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Questions About Questionnaires Plague Candidates

Rosalind Helderman

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."

Wells said the Bolling camp discovered its error while preparing to meet with the group Tuesday, quickly brought to the organization's attention. He said that Bolling opposes both collective bargaining and meet and confer rights for public employees. "Both measures would have devastating impacts on Virginia's economy and government," Wells said.

While we're on the topic, did Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Jody Wagner also give conflicting answers on collective bargaining to Virginia Free and to another business group, the National Federation of Independent Business?

She told Virginia Free that she would oppose legislation to give public employees binding arbitration, "meet and confer" rights or collective bargaining. She went on to explain, "However, I do support public employees rights to meet and confer, as long as there are safeguards against striking."

On the other hand, to the NFIB, Wagner checked "yes," on a question that asked if she would support legislation to allow the Commonwealth or local governments to enter into collective bargaining agreements with public employee unions or associations. On that question, she went on to explain that she supports "collective bargaining for public employee unions, as long as there are safeguards against strikes. Most states that allow collective bargaining for public employees contain such provisions."

Wagner adviser Pete Kavanaugh says those two answers don't conflict with one another -- Wagner supports public employee unions sitting down to negotiate wages and workplace issues with management but does not believe they should be able to strike. "I believe those are consistent," he said. "They both speak to what she's consistently said. She is for meet and confer and she's against striking."

A note of friendly advice to campaigns when filling out organizational surveys: proof reading is always a good idea.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  September 18, 2009; 3:06 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Rosalind Helderman  
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