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Virginia Politics Blog: December 6, 2009 - December 12, 2009

In the 5th District: "Civil war is upon us"

The Republican committee of Virginia's 5th Congressional District met in Appomattox today and made the decision to hold a primary to choose its candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello next year. The decision, in lieu of a convention or firehouse primary, is widely expected to favor state Sen. Robert Hurt, the preferred candidate of many GOP leaders who fear that some of the other contenders, particularly those with affiliations with the Tea Party movement, could prove divisive. Hurt's strategist, Chris LaCivita, said a primary also allows "the greatest number of Republicans," including those on active duty in the military, to participate. The primary will take place June 8. Nonetheless, Hurt, who voted for Gov. Mark R. Warner's tax package in 2004, will not be handed the nomination without a fight. At least six others are considering bids for Perriello's seat. One, Bradley Rees, Twittered after the vote that even...

By Amy Gardner  |  December 12, 2009; 6:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Amy Gardner , Election 2010 , Tom Perriello  
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Fairfax library petition alerts public to cuts

The Friends of Fairfax County Public Library, a nonprofit group largely made up of county library volunteers, has created an online petition to raise awareness about possible deep cuts to the library system's budget next year. In November, the library announced it would likely lay off 107 full- and part-time employees to help close a $4 million budget gap. Library hours would also be scaled back on Fridays under the proposal prepared by county staffers. System employees have argued that in the economic downturn, libraries have become a haven for the homeless and jobless and that county officials, in their attempts to avoid closing branches for one day during the week or shuttering entire facilities, have sought deep personnel cuts instead. However, county officials say closing entire branches would leave some communities at a disadvantage and force staffers to work on weekends and late into the evenings. As of Friday...

By Anne Bartlett  |  December 11, 2009; 4:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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The Asian caucus

Next year, for the first time, Virginia's General Assembly will boast a pair of Asian-American legislators. Both will serve in the House. Korean-American Mark Keam was elected to represent Fairfax County and Filipino-American Ron Villanueva was elected to represent Virginia Beach. The men of differing parties -- Keam is a Democrat, Villanueva is a Republican -- have known of each other for quite some time, but met for the first time last week during new legislator orientation in Richmond. Will the two form an Asian-American caucus when the General Assembly returns for its annual session in January? Maybe. Keam (who will replace Steve Shannon) and Villanueva (who will replace Bobby Mathieson if, of course, he wins a state-funded recount) sure are considering it. "We definitely have common ground,'' Villanueva said in an interview....

By Anita Kumar  |  December 11, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates  
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Last minute Dem to file in 8th district

Bill Fleming, a engineer technologist who runs his own company, says he plans to file with the state Board of Elections to run as Democrat for the vacant state Senate seat in Virginia Beach. Fleming's candidacy was endorsed by the city's Democratic committee Wednesday. He said he planned to drop off his paperwork in Richmond around 1 p.m. today, the deadline to file to run. He will challenge Jeff McWaters, nominated by Republicans for the seat in the Jan. 12 special election. Assuming Fleming's paperwork is in order, the two will compete to replace Sen. Ken Stolle, who retired from the Senate because of his election as sheriff of Virginia Beach. Democrats had said they were not going to challenge McWaters in the conservative district, concentratng all their resources on trying to pick up an open Senate seat in Fairfax, vacated by Sen. Ken Cuccinelli's election as attorney general instead....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 11, 2009; 11:23 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Election 2010 , General Assembly 2010 , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell's advisers

A couple hundred Virginians are serving on 13 committees that are advising Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell on everything from economic development and transportation to education and government reform. There are plenty of familiar names on the lists. Current and former state legislators, former members of Congress Tom Davis, Thelma Drake and Virgil Goode, one wanna-be member of Congress Robert Hurt, banker (and wife of Rep. Eric Cantor) Diana Cantor, former lieutenant governor John Hager and many Republican activists from across the state, including Frank Atkinson. McDonnell's high school classmate, Dominion leader Tom Farrell, and his eldest daughter, Jeanine, are also serving as are Ben Marchi, head of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, Victoria Cobb of the Family Foundation and Tim Robertson, the televangelist's son. Democrats can be found, but aren't that plentiful. They include BET co-founder Sheila Johnson, former Warner and Kaine chief of staff Bill Leighty, former legislator...

By Anita Kumar  |  December 11, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , Thomas M. Davis III  
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McDonnell, Bolling to travel to Southside

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling will travel to Martinsville and Danville next Wednesday on their first economic development trip to the economically depressed Southside area. As we told you he would, McDonnell named Bolling to a new Cabinet-level position -- Chief Jobs Creation Officer -- this morning at a press conference. The job will bring with it with no additional salary, but will come with an undetermined number of new staffers. (The lieutenant governor makes $36,321 a year in what is considered a part-time position.) Bolling will be responsible for helping lure businesses to the state, coordinating with all state agencies that deal with economic development and sheparding economic-related bills through the General Assembly. He will lead a new Job Creation and Economic Opportunity Task Force and an internal working group of cabinet secretaries and agency heads. This is the second time in a week that McDonnell...

By Anita Kumar  |  December 10, 2009; 12:19 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell to announce Bolling, Sledd to head economic team

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell will announce tomorrow morning that Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling will take on a newly created, high-ranking role as Chief Jobs Creation Officer, Republican sources tell us. The move is not surprising considering McDonnell and Bolling, both Republicans, ran as a team during the campaign, and McDonnell vowed to make Bolling his administration's jobs leader if they won, though he never exlained what form that would take. Now we hear that Bolling's job will come with a new title, duties and office. McDonnell also will announce that respected businessman Robert Sledd will serve as Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Republican sources say. Sledd, of Richmond, was formerly a top-ranking executive with Peformance Food Group, a food distribution company. (He has donated more than $100,000 to Virginia politicians in the last dozen years, including McDonnell, Bolling, other Republicans and a handful of Democrats, according to the Virginia Public Access...

By Anita Kumar  |  December 9, 2009; 11:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , 2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Prefiled Picks: Legislation to Watch

Today we introduce a new occasional blog feature, highlighting intriguing legislative proposals already submitted for consideration by Virginia lawmakers, prefiled well before the Jan. 13 start of the General Assembly session. First up: HB15 Filed by Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) on Tuesday, this bill would make it illegal to hold any prisoner convicted of federal terrorism charges in state or local jails in Virginia. This measure might be largely symbolic way of putting Virginia on record in the raging national debate over whether to bring terrorist suspects to the United States for trial. This bill is likely to be one of a series of bills designed by Republicans to use their control of state government to protest a Democratic agenda at the federal level they believe is unpopular with Virginians....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 9, 2009; 5:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Barack Obama , General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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UPDATED: Salahi resigns from tourism board

White House party crasher Tareq Salahi resigned from the Virginia Tourism Board Monday. Gov. Tim Kaine had asked hus Secretary of the Commonwealth Katherine Hanley to look into whether Salahi should remain on the board after the incident at President Obama's first state dinner. Kaine appointed him to the board in 2006 as his previous term on the Virginia Winery Board was concluding. Sen. Thomas Norment, the Republican leader in the state Senate, asked Kaine (D) to remove Salahi from the board. Lynda Tran, Kaine's spokeswoman, confirmed his resignation today. UPDATED: Lest you think Salahi was pinning his resignation on anything other than the White House incident -- needed more time with his family and all that -- no. In Salahi's resignation letter, released by Kaine's office, he makes it clear that he is stepping down to avoid becoming a distraction to the tourism board. Salahi's full e-mail, sent Monday,...

By Washington Post Editors  |  December 9, 2009; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Timothy M. Kaine  | Tags: Tareq Salahi  
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Connolly: Apply extra TARP funds to deficit

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today signed by 13 other freshman Democrats urging the use of a "substantial portion" of unspent or repaid Troubled Asset Relief Program funds to reduce the federal deficit. Connolly noted that some members of Congress have proposed ways to spend unused TARP funds, including job creation. "These are worthwhile projects," Connolly said, "but the first priority should be deficit reduction." U.S. Treasury officials estimate that between $210 billion and $260 billion in TARP funds could be available in the next 12 to 18 months. President Obama has said he hopes a portion of the money can go toward deficit reduction. Signing Connolly's letter were: John Adler (N.J.); Bobby Bright (Ala.); Eric Massa (N.Y.); Steve Dreihaus (Ohio); Walt Minnick (Idaho); Parker Griffith (Ala.); Scott Murphy (N.Y.); Martin Heinrich (N.M.); Chellie Pingree (Maine); Jim Hines (Conn.); Jared Polis...

By Amy Gardner  |  December 8, 2009; 6:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Amy Gardner , Election 2010 , Gerald E. Connolly  
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Warner chimes in on health reform

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) led a group of 11 freshmen Democratic senators today in unveiling a bundle of amendments to the Senate health reform bill dubbed the "Value and Innovation Package." The amendments are intended to control costs, reduce fraud, improve transparency and encourage innovation. They include such ideas as a pay-for-performance program for Medicare providers. And in the classic pro-business Warner tradition, they've gotten the support of a host of business leaders and organizations including the Business Leadership Council, the AARP and executives from Safeway, Intel, Carilion Clinic, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, Wal-Mart and many others. So does this mean Warner supports the health bill in its current form? Nope, spokesman Kevin Hall said. But the effort did showcase Warner's talents in bringing business to the political negotiating table and made clear that he is working hard to support health reform while sticking to his...

By Amy Gardner  |  December 8, 2009; 6:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Amy Gardner , Election 2010  
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McDonnell: Palin and I share values

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell said today that he "admires" former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and that he shares her conservative philosophy of governing. "She's a bright new face for the Republican party and has generated tremendous enthusiasm because of her defense of conservative principles and I admire that,'' he told 60 reporters and editors at the annual AP Day at the Capitol in Richmond. "Governor Palin certainly was a very popular governor of Alaska during her term." McDonnell denied that he distanced himself from Palin during his gubernatorial campaign, even though that's exactly what Palin's spokeswoman told us he did. Palin adviser Meg Stapleton has said McDonnell repeatedly and personally asked the former vice presidential candidate for help this summer, but by late August he no longer wanted her assistance. McDonnell said today that Palin did not come to Virginia because she was in such high demand. "Early on we were...

By Anita Kumar  |  December 8, 2009; 5:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Sarah Palin  
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Rest stops to reopen, McDonnell pledges

Virginia highway rest stops shuttered to save money in the economic recession will reopen within 90 days after the January start of Gov.-elect Robert F. McDonnell's term in office, McDonnell told state reporters and editors in Richmond on Tuesday. McDonnell, who had promised during his campaign for governor that he would reopen the stops, said he will announce his plans to accomplish the goal "either before or shortly after" his Jan. 16 Inauguration and complete the task within three months. McDonnell said he took part in a meeting on the issue Monday to examine a number of options to allow for the 18 stops to reopen, which outgoing Gov. Timothy M. Kaine had ordered closed to save the state $9 million. Those options include using nonviolent prison labor to staff the sites, initiating an "adopt a stop" program for private companies and shifting funds within the transportation department. "I fully...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 8, 2009; 3:55 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate , Transportation  
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Kaine, McDonnell bump into each other

Talk about your chance encounter in the hallway. First, Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell (R) ran into House Speaker Bill Howell (R) in the state Capitol this afternoon. Then, a couple minutes later, McDonnell ran into Gov. Tim Kaine (D) just as the incoming governor was about to speak to 60 reporters and editors at the annual AP Day at the Capitol in Richmond. The two men, both accompanied by entourages, greeted each other warmly and shared a few words -- some we could hear, some we couldn't. Kaine, who has spoken at his share of AP Days, was heading into a meeting across the hall of the Council on Virginia's Future, composed of business leaders and legislators. (That's where Howell was headed, too.) "Are you going to face the throng?" Kaine asked McDonnell as photographers snapped shots of the two men....

By Anita Kumar  |  December 8, 2009; 3:54 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Lawmakers find little budget agreement at AP Day

Partisan divides were on full display this morning at the Capitol, where two top budget negotiators from opposite parties joined one another on a panel on the state budget for 60 reporters and editors at the annual AP Day in Richmond. It's an orientation day hosted by the Associated Press for reporters leading up the legislative session in January. Sen. Janet Howell (D) and Del. Kirk Cox (R) both promised the two parties--and the Senate and House of Delegates--would cooperate in the most difficult budget situation since the Great Depression. But when they got into the heart of problem facing the state, there were few areas of agreement....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 8, 2009; 1:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Rosalind Helderman  
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Late-night vote ends meals tax idea in Fairfax for now

Consider the idea for a new election for a meals tax in Fairfax County dead. For now. Late Monday night, Fairfax County supervisors voted 7-3 against scheduling a special election in March on a meals tax -- a controversial surcharge on all meals eaten at county restaurants. The vote capped off a frantic political fight in a county largely unused to such back-room wheeling and dealing. It all started Monday afternoon when Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said a meals tax was not being discussed by officials, despite a Washington Post report that suggested otherwise. "I know it's something Supervisor [Gerald] Hyland wants," Bulova said. "But no one has made a motion and it's not being discussed. It's not something this board is entertaining." Hyland (D-Mount Vernon), the lead advocate for the tax, appeared particularly perturbed. At one point, he visibly rolled his eyes as Bulova...

By Derek Kravitz  |  December 8, 2009; 12:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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Kaine's farewell party

Outgoing governor Tim Kaine threw a party last night for the hundreds of people who have helped him and worked with him over his 16 years in office. About 1,400 (no, that's not a typo) people turned out, including legislators, local elected officials, staffers, and friends he made as governor, lieutenant governor, Richmond mayor and city council member. Guests included former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe; Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band; U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott; Creigh Deeds's campaign manager, Joe Abbey; Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and his chief of staff, Suzette Denslow; former Kaine campaign manager Mike Henry; former finance secretary Jody Wagner; Norfolk Mayor Paul D. Fraim; lobbyist David Hallock; Doris Crouse-Mays of the Virginia AFL-CIO; and a host of legislators, including Del. Steve Shannon and Ken Alexander, chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. The event was held at the Hat Factory, a new club in the...

By Anita Kumar  |  December 7, 2009; 2:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Bulova: Meals tax not being discussed in Fairfax

Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) made a point Monday to squelch any speculation that the Washington area's most populous jurisdiction is considering a meals tax to offset a looming $316 million shortfall and refill cash-strapped county coffers. Bulova said Fairfax officials are not discussing a meals tax, a proposal that failed in a voter referendum in 1992. During a bimonthly Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, she bluntly said the idea has been pushed by Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) but that, so far, the idea has been all talk. "I know it's something Supervisor Hyland wants," Bulova said. "But no one has made a motion and it's not being discussed. It's not something this board is entertaining." (As Bulova spoke, Hyland rolled his eyes.)...

By Derek Kravitz  |  December 7, 2009; 11:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Derek Kravitz , Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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Ten House races top $1 million mark

Despite the recession, this year's election cycle had four of the five most expensive delegate races in Virginia history, including a $1.71 million battle between Del. Dave Albo (R) and challenger Greg Werkheiser in Fairfax that gets the award for most expensive ever. That's according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics, which has been doing number crunching on finance reports submitted by campaigns last week. The second most expensive race in state history was the contest between newly elected Del. Chris Stolle and incumbent Democrat Joe Bouchard in Virginia Beach, who jointly spent $1.53 million on the race....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 7, 2009; 11:21 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , Bill Bolling , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Jody Wagner , Ken Cuccinelli , Leslie L. Byrne , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Steve Shannon  
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Wilder examines Deeds's failures

More than a month after the election, former governor Doug Wilder tells us why he thinks fellow Democrat Cregh Deeds lost to Republican Bob McDonnell in the governor's race. In an op-ed for the Richmond Times Dispatch, Wilder talks about how Deeds not only failed to connect with his party's base but the "overall root base of Virginia voters of all persuasions." As you will recall, the nation's first elected black governor, refused to back Deeds despite pressure from President Obama and Gov. Tim Kaine. "I am not saying my refusal to endorse Deeds was the cause of his defeat,'' he wrote. "What I am saying is that I seem to have shared the inclination of the vast majority of Virginia's electorate relative to Deeds -- and that was reflected at the polls." If you are still looking for election post-mortems read the full op-ed here....

By Anita Kumar  |  December 6, 2009; 8:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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