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Virginia Politics Blog: August 8, 2010 - August 14, 2010

Bipartisan Virginia congressional delegation protests planned military cut

Both of Virginia's U.S. senators joined a bipartisan group of congressmen from the Hampton Roads area Friday in signing a letter protesting Defense Secretary Robert Gates's decision this week to close the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 13, 2010; 2:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Glenn Nye , James Webb , Mark Warner , Rob Wittman , Rosalind Helderman  
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NoVa lawyer, former campaign operative named McDonnell deputy counselors

Two well-known Republican activists were named deputy counselors to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) Friday. The announcements came in a batch of appointments to boards and commissions announced by McDonnell. The first, prominent Loudoun land use attorney J. Randall Minchew, has been the managing partner of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, Emrich, and Walsh firm in Loudoun County since 1998....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  |  August 13, 2010; 1:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell's PAC brings in big donations

Gov. Bob McDonnell's political action committee been raising big money since the committee filed its last campaign finance report on July 1. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, McDonnell's Opportunity Virginia has brought in more than $100,000 in July and August in donations that are each $10,000 or more, including a $10,000 donation from a lobbying firm representing a new retail coalition pushing for privatization of state-owned liquor stores....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 13, 2010; 11:40 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Liquor privatization , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Another option for ABC privatization: sell stock

Could Virginia privatize its state-owned liquor system by selling stock in the system to interested investors? That was a proposal hatched in the late 1990s under then Gov. Jim Gilmore (R)--later presented to a newly-elected Gov. Mark Warner (D). According to an analysis conducted at the time by J.P. Morgan, Virginia could earn up to $850 million by creating a new corporation to run the Alcohol Beverage Control system and selling stock in the new company. And that analysis was based on ABC's profits in the 1990s, which have since grown considerably. Based on today's dollars, one investment banker who informally consulted on the proposal said he believed the state could get $1.5 to $2 billion for the system. That kind of cash would eclipse the $500 million Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has said he hopes to get in upfront money for road improvements by going private....

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 12, 2010; 5:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Environmental groups call for permanent ban to drilling off Virginia coast

A pair of environmental groups and a former Navy captain Thursday called for a permanent ban to drilling off Virginia's coast following the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Joe Bouchard, a former Navy captain and former Democratic legislator, told reporters on a conference call that offshore drilling can -- and has -- interfered with Defense Department training ranges. He also said that an oil spill off Virginia's coast could cause "more damage than a terrorist attack on Naval forces based in Hampton Roads" and said no decision on drilling should be made until the impact of spill on the Navy is studied. The BP spill, which leaked more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf before it was contained, has resulted in 300,000 lost jobs and cost $22.7 billion, according to officials from the Sierra Club and Chesapeake Climate Action Network, who were on the...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 12, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell appeals to feds for immigration tool to train troopers

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) sent a letter this week officially asking U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to allow state troopers to act as immigration and customs agents

By Anita Kumar  |  August 12, 2010; 1:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (21)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Congress to scrutinize rationale for military contracting cuts

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold hearings on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision to cut the Pentagon's military contracting budget by 10 percent a year for the next three years. The hearings come in response to a request by U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), his office said. Connolly requested further congressional oversight into Gates' decision in a letter to the subcommittee's chairwoman sent Wednesday. "While I commend the Secretary's goal of better controlling defense costs, I question the justification for such actions," he wrote. "These latest proposals no doubt will have significant ramifications on federal management, staffing and procurement, and they deserve tougher scrutiny before we sink additional time and resources into such an effort without having a better idea of whether it will in fact produce the desired results." Virginia's congressional delegation has been protesting the Defense Department budget shifts since they...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 12, 2010; 11:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Gerald E. Connolly , Rosalind Helderman  
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Northern Virginia faces big hit from Gates' contractor cut, tech council says

The Northern Virginia Technology Council is sounding the alarm about the possible impact of a Defense Department decision to cut the military contracting budget 10 percent a year for the next three years. NVTC President and CEO Bobbie Kilberg said Wednesday the effects of the cut on Northern Virginia, which is thick with technology companies that hold defense contracts, could be "quite devastating." Most of the reaction from the state's political leadership since Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his plan to slow the growth of his budget has focused on Gates' announcement of the closure of the Joint Forces Command in Hampton Roads. More than 5,000 jobs in Norfolk and Suffolk could be lost from the closure. But the contracting cut could be just as significant for the Washington area, long the state's economic engine. Kilberg estimated that 65 to 70 percent of NVTC's member companies--which include businesses that range...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  |  August 11, 2010; 5:07 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Gerald E. Connolly , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Republicans governors group sends out video featuring McDonnell

Republicans credit Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's win last year -- along with that of Gov. Chris Christie's in New Jersey -- with starting a GOP resurgence. So it's no surprise that the Republican Governors Association, looking to win some of the 37 gubernatorial races in November, is featuring McDonnell in a sleek new video that came out Tuesday to mark 12 weeks until Election Day. Other faces you may recognize are Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman of California and Nikki Haley of South Carolina. 12 Weeks from Republican Governors Association on Vimeo. See below for the RGA's previous video, marking 13 weeks until the election. The videos were sent to thousands of supporters across the nation....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 11, 2010; 2:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Petersen says thanks, and not exactly no thanks, to gubernatorial buzz

State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) says he does not intend to run for governor in 2013--but he's not exactly ruling his candidacy out either. Petersen's name has gotten some buzz on left-leaning blogs in the last couple of days. Ben Tribbett posted a nifty video on his site Tuesday suggesting a Petersen run is the only way to stop Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) from winning the governor's mansion in 2013. (That's assuming Cuccinelli runs for governor in three years, of course; the voluble attorney general maintains he plans to run for reelection.) It turns out Tribbett and fellow blogger Lowell Feld aren't the only ones talking up Petersen as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate. A Roanoke man launched a "draft Chap" website and accompanying Facebook page some months ago. Not so fast, Petersen said. "Politics is entertainment, and people want to throw my name out there to be entertaining,"...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  |  August 11, 2010; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Bill Bolling , Ken Cuccinelli , Leslie L. Byrne , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , Terry McAuliffe  
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McDonnell helps bring National Governors Association meeting to Virginia

Just in time for the next vice presidential sweepstakes, the National Governors Association announced Wednesday morning it will hold its annual meeting in Virginia in July 2012. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) lobbied to have the meeting in Colonial Williamsburg. "There is no more fitting location for a meeting of America's governors than our nation's birthplace,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "Just as the Founders debated the matters of their day, we will discuss the issues of ours. While separated by centuries, we are part of the same journey. I look forward to hosting this great event, and the opportunity to continue to tell the story of Virginia, which is the story of America." It will be the fourth time the group has held its annual meeting in Virginia. Past meetings were in Richmond in 1912 and 1932. The 1957 meeting was held in Williamsburg. "NGA meetings are an opportunity to...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 11, 2010; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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UPDATED: Virginia to accept new federal aid for states

Virginia will reap a windfall from a $26 billion state aid bill signed into law by President Obama Tuesday. Included in the bill is $540 million for the Commonwealth, including more than $400 million in Medicaid funding that will plug a hole that had threatened to open in the Virginia budget. When the General Assembly adopted a two-year budget in April, it included deep cuts in the state's Medicaid program. At the time, they promised they would put most of those cuts aside if Congress approved the boosted federal aid. Back in April, it appeared approval was likely. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) had signed a letter, along with other governors, supporting the federal aid. But in recent months, Republicans had come out against the state aid package and the funding was appeared in jeopardy. Virginia had been facing a problem because the cuts the legislature agreed would go into effect...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  |  August 10, 2010; 5:40 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Computer problems wreak havoc at Virginia DMVs statewide

A computer glitch caused problems at all 74 Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles offices across the state Monday. Hundreds of people who came into receive a new license or renew a license were turned away between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Other transactions, such as decals or titles, were processed normally throughout the day. The Virginia DMV was unable to access the National Driver Registry, a nationwide computer system used by DMVs across the country to check driver information against the databases of other states. It's the second time in a week that Virginia has lost connection to National Driver Registry....

By Anita Kumar  |  August 10, 2010; 4:47 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Pentagon cuts spark war of words between Nye, Rigell in 2nd district race

The Pentagon's decision to close the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk has quickly become the latest flashpoint in the area's hotly-contested House race, as freshman Rep. Glenn Nye (D) and his Republican challenger trade barbs over the move.

By Ben Pershing  |  August 10, 2010; 2:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Ben Pershing , Election 2010 , Glenn Nye , Scott Rigell  
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Some Republicans skeptical of McDonnell's ABC privatization plan

As Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) travels the state to convince residents Virginia should privatize its state-owned liquor system, he faces a hurdle closer to home: several members of his own party are skeptical about the idea. Del. Tom Gear (R-Hampton),this who chairs the Alcohol Beverage Control subcommittee of the House General Laws committee -- the group likely to be the first to consider the plan if the governor calls a special session this fall-- said Tuesday that he has "reservations." Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), who has for eight years chaired a committee that has examined proposals to privatize various state services, including liquor stores, said he's "predisposed not to support the concept." And Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) said he wants to make sure residents support abolishing a system that was first established by a statewide vote. He's considering introducing a bill to require a referendum on the idea, a...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 10, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Liquor privatization , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Gear not following other politicians in returning U.S. Navy Vet donation

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli recently joined other state politicians in donating campaign contributions he received from the Florida director of a questionable veterans charity--leaving only Del. Tom Gear (R-Hampton) among officials who have not yet relinquished donations from the man. And, it appears that's how things will remain, at least for the moment. Gear said Tuesday that he does not plan to give away the $2,000 he received from the man last summer, despite an announcement by the Ohio Attorney General's office last week that they have issued an arrest warrant for the man who had been using the name Bobby Thompson, alleging that he has committed identity fraud. The man known as Bobby Thompson, a director of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, has given thousands in campaign contributions to Republicans around the country. Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray now calls the group a "sham charity" that does not...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 10, 2010; 11:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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Updated: Prince William chairman says federal officials agree to turn over immigration data

Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said federal immigration officials have agreed to turn over all the information he asked for after a nun was killed last week in a car crash in which an illegal immigrant was suspected of driving the second car.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 9, 2010; 6:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Corey Stewart , Immigration  
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Pentagon axes agencies, thousands of jobs

Update: 5:46 p.m.: Gates says Pentagon to cut thousands of jobs. An announcement expected this afternoon from Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the Pentagon will shutter the Joint Forces Command in the Norfolk area, and trim the defense contracting force by 10 percent over the next year could rock the Virginia and Washington regional economy. The AP reports that Gates will announce the cuts as part of a plan to reduce the Pentagon's budget by billions. JFCOM employs 4,900 people, most of them civilians, who earn a combined $200 million a year. One of the Pentagon's 10 combat commands, JFCOM is charged with training military personnel from the different service branches to work together; it controls 1 million square-feet of office space in Norfolk and Suffolk. Meanwhile, the Northern Virginia economy has been cushioned during the recession by the vast expansion of civilian defense contracting in the wake of the...

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 9, 2010; 2:28 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Glenn Nye , Rob Wittman , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell: ABC privatization will not boost crime, consumption or drunk driving

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said this morning that he does not think his proposal to privatize the state's 332 liquor stores will result in an increase in car crashes, crime or consumption. "All the data shows there is no difference in drunk driving or crime whatsoever between control states and between privatized states,'' McDonnell said on his monthly call-in show on WNIS in Norfolk. "There are only 18 states that only have the government monopoly on the distribution of alcohol, but not beer or wine and Virginia's one of them. I think it's a vestige of the past.'' McDonnell also said in an interview last week with The Washington Post that he does not think that Virginians will drink more alcohol if the state allows private companies to open a total of 800 stores, as is being considered. But, he said, 15 to 20 percent of residents will be more...

By Anita Kumar  |  August 9, 2010; 12:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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McDonnell, Granholm square off on CNN's 'State of the Union'

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said Sunday morning on CNN's "State of the Union'' that a federal judge was wrong "to overturn the will of the people" when he threw out California's ban on same-sex marriage.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 8, 2010; 10:38 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Immigration , Robert F. McDonnell  
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