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Virginia Politics Blog: May 23, 2010 - May 29, 2010

Webb asks IRS to investigate U.S. Navy Veterans Association

U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D) is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the legitimacy of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a charity under scrutiny in three states. Webb, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman Friday. Webb notes that the organization filed a tax return for their Virginia chapter claiming that it provided services to 2,204,405 Virginia residents in 2009, but "there is little evidence of services being provided on such a vast scale." "I know you share my concern that we should minimize the opportunity for unscrupulous organizations to mislead or exploit our nation's veterans,'' Webb wrote. "Therefore I would appreciate your prompt attention to this matter, in accordance with all applicable rules, regulations, and statutes." Following a six-month investigation, the St. Petersburg Times was able to locate...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 28, 2010; 6:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , James Webb , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Frederick endorses Fimian in GOP race to face Connolly in Northern Virginia

If we had any doubts about who staunch conservatives were backing in the Republican primary in the 11th congressional district, we don't anymore. Keith Fimian has picked up the endorsement of Jeff Frederick, the former chairman of the Virginia Republican Partywho was ousted last year despite strong support from social conservatives across the state. The former state delegate is hosting his first event for Fimian on Friday night in Woodbridge, and Fimian's campaign is sending out a letter from Frederick in the coming days. "Keith is a successful small businessman who has literally created hundreds of jobs -- just the kind of leader we need today,'' Frederick writes to supporters. "Plus, unlike others in this race, he is the opposite of a typical Washington Republican/politician -- which is exactly the kind of person we need representing us." In an interview, Frederick praised Fimian -- who stood by Frederick during his...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 28, 2010; 6:01 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Gerald E. Connolly , Keith Fimian , Pat Herrity  
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Webb disappoints gay rights groups with 'Don't Ask' vote

Gay rights groups and liberal activists slammed Virginia Sen. James Webb Friday, one day after he was the only Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee to vote against a repeal of the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. The Armed Services panel voted 16-12 to add language repealing the policy to the defense authorization bill, with Webb joining 11 Republicans in opposition and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joining 15 Democrats in favor. Earlier Thursday, the full House also voted to end the policy. In explaining his vote, Webb noted that the Pentagon had begun a comprehensive review of the policy in February, and said he believed that review should be completed before Congress stepped in to make a statutory change. "I see no reason to pre-empt the process that our senior Defense Department leaders put into motion, and I am concerned that many members of the military would view...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 28, 2010; 3:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ben Pershing , James Webb  
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McDonnell names commission on higher ed.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has announced the members of his commission on higher education reform, innovation and investment. The members, announced Friday, include the presidents of several Virginia colleges and universities (including Virginia Tech, JMU, ODU, Hampton and Liberty University) as well as legislators and business and education policy experts. Tom Farrell, president and chief executive officer of Dominion Resources and former rector of the University of Virginia, (and a former high school friend of McDonnell,) will serve as chairman. McDonnell created the commission in April with executive order number nine. Among other things, the commission is charged with trying to Increase the number of in-state Virginians enrolling in colleges, preparing students for fields such as science, technology, engineering, math and health care, and preventing significant and unexpected tuition increases. It will hold its first meeting in early July and submit a final report to McDonnell by Nov. 30. "This commission...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 28, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Virginia workers take an unpaid day off, shutting down state government

Virginia state workers took Friday as an unpaid day off, virtually shutting down state government. Most of the state's 102,000 employees are off, though some of them -- in public safety and healthcare -- took other days off so they could work Friday. The furlough day is expected to save the financially strapped state government $16.9 million. Former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) proposed the day off before he left office. His successor, Bob McDonnell (R), recommended 10 furlough days. The state Senate favored six but the House of Delegates did not want to expand the number. House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) announced last week that he would have legislative staff join the executive branch in the unpaid day off, saving another $35,000. But there's at least one person working for free today: McDonnell. The governor told listeners on his monthly call-in show Thursday that he'd be hard at work at...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 28, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Fundraising reports shed light on GOP primary contests

A new round of fundraising reports shed light Thursday on the state of Virginia's three most competitive Republican congressional primaries, as candidates in the June 8 contests were required to lay out the state of their finances. The pre-primary reports -- covering April 1-May 19 -- filed with the Federal Election Commission showed: • In the 11th district contest in Fairfax and Prince William counties, Oakton businessman Keith Fimian maintained his financial edge over Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity in their battle to take on Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) in November. Herrity outraised Fimian for the seven-week period, taking in a total of $162,000 to Fimian's $107,000. But Fimian had $406,000 left in the bank as of May 19, compared to $96,000 for Herrity. Connolly, who is already the Democratic nominee for reelection, awaits the GOP winner with a whopping $1.1 million war chest....

By Ben Pershing  |  May 28, 2010; 10:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Loyola , Ben Pershing , Gerald E. Connolly , Glenn Nye , Jim McKelvey , Pat Herrity , Robert Hurt , Scott Rigell , Tom Perriello  
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McDonnell tells FOX he continues to support drilling off Virginia's coast

Gov. Bob McDonnell told FOX Business Network Thursday night that he understands President Obama's decision to cancel proposed lease sales off Virginia's coast, but that he believes plans for drilling should continue. "With two years of an environmental impact statement that was already planned for Virginia, we'd like it to stay on track,'' McDonnell told host Neil Cavuto. "During that time, the investigation will be done. Regulatory and technological changes will be made." McDonnell, who has made offshore drilling one of his administration's top priorities, said he called Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and offered to help any way he could with the unfolding disaster caused by the April 20 well accident in the Gulf of Mexico. Read Friday's full story. "When we had disasters in the space exploration program, we didn't cancel the shuttle program,'' he said. "We went forward with the spirit of progress and innovation." McDonnell also...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 28, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Following more lobbying on corporate jet, Northrop's site decision expected in days

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman's long-awaited decision on where it will relocate its corporate headquarters -- in Arlington or Fairfax counties -- is expected by early next week but where it will choose, local elected officials say, is anyone's guess. Northrop Grumman officials chose Northern Virginia in April over neighboring Maryland and the District after a 100-day bidding war broke out among localities across the region. But in an unusual move, Northrop did not specify which site -- the North Glebe Road office park in Arlington or the Fairview Park complex in Falls Church -- it would ultimately decide on. A final, final decision, officials say, would come in the next few weeks. Privately, many officials expected an announcement in a matter of days after the April 28 news conference featured Northrop Grumman chief executive Wes Bush and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R). But that didn't happen. Instead, several sources...

By Derek Kravitz  |  May 28, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  | Tags: Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County, Northern Virginia, Northrop Grumman, bob mcdonnell  
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Democrats call on McDonnell to replace Malek as chairman of commission

House Democratic leaders called on Gov. Bob McDonnell to replace businssmen Fred Malek as chairman of his government reform commission because of questions that have been raised about his past. In a letter, Dels. Ward Armstrong and Ken Plum asked McDonnell to replace Malek with either former U.S. Sen. John Warner, Christopher Newport University President Paul Trible or John "Dubby" Wynne, who already sits on the commission. "It is clear that the important work of the commission would be distracted by questions about past behavior by its Chairman, and that would be a disservice to the Commonwealth,'' they wrote. As an aide to President Nixon, Malek in 1971 compiled a list of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an action that has been the subject of numerous articles and for which Malek has repeatedly apologized. Malek received a $100,000 civil fine in 2004 in a pension case as part...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 27, 2010; 6:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , John W. Warner , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell, Cantor, Bolling want to continue to drill off Va. coast

Three of the state's top Republicans said Thursday that they were disappointed that President Obama halted plans to drill for oil and gas off Virginia's coast.

By Anita Kumar  |  May 27, 2010; 5:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , Bill Bolling , Eric Cantor , Robert F. McDonnell  | Tags: bill bolling, bob mcdonnell, drilling decision disappoints republicans, eric cantor, republicans disappointed in drilling decision  
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New Fimian ad hits Herrity on taxes

With less than two weeks left until the June 8 primary, Oakton businessman Keith Fimian is on the air with a new ad attacking Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity in their fight for the Republican nomination in the 11th Congressional District. Fimian, who is seeking a rematch with freshman Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) after losing to him by 12 points in 2008, has spent a good portion of the primary campaign criticizing Herrity for his record on the Board of Supervisors, particularly on tax issues. Fimian's latest spot -- his second television ad of the campaign -- continues that theme. The spot shows Herrity declaring, "I have never voted to raise the taxes of the homeowners," and then looks to contradict that claim by noting that Herrity did vote to raise property tax rates last year by 13 percent. And the ad cites other instances where Herrity's votes resulted...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 27, 2010; 3:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Gerald E. Connolly , Keith Fimian , Pat Herrity  
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U-Va. asks judge to quash Cuccinelli subpoena

The University of Virginia filed a motion in court Thursday asking a judge to intervene and set aside Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's civil investigative demand for documents related to the work of former climate scientist Michael Mann. In the university's motion, filed in circuit court in Albemarle County, lawyers for the school argue the state's top law enforcement officer's request violates Mann's freedom of speech and threatens academic freedom. "We are fighting for preservation of the basic principles on which our country was founded," said University rector John O. Wynne in a statement. University President John T. Casteen III said Cuccinelli's demand "has sent a chill through the Commonwealth¹s colleges and universities -- a chill that has reached across the country and attracted the attention of all of higher education." University lawyers also wrote in the filing that Cuccinelli failed to state in his subpoena the nature of Mann's conduct...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 27, 2010; 2:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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Environmentalists cheer Obama's offshore drilling decision

Minutes after President Obama's news conference began, environmentalists began filling our inboxes praising his decision to cancel plans to drill for oil and gas off Virginia's coast.

By Anita Kumar  |  May 27, 2010; 1:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama  
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Do Virginia lawmakers back a federal pay freeze?

House Republicans will try to force a vote* Thursday on a proposal to cut the 1.4 percent pay raise for civilian federal workers that President Obama asked for in his budget for 2011. The vote will mark the second time the GOP has brought a measure to the floor that was selected via their YouCut online poll. The federal pay freeze proposal is the brainchild of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.). But the overall YouCut program is being run by Rep. Eric Cantor (R), who, in addition to being the House minority whip is also a Virginian. And Virginia is chock full of federal employees. According to the Office of Personnel Management, Virginia has the second-most non-defense federal employees in the country, behind only California. (That ranking includes only states. The District has slightly more federal workers than Virginia, while Maryland has slightly fewer.) Despite that demographic fact, Cantor supports the...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 27, 2010; 10:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Ben Pershing , Eric Cantor , Frank R. Wolf  
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Moran hails Obama's decision to halt drilling off Virginia's coast

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, a Northern Virginia Democrat and chairman of the appropriations subcommittee for the interior and environment, praised President Obama for canceling plans to drill for oil and gas off Virginia's coast. "I greatly appreciate the Obama Administration listening to our concerns and wisely pulling back on offshore drilling in light of what is shaping up to be the worst ecological disaster in our nation's history,'' Moran said. "This pragmatic decision will help ensure another catastrophe like the Gulf Coast disaster doesn't repeat itself." Moran, a strong opponent of drilling off Virginia's coast, is holding a hearing Thursday morning on the fatal April 20 fatal explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The Post is reporting that Obama will announce Thursday the cancellation of plans for proposed lease sales off the Virginia coast as well as new lease sales off the coast of Alaska and a six-month ban on...

By Anita Kumar  |  May 27, 2010; 9:55 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Barack Obama , James P. Moran Jr. , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Virginia gun rights leader blasts Cuccinelli over GMU campus gun ban

To compare arch-conservative Ken Cuccinelli to Sarah Brady, who is virtually seen as the mother of the modern gun-control movement -- now those are practically fighting words among gun owners. But that's exactly one of the shots Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, leveled at Attorney General Cuccinelli on Wednesday for the AG's defense of George Mason University's on-campus gun ban. Van Cleave's email blast was entitled: "Et tu, Cuccinelli?" In an open letter to the AG, Van Cleave criticized the legal brief Cuccinelli's office filed May 20 in Digiacinto v. The Rector and Visitors of George Mason University, a Virginia Supreme Court case concerning GMU's ban on guns in their library and other buildings, especially as it applies to non-students. The brief gives a full-throated defense of GMU's right to ban firearms from the campus -- and then some. In his letter, Van Cleave...

By Fredrick Kunkle  |  May 26, 2010; 3:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Fredrick Kunkle , Ken Cuccinelli  
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UPDATED: KPMG recommends a new office to broker public-private transpo deals

A new consultants' report commissioned by Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration recommends that Virginia create a new government office solely devoted to shepherding transportation public-private partnerships. The report from KPMG Corporate Financing suggests appointing a head of the office with the political will to follow through on potential deals. The consultants find that Virginia's program is well established and respected, but suggests deals take too long to be brought to fruition. They recommend creating a dedicating funding stream to fund partnerships and leverage private dollars for transportation projects; focusing on smaller deals, not just megaprojects like the Beltway HOT lanes; and looking for deals for non-highway transportation projects. They also suggest weeding out more unsolicited proposals, deciding earlier in the contract negotiation process whether a proposal that hasn't been sought by the state is worth pursuing at all. McDonnell has said Virginia's procedures for partnering with the private sector to fund...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 26, 2010; 3:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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Loyola picks up Tea Party endorsement in 2nd district GOP primary

The Hampton Roads Tea Party is wading into the Republican primary contest in Virginia's 2nd congressional district, endorsing businessman Ben Loyola as the best GOP candidate to take on Rep. Glenn Nye (D) in November. With the June 8 primary less than two weeks away, the activist group's board announced its decision Wednesday after vetting all five Republicans in the field. "After thoroughly and thoughtfully evaluating the GOP candidates vying for the Second District nod, the Board has decided to make a clear declaration of its support for Mr. Loyola," said Karen Miner Hurd, the founder and chairwoman of the party. Hurd portrayed the decision as not just an endorsement of Loyola but also a public repudiation of auto dealer Scott Rigell, the apparent frontrunner and favorite of the state and national Republican establishment. Rigell's own polling shows him with a huge lead in the race -- both on the...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 26, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Loyola , Ben Pershing , Glenn Nye , Scott Rigell  
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McDonnell says his vetting is fine, Malek's past a 'non-issue'

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) Wednesday defended the vetting that goes into his appointments to government and voluntary posts, a day after he said in a radio interview the he didn't know about businessman Fred Malek's controversial past before naming him to chair a government reform commission. McDonnell said he has chosen good people who he trusts to fill all posts and dismissed criticisms of Malek or the process that led to his selection as the partisan griping of Democrats who don't want to cut government spending. "We're doing a fine job vetting," McDonnell said. "I've known Fred Malek personally for five or six years. He's an outstanding businessman, and he's going to do a great job heading this commission." As an aide to President Richard Nixon, Malek in 1971 drew up a list of employees he believed were Jewish who worked in the Bureau of Labor Statistics, after Nixon feared...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 26, 2010; 2:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Win or lose this summer, Cuccinelli says his health-care suit headed to D.C.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) says he believes Virginia has "a better than even" chance of getting a win at the initial district court level in its suit against the federal government over health-care reform. A judicial declaration that the health-care law is unconstitutional would have national repercussions. "Just statistically, we're most likely to survive standing, and then we have a better than even chance of winning on the merits," he said in an interview Tuesday, a day after the federal government filed a response to his suit. "I wouldn't go farther than that. I wish I could." At the same time, a loss would strengthen the hand of those who have argued that Cuccinelli's suit is frivolous with little chance of success, and, for that reason, Cuccinelli argues his suit is a marathon that will undoubtedly be decided by the Supreme Court. Winning along the way to Washington...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 26, 2010; 1:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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Virginia withdrawing from Race to the Top competition

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) confirmed Wednesday that the state is dropping out of the federal Race to the Top grant competition for school reform funding. Virginia had finished well behind other states and the District of Columbia in the first round of the competition and, absent further legislative action, was not expected to climb in the rankings. The District is reapplying and Maryland is applying for the first time in the second round, with a deadline Tuesday. Race to the Top, a centerpiece of the Obama administration's education agenda, offers $4 billion in federal aid in exchange for state commitment to pursue innovation to improve low-performing schools and other aspects of public education. Delaware and Tennessee won in the first round. McDonnell told reporters Wednesday that he will send a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlining Virginia's reasoning for pulling out of the competition. He said...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 26, 2010; 1:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell  
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Can Jeffrey Clark play the spoiler in race against Perriello?

The race in Virginia's 5th congressional district already has a large and colorful cast of characters. There's the freshman Democrat, Rep. Tom Perriello, seeking to hold on to the Republican-leaning seat in a tough cycle for incumbents. There's the GOP frontrunner, state Sen. Robert Hurt, who looks likely to win the nomination even as some conservatives grumble about his record. And there are the six other Republican candidates, none of whom appear to have the support necessary to topple Hurt in the June 8 primary. Now there's one more player on the stage -- Jeffrey A. Clark, a political novice who so dislikes Hurt that he is threatening to run for the seat as an Independent if Hurt is the Republican nominee. Clark has garnered a burst of media attention in recent weeks, earning stories in the Lynchburg News & Advance, Politico, and even The Fix. All of those clips...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 26, 2010; 10:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Robert Hurt , Tom Perriello  
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Leading Democrat gives McDonnell a thumbs up on his first session

While some Democrats were less than pleased with the performance of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) during his first legislative session, that certainly didn't include the Democrats' most senior legislative leader. In a letter to McDonnell, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Colgan (D) wrote last month that he believed McDonnell had done an "excellent job for a first year governor." "You communicated extremely well with members of the General Assembly, especially the leadership, and you are the first governor I have seen to visit the General Assembly Building visiting with legislators," he wrote. That last bit-- a reference to McDonnell's personal visit to budget negotiators in the waning days of the session-- is really saying something. Colgan has served in the state senate since 1976 and is the senate's president pro tempore. Colgan said he was disappointed not to have received everything he would have liked (he cites specifically psychiatric care...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 26, 2010; 9:25 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Rigell's survey says he's the clear frontrunner in GOP race to face Rep. Nye

Looks like it's "Release a Poll Day" in Virginia's congressional primaries. Auto dealer Scott Rigell has opened up a commanding lead in the 2nd District Republican primary according to a new survey conducted by his campaign, leading a large field of candidates angling to take on Rep. Glenn Nye (D). Rigell's poll, conducted May 17-18 by Public Opinion Strategies, shows him earning 47 percent of the vote in the GOP primary. Army Reserve Gen. Bert Mizusawa is second with 10 percent, followed by businessman Scott Taylor at 9 percent, businessman Ben Loyola at 6 percent and construction contractor Ed Maulbeck at 1 percent. The poll also showed Rigell with the best name identification in the field -- 86 percent -- by a wide margin. "He owns a wide lead on the ballot test that cuts across every subgroup in the poll," writes pollster Patrick Lanne in a memo to Rigell's...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 25, 2010; 1:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Glenn Nye , Scott Rigell  
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UPDATED: McDonnell defends Malek, says he didn't know of his past before appointment

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said today that he was unaware of businessman Fred Malek's helping President Richard M. Nixon track Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1971 or Malek's 2008 (correction: 2004) civil fine related to his consulting firm's work with the Connecticut state pension fund before he asked Malek to serve as chairman of his new 31-member government efficiency commission this month. During his monthly appearance on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" radio show, McDonnell defended his selection of Malek, the former president of Marriott Hotels and Northwest Airlines and a longtime major Republican donor and activist, as exactly the kind of proven leader needed to help find ways to make government run better. He cited major Jewish leaders who have come to Malek's defense and dismissed Malek's role in the Nixon administration as a mistake for which he has atoned and been forgiven. And he said that...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 25, 2010; 12:42 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (44)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Fimian poll shows him leading Herrity in NoVa primary race

Updated 11:45 a.m. A poll released by Oakton businessman Keith Fimian's campaign Tuesday shows him with a double-digit lead over Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity in the Republican primary contest in Virginia's 11th congressional district. The survey -- conducted for Fimian by McLaughlin & Associates May 12-13 -- showed Fimian leading Herrity among likely primary voters, 36 percent to 23 percent. A sizable 41 percent of respondents remained undecided, giving both campaigns more room to grow ahead of the June 8 primary, which will crown a candidate to take on freshman Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) in November. A March survey by the same firm for Fimian showed Herrity in the lead, 29 percent to 17 percent, suggesting that Fimian has been able to gain significant ground in the last two months. Fimian has spent a significant amount of time hammering Herrity for his record on the Fairfax board of supervisors,...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 25, 2010; 10:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Gerald E. Connolly , Keith Fimian , Pat Herrity  
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UPDATED: McDonnell meets with legislative black caucus

Virginia's Legislative Black Caucus had its first official sit-down meeting with Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) last week, days before McDonnell announced a new process for speeding the restoration of voting rights for felons. Members of the caucus had complained that McDonnell's office wasn't doing enough to reach out to them on important issues. Those complaints grew after McDonnell declared April Confederate History Month and then when about 200 nonviolent felons seeking their voting rights received a letter from McDonnell's office asking them to submit a new personal statement to the governor as part of the application. McDonnell's office has said those letters were sent in error and the personal statement is not a part of the process outlined last week. At that time, the governor's office complained the governor wanted to meet with the caucus but was having trouble getting a meeting scheduled. It looks as if those issues have...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 24, 2010; 2:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Has McDonnell's national rehabilitation begun?

If Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is going to have a political resurrection on the national stage, articles like this one will likely help. After getting tagged with the "rising star of the GOP" label for his big win in November in purple Virginia, McDonnell's national prospects, by all accounts, took a huge hit after he issued a proclamation in honor of Confederate History Month that omitted any reference to slavery. For the last month or so, the conversation among the national chattering class about McDonnell was whether a guy who had widely been considered a contender for the vice presidential nomination could ever recover. (He was even the subject of a rather biting joke by Jay Leno at this year's White House Correspondent's Dinner.) In this week's edition of Time, political writer Alex Altman presents the Confederate History Month stumble as a particularly clumsy unforced error by McDonnell and his...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 24, 2010; 11:43 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Why did Fairfax congressional district Republicans cancel their convention?

The Virginia 11th District Republican Committee canceled the convention it was scheduled to hold this past Saturday, two weeks before GOP voters in Fairfax and Prince William counties are set to go to the polls to choose a candidate to talk on Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) in November. The district convention, which was to have been held at West Springfield High School, was meant to allow local activists to hear from the two congressional contenders -- Oakton businessman Keith Fimian and Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity. So why was the event scrapped? "With the primary looming, there were just so many other competing events," said Becky Stoeckel, the district's Republican chairwoman, explaining that both Fimian and Herrity had schedule conflicts. "It just made a lot more sense to cancel the convention and free up one of the final Saturdays before the primary." Aides to both Fimian's and Herrity's campaigns confirmed...

By Ben Pershing  |  May 24, 2010; 11:17 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Gerald E. Connolly , Keith Fimian , Pat Herrity  
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Virginia members of vets activist group urges repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

The battle over the possible repeal of the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy for gay service members is heating up, in Virginia and elsewhere.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 24, 2010; 10:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  James Webb , Rosalind Helderman  
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