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Virginia Politics Blog: January 25, 2009 - January 31, 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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Election 2009 , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors , Polls , Sandhya Somashekhar  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Robert F. McDonnell  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
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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  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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