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Virginia Politics Blog: December 14, 2008 - December 20, 2008

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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Election 2009  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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