Archive: September 2009

RGA Spends $1.7M on Ads, DGA Donates $500K

The Republican Governors Association plans to spend $1.7 million on TV ads for Bob McDonnell in Northern Virginia starting tomorrow, according to several sources familiar with the ad buy. The RGA has been airing $2 million worth of ads across the state since late August, but this will be the first time the group is spending money in the pricey Washington market. The $1.7 million will pay for ads for the next three weeks. Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association wrote Creigh Deeds another check this week -- this one for $250,000. The DGA gave Deeds a total of $500,000 in September on top of $500,000 in June. The DGA has spent more on this year's Virginia governor's race -- $4 million in cash and TV ads -- than any other race in the group's history....

By Anita Kumar | September 30, 2009; 8:37 PM ET | Comments (1)

Kaine's September Travel

View Kaine's Travel Adventures in a larger map. KEY: Blue markers are DNC trips, red markers are official state trips, and purple markers included a mix of both or are unclear at this time. Gov. Tim Kaine, who serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, reported spending all or part of 12 days out-of-state this month, including five trips to Washington. Kaine's office released his travels for September in keeping with his pledge to do so at the end of each month, which was made following pressure by the media and others to disclose his whereabouts. His out-of-state travel included trips to Burlington and Norwich, Vt. (Wed., Sept. 2), Dallas, Brownsville and Austin, Tx. (Wed., Sept. 9-Sat., Sept. 12), New York and Greenwich, Conn. (Mon., Sept. 21-Tues., Sept. 22). He also reported spending part of four weekdays and one Saturday in Washington. Much of the out-of-state travel was likely...

By Anita Kumar | September 30, 2009; 5:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

New Deeds Radio Ad for Northern Virginia

Democrat Creigh Deeds has a new radio ad, versions of which will play in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Both are about jobs, education and transportation, slamming Bob McDonnell's plans on the topic and then transitioning to praise for Deeds's proposals. It opens by trying to make McDonnell regret accepting that Chris Wallace invitation to appear on Fox News last weekend. The ad's got a woman and man talking to each other. "So this Bob McDonnell is not all he's cracked up to be..." the woman says to the man. "I know, Fox News just said his jobs and transportation plan just doesn't add up," the man says. And she responds: "Fox News?" Take a listen to the Nova version here:...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 30, 2009; 5:03 PM ET | Comments (4)

Virginia Notebook: Wilder Again Plays His Hand Alone

It's one of the most popular parlor games in Virginia politics: guessing who, if anyone, will get former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder's endorsement. This year, the game came to a swift end when Wilder announced last week that he would sit out the Virginia governor's race. The decision itself wasn't shocking (he had done the same in prior years), but it was surprising this year considering he had been courted by President Obama and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, his party's national chairman. Wilder said in a lengthy statement that he could not endorse Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in his race over Republican Robert F. McDonnell because Deeds supports a tax increase to pay for road and transit improvements ("This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase") and boasts a pro-gun record ("I do not see how endorsing a proposal to have...

By Anita Kumar | September 30, 2009; 4:41 PM ET | Comments (2)

Updated: Is Bolling Criticizing McDonnell, Too?

In recent days, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has been attacking Democrat Jody Wagner for quitting her job as state finance secretary to run for office. "Ms. Wagner quit to run for higher office, putting her own personal political interests ahead of Virginia's interests and the fulfillment of her responsibilities as Secretary of Finance,'' Bolling wrote in a news release yesterday. Bolling, of course, remained in his part-time job to run for reelection. But wait a minute. His friend and running mate, Bob McDonnell, quit his job as attorney general to run for governor. Is Bolling criticizing McDonnell, too? The folks at the state Democratic Party want to point out this obvious disconnect. ''Do you think Bolling has ever confronted McDonnell about his decision to step down as Virginia's Attorney General to run for governor?'' the party wrote in a news release. "Judging by his willingness to campaign with McDonnell...

By Anita Kumar | September 30, 2009; 2:20 PM ET | Comments (12)

AFSCME Drops Another $400K on Deeds

This will brighten Democrat Creigh Deeds fund-raising report for the month: the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees yesterday donated another $400,000 to Deeds' campaign. The national union was already one of Deeds' largest donors, along with the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association, giving him $500,000 in June. The Republicans will surely use the donation to continue a campaign against Deeds for accepting money from big national unions. But $400,000 is nothing to sneeze at--it almost buys you a week on television in pricey Northern Virginia....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 30, 2009; 1:31 PM ET | Comments (1)

Excerpts: Post Reporters Take Questions on Governor's Race

Washington Post staff writers Amy Gardner and Sandhya Somashekhar were online Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss Virginia politics and the Race to Richmond. See some of their answers to readers' questions below, or read the full transcript. Aldie, Va.: When the Post broke the thesis story, did you detect a shift in Deeds's focus on issues? Aside from social concerns, what issues does Deeds talk about the most on the campaign trail? Amy Gardner: Hello, and thanks for the question. There's no question that Deeds's campaign strategy shifted pretty significantly after the story of the thesis broke on Aug. 30. Certainly his campaign was planning to focus on Bob McDonnell's record of conservatism, particularly on such social issues as abortion and covenant marriage. But since then it's been pretty much a blitz about McDonnell's thesis and the votes he's taken in the General Assembly that have...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 30, 2009; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (1)

VPBA Endorses Deeds, Four Years After Backing McDonnell

The Virginia Police Benevolent Association has endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds for governor. The group's announcement comes on the heels of the Fraternal Order of Police's endorsement of Republican Bob McDonnell last week. But the FOP also endorsed McDonnell in 2005 when the two ran against each other for attorney general. The VPBA, on the other hand, is switching teams -- after endorsing McDonnell in 2005, this time the group has gone with Deeds. And, to put an exclamation point on their bipartisan nods, the same group is also backing incumbent Republican Bill Bolling for reelection as lieutenant governor. Deeds Country helpfully notes that McDonnell called the VPBA's endorsement one of the "most important endorsements that a candidate can have" when he received it in 2005. (Full context: McDonnell's quote referred both to the VPBA and the FOP nods in 2005. "These are the most important endorsements that a candidate can...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 30, 2009; 11:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Click -- Virginia

Wed., Sept. 30, 2009 Good morning! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today. Remember soccer moms? And security moms? The Virginia election this year is shaping up to be a battle for working moms--and other women--as Democrat Creigh Deeds senses opportunity and makes an explicit appeal to the group that make up 54 percent of registered voters and Republican Bob McDonnell works to defend ground with the group. In the category of the not very surprising, Gov. Linwood Holton, Virginia's first Republican chief executive since reconstruction and, oh yes, Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law, endorses Deeds. McDonnell joins Republican attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli to talk mental health....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 30, 2009; 7:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

Updated: Police Group Backs Bolling

Four years ago, the Virginia Police Benevolent Association endorsed Democrat Leslie Byrne over Republican Bill Bolling for lieutenant governor. This year, the group is going with Bolling. The PBA, which represents more than 2,000 law enforcement officers in the state, endorsed Bolling today. "Lt. Governor Bolling has demonstrated his support for the issues that are important to law enforcement,'' PBA President Jason Knorowski said. "The Virginia PBA encourages all Virginians to support strong, effective law enforcement by re-electing Bill Bolling as our Lieutenant Governor." The group cited Bolling's support of efforts to increase the number of state-funded local law enforcement positions, increased retirement benefits for law enforcement officers and funding for a task force on internet sexual predators. In his press release, Bolling again criticizes his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner, for "mismanaging" the state's finances to the point that $150 million has had to be cut...

By Anita Kumar | September 29, 2009; 6:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

Virginia's Regional Divide on the Issues

Our colleagues on the polling team have put up an interesting analysis of perceptions of the Virginia governor's race in Northern Virginia versus the rest of the state in the most recent Washington Post poll on their blog, Behind the Numbers. Take a look here....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 29, 2009; 5:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

New Deeds Ad: 'Detrimental'

Democrat Creigh Deeds has a new McDonnell thesis-related ad going up in television markets statewide. The new ad begins, "What kind of person writes a thesis calling working women 'detrimental to the family' ... then lies about his opponent to cover up his own record?" I don't think we're supposed to conclude a very good one! As this race gets nastier and nastier, the ad relies heavily on newspaper clips to slam Republican Bob McDonnell as a guy running a deceptive campaign. (In that regards, it's similar to a McDonnell ad that went up last week that makes the same claims about Deeds.) You can watch the new spot here:...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 29, 2009; 3:51 PM ET | Comments (1)

Fairfax Chamber Splits Ticket, Endorses Shannon

Democratic candidate for attorney general Steve Shannon said Tuesday that he couldn't say why he picked up the endorsement of the political action committee of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce when fellow Democrat, gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, did not. Chamber leadership said Shannon won out over opponent Ken Cuccinelli in a vote that required approval of 60 percent of the group's trustees. Shannon was cited as a "go-to" delegate on business issues. "We recognize his hard work in promoting and protecting the interests of our members," said Fran Fisher, chairwoman of the NOVABizPAC. Shannon said he could not answer why such groups are backing his effort but not his ticket mates' and could only say that they have backed him because he's been a "reliable advocate in the House of Delegates."...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 29, 2009; 3:22 PM ET | Comments (1)

Updated: McDonnell, Cuccinelli Talk About Mental Health

Republican candidates Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli released their plans to improve mental health care in the state on a conference call today with reporters. The proposal includes improving services for children, adolescents and veterans, allowing people who are receiving in-patient care to transfer to out-patient care with oversight, requiring that temporary detention orders be issued by 72 hours from detention to hearing, encouraging partnerships between schools and mental health providers, providing better care at jails and allowing trained law students to represent willing petitioners with behavioral health issues. "Mental health care is a critically important issue that unfortunately often is overlooked,'" McDonnell said. "We must improve and expand community based mental health care." Read the full plan here Update: Democrats criticize McDonnell and Cuccinelli for supporting a trabsportation plan that they say will divert from the general fund for core services, which could include mental healthcare. "The Republican campaign...

By Anita Kumar | September 29, 2009; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Says He Was Unaware of Paterson Discussions

On what was otherwise a fairly sedate episode of WTOP's monthly "Ask the Governor" segment featuring Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), Mark Plotkin broke in at the last minute to ask Kaine the hardball question of the hour: What did you know about the White House's attempt to persuade New York Gov. David Paterson (D) not to run for his seat next year? Not much, Kaine responded -- though he declined to say whether he supports President Obama's position that Paterson should bow out. By way of background, The New York Times recently reported that President Obama had asked the beleaguered Paterson not to seek a full first term next year, an unusual intervention into state affairs by a president. Plotkin's question was aimed at Kaine because of Kaine's second job as chairman of the Democratic National Committee....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 29, 2009; 11:31 AM ET | Comments (1)

McDonnell Receives Another Business Endorsement

We told you before that Republican Bob McDonnell is the choice of many of Virginia's business groups -- or at least the groups that endorse in the governor's race. Here's another sign: This morning, McDonnell was endorsed by yet another business group -- this time the Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, representing more than 600 construction and related companies across the state. "Bob McDonnell is a proven leader with a record of protecting the free enterprise system,'' said Pat Dean, the group's president. "He is the candidate best prepared to get our economy back on track and help Virginia's business owners create great jobs statewide." McDonnell has been endorsed by the Fairfax County and Hampton Roads chambers of commerce as well as groups representing realtors, farmers, credit unions and small businesses....

By Anita Kumar | September 29, 2009; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (7)

Where Wilder's Deeds Rejection Fits on the Endorsement Scale

According to The Fix, it doesn't -- so he had to adjust. To this list, we add -- in honor of Doug Wilder -- the non-endorsement endorsement, which clocks in between the obligatory endorsement and the pariah endorsement in terms of its influence (or lack thereof). ... Late last week, Wilder not only decided not to endorse Deeds but put out a long statement detailing why he had made that decision. Wilder hit Deeds for his support of a tax increase to pay for transportation improvements ("This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase," said Wilder) and for his past support for gun rights provisions ("For this situation to exist and for Democrats who lead our party to say nothing is puzzling and inexplicable."). Wilder did add that his decision not to back Deeds was "not intended to detract from Mr. Deeds...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 29, 2009; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (1)

Former Gov. Holton Endorses Deeds

Former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton, who in the 1960s became the first Republican elected to statewide office since Reconstruction, endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds this morning. The nod was not exactly a surprise -- Holton is Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law and has been backing Democrats for office for a while now. Holton lives in Richmond, but the campaign chose the Clarendon Metro stop as the location for a press conference on the announcement -- all the better to get on D.C. area television to talk about, what else, transportation....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 29, 2009; 10:51 AM ET | Comments (9)

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today. Election Day is exactly five weeks away. And it feels like it. The campaigns are in full swing -- working around the clock, rolling out policy plans, airing new TV ads. Democrat Creigh Deeds heads back to a metro station this morning -- this time, to unveil an endorsement from former Republican Gov. Linwood Holton. (Didn't we already know Holton supported Deeds? After all, he's Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law and he's endorsed Democrats in most recent statewide elections, including Barack Obama). Deeds debuted a TV ad yesterday featuring U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, arguably the most popular politician in the state. Republican Bob McDonnell rolls out another policy -- on mental health -- this morning on a conference call with reporters. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling released the second part of their good government...

By Anita Kumar | September 29, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (1)

Warner Blitz for Deeds Is Under Way

Democrat Creigh Deeds debuted a new campaign ad today featuring Mark Warner, the U.S. senator and former governor whose popularity surpasses any other elected official in Virginia. Expect to see plenty more of Warner between now and Nov. 3. Warner has committed to work every weekend for Deeds between now and Election Day; he's also hosting a fundraiser at his home in Alexandria. Here's the script of Deeds's new ad "Senator." View the ad below. Mark Warner into camera: The choice in this election for Governor is really pretty simple: Do we move Virginia forward by continuing the pro-business economic policies that I helped put in place... ...Or do we go backwards with the failed economic approach that ruined our economy?...

By Amy Gardner | September 28, 2009; 5:49 PM ET | Comments (10)

All Aboard! Deeds Campaigns on Metro

Yes, that really was Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds riding the blue line through Northern Virginia this morning. No, he wasn't commuting to his Alexandria office. Deeds rode the blue line nine stops from Franconia-Springfield to Rosslyn, shaking hands, handing out literature and introducing himself to potential voters from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. He got out at some of the stops, including King Street, where he was accompanied by son, Gus, and Alexandria Mayor William Euille (who did a Q&A for this weekend's Post Magazine)....

By Anita Kumar | September 28, 2009; 5:12 PM ET | Comments (5)

Shannon, Cuccinelli: Dueling Ads, Endorsements

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general, released his first TV ad today, a week after his Democratic rival Steve Shannon released his first two ads. Cuccinelli also released endorsements from 77 sheriffs, commonwealth's attorneys and other elected law enforcement officials from across the state at a news conference today in Richmond. Some commended him for calling on Gov. Tim Kaine (D) to convene a special session this summer to revise laws to conform to new standards set by the Supreme Court that live testimony is needed to introduce scientific reports in criminal trials. "When justice was denied here in Virginia this summer, Ken Cuccinelli stepped up to the plate,'' Chesterfield Commonwealth's Attorney Billy Davenport said. Meanwhile, Shannon announced the endorsements of 40 law enforcement and first response organizations and officials from across the state, including the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, the Fairfax Coalition of Police, the Virginia Professional...

By Anita Kumar | September 28, 2009; 4:50 PM ET | Comments (2)

Updated: McDonnell, Bolling Unveil Good Government Plan

Republicans Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling rolled out the second part of their "good government plan" to bring more fiscal responsibility to Richmond through changes to the way the state budgets and spends money. The plan includes a more accurate revenue-forecasting model, increasing the size of the rainy-day fund and instituting performance audits of major agencies. Read the whole plan here. Back in May, they released a plan calling for bipartisan redistricting, limits on political contributions to executive branch officials, creation of a watchdog group to eliminate waste in state agencies and greater lobbyist disclosure. "We must put an end to the roller coaster spending by Richmond,'' McDonnell said. "That will require exercising spending restraint, not just in bad times but in good times, too." McDonnell used the call to -- again - to criticize Democrat Creigh Deeds for supporting a tax hike and to praise former governor Doug Wilder,...

By Anita Kumar | September 28, 2009; 2:22 PM ET | Comments (2)

UPDATE -- Everyone Owns Bob McDonnell

Have you noticed how many local ties Republican Bob McDonnell has across Virginia? Fairfax's Own! Virginia Beach's Own! As McDonnell has said again and again: "I'm basically your local candidate all over the state. It doesn't matter where you live." We wrote about this topic a while back, but those yard signs keep popping up showing McDonnell's personal ties to [community name here], so the time has come for a proper photo gallery. We're also launching a contest to name the next generation of signs. Certainly "Henrico's Own" is in the offing, as that's where McDonnell lives now. And "Richmond's Own", where he's worked for the past four years. How about "Third Crossing's Own?" or "Notre Dame's Own?" What other slogans can you think of? McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin was happy to speak seriously about his candidate's ties to different parts of the state. "Bob has deep and personal connections...

By Amy Gardner | September 28, 2009; 1:35 PM ET | Comments (11)

Deeds Airs Another Ad on Electric Rates

First, Democrat Creigh Deeds aired an ad accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of supporting power rate increases during an economic downturn. Then, McDonnell responded with an ad saying he saved $300 million in rate increases as attorney general. Here we go again. Deeds is back with another ad about rate increases in response to McDonnell's ad. Deeds' campaign did not initially release the ad or post it on its Web site, leading the McDonnell campaign to issue this press release: "After multiple editorials finding Creigh Deeds's attacks on Bob McDonnell regarding electricity rate increases to be completely without merit and false, the Democrat has now gone up with a NEW ad reiterating the same erroneous claims. As of this press release, it does not appear the Deeds' campaign has posted this new ad to their website, perhaps aware of the new lows the ad reaches." Post reporter Derek Kravitz fact-checked the...

By Anita Kumar | September 28, 2009; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (0)

UPDATED: Jindal Raises Money for McDonnell Tonight

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will headline a fundraiser for Republican Bob McDonnell tonight at the McLean home of Dwight Schar, founder of NVR Inc, one of the nation's largest homebuilders. The event will be attended by about 20 people and is expected to raise about $250,000. For those who need a quick math calculation, that means the guests would donate an average of $12,500. McDonnell will be joined by Sheila Johnson, the wealthy co-founder of Black Entertainment Television who endorsed him earlier this year despite being a major Democratic fundraiser. Schar donated $5,000 to McDonnell last year, and was a major fundraiser for Republican John McCain in Virginia last year. McDonnell has campaigned with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. This is Jindal's second trip to...

By Anita Kumar | September 28, 2009; 12:29 PM ET | Comments (4)

O'Malley Helps Deeds Raise Money

Democrat Creigh Deeds will make a brief stop in neighboring Maryland next week to raise money as he heads into the final month of the governor's race. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Turnbull will host a fundraising reception for Deeds Oct. 8 at the Potomac home of lobbyist Barbara Goldberg Goldman. "Our friends and neighbors just across the Potomac River and the entire Democratic Party need our help!'' according to the invitation. "Here is an opportunity to help Creigh continue serving the fine people of Virginia, and to keep Virginia blue! This race is in the home stretch with just under 37 days to go and, according to recent polls, is neck and neck." Read the full invitation below:...

By Anita Kumar | September 28, 2009; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Click -- Virginia

Monday, Sept. 28, 2009 Busy, busy, busy! Our statewide candidates scurried around over the weekend, and many of us scurried after them. Republican Bob McDonnell endured a tough interview with Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday, during which Wallace asked pointed questions about his transportation plan, his support of the Governor's Opportunity Fund and, yes, his thesis. With friends like these... FOX News invited Democrat Creigh Deeds, but he declined to appear with McDonnell, Wallace said. Instead, Deeds toured Southwest Virginia and appeared before a group of Arab-Americans in Vienna Sunday night, with former Republican Tom Davis serving as McDonnell's proxy. And his campaign has begun holding those book clubs we told you about last week, including this one in Roanoke with the mother of Mayor David Bowers. Today, McDonnell will appear with U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes in Suffolk (a roundtable on modeling and simulation!); he will also make a...

By Amy Gardner | September 28, 2009; 6:43 AM ET | Comments (4)

McDonnell Appears on FOX News Sunday

Anyone who thinks FOX News goes easy on Republicans should check out Chris Wallace's interview with Republican Bob McDonnell this morning. McDonnell faced a barrage of tough questions on FOX News Sunday including: Why did he vote to slash the the governor's opportunity fund if he now supports it? Will he cut education to pay for transportation improvements? Did he introduce any bills to create jobs in his 14 years in the legislature? How does he explain the "radical agenda" he wrote his graduate school thesis 20 years ago? McDonnell mostly held his own, providing the national audience with many of the same answers he has been giving here in the state during the campaign. "I've spent a lot of time in my legislative career and as attorney general finding ways to reduce the tax and regulatory burden on folks, to create tax credits for jobs creation -- all of...

By Anita Kumar | September 27, 2009; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (21)

Fact-Checker: How Much Does Virginia Spend on Classrooms?

Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell says Virginia needs to pony up and increase the amount it spends in public school classrooms, arguing that administrative offices get far too much funding. Many Virginia schools say they spend enough -- 65 percent or more -- on teaching. Who's right? The quick answer: It depends on whom you ask. The federal government says Virginia spends 61 percent on classroom instruction; Virginia school officials say they spend closer to 65 percent. The difference comes down to a narrow interpretation of whether things like libraries and guidance counselors constitute classroom instruction. Earlier this month, McDonnell, a former state delegate and Virginia attorney general, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is running for re-election, unveiled the fourth part of their state education policy proposal -- a plan to boost classroom coffers by $480 million by upping the required funding amount for school instruction to 65...

By Derek Kravitz | September 27, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds, McDonnell and Northern Virginia Promises

The Washington Post asked Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell to pen op-eds explaining what they would do to help Northern Virginia if they were elected governor. The exact question they were asked: "If you're elected, what will you do to improve the lives of the people in Northern Virginia? Please be as specific as you can." Their responses were printed in today's newspaper. Read Deeds' response here and McDonnell's response here....

By Anita Kumar | September 27, 2009; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Ad Watch: 'Transportation Contrast'

Republican candidate for governor Robert F. McDonnell took a page from his opponent in a recent television ad, quoting extensively from the Washington Post to promote his transportation plan. It's called "Transportation Contrast." Script: "The Washington Post says Creigh Deeds has 'not even bothered to formulate' much of a transportation plan. On road funding, Deeds's approach is 'as politically expedient as it is irresponsible.' Deeds's 'approach to transportation funding is to sidestep the subject.' Bob McDonnell's transportation plan 'deserves credit for the extent and specificity of its proposals,' like selling state liquor stores to invest a half-billion dollars to widen I-66, improve I-95 and expand Metro to Dulles. 'I'm Bob McDonnell, candidate for governor, and my campaign sponsored this ad." Images: The ad features excerpts from a Washington Post editorial, floating alongside unflattering cutouts of Deeds. Ominous music turns more inspiring as the ad transitions to images of McDonnell chatting...

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 25, 2009; 4:34 PM ET | Comments (1)

McDonnell Unveils A Pair of New Ads

Republican Bob McDonnell is up on air with two new TV ads today, as predicted in this morning's First Click. The first ad accuses Democrat Creigh Deeds of "disingenuous" and "deceitful" attacks against him. The second is another attempt to appeal to the female vote post-thesis. For this ad, he had his eldest daughter speak about the values her father taught her and her service in Iraq. Read the scripts below:...

By Anita Kumar | September 25, 2009; 1:49 PM ET | Comments (2)

McDonnell Picks Up Another Endorsement

Republican Bob McDonnell scored another endorsement today -- the third day in a row. The political arm of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce announced its support of McDonnell at a morning news conference. The group represents 2,500 member firms that employ nearly 300,000 workers in the state's second-most populous area. "Bob McDonnell's detailed transportation plan and solid stance on strategic business issues were key to his receiving this endorsement," said W. Sheppard Miller III, chairman of the Hampton Roads Business PAC. The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce PAC also endorsed McDonnell this week, citing transportation, economic development and tax policy. Both chambers have given the nod to Republicans in the past, so these endorsements were not a huge surprise. But there's no denying it's been a pretty good week for McDonnell, who also picked up support from the Fraternal Order of Police and scored a victory when former governor Doug...

By Anita Kumar | September 25, 2009; 11:36 AM ET | Comments (2)

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Sept. 25, 2009 Happy Friday, Virginia politicos! Only 39 days to go, but who's counting? The big news Thursday was the long-awaited answer to this question: WWWD (What Will Wilder Do?) Nothing, it turns out; after many weeks of playing footsie with Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell, former governor Doug Wilder decided he will endorse no one in the race. It's a blow for Deeds, particularly because of the energy that both Deeds and President Obama have given to courting Wilder, who was the first elected African-American governor in the nation. The news even made The New York Times, thanks in part to the intervention of the president. Bearing Drift provides some analysis from a former state Democratic Party chair, who finds Wilder's statement more troubling than his nonendorsement. Whether it will affect how black voters cast their ballots Nov. 3 and in what numbers they turn...

By Amy Gardner | September 25, 2009; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Biden Fundraises for Virginia Democrats

Vice President Joe Biden spoke Thursday night at a fundraising reception at the home of former Virginia senator and governor Chuck Robb, for three freshman Virginia House Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns. Biden, speaking inside an open-air pool house inside Robb's McLean mansion, noted that two of the three Democrats in attendance - U.S. Reps. Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello - would face difficult challenges in their more traditionally conservative Virginia districts. "I don't have to tell you that you're in a very competitive state," he said. "You got some tough votes coming up." He noted that the third Virginia House Democrat - U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, a former Fairfax County supervisor - had a "few liberals" in his left-leaning Northern Virginia district. He called the triumvirate "independent minded" and "damn competent," but united on several core Democratic Party themes, including energy policy and health care. "These guys are smart....

By Derek Kravitz | September 24, 2009; 9:25 PM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds Country? Really?

If the Margi Vanderhye sign weren't such a dead giveway, we'd try to be coy and quiz you about where this picture of Democrat Creigh Deeds's signature "Deeds Country" yard sign was taken. Bath County? Southside? Far Southwest? Okay, okay. It's the corner of Georgetown Pike and Springvale Road in Great Falls -- home of tech entrepreneurs and defense contracting execs and where 10,000-square-foot mansions with views of the Potomac River are as plentiful as Starbucks on K Street. In fact, a quick search on Google shows that the median household income in Great Falls is north of $150,000 -- quite possibly the highest in the state. So. Deeds Country? Certainly these homeowners love their land, just as Deeds loves the land he grew up on west of the Blue Ridge. But that mountainscape backdrop does look a tad peculiar up here. And after the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce's...

By Amy Gardner | September 24, 2009; 6:49 PM ET | Comments (1)

Rep. Gerry Connolly's Takes Questions on Health Care, Election '09

Northern Virginia U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly took readers' questions earlier today, discussion transportation, health care plans, the environment, Creigh Deeds vs. Bob McDonnell and more. Excerpts follow. Washington, DC: What are your views on DC voting rights? Will you help move the bill through this session? Rep. Gerry Connolly: I support D.C. voting rights. It is unconscionable that 600,000 Americans living in the District of Columbia do not having voting representation in Congress. I am a cosponsor of legislation to give D.C. a vote in Congress and will do everything in my power to make it happen as soon as possible....

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 24, 2009; 5:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

Ad Watch: 'Why Did You?'

Democratic candidate for governor R. Creigh Deeds unveiled two new ads this week hitting Republican Robert F. McDonnell over issues related to McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis. One is entitled "Why Did You?" Script: Woman: Bob McDonnell, we know what you wrote about working women ... Woman: ... and we've seen all your ads and heard your excuses. Woman: But your RECORD troubles me. Woman: ... 35 bills restricting a woman's choice Woman: And you opposed birth control for married adults. Woman: Mr. McDonnell: We've read your words ... Woman: We've checked your record. Woman: Why did you vote that way? Images: Each line is spoken sternly by a different woman, looking straight into the camera. They are diverse in age and race and are featured in different settings--one in what looks like an office, another in front of a house. The Deeds campaign says the women are Virginia residents--not actors....

By Anne Bartlett | September 24, 2009; 4:28 PM ET | Comments (3)

New Ad From Bolling

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) debuted his second television ad of the campaign this week, making use of the ample financial advantage over Democratic challenger Jody Wagner he reported in recent fundraising disclosure forms. In the ad, titled "Plan," Bolling promises to act as the state's first "jobs creation officer," to "continue" creating incentives to attract jobs to Virginia, to "root out" wasteful government spending and to oppose "job-killing" tax increases. "These are challenging times," Bolling says. "We have to do more to create jobs and help families." In Bolling's first ad, "Lessons," the lieutenant governor took credit for writing legislation extending health care to lower-income children, and he promised to increase teacher pay and send more money to classrooms (without raising taxes). "Lessons" has been on the air for two weeks, but the campaign boosted the ad's airtime on Tuesday, so now it is airing everywhere (except pricey Northern...

By Amy Gardner | September 24, 2009; 1:20 PM ET | Comments (1)

Updated: Wilder Declines to Endorse Deeds

Former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder said today that he will not endorse either candidate in the race for Virginia governor despite serious courting from both candidates, Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democration National Committee, and even President Barack Obama. The decision can only be considered a slap in the face to Democrat Creigh Deeds and a victory -- of sorts -- for Republican Bob McDonnell. No one really expected Wilder to endorse McDonnell because he never has supported a Republican, but declining to endorse anyone -- and resisting Obama's personal lobbying --- sends enough of a message. Wilder specifically mentions his opposition to increasing taxes (which Deeds has said he would be open to for road and transit) and his desire to limit the number of handguns. UPDATE: Deeds' campaign responds. "We respect Governor Wilder's decision,'' said Jared Leopold, a Deeds spokesman. "While Creigh and he may not...

By Anita Kumar | September 24, 2009; 12:11 PM ET | Comments (49)

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly Taking Your Questions at 1 p.m.

Northern Virginia congressman Gerald E. Connolly will be at 1 p.m. today to discuss health-care reform, extending Metro's reach to Woodbridge, how he feels stimulus money has been handled in the Washington area, and any other topic you'd like to ask him about. Submit a question for the representative now, or read the full discussion live or after it's over....

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 24, 2009; 11:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

VEA Airs TV Ads Against McDonnell

The Virginia Education Association is airing TV ads in Richmond and Hampton Roads that criticize Republican Bob McDonnell for opposing money for smaller class sizes and teacher raises, and for supporting vouchers for private schools. The commercial directs viewers to a Web site that gives them the VEA's take on McDonnell's and Democrat Creigh Deeds's education plans and urges them to sign a petition asking McDonnell to change his positions while encouraging Deeds to continue his education efforts. "Our commercial asks those who agree with us to ask the candidates for governor to support our positions for smaller class sizes and increased teacher salaries and against draining dollars from public schools to fund private school tuition vouchers," VEA President Kitty Boitnott said. McDonnell's campaign's response: "Only one candidate in this race is actually advocating bold reforms for Virginia's public education system: Bob McDonnell,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "He...

By Anita Kumar | September 24, 2009; 11:20 AM ET | Comments (2)

Updated: FOP Endorses McDonnell, GOP Ticket

The Virginia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed former attorney general Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, this morning at a news conference on Capitol Square in Richmond. The group represents more than 8,000 local, state and federal law enforcement officials and lodges across Virginia. The FOP also endorsed McDonnell's running mates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is running for re-election against Jody Wagner, and attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who faces Steve Shannon. There were signs that Democrat Creigh Deeds may have trouble securing the FOP endorsement as early as last week when he gave the FOP and another group representing state public safety employees differing answers about whether he supports collective bargaining for law enforcement personnel. McDonnell won the FOP endorsement when he ran against Deeds for attorney general in 2005. In recent elections, the FOP has generally endorsed Republicans in statewide races, including Jerry...

By Anita Kumar | September 24, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009 Good morning Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today. For the fourth year in a row, Forbes.com has ranked Virginia the best place in the country to do business. It's good news for the state, coming on the heels of word that the unemployment rate has dipped and the Commonwealth now has the lowest rate of people out of work of any large state. It's also good news for Democratic candidates for office, who have used the Forbes accolade as proof that Democratic leadership has been good for the state's economy and the candidates took little time to crow. Not persuaded: The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, which Wednesday endorsed Republican Bob McDonnell for governor. The chamber says they believe McDonnell would be more likely to spark private sector growth. The Chamber slammed Deeds for not putting forward a specific funding proposal for transportation....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 24, 2009; 7:08 AM ET | Comments (2)

Kaine Responds to Joe "You Lie" Wilson

Gov. Tim Kaine sent out an email to supporters this afternoon encouraging them to donate money to Virginia Democrats looking to win three statewide races and pick up seats in the House of Delegates. No surprise that he mentions Bob McDonnell's thesis. But he also pays particular attention to the House, where Speaker Bill Howell and the Republicans are looking to hold onto their six-seat majority. After all, just yesterday, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson sent out a fundraising letter for Howell. Yes, that Joe Wilson -- the same one who yelled "You lie!" while President Obama addressed Congress on healthcare. Wilson happens to be the Republican flavor of the month and Howell is pulling out all the stops to hold onto their majority, and possibly gain a few seats. Here's what Kaine has to say about it: "Today, I woke to find that the Speaker of the House in Virginia...

By Anita Kumar | September 23, 2009; 6:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Wilder Watch Continues

It turns out Democrat Creigh Deeds wasn't the only one who met with former governor L. Douglas Wilder this week. Republican Bob McDonnell had a face-to-face meeting with Wilder yesterday -- a day after Deeds, several sources say. Both men are hoping to score an endorsement from the nation's first elected black governor. Wilder said this morning that he would not make any announcement today, but would release something by the end of the week. Remember, that doesn't mean he will actually endorse anyone this week. He may just issue a statement about what he is looking for in a candidate. This is Wilder we are talking about, after all. McDonnell and Wilder, who have had a good working relationship for years, met for lunch in downtown Richmond back in May, and have spoken regularly since then. It's unclear which of them set up yesterday's meeting. Tucker Martin, a McDonnell...

By Anita Kumar | September 23, 2009; 5:30 PM ET | Comments (1)

Fairfax Chamber Asks Deeds: What Transportation Plan?

Fairfax Chamber of Commerce officials had some harsh words for Democrat Creigh Deeds in explaining their endorsement today of Republican Bob McDonnell in the Virginia governor's race. On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, they faulted Deeds for not having a plan to ease traffic congestion in Northern Virginia. "It was disappointing when we met with Creigh Deeds that not only didn't he have a plan, he also said he was not in favor of using any general fund money for transportation,'' said lawyer Stuart Mendelsohn, chamber chairman. "He objected to even using bonds for transportation and I don't know how you are going to do any of this without bonds." McDonnell's "plan is working toward a solution, whereas Mr. Deeds has not proposed a plan, and we had no way of really comparing what the two had to say,'' said Fran Fisher, chairwoman of the NOVABizPAC, the chamber's...

By Anita Kumar | September 23, 2009; 5:05 PM ET | Comments (2)

Virginia Notebook: Young Women, Meet Young Bob McDonnell

If you live in Virginia and you're planning to vote for governor in November, if you happen to be between ages 18 and 44 and you also just happen to be a woman, gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds has something he'd like to talk to you about. It has to do with a certain graduate school thesis written by Deeds's opponent, Robert F. McDonnell, in 1989. In the document, McDonnell wrote about how to use public policy to strengthen the traditional family and said that working women and feminism were "detrimental" to the family. McDonnell has said that some of his views have changed since he wrote the paper and cited his working wife and daughters as proof that he does, indeed, support women in the workforce. But Deeds launched an ad blitz this week to publicize the issue, some featuring Virginia women looking straight into the camera and insisting...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 23, 2009; 4:46 PM ET | Comments (2)

Shannon On the Air

Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, debuted two television ads this week describing his plans to be tough on sexual predators if he's elected attorney general. According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Shannon holds a more than two-to-one financial advantage over his opponent, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, with $1.6 million in the bank compared to Cuccinelli's $752,000. Shannon has decided to start spending it with a television ad buy in Hampton Roads, Richmond, Roanoke and the Abingdon/Bristol market, as well as a cable buy in Northern Virginia. In the new ads, Shannon touts his background as a prosecutor and his role creating Virginia's AMBER Alert system. He promises to be tough on sexual predators, Internet criminals and gang leaders who recruit children. We all know that the attorney general's office is mostly about providing legal advice to state government and defending state laws in court. But according...

By Amy Gardner | September 23, 2009; 4:45 PM ET | Comments (1)

Warner Rallies Staff at Deeds HQ

Governor-turned-senator Mark Warner stopped by Democrat Creigh Deeds' headquarters in Alexandria unannounced this morning. The goal? Rally the troops as they head into the final six weeks of the grueling governor's race. Warner came armed with a couple dozen donuts, a box of joe from Dunkin' Donuts and, of course, a pep talk for the 40 or so staffers who were present -- many of them who had worked for him last year (including campaign manager Joe Abbey). Warner, arguably the state's most popular politican, told the crowd that they had all been through successful races before, and they could do it again. "There'll be plenty of time to sleep afterward,'' said Warner, in shirtsleeves. Warner, accompanied by spokesman Kevin Hall who has been helping Deeds off and on, then raced to Capitol Hill, where he was helping to organize floor speches on healthcare by the 10 freshmen Democratic senators....

By Anita Kumar | September 23, 2009; 2:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

GOP Group Donates $200,000 to Cuccinelli

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which calls itself the nation's largest caucus of GOP state leaders, donated $200,000 Wednesday to attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli. The group has contributed $515,000 to Virginia candidates this election cycle, including more than $90,000 to the state Republican party. "Ken Cuccinelli is a common-sense conservative who understands that a competitive Virginia, with state government officials who will keep tax and regulatory burdens low, will allow individuals and businesses to prosper," said Scott Ward, the group's president. The RSLC is a national organization with more than 75,000 donors that works to elect Republicans to state legislatures as well as to the offices of attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Virginia changed its campaign finance reporting law after the RSLC gave Bob McDonnell more than $2 million in his 2005 race for attorney general against Creigh Deeds. At the time, the group did not...

By Anita Kumar | September 23, 2009; 1:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

Moran to Hit the Trail for Deeds

On the day after the June Democratic primary, gubernatorial nominee also-rans Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran both promised to do whatever they could to get victor Creigh Deeds elected in November. McAuliffe's activities have been clear in recent weeks -- he's been sending his supporters a series of e-mails and personally donated $25,000 to Deeds. And Moran? After a summer spent resting and recovering in Maine, expect to see him on the trail starting Friday, when he will appear on Deeds's behalf. Moran will serve as Deeds's surrogate at the 8th Congressional District's Kennedy/King Dinner, as the Deeds campaign begins to lean on Moran to help boost turnout in the Democratic strongholds of Arlington and Alexandria....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 23, 2009; 12:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

Move Over Oprah -- It's the Deeds Book Club

Next week, Democratic candidate for governor Creigh Deeds is asking supporters to organize "book clubs" around the state. The book under discussion? You've got it. Republican Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis. In an e-mail being sent to supporters today, lieutenant governor candidate Jody Wagner asks that supporters get together in homes around the state with a full copy of the thesis. (You can read it here.) "The Deeds campaign is getting the word out on TV, but that's no substitute for real person-to-person interaction within your own communities," Wagner writes. "Bring along a friend or co-worker who has heard the attacks being thrown towards Creigh on TV and has questions about this race. Each party will include full copies of Bob's thesis so that you can read for yourself exactly what he wrote." House parties are a tried and true method of using word-of-mouth, neighbor-to-neighbor connections to drive up excitement...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 23, 2009; 12:06 PM ET | Comments (3)

House Call: Slicin' and Dicin' the Sept. 15 Reports

Hello, politicos! Welcome to this week's installment of House Call, in which we take a quick look at the state of money in various House races. Last week, we talked of three incumbent Democrats in Northern Virginia being targeted by Republicans. This week, we know that two of these Democrats still squarely hold the financial advantage. The conventional wisdom this fall is that, as a result of the economic downturn and concern about a variety of federal issues such as health care reform, Republicans have an opportunity even in Northern Virginia this year to pick up seats in the House of Delegates. The latest reports, however, show that it's always hard to overcome the financial advantage of being an incumbent. And what does this mean for you and me? Mail. Lots of it. Democrat Chuck Caputo in the 67th District in western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun wrapped up summer with...

By Amy Gardner | September 23, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

UPDATED: Fairfax Chamber Endorses McDonnell

The political arm of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce is expected to endorse Republican Bob McDonnell this morning in the Virginia governor's race. The chamber represents more than 700 member companies and an influential voting bloc in the all-important, vote-rich region of Northern Virginia. As we told you last week, some business groups that have supported Democrats in recent years have not warmed to Democrat Creigh Deeds this year. Instead, many of them are supporting McDonnell who has pledged to create jobs, fix roads, keep taxes and regulation low and protect Virginia's right-to-work laws. In recent weeks, he has been endorsed by groups that represent small businesses, credit unions, Realtors and farmers. We will provide you with more details when they become available later this morning. Update: The annoucement came via press release at 9:30 a.m. "Mr. McDonnell earned the support of NOVABizPAC because of his overall stronger support for...

By Anita Kumar | September 23, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009 Good morning, Virginians! Here's what's happening in the political universe today. Republican Robert F. McDonnell and Democrat R. Creigh Deeds campaigned in the same room at different times twice on Tuesday, first before a group of IT workers in Williamsburg and later at Virginia Union University in Richmond. In Williamsburg, McDonnell levied tough criticism at the beleaguered Virginia Information Technologies Agency, and in Richmond, both candidates pointedly courted the black voters in the room. Deeds published an op-ed piece in today's Washington Post titled "My Transportation Plan," in which he states perhaps in his most direct manner yet his willingness to raise taxes to pay for road improvements across Virginia. ("I'll sign a bipartisan bill with a dedicated funding mechanism for transportation -- even if it includes new taxes.") It's the day of columns, apparently; Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling penned a piece for Bob Holsworth's blog...

By Amy Gardner | September 23, 2009; 6:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds, McDonnell Court the Black Vote

Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell wooed the all-important African-American vote at a candidate's forum tonight at historically black Virginia Union University in Richmond. Deeds and McDonnell each answered the same 10 questions about felons' voting rights, minority contracting, abortion and urban issues, while avoiding attacking each other as they spoke in front of hundreds of people. Most of those in attendance seemed to have already made up their minds on who to vote for in November. Many waved campaign signs. The candidates did not appear on stage together due a disagreement about the forum's format. (McDonnell says Deeds refused to stand on stage with him, while Deeds says they never agreed to do that). Deeds handed out campaign brochures with a "message" from President Obama though he didn't mention him much in his remarks. McDonnell talked about Sheila Johnson, a Democrat and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television who...

By Anita Kumar | September 22, 2009; 10:00 PM ET | Comments (5)

Rep. Joe Wilson Helps Va. GOP. No Lie!

It turns out U.S. Rep. Joe "You Lie!" Wilson has some interest in Virginia politics. Wilson e-mailed a fundraiser appeal Tuesday on behalf of the Dominion Leadership Trust political action committee, the PAC organized by House Speaker Bill Howell in 2002 to support Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates. The South Carolina congressman encourages recipients to contribute to the PAC to keep a Republican majority in the House, to counter union money and national support from liberal groups including ACORN and to "send a message to the national Democrats -- Americans won't put up with your big government agenda." It's worth noting that Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell has condemned Wilson's outburst during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress, citing it as an example of the lack of civility now invading public life. UPDATE: Eric Dell, Wilson's chief of staff, says the congressman sent the...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 22, 2009; 5:50 PM ET | Comments (2)

Warner, Chichester Defend 2004 Tax Deal

Woe unto the political candidate who questions 2004. That's what Republican Bob McDonnell did in last week's debate against Creigh Deeds in front of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, when he said the major tax increase of that year was a bad idea. Button pushed. Conference call scheduled. Senators Warner and Chichester, are you on the line? Democrat Mark R. Warner (D) the U.S. senator and former governor, and Republican John H. Chichester, the former state Senate president pro tem, both gladly spoke by telephone to reporters today to defend what they view as their historic stewardship of Virginia's finances five years ago. "What we did in 2004 was not about creating new programs," Warner told a telephone gaggle of reporters this afternoon. "It was not about creating expensive new initiatives. It was about paying our bills." What they did, specifically, was persuade a coalition of business leaders, community...

By Amy Gardner | September 22, 2009; 4:12 PM ET | Comments (1)

GOP Candidates Press Dems on Taxes

Last week, Democrat Creigh Deeds said he would consider raising taxes for much-needed road improvements (though he had a little trouble actually saying it) -- something Republican Bob McDonnell has pledged not to do. Now, McDonnell's running mates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and attorney general hopeful Ken Cuccinelli, are trying to to pin down their Democratic opponents, Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon, on the sticky issue of taxes and whether they agree with the man at the top of their ticket. "Today I am asking Jody Wagner to state in clear terms to the people of Virginia whether or not she supports Creigh Deeds' plan to raise taxes to pay for transportation," Bolling said. "The voters deserve a simple 'yes or no' to this fundamental question." "Will he or won't he stand with Creigh Deeds in support of higher taxes?" Cuccinelli said.. Bolling and Cuccinelli are touting their "strong" records...

By Anita Kumar | September 22, 2009; 3:00 PM ET | Comments (8)

Shannon Hits the Airwaves

Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, went up on statewide TV today with a positive commercial, "Focused," that touts his background as a prosecutor and talks about what he would do as the state's top cop. Shannon faces Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who has yet to go on air....

By Anita Kumar | September 22, 2009; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Updated: Wilder Watch on Deeds Endorsement Goes On

As promised, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds did indeed meet with former governor L. Douglas Wilder yesterday, meeting with him for more than an hour to discuss the gubernatorial race in what Wilder termed "a very nice conversation." Unlike during a previous such confab, Wilder says this time Deeds did, formally, ask if he would endorse his candidacy for governor. And Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), chairman of the national Democratic party, called shortly after the meeting to appeal for the same thing, adding his voice to that of the president of the United States....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 22, 2009; 11:36 AM ET | Comments (10)

Updated: Shannon Mum on Hamilton At Meeting

The most vocal critical of Republican Del. Phil Hamilton -- by far -- has been his Democratic House colleague Steve Shannon. Shannon, who is running for attorney general, was the first to call for Hamilton's resignation, is airing radio ads about him and talks about him frequently on the stump. But yesterday Shannon attended a House Appropriations meeting, alongside Hamilton, and had a chance to publicly call into question whether Hamilton should continue to serve on the House's most powerful committee -- and he said nothing. It was the first committee meeting since the release of emails showing that Hamilton worked to get a job with Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school. He is under federal investigation. Democratic leaders who do not serve on appropriations -- Ward Armstrong and Ken Plum --sent out a statement calling for House Speaker Bill Howell to remove Hamilton from the...

By Anita Kumar | September 22, 2009; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009 Happy Autumn, Virginia! And Happy Season of the Television Ad Blitz. Democrat Creigh Deeds is off to the races with, count 'em, three new TV spots -- two of them hitting Republican Bob McDonnell on his graduate school thesis, and the third showcasing Deeds's supreme comfort in the rolling farmland of Bath County. The blitz tells us that Deeds is staking his campaign on recent polling information showing that McDonnell's thesis, which criticizes the role of working women on families, is a potential dealbreaker for voters, especially women -- if only he can reach them. It also makes clear that this race is going to be a mudfest from this day forward. Expect McDonnell not to sit back for too long; that same polling data shows the Republican with an advantage among voters when it comes to dealing with the economy, transportation and the state budget...

By Amy Gardner | September 22, 2009; 7:30 AM ET | Comments (2)

Lt. Gov. Debate Canceled Following Rules Dispute

One of only two debates in the race for lieutenant governor this year has been canceled after campaigns for incumbent Republican Bill Bolling and challenger Democrat Jody Wagner could not agree over debate rules. No shock here: The Wagner camp is blaming Bolling, the Bolling camp is blaming Wagner, and organizers with host group the Prince William 100 say both campaigns were very good to work with and that they think neither is to blame. Here's what happened, according to Prince William 100 program chairwoman Michelle Trenum. The two campaigns agreed some time ago to participate in a debate this Thursday. Since then, there have been a variety of discussions and negotiations over the debate's format and rules. About a week or two ago, the Bolling campaign came forward to ask that the debate rules include what is known as a "no-use" agreement, which bars both campaigns from using video...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 21, 2009; 4:44 PM ET | Comments (9)

Democrats' Press Call Goes Awry with Mudcat's Candor

Oops. This afternoon, what was billed as a press call to slam former congressman Tom Davis (R) for allegedly anti-rural remarks turned into an all-too-candid strategy session, courtesy of David "Mudcat" Saunders. The longtime Democratic operative apparently wasn't told by party officials or the campaign of gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds (D) that it was in fact a press call, rather than an internal chat about strategy. So for several minutes, Saunders spoke rather colorfully and indelicately about his indignation over Davis' recent comments and about how they could be leveraged to help Deeds. He noted that the remarks might better be spun as anti-working-person, rather than anti-rural, because "From what I've seen up in Northern Virginia, they don't give a damn if people talk s*** about us." And in trying to explain that the comments might also be offensive to those with rural roots who live in Northern Virginia,...

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 21, 2009; 4:18 PM ET | Comments (8)

Deeds, McDonnell Attend Fundraisers Tonight

Both candidates for governor will be trying to raise some money tonight. Republican Bob McDonnell will attend a fundraiser with Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and possible presidential hopeful, at the offices of the American Gas Association in the District. About 100 people are scheduled to attend the fundraiser, which is expected to bring in about $100,000. The fundraiser prompted a response from the Democratic National Committee, which has been critical of Romney and McDonnell in recent days. "I suppose if Mitt Romney's trying to burnish his right wing credentials to make up for the credibility gap with his party's base that his serial flip-flopping has earned him, embracing a candidate so extreme that he believes that women shouldn't work outside the home, victims of rape and incest should be denied medical options, and even married adults should not have access to contraception, is a good way to go," DNC...

By Anita Kumar | September 21, 2009; 2:55 PM ET | Comments (3)

Updated: Deeds Unveils News Ads on Thesis

Democrat Creigh Deeds hits the airwaves today with two hard-hitting new TV ads that attack Republican Bob McDonnell on his 20-year-old thesis and social issues, including abortion. Updated: McDonnell's campaign responds: "With only six weeks to go until election day, it's disappointing that Mr. Deeds continues to wage these negative and false attacks against Bob McDonnell,'' said Crystal Camerson, a McDonnell spokeswoman. "This is just another example of how desperate he is to rally his own base. It's no surprise Mr. Deeds doesn't want to talk about himself --- he has no plan for transportation, supports a cap and trade scheme that will kill Virginia jobs, bragged about being the biggest spender in Richmond, and has said he will a partner for big labor after accepting millions in campaign contributions."...

By Anita Kumar | September 21, 2009; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (6)

Wilder: Obama Made a Pitch for Deeds

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder says he received a call directly from President Obama about three weeks ago to discuss a variety of issues, but, top among them, was the Virginia governor's race. Wilder said the call was confidential and he would not reveal his exact back and forth with the president, whom Wilder strongly supported last year. But, he said, Obama made clear that he would like the former Democratic governor to get off the fence and endorse Democrat Creigh Deeds. "I'll just say he called and made his position known and made it clear, he's a Democrat, Mr. Deeds is a Democrat and obviously, the president would like to see a Democratic victory," Wilder said....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 21, 2009; 9:34 AM ET | Comments (10)

Union Sends Mailers for Deeds

First, we told you how labor unions are pouring money into Democrat Creigh Deeds's bank account. Then, how they started making recorded calls to potential voters. Now come the mailers. The Virginia AFL-CIO has started mailing campaign brochures to potential voters on Deeds' behalf. Mailers have been received in Richmond, and possibly other locations across the state. One side of the mailer features a photo of former governor Mark Warner and says: "Eight years ago Mark Warner put Virginia on the road to prosperity. Only Creigh Deeds will keep Virginia moving forward." On the flip side, with a nice photo of Deeds and a not-so-flattering picture of Republican Bob McDonnell, the mailer claims that Deeds voted to accept $125 million in federal money for Virginia's unemployed workers while McDonnell opposed it. "In difficult economic times like these, it's more important than ever to continue the common sense policies started by...

By Anita Kumar | September 21, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

First Click -- Virginia

Happy Monday, Virginia politicos! Oh, and Happy Last Day of Summer. Only 43 days to go until Election Day -- and, yes, we're counting. It was a relatively quiet post-Labor Day weekend for our gubernatorial contenders, with Democrat Creigh Deeds sweeping through central Virginia and Republican Bob McDonnell campaigning Sunday at the Redskins season opener in Landover. McDonnell's wife, Maureen, relived her days as a Redskinette by hitting Fedex Field for a cheerleader reunion and a little dancing to Michael Jackson. The big news was yet another poll (our own this time) showing that Deeds has narrowed McDonnell's summertime lead, due largely to gains among independent women in Northern Virginia. The poll indicates significant effects of the publication of McDonnell's controversial graduate school thesis, but it also shows that the Republican remains for many voters the better choice to contend with the economy, transportation, taxes and the state budget. In...

By Amy Gardner | September 21, 2009; 6:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

More on All-Important Business Support

On Saturday, The Washington Post reported that Democrat R. Creigh Deeds is struggling to make the sale with Virginia business leaders. One detail in that story worth fleshing out is how Deeds and McDonnell have done in the area of campaign contributions. Thanks as always to David Poole and the Virginia Public Access Project for their outstanding compilation of donor data and a big assist on this analysis in particular. We started with a baseline of all those donors who have given to both Democrat Mark R. Warner and Republican Tom Davis, two politicians with a long history of popularity with the state's business community, particularly the high-tech corridor of Northern Virginia. We then looked at how those donors performed through Election Day in 2005 -- and how they're behaving so far this year. Here's what we found:...

By Amy Gardner | September 20, 2009; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (0)

Scary Music Award: Cuccinelli

State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general from Fairfax County, wins the Scary Music Award this week for a new Web ad he is circulating linking his Democratic opponent, Steve Shannon, to ACORN, the troubled liberal political action group. In the ad, Cuccinelli slams Shannon for remaining silent about ACORN'S substantial troubles (including the embezzlement of nearly $1 million by a top officer as well as a video capturing two people posing as a prostitute and pimp receive counseling from ACORN workers that could help them evade federal tax laws). The ad also hits Shannon for receiving money from the powerful Service Employees International Union, which also has given money to ACORN. "SEIU, ACORN, Steve Shannon: A trio Virginia can't afford to put in power," the narrator says. Shannon's campaign manager, Mike Henry, quickly put out an email to supporters making fun of Cuccinelli's ad and comparing...

By Amy Gardner | September 20, 2009; 11:05 AM ET | Comments (3)

Fack Checker: McDonnell and School Funding

For some time now, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D) has been bashing Robert F. McDonnell, his Republican opponent in the governor's race, for his stance on school funding. Deeds and fellow Democrats accuse McDonnell of wanting to raid K-12 education funding to fix the transportation mess in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. In a press release earlier this month, the Deeds campaign said McDonnell "has pledged to take $5.4 billion from our schools to pay for roads." Deeds made similar claims in an Aug. 21 speech at George Mason University and again at Wednesday's debate sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce in McLean....

By Anne Bartlett | September 20, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

The Week in Review, the Week Ahead

LAST WEEK the governor's race came to Northern Virginia in a big way. R. Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert F. McDonnell (R) clashed at their second debate of the general election, sparring on a wide range of issues -- from health care to transportation -- in front of business leaders in Northern Virginia, and leaving the chattering classes with plenty to talk about afterward. Pundits picked apart the response Deeds delivered when the moderator, David Gregory, asked him, "Are you an Obama Democrat?" Deeds replied that he was "A Creigh Deeds Democrat." Deeds's critics also reveled in the Democrat's misstep on taxes, when he said he would not raise them but immediately added that he would find new funding for transportation. And McDonnell continued to respond to questions about his graduate school thesis and how his views have changed since he wrote that working mothers and feminists were detrimental to...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 20, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Mrs. McDonnell to Perform at Redskins Game

If you were lucky enough to score Redskins tickets for Sunday, or even if you plan to watch on TV, make sure you pay special attention to the ladies performing at the halftime show. Maureen McDonnell, the 55-year-old wife of Bob McDonnell and former "Redskinette," will join other former cheerleaders on the field to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their alumni association. She will be wearing black pants and a Redskins Jersey (with McDonnell and the number 76 on the back) as they dance to Michael Jackson tunes. McDonnell will be campaigning (and tailgating) before the game and then in the stands watching when his wife takes the field. The former Maureen Gardner loves to tell the story of how she became a cheerleader at campaign events. In case you were wondering: It was her father's idea. He wanted the free tickets that came with the job. Can you blame...

By Anita Kumar | September 18, 2009; 6:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell Snags More Business Support

Republican Bob McDonnell announced endorsements this afternoon from Mark Kington, managing director of X-10 Capital (and Sen. Mark Warner's former partner) and John Luke, CEO of MeadWestvaco, as he unveiled the formation of a business coalition of more than 200 leaders from across the state. "The men and women on this list know this is the campaign on the side of Virginia's job creators and workers,'' McDonnell said. "They know where I stand on the issues crucial to Virginia's economy in the years ahead." Kington said he has supported Republicans and Democrats in the past, although he supported Republican Jerry Kilgore in 2005. He has donated $78,500 to McDonnell. "Bob McDonnell is focused on the issues that matter to Virginians and how they lead their daily lives -- job creation, education excellence, transportation solutions -- and I proudly support him as our next governor." See the full list of coalition...

By Anita Kumar | September 18, 2009; 4:59 PM ET | Comments (1)

Questions About Questionnaires Plague Candidates

It looks like bungling the answer to questions about collective bargaining on organizational questionnaires is contagious. Republicans hit Democrat Creigh Deeds this week when he blamed a staffer for incorrectly filling out a Fraternal Order of Police questionnaire on the topic. But look who did much the same thing. Republican Lt. Gov Bill Bolling, who told the business group Virginia Free that he "strongly supports" collective bargaining for public employees. In a statement, Bolling spokesman Matt Wells said Bolling "misread the question in an online survey." He notes that though Bolling checked a box indicating his support for binding arbitration, collective bargaining and meet and confer rights, he went on to explain that he "also strongly opposes card check legislation currently pending before Congress."...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 18, 2009; 3:06 PM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds: North Carolina Bound

Demoratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds will travel next month to North Carolina, where the governor will roll out the welcome mat. Gov. Bev Perdue and former longtime Gov. Jim Hunt -- both Democrats, of course -- will host a fundraiser for Deeds Oct. 1 in downtown Raleigh. The suggested contribution is $500. Perdue was elected governor last year after two terms as lieutenant governor. Like her counterparts across the nation, she has faced a financial crisis and, as a result, sagging approval ratings. Her ratings are in the 20s -- among the lowest in the nation. Deeds is rarely out of state (unlike his former rival Terry McAuliffe) but he did fly to Los Angeles and San Francisco last month to meet with some Hollywood types and a business mogol or two. (No word yet on how much he raised on the west coast. We'll let you know when the...

By Anita Kumar | September 18, 2009; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (1)

Humane Society Endorses McDonnell, Shannon

The Humane Society's legislative arm has endorsed Republican Robert F. McDonnell for governor and Democrat Steve Shannon for attorney general, and had some sharp words for Shannon's opponent, Republican Ken Cuccinelli. The animal welfare organization praised McDonnell and Shannon for supporting stiff penalties against animal fighting. The group singled out McDonnell for special praise, in part because of his stand opposing so-called "crush videos," which depict scantily clad women killing kittens, puppies and other small animals, sometimes using their high heels. "Bob McDonnell included a crackdown on animal fighting as part of his anti-crime agenda, and he understands that the way we treat animals is a reflection of our basic attitudes and values in society," said Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, in the endorsement letter. "Virginians deserve a governor like Bob McDonnell who has demonstrated strong and consistent leadership in protecting animals from cruelty and abuse."...

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 18, 2009; 12:04 PM ET | Comments (1)

McDonnell 50, Deeds 43

As we've told you a few times we don't trust all polls, but here's one that we don't mind telling you about. A DailyKos/Research 2000 poll on the governor's race shows that Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds among likely voters, 50 percent to 43 percent -- virtually unchanged since an August poll. Back in mid-June, McDonnell had 45 percent and Deeds 44 percent. But once again the favorable numbers prove quite interesting: McDonnell at 56 percent, Deeds at 47 percent. The left-leaning Daily Kos tells us that McDonnell is aided by support from independent voters, who support him by a 13-point margin, 51 to 38 percent. And in case you were wondering the poll shows Deeds narrowly leads among women -- 47 to 44 percent -- but he has all along. No change this month due to McDonnell's thesis....

By Anita Kumar | September 18, 2009; 9:45 AM ET | Comments (5)

First Click - Virginia

Happy Friday, Virginia, here's what's happening in state politics today. The news offers political junkies two interesting indicators about the gubernatorial contest between R. Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert F. McDonnell (R). The two men sparred over a wide range of issues, from the economy to energy to gay adoptions, at a debate in Tysons Corner yesterday, which was tense from the very start. Afterward, Deeds was asked by a scrum of reporters about an apparent contradiction in his position on raising taxes for transportation. The line of questioning provoked a snippy response to a female reporter, which was caught on tape. Bob McCartney was not impressed with Deeds' performance....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 18, 2009; 7:12 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Kitchen Table: The Reston Farmer's Market

So, we haven't actually taken you into someone's kitchen yet for "The Kitchen Table," our sorta-weekly feature bringing you the voices of Virginia's voters, but at least this one is food-related. Play Video VIDEO | Virginia Voters Express Their Views on the Governor's Race You know fall is coming when the early-season apples show up at the farmer's market and you can't buy a baguette there without someone trying to stuff your eco-friendly reusable bag with campaign literature -- particularly Democratic campaign literature....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 18, 2009; 6:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell Airs Transportation Ad

Republican Robert F. McDonnell began airing a TV ad in Northern Virginia today contrasting his transportation plan with that of his Democratic opponent, R. Creigh Deeds. Or, more accurately, taking credit for having a transportation plan at all. Here's the ad script, helpfully furnished by the McDonnell campaign: "The Washington Post says Creigh Deeds has not even bothered to formulate much of a transportation plan. On road funding Deeds' approach is as politically expedient as it is irresponsible. Deeds' approach to transportation funding is to sidestep the subject. Bob McDonnell's transportation plan deserves credit for the extent and specificity of its proposals like selling state liquor stores to invest a half billion dollars to widen I-66, improve I-95 and expand metro to Dulles. I'm Bob McDonnell, candidate for governor, and my campaign sponsored this ad." Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold responded that the ad conveniently leaves out details from those same...

By Amy Gardner | September 17, 2009; 2:25 PM ET | Comments (2)

Fairfax Chamber Debate: The After Scrum

The Republican Party of Virginia is circulating this video of Democrat R. Creigh Deeds explaining how he's not for taxes except when he is after the close of his debate with Republican Robert F. McDonnell today at the Capital One center in Tysons Corner. It's pretty self-explanatory, is probably not terribly helpful to Deeds, and undoubtedly is coming soon, all or in part, to a McDonnell television ad near you....

By Amy Gardner | September 17, 2009; 2:17 PM ET | Comments (8)

Video Highlights: Fairfax Debate

After the jump, see clips from today's Virginia governor's race debate in which the candidates clashed on McDonnell's graduate school thesis and Deeds's references to it (posted now), as well as support for cap-and-trade legislation and women in the workplace (posted soon)....

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 17, 2009; 1:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell's Money

Now that we have told you a little about Democrat Creigh Deeds's money, we thought we would tell you a bit more about Republican Bob McDonnell's cash. McDonnell's top donors in the two-month period that ended Aug. 31 were a combination of businesses, longtime Republican donors and, of course, the Republican National Committee, which gave him $350,000. Top individual donors include Edward and Lynn Via of Roanoke ($150,000), chemical company executive Bruce C. Gottwald ($50,000), Dominion resources president Tom Farrell ($15,000), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's political action committee ($5,000). Top non-individual donors include: the Virginia Association of Realtors ($60,000), Fluor Enterprises -- the company helping build HOT lanes on the Beltway -- ($15,000), law firm McGuire Woods's political action committee ($18,000) and the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly ($5,000). Notably absent: Sheila C. Johnson, the billionaire co-founder of the Black Entertainment Television network, who has been a major donor...

By Anita Kumar | September 17, 2009; 1:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Fact Check: Jobs

In his closing statement during today's debate, Deeds said McDonnell "never wrote a bill to create a job." Afterward, a reporter asked McDonnell about this accusation. Here's how he responded: "I carried the historic welfare reform bill in 1995. Do you know what that bill did? It put women to work. It created the transportation and health-care benefits and tax support so that women could go back to work, and then a year after that I introduced a tax credit bill to give businesses the ability to receive tax credits for hiring people." Okay, so neither exactly created jobs. But the welfare bill did require people to work to get state welfare benefits. We wrote more on that bill and McDonnell's repeated references to it in this campaign....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 17, 2009; 12:29 PM ET | Comments (1)

Live Blog: The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Debate

Greetings from the glass-and-concrete fortress that is the Capitol One headquarters in Tysons Corner. We'll be live-blogging today's debate between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell. The debate will be kicking off shortly and so will we. Follow to the jump to read along....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 17, 2009; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (7)

Fact Check: Working Women

Here's the thesis again. Creigh Deeds just went after Bob McDonnell for not supporting working women, and Bob McDonnell reacted pretty powerfully. "I'm offended," McDonnell said, that Deeds would say he doesn't support working women when his wife and daughters, including a daughter who served as a platoon leader in Iraq, were sitting in the front row here at the Capital One center. Men and women, McDonnell said, should be judged on merit, on their character and "on their love for Virginia." In his graduate thesis 20 years ago, he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. McDonnell also voted against a resolution in the House of Delegates in support of equal pay for women. McDonnell said in response to inquires about the thesis: "Like everybody, my views on many issues have changed as I have gotten older." He said that his views on family policy were...

By Amy Gardner | September 17, 2009; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (2)

Fact Check: I'm Not Going To Raise Taxes

That's what Creigh Deeds just said when asked point-blank by David Gregory. But then he said he wants to find new sources of revenue for transportation. How do you find new revenue without raising taxes? Deeds also has said in the past that he is open to new taxes, so today's remark sounds like a departure....

By Amy Gardner | September 17, 2009; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fact Check: Cap-and-Trade

This has become a common accusation from Bob McDonnell: That Creigh Deeds supports cap-and-trade. McDonnell uses as an example the fact that a larger employer and Deeds's back yard in western Virginia, paper manufacturer MeadWestvaco, supports him and not Deeds. Deeds never has said he supports the bill in Congress now. Today, Deeds said it more clearly than he's done before: "I don't support the bill." He supports "long-term" efforts to thwart climate change, but he won't support any bill that has the effect of increasing fuel prices during a recession....

By Amy Gardner | September 17, 2009; 11:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fact Check: Contraception for Married Couples

Well it didn't take long for the thesis to come up. By way of contrast to what Bob McDonnell wrote in his controversial graduate school thesis in 1989, Creigh Deeds just said that he didn't say, at age 34, that the state should get involved in regulating contraception for married couples. But neither did McDonnell. McDonnell did say that the Supreme Court was "radical" and "illogical" when it ruled that the government cannot intrude into married relationships -- and, later, unmarried relationships -- by barring access to contraception. He also says now that he does not support banning contraception. Here's a look at McDonnell's legislative record: As a state lawmaker from Virginia Beach from 1992 to 2006, McDonnell voted for a bill to give pharmacists a "conscience clause" allowing them to not fill prescriptions. He also voted for a bill barring the morning-after pill from public college health clinics and...

By Amy Gardner | September 17, 2009; 11:19 AM ET | Comments (2)

Fact Check: Governor's Opportunity Fund

Good morning from Tysons Corner, folks! In his opening remarks, State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds just brought up one of our favorite topics, the Governor's Opportunity Fund, charging that his opponent, Republican Robert F. McDonnell, has voted against putting money into what most folks call the state's "deal-closing" kitty to bring businesses and jobs to Virginia. Here are some of the facts. Both gubernatorial candidates have called for doubling the state appropriation for the Governor's Opportunity Fund to $20 million, and both say the potential for economic growth is big. But Democrats also charge that McDonnell, as a House delegate from Virginia Beach earlier this decade, voted three times to cut the fund. And Republicans argue that Gov. Tim Kaine (D) isn't using the fund to its full potential, letting millions sit unused....

By Amy Gardner | September 17, 2009; 11:03 AM ET | Comments (0)

Unions Help Deeds With More Than Money

We told you today about how much money labor unions are pouring into Democrat Creigh Deeds's bank account, but that's not all they're doing. The AFL-CIO has started making recorded calls to potential voters on Deeds's behalf. Calls are being made in Richmond, and possibly other locations across the state. Here is the script: Hello. This is Julie calling from the AFL-CIO with important information about the upcoming election for governor. Creigh Deeds is the only candidate for governor who has a track record of standing up for our working families. He supported a plan to invest federal resources to create jobs and help turn around our economy. And Deeds voted to help workers by accepting $125 million in federal aid for Virginia's unemployed workers. Bob McDonnell opposed resources to protect our jobs and failed to support aid for recently laid-off workers. That's why the AFL-CIO has endorsed Creigh Deeds...

By Anita Kumar | September 17, 2009; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Debate Coverage

The Post's Virginia politics team is gearing up to bring you extensive coverage of today's key gubernatorial debate between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell hosted by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce. We'll be live-blogging the event beginning shortly before the 11 a.m. debate start time. There will also be streaming video from the venue. And we'll be fact-checking some of the candidates' claims and promises live during the debate and bringing you full coverage of the event after it ends. So join us at 11, and be sure to check back later as well. For now, let us know what you're looking for out of this debate. What questions would you want asked?...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 17, 2009; 9:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

First Click -- Virginia

Good morning Virginia, here's what's happening in state politics today. R. Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert F. McDonnell (R) face off today in a much-anticipated debate before Northern Virginia's business community, to be moderated by David Gregory of "Meet the Press." A lot is at stake today for both gubernatorial candidates, as McDonnell seeks to move beyond the thesis that has dominated headlines in recent weeks and Deeds aims to overcome the unfriendly atmosphere for Democrats nationally....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 17, 2009; 8:13 AM ET | Comments (1)

Shannon Calls for Reform in Response to Hamilton Scandal

Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, was the first statewide candidate to call for Del. Phil Hamilton of Newport News to resign after e-mails showed he worked to get a job with Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school. He then aired ads on the topic. And now today, he's back -- unveiling a plan to Virginia's government more transparent and accountable in the wake of the scandal. "I was both shocked and outraged -- not only at Del. Hamilton's behavior but at the system that allowed this to occur,'' Shannon told reporters today. "This episode has left a stain of public corruption on the legislature and on one of our public universities." Shannon hopes the Hamilton scandal can help, particularly since his Republican rival, Ken Cuccinelli, is the only statewide candidate not to call on Hamilton to step down, saying the voters should decide...

By Anita Kumar | September 16, 2009; 4:15 PM ET | Comments (7)

Forbes, Gingrich, Cantor Help Bolling Raise $165,000

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling may have raised less money than his Democratic rival in the most recent fundraising period, but he already has a good start on the next report with several events with a slew of high-profile Republicans this month. Today, Bolling expects to raise $50,000 at a fundraiser headlined by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the Northern Virginia home of U.S. Rep. Tom Davis. About 160 people are expected to attend. He raised another $75,000 at a fundraiser attended by 180 people yesterday in Richmond with Steve Forbes, publishing tycoon and former presidential candidate. Two weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor helped him raise another $40,000 at a Sept. 2 event attended by 90 people in Newport News. And on Friday morning, he will appear with Mitt Romney -- former Massachusetts governor and possible presidential hopeful -- at the home of Fran and Gant Redmon in Alexandria....

By Anita Kumar | September 16, 2009; 4:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine To Announce New Corporate HQ in Tysons

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) is expected to announce next week the relocation of Science Applications International Corp.'s corporate headquarters from San Diego to Tysons Corner, several sources said. Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations, several government and business leaders said the move would bring more than 1,000 high-paying jobs to SAIC's existing Tysons operations. In an interview today, Kaine would say only that he will make a major economic announcement next week. SAIC, one of the region's largest federal contractors, employs 45,000 around the world, including roughly 16,000 in the Washington region. In Tysons, SAIC occupies a building on Leesburg Pike in front of a future Metro station on the Silver Line, which is under construction from Arlington to Dulles International Airport. With the addition of so many new employees in Tysons, SAIC could become a cornerstone of planned redevelopment there. An SAIC spokeswoman...

By Amy Gardner | September 16, 2009; 3:48 PM ET | Comments (3)

Romney to Raise Money for McDonnell

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and possible presidential hopeful, will headline a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell on Monday in Washington. The event will be held at the offices of the American Gas Association on Capitol Hill. About 100 people are scheduled to attend the fundraiser, which is expected to bring in about $100,000. Romney spent two days in Virginia in May campaigning for Virginia's top Republicans, including McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and received an enthusiastic welcome when he spoke at a sold-out fundraiser of 1,300 for the state party in Richmond. Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty campaigned with McDonnell last week. A slew of other Republican stars have helped out McDonnell, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour....

By Anita Kumar | September 16, 2009; 10:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Click - Virginia

Good morning, Virginia, here's what's happening in politics around the state today. The campaign finance numbers are in, and they're big. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democrat running for governor, raked in a record $3.48 million in July and August, about a half million dollars more than Republican Robert F. McDonnell. But McDonnell, who didn't have a primary challenge, has more money in the bank, $5.8 million, compared with Deeds's nearly $4.4 million. It's a good news, bad news day for Deeds. According to a recent poll of registered voters, McDonnell's lead has slimmed to five percentage points (the poll was conducted by live interviewers, which is critical to meeting the Post's standards). But the Democrat is facing questions about seemingly contradictory responses he gave two groups about collective bargaining. Both men are in Richmond today at a forum sponsored by Virginia FREE. Sorry, you weren't invited....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 16, 2009; 7:17 AM ET | Comments (2)

Gov Hopefuls Attend Closed Candidate's Forum

Both candidates for Virginia governor will speak at a forum today in Richmond but you aren't invited. That's the right. The public is not invited. Virginia FREE, a Richmond-based coalition of businesses from across the state, is hosting all six statewide candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell, at a gathering of more than 100 of its members. Bob Holsworth, political commenator and author of the Virginia Tomorrow blog will be the moderator. The group made the decision to close the event so its members could have a "candid and open discussion" with the candidates, said Clayton Roberts, the group's executive diector. It's the same thing Virginia FREE has done for two decades. Deeds will speak around 9 a.m. McDonnell will talk about an hour later. We'd tell you what they said if we could but alas, we are not invited either....

By Anita Kumar | September 16, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell Responds on Energy

Republican Bob McDonnell is hitting back at Democrat Creigh Deeds over energy prices. His campaign announced a new ad this evening, running in the same markets where Deeds put up a spot last week that claimed McDonnell had approved energy rate hikes as attorney general. (Read more about that claim here.) In McDonnell's ad, he takes credit for saving consumers money on energy and slams Deeds over the national Democrat's green house emissions bill that would include a cap-and-trade provision for energy companies. (Deeds has said he opposes the cap-and-trade as it is now written though he believes that action needs to be taken to address global warming.) Watch the ad here. Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold responded: "With tightening polls Bob McDonnell is starting to resort to false attacks. Bob McDonnell was sitting in the room last week when Creigh Deeds said again that he doesn't support the House cap...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 15, 2009; 7:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell: $2.9 Million in July-August

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell raised half a million dollars less than Democratic rival Creigh Deeds in the two-month period ending last month. But McDonnell, who did not have a primary opponent, has more money in the bank -- $5.8 million compared with Deeds's nearly $4.4 million. McDonnell reports receiving donations from 6,239 donors -- significantly more than Deeds's 3,764. About $350,000 came from national groups. Phil Cox, McDonnell campaign manager, said the 2,500 additional donors "is reflective of the grass-roots energy we have seen building throughout our campaign." We'll be taking a closer look at these numbers and bringing you our findings....

By Anita Kumar | September 15, 2009; 4:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

Updated: RNC Pledges $7 Million to McDonnell, Va. GOP

The Republican National Committee pledged Tuesday that it will pour a whopping $7 million into the Virginia governor's race this year. The number will include money that will go directly to gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and some that will go to the Virginia Victory committee, a joint effort between the state and national party, for organization and coordination efforts. The RNC transferred $400,000 to McDonnell on Tuesday. It has already given $2 million to him this year. "Bob McDonnell is a proven leader in the state of Virginia and the RNC is fully committed to ensuring that the campaign has the resources necessary to elect Bob McDonnell the next governor of Virginia," said Katie Wright, a spokeswoman for the RNC. The RNC is certainly trying to outdo its Democratic counterpart. The DNC, chaired by Gov. Tim Kaine, announced a couple of weeks ago that it will spend $5 million to...

By Anita Kumar | September 15, 2009; 2:45 PM ET | Comments (1)

Deeds: $3.5 Million in July and August

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds has beaten Republican Bob McDonnell to the punch in getting out his fundraising numbers for the July and August period. According to the campaign, Deeds raised $3.48 million, including from 2,284 new donors. They say 90 percent of his donors were from Virginia and 68 percent of them gave $200 or less. According to the campaign, that haul exceeds fundraising totals for gubernatorial candidates of both parties over July and August in both 2001 and 2005. Campaign officials say he had $4.38 million on hand as of Aug. 31. They say his top individual donations included $37,500 from Washington Capitals and Mystics owner Ted Leonsis and $25,000 from Northern Virginia real estate executive Robert H. Smith. We'll be taking a closer look at these numbers and bringing you our findings, as well as reporting McDonnell's haul, today and tomorrow....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 15, 2009; 12:51 PM ET | Comments (1)

Money Game: Lieutenant Governor Candidates

Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is running for re-election, raised a little more than $546,000 from 3,225 donors in the two-month period ending Aug. 31, according to his campaign. Bolling has $1.3 million in the bank. Jody Wagner, his Democratic opponent, outraised her better-known opponent. She raised $636,074 and has $593,067 cash on hand, according to her campaign....

By Anita Kumar | September 15, 2009; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Money Game: Attorney General Candidates

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican attorney general candidate, raised $617,382 from 2,196 donors in the two-month period ending Aug. 31, according to the campaign. Cuccinelli has $752,291 cash on hand. Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee, raised more than $534,000. He has far more than Cuccinelli in the bank -- $1.6 million -- but that can largely be attributed to Shannon having no primary opponent....

By Anita Kumar | September 15, 2009; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (0)

Warner: No. 5 Wealthiest Congressman

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner has been ranked the fifth-richest member of Congress, according to Roll Call, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill. Warner, a wealthy venture capitalist who co-founded Nextel, is worth about $75 million, according to the newspaper's analysis of his financial disclosure reports. And like many of his colleagues, Warner reports he lost money in the past year. No other Virginians are on the top 50 list, which you can view here. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts is ranked the wealthiest member of Congress -- for the second year in a row....

By Anita Kumar | September 15, 2009; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

House Call: A Reverse Trend in Northern Virginia? (Updated)

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009 Welcome, race fans! And sorry for the House Call hiatus. Things happen. This week, let's take a quick look at three seats held by Democrats in Northern Virginia that are attracting more and more attention as Nov. 3 gets close. We've told you that Republican lawmakers Dave Albo and Tom Rust are vulnerable. For about six years we've told you: They're always vulnerable to the inexorable march of the Democrats trampling across Northern Virginia. But the story line has shifted this year, yes? The march is not so inexorable? President Obama's approval ratings have sagged. The economy has tanked. Angst is growing about health-care reform and government spending. Suddenly, folks are talking about Northern Virginia Democrats who might be in trouble this year. Chuck Caputo, David Poisson and Margi Vanderhye: This one's for you....

By Amy Gardner | September 15, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

GOP Group Donates $250,000 to Va Candidates

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which calls itself the nation's largest caucus of GOP state leaders, has donated nearly $250,000 to Virginia candidates this election cycle. This week, the group gave more than $90,000 to the state Republican party (which let's face it, desperately needs the money) and Chris Stolle, a House candidate in Hampton Roads (and yes, brother of the state senator.) "We believe that the Republican candidates are well-positioned for victory in November because they understand the private sector, not the public sector, will create the road to recovery and keep Virginia competitive,'' said Scott Ward, the group's president. The RSLC is a national organization with more than 75,000 donors that works to elect Republicans to state legislatures as well as to the offices of attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state. You may recall that Virginia changed its campaign finance reporting law after the RSLC gave...

By Anita Kumar | September 15, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Click - Virginia

Good morning, Virginia, here's what's happening in state politics today. Today is the deadline for candidates in November's election to file their summer campaign finance reports, including gubernatorial hopefuls R. Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert F. McDonnell (R). The reports will provide a valuable glimpse into the kind of support each man is attracting, as did yesterday's announcement that Deeds has been endorsed by the state firefighters and McDonnell got the nod from the NRA, which supported Deeds in their last match-up four years ago. Observers will also be on the lookout for evidence of the national groups that are expected to pour resources into one of the first big races since last year's history-making presidential election. Both men attend a candidates forum at a Bar Association event in Norfolk today, offering a preview of Thursday's debate in Fairfax....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 15, 2009; 6:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

Rove, Romney helping out Comstock in Mclean

Republican Barbara J. Comstock, who is challenging state Del. Margi Vanderhye in the McLean-based 34th House District, will hold a fundraiser Tuesday headlined by Karl Rove. And Comstock will appear with former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Sunday at a fundraiser in the home of former solicitor general Ted Olson and his wife, Lady Booth Olson. Comstock comes by her big-name contacts naturally: She is the former director of public affairs for the Department of Justice; the former chief counsel for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and a former senior aide to U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.). She is a founding partner of Corallo Comstock, a lobbying and public relations firm. Comstock's Washington connections have served her campaign purse well. At the end of June, Comstock had outraised first-term delegate Vanderhye, with $167,000 in the bank, putting the 34th District on the map as one...

By Amy Gardner | September 14, 2009; 7:32 PM ET | Comments (0)

Fairfax Urges Kaine to Re-Start HOT Lane Project

Fairfax County leaders are urging state officials to restart their plan to build express lanes on two traffic-clogged highways in Northern Virginia, saying the delay or termination of the I-395/95 HOT lane project would exacerbate a "commuting nightmare" for Beltway residents. In a letter dated Tuesday to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) wrote that county officials had "very grave reservations" about the HOT lanes project delay, asking that the state re-evaluate its decision. The I-395/95 HOT lanes would extend south from the Pentagon to Massaponax in Spotsylvania County, intersecting the Beltway at the Springfield interchange. Construction was to have begun by next summer. (Check out What's Next for Virginia's HOT Lanes by Dr. Gridlock)...

By Derek Kravitz | September 14, 2009; 7:03 PM ET | Comments (0)

Brady Campaign Responds to NRA

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has issued a statement responding to the National Rifle Association's endorsement of Bob McDonnell for governor. According to Helmke, the "one critical issue" that separates Virginia's candidates for governor on gun rights is the tightening of rules for buying weapons at gun shows--the so-called gun show loophole. "Creigh Deeds agrees with the families of the victims of Virginia Tech that the most dangerous people, prohibited by law from purchasing guns from federally licensed gun dealers, shouldn't be able to get around those laws by buying them from non-licensed gun sellers at weapons bazaars," Helmke said in his statement. "Bob McDonnell, who now refuses to acknowledge that this gaping loophole in Virginia gun laws even exists, appears eager to do whatever the gun lobby wants him to. That's playing politics with public safety, and the voters should judge the candidates...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 14, 2009; 4:27 PM ET | Comments (6)

NRA Backs McDonnell

What a difference four years makes. When Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell ran against each other for attorney general in 2005, the National Rifle Association's political action committee took the unusual step of endorsing Deeds, the rural Democrat, over McDonnell. Not this year. Chris W. Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, announced this afternoon that the group has endorsed McDonnell for governor and will urge the NRA's 120,000 Virginia members to vote for the Republican. Cox told reporters in a conference call that the group was impressed by an amicus brief McDonnell filed in 2008 along with 30 other state attorney generals urging the Supreme Court to strike down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban. He also praised McDonnell for standing against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has contended that criminals buy guns in Virginia because of its less restrictive laws and take them to New York. Cox, meanwhile, declared that NRA...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 14, 2009; 2:45 PM ET | Comments (2)

First Click -- Virginia

OMG, did you hear what Kanye West said at the MTV video music awards? Kidding, here's what's happening in Virginia politics today. The candidates for Virginia governor stump in separate parts of the state today, with Republican Robert F. McDonnell addressing attendees at a rural summit in Lynchburg and Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, where he is planning to announce what his campaign has billed as a "major endorsement." The ad wars took a sharp turn late last week, and the two men will clash in person at their second debate of the season Thursday in Fairfax....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 14, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Fact-Checker: McDonnell and Energy Rate Hikes

If you believe a new television advertisement circulating in Roanoke and Bristol this week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell supported $180 million in electric power rate hikes while he served as attorney general. But while it's true his office did recommend rate hikes, the attorney general's Office of Consumer Counsel actually supported the increases because it was legally obligated to weigh in by state law. And the recommendations from McDonnell's office were in line with the final numbers eventually approved by independent state regulators. Deeds launched the new TV ad Thursday, which questions McDonnell's support for the power rate increases for the Appalachian Power Co. between 2006 and 2008, when he served as attorney general. In the ad, a narrator says: "In tough times, what kind of politician sides with Appalachian Power? Bob McDonnell. He recommended $180 million dollars in rate increases that would cost $360 dollars for each of...

By Derek Kravitz | September 13, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Yet More Deeds Ads

To finish out this week of new ads, we get three -- count 'em, three -- new ads from Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds. They're all the same theme --taxes and fees that Republican Bob McDonnell has backed while in the House of Delegates. These ads come as the Republican Governors Association is running spots slamming Deeds for voting to increase the gas tax. Two are radio ads. One is a television ad, airing in the Roanoke, Tri Cities and Harrisonburg media markets. It can be viewed here....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 11, 2009; 6:50 PM ET | Comments (2)

Updated: McDonnell Airs Two New Ads

Republican Bob McDonnell unveiled a pair of positive new TV ads today -- including one in which he refutes criticism about his 20-year-old graduate thesis and his stance on working women. In the ads, he speaks directly into the camera, talking about the kind of governor he would be and his quest to create more jobs in the state. "Protect" began airing today in the Northern Virginia, Norfolk, Richmond, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg markets. "Jobs Agenda" began airing today statewide, except Northern Virginia. Updated: Here's a response from Democrat Creigh Deeds campaign: "Bob's new ad is correct -- attacks on his character HAVE raised questions about who he is and what kind of governor he'll be,'' said Jared Leopold, a Deeds spokesman. "And he still doesn't explain why he sponsored 35 bills to restrict a woman's right to choose; why he voted against equal pay for women; why he voted repeatedly...

By Anita Kumar | September 11, 2009; 4:48 PM ET | Comments (1)

UPDATED: Deeds on Gay Rights

Does Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Creigh Deeds support gay rights? His top campaign advisers were asked the question in a conference call with reporters today, in reference to a quote a Deeds' spokesman gave to the Staunton Daily News Leader during his 1999 campaign for the House of Delegates: "Mr. Deeds does not support gay rights," spokesman Brian Worthy told the paper, in pretty clear language. The issue, of course, is whether Deeds once held a more conservative position on gay rights than he now advertises to the progressive Democrats he is trying to energize. Deeds has already acknowledged shifting positions on the state's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which he voted to put on the ballot but then campaigned against. Through the Democratic primary campaign, he would often refer to himself as "a work in progress" on the issue....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 11, 2009; 1:54 PM ET | Comments (6)

House Call: Landes 'Nazi' Comment Causes Stir

For this week's examination of the House of Delegates races, we pick up on the controversy stirred up by our blog post last week that quoted Del. Steve Landes (R) comparing White House actions to those of "the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany." During a speech at a local GOP picnic, Landes said some supporters of Republican causes are "afraid their neighbors are going to tell on them. When you've got a White House that's keeping names of people that don't agree with them, that reminds me of what went on in the Soviet Union and in Nazi Germany." (A longer excerpt can be found after the jump.) Landes's opponent, Greg Marrow (D), has called for Landes to apologize for his statement. On Friday, the Waynesboro News Virginian reports that Landes has no plans to do so and posts a full nine-minute video of his remarks from the Aug. 29...

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 11, 2009; 1:24 PM ET | Comments (37)

Get to Know Your Candidates: Archive Edition

Get to Know Your Candidates--when we pose off-the wall and lighter questions to the gubernatorial candidates, to help you get to know them better as people instead of politicians. Today's question: Can the candidates sing? Answer: Absolutely! Can they sing well? We'll let you be the judge. In 2006, a raging debate consumed the General Assembly. At issue, should Virginia delcare "Shenandoah" its official state song, replacing "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," which had been declared the song emeritus some years earlier because of lyrics deemed racist. At the time, this blog was in its infancy. Lawmakers did not yet know to avoid us. We recorded a series of clips of lawmakers and others singing a few bars of Shenandoah, including demo tapes from Sen. Creigh Deeds and then-Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell. After noticing that the song talks a lot about the Missouri River, which doesn't exactly flow...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 11, 2009; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today. Republican Bob McDonnell will be a guest on Mark Plotkin's radio show on WTOP at 10 a.m. (listen live online here) while Democrat Creigh Deeds is taking a day off from public events. Deeds and McDonnell spoke about business issues -- many of them federal -- in a candidate's forum yesterday in McLean. Later, the GOP ticket -- McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and attorney general hopeful Ken Cuccinelli -- talked health care. No surprise that they're not fans of President Obama's plan, and instead introduced their own. The ads are coming fast and furious these days. Deeds launched a new TV ad accusing McDonnell of supporting power rate hikes in Southwest and Southside. Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association started airing TV and radio ads focusing on Deeds's past support of tax increases. Former...

By Anita Kumar | September 11, 2009; 8:50 AM ET | Comments (2)

Obama Taps Bryant to Serve on Commission

President Obama has appointed Preston Bryant, Gov. Tim Kaine's secretary of natural resources, to serve as chairman of the planning agency for federal lands and buildings in the Washington metro area. Bryant, a former Republican legislator from Lynchburg, will continue to serve in Kaine's Cabinet. "Secretary Bryant's work in my administration and his private-sector experience make him an ideal choice to chair the commission," Kaine said in a statement. "I'm sure he will bring the same dedication, creativity, and hard work to this job that he has demonstrated while serving the people of Virginia." The National Capital Planning Commission conducts environmental studies, conserves open space and parks and plans new memorials, monuments, and museums on federal lands....

By Anita Kumar | September 10, 2009; 5:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

Freshmen Virginia Democrats Safe?

Well, one of them is. Or two. But probably not all three. So says the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato in the latest edition of his Crystal Ball report, also known as The Web's Most Accurate Political Analysis. Sabato's report is titled "Red Dawn: GOP Revival For 2010 House?" and projects that Republicans will pick up between 20 and 30 seats in next year's midterm elections. However, only one of the three seats Democrats picked up in Virginia last year is likely to be among them, Sabato predicts. "While this is nothing to sneeze at, especially given that it would be the largest gain for congressional Republicans since 1994, it still puts them short of the 40 seat pick-up they need to take back the House," Sabato writes. U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly of Fairfax County, who won an open seat vacated by Republican Tom Davis, is a "likely" winner...

By Amy Gardner | September 10, 2009; 4:01 PM ET | Comments (1)

Kaine Lends Shannon A Hand

Gov. Tim Kaine sent out an email to supporters today on behalf of Steve Shannon, encouraging them to attend a fundraiser for the Democratic nominee for attorney general later this month. Kaine, who also serves as his party's national chairman, sent the email out though his in-state political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward. "The next Attorney General of Virginia will be charged with a great responsibility in upholding the highest ethical standards and keeping our families safe from crime,'' Kaine wrote. "For this reason, I am asking you to support my friend - Steve Shannon - for Attorney General of the Commonwealth." Kaine will headline a fundraiser for Shannon at the Charlottesville home of former congressman L.F. Payne....

By Anita Kumar | September 10, 2009; 3:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Live Blog: The Potomac Officers Club Forum

Greetings from the ritzy Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, where a forum hosted by the Potomac Officers Club with gubernatorial candidates Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell is about to kick off. The two men won't be sharing the same stage. We understand they are even attending two separate VIP events before the main event. But they'll appear consecutively on the same stage to answer questions from the critical business community. We'll be live-blogging the event when it kicks off, assuming our trusty wireless card holds out here in the hotel ballroom. Follow to the jump to read....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 10, 2009; 12:05 PM ET | Comments (3)

Robert McCartney's Scorecard: McDonnell on Points

Post columnist Robert McCartney is judging the Virginia governor's race candidates, tallying the blows week by week until the Nov. 3 election. Here's his analysis of the past week: "McDonnell wins narrowly on points, mainly because he slowly continued to claw his way out of the thesis-gate controversy. He and other GOP speakers stayed firmly on message at the Buena Vista parade: no cap-and-trade, no union card check, no big government. Deeds keeps talking about continuing the Warner-Kaine legacy. Will that be enough?" Check out how McCartney has scored the race so far....

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 10, 2009; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

UPDATED: Deeds Airs New Ad

Democrat Creigh Deeds launched yet another new TV ad today -- this one, accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of supporting power rate hikes in Southwest and Southside Virginia during tough economic times. The ad, which is running in Roanoke and Bristol, references McDonnell's comment from the July 25 debate that utility companies "are entitled to rate increases." UPDATE: McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said Deeds should know that the attorney general does not approve rate increase, but rather serves as the consumer counsel. "We know Creigh is desperate, but he should still treat Virginia voters with a little more respect,'' he said. "This negative ad sets a new standard for political duplicity. Creigh voted for the bill that allows utility companies to recoup expenses. ... This ad is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Virginia." Read the script below:...

By Anita Kumar | September 10, 2009; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (1)

GOP Group Launches Attack Ads

Another day, another new ad. The Republican Governors Association started airing new negative TV and radio ads across the state (except for Northern Virginia) today against Democrat Creigh Deeds. The ads focus on Deeds's vote last year to raise the gas tax (to pay for roads and transit) and says that he would support other tax increases "even in a bad economy." "We already know that Creigh Deeds wants to pump up spending in Richmond," RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. "So it's no surprise that he wants to pump up the taxes too, even if it means further deflating the economy." The RGA ads come a day after Deeds started his own attack ad against Republican Bob McDonnell on social issues. We did ask the Deeds campaign for a reaction to the RGA ads but have yet to hear back See below for the longer radio version:...

By Anita Kumar | September 10, 2009; 9:20 AM ET | Comments (2)

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009 Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today. Democrat Creigh Deeds will meet with supporters at a cafe in Sterling this morning while Republican Bob McDonnell will spend much of the day in Winchester, where he will stop by Shenandoah University, a GOP campaign office and the Hob Nob in the Valley event. Deeds and McDonnell will participate in a forum hosted by the Potomac Officers Club and ExecutiveBiz online magazine at noon in McLean. It's not a debate -- one candidate will speak and then another -- but still will be worth a listen. (Check back for our coverage). Deeds unveiled a series of education proposals yesterday, including a college scholarship program for students who agree to spend two years in public service, and a new attack ad on TV. McDonnell held a news conference with Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota governor and...

By Anita Kumar | September 10, 2009; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Deeds Weighs in on Obama Speech

Among the many statements and releases flying around today about President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress was a release from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds. Putting out a statement was an interesting choice for Deeds, who has resisted Republican calls to make federal issues a major part of the Virginia campaign. But staying silent on health care, with his party's president in the fight of his political life on the issue, likely was not an appealing option either. Deeds seems to have settled on putting out remarks that are amorphously supportive of Obama but not exactly controversial in their substance. He wrote that rising health care costs must be solved and said he hoped Congress would reform the system "so businesses remain competitive and families get the medical care they deserve." Here's the full statement: "The President challenged all of us to help solve America's health care...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 10, 2009; 7:32 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bolling Airs First TV Ad

Today, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling became the first statewide candidate in one of the downticket races to air TV ads. The positive ad is airing solely in Hampton Roads -- the home base of his Democratic opponent Jody Wagner -- and focuses on children and education....

By Anita Kumar | September 9, 2009; 6:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Updated: Deeds To Air Attack Ads in NoVa

Democrat Creigh Deeds will launch a new attack TV ad against Republican Bob McDonnell in Northern Virginia starting tonight. Yes, he has had negative ads before, but this one mentions the hot-button issues of abortion and birth control. Take a look: Updated: Here's a response from the McDonnell campaign: "Creigh Deeds refuses to put together even an outline of a transportation plan, but he's got plenty of time to craft negative, backwards looking attack ads and run a campaign which divides Virginians,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "In these tough times Virginians deserve far better from candidates for the Commonwealth's highest office." Read the script below:...

By Anita Kumar | September 9, 2009; 4:44 PM ET | Comments (1)

Dems Ask Opponents to Repudiate McDonnell Thesis; One Does

At least three Northern Virginia Democratic candidates for House of Delegates have asked their Republican opponents to condemn the views espoused by gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell (R) in his much-discussed 1989 graduate school thesis. It's unlikely that Greg Werkheiser and John Bell, who are respectively challenging Republican delegates Dave Albo and Bob Marshall, and Scott A. Surovell, who is up against Jay McConville (R) for the seat being vacated by Kris Amundson (D), actually expected a response. But one of them got one today. Albo said in a phone interview that he did not know of Werkheiser's demand, but called the past assertion by McDonnell that working mothers are detrimental to the family "ridiculous." "I think what Bob said [in the thesis] was ridiculous, but I know Bob McDonnell the legislator now and he's one of the best legislators who has ever served in Virginia," Albo said....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 9, 2009; 4:27 PM ET | Comments (0)

UPDATED: DNC to Pawlenty: Do You Agree With McDonnell?

How radioactive would the Democratic National Committee like to make Virginia's Republican candidate? So hot that simply standing next to him will raise the rad count of other Republican politicians. In a call with reporters today, DNC press secretary Hari Sevugan said that any elected official who campaigns in Virginia is "tainted by Bob McDonnell's extremist positions." "At the very least, they should be willing and ready to answer whether they agree with Bob McDonnell's far-right positions on women in the workforce, on choice, on contraception, on public education," he said in a call designed to ask Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to do just that....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 9, 2009; 3:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

Updated: The Pawlenty-McDonnell Press Conference

Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota governor and possible GOP presidential hopeful, appeared with Republican Bob McDonnell this afternoon at a downtown Richmond hotel after a fundraising lunch for the gubernatorial nominee. The packed news conference did not go well -- marking a rare stumble for the usually organized McDonnell campaign. A couple reporters were allowed to dominate the news conference -- which started almost 30 minutes late -- with questions about McDonnell's 20-year-old thesis and Gov. Tim Kaine's budget cuts. McDonnell was calm and relaxed under some tough questioning, although he didn't say much new (beyond criticizing Kaine for miscalculating the ever-escalating budget shortfall). But his staff abruptly ended the news conference anyway, leaving most of the remaining reporters who were never called on yelling questions at McDonnell and Pawlenty as they tried to leave. Pawlenty, a rising star in the Republican Party who was considered as John McCain's running mate last...

By Anita Kumar | September 9, 2009; 2:20 PM ET | Comments (3)

Democrats Opposed Askew, Too

The Republican Party of Virginia, Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell and state Sen. Ken Stolle want you to know something about the controversial reappointment hearing in 2003 of Newport News Circuit Judge Verbena M. Askew: Two prominent Fairfax County Democrats, Janet Howell and now-Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, also voted to deny Askew a second term. The Post published a story this morning about McDonnell's role in the episode. Askew was voted off the bench after an emotional, seven-hour hearing during which she and other witnesses were questioned extensively about her judicial conduct and also the fact that she had been the subject of a sexual harassment claim by a female colleague. Askew denied the claim, but the city of Hampton, where Askew operated a drug court and which was also named in the claim, settled with the accuser for $64,000. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), who led the hearing as chairman...

By Amy Gardner | September 9, 2009; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (18)

Deeds Pushes College Scholarship Program

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds joined college students at Virginia Union University in Richmond this morning to unveil a series of new education proposals, including a new college scholarship program for students who agree to spend two years after school in public service. Under the Virginia Forward plan, any student who got a B average or higher and committed to spend two years as a teacher, nurse, police officer or in "other needed fields" would receive up to 50 percent of their college tuition paid at public universities in Virginia. Here's the cost breakdown on the program, a natural question as Gov. Tim Kaine announced big cuts to higher ed budgets Tuesday....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 9, 2009; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009 Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today. Republican Bob McDonnell is bringing a little GOP star power to Richmond this afternoon. He will campaign with yet another possible presidential hopeful, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, at a luncheon. Perhaps not surprisingly, a pair of progressive groups in his home state have called on Pawlenty to cancel his trip and to distance himself from McDonnell and his views on women as outlined in his 20-year-old graduate thesis. Later, McDonnell will attend a veterans rally in Chesterfield. Democrat Creigh Deeds will join students from Virginia Union University and other area colleges to discuss education issues in Richmond. He answered questions for an online business magazine yesterday. Both McDonnell and Deeds aired their first new television ads in Northern Virginia since the general election kicked off in June. The Post takes a look back today...

By Anita Kumar | September 9, 2009; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Takes a Swipe at McDonnell

That's not really a surprise these days, is it? But the venue Democrat Gov. Tim Kaine used to criticize Republican Bob McDonnell was a bit surprising. At a news conference to outline how the state would close a $1.5 billion budget shortfall, Kaine stopped to express his disapproval of those who want to spend education dollars on transportation. "There's been some discussion in this time of year -- I know it's campaign season -- about using general fund education dollars to fund things like transportation. Three and a half years of being governor under tough circumstances tells me that is a horrible idea,'' Kaine said to a room packed with reporters and lobbyists. "We shouldn't be going to the eduction budget to try to fund other priorities." No, he didn't mention any names, but there was no need. Democrats have been attacking McDonnell for weeks over a plan to divert...

By Anita Kumar | September 8, 2009; 6:20 PM ET | Comments (1)

Deeds Knocks Down Pr. William Office Rumor

Has Creigh Deeds closed up shop in Prince William County? That was the claim on some blogs this morning that lean to the right, featuring a photo of a Deeds office in the county with a "for lease" sign in the window and the suggestion that perhaps Deeds is pulling out of Northern Virginia to concentrate on rural areas instead. Hogwash, said Deeds's campaign manager Joe Abbey. According to Abbey, the campaign has two offices up and running in the county, one in Dumfries and one in Woodbridge. The office in the photo is in Manassas and, rather than closing it up, the campaign is about to open there. "Prince William County plays a critical role in our Election Day strategy," Abbey said. He said the campaign believes that after voters compare Deeds's record with that of Republican Bob McDonnell, Deeds will win Prince William and the rest of Northern...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 8, 2009; 3:44 PM ET | Comments (2)

Pawlenty to Campaign with McDonnell

Minnesota governor and possible presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty will campaign with Bob McDonnell tomorrow in Richmond. Pawlenty, a rising star in the Republican Party who was considered for John McCain's running mate last year, also will appear solo in Fredericksburg and Alexandria. He campaigned last week with Chris Christie, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in New Jersey -- the only other state with a governor's race this year. A slew of Republican stars have come to Virginia to help McDonnell, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour....

By Anita Kumar | September 8, 2009; 12:50 PM ET | Comments (2)

McDonnell Airs Ad Responding to Thesis

Republican Bob McDonnell has started airing a new radio ad in Northern Virginia that attacks Democrat Creigh Deeds for attacking what McDonnell wrote in his graduate school thesis two decades ago. McDonnell's campaign repeatedly has said they are done talking about the thesis, in which he wrote that working women, feminists and homosexuals were detrimental to the traditional family, but apparently that doesn't apply to the ad. The ad -- which says "Deeds's recent political attacks smack of desperation" -- also mentions that McDonnell raised his daughters to be "strong, independent, successful women, including his oldest who served as a platoon leader in Iraq." McDonnell's campaign did not announce the ad, as is customary, and did not answer questions about it. Read the script below:...

By Anita Kumar | September 8, 2009; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds, McDonnell on Air in NoVa

It's no joke that Labor Day is when the fall campaign season starts in earnest. Here's one good bit of evidence: Both Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell aired their first television ads in Northern Virginia since right around the time of the June 9 primary Tuesday morning. Television advertising in the D.C. market is one of the biggest expenditures for any Virginia campaign. It costs about half a million dollars a week to run enough ads in Northern Virginia that people are actually likely to see them. And campaigns know much of that money is wasted on nonvoting television watchers in the District and suburban Maryland. But with about a third of the voting population in Northern Virginia, persuading the region's voters is critical and so, sure enough, both campaigns were on air as of the Today show Tuesday morning. Ads for both are versions of spots that...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 8, 2009; 10:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

Thompson Helps Cuccinelli Raise Cash

Former presidential hopeful Fred Thompson will headline a fundraiser next week for state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general. The former Tennessee senator and his wife, Jeri, will host an event in Arlington next Wednesday with beer, barbecue, cigars and bluegrass band The Naked Mountain Boys. Thompson already has helped gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell raise nearly $500,000 at a pair of fundraisers. Thompson, who owns a house in McLean, played New York District Attorney Arthur Branch on the Emmy Award-winning NBC drama "Law & Order" and has appeared in more than 20 films, including "Days of Thunder" and "The Hunt for Red October."...

By Anita Kumar | September 8, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009 Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today The big news from Richmond is the bleak budget picture. Gov. Tim Kaine will unveil another $1.5 billion in cuts to state agencies that likely will include trims to core services like education, and layoffs and furloughs for state employees. Gubernatorial candidates Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell, will take a rare day off from public events today to allow Kaine to make his announcement (though we fully expect them to issue statements reacting to the bad news). Later, Deeds will attend a Kaine-hosted fundraiser at the historic Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. While most of the world took the day off yesterday, Deeds and McDonnell officially kicked off the fall campaign at the Buena Vista Labor Day Parade. For 39 years, it has been a must-do for statewide candidates. Check out...

By Anita Kumar | September 8, 2009; 8:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Sights and Sounds from Buena Vista

Gov. Tim Kaine enjoyed his eighth stroll down the Buena Vista Labor Day parade route -- the unofficial starting line of the fall campaign trail -- despite some periodic heckling. Enthusiastic Republicans taunted Kaine, who serves as his party's national chairman, for being a part-time governor and following in lockstep with his friend, President Obama. "Nothing but a Kool-Aid-drinking governor,'' one woman yelled to Kaine as she clutched a "McDonnell for Governor" sign. Kaine didn't respond to the criticism. Instead, he ditched his state-issued SUV and walked along Magnolia Avenue, shaking hands and greeting local residents who needed no introduction. Occasionally, he climbed into the back of a pickup truck to play harmonica with local bluegrass band (and Creigh Deed supporters) Walker's Run. (See a gallery of The Post's photos from the parade.) But after the parade, even Bob McDonnell got into the act of ridiculing the governor for holding...

By Anita Kumar | September 8, 2009; 7:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Fact Checker: Deeds Wants to Clarify Cap-and-Trade Views

After reading our Fact Checker on whether state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds supports cap-and-trade despite worries that it could eliminate 1,500 jobs at one of the biggest employers in his backyard, Mike Gehrke, communications director for Deeds' campaign, took exception to the statement that Deeds' position is unclear. So, by way of clarification, Gehrke offers some remarks -- and a shoutout to Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb -- that Deeds made during the June debate: "Climate change is a serious issue and the people in Washington ought to be dealing on the issue of global warming," Deeds said. "Let's face it, in a recession any legislation that's going to call for an energy price increase for consumers or put Virginia or American businesses at a disadvantage is not good policy. I'm confident again that Senators Webb and Warner will protect our interests. On cap and trade I will tell...

By Anne Bartlett | September 7, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Grand Jury Investigating Hamilton's ODU Job

The Virginian-Pilotand the Daily Press are reporting that a federal grand jury served the Newport News school system with a subpoena and search warrant involving Del. Phil Hamilton's former job at Old Dominion University. Hamilton, who works for the school system, used his e-mail account to negotiate a job offer with ODU before securing state money for the school, according to e-mails released by the university a couple of weeks ago. "I welcome the inquiry and it is my hope that it will be completed swiftly,'' Hamilton said In an e-mail to reporters last night. "I am sure that the investigation will confirm my innocence, and I look forward to continuing my service to the people of Newport News and James City County." Hamilton has refused to step down despite calls for his resignation -- even from leaders of his own party, including Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling. No word...

By Anita Kumar | September 5, 2009; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Kaine Hits the Campaign Trail With Deeds

There's no doubt that Gov. Tim Kaine has been helping Creigh Deeds with his gubernatorial campaign, though in recent weeks it has been largely behind the scenes. But this Labor Day weekend, (the unofficial kickoff to the race), Virginia's governor and DNC chairman will be out with Deeds in full force. Kaine and Deeds will appear together in Dublin and Harrisonburg Sunday and then again at a slew of Labor Day events on Monday, including the traditional Buena Vista Labor Day parade and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott's 32nd annual picnic in Newsport News. Expect Kaine to be a lot more visible as the race kicks into high gear the final two months. Next up? Kaine will host a fundraiser for Deeds Tuesday at the historic Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. Tickets are $100 to $500....

By Anita Kumar | September 5, 2009; 9:00 AM ET | Comments (2)

Remembering (and Forgetting) the Titans

This is one of those small-world stories. Three decades ago, when Bob McDonnell played football at Bishop Ireton High School, he once faced the same undefeated T.C. Williams team later depicted in the movie "Remember the Titans." McDonnell scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Of course, we all know how the story ends -- the Titans won -- but apparently some of the Titans' players were not too fond of McDonnell after he scored. McDonnell's high school friend, Tim Battle, remembers that one player even shoved him, costing him a penalty. (McDonnell doesn't remember having a run-in with one particular player but does remember getting "clocked" in the end zone by a bunch of Titans.) Battle said that teenager was Earl Cook -- the same Earl Cook who took over as Alexandria's first black police chief last week (after the former chief was arrested for drunken driving in Arlington...

By Anita Kumar | September 4, 2009; 5:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Deeds' California Dreaming Part II

Democrat Creigh Deeds was strangely quiet at the beginning of this week, out of state and raising money for his effort in California. Wondering who he met with on the west coast? Turns out, they included top entertainment executives and some pretty well known Democrats....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 4, 2009; 5:09 PM ET | Comments (1)

McDonnell, Deeds Talk Business

For those of you who think we don't write enough about the issues, this is for you. ExecutiveBiz, an online publication that serves the Washington metro government contracting community, published interviews with Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds this week. How would you make Virginia a more business friendly state? What's the future of VITA? How do you plan to protect the state from future cyber attacks? (Remember the one involving the $10 million ransom?) You can read Deeds' answers here and McDonnells' here. Both candidates will speak at ExecutiveBiz's event next week....

By Anita Kumar | September 4, 2009; 4:21 PM ET | Comments (2)

Fact-Checker: Does Deeds Back Bill That Could Kill His Neighbors' Jobs?

While state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and fellow Democrats have been trying to focus the governor's race on Robert F. McDonnell's grad school thesis, McDonnell and fellow Republicans have been working to return everyone's attention to jobs. The Republican Party of Virginia recently blasted him for supporting a ground-breaking bill in Congress that hopes to slow global warming by imposing limits on carbon-based emissions. McDonnell, while giving the GOP's response to President Barack Obama's weekly radio address, said the bill's proposed cap-and-trade regime would jeopardize 1,500 jobs in Deeds' district alone, a charge echoed by the state GOP. Is it true that Deeds is supporting the bill? And is it true the bill could effectively shut down MeadWestvaco Corp's plant in Covington, Va.?...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 4, 2009; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

First Click -- Virginia

Fri., Sept. 4, 2009 Happy Friday, Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today. At a press conference otherwise designed to keep Republican Bob McDonnell's 1989 thesis at the center of the gubernatorial campaign, Democrat Creigh Deeds told reporters Thursday that he, too, has changed some of his views over the past 20 years. You wouldn't know it from new Democratic radio ads, but that's the what McDonnell has said about the document, that it represents views he has changed since he wrote it two decades ago. In particular, Deeds has called himself a "work in progress" regarding the state's gay marriage amendment, which he voted to put on the 2006 ballot but then campaigned against. McDonnell has a new ad out as well, called "Positive Leadership." It emphasizes his middle-class roots, his training in the army, his happy family -- including his army vet daughter -- and,...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 4, 2009; 7:13 AM ET | Comments (3)

The Kitchen Table: Augusta GOP Afraid for Country

For this week's Kitchen Table, we dropped by a GOP picnic last Saturday in Augusta County, one of the state's most longstanding Republican strongholds. On a sunny afternoon interrupted by a brief spray of rain, over a lunch of barbecue and cole slaw, party activists in this Shenandoah Valley community expressed an overwhelming concern that their country and culture were being threatened by forces in Washington. Featured speaker Patrick McSweeney, former state GOP chairman and founder of a new think tank called Restore the Founders' Vision, said his son was becoming so concerned with current affairs that he was considering moving to Costa Rica. Del. Steve Landes accused the White House of keeping tabs on Republicans, some of whom he said live in a climate of fear, and evoked the always-dicey Hitler comparison....

By Sandhya Somashekhar | September 4, 2009; 6:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

McDonnell Airs New TV Ad

Republican Bob McDonnell began airing positive new TV spots highlighting his middle-class roots (in which he mentions he was raised by an Army officer and working mom), his service in the Army and his business and law degrees. The ad, called "Leadership," will run in every market across the state (except the pricey Northern Virginia market) for a week....

By Anita Kumar | September 3, 2009; 6:23 PM ET | Comments (2)

GOP Attacks Deeds on Social Issues Talk

Virginia Republicans continue to mock Creigh Deeds for saying the governor's race should be about the economy, transportation and education while he attacks Bob McDonnell on abortion, covenant marriage, stem-cell research and, of course, his 20-year-old graduate thesis. Check out the party's new video that includes a TV interview with Deeds this morning in Newport News in which he, once again, says the race isn't about social issues....

By Anita Kumar | September 3, 2009; 4:30 PM ET | Comments (3)

McDonnell, Deeds: Works in Progress?

During the primary, Creigh Deeds was criticized by his Democratic opponents for having changed his views on hot-button issues, including same-sex marriage and background checks for gun buyers. (His favorite expression at the time was "Each of us is a work in progress.") Now, months later, Republican Bob McDonnell says he has changed his views on whether women should work outside the home and other issues he explored as a graduate student two decades ago. But the Deeds' campaign has attacked him every day this week (including again today) for views he longer says he holds. So why is that any different than Deeds' changing mind? Well, we asked him. Deeds said at a press conference today at the state Capitol in Richmond that he doesn't actually believe McDonnell has changed his mind. "His record throughout his period of public service is consistent with the thesis,'' he said. Now you...

By Anita Kumar | September 3, 2009; 4:10 PM ET | Comments (6)

First Deeds Thesis Ad Airing in Northern Virginia

Democrat Creigh Deeds is running his first ads in Northern Virginia since his June primary victory. He's putting up radio ads only for now, which are of course far cheaper than television commercials. And guess what the ads are about? Righto! Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis. Or rather, in the words of the ad, McDonnell's "plan to take us back to the dark ages." Hear the ad here: The ad of course does not mention that McDonnell has said he no longer believes key portions of his thesis, particularly the parts that form the thrust of the ad -- comments in the thesis about women in the workplace. Also, interestingly, the ad is thethe first mention of Pat Robertson's name by the Deeds camp in this year's campaign. The ad is accompanied by a new Web site all about the thesis and new Google advertising. (Search "McDonnell" and "thesis" and...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 3, 2009; 11:32 AM ET | Comments (4)

Deeds' Law Review Articles

Over the past few days, a number of people have asked a very reasonable question: So what did Democrat Creigh Deeds write his thesis about? The answer: He didn't write a thesis. That's what he said in an interview Wednesday, and it matches what we found some days ago when we searched the library collections of Concord College in West Virginia, where he got his undergrad degree, and Wake Forest University, where he attended law school. Deeds did write two articles published in the Wake Forest Law Review in 1983 and 1984, posted here for your reading pleasure. Creigh Deeds' 1983 Wake Forest Law Review article Creigh Deeds' 1984 Wake Forest Law Review article Having had that exciting task, we must say it's hard to imagine either getting anyone's hearts beating....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 3, 2009; 8:17 AM ET | Comments (13)

First Click -- Virginia

Thurs., Sept. 3, 2009 Good Morning! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today. Back from raising big dollars from California muckety-mucks, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds is working hard to extend discussions of his opponent's 1989 master's thesis. On Wednesday he spoke about the issue for the first time. Not surprisingly, Deeds thinks it's relevant. Today he holds a press conference in Richmond with Women for Deeds, as both campaigns look to capture the female votes. McDonnell, meanwhile, told the editorial board of the Washington Examiner that Deeds is running backward-looking campaign obsessed with social issues. He continues to face questions about the thesis however. Post local columnist Bob McCartney writes that two of five questions put to McDonnell by Rotarians in Fredericksburg early Wednesday morning were about the document. Today he will greet voters at a cafe in Midlothian....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 3, 2009; 7:20 AM ET | Comments (0)

Virginia Receives $2.8M in Inaugural Expenses

More than seven months after President Obama's inauguration, the federal government finally has cut Virginia a check for some of its expenses. Virginia and some localities spent $5.7 million on the inauguration, but the state only received $2.8 million -- the maximum allowed, according to Gordon Hickey, Gov. Tim Kaine's spokesman. Expect Republicans to ask Kaine, also chairman of the Democratic National Committee, why the state won't be receiving a full reimbursement. Back in January, they accused him of using tax dollars for his friend's inauguration when the administration directed almost $1 million to offer free bus service on Inauguration Day....

By Anita Kumar | September 2, 2009; 4:33 PM ET | Comments (0)

Update: Here It Comes!

The money, that is. The Democratic National Committee will pour $5 million into the Virginia governor's race this year, spokesman Brad Woodhouse said Wednesday. Some will go directly to Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, and some will go to the state party for organization and coordination efforts. It will be much like four years ago, when the DNC sent $5 million to help then-candidate Tim Kaine. Kaine, Virginia governor and chairman of the DNC, wouldn't have it any other way, Woodhouse said. And does the timing of the announcement have anything to do with this week's big news about Republican Bob McDonnell's graduate thesis? You betcha! "Governor Kaine is very, very enthusiastic about this race," Woodhouse said. "He obviously knows Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds. He has a good sense that Creigh Deeds is who you see, and Bob McDonnell is who we learned about through his thesis." Update: State GOP...

By Amy Gardner | September 2, 2009; 4:14 PM ET | Comments (3)

Deeds on McDonnell Thesis: It's Relevant

Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis is a relevant topic for the Virginia governor's campaign that helps shed light on McDonnell's record in public life, opponent Creigh Deeds said this afternoon in his first public comments since the publication of the thesis in the Post on Sunday. "The thesis explains the social agenda that has apparently driven his legislative agenda during the years," Deeds said. "If anything, this ensures people understand there are very clear differences between me and the other guy in terms of our record. Records are important." Deeds said he was not entirely surprised by some of the ideas expressed in the thesis, noting that McDonnell sponsored legislation to establish covenant marriage in Virginia four times, backed numerous bills restricting access to abortions and voted in 2001 against a resolution that urged equal pay for men and women. He said the thesis explains the ideas McDonnell pursued once...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 2, 2009; 2:33 PM ET | Comments (41)

Realtors (Some Democrats) Want to Revisit McDonnell Endorsement

Six female Realtors are asking the Virginia Association of Realtors to reconsider its endorsement of Bob McDonnell following the release of his 20-year-old graduate thesis. But it's unlikely that the women -- at least some of them -- were ever fans of McDonnell in the first place. That's because three of them have given to Democratic candidates in the past, according to the Virginia Public Access Project and OpenSecrets.org. One of them donated money to Creigh Deeds, and another to his former Democratic rival Brian Moran. The association represents 33,000 Realtors statewide. McDonnell's campaign described the letter as a stunt. "I guess to counter this transparent stunt we should put out a letter with six Republicans not supporting Creigh Deeds, or a letter from 10 teachers asking the VEA to rescind their endorsement of Creigh, but frankly but we're not interested in wasting reporters and voters time," said Tucker Martin,...

By Anita Kumar | September 2, 2009; 2:32 PM ET | Comments (2)

Loudoun County Offers Dismal Budget Outlook

Loudoun County officials are forecasting a worse-than-anticipated budget shortfall next year of at least 11 percent, a predicament that would result in a slew of public programs being cut, hundreds of jobs being eliminated and a hefty increase in personal property tax rates for one of Northern Virginia's wealthiest localities. Ben Mays, Loudoun's deputy budget director, told county supervisors at a meeting Wednesday that his office has projected a shortfall of about $72.5 million, and that Loudoun's real property portfolio could fall next year by at least 5 percent, or $30.7 million. An additional $84.2 million in expenses is projected, including operating costs associated with three new schools for 2,850 students and a new county jail. "These are conservative numbers," Mays said. "We're trying to be cautious and they are preliminary, but they really are reasonable estimates." The most surprising number was a suggested 21-cent increase in the personal property...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 2, 2009; 2:26 PM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell Camp Declines TV Questions on Thesis

How anxious is Republican Bob McDonnell to change the subject from the thesis he wrote 20 years ago, at age 34, that's been consuming the campaign all week? So much that his staffers have been declining to make surrogates available to defend their candidate on television about the issue....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 2, 2009; 12:18 PM ET | Comments (2)

First Click -- Virginia

Wed., Sept. 2, 2009 Good morning! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today. Will Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell's thesis be an issue that causes his campaign a few bruising days before attention turns to other things? Or will it become part of a narrative about his worldview from now until Nov. 3? Both campaigns are engaged in classic crisis-management mode at the moment, trying to shape the answer. For McDonnell, that means trying to change the subject -- yesterday by rolling out a plan to send more state education dollars to the classroom -- and relying on women supporters like Sheila Johnson to vouch for him. For Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, that means looking for ways to keep the story in the news for days. Tuesday it was with Republicans who served in the General Assembly with McDonnell coming forward to say the 1989 master's thesis represents...

By Rosalind Helderman | September 2, 2009; 7:15 AM ET | Comments (4)

Matthews Plays Hardball with McDonnell

It looks like the national media is still learning about Virginia's race for governor. On Chris Matthews's show "Hardball" this evening, Matthews began an almost 8-minute-long segment on the impact of Bob McDonnell's 1989 thesis on the governor's race by telling us he was hoping to be joined by Mo Elleithee, spokesman for the Democrat in the race, Creigh Davis. (Per Elleithee's twitter feed, technical difficulties kept him off the air.) Watch the whole clip after the jump....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 2, 2009; 12:04 AM ET | Comments (2)

Loudoun Faces Grim Budget Forecast

Dire budget forecasts in Loudoun County could force one of the wealthiest localities in Northern Virginia to slash its expenses for its upcoming fiscal year, a move that could constrain the county's 57,000-student school system. The budget predictions are to be laid out Wednesday at a county Board of Supervisors meeting (9 a.m., 1 Harrison Street SE, Leesburg) but county officials already have indicated that deep cuts are likely and might come from Loudoun County Public Schools, which receives 70 percent of the county budget, or about $762 million. "It's the biggest part of our budget, and we've been discussing cuts for years -- but with the forecast being like it is, we may have to go further," said Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge), chairman of the Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee. Loudoun County Public Schools officials have said its burgeoning student population and comparatively low funding-per-pupil ratio (the...

By Derek Kravitz | September 1, 2009; 6:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

McDonnell Unveils Proposal, Avoids Thesis Talk

Bob McDonnell, joined by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, unveiled the fourth part of his education plan (yes, fourth!) -- designed to boost money for schools by $480 million a year -- in Alexandria this afternoon. And no, he's not proposing a tax increase. Instead, McDonnell and Bolling want to shift money from administration to the classroom by an average of 4 percent, so that 65 percent of education dollars will go to the classroom. Some schools already do that, but the proposal would be implemented statewide. "Our children will get the best education by having the best teachers, best textbooks and best technology, not excessive administration and bureaucracy,'' McDonnell said. We need to put education funding in the classroom, where it counts." McDonnell tried to steer attention away from the uproar over his 20-year-old thesis, but that was difficult. He was greeted at T.C. Williams High School by reporters who...

By Anita Kumar | September 1, 2009; 6:06 PM ET | Comments (2)

Excerpts: Live Discussion With Post Reporters

Anita Kumar and Rosalind Helderman were online earlier today to answer readers' questions about the Virginia governor's race, and Bob McDonnell's graduate school thesis specifically. Excerpts follow. Arlington, Va.: Thank you for taking my question. I want to know if McDonnell is still a practicing Catholic. His controversial thesis from Regent University has really opened my eyes. As a Catholic I am extremely offended by the anti-Catholic rhetoric of Pat Robertson and his ilk over at Regent University. This thesis has opened up a whole new angle to the gubernatorial race that I am very concerned about. washingtonpost.com: Governor's Race Erupts Over McDonnell's Past Views (Post, Sept. 1) Anita Kumar: Thanks for the question. Yes, McDonnell is a practicing Catholic and talks frequents about how important his faith is to him. He attends church weekly. At Regent University, he was sole Catholic in his graduating class. He would the state's...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 1, 2009; 3:30 PM ET | Comments (2)

Deeds Continues to Push McDonnell Thesis

As expected, Creigh Deeds's campaign continued today to try to make Bob McDonnell's thesis an issue in the race for governor. The campaign held a conference call with moderate former legislators who served with McDonnell in the General Assembly. Of course, these are Republicans who have said they are breaking with their party to support Deeds. Here's what they said about McDonnell: "His record really has been one of pushing social issues in the entire time he has been in the assembly, and for him now to try to back away from that is the total reinvention of that now so he can be governor,'' former delegate Jim Dillard of Fairfax said. "I believe Bob McDonnell wants to govern from the right and I believe he will have an extreme right-wing agenda if he's elected governor,'' former senator Russ Potts said. Meanwhile, McDonnell's campaign is trying to move on. McDonnell...

By Anita Kumar | September 1, 2009; 2:11 PM ET | Comments (2)

Kaine Curbs DNC Travel

View Kaine's Travel Adventures in a larger map. KEY: Blue markers are DNC trips, red markers are official state trips, and purple markers included a mix of both or are unclear at this time. Facing yet another budget shortfall and continued criticism for his trips on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, Gov. Tim Kaine significantly limited his out-of-state travel last month. Kaine's office released his travels for August in keeping with his pledge to do so at the end of each month, which was made following pressure by the media and others to disclose his whereabouts. His out-of-state travel included trips to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket (Aug. 1-2), to New Jersey (Aug. 20) and Louisville, Nashville and Birmingham (Aug. 27-29). By comparison, Kaine traveled for the DNC half of the days in June. He reported traveling to eight other states in July while spending part of four days in...

By Anita Kumar | September 1, 2009; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 Good morning Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth. Just in time for the start of the official campaign season Labor Day, the governor's race has been rocked by the discovery of Republican Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis. The story has now gone viral, appearing in pretty much every Virginia publication this morning and on more than 100 blogs across the country as of this morning. Much of today's coverage focuses on Monday's 90-minute McDonnell press call, in which he repudiated some of the views he had expressed as a 34-year-old student. Gov. Kaine, head of the DNC, elevated the issue by saying he thinks the thesis well represents the McDonnell he knows....

By Rosalind Helderman | September 1, 2009; 7:12 AM ET | Comments (1)

 

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