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Virginia Politics Blog: November 15, 2009 - November 21, 2009

Candidates mingle at bloggers conference

Did you know there's a Republican New Media Caucus in Congress? Neither did we. But one of the group's chairmen -- Virginia's own U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R) -- was on hand to speak to dozens of bloggers today at the Blogs United conference at Christopher Newport University in Newport News. Also at the conference, a slew of congressional candidates, mingling with bloggers and others, as they try to kick off their 2010 campaigns: Five candidates in two of the state's hottest races turned out: Republicans Scott Rigell , Ken Golden, Scott Taylor and Ben Loyola are vying to replace U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye (D) in Hampton Roads while Michael McPadden is one of the many Republicans looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello (D). Also on hand: Democrats Scott Robinson and Krystal Ball looking to replace Wittman and Republican Coby Dillard running against U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D) in...

By Anita Kumar  |  November 21, 2009; 3:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2010 , Glenn Nye , Robert F. McDonnell , Tom Perriello  
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Palin's book tour comes to Virginia

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will travel to Virginia this weekend for the seventh stop of her national tour to promote her book, Going Rogue: An American Life. Palin, the 2008 vice presidential nominee, will appear at a Barnes & Noble in Roanoke at 10 a.m. Sunday -- the first Virginia stop on the much ballyhooed tour. She's expected in Fairfax County in a couple weeks. Check out the Post stories on Palin's first two stops in Michigan and Indiana where crowds lined up early to catch a glimpse of the possible presidential hopeful and get their books signed. The Roanoke Times reports that more than 1,000 people are expected to turn out. Local Republican officials are expected to attend, but no statewide officials. And yes, that includes Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell, who distanced himself from the controversial conservative figure during his campaign....

By Anita Kumar  |  November 21, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/President , Sarah Palin  
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Fimian: Game on, and Stewart is with me

Republican Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is not running for Congress next year. We know this because Stewart and three other Prince William Republicans just announced that they are supporting Keith S. Fimian, who is preparing for a rematch against Democrat Gerald E. Connolly next year. The others are: Supervisor Mike May and delegates L. Scott Lingamfelter and Robert G. "Bob" Marshall. It's probably not a coincidence that Fimian is publicizing these endorsements today, the same week that Fairfax County Supervisor Pat S. Herrity said he is considering a run for the Republican nomination. If Herrity does get in, don't expect Fimian to step aside quietly....

By Amy Gardner  |  November 20, 2009; 5:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , Gerald E. Connolly  
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McDonnell phones Senate Dems

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell placed a call to the Senate Democratic Caucus today, which is holding meetings in Portsmouth in connection with the Senate finance committee retreat. McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin confirmed that McDonnell made the call this afternoon, as did Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw. "He said he hoped we could cooperate and work together," Saslaw said. "He wished us a Happy Thanksgiving. It was all very general." The Democratic-held Senate is the only piece of government in Richmond that could hold up McDonnell's agenda, given the Republicans 61-seat majority in the House of Delegates. The relationship between McDonnell and senate Democrats -- in particular their irascible leader Saslaw -- will be fascinating to watch. So far, everyone has made noises about working together in bipartisan fashion. We'll see how long that lasts....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 20, 2009; 5:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Cox to head new McDonnell PAC

Quite a number of folks in Richmond have speculated that Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell's campaign manager, Phil Cox, might become chief of staff in McDonnell's administration. After all, a number of people have noted that he is very much playing the role of McDonnell's chief of staff during the transition, acting as door-keeper for McDonnell and having an important hand in the paper flow of the transition office. But no. We can confirm that Cox will not be joining the McDonnell administration but will instead become the executive director of McDonnell's new political action committee "Opportunity Virginia." Cox told our colleague Amy Gardner of his plans a few days ago. A political pro, running the PAC would allow Cox to keep his hand in McDonnell's political operation. It would also let him maintain his current residence in Northern Virginia -- chief of staff would require a move to Richmond....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 20, 2009; 4:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Howell has no plans to fiddle with committee rules

Of all the many rumors flying around Richmond at the moment, here's one we can actually put to rest: House Speaker Bill Howell plans to honor current rules of proportional representation as he reorganizes House committees in the wake of the Nov. 3 election results. That means Howell will add one Republican to each committee, in line with the GOP caucus' growth from 55 to 61 members. He will not be adding two Republicans, as has been widely rumored, according to Howell chief of staff Paul Nardo. "The speaker is committed to proportional seating and will continue to abide by his commitment to fairness to all members through proportional seating in the chamber and on the committees," Nardo said....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 20, 2009; 1:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell forms 'Opportunity Virginia' committee

Gov. Mark Warner had "One Virginia." Gov. Tim Kaine had "Moving Virginia Forward." Now it looks like Gov. Bob McDonnell will have "Opportunity Virginia," a committee established to advance McDonnell's political goals, including by raising money and contributing to other Republican office seekers. Via the Virginia Public Access Project comes word that the paperwork organizing the new PAC was filed with the State Board of Elections Thursday, with McDonnell's campaign office listed as the committee's address and McDonnell staffer Jane Wortham listed as treasurer. According to the form, the committee could take part in statewide, local and General Assembly elections. "Opportunity Virginia will enable the governor-elect to assist other candidates and leaders who share his positive vision for creating jobs, keeping taxes low and providing new opportunities for all citizens," McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 20, 2009; 1:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Special election for Cuccinelli's seat set for Jan. 12

Gov. Tim Kaine's office reports that it has now received a copy of a letter from Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, indicating that he will resign from the state Senate on Jan. 12, in preparation for his inauguration as state attorney general Jan. 16. Kaine plans to call the special election to fill Cuccinelli's Fairfax County seat for that same day, said Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey. Cuccinelli, meanwhile, met with the entire staff of the attorney general's office this week, telling attorneys and others in a 15-minute speech that he respects their work and looks forward to working with them. All employees of the AG's office formally work at the pleasure of the sitting attorney general. It is not yet clear how many of the office's staff Cuccinelli plans to keep on....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 20, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Marsden candidacy now official

Democratic Del. David Marsden has formally announced he will seek the senate seat soon-to-be vacated by the Ken Cuccinelli, who was elected attorney general Nov. 3. Democrats had made clear that they would to avoid any kind of contested nomination process. Marsden had said the party was funding a poll of several likely candidates and each contender had agreed to back the candidate that the poll indicated was most likely to be successful. He said at the time that he fully expected to be come out on top in the process, and it looks like he has done so. ""Let's face it: government is not working like it should for regular people and our small businesses. We are in the midst of a serious economic downturn and we need to focus on creating jobs, helping regular people and small businesses, and growing our economy," Marsden said in a statement announcing...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 19, 2009; 4:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Election 2009 , General Assembly 2010 , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Stoney out, Cranwell in

Despite what a lot of politicos think, Levar Stoney, former executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, will not be returning to the party following his stint as political director for Creigh Deeds's gubernatorial campaign. Stoney said he originally took a leave of absence in June and had every intention of returning, but changed his mind in the fall. He said he is exploring other opportunities. Party Chairman Dick Cranwell has alerted state Democrats that the party's interim leader, Leigh Anne Collier, will stay on as director. Collier had previously served as deputy executive director for finance and operations. Also not returning to the party: communications director Jared Leopold, who served as Deeds's spokesman during the general election. Speaking of Cranwell, he said today that he has every intention of staying on as chairman until his term ends in 2013, despite rumors that he may leave after a bruising...

By Anita Kumar  |  November 19, 2009; 3:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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McDonnell in 2012? Part 1 of 831.

There are more signs that presidential buzz is going to follow Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell, probably right up until the nomination process gets going in 2012. Nate Silver, the statistician-pollster who founded the Web site fivethirtyeight.com was on Keith Olbermann's show on MSNBC last night, assessing the chances of a Sarah Palin presidential run in four years. But Silver suggested repeatedly that the GOP may find better luck with a candidate who doesn't feel like a has-been to voters. Someone like ... Bob McDonnell, said Silver. "If you had someone who was a fresher face, someone like a Bob McDonnell in Virginia, maybe, if he were ready to run in 2012, that might give Palin some worry," Silver told the show's substitute host Lawrence O'Donnell. Later, he said, "If they're smart, they will push someone like a [John] Thune or a McDonnell. I mean, these people haven't necessarily been in the...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 19, 2009; 3:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell  
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New maps show extent of McDonnell's win

The Virginia Public Access Project continues to do slicing and dicing of election results, and a lot of what they're coming up with continues to be fascinating. Take a look at these maps, for instance, that show how Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds fared in each of Virginia's 100 House of Delegates districts and its 40 state senate districts. Not surprisingly, given the margin of the landslide. McDonnell beat Deeds in 75 House districts and 29 Senate districts. Interestingly, McDonnell romped in the two Senate districts that will soon have special elections because of the Nov. 3 results. In Virginia Beach's 8th District, which Democrats have essentially conceded, McDonnell got 66.6 percent of the vote. But in the 37th district in Fairfax, sure to be hotly contested, he also did well -- capturing 56.8 percent of the votes to Deeds's 43 percent. Where did McDonnell do best? In...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 19, 2009; 12:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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44: McDonnell on how he won, Robertson comments

(Excerpted from the 44 blog.) AUSTIN -- On the day that Sarah Palin kicked off her book tour to enthusiastic crowds, the two newest Republican governors sought to explain why the former Alaska governor had not campaigned on their behalf this fall. Palin is a potentially potent force among some conservative voters, but also someone whose unpopularity among independent voters could prove to be a negative in a campaign. But both Virginia Gov.-elect Robert McDonnell and New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie said her absence in their states had nothing to do with concerns that she might prove to be a drag on their candidacies. McDonnell said he had tried to get Palin to campaign for him earlier in the year but "she was in such incredible demand" that "we were just not able to work out anything." Once she stepped down as governor and might have had more time on...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  November 19, 2009; 11:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Dems call Cantor a hypocrite on stimulus

For months, Democrats have dubbed U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia a hypocrite for strongly opposing the federal stimulus package only to promote aspects of it later. Here's the latest example: Nearly half of the 30 organizations participating in a job fair Cantor is holding Monday in Culpeper were recipients of the stimulus. The list includes a slew of government agencies and schools that have directly benefited from the package and may be using stimulus money to hire people (as the money was originally designed to do), including the Orange County public schools, the Transportation Security Administration and Virginia Department of Labor, and some companies that may have indirectly benefited such as Comcast and Terremark. Cantor, a Richmond area congressman and the No. 2 Republican in the House, was one of the most vocal critics of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill that Congress passed in February. He has since...

By Anita Kumar  |  November 18, 2009; 6:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Eric Cantor  
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Fairfax libraries set to lay off 107 employees

The Fairfax County Public Library is set to lay off 107 full- and part-time employees to help close a $4 million budget gap next year, officials told library staffers Wednesday. The affected departments within the library system would include library administration and operations and technical operations. Under the proposal approved by the library's governing board at its meeting Tuesday night, library hours would also be scaled back on Fridays. Library employees argue that in the economic downturn, libraries have become a haven for the homeless and jobless and that county officials, in their attempts to not close branches for one day during the week or shutter entire facilities, have sought deep personnel cuts instead. "The largest reduction is in our branches," said Nancy Klein, president of the library employees' association. "Granted, that's where the largest pool of workers comes from but that's also the majority of our public services is...

By Derek Kravitz  |  November 18, 2009; 5:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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Updated: Feds subpoena Hamilton records from House

A federal grand jury served the House of Delegates with a subpoena for documents in the ongoing conflict-of-interest investigation of Phil Hamilton, the powerful Newport News lawmaker who resigned Sunday. House Clerk Bruce Jamerson said today that he received a subpoena for Hamilton's economic interest forms, travel vouchers and documents relating to the Old Dominion University teaching center where Hamilton secured a job. The subpoena was hand-delivered Sept. 22. Documents were to be made available by Oct. 21 -- the next meeting date of the federal grand jury, according to Jamerson. Hamilton, who was a budget negotiator and vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, is under investigation for negotiating a job offer with ODU before securing state money for the school....

By Anita Kumar  |  November 18, 2009; 1:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates  
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CAIR asks McDonnell for more on Robertson, as Connolly weighs in

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell continues to face calls for him to publicly repudiate donor and ally Pat Robertson today, even after a statement issued Tuesday evening in which his spokesman commented generally about the importance of the Muslim community to Virginia. A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday that McDonnell's comment "a good statement as far as it went," but said he did not believe it went far enough in directly disavowing Robertson's remarks. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for CAIR, said the national group is working with Muslims in Virginia to decide how to proceed on the issue. But he said he continues to believe McDonnell needs to make a clear statement indicating he does not agree with Robertson's stand on Islam. Robertson said last week that Islam is "not a religion" but a "violent political system" and called for Muslims to be treated like communists or members of...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 18, 2009; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Gerald E. Connolly , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Kaine, House GOP headed for showdown?

Gov. Tim Kaine (D) said this week he plans to appoint a replacement to the Virginia Supreme Court if Congress confirms Justice Barbara Keenan to the federal bench before his term expires in January. But several House Republican leaders vow to remove Kaine's pick and appoint their own if the governor does not wait for legislators to replace Kennan when they return to Richmond for their annual session in January. "He's just doing it to be political,'' House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith said. "We'll treat them as a political appointee....It's our right not to confirm." Griffith said there's no reason for Kaine to appoint someone when the legislature returns in less than two months and when Kaine's term expires Jan. 16. He said the state constitution gives the legislature the responsibility to chose judges. But the governor can -- and does -- fill vacancies if the General Assembly is out...

By Anita Kumar  |  November 18, 2009; 12:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Kaine sends letter to Congress on school rehab tax credit

A real bipartisan coalition is growing in Richmond around the idea of extending a federal tax credit intended to spur the redevelopment of historic buildings to the rehabilitation of old schools. The idea is to give a tax credit to private interests that would use it to rehab schools, then lease the schools back to local districts. First, former Republican senator and governor George Allen and former state Democratic party chairman Paul Goldman came together to endorse the idea. Tuesday night, former Democratic National Committee Chairman and gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe signed on. And now, Gov. Tim Kaine has come on board as well. He has written a letter to U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, calling the idea an "innovative" solution for funding school renovations. Giving the idea the weight of the governor's office should help elevate the idea. Read the letter...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 18, 2009; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  George F. Allen , Rosalind Helderman , Terry McAuliffe , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Connolly vs. Herrity?

Although most conventional wisdom rates Gerald E. Connolly of Fairfax County as the safest of three freshmen Democrats elected to Congress in Virginia last year, that wisdom rests on a rematch with Republican Keith S. Fimian in next year's midterm elections. But what if Pat Herrity, the county supervisor from West Springfield, gets in the race? Herrity's near-win over Sharon S. Bulova in February for county board chairman sent a pretty strong ripple through Fairfax's political community (and served as a harbinger of things to come, given Gov.-elect Robert F. McDonnell's win in Fairfax on Nov. 3). Herrity said this week that he's been approached numerous times by supporters to consider entering the race. He has not made a decision, he said. Connolly trounced Fimian in 2008. Connolly was fresh from a re-election victory as county chairman the year before; his name recognition was vast -- and Fimian's was nonexistent....

By Amy Gardner  |  November 18, 2009; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , Election 2010 , Gerald E. Connolly  
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National Islamic group calls for McDonnell to disavow Robertson

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based civil rights group for Muslims, is formally calling on Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell to repudiate recent remarks by McDonnell-donor and longtime ally Pat Robertson, in which the televangelist called Islam a "violent political system" and advocated treating Muslims like communists or fascists. Robertson's remarks came in response to the Fort Hood shootings during the minister's 700 Club television show last week. Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman, has declined to comment on Robertson's remarks a couple of times. This evening, he gave us a statement this evening that doesn't address Robertson directly, but does suggest that McDonnell does not share views on Islam. "The governor-elect has worked closely with Virginia's Muslim community," Martin said. "This community is an important and vital part of Virginia. He respects the Muslim faith and looks forward to continuing to work with Virginia's Muslim community in the years ahead. As governor,...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 17, 2009; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Johnson, Malek among McDonnell inauguration chairs

Gov-elect Bob McDonnell has named six men and women to serve as co-chairs of his Jan. 16 inauguration, as he prepares to return the celebration to Richmond after Gov. Tim Kaine's Williamsburg swearing-in four years ago. In Virginia, the name that will likely draw the most attention is Sheila Johnson, who served in the same role for Kaine in 2005 and completes her campaign-season long alliance with McDonnell by taking on the largely-ceremonial role for the Republican. Will Johnson, a long-time Democratic donor, ever return to the party? It's hard to say, but for now it seems she will enjoy the fruits of her labor on McDonnell's behalf by enjoying his victory celebration. Outside Virginia, a second co-chair might draw a little attention: Fred Malek, who was the national finance chairman for John McCain's presidential bid and is the founder and chairman of Thayer Capital Partners and former president Marriott...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 17, 2009; 2:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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All eyes turn to Fairfax's 37th district

It looks like Democrats have pretty much decided to concede the soon-to-be vacant Virginia Beach state senate district to the GOP, meaning the balance of power in the state senate may soon rest with the Fairfax residents who live in the 37th senatorial district, site of the state's second upcoming senate special election. Democrat Majority Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw said Monday that the party is likely not to put up a candidate to vie to replace Sen. Ken Stolle, who will soon resign from his seat to become sheriff of Virginia Beach. And Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, speaking Monday at a Washington Post editorial board meeting, said flatly that Democrats will not pick up Stolle's seat. Kaine is way too smart of a political leader to be that dismissive of his party's chances if it were running even a nominal candidate for the seat. Kaine sang a different tune about...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  November 17, 2009; 8:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Election 2009 , Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Kaine, McDonnell make joint appearance

Republican Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell joined Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine for the announcement of a $200 million genetic research facility in Fairfax County this afternoon. Kaine's office asked McDonnell if he would like to attend, according to McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin. It was the first time Kaine and his successor have appeared together since the Nov. 3 election, though the two spoke extensively on Nov. 4 after McDonnell easily defeated Kaine's choice for governor, Democrat Creigh Deeds. Ignite Institute for Individualized Health, a nonprofit organization specializing in DNA research, will create 415 jobs in Northern Virginia over the next five years and would partner with Fairfax-based Inova Health System....

By Anita Kumar  |  November 16, 2009; 6:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Updated: Hamilton resigns from House of Delegates

Del. Phil Hamilton, the powerful Republican lawmaker under federal investigation, resigned from the House of Delegates effective midnight yesterday. Hamilton of Newport News sent a two-sentence letter to House Clerk Bruce Jamerson that was received today. "Effective at the end of the day on November 15, 2009, I am resignining from the position as Delegate of the 93rd House District,'' he wrote. "It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in, what I consider to be, the most distinguished legislative body in the world." Hamilton lost his bid for re-election two weeks ago to Democrat Robin Abbott. He had served in the House for 21 years and was vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Hamilton is under investigation for negotiating a job offer with Old Dominion University before securing state money for the school. A federal grand jury recently served the Newport News school system and ODU...

By Anita Kumar  |  November 16, 2009; 12:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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McAuliffe backs Allen-Goldman schools proposal

Former gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will be in Richmond Tuesday to put his stamp of approval on a proposal to pay for expensive school renovations with federal tax credits. The proposal was first suggested by an unlikely pair -- George Allen, former Republican governor and senator, and Paul Goldman, former chairman of the state Democratic party -- in a much-talked about op-ed in the New York Times last month. Allen and Goldman will speak Tuesday night at a meeting of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, an African American political group. McAuliffe will also attend, which may further fuel speculation about the former DNC chairman's future in Virginia politics. Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell supported the Allen-Goldman proposal during his campaign for governor. The proposal calls for President Obama and Congress to change federal law to allow private investors to receive a tax credit for rehabilitating old school facilities and leasing them back...

By Anita Kumar  |  November 16, 2009; 9:27 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , George F. Allen , Terry McAuliffe  
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GOP picks Howell for House speaker again

House Republicans selected Bill Howell of Stafford to serve as House speaker at the caucus's organizational meeting in downtown Richmond today. Technically, the entire 100-member House must re-elect Howell as speaker when the chamber reconvenes in January, but with 61 GOP members Howell is assured victory. The caucus also re-elected its three top leaders: Morgan Griffith as majority leader, Sam Nixon as caucus chairman and Del. Kirk Cox as majority whip. Republicans picked up six House seats in November's election and are now at a 12-seat advantage in the chamber if a contested Virginia Beach seat switches to the GOP as expected. About 55 of the 61 members attended today's meeting at the state GOP headquarters. Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell was invited to attend, but his spokesman Tucker Martin said he had a scheduling conflict that prevented him from being there in person. McDonnell spoke to the group by phone instead....

By Anita Kumar  |  November 15, 2009; 8:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell  
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