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UPDATED: Webb encourages McDonnell to mark Reagan's birthday

Rosalind Helderman

Has Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) out-Reaganed Virginia's Republicans?

Webb, who served as Secretary of the Navy under Reagan before crossing over to the Democratic Party and running for the U.S. Senate in 2006, serves on the 12-member bipartisan Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission, established by Congress to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Republican president next year.

In a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell (R)--and an accompanying press release--Webb Thursday called on state officials to "take appropriate measures" to mark the occasion, noting that other states have adopted resolutions in honor of the event and encouraging Virginia to follow suit.

For Republicans, honoring Reagan is not an activity that generally takes a Democrat's encouragement.

And, indeed, it's worth noting that the General Assembly in 2008 designated Feb. 6, Reagan's birthday, as "Ronald Reagan Day" in Virginia. All members of the General Assembly voted in favor of the resolution with the exception of Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake). And McDonnell issued a proclamation honoring the day this year.

In his letter, Webb asks McDonnell to let him know if he can help organize events in Virginia and says he believes Reagan's legacy should be honored in a bipartisan fashion. He notes the University of Virginia will host a conference on Reagan's "Impact on the World" in February of 2011.

"More than twenty years ago, President Reagan inspired this nation after a period of extraordinary turmoil and self-doubt," Webb said in a statement. "I believe it is entirely fitting that we reexamine his legacy today as our nation faces serious challenges at home and abroad."

UPDATE 4:39 p.m.: In case you were concerned, Webb is not the only one who loves the Gipper. "President Ronald Reagan was one of America's greatest sons, and a visionary President. He led our country through very difficult times both here at home and abroad. The 100th anniversary of his birth will rightfully be celebrated in the Commonwealth. The Governor has previously declared February 6th, Ronald Reagan Day in Virginia. In the coming months we will announce additional plans to commemorate President Reagan's centennial in the Commonwealth. We appreciate Senator Webb's letter, and we will be reaching out to him to join us in this effort. We know, as a former member of the Reagan Administration, that he will bring valuable insights to the Centennial observance," said McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson.

By Rosalind Helderman  | October 7, 2010; 3:18 PM ET
Categories:  James Webb, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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