Archive: January 2009

Praise for Steele in Virginia

Virginia Republicans heaped praise on former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele after he was elected chairman of the Republican National Committee. Steele, who is African-American, delivered the headline speech at the Republican Party of Virginia's annual gathering of activists last month. "Chairman Steele is an among the most articulate spokesman our party has to offer,'' said Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, chairman of the Virginia GOP. "And while we are in desperate need of an outstanding communicator -- which Michael will surely be -- we are in even greater need of a leader who can reach out and bring new people into the Party of Lincoln." Frederick, along with National Committeeman Morton Blackwell and National Committeewoman Kathy Hayden Terry, voted in the chairman election at the RNC winter meeting....

By Anita Kumar | January 31, 2009; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (19)

House Passes Bill Limiting Fundraising

The House of Delegates passed a bill, 83 to 12, that would ban donations made using untraceable prepaid credit cards that could mask a contributor's identity. Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) said he introduced the bill after learning that then-Sen. Barack Obama (D) allowed donors to use the cards during the presidential campaign last year. "It's not a looophole,'' Marshall said. "It's a grand cavern of exceptions for anonymous donations." Twelve Democrats voted against the bill. Republicans are now expected to use the cards as an issue in this November's House elections, trying to paint a picture that Democrats are corrupt and do not mind illegal donations....

By Anita Kumar | January 31, 2009; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (4)

Weather No Excuse

The weather report calls for rain and snow Tuesday, when Fairfax County voters are scheduled to choose a new chairman of the Board of Supervisors. But elections officials want you to know that, under Virginia law, concern over inclement weather on Election Day is not a good enough reason to take advantage of early voting. Confusion arose over the rules on Friday, when dozens of voters began calling and visiting the office of the Fairfax County registrar asking to vote early. Some, apparently, were motivated by a recorded "robo-call" from former congressman Tom Davis (R), a supporter of GOP candidate Pat Herrity. Davis' message told voters: "The current weather report is calling for snow on Election Day, February 3rd," and then gave the hours for early voting. (A full transcript of the message follows)....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | January 31, 2009; 8:53 AM ET | Comments (2)

Moran Keeps His Lense on Deeds

Former delegate Brian Moran may have resigned from the General Assembly, but he's still keeping close tabs on one of his rivals for the Democratic nomination for governor, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath). At yesterday's Senate Transportation Committee meeting, a Moran campaign volunteer had a video camera fixed on Deeds for nearly two hours as he and other senators considered legislation. At least one Democrat complained about the tracker, saying it's inappropriate for Moran to be badgering a fellow Democrat while he's trying to do official business. But Peter Jackson, a Deeds spokesman, brushed off the incident, calling it part of "the modern campaign." Jesse Ferguson, a Moran spokesman, also claims that Deeds had previously filmed Moran during last year's legislative session....

By Tim Craig | January 30, 2009; 7:43 PM ET | Comments (0)

Could Kaine Be "Miserable" at DNC?

If he hasn't already, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) may want to read former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe's book, "What A Party." Last week, Kaine took over as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. But in his book, which was published in 2007, McAuliffe writes chairmen such as Kaine face "a miserable job" because they serve under a president of the same party. "You have no autonomy or power; your're just expected to do whatever the White House political operation tells you to do, and you're not really a spokesman for the party since obviously the President has that job covered, " wrote McAuliffe, a Democratic candidate for governor who has held a number of positions within the national party since the 1980s....

By Tim Craig | January 30, 2009; 9:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Moran Continues to Go Green

Former delegate Brian Moran, a Democratic candidate for governor, released an ambitious plan to create tens of thousands of new jobs by positioning Virginia as a leader in efforts to protect the environment. At an event in Norfolk, which was followed by a conference call with reporters, Moran called for a major expansion of wind and solar power. As governor, Moran said he would also push to require that 25 percent of the state's energy comes from renewable sources by 2025 and offer extensive incentives to companies and individuals who invest in green buildings and high-mileage vehicles. He also proposed the creation of The Center for Green Technology to "jumpstart" university research and help launch energy technology parks. "It certainly will be the most progressive, innovative job creating plan you will see in this campaign," said Moran, who later added, "The connection between energy and our economy has never been...

By Tim Craig | January 29, 2009; 2:35 PM ET | Comments (1)

With Moran Absent, Deeds Vows to Help Alicia

Last year, former delegate Brian Moran and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) both took leading roles in pushing for Alicia's Law, which provides funding for two Internet Crimes Against Children law enforcement task forces. The law is named after Alicia Kozakiewicz, who at age 13 was abducted and assaulted in a Herndon basement by a man she met online. Last year, Moran joined Kozakiewicz at a press conference in Richmond to push for the law. But because Moran left the House to focus on his bid for governor, Deeds had the spotlight to himself at another event with Kozakiewicz today at the State House. Kozakiewicz and her mother, both of whom live in Pittsburgh, were back in Richmond because there is no funding for Alicia's Law in next year's budget proposal. Deeds, who was joined by Del. Phillip Hamilton (R-Newport News), vows he will find $1.5 million to continue the...

By Tim Craig | January 29, 2009; 1:38 PM ET | Comments (2)

Warner's Riches Rank Him Near Top

Virginia Sen. Mark R. Warner (D), who made a fortune in the communications industry, is the wealthiest freshman member of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. According to Warner's financial disclosure report, he has assets ranging from $60.6 million to $415.1 million. On average, the recently elected members of the House of Representatives and the Senate are worth $1.8 million. "The new blood in Congress is mostly blueblood," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "In this troubled and troubling economy, Congress remains short on lawmakers who can personally relate to what the average American is going through financially." Warner is now the second wealthiest member of the Senate, according to CRP. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) ranks first, listing assets ranging from $284.1 million to $388.3 million. Kerry is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry, heiress of the Heinz Ketchup fortune....

By Tim Craig | January 28, 2009; 3:39 PM ET | Comments (1)

Virginia Notebook: Can Kaine Stop McDonnell?

Moments after he was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) left no doubt that the 2009 Virginia governor's race would become his top political priority. "The two big races in 2009 are the New Jersey governorship and the Virginia governorship," Kaine told a group of reporters at the DNC meeting. "So it just happens ..... one of the most important races is right here in Virginia." Kaine is sending a strong signal that national Democrats and President Obama plan to fiercely compete to win the Virginia governor's race. With Kaine at the helm of the DNC, millions of dollars and the full weight of the national party organization will flow into Virginia this year, setting up a nationally watched race. If Democrats can win a third consecutive governor's race, it will be hard to argue the state is anything but blue....

By Tim Craig | January 28, 2009; 1:59 PM ET | Comments (1)

Gonzalez Eyes Rematch With Herring

After she almost lost a Democratic seat in a special election earlier this month, Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria) will likely face an opponent in the June primary. Democrat Ariel Gonzalez, who unsuccessfully challenged Herring for the nomination last month, announced today he is starting a "listening tour" to explore whether he will run again. In a statement, Gonzalez noted the last election was held on 100 hours notice after Brian Moran abruptly resigned the seat to focus on his bid for governor. Only 234 voters showed up to vote to participate in the Herring-Gonzalez nomination contest. "Voters were provided minimal time to learn the date, hours and location of the caucus," Gonzalez said. "Further, residents were given almost no opportunity to learn and understand the views and policy positions of the candidates."...

By Tim Craig | January 28, 2009; 1:30 PM ET | Comments (8)

McDonnell, Democrats Square Off in Fairfax Race

The first battle of the 2009 general election campaign for governor will take place next week when voters in Fairfax County go to the polls to elect a new board chairman. Emboldened by the near victory of a GOP House candidate in heavily Democratic Alexandria earlier this month, Virginia Republicans are hoping Fairfax Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) can defeat his Democratic opponent, Supervisor Sharon S. Bulova (Braddock), in the chairman's race. In effort to lay the groundwork for his own campaign this fall, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) has dispatched paid canvassers and volunteers to help Herrity. By the end of the weekend, McDonnell's staff estimates they will have knocked on more than 15,000 doors. McDonnell plans to campaign with Herrity on Monday. Not to be outdone, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is turning his Mclean headquarters into a daily phone banking center in support of Bulova. While much...

By Tim Craig | January 28, 2009; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Richmond Mayor Will Endorse Moran

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones will endorse former delegate Brian Moran in his campaign for governor, according to several sources. Jones, a former Democratic legislator and chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, served with Moran in the House of Delegates until Jones was elected mayor in November. Jesse Ferguson, Moran's spokesman, would not confirm the endorsement. Jones was expected to appear with Moran tomorrow morning on Capitol Square. But the event was canceled because of a scheduling conflict and bad weather. The event has yet to be rescheduled....

By Anita Kumar | January 27, 2009; 4:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

Moran Camp Needles McAuliffe Over Fundraiser

Brian Moran's campaign is stepping up its efforts to draw contrasts with Terry McAuliffe, who is also a Democratic candidate for governor. In a fundraising appeal sent out today, Moran strategist Mame Reiley jabbed McAuliffe for holding a fundraiser last week in New York. The email was titled "Park Avenue vs. Virginia." "Last week, Terry McAuliffe was up on Wall Street at a glitzy Park Avenue location, collecting money while Brian Moran was announcing the boldest environmental plan of any candidate," Reiley wrote. "Yesterday, McAuliffe announced he's spending that Wall Street money on high-priced TV ads in Virginia." According to the Virginia Public Access Project, McAuliffe raised $216,000 in 2008 from the finance and insurance industry but that does not include the donations he received last week in New York. Moran raised $139,000 from the finance and insurance industry last year....

By Tim Craig | January 27, 2009; 2:34 PM ET | Comments (2)

Clinton Helps McAuliffe Raise Money

Former President Bill Clinton attended Terry McAuliffe's fundraiser last week on Park Avenue, according to the New York Observer. The fundraiser was hosted by Hassan Nemazee, an investment banker; Marc Lasry, a billionaire financier whose company hired Chelsea Clinton; and Douglas Band, the former president's chief counsel. According the Observer, Clinton introduced McAuliffe at the event, telling the audience, "it was an honor and a privilege to be a supporter of Terry McAuliffe and to be in a position to return the favor that he has done for me and Hillary for so many years." The event raised $350,000, according to the Observer. Clinton's endorsement of McAuliffe could make Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran, who are also candidates in the June primary, a bit uncomfortable at next week's Jefferson Jackson Day dinner. On Sunday, the Virginia Democratic Party announced that Clinton will be the headline speaker at the...

By Tim Craig | January 27, 2009; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (11)

DNC Made Error on Fundraising Letter

The Democratic National Committee will refund donations collected through an email that then-incoming DNC Chairman Timothy M. Kaine sent on Jan. 16, two days after the start of Virginia's annual legislative session. DNC officials said they made a mistake by putting a standard "Please Donate" button at the bottom of the email in which Kaine wrote to supporters about the future of the Democratic party. Under Virginia law, Kaine is prohibited from raising money for himself or state political committees during the 45-day legislative session, which began Jan. 14. That does not necessarily apply to Kaine's email, but DNC officials said they never meant for the email to be a fundraising letter. The email came to light after Virginia Democrats accused Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, of violating the law by sending out fundraising letters Jan. 9. The letters arrived in some homes last...

By Anita Kumar | January 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Politics in Print: Tuesday's Stories

Va. Governor's Race Heats up, Page B-1 Herring Seated in House, Page B-1 Herrity Prompts Look at School Funds in Fairfax, Page B-2...

By Tim Craig | January 26, 2009; 11:42 PM ET | Comments (0)

Longtime House Member Will Retire

Del. Frank D. Hargrove Sr. (R-Hanover) announced today that he will retire this year after 28 years in the House of Delegates. In recent years, Hargrove, 82, has been best known for changing his stance on the death penalty. Since that, he has introduced a bill that would end capital punishment but it has failed each year. Hargrove made national headlines two years ago when he said that the issue of slavery was settled by the Civil War and that "our black citizens should get over it."...

By Anita Kumar | January 26, 2009; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (2)

McAuliffe Goes on the Air

Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic candidate for governor, released today the first television ad of the 2009 governor's race. The 30-second spot will air in Hampton Roads, which will be a crucial battleground in this year's campaign for the Democratic nomination. Mo Elleithee, a McAuliffe strategist, said the campaign has purchased a "healthy" ad buy that will be followed up in the coming weeks with additional ads that will air in other parts of the state. "I've spent four decades building businesses and creating jobs," McAuliffe says in the ad. "Now, I'm running for Governor because I know we can create thousands more right here. I'll make it my job to protect your job - and get Virginia's economy moving."...

By Tim Craig | January 26, 2009; 9:34 AM ET | Comments (11)

Updated: Ban Proposed for Mansion Fundraisers

Days after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) abruptly canceled a reception at the governors mansion, House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith has introduced a bill that would prohibit fundraising at the house. House Bill 2657 simply says "Any event at the Executive Mansion for the purpose of soliciting funds for any purpose, other than for charity, shall be prohibited at all times." Griffith (R-Salem) said last week that he got a "creepy feeling" when he learned of a planned reception at the mansion. Charlie Kelly, Kaine's political director, said Kaine and his staff did not realize the event was a fundraiser, and canceled it immediately when he found out....

By Anita Kumar | January 26, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

When Will McDonnell Resign?

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, will resign in the coming weeks to campaign full-time, according to sources close to McDonnell. The news is not surprising. In recent years, attorneys general of both parties have resigned during the annual legislative session to run for governor. If McDonnell leaves during the session, the House and Senate, controlled by two different parties, will appoint a replacement. But if he waits until later, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) picks a successor. Last week, McDonnell raised some eyebrows when he was seen chatting up legislators at the General Assembly Building, along with chief deputy attorney general William C. Mims. Mims, a former Republican legislator from Loudoun County, is expected to be the top choice to replace McDonnell. "I wouldn't read anything into that,'' said J. Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman. Martin said McDonnell and Mims were discussing McDonnell's legislative priorities with...

By Anita Kumar | January 26, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bill Clinton Will Headline Democrats' JJ Dinner

Former President Bill Clinton will headline the state Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraising dinner next month, party leaders told supporters in an email today. The dinner, which the GOP criticizes because it takes place during the legislative session when elected officials are barred from raising money, will occur Feb. 7 at the Richmond Convention Center. In 2007, President Obama was the featured speaker. Before that event, Obama picked up an endorsement from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). Last year, the dinner took place days before Virginia's presidential primary. Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was also a Democratic candidate for president, both spoke at the dinner. This year's event will likely be dominated by politicking by the three Democratic candidates for governor, Brian Moran, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath) and Terry McAuliffe. Although he has not yet endorsed him, Bill Clinton and McAuliffe are close friends. Democratic officials say...

By Tim Craig | January 25, 2009; 1:27 PM ET | Comments (5)

Updated: Democrats Ask GOP Chairman to Return Money

Democrats are calling on Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, to return donations he received after Jan. 14, the start of the annual legislative session, in response to a recent fundraising letter. Frederick (R-Prince William) mailed a letter to supporters seeking money for the party on Jan. 9, five days before the 45-day session began. Some letters arrived last week, including one sent to a Northern Virginia Democratic delegate, which Democrats say violates state law. "What I was wondering is this: how do you send a letter out on January 9th soliciting funds, expect people to receive it, open it, respond, write a check, and send the check back - and not be in violation of our law that says you can't receive funds during the General Assembly session?" Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, (D-Richmond) asked on the House floor Friday....

By Anita Kumar | January 25, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

UPDATED: Connolly under fire for vote-suppression joke

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) is under fire, mostly from Republicans, for jokingly urging fellow Democrats at a recent political event to give Republicans the wrong date for the Feb. 3 special election for Fairfax County chairman. Speaking to about 700 guests at a Fairfax County Democratic Committee ball held last weekend at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Connolly, who was chairman until taking congressional office earlier this month, urged the crowd to help elect Vice Chairman Sharon S. Bulova (D-Braddock) in the Feb. 3 special election to replace him. "You know, it's really important to tell every Democrat we know this election is on Tuesday, Feb. 3, and to tell every Republican we know that this election is on Tuesday Feb. 10," Connolly said to laughter. The remarks were captured on video and have been bouncing through the blogosphere -- and accompanied by charges that Connolly crossed...

By Amy Gardner | January 24, 2009; 5:00 PM ET | Comments (9)

Obama Virginia Director Heads to National Stage

Mitch Stewart, who implemented President Barack Obama's winning strategy in Virginia last year, is taking over the remnants of Obama's national presidential campaign. Stewart, who helped Obama win 53 percent of the vote in Virginia, will be the director of "Organizing for America." The group, which will oversee the Obama campaign's massive database, will partner with the Democratic National Committee to advance Obama's agenda and help Democrats win local, state and federal offices. "Working in partnership we will seek to engage people in new ways and to broaden what President Obama calls the 'Coalition for Change in America," said Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. "I know how important it is to reach out and engage the grassroots all across a state and all across our country." Stewart's appointment could be bad news for Virginia Republicans this year. With Kaine at the DNC and Stewart...

By Tim Craig | January 23, 2009; 4:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

Five Possible Contenders for Eisenberg's Seat

A Democratic State House insider reports there are five possible contenders for the party's nomination to replace Del. Albert C. Eisenberg (D-Arlington), who announced today he will not seek reelection this year. The candidates include environmental activist and blogger Miles Grant, social services activist Patrick Hope, Democratic activist Adam Parkhomenko, Alfonso Lopez, director of Virginia's Legislative Office on Capitol Hill, and Andres Tobar, executive director of the Shirlington Employment Center. The nominee will be heavily favored to win the general election in the overwhelmingly Democratic 47th District. If either Alfonso or Andres win, they would be the first Latino Democrat in the General Assembly....

By Tim Craig | January 22, 2009; 6:21 PM ET | Comments (0)

McAuliffe Hits Up Park Avenue for Cash

Some of the wealthiest men in New York City will be on Park Avenue tonight to help Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic candidate for governor, raise money for his campaign. The fundraiser will be held at the home of Hassan Nemazee, a multimillionaire investment banker. Nemazee is chairman of Nemazee Capital. Last year, Nemazee was a co-chair of Hillary Clinton's fundraising effort for her presidential campaign. The McAuliffe fundraiser is also being hosted by Marc and Cathy Lasry and Douglas and Lily Band, according to an invitation. Marc Lasry is founder and senior managing director of Avenue Capital Group. In 2007, Forbes Magazine ranked Lasry as the 317th wealthiest person in America, estimating he has a net worth $1.5 billion. When Chelsea Clinton graduated from Oxford, Lasry's company gave her a job. Douglas Band also has close ties to the Clintons. Band serves as former President Clinton's chief counsel. Band joined...

By Tim Craig | January 22, 2009; 1:09 PM ET | Comments (4)

Eisenberg Will Not Run Again

Del. Albert C. Eisenberg (D-Arlington), who has served in the House of Delegates since 2004, announced today that he will not run for re-election in November. Eisenberg, a former longterm Arlington County Board member and chairman, told his colleagues of his decision in an eloquent speech this afternoon on the House floor. He received a standing ovation. "We thank you for your service,'' House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said....

By Anita Kumar | January 22, 2009; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (1)

Moran Vows to Stop New Coal Plant

Brian J. Moran, a Democratic candidate for governor, vowed today he will stop the construction of a proposed coal fired power plant in Surry County if he is elected governor. Moran advisors say he is the first candidate for governor in modern times to oppose a new coal fired power plant, a further indication that Moran plans to aggressively pursue support from environmentalists. Moran said the plant, which has been proposed by Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, will contribute to global warming and harm the Chesapeake Bay. "As a candidate for governor, it is important to know where the next governor will stand on important issues," Moran said a press conference this morning in front of the Department of Environmental Quality Office in Richmond. "We should be investing and developing clean sources of energy."...

By Tim Craig | January 22, 2009; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (4)

McDonnell Receives Veteran Award

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, a veteran and Republican nominee for governor, received the "Seven Seals Award" for his support of employers serving in the Guard and Reserve. Seveal dozen people were on hand in the lobby of the Attorney General's Office when Roger Trout, chairman of the Virginia committee of the employer support of the Guard and Reserve, presented the award. Some were military officials, including attorneys in McDonnell's office currently serving in the Guard and Reserve. "Today, we are honoring Bob McDonnell, not for his military service, for which we owe him a great deal of gratitude, but for his exceptional support of fellow Reserve and Guard members as an employer,'' Trout said. "Bob McDonnell has gone above and beyond in supporting the employees in his office who are also citizen soldiers; but his support is not just for those service members in his office." The presentation took...

By Anita Kumar | January 22, 2009; 11:11 AM ET | Comments (1)

McAuliffe Adds Press Secretary

Terry McAuliffe has hired Elisabeth Smith to be his press secretary. Smith, who goes by Liz, will work with Delacey Skinner, McAuliffe's communications director. Last year, Smith worked for Dan Seals, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Congress in Illinois. In 2006, Smith served as Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) press secretary....

By Tim Craig | January 22, 2009; 9:47 AM ET | Comments (2)

Virginia Notebook: Deeds, Moran vs. McAuliffe

During this year's campaign for governor of Virginia, one piece of trivia that will probably be invoked is that since Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976, the party that has won the White House has lost the state's race for governor the next year. But here is another tidbit that might be more relevant in this year's contest: Since 1957, no delegate or state senator has won the nomination for governor without first leaving the General Assembly to serve in a higher office. In Virginia, where governors can run for only one term, major party nominees in modern times have been sitting or former lieutenant governors, attorneys general, congressmen or businessmen. Brian Moran (D), who resigned last month from the House of Delegates to focus on fundraising, and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) are hoping to buck that trend. But first, they have to get past Terry McAuliffe,...

By Tim Craig | January 22, 2009; 9:05 AM ET | Comments (1)

Moran Hires Trippi

Former delegate Brian Moran (D-Alexandria) announced today he has hired Joe Trippi as media consultant and general strategist for his campaign for governor. "I'm excited to join Brian's team because of his record fighting for working families,'' Trippi said. "I think Virginians will respond to his leadership and experience as we grapple with today's tough times. I've known Brian for a long time and he has a bold vision for Virginia's future and the record to back it up." Trippi has been credited as the man who "reinvented campaigning" after he developed the grassroots, online network for the Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2004, according to a press release. Using the Internet, Dean raised more money than any Democratic presidential campaign to that point - all with donations averaging less than $100. "We're very excited to add Joe to an all-star team working to build the best grassroots campaign," Campaign...

By Anita Kumar | January 21, 2009; 9:46 AM ET | Comments (3)

Kaine To Be Elected To DNC Post

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who spent today in Washington for the inauguration, will spend another day in the nation's capital tomorrow when he will officially be elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC will select Kaine tomorrow afternoon at its winter meeting in Washington. Outgoing Chairman Howard Dean and Kaine are both scheduled to give speeches. Kaine, 50, who emerged as a finalist for the job of President Obama's running mate last summer, will operate from Richmond in a part-time capacity until January 2010, when he will become the full-time DNC chairman....

By Anita Kumar | January 20, 2009; 9:01 PM ET | Comments (1)

Inauguration Day in Richmond

The General Assembly will meet tomorrow on Inauguration Day, the seventh day of its 45-day legislative session. The Republican-controlled House of Delegates will move its regular floor session to 10 a.m. to allow legislators to be free at noon when President-elect Barack Obama gives his inauguration address. The Democratic-controlled Senate will meet at 11:30 a.m. Senators plan to watch the festivities at the U.S. Capitol on large TVs from the chamber....

By Anita Kumar | January 19, 2009; 4:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

Werkheiser Will Challenge Albo

Democrat Greg Werkheiser is set to announce this week that he will run against Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), a rematch of a bitter 2005 contest. Albo won by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2005, but the Springfield-based district has favored Democrats in recent years. Obama won the district with 57 percent of the vote. Albo and Werkheiser both expect to spend at least $1 million for the race, which sets the stage for what could be the most expensive House contest in 2009. The race could become the marquee contest in Democratic efforts to pick up the six seats needed to regain control of the House. "I am focused on, winning so I can work with a Democratic governor, two Democratic senators, a Democratic congressman, and obviously a Democratic national administration, so I can try to help southern Fairfax county get through these very difficult economic times," said Werkheiser,...

By Tim Craig | January 19, 2009; 1:02 PM ET | Comments (3)

Philip Morris Likes All Four Candidates for Governor

Altria, the parent company of Richmond-based Philip Morris, is hedging its bets in this year's campaign for governor. During a one week period in mid December, Altria gave $10,000 each to the all three Democratic candidates for governor. In addition to the campaign contributions to Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), on Dec. 9 Altria also gave $10,000 to Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the GOP nominee for governor, according to the Virginia Public Access Project The donations came one week after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) proposed a 30 cent increase in the state's tobacco tax. Altria did not donate to Kaine in 2008, but the company has given $20,000 this year to both House and Senate Democratic campaign committees. House Republican campaign committees also received $20,000 this year from Altria. McDonnell, who opposes Kaine's tax increase, has collected a total of $35,000 from Altria...

By Tim Craig | January 19, 2009; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

House Continues Bickering, Day 3

The House of Delegates spent an hour today bickering about whether legislators and statewide elected officials should be allowed to attend events in which money is raised during the annual legislative session. For the third straight year, the House passed a bill that would ban lawmakers and statewide officials from attending fundraising events sponsored by a political party, lobbyist or campaign contributors during the legislative session. The target: The state Democratic party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. The Feb. 7 event will be held at the Richmond Convention Center. Even though they complained about the bill, the majority of Democrats voted to send the bill to the Senate, mindful of how that vote might look come Election Day. The Democrat-controlled Senate is expected to kill the bill. Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairax) said House Democrats who voted for the bill and then attend the "J-J Dinner" would be "hypocrites."...

By Anita Kumar | January 16, 2009; 5:04 PM ET | Comments (0)

House GOP Blasts Saslaw

House Republicans are attacking Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D) for refusing to reduce senators' salaries and expenses the way the delegates in the House did. "We're fully capable of running the Senate, and they can run the House,'' Saslaw said. In a recent letter to Saslaw, House Republican Caucus Chairman Samuel A. Nixon Jr. (R-Chesterfield) asked the Senate to reduce their salaries by two percent to bring them down salaries to $17,640 and a daily session per diem rate of $135. The Senate's per diem rate is $169. Saslaw told Nixon his answer this week. "That's silly and grandstanding,'' Saslaw said....

By Anita Kumar | January 16, 2009; 2:40 PM ET | Comments (0)

McAuliffe Learns "Colors Matter" at UVA

Bob Gibson, a former reporter for Charlottesville's Daily Progress who continues to blog for the newspaper, reports Terry McAuliffe showed up at last night's University of Virginia game against North Carolina. When he took his seat, McAuliffe apparently realized he was wearing the wrong color of blue sweater for a Virginia game against the Tar Heels. So McAuliffe apparently dispatched someone to the concessions stand to buy some Virginia merchandise. Gibson gives a first-hand account of McAuliffe being a quick study in realizing "colors matter," especially for a politician battling perceptions that he is not an authentic Virginian....

By Tim Craig | January 16, 2009; 2:16 PM ET | Comments (0)

Big Checks Escape Deeds, Moran

Terry McAuliffe appears to be the only Democratic candidate for governor who is having luck collecting big checks from donors during the economic downturn, according to campaign finance reports. McAuliffe collected twice as many campaign contributions of at least $25,000 as Deeds and Moran were able to combined. The distinction is all the more striking because McAuliffe collected his money in six weeks. Moran and Deeds had six months, although both scaled back their fundraising during the fall presidential campaign. Moran's brother, U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.), was his largest contributor during the reporting period. James Moran's congressional campaign wrote Brian Moran a $50,000 check in mid December. Moran also collected four $25,000 contributions during the reporting period, according to the Virginia Public Access Project....

By Tim Craig | January 16, 2009; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (2)

Deeds Misses Third Day of Session

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) has been taking subtle swipes at his rival for the Democratic nomination for governor, Brian Moran, over his decision to give up his House seat. Deeds often notes he is "staying to fight" for Democratic principles in the General Assembly, an apparent effort to highlight Moran's choice to leave so he can campaign and fundraise. But on the third of the legislative session, a Democratic senator stood up on floor to announce that Deeds was away on "pressing, personal business." In other words, Deeds was on the campaign trail. According to his campaign schedule, Deeds is attending a prayer service today at Dar Al-Hiraj Mosque in Fairfax County. The mosque is a focal point of Northern Virginia's politically active Muslim community. Deeds did not miss any votes. Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), a Deeds supporter, delayed action on bills today. The floor session...

By Tim Craig | January 16, 2009; 11:36 AM ET | Comments (0)

NoVa Democrats Celebrate Inauguration

Fairfax Democrats will hold a pre-inaugural Denim to Diamonds ball Saturday night with all three of the party's candidates for governor, Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Sens. Jim Webb and Mark R. Warner were invited, and several state legislators are likely to attend. More than 500 people are attending the Fairfax County Democratic Committee's Blue Jeans ball at the Richard J Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale. The party expects to raise more than $40,000. Today, after a lively debate, the Republican-led House of Delegates gave preliminary approval to a bill that, if already in effect, would have banned state legislators and statewide officials from this event -- and all other fundraising events sponsored by a political party, lobbyist or campaign contributors during the legislative session....

By Anita Kumar | January 15, 2009; 8:46 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Money Race is On. Stay Tuned.

Thursday is the deadline for both state candidates to file campaign finance reports with the State Board of Elections for July 1 to December 31 fundraising period . As the tallies for elected officials, parties and campaign committees are released over the next 36 hours, we will be updating this post. Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, raised $1.6 million during the reporting period, including $1 million since mid November. He has about $2 million in the bank. McDonnell has added about $800,000 to his cash-on-hand total since June. State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), a Democratic candidate for governor, raised $658,000 during the reporting period. Deeds has $891,000 in the bank, about $250,000 more than he had on hand six months ago. Brian Moran, a Democratic candidate for governor, says he raised $755,000 during the second half of 2008. Moran has raised a total of...

By Tim Craig | January 15, 2009; 1:52 PM ET | Comments (1)

McAuliffe Snags Two $100,000 Checks

Terry McAuliffe, a Democratic candidate for governor, already has two contributors who have given $100,000 to his campaign, according to campaign finance reports. McAuliffe, who has so far raised about $950,000, collected $100,000 checks from Radford businessman Randal J. Kirk and Ed Haddock, a Richmond native who is now a businessman in Florida. Novelist John Grisham, Huda A. Farouki, a finance and shipping mogul, John Raffaelli, a Washington attorney and lobbyist who lives in Alexandria, and Premium Distributors LLC each gave McAuliffe $50,000. Eight of McAuliffe's donors gave $25,000....

By Tim Craig | January 15, 2009; 12:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

School Board Member Announces Runs for LG

Pat Edmonson, a member of the Virginia Beach School Board since 2006, announced she will run for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor this year. Edmonson, who has worked for several non-profit gruops, serves as vice chairwoman of the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee. Former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner, Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County and Rich Savage, a Democratic political advisor in Richmond are also seeking the Democratic nomination. The annoucement wasn't good news for Wagner. She and Edmonson are both from the Hampton Roads area, which means they could split money, support and votes. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) will face lawyer Patrick Muldoon for the Republican nomination....

By Anita Kumar | January 15, 2009; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Republicans Target Democratic Fundraising

The Republican-controlled House didn't waste any time in targeting Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the incoming Democratic National Committee chairman, and his colleagues in the General Assembly. The House Privileges and Elections Committee voted 12 to 8, along partisian lines, to send a bill that would ban lawmakers or statewide officials from attending fundraising events sponsored by a political party, lobbyist or campaign contributors during the legislative session. "People should know money does not influence our business,'' said Del. Christopher B. Saxman (R-Staunton), who introduced the bill. In recent weeks, Republicans criticized Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who they say is violating current state law by raising money Monday during in the second week of the legislative session....

By Anita Kumar | January 14, 2009; 3:45 PM ET | Comments (2)

Plum Elected House Democratic Caucus Leader

In a surprising move, House Democrats chose Del. Kenneth R. Plum (D-Fairfax) over Del. Kristen J. Amundson (D-Fairfax) to be their caucus chairman, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the House. Amundson congratulated Plum afterward and said the Democratic caucus' goal remains the same no matter who is in charge: To win the six seats the party needs to take control of the Republican-led House. The caucus deadlocked in three votes yesterday. Today, Plum narrowly won, after two new Democratic delegates were included in the vote behind closed doors. Del. Mark D. Sickles (D-Fairfax) said the close votes were the result of disagreements over personality differences between Plum and Amundson, and nothing else....

By Anita Kumar | January 14, 2009; 3:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Herring-Murray Result Will Linger for Weeks

With Democrat Charniele Herring clinging to a 16-vote lead over Republican Joe Murray in the special House election to replace Brian Moran, it appears as if Northern Virginia Democrats have a bit of election fatigue. No, Moran shouldn't be blamed for failing to do more to prevent Democrats from suffering an embarrassing result in a district that President-Elect Barack Obama carried with 75 percent of the vote two months ago. As a candidate for governor in a tough race, Moran didn't have the luxury of personally visiting Alexandria Democrats around the holidays to remind them to vote in a special election. But the Virginia Democratic Party was outflanked by the GOP. Murray won the absentee ballot precinct with nearly 80 percent of the vote, a clear sign that Herring and the Democrats got beat in the all-important organizing effort.....

By Tim Craig | January 13, 2009; 11:30 PM ET | Comments (7)

Jody Wagner Raises $400,000

Jody W. Wagner, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, announced today she raised $400,000 for her campaign during the second half of 2008. Wagner will report she has $285,000 in the bank. Wagner, who entered the race in August, is facing Richmond political consultant Rich Savage and Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Southwest Virginia, for the nomination. Wagner is the first Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor to release their fundraising numbers. Bowerbank's report will be especially interesting. When he announced his candidacy in May, Bowerbank dumped $223,000 of his own money into his campaign. Bowerbank's only two contributors were his employees, but Democratic officials say he has since stepped up his outreach to donors, including attending a fundraiser last week in Fairfax County....

By Tim Craig | January 13, 2009; 5:04 PM ET | Comments (0)

Edwards for AG?

A week after Roanoke attorney John P. Fiscwick Jr. dropped out of the race for attorney general, another Democrat may be considering a run. Sen. John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke), who unsuccessfully ran for Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2001 and considered a run in 2005, may be considering running again. Edwards refuses to say whether he will jump into a nomination fight with Del. Stephen C. Shannon (D-Fairfax). He was seen last night at a Richmond restaurant with political consultant Craig Bieber; Rich Savage, a Democratic political advisor who is running for lieutenant governor; and Eric Payne, chairman of the Richmond City Democratic Committee. When asked at the restaurant by a reporter if he was running, Edwards would not say,...

By Anita Kumar | January 13, 2009; 2:26 PM ET | Comments (1)

Armstrong Shifts Crime Commission to the Right

With Brian Moran's resignation from the House of Delegates, the Virginia Crime Commission appears to have shifted slightly to the right. House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry), who represents rural Southern Virginia, replaced Moran on the 13-member commission. The appointment puts considerable pressure on Armstrong, who has to balance the wishes of his constituents against his role as a statewide spokesman for his party, including its liberal base in Northern Virginia. In his first real test as a member, Armstrong voted today against having the crime commission recommend that the General Assembly close the so-called gun show loophole. Armstrong's vote resulted in the commission deadlocking on whether to make a recommendation. Moran had supported the closure of the loophole. According to Washington Post reporter Fredrick Kunkle, Armstrong noted a large gun show is held annually in his district. He said the show was important to the local economy. House...

By Tim Craig | January 13, 2009; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (1)

Senators Form New Caucus

Four state senators -- Richard H. Stuart (R-Westmoreland), Jill Vogel (R-Winchester), Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) and John Miller (D-Newport News) -- have formed the Commonwealth Caucus to try to put Virginia above party affiliation. "The people of Virginia are interested in performance, not partisanship," Miller said. "There are good ideas on both sides of the aisle. If we want to govern effectively, we must reach across the aisle to get things done." The caucus plans to work to ensure partisan politics is removed from redistricting, selecting judges and protecting the Chesapeake Bay and other natural resources. "While I will not compromise my conservative beliefs, I am committed to the three core positions of this caucus,'' Vogel said. "Our mission is to combat the gridlock that we faced last session and our new caucus will now make the difference on these key votes."...

By Anita Kumar | January 13, 2009; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

Moran Rolls Out Aggressive Energy Plan

Former Del. Brian Moran, a Democratic candidate for governor this year, announced his support of a mandatory commitment to renewable and alternative energy in the hopes of creating thousands of jobs across the state. Currently, Virginia has a voluntary goal of getting 12 percent of the state's energy from renewable resources. Moran's plan, which would more than double the current standard and make it mandatory, calls for a 25 percent mandatory standard by 2025. It would put Virginia in the top ten states nationally. "I have proposed a bold step, which will make Virginia a leader in renewable energy," Moran said. "The next governor needs to be looking toward the future and creating an environment which will attract good high-paying green jobs, and help Virginia grow in the green economy. My commitment to our environment and our economy is too strong to do anything less."...

By Anita Kumar | January 13, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

McAuliffe Raises $1 million in 6 weeks

Terry McAuliffe announced today he's raised nearly $1 million since mid November for his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor. In a memo to donors, McAuliffe said he doubled his goal of $500,000. The memo said almost all of the money came from people who own homes or businesses in Virginia. McAuliffe's campaign estimates that less than $40,000 came from out of state. Campaign finance reports for July 1 to December 31 are due Thursday. McAuliffe becomes the first candidate to release his number. But his big number will likely send shudders through his opponents' campaigns. During the first six months of 2008, Democratic candidate Brian J. Moran took in about $1.4 million, although some of that money was transferred from an old political account. Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), also a Democratic candidate for governor next year, raised $783,000 in the January to June 2008 reporting period. Attorney...

By Tim Craig | January 12, 2009; 2:37 PM ET | Comments (4)

Boucher Endorses Bowerbank

U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D) endorsed Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, who is running for the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor this year. Boucher, who called Bowerbank a longtime friend, said that his record of job creation and experience in the energy sector make him the best candidate. Both men are from southwest Virginia, and Bowerbank has given Boucher campaign contributions over the years. "As an entrepreneur in Russell County, Jon has demonstrated his ability to create high paying jobs,'' Boucher said. "He has two decades of experience meeting the challenges of the energy sector. Jon's commitment to economic development, finding energy solutions, and investing in our infrastructure will be an asset to Virginia when he is elected lieutenant governor."...

By Anita Kumar | January 12, 2009; 2:10 PM ET | Comments (1)

Moran Hires Campaign Manager

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian J. Moran will announce today he's hired a campaign manager, according to officials close to the campaign. Andrew Roos, who oversaw Jack Markell's successful campaign for governor in Delaware last year, will become Moran's campaign manager. Mame Reiley had been overseeing Moran's campaign, but he always planned on bringing on someone else to assume the role of manager. Reiley will continue to be the chair of Moran's effort and head his finance operation. Steve Jarding will also continue to serve as Moran's senior strategist. As manager of Markell's campaign, Roos helped Markell upset then former Delaware Lt. Gov. John Carney in the Democratic primary. In that race, Carney started off the campaign with a big lead but Markell closed the gap after strong fundraising and an aggressive effort to organize voters. "Roos has won primaries, and that is what we were looking for," said one Democratic...

By Tim Craig | January 12, 2009; 10:21 AM ET | Comments (1)

Kate Hanley Gives Generously to Bulova

Secretary of the Commonwealth Katherine K. Hanley, a former chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, is playing an aggressive role in trying to make sure a Democrat wins her old job. According to campaign finance reports, Hanley donated $4,000 last week to Braddock District Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D), who is running against Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity (R) in the Fairfax chairman's race. Hanley's donation last week is on top of the $1,000 she gave Bulova last month. Hanley served as the chairwoman of the Fairfax Board from 1995 to 2003. In 2006, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) asked her to join his cabinet....

By Tim Craig | January 12, 2009; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (0)

Alexandria GOP Not Conceding Moran's Seat

Northern Virginia Republicans are dumping surprising resources into Tuesday's special election to replace former delegate Brian J. Moran (D), who stepped down last month to focus on his bid for governor. Given the strong Democratic tilt of Alexandria, Democratic nominee Charnielle Herring is heavily favored to defeat Republican Joseph Murray. But Murray appears to be remaining competitive with Herring in the money race in the final days of the election. As of Jan. 2, Herring reported she had $13,365 in the bank. Murray, however, received an influx of support last week from Alexandria Republicans, according to campaign finance reports. On Tuesday, Murray reported a $6,200 in-kind donation from the Alexandria Republican City Committee. On Friday, Murray reported he's also received $10,000 from Chris Marston, the chairman of the Alexandria Republican Committee. The Fund for America Opportunity, a Washington-based political action committee, also gave Murray $2,000 last week. Murray's late-money frustrates...

By Tim Craig | January 11, 2009; 5:01 PM ET | Comments (2)

Loudoun Supervisor Eyes Tom Rust's Seat

Washington Post reporter Christopher Twarowski reported in Sunday's editions that Loudoun County Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) is considering challenging Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax) this year. But Miller first has to find a new house in the 86th District, a process that is ongoing. "I would like to run," Miller told Twarowski. "I can't commit to the project unless I can legally run for it, and I can't do that until I live inside the 86th District." Miller's housing search, which centers in the Oak Grove area, underscores the obstacles facing Democrats as they try to unseat Rust. Although his district has been trending Democratic - President-elect Barack Obama carried it with 63 percent of the vote inthis year - Rust has proven to be a formidable opponent. In 2007, Rust was reelected with 53 percent of the vote against a well-funded Democratic challenger. If Miller were to get the...

By Tim Craig | January 11, 2009; 4:22 PM ET | Comments (2)

McAuliffe Announces Work Days

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said today that he will participate in a series of work days around the state to get a firsthand look at the economy from the perspective of working Virginians. McAuliffe will take on different jobs starting with bussing tables Monday at Roger Brown's Restaurant and Sports Bar in Portsmouth. "I know that when it comes to getting our economy back on track, not every good idea comes from Richmond," McAuliffe said. "I'm looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work alongside Virginians from all walks of life, as we find a way to get our economy moving again." McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, faces state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County and former state delegate Brian J. Moran of Alexandria in a June 9 Democratic primary....

By Anita Kumar | January 10, 2009; 5:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

Chairman Kaine

President-elect Barak Obama sent an email to supporters across the nation officially announcing his selection of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine as chairman of Democratic National Committee. "As Governor of Virginia, Tim was known for his intelligence, integrity, and strong economic leadership," Obama wrote in his fundraising letter. "He has a record of putting public service above partisanship, and he knows that reaching across party lines is the way to achieve progress for all Americans." The full text is below:...

By Anita Kumar | January 10, 2009; 1:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

House Will Broadcast Floor Sessions

Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) announced today that the House of Delegates will implement live video streaming of floor proceedings with the 45-day legislative session that starts Wednesday. "The House of Delegates is an essential institution in our representative democracy," Howell said. "Online video broadcasts provide not only a window into the seriousness and solution-oriented nature of the legislative process, but also a responsible and unfiltered method of allowing more Virginians to see the House at work doing the people's business." Howell instructed the House Clerk's Office to make House floor proceedings accessible on the Internet. The video will be broadcast using cameras currently installed and operated in the House chamber....

By Anita Kumar | January 9, 2009; 10:06 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bowerbank Endorsed By Party Leaders

Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, announced endorsements today from nine Democratic party chairmen in his bid for lieutenant governor. "Jon Bowerbank's experience as the founder of his own business makes him the ideal candidate for lieutenant governor in these challenging economic times," said said EJ Scott, Manassas/Manassas Park City chairman. Bowerbank, owner of an energy services company that employs hundreds of people, serves as a member of the Russell County Board of Supervisors. "It is a great pleasure to see so many Democratic leaders coming out to support this campaign,'' Bowerbank said. "It is clear that the Virginia Democrats are behind our cause and ready to take back the lieutenant governor's office this November."...

By Anita Kumar | January 9, 2009; 9:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Never Too Early for 2010

Virginia's congressional delegation was just sworn in on Tuesday, but interest groups and both political parties are already sending signals that the state will be ground zero in the 2010 congressional elections. With Democratic U.S. Reps. Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye representing traditional GOP-leaning districts, they will likely be top targets in 2010. On Tuesday, the conservative group Americans for Limited Government sent out a statement blasting Nye for voting for several procedural rule changes that the group says will "silence" GOP dissent. "Congressman Nye has chosen to serve Nancy Pelosi over the people in his own district," said Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government. "Congressman Nye deserves nothing but scorn for deliberately undermining the spirit and letter of the two-party system." But while conservatives spend the next 18 months trying to undermine Nye and Perriello, both of whom will likely have well-funded GOP challengers, Democrats may target...

By Tim Craig | January 9, 2009; 2:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

Novelist John Grisham Backs McAuliffe

Novelist John Grisham, who owns a home near Charlottesville, is backing Terry McAuliffe's bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress. According to the newspaper, Grisham said he and his wife support McAuliffe because they say he modernized the party when he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Grisham also told the newspaper that he thinks McAuliffe is the only Democrat who can defeat Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the GOP nominee, in the fall. Grisham, who introduced McAuliffe at a town hall in Charlottesville Wednesday, has close political and personal ties to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). Grisham has contributed about $150,000 to Kaine's political efforts since 2005, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Grisham and his wife were also major supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) during last year's campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. McAuliffe had served as...

By Tim Craig | January 8, 2009; 5:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Democrats Hit McDonnell Over Giuliani

The Virginia Democratic Party released a video today responding to Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell's decision to highlight an endorsement from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R). In the video, the state party attempts to connect McDonnell to Giuliani's speech at the Republican National Convention in which he mocks President-elect Barack Obama for being a community organizer. At this early stage of the governor's race, Virginia Democrats still view Obama, who carried the state with nearly 53 percent of the vote, as an asset. McDonnell is hoping that Giuliani and other national Republicans can help him counteract Obama by reaching out to suburban voters. But Democrats believe Giuliani, who moved to the right last year when he ran for the GOP nomination for president, now appeals to only a very small pool of Virginia voters....

By Tim Craig | January 8, 2009; 3:46 PM ET | Comments (1)

Armstrong Hosts McAuliffe for Sleepover

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will be spending the night tonight at the spacious Martinsville home of House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry), who is a close ally of McAuliffe's rival for the nomination, Brian J. Moran. During the sleepover, McAuliffe and Armstrong are expected to discuss McAuliffe's plans to help Democrats pick up the six seats needed to regain control of the House of Delegates. But Armstrong stresses the meeting shouldn't be viewed as an indication he is having second thoughts about Moran's candidacy. Armstrong said any statewide Democratic candidate is welcome to stay at his house when they travel to southern Virginia. "He said, he is coming to Martinsville and asked me where is a good place to stay?" Armstrong said. "I said, 'my house to save money, you will have fun'." The late night drinking, however, may be tempered because Armstrong is battling a cold. Still,...

By Tim Craig | January 8, 2009; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

House GOP Challenges Senate Democrats

House Republicans are calling on Senate Democrats to limit their salaries and expenses to the ones that GOP delegates recently agreed to in a meeting last month. In a letter to Senate leaders, House Republican Caucus Chairman Samuel A. Nixon Jr. (R-Chesterfield) wrote that the Senate could save taxpayers more than $100,000 if it enacted the same changes for the legislative session beginning Wednesday. Nixon asks senators to agree to a two percent reduction to bring their salaries to $17,640 and a daily session per diem rate of $135. The Senate's per diem rate is $169. "These changes can be enacted quickly. Doing so would send an important signal to the citizens of the Commonwealth,'' Nixon wrote. "It would demonstrate that legislators in both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly not only are willing to come together but also are prepared to lead by example during this time of serious...

By Anita Kumar | January 8, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Giuliani Helps McDonnell Raise $70,000

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani helped Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, raise $70,000 at a fundraiser last night in the District. About 100 people attended. Giuliani will host another event for McDonnell tomorrow in New York and is expected to be involved in other activities later in the spring....

By Anita Kumar | January 7, 2009; 4:55 PM ET | Comments (1)

Michael Signer Looking at LG Race

Michael Signer, an attorney who served as deputy counselor to Mark R. Warner (D) when he was governor, is considering entering the race for the Democratic nomination for lietenant governor. In an email to campaign professionals, Signer said he is searching for a campaign manager. "As you may have heard by now, I'm planning on entering the primary for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia this June," the email states. "I'm looking for a campaign manager who could run an aggressive, resourceful, insurgent statewide campaign -- ideally someone with strong experience in caucuses and field organizing and creatively using the internet on a campaign." According to his bio, Signer is a veteran of John Edwards' 2004 campaign for the Democratic nomination. Signer had also been associate communications director of Wesley Clark's 2004 presidential campaign. He later served as Clark's Virginia State Director. Signer is also a former aide to Sen. R. Creigh...

By Tim Craig | January 7, 2009; 4:01 PM ET | Comments (1)

Virginia Notebook: Democratic Ball Waltzes Past Law

The 2009 election cycle is shaping up as the Year of the Dollar Sign. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Virginia Democrats have decided they can have a fundraiser during the legislative session. If it proceeds, it could further loosen the state's campaign finance laws. And if there were ever a year in which Virginians should care about campaign finance, it's 2009....

By Tim Craig | January 7, 2009; 2:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

McAuliffe Aims High in Crucial Ground Game

Terry McAuliffe, who kicked off his campaign for governor today, said he will be deploying "dozens and dozens" of field organizers across Virginia in the coming weeks. McAuliffe says he is trying to build off President-elect Barack Obama's successful effort in organizing Virginia Democrats last year. McAuliffe said his organizers will fan out across the state, positioning themselves in small and medium-sized cities. "We are going to have probably the biggest ground game you will ever see in a gubernatorial race anywhere in the country," McAuliffe said....

By Tim Craig | January 7, 2009; 2:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Appoints New Communications Director

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has hired Lynda Tran to serve as his communications director for his final year in office. Tran, 30, has worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for eight years, most recently as assistant director of communications. She has also served as national communications director for SEIU's property services division and led numerous advocacy campaigns. "I am happy to have someone with Lynda's skills and experience to guide my communications team," Kaine said. "The ability of my administration to effectively express solutions to challenges is of paramount importance, and I am confident that Lynda will maintain the high standards expected by the public and the media." Tran replaces Delacey Skinner, who left recently to join Terry McAuliffe's campaign for governor. Tran will begin work immediately....

By Anita Kumar | January 7, 2009; 10:40 AM ET | Comments (0)

McAuliffe Begins Airing Radio Ads

On the day he officially kicks off his campaign for governor, Terry McAuliffe began airing his first radio ad. In the ad called Join, McAuliffe introduces himself to Virginians and talks about his focus on improving the state's economy. He invites listeners to join him at a town hall meeting. "Our next governor has to have what it takes to create jobs and grow our economy," McAuliffe says. "To build on the progress of Tim Kaine and Mark Warner - governors with business and executive experience who know that not every good idea comes from Richmond." The 60-second ad is running on adult urban contemporary, gospel and religious radio stations in the Norfolk and Richmond media markets....

By Anita Kumar | January 7, 2009; 9:10 AM ET | Comments (3)

Knight, McQuinn Prevail

Barry D. Knight, a Republican who operates one of Virginia's largest hog farms, easily defeated his Democratic opponent in today's special election to fill former GOP delegate Terrie L. Suit's House seat in Virginia Beach. With all the precincts reporting, Knight received 83 percent of the vote. John M. Lacomb, who at age 24 was one of the youngest persons ever to be nominated by a major party for a House seat, received 17 percent of the vote. The election was called after Suit resigned this fall to become a lobbyist. In a separate special election to succeed Democrat Dwight Jones, who resigned from the House after being elected mayor of Richmond, Delores L. McQuinn won her race against a write-in candidate. McQuinn, a Democrat who will represent parts of Richmond, received 73 percent of the vote. Given long standing voting patterns in both districts, Knight and McQuinn were both...

By Tim Craig | January 6, 2009; 7:39 PM ET | Comments (1)

Moran Gets Support in Arlington

Former Del. Brian J. Moran (D) received a slew of endorsements from elected leaders in Arlington County today in his race for governor. Those endorsing Moran cited his proven record of leadership in Virginia and his record of fighting for families. They include members of the General Assembly, Board of Supervisors and School Board, the commissioner of the revenue, clerk of court, treasurer and commonwealth's attorney. Moran is running against Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) and Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, in the June 9 primary....

By Anita Kumar | January 6, 2009; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (7)

Warner Announces New Staff

Former governor Mark R. Warner (D), who will be sworn in tomorrow as Virginia's junior senator tomorrow, announced additional staff appointments. "These individuals bring a unique blend of skills, including knowledge of Capitol Hill and experience in the Virginia Governor's Office, and they are prepared to work together to make our U.S. Senate office accessible and effective for the people of Virginia,'' Warner said. Jonathan Davidson, chief of staff to Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland), will become chief policy advisor and legislative director. Courtney Dozier, who has worked for state legislative caucuses in Virginia, Wisconsin and Iowa and worked on Warner's campaign, will serve as outreach director. Kevin Hall, who served as press secretary for Warner and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, will serve as communications director. Kelly Thomasson, who worked for Warner in several capacities for several years, will serve as projects coordinator....

By Anita Kumar | January 5, 2009; 4:37 PM ET | Comments (0)

History Repeats Itself

Virginia Democrats say they are not worried that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will neglect his job as governor while serving as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. But in December 2000, when then President-elect George W. Bush named Gov. James S. Gilmore chairman of the Republican National Committee Democrats, sang a different tune. Lawrence H. Framme III, the then co-chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party, told the Washington Post at the time that the RNC job is sure to distract Gilmore. "It's just going to be another year of the governor not being here to solve the fiscal crisis facing the commonwealth," he said....

By Anita Kumar | January 5, 2009; 3:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Fishwick Drops Out of AG Race

John P. Fiscwick Jr., a Roanoke attorney, announced this afternoon he is abandoning his bid for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Fishwick's decision means Del. Steve Shannon (D-Fairfax) is currently running unopposed for the nomination. Fishwick, who entered the race two months ago, said in a statement he had raised over $160,000 for his campaign but has decided he wants to remain in the private sector. "For now, my role should remain in the aggressive private practice of law, fighting against injustice and for people whose lives and livelihood depend on that representation," Fishwick said. "I made this decision only after the most difficult deliberation." Fishwick faced an uphill climb to the nomination. Although he is well-known in the Roanoke Valley, he would have had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to broaden his appeal in vote-rich Northern Virginia, where Shannon resides, and in Hampton Roads....

By Tim Craig | January 5, 2009; 1:50 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Death of the "Virginia Democrat?"

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's expected appointment as the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee will likely undermine the Democratic candidates for governor ability to distance themselves from the national party. Ever since Senator-elect Mark R. Warner (D) ran for governor in 2001, Virginia Democrats have gone out their way to stress that they are different from the national, more liberal, wing of the party. That branding of a "Virginia Democrat" - pro-business, socially moderate - was then used by Kaine during his race for governor in 2005. It also helped Sen. James Webb in 2006. But now the head of the Virginia Democratic Party will also be in charge of the national committee. When the eventual Democratic nominee for governor takes on Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the GOP nominee, this fall, they won't be able to position themselves as somehow different than the national party without first distancing...

By Tim Craig | January 5, 2009; 10:48 AM ET | Comments (2)

McAuliffe Announces Staff

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe announced his leadership team this morning. Many of them worked on the campaigns of Democrats Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, former governor Mark R. Warner and Sen. James Webb. Mike Henry, who served as campaign manager for Kaine's gubernatorial campaign in 2005 and Warner's senate campaign in 2008, will be McAuliffe's camapign manager. He also has worked to elect Democrats statewide, to elect Democratic senators across the nation and served as deputy campaign manager for Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. "We're proud to have assembled an all-star team that has experience winning elections in Virginia," Henry said. "But we're even more proud to be working for a candidate who will bring the right kind of leadership to Richmond and get our economy back on track." The staff list is below:...

By Anita Kumar | January 5, 2009; 9:29 AM ET | Comments (1)

Republicans Attack Kaine on DNC Post

Virginia Republicans wasted little time in criticizing Gov. Timothy M. Kaine for taking on the job of chairman of the Democratic National Committee during his final year in office. The news broke the week before the General Assembly returns to Richmond for a 45-day legislative session that will be largely focused on trimming the $77-billion budget by $3 billion. "Now is not a time for more partisanship from our Governor, but a time for leadership, to cross party lines and provide solid, common sense solutions for Virginians who are hurting and worried about their future,'' Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. "This is the wrong move and sends the wrong signal to the people of Virginia at such a critical time." Kaine had previously told reporters that he was not interested in the DNC job, and would not leave the Governor's Mansion early for a...

By Anita Kumar | January 5, 2009; 7:26 AM ET | Comments (6)

Kaine To Be DNC Chairman

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will become chairman of the Democratic National Committee later this month, serving as the top political messenger for Barack Obama's administration even while he finishes his final year in the governor's mansion, sources told Post reporter Michael Shear. Kaine, who emerged as one of Obama's vice presidential finalists this summer, will operate from Richmond in a part-time capacity until January 2010, when he will become the full-time DNC chairman. Kaine is constitutionally barred from running for reelection. Obama transition aides declined to comment today, and Kaine aides did not return calls seeking comment. Two sources said Obama will announce his choice of Kaine for the post later this week. Read the full story here....

By Anita Kumar | January 4, 2009; 5:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Denslow Leaves Governor's Office

Suzette P. Denslow, a top aide to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), is leaving Capitol Square to become chief of staff to Dwight C. Jones, a former Democratic House member who was elected Richmond's mayor in November. Barbara W. Reese, deputy secretary of transportation and former VDOT chief financial officer, will replace Denslow, according to sources close to the governor's office. Denslow, who serves as Kaine's legislative director and deputy policy director, has had a long history in state and local government. She worked for former Democratic governors Mark R. Warner and L. Douglas Wilder as well as the Virginia Municipal League and the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission....

By Anita Kumar | January 2, 2009; 11:07 PM ET | Comments (0)

Another Democrat Enters LG Race

Rich Savage, a Democratic political advisor in Richmond, announced today that he will run for lieutenant governor in November. As part of the announcement, Savage unveiled a 10-point education plan that includes tuition forgiveness for graduates who serve as teachers for five years. "As Lt. Governor, I will dedicate my fullest efforts to rebuilding our intellectual infrastructure to ensure that Virginia students are prepared to compete for jobs in the global marketplace with students from India, China and Europe," he said. "Virginia needs leaders who will answer the call to lead, take charge during these tough times, and provide new ideas to meet the challenges we face." Former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner and Jon Bowerbank, a wealthy businessman from Russell County, are also seeking the Democratic nomination. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) will face lawyer Patrick Muldoon for the Republican nomination....

By Anita Kumar | January 2, 2009; 3:33 PM ET | Comments (3)

Moran Challenges Rivals To Curb Fundraising

This morning on WTOP radio, former Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) called on his two rivals for the Democratic nomination for governor to refuse contributions from out-of-state donors. "This election should be about who has a proven record of fighting for Virginia families and a vision for where to take the state," Moran said. "It should not be an election about who can raise more money from national donors. Virginia Democrats should choose our nominee." Moran asked Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) and Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to make the pledge and continue it through the June 9 primary. Moran is targeting McAuliffe, who is expected to announce Tuesday that he is running for governor. If he runs, he would likely be able to tap his personal funds and national fundraising network to raise millions of dollars quickly....

By Anita Kumar | January 2, 2009; 3:19 PM ET | Comments (1)

 

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