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Virginia Politics Blog: November 22, 2009 - November 28, 2009

Updated: White House crashers partied with Warner, Kaine

Even during this long holiday weekend it's been impossible to escape the constant chatter about the now infamous White House crashers -- Virginia socialites Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Talking Points Memo has unearthed photos of the couple with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine (though the folks at TPM accidently call Kaine former governor, which of course, he won't be until Jan. 16). Kaine's inaugural committee bought $25,000 worth of wine from Oasis winery , which is owned by the Salahi family, for an event the night before the inauguration, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-profit tracker of money in politics.Oasis also donated $25,000 to Kaine's inaugural committee, $5,000 to Bob McDonnell's 2006 inaugural committee for attorney general and a variety of others over the years, according to VPAP. Tareq Salahi contributed money to Kaine, former delegate Brian Moran and...

By Anita Kumar  | November 28, 2009; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Mark Warner, Timothy M. Kaine  
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News Web site launches in Virginia

A new nonprofit organization has launched a news Web site about local and state government called Old Dominion Watchdog. The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, which funds the Web site, has ties to the Republican Party, but Old Dominion Watchdog Managing Editor Paige Winfield said the Virginia site has no political slant. Recent stories, all written by Winfield, are about federal stimulus money, late military ballots and state budget woes. The Web site also includes a blog, video, text alerts and a form for sending in tips. Old Dominion Watchdog's goal, as described on the site, is to "investigate and inform the public about waste, fraud, abuse, ethical questions and safety concerns involving the use of taxpayer dollars."...

By Anita Kumar  | November 27, 2009; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, James Gilmore III  
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GOP to hold firehouse primaries for both open Senate seats

Happy Thanksgiving, Virginia politicos! For those of you looking for a brief break from your turkey, here's a bit of news out of the 37th Senate District, home to an upcoming special election to fill the seat soon to be vacated by Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli. Republicans will be nominating a candidate for the post on Tuesday, and we've got the skinny on how the process will run. The party is organizing a firehouse primary to choose between former George Bush appointee Marianne Horinko, former Fairfax school board member Steve Hunt and Greenspring Retirement Community Executive Director Will Nance....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | November 26, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2009, General Assembly 2010, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Gov.-elect McDonnell: Still working as lawyer

Back in the spring, we told you that Bob McDonnell joined a law firm after resigning as state attorney general to run for governor. It turns out that McDonnell, now the governor-elect, is still earning a paycheck from that same Virginia Beach firm, Huff, Poole & Mahoney. McDonnell and his law firm would not disclose his salary, though it's clear he does little work there since he has been working full-time toward Inauguration Day. Virginia law requires only that candidates identify companies that pay them more than $10,000 a year. McDonnell (R) has said that he is trying to balance the need to support his family with running for governor. If candidates can't bring home a paycheck while campaigning, he has said, the only people who would run for office would be those who do not understand the financial struggles of their constituents. "Candidates for public office, and elected officials...

By Anita Kumar  | November 25, 2009; 3:04 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race, Anita Kumar, Election 2009, George F. Allen, James Gilmore III, Mark Warner, Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine  
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Kaine greets tribes at mansion, celebrates Thanksgiving

Virginia's outgoing governor, Tim Kaine, presided over his final Thanksgiving ceremony this morning on Capitol Square in downtown Richmond. And this one -- like all the ones before it -- included some wild game. Not to mention a host of traditions that date back more than three centuries. Members of Virginia's Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes were on hand to offer Kaine their annual tribute of wild game in lieu of paying taxes on their reservations in King William County. Kaine and his wife, First Lady Anne Holton, greeted members of the tribes in front of the Executive Mansion while hundreds of people, including many children, crowded around to watch a unique Virginia tradition. The tribes presented Kaine and Holton with two deers and a turkey that had been shot this morning, placing them on the brick walkway in front of the mansion. They also gave them handmade gifts, including...

By Anita Kumar  | November 25, 2009; 10:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Timothy M. Kaine  
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Kaine: Church may set bad example

Gov. Tim Kaine criticized the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington today for saying it would have to end its contracts to operate social service programs for the District government if the city approves gay marriage, as is expected. "I'm Catholic and I think it's wrong,'' Kaine said. "I don't think you take your ball and go home. ... In any kind of group organization ... in a family, in a business, in a government entity, there's going to be points where you don't completely agree. But I don't think that 'if I don't agree with everything I'm going to take my ball and go home' strategy makes any sense." Kaine appeared with fellow Democrat Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on the "Hands Across the Potomac" program on WTOP radio. Both governors are Catholics and share the same view on the issue. Listen to the full audio of the show below....

By Anita Kumar  | November 24, 2009; 4:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Timothy M. Kaine  
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Updated: House releases Hamilton report. Sort of.

In recent days, the House of Delegates has come under criticism for failing to complete and disclose the conflict-of-interest inquiry into Phil Hamilton, the once powerful Republican lawmaker now under federal investigation. In direct response, House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) "voluntarily" released today the report of the House Ethics Advisory Panel. The only problem? There is no report. The five-member House Ethics Advisory Panel, led by Judge William Sweeney, did not turn over the testimony or documents it collected before it halted the investigation after Hamilton resigned last week . Howell's office says that even the Speaker and his staff do not have access to the confidential information collect by the ethics panel. Instead, Howell released the letters in which he called for the investigation and encouraged the panel to complete its inquiry as soon as possible and not take the full 120 days alloted to them (which would have...

By Anita Kumar  | November 24, 2009; 12:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2009, General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates  
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Janis possibly, maybe being considered for AG's office

Will Del. Bill Janis become chief deputy attorney general after Sen. Ken Cuccinelli's Jan. 16 Inauguration? It's been one of the most persistent personnel rumors in recent days in Richmond, and not just because the chief deputy traditionally plays an exceptionally important role in making sure the trains run on time and setting the agenda in the state attorney general's office. Choosing Janis also would send a signal -- as if any more were needed -- about the kind of activist, feisty office Cuccinelli would be planning to operate. According to interviews with both Cuccinelli and Janis in recent days, the answer is officially "maybe." "I've heard that rumor too," Cuccinelli said recently. "We haven't interviewed anyone for the position yet. The field is open."...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | November 24, 2009; 11:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Election 2009, House of Delegates, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Updated: State Board certifies Villanueva winner

The Virginia State Board of Elections certified Republican Ron Villanueva the winner in a House of Delegates seat in Virginia Beach at a lengthy meeting this afternoon in Richmond. Villanueva, a Virginia Beach City councilman, defeated Democratic Del. Bobby Mathieson by 14 votes out of more than 15,000 cast. It was the closest election in the state this year. Mark Henson, Mathieson's campaign manager, said he will ask for a recount. Mathieson has 10 days to ask for a state-funded recount, which he is entitled to because he lost by less than one half of one percent. Republicans picked up six House seats and now have a hefty advantage in the chamber. They hold 61 seats, including two independents who caucus with the GOP, to the Democrats' 39 seats Update: Mathieson's campaign sent out the following statement: "Bobby will continue to fight to ensure every single legally cast ballot gets...

By Anita Kumar  | November 23, 2009; 5:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Election 2009, House of Delegates  
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Deeds sits out Senate Democratic caucus

When the 21-member Democratic caucus of the Virginia Senate met Friday and Saturday for a two-day retreat to strategize for this January's legislative session, one member was not among them: Sen. Creigh Deeds. We're hearing that the former Democratic gubernatorial nominee did not make the trek to Portsmouth from Bath for the meeting. Which might have made it a bit less awkward for other members of the group to talk through why Deeds was defeated by Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell by almost 18 points. Deeds failed to excite black voters, we're told one senator suggested. Deeds failed to excite white ones either, another senator responded....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | November 23, 2009; 3:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Creigh Deeds, General Assembly 2010, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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Republican PAC asks Marsden to resign House seat

Republicans are calling on Del. Dave Marsden (D-Fairfax) to resign from the House of Delegates as he runs in a special election for the state Senate seat being vacated by Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli. OurVirginiaNow, a new state political action committee that aims to help Republican candidates get elected across the state, is encouraging district residents to contact Marsden and ask him to resign. "I think Marsden ought to resign his House seat immediately,'' said Paul Miller, president of OurVirginiaNow. "He owes us that. He was elected to produce results for his constituents, not continue to seek other elected positions he may deem more attractive for his career." If Marsden wins the Jan. 12 election, the governor would have to call a special election to fill his House seat, which would leave the 41st District without representation for some time when the General Assembly reconvenes Jan. 13. OurVirginiaNow also complains...

By Anita Kumar  | November 23, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race, Anita Kumar, Election 2009, General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, State Senate  
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Updated: Kaine, McDonnell meet with economic advisers

Gov. Tim Kaine (D) is meeting with his economic advisers behind closed doors this morning to review the state's revenue estimates as he continues to write the state's next budget. Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell (R) and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) are also attending the packed meeting on Capitol Square. This afternoon, Kaine and McDonnell will meet privately -- their first in-person meeting since McDonnell defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds on Nov. 3. State officials learned last week that they may need to cut up to $2.9 billion more from core services, such as education, law enforcement and health care, by mid-2012 in response to Virginia's financial crisis. Kaine will introduce his proposed two-year budget in December, a month before he leaves office. The General Assembly and McDonnell will use that as a blueprint, but will make changes based on their priorities and the economic forecast. (And, yes, in case you were...

By Anita Kumar  | November 23, 2009; 11:32 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Bill Bolling, Robert F. McDonnell, Timothy M. Kaine  
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Webb, Warner vote for health-care debate

Virginia Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner voted with their fellow Democrats last night to bring to the floor a bill that would overhaul the nation's health-care system. The 60 to 39 vote was on a procedural motion to begin debate, which Senate leaders hope to wrap up by Christmas. "I will only support a final bill if I am convinced it will lower the deficit, drive down health care costs over the long term, and improve the value and quality of the health care Virginians receive,'' Warner wrote in a statement released last night. The GOP's national chairman, Michael Steele, used Republican Bob McDonnell's recent landslide defeat over Democrat Ceigh Deeds to show that Americans do not want "a government-run health system." "As recent elections in Virginia and New Jersey showed, Harry Reid's health care scheme is exactly what voters do not want," Steele said. The House passed a...

By Anita Kumar  | November 22, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, James Webb, Mark Warner  
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