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Virginia Politics Blog: December 20, 2009 - December 26, 2009

A holiday note for our Virginia readers

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Virginny Not a creature was stirring, not even Mike Henry. The senators and delegates were snug in their beds Content after New Year's, they'll kill Kaine's plans dead. Kaine relaxed with family, at peace with it all, Next job all lined up: Protect Dems in the fall. Bob McDonnell in Richmond rested as well, Hard times to come, but, for now, feeling swell. Moran, McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds, too Perhaps quieter than hoped for, but quiet's their due. Warner and Webb in the morning said "aye!" The GOP won't forget, but tonight they'll let lie. Bruce Allen's returned to stop Redskins' collapse Could George be next? The answer: "Perhaps." But not tonight, nor tomorrow will comebacks be mounted Plenty of time to come for careers to be counted. Here on this site too, we're preparing to rest So when the new folks...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 24, 2009; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , 2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , General Assembly 2010 , George F. Allen , James Webb , Mark Warner , Rosalind Helderman , Terry McAuliffe , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Governors current and future prepare for Christmas

Did any of you in Richmond see Gov. Tim Kaine out at the mall this morning? He was hoping to see you. In his final "Ask the Governor" appearance on WTOP this week, Kaine told host Mark Seagraves that he'd gone out to start his Christmas shopping during the snowfall on Saturday, but didn't plan on finishing up until this morning. "I went out Saturday in the middle of the blizzard," he said. "I hadn't started my Christmas shopping yet and I was going to shop no matter what the weather was. So, I took a couple of my kids and we went to one of the malls in Richmond and we were pretty lonely out there. It was a day when I know the retailers were really planning on heavy sales and very few people were willing to get out in the snow." Kaine went on: "I'm going to...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 24, 2009; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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As promised: Jim Webb's statement on health-reform vote

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) issued a statement just now on his vote this morning in favor of the Senate health care bill. "I voted today in favor of health care reform legislation in the Senate," Webb wrote. "I did so despite my disappointment with some sections of the bill, which I will continue to address in the future. But the final package presented by the majority leader reflects many improvements that take into consideration the concerns that I and others brought forward during the debate. " Read the full statement after the jump....

By Amy Gardner  |  December 24, 2009; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , James Webb  
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Warner, Webb: Aye on health care

Virginia U.S. senators Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb cast their lots with fellow Democrats early today by voting for final passage of the Senate health reform bill. Let the finger-pointing begin! Oh wait, it already has. Warner issued this statement in defense of his vote. "While this legislation is far from perfect," Warner wrote, "I believe it will start to curb soaring health care costs for consumers and businesses, reduce our federal budget deficits over time, and extend the life of the Medicare program." (We'll update when we hear from Webb.) The rhetoric is already flying from the other side too. From the National Republican Senatorial Committee: "U.S. Senators Jim Webb and Mark Warner voted this morning to pass President Barack Obama's massive government-run health care bill, which will lead to higher taxes, taxpayer-funded abortions, massive cuts to Medicare, and higher health care premiums for Virginians." From Republican National...

By Amy Gardner  |  December 24, 2009; 8:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , James Webb , Mark Warner  
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Look to Virginia for rising political stars

'Tis the season for end of year lists. The NBC political team behind First Read, Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro, is out today with their list of the top ten political risers, not just of 2009, but of the whole decade. And, wouldn't you know, three Virginians made the cut. The two declared that "no current Republican congressman has risen so far, so fast" as Eric Cantor, and ranked him seventh on their list. Just behind him at number eight came Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine, who the pair note started the decade as the little-known mayor of Richmond and ended as a major state governor, vice presidential finalist and DNC chairman. "What's next?" they mused. Indeed. Finally, Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell made the list at ninth, his recent electoral win making him "an instant star in his party" and "an automatic VP possibility (or higher?)" the two wrote. To cap it...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 23, 2009; 4:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Eric Cantor , James Webb , Mark Warner , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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George Allen: 'Perhaps' a rematch vs. Webb in 2012?

Don't toy with us, Governor. That's right, former governor and U.S. senator George Allen said today that he is thinking pretty seriously about public office, including a possible rematch against Democrat Jim Webb, who defeated Allen in 2006 by fewer than 10,000 votes. It's so thrilling we can hardly type. Allen's been out and about quite a lot lately, prompting lots of gossip about his political plans. Turns out he might have some. Here's the money quote, which he offered when asked about a rematch: "Many people have encouraged me to run," Allen said in a telephone interview. "Susan and I have heard that from many people. And the answer is: perhaps." Allen said about 2006, "I don't like losing, you may have guessed." But he also said he has enjoyed his year out of public life tremendously, traveling with his wife and spending more time with his children than...

By Amy Gardner  |  December 23, 2009; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (27)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , George F. Allen , James Webb  
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Legislation to Watch: A message to the feds

An occasional blog feature on intriguing legislative proposals already prefiled by members of the General Assembly for consideration when the legislature convenes Jan. 13. The main event of this year's session likely will be Virginia's ongoing budget woes, but an interesting sideshow could revolve around the state's relationship with the federal government. The Commonwealth has an active Tea Party movement and many Republicans would like to use their time in Richmond to send some messages to Washington. Enter Del. Mark L. Cole (R-Fredericksburg) with HB18. The bill proposes that any good or service that is made or performed in Virginia alone cannot be considered interstate commerce and "shall not be subject to the authority of the Congress of the United States under its constitutional power to regulate commerce." Many conservatives believe the federal government has used its power to regulate interstate commerce to overstep its bounds. It's hard to know...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 23, 2009; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman  
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Barry (Obama) from D.C. asks the governor on WTOP

Gov. Tim Kaine (D) fielded calls for the last time on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" program this morning, including one with a familiar voice identified by host Mark Seagrave as "Barry from D.C." That would be President Barack Obama, calling in to congratulate his pick for chairman of the Democratic National Committee as he concludes his four years as governor of Virginia. Another call came from Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell, during something of a greatest hits for Kaine during the hour-long program. Obama started his call by telling Kaine that he had some questions about traffic in Northern Virginia. Both men laughed, and then Obama went on to say, "Rather than go there, I just want to say how proud we are of your service as governor as the Commonwealth of Virginia and wish you and the family all the best this Christmas season, after a just terrific round of service...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 22, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
Categories:  Barack Obama , Gerald E. Connolly , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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McDonnell taps Hicks-Thomas, Haymore for Cabinet

We told you earlier that Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell will announce today that Sean Connaughton will serve as his transportation secretary. Now we also have learned that Deputy Attorney General Lisa Hicks-Thomas will serve as his secretary of Administration, and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Haymore will serve as his secretary of Agriculture, according to sources close to McDonnell. You may remember Hicks-Thomas as the African American employee from the attorney general's office who appeared in McDonnell's TV ad after news broke about his controversial 20-year-old thesis in which McDonnell wrote that working women were a detriment to society. Hicks-Thomas would be the first minority in the McDonnell Cabinet and the third woman, filling a largely overlooked but massive job overseeing buildings and contracts. McDonnell (R) has scheduled a noon news conference in Richmond to announce the three Cabinet posts. McDonnell had expected to announce Connaughton's selection last Thursday, but waited until this...

By Anita Kumar  |  December 22, 2009; 10:28 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Updated: McDonnell to announce Connaughton as transportation secretary

Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell is expected to announce Tuesday that former Prince William County Board of Supervisors chairman Sean Connaughton will serve as his transportation secretary, several sources close to McDonnell said Monday. McDonnell (R) has scheduled a noon news conference in Richmond to announce what will be one of his most important Cabinet choices. He will also name his picks for secretaries of agriculture and administration. Connaughton, 48, ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 2005, but lost to Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. (McDonnell is said to have sought -- and received -- Bolling's blessing before offering Connaughton the job.) He served as the head of the U.S. Maritime Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, from 2006 to early this year, and now works as the corporate vice president of government affairs for the American Bureau of Shipping. Calls to Connaughton were not returned....

By Anita Kumar  |  December 21, 2009; 7:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Robert F. McDonnell , Transportation  
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In the 5th District: Talk show host Ingraham likes Verga

Popular political talk show host Laura Ingraham has declared Laurence Verga "the conservative" in the Republican nominating contest in Virginia's 5th District, according to a new Web ad distributed today by Verga's campaign. Although not entirely new (Verga joined Ingraham on her radio show Dec. 7), the shout-out from Ingraham is probably the first of many from conservative commentators who aren't happy with the candidacy of state Sen. Robert Hurt of Chatham. Hurt's vote for a tax increase in 2004 has branded him unacceptable to many conservatives. But because the 5th District GOP has chosen a primary as its method of nomination rather than a narrower, activist-only convention, Hurt, better-known than the others and probably better-funded, is now the man to beat. "This guy is hand-selected and approved -- signed, sealed and delivered -- by the NRCC," Ingraham said on her talk show. "Who's the best person to defeat a...

By Amy Gardner  |  December 21, 2009; 4:46 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Amy Gardner , Election 2010 , Tom Perriello  
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Murtaugh heads to RGA

Tim Murtaugh is leaving Richmond -- again. The sharp-tongued communications director for the Republican Party of Virginia will head to the nation's capital to work as a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association. No, RGA communications director Mike Schrimpf isn't leaving. But with 37 governor's races next year, the RGA is ramping up their staff. Murtaugh's last day in Richmond is tomorrow. He will start at the RGA on Jan. 4....

By Anita Kumar  |  December 21, 2009; 4:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , George F. Allen , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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More Democrats criticize Kaine's budget

Since posting earlier today about Democratic concerns in Fairfax County with how Gov. Tim Kaine's proposed budget would affect Virginia's largest jurisdiction and other parts of Northern Virginia, we've been alerted to a couple more public statements on the issue. Keep in mind, these are members of Kaine's own party. The real fun starts with the Republicans. Newly elected Del. Scott Surovell has posted an analysis on his blog, The Dixie Pig, declaring the budget an "attack on the middle class." In Fairfax City, council member Dan Drummond declared on his blog that Kaine's budget is no good for the city and wrote, "I hope it gets shot down." Meanwhile, a somewhat more charitable posting from Democratic Del. Albert Pollard in Northern Neck. In an item entitled "To Kill a Budget," Pollard writes, "those who are leveling the criticism have yet to see the stark choices further cuts will make."...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 21, 2009; 3:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Warner issues statement on health-reform vote

As promised, here's a statement that just came out from U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner regarding his vote this morning that paves the way for final passage of the Senate health-reform bill by Christmas Eve. "I voted to advance the Senate health care bill to final passage because the status quo is bankrupting our nation and hurting our ability to compete in a global economy. "If we fail to act, Virginia's small businesses will continue to see double-digit premium increases every year, and Virginia families could see up to 40 percent of their take-home pay consumed by health care expenses by the year 2016. "While not perfect, this legislation will lower insurance premium costs for the majority of families and businesses. It will reduce the deficit by more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars over the next 20 years, and it will add at least nine years to the life...

By Amy Gardner  |  December 21, 2009; 3:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , Mark Warner  
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Bolling offers free inaugural event

Have you checked your mail today? Several thousand inaugural invitations are making their way across the state to the supporters, volunteers and contributors who helped Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling win reelection last month. Bolling will offer the event for free at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond on Jan. 14. That's not usually how it's done. Usually politicians use the tickets as a fundraiser, but this year Bolling decided to foot the $100,000 bill. "Because this is an appreciation event, and given the economic challenges facing so many Virginians, we decided to make it a free event,'' Bolling said. "It gives us a chance to celebrate our victory with as many of our friends and supporters as possible."...

By Anita Kumar  |  December 21, 2009; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling  
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Fairfax leaders express doubts on Kaine's budget

One potentially natural ally of Gov. Tim Kaine's -- as he proposed eliminating Virginia's car tax and replacing it with an income tax hike earmarked for local governments -- might be some of those local governments. After all, according to Kaine's calculations, they'll come out ahead in the exchange. Right now, local governments receive $1.6 billion a year in revenue from taxpayers and the state from the tax on cars. If income tax rates were raised by 1 percent, it would generate $1.9 billion a year to send back to localities. But, at least in Virginia's largest jurisdiction, Kaine's budget has been greeted quite coolly. The reason is unrelated to the income tax proposal. Instead, it's a single line item in the budget that was the subject of just one paragraph in Kaine's speech to the General Assembly money committees last week: a one-year delay in readjusting the state's composite...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  December 21, 2009; 12:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Fairfax County Board of Supervisors , General Assembly 2010 , Loudoun County , Prince William , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Warner, Webb vote to advance health reform bill

At 1 a.m. this morning, Virginia's two Democratic U.S. senators, Jim Webb and Mark R. Warner, voted yes on a procedural motion that allows a vote on final passage of the Senate health care reform bill by Christmas Eve. Webb's and Warner's votes don't come as a terrible surprise, given that most of the attention in recent days was on two other senators whose votes were needed to get to 60 votes, the magic number to end debate: Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and the last holdout, Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska. But this was a tough vote for Warner and Webb, who have campaigned and governed as centrists and who are all too aware of the political peril, especially in Virginia, of voting for a bill perceived by some to spend too much money, reduce Medicare benefits unacceptably and burden small business owners....

By Amy Gardner  |  December 21, 2009; 9:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Amy Gardner , James Webb , Mark Warner  
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Webb, Warner report to work in snowstorm

Our colleague Paul Kane reports today that Virginia's two senators easily made it to the Capitol this weekend -- and had less adventurous travels than their counterparts in Maryland in getting there. U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D), who lives in Falls Church, used his Jeep to plow through the snow, his office said. Aides to U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D) reported an "uneventful" trek from the lawmaker's home in Alexandria, which, as far as primary residences go, is the closest of any senator to the Capitol. However, dozens of senators live within a couple of blocks of the Senate in townhouses and apartments, giving them short walks to the votes. Meanwhile, in case you were curious about our neighbors to the north, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), who is recovering from an accident in which her ankle was broken in multiple places, got to the Capitol at 7:30 a.m. Saturday...

By Anita Kumar  |  December 20, 2009; 9:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , James Webb , Mark Warner  
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