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Democrats Rally Until the Rain Came

Anita Kumar

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the newly minted Democratic nominee for governor, clapsed hands with his party's elite, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, this afternoon at an outdoor rally as he pledged to follow in their footsteps if he wins in November.

Deeds gave a brief but energetic speech promising to turn Virginia into a leader in renewable energy, make college more affordable and accessible and fix the state's transportation problems.

"We are taking this state forward,'' Deeds said. "In this election the choices will be stark. Do we move back to failed policies of the past or do we move forward?"

Deeds was joined for the first time by the rest of November's Democratic ticket -- lieutenant governor nominee Jody Wagner and attorney general nominee Steve Shannon -- and U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, Rep. Bobby Scott, Dick Cranwell, chairman of the state Democratic party, and members of the General Assembly, including Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong.

Democrats from across the state munched barbecue sandwiches and baked beans and waved blue Deeds signs on a lawn on the College of William and Mary campus. But the sunshine gave way to rain, and the speeches were cut short as the 250 supporters ran for cover.

Webb was just one of the many speakers to heap praise on Deeds. "He was out there everyday. He was selling people on his sincerity. We have someone who is believable, who is strong in his values. "

Former gubernatorial candidates Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe skipped the event, but former lieutenant governor hopefuls Michael Signer, Jon Bowerbank and Rich Savage were on hand. So were several candidates for the House of Delegates.

All the speakers -- and there were many of them -- talked about how dispirited Democrats were in 2000 before Warner started the party back on the road to recovery. Now the party has control of the governor's mansion and the state Senate as well as a majority of the congressional delegation, including two U.S. senators. Democrats, led by Armstrong, will try to pick up the remaining six seats needed to take control of the House.

Saslaw, in his typical blunt style, attacked former attorney general Bob McDonnell for giving the greenlight to the state's 2007 transportation package, only to have it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

"If you're looking for a good lawyer, he ain't the guy,'' Saslaw said. "I don't want to run the risk of having him as governor either."

Kaine took the makeshift stage just as the rain started. "I love me some Creigh Deeds!"

The governor criticized McDonnell and his running mates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and GOP attorney general nominee Ken Cuccinelli II, for opposing his initiatives -- transportation funding, pre-kindergarten programs and a smoking ban in restaurants.

"These guys know what they are against," Kaine said. "They've never seen anything they are for."

McDonnell, who was walking door to door today in Northern Virginia, said he had little fear about the Williamsburg Democratic unity event.

"You need to be able to run on your own record," he said. "What you've done. I think that's what people want to see."

By Anita Kumar  |  June 13, 2009; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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