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Virginia Politics Blog: January 18, 2009 - January 24, 2009

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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , Gerald E. Connolly  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Tim Craig  
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