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Virginia Politics Blog: February 22, 2009 - February 28, 2009

Another House Retirement

Del. William H. Fralin Jr., who has represented Roanoke since 2004, announced today on the House of Delegates floor that he will not seek re-election in November. Fralin, 46, is the fifth delegate to announce his retirement this year. Others include Dels. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William), Albert C. Eisenberg (D-Arlington), Frank D. Hargrove Sr. (R-Hanover) and Kenneth R. Melvin (D-Portsmouth) All 100 seats will be on the ballot in November....

By Anita Kumar  |  February 28, 2009; 10:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009  
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Kaine and The Men Who Want to Replace Him

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) said this week that he told all three Democratic candidates for govenor -- Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and former delegate Brian Moran -- that he will make himself available to them if they need campaign advice. But in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors, Kaine, the new DNC chairman, said he plans to stay neutral in the race until after the June 9 primary. What about Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell? Kaine said that he and McDonnell had a good working relationship before McDonnell resigned last week as attorney general to campaign full time. He said McDonnell even called him before President Obama's historic inauguration last month to ask for tickets for him and his family. "I'm just glad he wanted to go,'' Kaine said. McDonnell, who talks frequently about how well he and Kaine...

By Anita Kumar  |  February 28, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe , Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell Asks Rivals to Support Drilling

Former Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell called on his three rivals for governor to join him in writing a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to ask for the exploration of Virginia's offshore energy resources. The decision comes after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) sent a letter to Salazar asking for a delay in developing energy resources off the Virginia coast. The 25-year-old federal moratorium on energy exploration and development off the coast of Virginia expired last year. The leasing of rights off the coast is scheduled for 2011. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, said drilling will create thousands of jobs and produce hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. A delay, he said, would eliminate Virginia's ability to start drilling before other Atlantic states. "I urge the Democratic candidates for governor to put aside their pandering to special interests and do what's right for Virginia families,'' McDonnell...

By Anita Kumar  |  February 27, 2009; 12:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe  
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McConnell Helps McDonnell

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky will host a fundraiser next month for former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor. The St. Patrick's Day event will be held March 13 at the Alexandria home of Ed Gillespie, McDonnell's general chairman who previously served as counselor to George W. Bush and chairman of the Republican National Committee. National Republicans are investing heavily in McDonnell's campaign as they fight to win back the governor's mansion in a state that has been trending from red to blue. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani have already hosted fundraisers. Former presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, will travel to Virginia to campaign for McDonnell March 25. "Everybody who cares about the Republican party nationally and everybody who wants to run for president in 2012 will be in Virginia'' this...

By Anita Kumar  |  February 27, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell Would Accept Stimulus

More than 50 local leaders from Virginia called on former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, the GOP nominee for governor, to pledge he would accept federal money from the stimulus package that was recently signed into law by President Obama. In a letter and later conference call, which was organized by the Democratic Party of Virginia, the local leaders said "our cities and counties depend on this immediate economic investment." The local leaders were responding to recent statements by McDonnell that the stimulus "would not be good long term for America." But in a meeting with Washington Post editors and reporters on Thursday, McDonnell said he would accept the federal money if he is elected governor. "The money is coming from Virginia taxpayers, frankly it's coming from the children of Virginia taxpayers," McDonnell said. "I think we ought to take it to the maximum degree as possible."...

By Tim Craig  |  February 27, 2009; 10:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Kaine Says House Democrats Face Uphill Fight

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said last night he thinks there is a 40 percent chance his party will pick up the six seats needed this fall to retake control of the House of Delegates. In a wide ranging interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, Kaine conceded Democrats face an uphill task this year to retake the House but said the odds are not daunting enough to dissuade him from taking on the challenge. Kaine noted, at this stage of the 2007 cycle, few would have predicted Democrats would have been able to retake the state Senate. Democrats retook the Senate that year after they picked up four seats. "What are the chances on the House side that we are going to win? I would say maybe 40 percent," Kaine said. "But that is a good enough percentage to say 'lets go...

By Tim Craig  |  February 26, 2009; 1:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009 , Tim Craig , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Mims Selected AG

The General Assembly unanimously confirmed William C. Mims, a former Republican legislator from Loudoun County, as Virginia's attorney general. Mims, chief deputy attorney general, will replace Robert F. McDonnell (R), who stepped down last week to campaign for governor. He will be sworn in tomorrow. "I am honored to serve as Attorney General following Bob McDonnell," Mims said. "Bob McDonnell was an exceptional Attorney General, and I plan to continue his legacy by providing the very best legal services for Virginia's citizens." Mims, 51, served three terms in the House and two state terms in the Senate, will finish McDonnell's term, which ends in January. He said he will not run for re-election. "Today's unanimous confirmation vote demonstrates the high regard in which Bill is held by leaders from both political parties,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "He is beloved by the staff at the office, widely respected in the...

By Anita Kumar  |  February 26, 2009; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Judge Edwards?

Sen. John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke) is one of five candidates recommended by the Virginia Bar Association for a judgeship on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. More than 20 candidates had expressed interest in the post. President Obama will make the appointment and the U.S. Senate will confirm the selection. Edwards. who unsuccessfully ran for Democratic nominee for attorney general in 2001 and considered a run in 2005, also may be considering running again. He would face Del. Stephen C. Shannon (D-Fairfax) in the June 9 primary. Three Republicans are already in the race. State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax), John Brownlee, the former top prosecutor for Virginia's western district, and David M. Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board....

By Anita Kumar  |  February 26, 2009; 11:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009  
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McAuliffe Looks To General Election

In a fundraising letter sent yesterday, gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe ignored his Democratic opponents and instead went after Republican nominee Robert F. McDonnell. "It seems like every time we get a chance to put aside partisanship and get things done, Bob McDonnell chooses ideology over what's best for the Commonwealth,'' McAuliffe said. "Maybe that's why I heard Republicans are going to throw the kitchen sink into Virginia to help his campaign. Sure enough, Bob's planning to bring in people like Sean Hannity, John McCain and Sarah Palin in order to fuel it." McDonnell's spokesman Tucker Martin countered McAuliffe's accusations. "Bob McDonnell has a record of building bipartisan coalitions to help Virginia,'' he said. "Chairman McAuliffe is a career partisan who has a record of professional fundraising to help the national Democratic Party. This defines empty rhetoric."...

By Anita Kumar  |  February 26, 2009; 10:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe  
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Moran Woos Southwest Virginia

Former delegate Brian Moran and his wife, Karyn, are on separate campaign swings this week through Southwest Virginia as he tries to reinforce an image that he can compete in every part of the state. Moran, who lives in Alexandria, plans stops in more than a half-dozen cities and counties between now and Friday. At his first stop today in Pulaski County, Moran was endorsed by Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Fleenor and Sheriff Jim Davis. "Brian has fought alongside us for over a decade; he's no stranger to Pulaski Democrats," Fleenor said. "He fought alongside Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and is ready to fight for the hard-working men and women of this region in the Governor's office." At an event tomorrow in Smyth County, Moran will be joined by his wife. On Monday, Karyn Moran kicked off her own six-day tour of Southwest Virginia....

By Tim Craig  |  February 25, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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Longtime Delegate To Retire

Del. Kenneth R. Melvin (D-Portsmouth) announced today that he will retire from the House of Delegates after 24 years. Melvin, one of the longest-serving members of the Courts of Justice Committee, is credited with defending civil rights and supporting the disadvantaged. "Ken Melvin has one of the sharpest legal minds of anyone I've ever had the privilege to work with," House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) said. "He has devoted his career to the equal and fair distribution of the law, and this House will not be the same without him." Melvin, elected to the House in 1985, and represents parts of Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Norfolk....

By Anita Kumar  |  February 24, 2009; 1:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009  
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DisAbility Votes Hopes to Have Impact in Fall

Momentum for political action has continued to build among advocates for people with disabilities since the General Assembly's failure to pass a measure mandating insurance coverage for autistic children. Martha J. Toomey, founder of Mary's Family.org, a nonprofit that is a support group for children with all disabilities, said the high-profile battle in Richmond over covering autistic children has given a welcome boost to her recently created PAC for families with children who have any sort of disability. "One woman called from Norfolk and wanted to get involved," Toomey said. "Word's getting out." As a nonprofit, Mary's Family could not advocate in political campaigns. So Toomey, of Orlean, and Mary Dotson, of Vienna, created disAbility Votes in January to influence political campaigns on behalf of all people with disabilities. Both were scheduled to make the rounds meeting with lawmakers in Richmond on Thursday....

By Tim Craig  |  February 24, 2009; 12:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Senate Blocks Ban on Fundraising at Mansion

The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to act on a bill that would outlaw fundraising for political candidates and causes at the Executive Mansion, which is the oldest occupied governor's mansion in the United States. Two weeks ago, the House unanimously approved a bill by House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) that banned the solicitation of funds at the mansion for any purpose "other than for charity." Griffith put in the bill after The Farm Team, a political action committee formed to help Democratic women seek elected office, posted a solicitation on a liberal fundraising Web site last month seeking donations from $25 to $1,000 to attend a series of events in Richmond, including at the Governor's Mansion. Officials at the Farm Team quickly admitted they made a mistake by posting the solicitation. They said they never intended to give off the appearance they planned to raise money at the...

By Tim Craig  |  February 23, 2009; 5:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Moran, Wagner Prevail in Fairfax Straw Poll

Former delegate Brian Moran, a candidate for governor, and Jody Wagner, a candidate for lieutenant governor, came out on top at this weekend's Mount Vernon District Democratic Committee straw poll in Fairfax County. According to party leaders, Moran won the straw poll with 83 votes. State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) came in second with 43 votes. Terry McAuliffe, also a Democratic candidate for governor, received 33 votes. Deeds and Moran spoke at the event. McAuliffe was invited to speak, but he did not attend. In the lieutenant governor's race, Wagner beat her nearest opponent by 18 votes. Wagner received 62 votes compared to Jon Bowerbank's 44 votes. Pat Edmonson, a Virginia Beach school board member, came in third with 18 votes. Attorney Michael Signer received 15 votes. Richmond-based political strategist Rich Savage got 10 votes....

By Tim Craig  |  February 23, 2009; 2:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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Cuccinelli Claims He Has Edge in AG Race

The race for the GOP nomination for Attorney General is underway because local county and city committees have begun holding mass meetings to determine their nominees to the state convention in late May. The county-by-county contest can be maddening for journalists and political observers to follow, but Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax) claims he has jumped into an early lead in the hunt for delegates. In an email to supporters, Cuccinelli said he is almost running even with one of his rivals for the nomination, Dave Foster, in Alexandria. In Henry County, Cuccinelli said he and another GOP candidate for Attorney General, John Brownlee, are also locked in a close fight for delegates. In Bath County, Cuccinelli said he has secured 80 percent of the delegates. He also claims an 80 percent showing in Waynesboro. In Lancaster County, Cuccinelli said "only two delegates of over 30 are committed to any other...

By Tim Craig  |  February 23, 2009; 9:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Shannon Snags Labor Support

The Washington Area Building Trades Council announced on Friday it is endorsing Del. Steve Shannon (D-Fairfax) in the race for Attorney General. The Council is made up a 15 unions, including workers in the Washington area who serve as plumbers, electricians, painters and roofers. "Steve Shannon has fought for working families since his first day in the General Assembly, just as he did as a Virginia prosecutor," said Vance Ayres, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Washington D.C. Building Trades Council. "He will be a leader for Virginia families as our next Attorney General." Shannon, who is so far running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, also recently picked up support from Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim....

By Tim Craig  |  February 23, 2009; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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