigned his position as caucus vice chairman, said he will not support Amundson but refused to elaborate. "It's not bad blood,'' Spruill said. "It's what is best for the caucus." Amundson and House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) would not comment on Spruill's remarks....

By Anita Kumar | December 15, 2008; 3:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

House GOP Agrees to Recorded Votes

House Republicans agreed to record votes taken in subcommittee meetings while at a closed-door caucus meeting this afternoon at the state Capitol, according to Republicans. In previous legislative sessions, many bills have been killed in subcommittees on unrecorded voice votes, making it difficult to track a member's position on controversial legislation. Americans for Prosperity, a group that supports limited government and free trade, had pushed Republicans to make the switch and submitted hundreds of signatures of those who supported a change. "This is a great victory for government transparency and a great victory for people in Virginia,'' Ben Marchi, state director for Americans for Prosperity, said today. In 2006, the Republican-controlled House changed the rules to allow subcommittees to kill legislation on unrecorded votes. Before that, subommittees did not record votes but they could only make recommendations and not kill a bill outright. Democrats fought the rule in 2007 and...

By Anita Kumar | December 14, 2008; 5:05 PM ET | Comments (1)

Moran Will Endorse Herring; Gonzalez Enters Race

Brian J. Moran, who gave up his House seat on Friday to campaign full time for the Democratic nomination for governor, will announce Monday he is endorsing Charniele Herring's bid to replace him in the General Assembly, according to Democratic sources. Moran's support comes as one prominent Alexandria Democrat, Kerry J. Donley, has apparently decided against entering the race but another candidate, Ariel Gonzalez, has thrown his hat into the ring. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has called a special election for Jan. 13, but both political parties have to settle on their nominees on Tuesday. The elections will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ramsay Recreational Center in Alexandria. Gonzalez, a member of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, is the director of Congressional Affairs for the American College of Radiology. Gonzalez is also a former president of the Prince William Young Democrats. "I have entered this...

By Tim Craig | December 14, 2008; 5:00 PM ET | Comments (5)

Fairfax Democrats Stick With Steve Shannon for AG

The 18 Democratic members of Fairfax County's delegation to the General Assembly endorsed their colleague, Del. Steve Shannon (D), today in his bid for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. The House and Senate members who represent all or part of Fairfax made their announcement at a fundraiser for Shannon at the home of Bob and Mary Ann Hovis in Oakton. ""By having a strong, unified delegation, we have made tremendous progress in recent year," Shannon said in a statement. "Our cohesion has resulted in Democrats taking back control of the State Senate and making huge gains in the House of Delegates. The support of my colleagues in this campaign means a great deal to me." Shannon is running against Roanoke attorney John Fishwick for the nomination. In recent days, Shannon has gotten more aggressive in rolling out endorsements. Last week, Shannon picked up support from Maryland Attorney General Doug...

By Tim Craig | December 14, 2008; 4:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Sets Special Election; Herring Announces

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has called a special election for Jan. 13 to replace Brian J. Moran as the delegate in the Alexandria-based 46th District. "The residents of the 46th District deserve to have their voice heard in the General Assembly when it convenes in January," Governor Kaine said. Prior to the election, the local political parties will likely hold caucuses next week to determine their nominees. Former Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley and party leader Charniele Herring are widely viewed as two early front-runners for the Democratic nomination. Herring, a community leader and Democratic activist who was active in President-elect Barack Obama's campaign, announced her candidacy late Friday night. If elected, Herring would be only the second African-American since at least the 1980s to represent Northern Virginia in the General Assembly, according to one political observer. In an article this summer in the Alexandria Times, Herring recounted how...

By Tim Craig | December 12, 2008; 6:00 PM ET | Comments (2)

Deeds, McAuliffe React to Moran Decision

Two Democratic candidates for governor, Terry McAuliffe and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), have both responded to the news that the third candidate in the race, Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), has resigned his House seat so he can campaign full time. Both McAuliffe and Deeds released carefully worded statements that foreshadowed one potential line of attack against Moran: He's walking away from the fight over the budget in the General Assembly. "Brian has been a great legislator for a long time," said Mo Elleithee, a McAuliffe spokesman. "The people of Virginia are losing a top notched legislative leader at a very challenging time. We hope his seat is filled as soon as possible so we don't have a void during the upcoming legislative session." Peter Jackson, a Deeds spokesman, said in a statement his boss has no plans of giving up his seat. "What Virginia needs most is steady...

By Tim Craig | December 12, 2008; 4:10 PM ET | Comments (2)

Moran Gives Up House Seat to Run for Governor

Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) resigned today from the House of Delegates so he can campaign full time for the Democratic nomination for governor. Moran sent a letter to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) this morning announcing his decision, which he said followed "long deliberation and discussions with" his family. By resigning the seat he has held since 1996, Moran will be able to raise money and travel the state this winter instead of being bogged down by the 45-day legislative session. Had he not stepped down, Moran would have been in Richmond in January and February while one of his chief rivals for the nomination, Terry McAuliffe, was free to campaign. Moran will also be able to avoid looming tough votes on budget cuts, as well as possible tax or fee increases, as Virginia grapples with a big budget shortfall. "While the decisions made in the coming 45 day...

By Tim Craig | December 12, 2008; 1:04 PM ET | Comments (18)

Hispanic Leaders Endorse McDonnell

A group of Hispanic leaders will endorse Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) for Virginia governor tonight at the City Club of Washington. The Hispanic Coalition, made up of Republicans and independents from Cuba, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia, also will endorse Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling in his re-election bid next year. Republican party officials in Virginia and across the nation have talked for years about the need to attract minorities, especially the growing Hispanic community. McDonnell and Bolling, who have been running together for months, said they plan to work hard to expand their base to other groups, such ethnic minorities, in Virginia....

By Anita Kumar | December 11, 2008; 4:29 PM ET | Comments (2)

Party Leaders Flock to Kaine Fundraiser

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) held a fundraiser for his political action committee last night in Tysons Corner, an event that drew hundreds of Democratic activists, donors and party leaders. Kaine was introduced by Senator-Elect Mark R. Warner (D), who recalled how barren the political landscape was for Democrats in 2001, when Warner ran for governor and Kaine was the party's nominee for lieutenant governor. "If you think where we were 8 years ago as Virginia Democrats, we didn't have a single statewide elected official, we had three congressman, the legislature was 2-to-1 against us and basically folks in the press had decided that Virginia was next to Idaho or Wyoming or one of those states that was never going to go Democratic," Warner recalled....

By Tim Craig | December 11, 2008; 12:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

Virginia Notebook: Democrats and the Black Vote

They might still be buoyant over President-elect Barack Obama's success in carrying Virginia this year, but Saturday's election results from Louisiana should give the three Democrats vying to become Virginia's next governor a gut check about their own chances. In Louisiana's 4th Congressional District, Republican John Fleming appears to have eked out a 365-vote victory over Democrat Paul Carmouche. On the same day, Louisiana voters ousted U.S. Rep. William J. Jefferson (D), who is awaiting trail on corruption charges. In both those races, as well as the Democrats' failure two weeks ago to unseat Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), a low turnout among African Americans played a key role in GOP successes. African Americans make up a larger share of the population in those states than in Virginia, but the results from those three races hold sobering news for Virginia Democrats heading into the 2009 campaigns for governor, lieutenant governor and...

By Tim Craig | December 11, 2008; 10:33 AM ET | Comments (1)

L.F. Payne Endorses Moran

Lewis F. Payne Jr., a former congressman from south central Virginia and unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 1997, will announce this afternoon he is endorsing Del. Brian J. Moran (Alexandria) in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor. Until earlier this year, Payne had mentioned as a potential candidate for governor but he declined to run. He currently serves as the president of McGuireWoods Consulting Firm. "Brian Moran has a proven record of fighting for Virginia families," Payne said. "He has a two-decade long record of public service to Virginians and was a chief partner of Mark Warner and now Tim Kaine." Payne's endorsement could be a setback for state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), also a candidate for the Democratic nomination. Part of Deeds' district overlaps with Payne's old congressional district, which stretches from Charlottesville to Danville. Deeds also played a big role in helping Congressman-Elect Tom...

By Tim Craig | December 10, 2008; 12:53 PM ET | Comments (0)

Groups Sue Over Clothing Ban

Three Virginia groups sued the State Board of Elections and the registrars of Richmond and Fairfax County, challenging a controversial policy that bans the wearing of buttons, T-shirts and other clothes with political messages in polling places. The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, the Rutherford Institute and the ACLU of Virginia argue that the policy violates the First Amendment rights of voters and is inconsistent with Virginia statute. They are asking a federal court to strike down the policy as unconstitutional before the next state and local elections in 2009. "Election Day should be a time for celebrating the personal freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution," said Robert M. O'Neil, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression. "On that of all days, government should not be telling citizens how to express themselves."...

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

Bowerbank Hires Staff

Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, hired campaign manager Jon Paul Lupo and national pollster Geoff Garin for his campaign for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor next year. Lupo worked on U.S. Sen. Jim Webb's campaign in 2006 and as the deputy campaign manager for U.S Sen. Tim Johnson's re-election campaign in South Dakota in 2008. Garin has worked on several successful Virginia political campaigns, including Mark R. Warner 2001 gubernatorial campaign and 2008 Senate campaign. Other clients include former lieutenant governor Don Beyer and U.S. senators Hillary Clinton of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin....

By Anita Kumar | December 10, 2008; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

Speaker Named Leader of Legislative Group

House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) has been named the national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council for 2009. The group represents a network of 2,000 state legislators "committed to the fundamental Jeffersonian principles of limited government, free enterprise, federalism and individual liberty,'' according to a press release. "Exploring and learning from what other states are doing and recognizing the need to change, adapt, innovate and improve lie at the very heart of what ALEC is all about,'' Howell said. "It's what has made ALEC such a powerful force against the status quo and for a more free and prosperous future." Howell, first elected a delegate in 1987, has led the 100-member chamber since 2003....

By Anita Kumar | December 10, 2008; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

McAuliffe Learns From Obama

As chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) failed presidential campaign, Terry McAuliffe was walloped by President-Elect Barack Obama skill at political organizing and the creation of catchy, web savvy, techniques to engage potential supporters. Now, as he gears for his own potential bid for governor, McAuliffe appears to be borrowing some of the same tactics that Obama used so effectively during his primary and general election campaigns. McAuliffe has said he will announce on Jan. 7 whether he plans to formally enter the governor's race. On his exploratory campaign's website, McAuliffe is soliciting names and email addresses from people who want to be "among the first to know" his decision on Jan. 7. Within seconds of signing up, respondents receive an email from McAuliffe promising, "you'll be the first to know." Sound familiar?...

By Tim Craig | December 10, 2008; 8:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds as the Messenger

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a Democratic candidate for governor, began fleshing out his campaign theme today, delivering an emotional but unpolished message. At an event in Richmond, Deeds announced he had been endorsed by nearly two dozen of that city's leaders, including five city council members, two school board members, Sheriff C.T. Woody and state Sen. Henry L. Marsh III (D). Deeds described Richmond as his "second home," noting he was born in that city after his parents left their farm in Bath County in search of work. "I guess I grew up in humble circumstances," Deeds said. "I never thought of myself as poor until I went away to college and realized what other people had, so I guess I did know poor but I never knew humble."...

By Tim Craig | December 9, 2008; 9:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

McAuliffe Keeps Building A Staff

Former Democratic National Committee Terry McAuliffe continues to staff up in preparation for his potential campaign for governor next year. McAuliffe recently hired Peter Kavanaugh, who most recently served as the field director for the Virginia Democratic Party's coordinated campaign, according to sources familiar with the hire. With Kavanaugh's help, the state party conducted a $13 million campaign this year in support of President-Elect Barack Obama, Senator-Elect Mark R. Warner (D) and Democratic congressional candidates. It's unclear what Kavanaugh's title will be, but sources expect him to remain concentrated on field work. In ramping up his campaign, Democrats say McAuliffe also appears to be getting advice from Peter O'Keefe, who served as his senior advisor at the Democratic National Committee. O'Keefe is also a veteran of former President Clinton's campaigns during the 1990s....

By Tim Craig | December 9, 2008; 8:38 PM ET | Comments (0)

Jindal to Campaign For McDonnell

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a rising star in the Republican Party and potential presidential candidate in 2012, will be in Richmond tomorrow to help Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) raise money for his gubernatorial campaign. Jindal, the nation's first Indian-American governor, and McDonnell will hold a joint-press conference tomorrow afternoon and then attend a closed-door fundraiser. Jindal's appearance is the latest sign that Virginia Republicans may be looking for something new when it comes to branding their party's image. In the months leading up to Nov. 4 election, Virginia Republicans trotted a bunch of surrogates through the state who never seemed as if they were connecting with the state's diversifying electorate, including former U.S. Senator George Allen, actor Fred Thompson, former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler and a slew of veterans and prisoners of war who served with Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) in Vietnam....

By Tim Craig | December 9, 2008; 9:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bowerbank Hires Spruill; Spruill Endorses Bowerbank

Delegate Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake), who has developed a reputation for being able to marshal support from African-Americans in Hampton Roads, announced today he is endorsing Jon Bowerbank in the race for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Spruill said in a statement that Bowerbank's experience "uniquely qualify him to tackle the challenges" facing Virginia. Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, is facing off against former budget secretary Jody W. Wagner for the Democratic nomination. Spruill decision could help Bowerbank neutralize some of Wagner's support within the African-American community, which will likely play a major role in the outcome of the election. Del. Brian J. Moran, a Democratic candidate for governor, thinks so highly of Spruill's political skills he is paying him $7,500 a month to be an "outreach coordinator" for his campaign. In an interview earlier this year, Spruill defended his salary, noting he has "contacts" all over the...

By Tim Craig | December 8, 2008; 9:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Conservatives Pressure GOP for Recorded Votes

For years, House Republicans leaders have been under pressure from House Democrats to change the rules so that all subcommittee votes are recorded. Currently, many bills are killed in subcommittees on unrecorded voice votes, which makes it difficult to track a member's position on controversial legislation. House GOP leaders have been fending off the push by Democrats, who believe recorded subcommittee votes would make it easier for them to knock off incumbents, to change the rules. But now the GOP leaders are also facing pressure from the right to record subcommittee votes. Ben Marchi, state director for Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group, delivered a petition of more than 300 signatures to House GOP leaders this morning calling on them to record all subcommittee votes. Marchi, who said the signatures were gathered at the recent GOP retreat at The Homestead resort, called it a "transparency issue" so taxpayers know...

By Tim Craig | December 8, 2008; 1:26 PM ET | Comments (1)

Scott Leake Leaving Capitol Square

J. Scott Leake, who has been a senior adviser to Senate Republicans since 2003, will step down from that position at the end of the month to take a job in the private sector. Leake said his new job will likely still require him to be a frequent visitor to Capitol Square, although he said it is not a lobbying position. Leake had been executive director of the Virginia Senate Republican Leadership Trust, an organization run by moderate Senate Republicans. But those Republicans lost much of their power last year after the Democrats retook control of the state Senate....

By Tim Craig | December 8, 2008; 1:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

Cuccinelli Wins Straw Poll

HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- As expected, state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax) won the straw poll in the race for attorney general this weekend at the GOP Advance at the Homestead Resort Cuccinelli received 48 percent of the vote. John Brownlee, the former top prosecutor for Virginia's western district, got 38 percent and David M. Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, finished with 14 percent. The three men seeking the Republican nomination at a May 31 convention were featured prominently at the Advance. Each hosted hospitality suites and participated in a well-attended debate Saturday. Jerry Kilgore, a former attorney and the Republican nominee for governor in 2005, was the moderator of the debate after the party was unable to find bloggers or reporters that met with the approval of the three candidates. Another former attorney general, James S. Gilmore III, was in the audience and made some...

By Anita Kumar | December 7, 2008; 3:24 PM ET | Comments (1)

McDonnell, Bolling Kick Off Campaign

HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- Republicans Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling kicked off their joint campaign today for the state's two top jobs next year in front of a packed room at the annual GOP Advance at the posh Homestead Resort. The luncheon had the feel of a campaign rally. McDonnell-Bolling signs adorned the ballroom. Supporters waved red and blue campaign signs. They chanted "Bob" and "Bill" and gave each candidate a standing ovation. McDonnell, who is the Republican nominee for governor next year, came to the stage to the U2 song A Beautiful Day after attendees saw a new McDonnell biography video that aired on two large screens. "Let's get together, let's join together and do this hard work," McDonnell said. "Fellow Republicans, we're a little bit down, but we're not out."...

By Anita Kumar | December 6, 2008; 5:21 PM ET | Comments (0)

Frederick Critic Faces Opposition

HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- Northern Virginia Republicans are calling on James Rich, chairman of the 10th Congressional District Republican Committee, to resign following his negative remarks about state GOP Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick in Friday's Washington Post. Several emails circulating Friday at the GOP Advance at the Homestead Resort called on Rich to step aside from his influential post. As chairman, Rich sits both on the GOP's executive committee and the 86-member State Central Committee that controls Frederick's fate. "You have truly crossed the line,'' Bob Maistros of Loudoun County wrote in an email to Rich. "We need a chairman who can support and promote unity among Republicans locally and statewide in order to turn our common focus on our opponents -- rather than to turn on our own in the media." Rich, who attended the GOP Advance, joked that he had hired a bodyguard. He questionned Frederick's leadership behind...

By Anita Kumar | December 6, 2008; 1:55 AM ET | Comments (1)

Republicans Gather for Advance

HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- About 500 Republican activists from across Virginia gathered Friday at the Homstead Resort in the Allegheny Mountains in the far western part of the state for the 25th annual GOP Advance. They will attend speeches, receptions and training sessions throughout the weekend. Most candidates running statewide next year hosted parties, including Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, running for governor, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, running for re-election and the three men running for attorney general, John Brownlee, the former top prosecutor for Virginia's western district, David M. Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, and state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax). Those five candidates, as well as Alexandria lawyer Patrick Muldoon who is running for lieutenant governor, were certified to appear on the ballot in 2009. When news broke at a meeting of the party's governing body that McDonnell had been certified, the crowd stood...

By Anita Kumar | December 6, 2008; 1:32 AM ET | Comments (1)

Legislative Aide Arrested

Police arrested the legislative aide of Del. Jackson Miller (R-Prince William) for allegedly taking part in a scuffle in the District on election night that officers describe as an anti-gay incident. Bryan Fumagalli, 28, was arrested Nov. 22 on two counts of simple assault, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. "I'm very disappointed in his actions,'' Miller said today. "He's being dealt with and being disciplined." Police say Fumagalli assaulted one of two gay men who were walking outside the Capitol Hilton Hotel to a victory rally near the White House. They say he grabbed a rainbow flag, a gay rights symbol, from one of the men and assaulted him. Fumagalli has a court hearing Jan. 13....

By Anita Kumar | December 5, 2008; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (8)

Spruill Resigns Leadership Post in House

Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake) resigned his position as vice chairman of the House of Delegates' Democratic caucus. Spruill said he didn't have enough time to devote to the position because he is helping candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful Brian J. Moran, and may face a challenger for his own seat next year. "When I am part of something I want to do it right,'' he said. Republicans mocked Spruill when news broke that he makes about $7,500 a month to be an "outreach coordinator" for Moran, chairman of the House Democratic caucus. Spruill said today that he would not earn the salary during next year's legislative session....

By Anita Kumar | December 4, 2008; 4:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Wagner Receives NoVa Endorsements

Former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner announced endorsements today from several city and county officials in Northern Virginia in her race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor next year. "I'm honored by the support of these outstanding public officials from across Northern Virginia," Wagner said. "Having a strong relationship between state and local officials is critical to moving Virginia forward, and as lieutenant governor will be one of my top priorities." Wagner faces Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. State Democratic Party Chairman C. Richard Cranwell declined again this week to say whether he will run. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) is seeking re-election. The full list of endorsements is below:...

By Anita Kumar | December 4, 2008; 2:17 PM ET | Comments (2)

Moran Receives Martinsville Support

Democratic officials in Martinsville today endorsed Del. Brian J. Moran of Alexandria for the Democratic nomination for governor. Moran received the support of House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong, Martinsville Sheriff Steven Draper, president of the Virginia Sheriffs' Association, and Martinsville Democratic Committee Chair Lorene Martin. They stressed Moran's commitment to rural economic development, plans to re-energize Virginia's economy and his ability to win across Virgina, including rural regions. "I am honored to have the support of these community leaders," Moran said. "I plan on being a champion of rural Virginia in the governor's office just as (former governor) Mark Warner has always been. I know that Virginia needs a leader with a record of fighting for the hard-working men and women of rural Virginia."...

By Anita Kumar | December 4, 2008; 11:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

Virginia Notebook: Searching for that Ceiling

For Republicans still reeling from the drubbing the party took in Northern Virginia on Election Day, there is good and bad news in the outcome. First the bad news. President-elect Barack Obama received 60 percent of the vote in Fairfax County and 72 percent in Arlington County and Alexandria, giving him a trove of support that made it nearly impossible for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to carry the state. Now, the good news. Obama drew 60 percent of the vote in Fairfax and 72 percent in Arlington and Alexandria, which are about the same percentages that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Sen. James Webb (D) received in their races in 2005 and 2006....

By Tim Craig | December 4, 2008; 7:53 AM ET | Comments (0)

Gov Candidates Boast about Debate Performace

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe didn't waste anytime bragging about their performances in the first gubernatorial debate yesterday. The four likely candidates -- three Democrats and one Republican -- shared the stage for the first time at a debate yesterday afternoon, unofficially launching a yearlong campaign for the state's top job. McDonnell (R) sent supporters an email, saying he "took the stage yesterday in Richmond outnumbered, but not outgunned." "Over the course of the debate, McDonnell demonstrated that he is the only candidate running with the record, the ideas, the vision, and the leadership ability that Virginians look for in a Governor," the email said....

By Anita Kumar | December 3, 2008; 5:17 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bedell Elected Fairfax GOP Chairman

The Fairfax County Republican Committee unanimously elected longtime local activist Anthony Bedell its new chairman at a meeting last night. "Anthony understands what it takes for us to start winning again in Northern Virginia,'' said Pat Herrity, a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and candidate for board chairman. "As I campaign to change the way the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has operated, I can think of no better partner to help in this campaign than Anthony Bedell, who will change the way the Republican Party operates in Fairfax." Bedell is director of federal and state government affairs for a Fortune 500 software company. He replaced Jim Hyland, who resigned. "Bedell is extremely smart, pragmatic, and he will work tirelessly to chart a new course for Republicans in Fairfax County," Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) said....

By Anita Kumar | December 3, 2008; 10:13 AM ET | Comments (0)

Gubernatorial Candidates Square Off

The four men vying to be Virginia's next governor shared the stage for the first time today, unofficially kicking off a yearlong campaign for the state's top job. Democrats Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Del. Brian J. Moran and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Republican Attorney General Robert M. McDonnell answered questions posed by journalists at a forum in downtown Richmond sponsored by the Associated Press. The candidates staked out mostly predictable stances on issues and agreed that the economy will likely dominate the race and at least the start of the governor's four-year term. All four agreed that Virginia would have to continue cutting the budget but they ruled out raising taxes in a poor economy. "The worst thing you can do is to tax your way to prosperity,'' McDonnell. "That's failed in the United States and abroad." Voters will chose a Democratic presidential nominee June 9...

By Anita Kumar | December 2, 2008; 3:12 PM ET | Comments (1)

Wagner Names Campaign Manager

Former Finance Secretary Jody W. Wagner announced today that she has hired Elisabeth Pearson to be her campaign manager in her bid for lieutenant governor next year. Pearson was the campaign manager for the Democrats' coordinated campaign this year when the party picked up three U.S. House seats and one U.S. Senate seat and Virginia voted for its first Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades. "Elisabeth's leadership of the 2008 coordinated campaign was key -- and her joining our campaign gives me tremendous confidence,'' Wagner said in a statement. "With the future of our commonwealth at stake once again in 2009, we couldn't ask for a better campaign manager to keep our momentum."...

By Anita Kumar | December 1, 2008; 12:49 PM ET | Comments (2)

Steele Will Headline the GOP Advance

One of Maryland's political stars, former lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele, will deliver the headline speech at the Silver Anniversary Dinner Saturday as part of the Republican Party of Virginia's GOP Advance. The Advance, an annual gathering of Republican activists in Virginia, will be held this weekend at the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs in the western part of the state. The event will include speeches, seminars and receptions with Republicans seeking statewide office including Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. Steele, who lost a U.S. Senate race two years ago, is chairman of GOPAC, a group that recruits Republican candidates across the country and one of the most prominent black Republicans in the nation. He headlined a "Drill Baby Drill" tour across Virginia before the November election. He announced last month that he will seek the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee. The next chairman...

By Anita Kumar | December 1, 2008; 9:55 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bolling Racks Up Support

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is expected to easily win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor next year, released an extensive list of party leaders and elected officials who are supporting his re-election bid. The list includes every Republican in Virginia's congressional delegation, more than 70 Republicans of the General Assembly, almost every member of the party's state central committee and more than 100 of the party's committee chairs. Also included are former governor and senator George Allen, former governor James S. Gilmore, former lieutenant governor John H. Hager and Jerry Kilgore, former attorney general and 2005 gubernatorial nominee. "I am very pleased by the pledges of support that my re-election campaign has gained from Republican party leaders and activists all across Virginia," Bolling said. "Their friendship, confidence and support mean a great deal to me, and their willingness to stand by my side at this early stage shows the...

By Anita Kumar | December 1, 2008; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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