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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 02/22/2011

McDonnell tapped as speaker for 2011 Shad Planking

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell knows how to tell a good joke or two.

So it's no wonder that the folks at the Shad Planking have asked him to return for the third time to be their speaker.

The speeches at Shad -- the curious Virginia political tradition named for the bony, oily fish -- are always lighthearted. Candidates who appear together often roast each other.

McDonnell (R) spoke in 2006 as attorney general and then again in 2009 alongside gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran. (Creigh Deeeds did the unthinkable and skipped that year even though the event is generally considered a must-do for statewide candidates.) An official announcement is not expected until next week, but we hear McDonnell has been asked and has agreed to speak again this year.

More than 1,000 people are expected at the April 20 event, where candidates set up booths and dole out free beer, cigars and hot dogs.

The Shad Planking dates to the 1930s, when a small group of friends gathered to celebrate the migratory running of the shad in the James River. As the event grew in popularity, the Wakefield Ruritan Club took it over in 1949 and moved it to a woodsy sportsmen's club in Sussex County, one hour southeast of Richmond.

For decades, the Shad Planking was a good-old-boy event where the state's Democratic machine anointed Virginia politicians. It has evolved into a place for candidates to mingle with political insiders, many of whom drive down from Richmond.

By Anita Kumar  | February 22, 2011; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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