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Virginia Politics Blog: August 16, 2009 - August 22, 2009

On The Record

Recently, we introduced you to On The Record , a new regular feature here on the Virginia Politics blog -- a funny, outrageous or otherwise memorable quote from someone in the state's political world. Have a quote you want to share? Email me at kumaranita@washpost.com. Now onto our latest installment: "It shows [Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell] just doesn't understand the serious needs in Northern Virginia and the fact that it will take rational leadership based on good thoughtful public policy to solve these problems, not the kind gimmicks he's proposed," Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria), said in an interview with my colleague Roz Helderman. Englin was responding to McDonnell's criticism of Gov. Tim Kaine for postoning construction on HOT lanes on interstates 395 and 95 even though private companies, not the state, are picking up the tab. McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation in part by privatizing the state's...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 22, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Get to Know Your Candidates

Happy weekend, Virginia! As part of our continuing series "Get to Know Your Candidates," we are occasionally posing more personal and lighthearted questions to Virginia's gubernatorial candidates. Today's edition, inspired we'll admit by intriguing news from Maryland: How did you propose marriage to your wife?...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 22, 2009; 9:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Updated: Howell, McDonnell "Disappointed" in Hamilton

House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) said in a statement this afternoon that he was "deeply disappointed" to hear that Del. Phil Hamilton sought a job at Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school to open a teaching center. "I believe he certainly did the right thing in resigning his position at ODU and is correct in accepting full personal responsibility for his role in this very unfortunate situation," Howell said. Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, who served with Hamilton (R-Newport News) in the House of Delegates for 14 years and represented the same area of the state, said late today that he was "surprised and very disappointed" in his friend's actions. "Elected officials must maintain the highest levels of integrity and accountability,'' McDonnell said. "I am both surprised and very disappointed in the actions taken by Delegate Hamilton in this matter. Delegate Hamilton was correct...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 21, 2009; 2:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Deeds Goes on the Offensive in Speech, Ad

Democrat Creigh Deeds worked to recharge his gubernatorial bid Friday with what his campaign billed as a major address at George Mason University and his first television ad of the general election campaign. You can watch the ad below and read more about the remarks here. The speech contained little that's new in the way of policy proposals -- Deeds said as much to reporters afterward. But he did attempt to sharpen the message he will present throughout the fall. And what's that message? It's all about backwards-forwards. Republican Bob McDonnell will take the state back, Deeds will take it forward. Deeds said he would govern in the bipartisan vein of former governor Mark Warner, recalling what he said was the pivotal 2004 tax fight when Deeds backed Warner's budget and McDonnell was opposed. Deeds said he would create opportunity by giving tax credits to job-creating businesses and expanding access...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 21, 2009; 1:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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UPDATE: House Call: Hamilton's Seat Gets Hotter

Republican Del. Phillip A. Hamilton of Newport News has a little more explaining to do this week regarding the paid job he took with Old Dominion University after helping the school score a half-million-dollar state appropriation for a teacher training program. According to reports in today's Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot, Hamilton actively sought the position before securing the state funding for ODU as the House Appropriations Committee's ranking Republican. The emails Hamilton sent to ODU officials seeking a post with the training center he was helping don't do him much good. They'll sting even more if (when?) Democrat Robin Abbott starts quoting them in radio and TV ads. To then-ODU president Roseann Runte: "...when we talked about the Center last August, I expressed an interest in being associated with the initiative from a professional perspective." Ouch....

By Amy Gardner  |  August 21, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009  
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Young Voters Split for the Moment

Does Creigh Deeds have a problem motivating voters in the Democratic base? It's one reason many have proposed for why his poll numbers are not looking so hot two months before Election Day. And given that conversation, this is an interesting figure to contemplate from The Washington Post's first poll of the race: Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell are running about even with voters ages 18 to 34, with Deeds at 44 percent and McDonnell at 42 percent. That's an age group that got particularly excited about President Obama last year. If Deeds is to pull a come-from-behind victory in November, he will probably need to find a way to wow younger voters far more than he has so far. But Deeds might take comfort in some historical perspective....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 21, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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First Click - Virginia

Happy Friday, here's what's happening in Virginia politics today. Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds goes on the offensive, making an 11 a.m. speech in Northern Virginia, where some Democrats say they aren't fired up about his candidacy. He follows the address with his first television ad of the general election and immediately plunges back into rural Virginia with a weekend spin through Harrisonburg, Salem, Roanoke, Christiansburg, Bland, Tazewell and Bristol. McDonnell, meanwhile, continues his RV tour of the state, making stops in Lynchburg, Appomattox and Harrisonburg today. At recent events he has sought to deflect Deeds' attacks on his record opposing abortion, accusing the state senator of being the one who is overly focused on the issue....

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  August 21, 2009; 6:45 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , 2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009 , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Sandhya Somashekhar  
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Mark Warner: The Teflon Senator?

How does Mark Warner do it? Despite an increasing national fatigue with Democrats and a more Republican-friendly electorate in Virginia, the Democratic governor-turned-senator continues to receive incredibly high approval ratings. In a Washington Post poll released this week, 68 percent of registered voters approved of Warner's job performace (31 percent of them strongly). By comparison, Virginia's two other statewide Democrats, Tim Kaine and Jim Webb, have approval rating of 55 and 51 among registered voters, respectively....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2009; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  James Webb , Mark Warner , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Kaine In N.J., Participates in DNC Forum

It's been a while since we told you what Gov. Tim Kaine has been doing as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Here's one thing we heard. This afternoon, he is participating in a virtual town hall meeting with President Obama to talk about health care. He is calling in from New Jersey, where he is helping Gov. Jon Corzine raise money for his re-election campaign. Pat Mullins, chairman of the state GOP, quickly sent out a statement criticizing Kaine for participating in the forum the day after he announced the state had a $1.5 billion budget shortfall. "Tim Kaine was elected to be the governor of Virginia, and there are obviously some very serious fiscal problems here at home he should be addressing," Mullins said. On Tuesday, Kaine and the DNC sent out an e-mail urging people to participate in the health care town hall meeting. "Organizing for America...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2009; 2:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Political Memo: Cooch & Connolly - the Next Great TV Detective Series?

As uprisings go, this one had no scythes or pitchforks. But a recent movement spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D) to persuade his party's leaders to roll back a tax provision in the healthcare overhaul may have been all the more effective without them. Connolly, as head of the Democratic Party's freshmen class of congressmen, enlisted the support of 22 other members (including one non-freshman) to persuade House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reconsider the cutoff for a surtax on wealthy households to help pay for the healthcare makeover. The upstarts, many of whom were Democrats representing prosperous suburbs, also boarded a bus to the White House to plead their case with the president and his staff, attracting the notice of The Wall Street Journal, CBS, CNN and other national media outlets. "It was not really an insurrection," Connolly demurred. "I wouldn't characterize it as an insurrection because the...

By Anne Bartlett  |  August 20, 2009; 2:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , 2009 Governor's Race , Fredrick Kunkle  
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Virginia Notebook: Obama, Kaine and Deeds

In every gubernatorial race in Virginia since 1977, the party that won the White House lost the governor's mansion. Coincidence? Maybe, but Virginia's tradition is understandable. After an administration comes in, people are naturally anxious. Some think the president is moving too fast, some think he is moving too slow. In a Washington Post poll released this week, only 34 percent of registered voters in Virginia think the nation is moving in the right direction, and only 47 percent think the state is -- down from 65 percent in 2005. The poll shows that discontent about the nation and the state -- run by a president and governor who are Democrats -- is helping fuel Republican Robert F. McDonnell's early lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in the race for governor....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 20, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Fact Check: More on McDonnell and Martinsville

Okay, politicos, gather around for another tour through Virginia's premiere sausage factory. Last week, we rifled 10-year-old records of the Virginia General Assembly to shed light on the Democratic Party's claim that Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell ignored the plight of jobless textile workers in Martinsville. It's a serious charge. The city has yet to recover from the collapse of the region's furniture and textile industries 10 years ago, as witnessed by an unemployment rate that hit 21.6 percent in June. Fearlessly venturing into the Legislative Information System and the House Journal --which feels a little like making a study of sausage-making after it's already been through the disposal -- our Fact Check found that while McDonnell did vote against the emergency aid package for Martinsville's workers, the Democrats' charges also lacked some important context. Now, Del. Robert D. Hull (D-Fairfax) wants you to know that there was another,...

By Anne Bartlett  |  August 20, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Fredrick Kunkle , Robert F. McDonnell  
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First Click - Virginia

Good morning Virginia, here's what's happening in politics around the state today. The big news was yesterday's special legislative session in Richmond. The General Assembly yesterday voted to change a law governing breath tests in drunk driving cases in a mad dash to accommodate a recent Supreme Court ruling that would have made prosecutions in those cases more difficult. Lawmakers also received a grim update on the budget. Gov. Kaine announced a $1.5 billion shortfall that will require significant cuts, which he'll announce in early September. They also decided to compensate a Norfolk man wrongly convicted of rape with a $633,000 settlement. With the special session over, both men vying for Virginia governor turn their attention back to the campaign. Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, a state senator, participated in yesterday's session. He tries to give a boost to his campaign by spending the day in the Democratic-leaning Washington suburbs, where...

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  August 20, 2009; 7:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , First Click , General Assembly 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Sandhya Somashekhar  
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Updated: Budget Politics in Virginia

It seems like everyone in Richmond has an opinion about Gov. Tim Kaine's announcement Wednesday that the state needs to make up a $1.5 billion budget shortfall this year. There will likely be trims to core services, including education, health care and public safety, but on Wednesday, the talk was less about the cuts and more about -- what else? -- politics. State Senator and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds praised Kaine, criticized George W. Bush (yes, we know he's been gone for months) and talked about his "responsible and comprehensive government efficiency plan" that will save money. Not to be outdone, his Republican rival Bob McDonnell issued a statement praising another Democrat (as has become his practice as he tries to run as a moderate), former governor Doug Wilder, and criticized Deeds for supporting a tax increase (Deeds has said he would support one, though he hasn't proposed one)....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 19, 2009; 6:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Special Session Wrap-Up

Lawmakers had a productive day in Richmond on Wednesday, successfully coming to agreement on two bills. Identical versions of the measures have unanimously passed both the House of Delegates and the Senate. One measure is designed to address the issue that brought the General Assembly to town on a blazing hot August day, a Supreme Court decision that requires live testimony from forensic analysts in DUI and drug cases. The bill passed by the legislature allows prosecutors to use written testimony but requires them to alert defendants in advance that they will do so, providing time for objections. The House and Senate have also passed identical bills that would provide more than $600,000 in compensation to a Hampton Roads man who spent 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. While in Richmond, Democratic delegates and senators also report receiving a briefing during their closed-door caucus meetings...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 19, 2009; 4:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Special Session Starts With Stop and Go

It's hot outside as Virginia lawmakers cool their heels inside the state Capitol in what has so far been a classic stop-and-go, one-day special session. The House of Delegates and Senate gaveled into session Wednesday at noon, as planned. They have both adopted procedural resolutions that bar consideration of unexpected topics -- fending of rumblings of an effort by a group of lawmakers to bring up the issue of highway rest stops shuttered because of to budget cuts. Both chambers also sent a delegation trooping up to the third floor of the Capitol building to inform Gov. Timothy M. Kaine that they were meeting for business, a bit of required Virginia pomp and circumstance. Kaine had a brief back-and-forth with lawmakers, in which delegates and senators agreed that they were working out some technical differences between bills that they were considering on the subject of the day -- responding to...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 19, 2009; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Governor Kaine's Remarks on Revenue Forecast

"Chairman Putney, Chairman Colgan, Chairman Purkey, and Members of the Committees: Good morning. I stood before you in August 2007 and told you that Virginia's housing market was in decline and that we needed to take steps to reduce spending and likely access the state's reserve fund in order to manage through a slowing national economy. Many people didn't agree with my warning about our economic situation then. Two years later, we all know that we have been through a uniquely challenging time. And I'm sure that the depth of the national recession was something that none of us--even the most pessimistic--would have predicted. My main message to you today is that, while the national economy continues to create difficulties, Virginia has managed through this extraordinary time with skill and creativity. We have made the tough decisions that the times require and been recognized for doing so. We have more...

By Mike McPhate  |  August 19, 2009; 11:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Timothy M. Kaine  
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Candidates Back at the Capitol

Four of Virginia's six statewide candidates will attempt to take a break -- at least briefly -- from campaigning when they return to the state Capitol at noon Wednesday for a special legislative session. Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds and Republican attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli are both members of the Senate. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling will preside over the Senate while Democratic attorney general candidate Steve Shannon is a member of the House of Delegates. Deeds and Cuccinelli were back yesterday for a meeting of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to talk about how the state might change law to deal with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on trials. Deeds did briefly attend the meeting after holding a news conference, but then he apparently left. His premature disappearance prompted Cuccinelli to announce on Facebook: Okay, we started this Courts Committee meeting just after 230 p.m. to address...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 19, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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First Click - Virginia

Good morning Virginia, here's what's happening in politics around the state today. While state lawmakers meet in Richmond today to address a recent Supreme Court ruling that could throw a wrench into many prosecutions, one big piece of news out of the special session will be the additional cuts Gov. Kaine is expected to propose to the budget. Among the attendees will be state senator and gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds (D) . He and GOP opponent Bob McDonnell each picked up a key endorsement yesterday, and today McDonnell spends the day in private meetings and visiting with businesses and law enforcement officials in Hampton Roads, a spokeswoman said this morning....

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  August 19, 2009; 6:07 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , First Click , Robert F. McDonnell , Sandhya Somashekhar , Timothy M. Kaine , Transportation  
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Realtors Back McDonnell; Black Caucus Favors Deeds

Gubernatorial candidates Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell held back-to-back news conferences in Richmond on Tuesday to announce endorsements, neither of them of the too terribly shocking variety. McDonnell picked up the support of the political action committee of the Virginia Association of Realtors, the state's largest professional organization. The group represents 33,000 Realtors and, after interviewing both candidates, backed McDonnell as more likely to promote home ownership. The support from the right-leaning business group is not a surprise, although it was also not assured: The group also endorsed Democrat Steve Shannon on Tuesday for attorney general, along with Republican Bill Bolling for reelection as lieutenant governor. Even less surprising was Deeds's announcement that he had received the backing of the legislative black caucus....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 18, 2009; 3:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , 2009 Governor's Race , 2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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First Click - Virginia

Good morning, here's what's happening in politics around the state. Virginia lawmakers struggle with the reality that the piggy bank is empty for transportation. Gov. Kaine has decided to delay part of the HOT Lanes project, a decision that drew an instant rebuke from GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. The Post uses Virginia as a test case for the health care debate and finds broad skepticism. State lawmakers have begun working on legislation to address a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that could make prosecuting criminals more difficult. The General Assembly meets tomorrow to consider the changes and will likely get some bad news about the state budget too, says the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star....

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  August 18, 2009; 7:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , General Assembly 2009 , Polls , Robert F. McDonnell , Sandhya Somashekhar , Transportation  
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Va. Northern Neck GOP Embraces Crabill - Again

Not only is Republican delegate candidate Catherine Crabill not stepping aside, as requested by the state GOP last week, but local party leaders are redoubling their support for her campaign in the Northern Neck against Democrat Del. Albert C. Pollard Jr. Crabill's campaign Monday announced that the top Republican in the 99th legislative district, R. Allen Webb, will chair a grassroots steering committee for her campaign. The announcement came just a few days after state GOP leaders, including all three candidates for statewide office, formally denounced Crabill over her comments last month that her supporters might have to "resort to the bullet box" if not successful at the ballot box. State party chairman Pat Mullins called on her to abandon her run for office. "I'm happy to answer the call to help Catherine Crabill as the Republican Party's 99th District nominee," Webb said in a press release, urging party members...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 17, 2009; 5:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , 2009 Governor's Race , 2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Moran, Dean to Host Health Care Discussion in Reston

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) will host a town hall meeting on health care Tuesday in Reston. He will be joined by Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, presidential candidate and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to discuss efforts in Congress to reform the health care system. The meeting will take place from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday in the South Lakes High School auditorium, 11400 South Lakes Drive, Reston. The event is free, but seating is limited. Doors will open at 6 p.m....

By Amy Gardner  |  August 17, 2009; 2:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , James P. Moran Jr.  
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Pomata To Resign as Va. Information Officer Following AG Opinion

Gov. Tim Kaine's technology secretary, Len Pomata, is expected to resign as chief information officer of the state's technology agency, according to sources close to the governor. His resignation, which could come as early as today, will come days after Attorney General William C. Mims (R) issued a written opinion that Pomata should not be doing both jobs. Earlier today, House Speaker Bill Howell (R) and other House leaders called on Pomata to step down. "There is no question that Governor Kaine and Secretary Pomata need to act immediately to determine in which one government role Mr. Pomata should serve and which one he should resign," Howell said. "Like so many, I await the decision by the secretary or governor so Virginians can be assured that their leaders are acting in accordance with the law." The decision doesn't exactly make Kaine look good. The governor has said repeatedly that he...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 17, 2009; 12:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Timothy M. Kaine  
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First Click - Virginia

Happy Monday, here's what's happening in politics around the state today. TOP STORIES: Bob McDonnell starts his week with good news: A Washington Post poll conducted last week shows the GOP gubernatorial hopeful with a clear advantage among registered voters, though lots of respondents acknowledged they don't know much about either candidate and Democrat Creigh Deeds still has more than two months to gain some ground, as the RTD points out. National Journal's Charlie Cook, however, argues that a Deeds victory at this point would be a "true upset." The Post's editorial board today weighs in on McDonnell's record on abortion, which Deeds spent last week highlighting. Despite Deeds' efforts to show that the former attorney general is too conservative, the Post poll showed that more registered voters view Deeds as too liberal....

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  August 17, 2009; 7:24 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Robert F. McDonnell , Sandhya Somashekhar  
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Fact Check: Did McDonnell Turn His Back on Unemployed?

To accuse a Virginian politician of turning his back on Martinsville, the beleagured Southside mill town whose unemployment rate hit 21.6 percent in June, is almost like a slur. But that's what the gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D) did last week, saying that Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell "stood against the workers in the area when textile plants shut down and left nearly 3,000 workers jobless." As a former delegate, McDonnell voted against "a bipartisan emergency relief package" that would have provided enhanced jobless benefits, including health insurance, for laid-off Martinsville textile workers, the Deeds campaign said. The allegation is accurate--but also deserves some context....

By Anne Bartlett  |  August 16, 2009; 9:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , 2009 Governor's Race Fact Checker , Creigh Deeds , Fredrick Kunkle , Robert F. McDonnell  
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