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Virginia Politics Blog: December 7, 2008 - December 13, 2008

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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , James Webb , Jody Wagner  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2008  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Robert F. McDonnell , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , James Gilmore III , Ken Cuccinelli  
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