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Kagan's stance on military recruiters at issue in Perriello contest in Virginia

It didn't take long for the debate surrounding President Obama's latest Supreme Court nominee to start trickling from the Senate down into lower-level races.

On Tuesday, the campaign of state Sen. Robert Hurt, the leading Republican candidate in the contest to unseat Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in Virginia's 5th district, blasted out a release demanding to know where Perriello stands on Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination to the high court.

Of course, Perriello isn't a member of the Senate, so he won't get to vote on Kagan's confirmation. But Hurt wants the Democrat to speak up anyway, primarily because of Kagan's controversial decision to ban military recruiters from Harvard Law School when she was the school's dean.

"Solicitor General Kagan's decision to bar military recruiters from campus because she disagreed with [t]he 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy - a policy with wide bipartisan support - signals a left-wing worldview that is out-of-touch with everyday Virginians," Hurt said in the release, wondering whether "this nomination is just the latest in a long string of presidential policies that Rep. Perriello blindly supports."

In a conservative district with a strong military presence, Hurt is hoping the recruiter issue will resonate. More broadly, Hurt and the other Republicans seeking to oppose Perriello all hope to paint the incumbent as moving in lockstep with Obama, who is not particularly popular in the district. Perriello has voted with the White House on some issues -- including a cap-and-trade energy bill and health reform -- while opposing Obama on others, and has emphasized that he makes his own decisions.

Perriello's campaign declined to say what he thinks of Kagan and her record, but the Democrat's shop did send a sharp response from a surrogate.

"After blowing his lead in the Republican primary, Robert Hurt's desperation is showing," said Fred Hudson, chair of the 5th District Democratic Committee. "Maybe he should start reading the Constitution and learn that Senators, not members of the House, approve nominees to the Supreme Court. We'll happily mail him a copy."

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By Ben Pershing  |  May 11, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Robert Hurt , Tom Perriello  | Tags: Elena Kagan  
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You talk about "a strong military presence" in the Fifth District, as though that is one reason that the Fifth District will react particularly strongly to Elena Kagan's nomination... But you are operating off an incorrect premise.

First -- there is no military installation in the Fifth District. In the 2000 Census, there was not one person housed in military quarters in the Fifth District. We have a couple of military offices here -- the JAG School and NGIC in Charlottesville, for example -- but no military quarters in the District.

Second -- according to various Census and Veterans Affairs websites (they differ, for some reason), the number of people in the Fifth who are veterans is about 10.9%, or about 68,000 -- below the Virginia average.

The average Fifth District voter has a great deal of respect for the military, but it is not because some unusual number of Fifth District voters are veterans or active duty military.

Posted by: cvllelaw | May 11, 2010 10:59 PM | Report abuse

What if voters in the 5th District actually support equality in military service?

Posted by: Anglo_Rider | May 12, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

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