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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 12/17/2010

Democrats accuse Republicans of playing 'games' on transportation

By Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman

Last week, state Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins wrote to every Democratic legislator asking them to submit ideas for how to solve the state's transportation problems if they didn't like Gov. Bob McDonnell's proposal to borrow $2.9 billion over the next three years for roads and bridges.

Mullins said he would set up a box in the atrium of party headquarters for legislators to drop off proposals. "I'll personally carry each and every idea that you and your colleagues bring to us over to Capitol Square and present them to the Governor,'' he wrote.

But his gimmick resulted in a flurry of letters -- not to McDonnell -- but to Mullins this week.

"Your party controls two of the three bodies necessary to pass legislation, the House of Delegates and the Governor. The people expect you to lead,'' House Democratic Caucus Chairman Ken Plum wrote in his
letter. "I do not think that your explanation in the next election cycle for your failure to lead that 'Democrats did not give us any ideas' will likely resonate favorably with voters."

"Thank you for taking me back to the good ole days when we could count on you to get our people pumped and to the polls on Election Day,'' Del. Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax) said. "A good high schoolish taunt over the internet is not quite as good as debating you face to face, and I apologize for such a wonkish response, but I tell my constituents that we are simply going to have to wait out the next three years for a meaningful opening to restore the purchasing power of our dedicated transportation revenues to 1986 levels. I would be happy to be proven wrong."

Sen. Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) said an interview that Republicans are not being truthful when they say Democrats have not advanced ideas on transportation. He noted that he responded to a letter from McDonnell in November inviting ideas on transportation. Some of his proposals then reappeared in McDonnell's recent announcement.

"I did not even receive an acknowledgment that it had come in," he said. "It turns out, when I read bits and pieces of the governor's announcement, I thought, well, that sounds familiar ... I want to work on problems in a bipartisan way. But it sounds like, with the governor's approval, these are the kind of games that are going to be played."

By Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 17, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate, Transportation  
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