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Virginia Politics Blog: February 15, 2009 - February 21, 2009

McDonnell's Last Day

Robert F. McDonnell (R) officially steps down today as the state's 44th attorney general to campaign full time for governor. Employees will throw a party for McDonnell this afternoon. Three of them will move with him to the campaign office -- J. Tucker Martin, communications director, as well as his scheduler and deputy scheduler. In a statement released by McDonnell's office, a slew of prominent state and national leaders praised him for his work over the last three years. The varied group includes Bill Leighty, former chief of staff to Democratic Govs. Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., City of Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring (who just endorsed Democratic candidate Brian Moran for governor) and Chuck Curran, chief counsel for AOL. "It has been a distinct pleasure to have served at a time that Bob McDonnell was Attorney General,'' Leighty...

By Anita Kumar  |  February 20, 2009; 12:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Moran Picks Up Support in Prince William

Many of Prince William County's Democratic leaders today endorsed Brian Moran's bid for governor. Although Republicans still dominate local government in Prince William County, Moran picked up support from county supervisors John Jenkins and Frank Principi, Del. Paul Nichols, former delegate David Brickley, Occoquan Mayor Earnie Porta and former county attorney Sharon Pandak. Pete Frisbie, the chairman of the county Democratic committee, and party activist and former supervisor Hilda Barg also endorsed Moran. In a series of speeches inside a fire station in Dale City, the party leaders said Moran was the best candidate for governor because he is "grounded" in Virginia and has a record of public service. They also stressed they believe Moran is the Democrat who can win Prince William County, a key general election battleground, in the fall. "Twenty years ago, he was out there fighting as a Democrat when it was really hard to fight...

By Tim Craig  |  February 19, 2009; 2:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Tim Craig  
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McAuliffe Receives Support

Former Democratic National Committee ChairmanTerry McAuliffe announced today that his campaign for governor has received endorsements from Democratic leaders from across the state. In supporting him, the leaders cited McAuliffe's vision for turning Virginia's economy around and their belief that McAuliffe is best qualified to carry on the tradition of leadership set by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and former Gov. Mark R. Warner. "We Democrats have made such incredible gains over the past seven years, specifically because we have stayed focused on delivering results for Virginians," said Jim Turpin, vice chairman of finance for the Virginia Democratic Party. "Terry is the candidate in this race who is best qualified to get Virginia's economy back on track, and that's the result voters are looking for." McAuliffe is running against state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath and former delegate Brian Moran of Alexandria. Both men have been running for governor for...

By Anita Kumar  |  February 19, 2009; 12:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe  
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John Warner Knighted for Service

Former U.S. Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) will be made an honorary Knight Commander by Queen Elizabeth II. The award is in recognition of Warner's service to strengthening the alliance between the United States and United Kingdom, particularly in fighting threats to national security around the world, according to a press release from the British Ambassador. "John Warner has spent his life in the service of the American people,'' British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald said. "Throughout his long and distinguished career he has been a constant and unstinting friend of the United Kingdom, working with us on issues ranging from defense cooperation to the Northern Ireland peace process."...

By Anita Kumar  |  February 19, 2009; 12:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , John W. Warner  
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Virginia Notebook: Republicans Assess Opposition

It's no secret that Virginia Republicans are hungry to win this year's governor's race, and they say they think Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell will be a formidable GOP nominee. Given McDonnell's expected strengths, some Virginia Democrats may decide to support the Democratic candidate who they think has the best chance to defeat him. But Democratic activists are divided about whether Terry McAuliffe, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath) or former delegate Brian Moran stands the best chance against McDonnell. So, to help Democrats figure out what the opposition is thinking, Virginia Notebook spent a day asking randomly selected Virginia GOP leaders which Democratic candidate they fear most as an opponent. Here are some of their answers. Yes, these are Republicans, so Democrats will have to decide whether the answers reflect a bit of reverse psychology....

By Tim Craig  |  February 18, 2009; 1:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Tim Craig  
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Firefighters Make it Official

The Virginia Professional Firefighters Association, an influential labor organization, officially endorsed Terry McAuliffe in the Democratic primary for governor today at an event in Richmond. R. Michael Mohler, the president of the association, said the union trusts McAuliffe to create more jobs as governor and run a vigorous campaign this year that will also help Democrats retake control of the House of Delegates. "We understand the connection between a strong economy and our jobs," Mohler told about 100 union members, who were wearing yellow "Firefighters for McAuliffe" t-shirts. "We have to turn the power of the legislature over to the Democrats. We intend to take on Bill Howell ....We are going to take him out. The person who can do that is with us today, the person with us today obviously has the financial resources, he's got the network, he's got the vision, he's got the energy to get out...

By Tim Craig  |  February 18, 2009; 12:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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Play Ball!

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, state legislators, lobbyists and staffers squared off at a charity basketball game tonight at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Kaine and his staff, many wearing blue "Kainiac" T-shirts, faced Richmond's lobbyists. Spotted on the court: Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer, Technology Secretary Aneesh Chopra, Kaine's chief counsel Larry Roberts, Keith Hare of the Medical Society of Virginia, and Keenan Caldwell of the American Cancer Society, among others. After the Kainiacs lost to the lobbyists, the House of Delegates played the Senate. But only three senators showed up and staffers and others including one reporter had to help fill out their team....

By Anita Kumar  |  February 17, 2009; 9:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Democrats Collect McAuliffe's Check

Terry McAuliffe has written the Democratic Party of Virginia a check for $74,750 for the 39 tables he purchased at last week's Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, according to fundraising records. The money, which came from McAuliffe's campaign account, amounts to one-tenth of the total money the state party claims it raised at the dinner. Excluding transfers from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's (D) political action committee and other national and local Democratic committees, McAuliffe's check appears to rank in the top 15 in terms of largest contribution the party has received at one time dating back to 1997, according to records available on the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in state politics. McAuliffe apparently did not get a break on the cost of the tables even though he helped the state party raise $100,000 last fall so it could buy the building that houses its Richmond headquarters....

By Tim Craig  |  February 17, 2009; 2:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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McDonnell Will Speak at Gala

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor this year, will speak at the Republican Governors Association annual gala Monday in Washington. The gala is the RGA's largest event of the year and is attended by most of the nation's Republican governors. Govs. Charlie Crist of Florida, Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Haley Barbour of Mississippi will be the featured speakers. McDonnell and New Jersey's former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie will also speak....

By Anita Kumar  |  February 17, 2009; 8:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Virginia Firefighters Likely To Endorse McAuliffe

The Virginia Professional Firefighters Association, an influential labor organization, will apparently endorse Terry McAuliffe in the Democratic primary for governor, according to sources familiar with the decision. In recent days, the leadership of the VPFF has been sending signals to Brian Moran and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, also candidates for the nomination, that the firefighters union was going to get behind McAuliffe. Now, the Henrico Professional Firefighters Union has a statement on its website saying the state association will make its endorsement of McAuliffe official on Wednesday at the State Capitol. "President Mohler has notified the other candidates that we are endorsing Terry McAuliffe ...We need as many members there as possible," the announcement states. "We have a goal of assembling 200 people (please bring friends, family or anyone else willing to come.) We will have the yellow and gold trademark t-shirts for people to wear. I understand that Terry...

By Tim Craig  |  February 16, 2009; 3:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Bill Turque , Creigh Deeds , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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Spruill's Son Hopes to Unseat Del. Howell

The Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in state politics, is keeping tabs on who has filed to run for the House of Delegates this year. Among the more notable entrants is Lionell Spruil Jr., the son of Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesepeake). Delegate Spruill's son is challenging Del. Algie T. Howell Jr. (D-Norfolk) in the Democratic Primary. "I've been noticing and listening to a lot of the people in the community that I live and they are not really happy with the performance of our current legislature," said Lionell Spruill Jr. "They want a real leader. I am not saying (Howell's) not that, but I think they deserve better, and I am offering it to them." When he was asked if his father will help him try to unseat Howell, Lionell Spruill Jr. said, "that's between my father and I." There is also an interesting race shaping up...

By Tim Craig  |  February 16, 2009; 1:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Whose PAC is It?

Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party, and his wife, Amy, may have figured out a way to get around the prohibition against raising money during the legislative session. On Friday, Frederick announced in an email that he will not seek reelection this year but he encouraged supporters to lobby Amy to seek the GOP nomination to replace him. Frederick directed his supporters to www.voteamy.com "to send her your encouragement before she makes a final decision about whether to enter the race." On the VoteAmy website, supporters are also asked to make a financial contribution to Virginia's Future PAC. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks money in state politics, Frederick set up the PAC in 2004 to give out campaign funds to Republicans. Last year, Frederick used the PAC to help finance his bid for state party chairman. With Frederick now directing supporters...

By Tim Craig  |  February 15, 2009; 3:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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