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Virginia Politics Blog: October 17, 2010 - October 23, 2010

McDonnells show off governor's mansion to FOX's Greta Van Susteren

Gov. Bob McDonnell and First Lady Maureen McDonnell gave FOX News Channel's Greta Van Susteren a tour of Virginia's governor's mansion. The Executive Mansion, designed by Alexander Parris and located on historic Capitol Square, is the oldest occupied governor's mansion in the nation. It has served as home for the state's chief executives and their families since 1813. Van Susteren taped the segement with the McDonnells while in Richmond earlier this week for oral arguments in Virginia's case against the federal government over health-care. Check out the clip that aired Friday night: Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com...

By Anita Kumar  | October 23, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Reports show Fimian, Boucher, Rigell among cash leaders in Va.

New fundraising reports show candidates in all four of Virginia's competitive congressional races are still raking in cash, with Republicans holding the financial edge in two races and Democrats leading the way in the other two.

By Ben Pershing  | October 22, 2010; 3:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Glenn Nye, Keith Fimian, Morgan Griffith, Rick Boucher, Scott Rigell, Tom Perriello  
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No special session for liquor privatization, McDonnell announces

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has announced he will not call the General Assembly into a special session this fall to consider his proposal to privatize state-run liquor stores. The announcement had been widely anticipated as McDonnell's proposal faced mounting opposition from Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. But the governor's acknowledgement that he does not have enough votes to pass the plan, a key campaign promise that he had said repeatedly he hoped the legislature would take up before Jan. 1, is a significant political loss. In a lengthy statement, McDonnell recommitted himself to the idea but acknowledged he needs more time to build support with lawmakers. He pledged to introduce a bill that would privatize the state's Alcohol Beverage Control system on the first day of the General Assembly's regular session in January. "We will privatize Virginia's ABC stores. The only question is one of timing," he said...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 22, 2010; 12:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Rigell won't commit to backing Boehner, Cantor

Add auto dealer Scott Rigell (R) to the growing list of candidates from both sides of the aisle who won't commit to backing their parties' current leaders when the next Congress begins.

By Ben Pershing  | October 22, 2010; 9:49 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Eric Cantor, Glenn Nye, Scott Rigell  
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McDonnell joins GOP governors on national tour in final election push

As part of a final push to get out the vote before the Nov. 2 election, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and four other Republican governors will embark on a tour across the nation. The Oct. 26-30 swing will take McDonnell to Iowa, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Others on the tour include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was elected in 2009 along with McDonnell; Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour; chairman of the Republican Governors Association; and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana; both considered rising stars in the party and possible presidential candidates. "This campaign season has become a battle between rhetoric and reality," RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. "To distract from their failed economic record and ideas, Democrats nationally are repeating the same old, unfounded charges about Republican candidates that they used last year against Governors Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell." The full schedule of...

By Anita Kumar  | October 22, 2010; 8:35 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Updated: McDonnell asks state agencies to look for budget cuts

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) has asked state agencies to look for budget cuts of up to 6 percent as he searches for ways to pay for his priorities -- economic development, higher education and transportation -- without raising taxes. In a memo sent Thursday, McDonnell's Chief of Staff Martin Kent asked agency heads to submit plans to cut the equivalent of 2, 4 and 6 percent of their general fund dollars for fiscal year 2012. "The Governor must prioritize the state's budget to address the most critical needs, the increases in mandated services, and the programs that will revitalize the Commonwealth's economy,'' Kent wrote. "This means that he must evaluate the entire budget to assess the value of the lowest priority spending against the above demands." The proposals are due Nov. 5. McDonnell will present amendments to the state's two-year budget to the General Assembly on Dec. 17....

By Anita Kumar  | October 21, 2010; 4:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Are Internet gaming cafes illegal? Maybe, maybe not, Cuccinelli says

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has issued an opinion declaring so-called "free spin" gambling machines illegal under some circumstances. The opinion is especially interesting because Cuccinelli over the summer issued an opinion declaring that in some circumstances, they are legal. At issue are small shops that include computerized machines--they often resemble slot machines--where the user gets a chance to win cash prizes. But, unlike traditional gaming devices, users also get something of value. Some Internet cafes gives users computer services like Internet time. Other shops offer DVD rental coupons or phone cards. The shops have been cropping up across Virginia. Police in Virginia Beach recently raided 12 Internet cafes that offered users of the machines Internet time in exchange for their wager. Authorities in Spotsylvania shut down two tobacco stores with DVD rental machines. Supporters of the establishments say the machines aren't gambling. Instead, they give people the chance...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 21, 2010; 3:53 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Fairfax County asks state for money from VDOT audit

Virginia's largest county wants a little bit of the state's newly "discovered" transportation money. Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, wrote a letter this week to Virginia Transportation Sean Connaughton outlining nearly $350-million worth of projects the county would like to pay for with money from the state. Last month, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) announced that he will spend almost $1.5 billion on transportation improvements over the next six years after a new audit of the Virginia Department of Transportation found that hundreds of millions of dollars have been sitting unspent in various accounts for several years. The bulk of the money came from construction and maintenance accounts or federal money that was never allocated to any projects. Fairfax officials are asking the state to help pay for both maintenance and construction projects. "Increased roadway and transit capacity is essential to maintain and strengthen Virginia's economy,''...

By Anita Kumar  | October 21, 2010; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell, Transportation  
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UPDATED: U-Va. once again asks judge to set aside Cuccinelli subpoena

The University of Virginia has asked a judge to stay a subpoena by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli seeking documents related to a former climate science professor while the Virginia Supreme Court weighs in on Cuccinelli's efforts. The school already had signaled it planned to fight Cuccinelli's latest efforts to get e-mails and files about global warming researcher Michael Mann, who worked at the school from 1999 to 2005. The university successfully fended off an initial attempt by Cuccinelli to get the documents when an Albermarle Circuit Court judge ruled that Cuccinelli's civil investigative demand had failed to state why he needed the documents. Cuccinelli has said he wants to see whether an investigation into whether Mann committed fraud as he sought state money for research is warranted. Cuccinelli has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court and meanwhile rewritten a new civil investigative demand. In court filings submitted late...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 21, 2010; 1:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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NoVa airwaves thick with ads from 11th district race

If voters in Northern Virginia didn't know before that a heated race is underway between Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) and Oakton budinessman Keith Fimian (R), they surely do now -- unless they don't own a television.

By Ben Pershing  | October 21, 2010; 10:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Keith Fimian  
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Deeds on McDonnell's liquor plan: "It's ludicrous"

Gov. Bob McDonnell's former gubernatorial rival says his plan to raise money for roads by selling state-run liquor stores is "ludicrous." Speaking to college students at the University of Virginia Wednesday night, Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds (Bath) said fixing the state's clogged roads is a multi-year, multi-billion dollar project. "For those folks to talk about fixing roads by selling liquor stores for half a billion dollars insults the intelligence of Virginians," he said. Deeds said he's not opposed to the concept of privatization, provided it doesn't result in a yearly loss to the state's general fund. But he said McDonnell's current proposal--which would privatize both the wholesale and retail sale of liquor, triple the number of outlets that sell hard liquor and produce a one-time windfall of $458 million for transportation but a $47 million annual loss to the state's general fund--is going nowhere. He said the proposal reminded...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 21, 2010; 10:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Creigh Deeds, General Assembly 2010, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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McDonnell to welcome Forbes to governor's mansion

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will entertain former presidential candidate Steve Forbes at the executive mansion Wednesday evening at a reception for the business magazine named for his family.

By Anita Kumar  | October 20, 2010; 4:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Virginia to raise some speed limits

A Virginia Department of Transportation official has recommended raising the speed limit on 587 miles of interstates to 70 miles per hour. Major urban areas and places where the existing speed limit is below 65 miles per hour would be excluded under the plan recommended by Connie Sorrell, VDOT's chief of systems operation.

By Michael Bolden  | October 20, 2010; 3:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Senate Republicans hire Cox to help with next year's elections

Republicans looking to take back control of the state Senate have agreed to hire Gov. Bob McDonnell's top political adviser to help them with next year's crucial elections.

By Anita Kumar  | October 20, 2010; 2:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race, Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2010, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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McDonnell meets with economic advisers

Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) kicked off the budget season by convening the first meeting of the Joint Advisory Board of Economists since his inauguration. The group will examine the state of the national economy and its impact on Virginia. The information from Wednesday's meeting will be used next month at the meeting of the Governor's Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates, which will help McDonnell devise the revenue estimates for the state. "Most years we're pretty close -- even with wild economic fluctuations," McDonnell told the group before the meeting was closed to the public. The governor told members -- state legislators and economists from around the nation -- that Virginia was gradually coming out of the global recession, which officially ended in June 2009. (For those of you who follow Virginia's budget process closely, you'll notice that the group's name has changed since its last meeting under former governor Tim...

By Anita Kumar  | October 20, 2010; 11:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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Senator Stuart votes in a county where he does not live

For more than two years, State Sen. Richard Stuart (R) has been voting in a county in which he does not live. State law says Virginians must vote where they reside except in rare cases when a person moves temporarily and is allowed to maintain a previous address for voting until the next general election for federal office but only if he remains in the same congressional district and has notified electon officials at a polling place. Stuart, elected in 2007, lived in the Montross area of Westmoreland County, but moved to Stafford County soon after he sworn into office in January 2008. Both counties are in his senatorial district. Voting records obtained by The Washington Post show Stuart voted in Montross in both 2008 and 2009. Stuart acknowledged in an interview last week that he did not change his voter registration because he voted in Montross for years, and...

By Anita Kumar  | October 20, 2010; 8:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race, 2009 Governor's Race, 2009 Lieutenant Governor's Race, Anita Kumar, Election 2009, House of Delegates, State Senate  
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Updated: Rigell condemns another racist e-mail in Va. Beach

For the second time in as many days, 2nd district congressional candidate Scott Rigell has put out a statement condemning a racist email sent by a prominent fellow Virginia Beach Republican.

By Ben Pershing  | October 19, 2010; 4:43 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Scott Rigell, Tom Perriello  
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GOP star Cuccinelli to campaign in New Jersey, Oklahoma

You don't have to take our word for it that Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) is a rising star in conservative circles nationwide. Take the word of the Americans for Prosperity chapter in New Jersey, where Cuccinelli is the keynote speaker at a big weekend event. "Rising Conservative Star, Leading Opponent of Obamacare Will Headline Rally of Conservative Activists," the group writes in the headline of a statement announcing the Saturday event. The group says their "Remember November" event will be the largest pre-election gathering of conservatives in the tri-state area. Cuccinelli will attend, fresh off his latest round of TV appearances following Monday's hearing in his lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 19, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Radtke said she will consider running for office

Jamie Radtke, chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation and lead organizer of Virginia's first tea party convention, has not ruled out running for elected office.

By Anita Kumar  | October 19, 2010; 2:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Alexandria real estate revenue higher than expected

Alexandria appears to be slowly coming back from the recession. Early reports show that the city's real property tax revenues have increased by 1.68 percent this year, creating nearly $9.5 million more in the fiscal 2011 budget than originally anticipated.

By Christy Goodman  | October 19, 2010; 1:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Alexandria, Christy Goodman  
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Senate Republicans agree to withhold public comment on ABC privatization plan

We know Senate Democrats are generally opposed to Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to privatize the state's 76-year-old liquor monopoly. And we know some House Republicans have criticized the plan, leading the governor's staff to be miffed. So where does that leave the Senate Republicans on the issue? Sen. Tommy Norment, the Republican leader in the senate, said in an interview, that his caucus's 18 members have met to talk about McDonnell's proposal, but made a pact to withhold public comments -- both praise or criticism -- for now. Norment said he knows some might accuse Senate Republicans of getting off too easy by expressing no public opinion on the plan, but he said he sees no need to get involved when the plan is constantly changing. He said senators like to be "more measured and deliberative in their comments" rather than "pop off at the legislative mouth." "We decided...

By Anita Kumar  | October 19, 2010; 10:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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Loudoun supervisor Lori Waters won't seek re-election

Loudoun supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) confirmed reports Monday that she will not seek re-election in 2011. Waters plans to formally announce her decision at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, she said. Waters, who lives in Lansdowne with her husband and two young children, said she arrived at her decision over the summer for family reasons. "My husband and I took a vacation and we just had a heart-to-heart talk about what would be best for our family over these next four years," Waters said. "We decided that it would be best not to run for re-election. As far as I know, I'm the first female supervisor to have two children while serving ... I have two little ones at home and I only have so many hours in the day." She will continue to work part-time with Imagine Schools, a national charter school advocacy organization based in...

By Caitlin Gibson  | October 19, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Caitlin Gibson, Loudoun County  
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Updated: Va. Beach GOP head resigns over racist email

The chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Party faced pressure to resign Monday after he allegedly forwarded a racist email that ended up on the Internet.

By Ben Pershing  | October 18, 2010; 8:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Glenn Nye, Scott Rigell  
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Today in Tommy Norment's Voice Mail: Oct. 18 edition

There is one Virginia politician whose voice mail message is so routinely educational and amusing that listening to it can be almost a pleasure.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 18, 2010; 5:52 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  General Assembly 2010, Sarah Palin, State Senate  
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Updated: Some Republicans who oppose Allen form Facebook page

Some Virginia conservative Republicans and tea party activists have formed a Facebook page opposing a comeback by former Senator and Governor George Allen, who is contemplating running against Sen. Jim Webb in 2012. As of Monday afternoon, 103 people liked the "Republicans AGAINST a George Allen 'comeback' page." They include Jeff Frederick, former chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia; Jamie Radtke, chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation and lead organizer of the recent state convention in Richmond (who used to work for Allen); Karen Hurd, founder of a Hampton Roads tea party group; and Shaun Kenney; a conservative blogger and member of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors. Update, 5:45 p.m. Radtke, who worked for Allen for a year when he was governor after she graduated from college, said she thinks it's time for a new candidate to step forward. She blamed Allen for being part of...

By Anita Kumar  | October 18, 2010; 4:34 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, George F. Allen, James Webb  
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Perriello faces traffic charge after Friday accident

Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) has been charged with making an unsafe lane change following an accident Friday night in which a pickup truck driven by the lawmaker collided with an SUV in Nottoway County, according to media reports.

By Ben Pershing  | October 18, 2010; 4:25 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Robert Hurt, Tom Perriello  
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Beer, wine wholesalers shower legislators with money

Virginia's beer and wine wholesalers have been showering legislators with money since Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) began lobbying them about privatizing the state's liquor system. Since July 1, the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association political action committee has donated $39,649 and the Virginia Wine Wholesalers Association has donated $31,500, according to new figures released Monday by the Virginia Public Access Project, a non-partisan tracker of money in politics. Top recipients: House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) and Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (D-Fairfax) received $15,000 each from both groups. Most other legislators received small donations of $500, $750 and $1,000 donations. McDonnell wants to privatize sales of distilled spirits from wholesale to distribution to retail as a way to to provide a one-time windfall of at least $458 million for roads. But he's run into hurdles in both the House and Senate. Last month, the beer and wine wholesalers came out against...

By Anita Kumar  | October 18, 2010; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, House of Delegates, Liquor privatization, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate  
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Federal judge says he'll rule on Virginia's health care challenge by Jan. 1

A federal judge for the Eastern District of Virginia said Monday that he would rule on the constitutionality of the federal health care law by the end of the year, a key legal test for the sweeping legislation. In a packed Richmond courtroom, U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson heard more than two hours of oral arguments by lawyers acting on behalf of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and the Obama administration. The suit is one of more than 15 that have been brought across the country challenging the measure and one of two brought by Republican attorneys general. Virginia's suit is separate from a case filed in Florida jointly by 20 other states. Hudson, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002, told the lawyers that he planned to review the arguments and "mine deeply" briefings in the case before ruling....

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 18, 2010; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Barack Obama, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Federal judge hears suit against health care law

A federal judge in Virginia will hear arguments Monday on whether the new federal health-care law is unconstitutional. Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R) will argue that Congress overstepped its constitutional authority by enacting a provision that requires individuals to purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine. Lawyers for President Obama will tell the judge that the individual insurance mandate falls within Congress' constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce. The lawsuit is one of more than 15 filed across the country challenging the health-care law and one of two state-level attempts to kill the law in the courts. A separate suit filed jointly by 20 states in Florida is moving somewhat more slowly through the court system. A judge ruled Friday that the Florida suit can proceed to trial. Eastern District of Virginia Judge Henry E. Hudson already rejected a motion from the federal government asking that...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | October 18, 2010; 6:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Barack Obama, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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