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Virginia Politics Blog: April 12, 2009 - April 18, 2009

Top Kaine Aide Decamps for White House

By Michael D. Shear and Anita Kumar President Obama has named Virginia's Secretary of Technology, Aneesh P. Chopra, to be the nation's first Chief Technology Officer. The president announced the choice in his weekly radio and Internet address today, adding Chopra to a small group of advisers whose aim it to enhance and modernize the delivery of government services. "Aneesh will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities - from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure," Obama said in the radio address....

By Matt Mosk  |  April 18, 2009; 6:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Chopra to White House

Aneesh P. Chopra, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's secretary of technology, will be named President Obama's information technology chief. Obama will make the announcement in his weekly radio address tomorrow, according to sources close to Kaine. Chopra had been under consideration for months for a job in the Obama administration, including technology chief at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Chopra had put in long hours in Washington helping Obama's transition team get him ready for his first day as president job Jan. 20. He was one of about 50 volunteers from across the nation serving on the transition's technology, innovation and government reform policy working group. Chopra did not return messages for comment today. Chopra, former managing director with the Advisory Board Company, a publicly-traded health care think tank serving nearly 2,500 hospitals and health systems, has considered running for office himself....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 17, 2009; 6:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell Opposes Guantanamo Terrorists in Va

Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell said today that he supports legislation that would prevent inmates currently housed at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to a facility in Virginia. President Obama has vowed to close Guantanamo by January, and the government is reviewing files on the roughly 240 detainees. The administration has strongly indicated that some will be transferred to federal courts, and a senior Justice Department official recently named Alexandria, along with Manhattan, as possible destinations. "The terrorists and enemy combatants currently housed 90 miles from our shores at Guantanamo Bay are some of the most dangerous men in the world,'' McDonnell said. "Now the federal government is considering placing some of these individuals in the middle of a busy Virginia city, just feet away from hotels, apartments, restaurants and shops." U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) introduced a bill that would prevent federal money from being used to move...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 17, 2009; 5:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Have Va Dems Found Their Election Issue?

Virginia Democrats hope that the largely party-line vote by Republicans last week to reject $125 million in federal unemployment funds will help carry them to victory in the fall. First, they held a press conference and launched an online petition to pitch their party as the one that can be trusted to help lead workers and businesses out of the recession. Now, Democrats are holding neighborhood canvasses in the districts of nine Republican delegates who voted to reject the federal stimulus money. That includes three in Northern Virginia in Springfield, Sterling and Dumfries. Volunteers will knock on doors to inform voters of their delegates' decision not to accept the money....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 17, 2009; 1:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009  
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Top McAuliffe Donors Slept in Lincoln Bedroom

Seven people who have given Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at least $5,000 have slept in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton administration, according to campaign reports released last night. They are: Mark Weiner, former Rhode Island Democratic state chairman and superdelegate ($40,000). Carl Lindner, chairman of the board and founder of American Financial Group and former owner of the Cincinnati Reds ($15,000). Alan M. Leventhal, chairman and chief executive officer of Beacon Capital Partners, an international real estate investment company ($15,000). John Catsimatidis, owner of Gristedes Foods and the Red Apple Group and its subsidiary United Refining Company, which has holdings in aviation and real estate ($5,000). Alan Patricof, co-founder of Apax Partners, Inc., one of the world's leading private equity firms and a finance chairman for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign ($5,000). Stanley Shuman, managing director at investment banking firm Allen & Company ($5,000). Steven Green, vice president and...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 16, 2009; 8:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Delegates Defend Internet Use on the Floor

Earlier today Post reporter Amy Gardner posted a video by a student journalist that takes a closer look at footage from the House of Delegates to find what the politicians are browsing on their state-issued laptops, finding several of them -- including Northern Virginia delegates Albert Eisenberg and Robert Brink of Arlington, David Englin of Alexandria, Mark Sickles of Franconia, Dave Albo of Springfield and Kristen Amundson of Mt. Vernon -- shopping, reading the news or on social networking sites. The journalist, Tracy Kennedy of Virginia Commonwealth University, closed the video by suggesting the state might need to block such sites to keep delegates on task. Three of the delegates featured in the video took exception to that assessment. Albo added a comment to this morning's post, explaining that the House was taking a break at the time while waiting for the Senate to act on a bill, and that...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  April 16, 2009; 7:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2009  
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Money, Money, Money

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran returned $8,500 in contributions from Citigroup and Virginia Commerce Bank -- companies that received taxpayer-funded bailout money, according to campaign filings made public last night. Moran returned the money on the same day that rival Terry McAuliffe first pledged not to take corporate contributions from companies receiving bailout money. The campaign finance reports also show that McAuliffe spent $31,600 on supporter lists and office furniture from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and $10,700 on office equipment from U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner's campaign....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 16, 2009; 3:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe  
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Moran Picks Up A Little Labor Support

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran picked up a couple new endorsements, including one with ties to labor. Barbara Easterling, the first woman ever to serve as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, endorsed Moran, citing recent polling that shows he is the strongest general election candidate against Republican nominee Robert F. McDonnell. "We know Brian will be with us as governor because he always has,'' Easterling said. "In these tough times, working families are facing real tough choices and Brian Moran understands what we're going through. I know he won't stop fighting until he gets us result and that's what we need as governor." Moran's rival Terry McAuliffe has spent decades in Washington working with national Democratic leaders forging close ties to unions, and has receive many of the biggest labor endorsements....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 16, 2009; 1:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe  
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Kaine Will Speak to Florida Dems

Timothy M. Kaine, Virginia's governor and new chairman of the Democratic National Commmittee, will be the keynote speaker at the Florida Democrats' Jefferson-Jackson dinner May 30 in Miami Beach. In recent interviews, Kaine has said he spends about one day a week out of town on DNC business. He will work full time as chairman after his term ends in January 2010....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 16, 2009; 1:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Who Will Be Virginia's Next AG?

Del. Stephen C. Shannon of Fairfax County officially became the Democratic nominee for attorney general yesterday when the state party certified him as the only Democrat filed to run. "As a former prosecutor and a delegate, Steve has a long record of protecting Virginia families and fighting crime,'' said C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.. He'll make an excellent attorney general. Shannon will face one of the three Republicans competing at next month's convention: John Brownlee, a former federal prosecutor; Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax); and David M. Foster, the former chairman of the Arlington County School Board. All four men were at the 61st annual Shad Planking yesterday afternoon. Before the event, Brownlee received the endorsement of Jerry Kilgore, former attorney general and Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2005 who will serve as general chairman of Brownlee's campaign....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 16, 2009; 11:52 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Ken Cuccinelli  
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Clinton & Friends Pony Up

Two of former President Bill Clinton's biggest supporters combined to donate half-a-million dollars to Terry McAuliffe's campaign for governor, according to campaign filings made public this evening. The former president pitched in $10,000 of his own towards McAuliffe's substantial haul of $4.2 million. Rivals for the Democratic nomination in the 2009 gubernatorial campaign, Brian Moran and state Sen. Creigh Deeds, turned more to their Virginia neighbors for contributions. Moran raised $807,000 during the three month period that ended March 31. Deeds raised nearly $729,000. A number of longtime Clinton donors appear to have provided the backbone of McAuliffe's fundraising machine, according to data compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project. Hollywood moguls Haim Saban ($251,000) and Stephen Bing ($250,000) topped the list. Other familiar names from the Clinton fundraising team include New York businessman Bernard L. Schwartz ($20,000), former top Hillary Clinton fundraisers Hassan Nemazee ($10,000) and Alan J. Patricof...

By Matt Mosk  |  April 15, 2009; 6:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe  
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The People's Business

An enterprising student at Virginia Commonwealth University has posted to YouTube an amusing compilation of video footage from this year's General Assembly session showing lawmakers doing anything but the people's business on their state-issued laptops. The video, compiled by Tracy Kennedy from Capital News Service footage of floor sessions in the House chamber, shows lawmakers Facebooking, instant messaging, even shopping for guns. Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) is seen checking out a $3.5 million house for sale in Mason Neck. Democrat Al Eisenberg of Arlington is shown browsing Civil War relics. Democrat Bob Brink, also of Arlington, is seen shopping for furniture at crateandbarrel.com. Some lawmakers are shown reading news clips, but no one is looking at the state's Legislative Information System, an online database of bill status, committee calendars and state code that is presumably a big reason why the state spent hundreds of thousands of dollars issuing the laptops...

By Amy Gardner  |  April 15, 2009; 3:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Amy Gardner  
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McDonnell Targeted in Online Ads

Common Sense Virginia, a group funded by the Democratic Governors Association, launched an online advertising campaign today designed to inform women about Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell's record on education, health care and abortion rights. "The more Virginia women learn about the real Bob McDonnell, the more they'll realize he's not for us," said Sarah Buckley, a University of Virginia student who is a Common Sense Virginia advisory board member. For at least the next two weeks, the ads will appear on Websites frequently read by women in the state, including Martha Stewart Living, Every Day with Rachel Ray and Women's Entertainment Television....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 15, 2009; 11:09 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Signer Petitions in Question

About 400 of the 13,354 signatures provided to the Virginia State Board of Elections by lieutenant governor candidate Michael Signer are missing required information, according to state and Democratic party officials. If the 4,000 signatures are thrown out, his name would not appear on the ballot. The state requires candidates to submit at least 10,000 signatures, including those of least 400 registered voters in each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts, to be on the June 9 Democratic primary ballot. The state board of elections determined that the notary used by Signer made an error when he did not ensure the addresses of those collecting the signatures were included on the paperwork....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 15, 2009; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Jody Wagner  
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Tax Day Tea Parties

A series of tea parties will be held today -- tax day -- across Virginia to protest high taxes and big government spending, including recent federal bailout packages. Americans for Prosperity, a group that supports limited government and free trade, called 40,000 Virginians last tonight in an effort to boost turnout at the tea parties. Another 30,000 will be called this morning. "These tea parties are a testament to the growing anger toward politicians who are wasting our money,'' said Ben Marchi, the group's state director....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 15, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Democratic Candidates Sign Petition

Almost 5,000 Virginians, including all three Democrats running for governor, signed a petition calling for GOP gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell and House Republicans to support an effort to collect $125 million in federal stimulus money for jobless Virginians. The Democratic Party of Virginia launched the petition Monday. Twenty-four hours later, 4,817 Virginians had signed the petition calling for the General Assembly to return to Richmond and vote to accept the money. "Bob McDonnell's opposition to urgent assistance for displaced workers is heartless,'' state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds said. "Bob McDonnell and Virginia Republicans are turning their backs on the Virginians who are hurting the most. It's time to put politics aside and get this done."...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 14, 2009; 5:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Wagner Raises $375,000

Former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner (D) raised $375,000 for her campaign for lieutenant governor in the three-month period that ended last month, campaign officials announced today. Wagner, who has more than $410,000 in the bank, boasted that she had raised more than Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who collected more than $300,000 in the same period, though he was barred by law for raising money during the 45-day legislative session. "I'm grateful to have the support of so many grassroots volunteers, elected officials, and party leaders, and I know we all look forward to a common goal of defeating Bill Bolling in November," Wagner said....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 14, 2009; 3:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Jody Wagner  
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Richmond Leaders Endorse McAuliffe

More than a dozen Richmond community activists and leaders announced their support today for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. "We believe that Terry understands urban communities and the issues they face,'' they said in a joint statement. "Terry shares our concerns and will work with our communities to improve inner city schools, youth programs, neighborhood development, infrastructure improvements, voting rights issues and vital redistricting reform...Virginia needs Terry McAuliffe; he's the right man at the right time." Endorsers include: Richmond City Council Marty Jewell; community activists Art Burton, Sharon Burton, Amelia Lightner, John Lloyd, Terry Binford, Hope Murphy Elliott, Reginald Malone, Carrie Cox, Rita Ricks, Regina L. Hatcher and and former school board members William Laffoon, Zarina Fazaldin....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 14, 2009; 1:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe  
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Moran Strives to Boost Development

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran announced this morning an "Innovation Agenda" to boost research and development and expand biotechnology, green energy technology and universal broadband. "Virginia can be a national leader in research and innovation, growing our economy and creating thousands of new high-tech jobs," Moran said. "With a focus on the technology sector, we can attract investment and create jobs and position Virginia as a leader in the innovation economy. Virginia has the potential to become a national and international leader in innovation, but we have to get to work." Moran's proposal includes incentivizing research and development, establishing a strategic plan for research and development to coordinate the efforts of Virginia's colleges and universities, investing in biotech facilities, creating energy technology parks and building modeling and simulation clusters....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 14, 2009; 11:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Election 2009  
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Bolling Raises $300,000

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) raised more than $300,000 from 404 contributors in the three-month period that ended last month, campaign officials announced today. Bolling, who was barred from raising money during the 45-day legislative session, has $735,000 in the bank. Since he kicked off his re-election campaign in March 2008, he has raised $1.3 million. "I am honored that hundreds of hard working Virginians have invested more than $300,000 in my reelection campaign in just a few short weeks," Bolling said. "I know that times are tough and people are worried about their budgets and jobs. That makes me appreciate even more the generous support that I have received from so many people." Bolling will face lawyer Patrick Muldoon for the Republican nomination next month. Three Democrats are running: Jon Bowerbank, a businessman from Russell County, Michael Signer, an attorney who worked for former governor Mark R. Warner and...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 14, 2009; 10:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Jody Wagner  
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McDonnell Raises $2.2 Million

Former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell (R) raised $2.2 million in his campaign for Virginia governor in the three-month period that ended last month, campaign officials said today. McDonnell, who was barred by state law from raising money during most of the legislative session, has $3.5 million cash on hand. "We have far more cash on hand than any of our potential opponents,'' McDonnell campaign manager Phil Cox said. "This is a crucial advantage as we take Bob McDonnell's positive message of new jobs and more opportunities to every voter in Virginia." McDonnell, who raised $1.6 million during the second half of last year, received help from national leaders including Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 13, 2009; 4:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Bloomberg-Backed TV Ad Targets McDonnell

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined with victims and relatives of the Virginia Tech massacre in Arlington today -- just days before the second anniversary of the campus shooting -- to speak against a loophole in state law that allows private sellers at gun shows to sell firearms without conducting background checks. They also aired a preview of a television commercial targeting Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell, who has not supported closing the loophole. "Make no mistake about it. This is not a partisan issue. This is not a geographic issue," Bloomberg said. The issue, he said, is whether lawmakers wants to protect criminals or the public. "Who are you going to support, the good guys or the criminals? You and me or them?" Bloomberg is a major financial contributor to the advocacy association Americans United for Safe Streets, which plans to release the commercial targeting the loophole and...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 13, 2009; 2:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Dems Launch Petition on Stimulus

The Democratic Party of Virginia launched this morning a Website calling on Republicans to accept $125 million in federal stimulus money for additional unemployment benefits for jobless Virginians. The General Assembly narrowly rejected the money last week despite pressure from a visibly angry Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The Republican-controlled House of Delegates, a fiscally conservative body that has long opposed fundamental changes to laws that extend such benefits, killed the proposal after members argued it would translate into higher taxes for businesses once the supply of stimulus money was exhausted. The Website specifically targets House Republicans and GOP gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell, who is not in the legislature and did not vote on the bill but has said he opposed accepting the money....

By Anita Kumar  |  April 13, 2009; 12:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009  
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McAuliffe, Deeds Unveil Education Plans

Two of three Democratic candidates for governor, Terry McAuliffe and R. Creigh Deeds, released proposals this morning to improve Virginia's education system. McAuliffe told reporters on a conference call that he wants to commercialize more research at the state's universities to allow them to lower tuition costs. His proposal also includes providing a less expensive alternative for the first two years of community college, expanding pre-kindergarten programs, allowing high school juniors to bypass their senior year and go straight to college and increase incentives to attract teachers such as raising salaries to the national average. "To attract the employers and jobs we want in the future, we need to ensure that Virginia has the best-educated, best-trained, most skilled workforce in the world," McAuliffe said. "Over the past eight years, we've seen steady progress and better results in education. The challenge for the next governor will be to make better use...

By Anita Kumar  |  April 13, 2009; 10:13 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe  
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