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Ad Watch: 'Transportation Contrast'

Sandhya Somashekhar

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."


"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."


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 up Virginians and walking around with his family.


This ad has been airing in Northern Virginia, where traffic congestion is a perennial source of frustration and transportation ranks just behind the economy as the top issue of concern among voters. It draws exclusively on a July 29 editorial that is particularly critical of McDonnell -- though you wouldn't know it from the ad.

The editorial has some choice words about both candidates for what their plans lack -- new taxes for transportation. As it stands, the state's secondary road maintenance fund will be virtually empty by the end of next year, and the editorial argues that the only solution is to find a fresh funding source.

But after dismissing Deeds for being evasive on the subject, it devotes three full paragraphs to a dressing-down of McDonnell's plan. Moreover, Deeds has since said he would be open to a tax increase for transportation, which earned him unequivocal praise in a follow-up editorial Thursday.

The July ad did have some nice things to say about McDonnell, which the campaign clearly picked up on to highlight in this commercial. Here is the full context around that excerpt:

"Mr. McDonnell's transportation plan -- all 19 pages of it -- deserves credit for the extent and specificity of its proposals. He acknowledges that current funding sources are inadequate and proposes some new ones. Unfortunately, the new revenue he identifies is one-time-only, many years distant or paltry. And he does not explain how, in the absence of credible, reliable new funding, he would wring out more cash for roads without harming other crucial state functions and services."

Deeds has pledged to come up with a statewide, long-term solution in his first year in office but has offered no details. McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation by shifting state money and relying on funding sources that don't involve tax increases, such as privatizing the state's liquor stores and adding tolls on some highways.

By Sandhya Somashekhar  |  September 25, 2009; 4:34 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Sandhya Somashekhar  
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Next: Deeds, McDonnell and Northern Virginia Promises


The Post is being used cynically and unscrupulously by McDonnell. Just another example of his "selectivity" and "not telling it all" whenever he speaks. And, by the by, Deeds has offered some specifics with respect to the base-closure-type commission he will appoint much as former-Governor Baliles successfully did the only other time in recent history that we have had any focus and investment in Virginia Transporation at all. Take-it-or-leave-it commission recommendations are about the only way the Republicans in Richmond are likely to be forced act responsively and responsibly.

Posted by: randy49 | September 30, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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