Archive: Creigh Deeds

Posted at 10:53 AM ET, 11/ 8/2009

McDonnell on Sunday morning talk shows

Virginia Gov.-Elect Bob McDonnell fielded questions on a pair of Sunday morning talk shows about what his landslide victory Tuesday taught Republicans nationwide about running -- and winning.

"Stick to your conservative principles and focus on the quality-of life-issues,'' McDonnell told host Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday.

McDonnell said he focused on local and state issues, such as jobs and traffic, and a handful of federal issues that residents were concerned about, including the cap-and-trade and card check bills pending in Congress.

He also told CNN's State of the Union with John King that it was important to keep a positive message and focus on results. "I think if we do that Republicans have bright days ahead," he said.

In answer to questions from both hosts, McDonnell said he would not shy away from social issues but that they would not be his top focus. He gave us a similar answer in the days after his election.

"I've got to focus on creating jobs, improving the economy and managing this budget,'' he told Wallace. "That's what people overwhelmingly elected me to do and that's going to be my focus.''

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Posted at 12:10 PM ET, 11/ 4/2009

Gibbs calls Deeds underdog, praises Kaine

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at a gaggle this morning that Democrat Creigh Deeds was always the underdog in the race against Republican Bob McDonnell for Virginia governor.

He mentioned a fact that we are well aware of here in Virginia: Since 1977, no party that has won the White House has gone on to capture Virginia's governorship the next year.

"Given that sort of history, Creigh Deeds was always the underdog,'' Gibbs said.

If you were wondering what the Virginia and New Jersey losses mean for outgoing Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Gibbs's comments should help clarify.

"The President is enormously grateful for the leadership that Governor Kaine has and will continue to provide at the DNC,'' he said. "I think if you look at the record, again, of the president in these special elections involving members of Congress, the results are very positive for the DNC."

Kaine earlier called the Democratic win in a special election for Congress in New York the "most consequential race of the night'' after the Republican dropped out and left a conservative to run as a third-party candidate.

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Posted at 9:25 AM ET, 11/ 4/2009

Video: Fairfax Republicans celebrate sweep, look to 2010

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Posted at 10:25 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Democrats speak of a broken "streak" in Virginia

The losing Democratic candidates and their supporters in Virginia had a common theme in their concession speeches moments ago: The party has had a good run in the state, and despite the loss, their work goes on.

"We lose an election but we don't give up," said defeated gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds to a crescendo of applause. "We still have fight, we still have spirit, we still have things to say. There's still people that need a voice!...This chapter is closed but the next chapter is yet to be written."

Former Gov. Mark Warner and Gov. Tim Kaine both played on the theme that Democrats have gotten "used" to winning in a state that was once reliably Republican.

"Eight years ago we started a streak in this state--in a state where Democrats didn't control either house of the legislature, any statewide office, and we turned Virginia around," Warner said.

"Who would have thought this ten years ago but you know, we've gotten used to winning most elections, and so that's a challenge," Kaine said. "Let's just be honest about it. We wish we were here under different circumstances and with a different result."

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Posted at 10:17 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Deeds pens a letter to supporters

At 10:04 p.m., more than an hour after conceding the governor's race to Bob McDonnell, Creigh Deeds penned a letter to his supporters.

Here's the text:

First and foremost, I want to take a moment to thank you for your support over the course of this campaign.

Whether you donated your time volunteering in an office, gave up your weekend plans to make calls on my behalf, or gave up a few dollars to help our fight - I am truly grateful for everything you have done for this campaign and my candidacy.

This campaign has been a long journey, but one I would never give up. I am so touched by all the Virginians I have met in my travels across the Commonwealth and the stories they have shared.

I ran for Governor to bring opportunity, prosperity, and hope to every corner of this Commonwealth. While I fell short of my goal, I will not let these results stop me from continuing to fight for the working families of Virginia.

This chapter is closed, but the next chapter has yet to be written.

I will never be able to fully express my gratitude for all you have given me over the past few months, so tonight, simply I thank you.

Sincerely,
Creigh Deeds

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Posted at 8:21 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Many at Deeds party 'not surprised'

Moments after the Associated Press and Washington Post called the race for Republican Robert F. McDonnell, the mood at the Deeds event barely budged.

That's because, several in attendance said, this is the outcome they were expecting, deep down.

"Basically it's almost like the media has prepared us for this the past few days," said Mike Mohler, president of the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters union and a Deeds supporter.

He said he worked a phone bank right up until the polls closed, "in the hopes there might be a surprise."

The ballroom is finally starting to fill up, largely with Deeds campaign staff and volunteers, and word is Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) is somewhere in the building and may speak.

-- Jonathan Mummolo

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Posted at 7:26 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Is Deeds singing Virginia's song?

(Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Right as the polls closed at 7 p.m., the music switched on at the nascent Deeds celebration in Richmond.

"Take a load off Annie," sang The Band in their classic tune, "The Weight." "And put the load right on me."

It was a somber sentiment for the handful of attendees who mingled outside the ballroom, cocktail-napkin-wrapped beer bottles in hand.

The next selection was a bit more fitting for a candidate gunning for victory: Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run."

-- Jonathan Mummolo

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Posted at 7:06 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Barbour: What's changed? President Obama's policies

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a presence on the campaign trail with fellow Republican Robert F. McDonnell, said Virginia's former attorney general ran an issue-oriented campaign -- but he also emphasized the importance President Obama played in the race.

"First of all, you got a great candidate in Bob McDonnell. But four years ago he and Creigh Deeds ran a dead heat," he said. "What do I think has changed? President Obama's agenda and the policies of the Democratic majority are very unpopular here in Virginia, too...That's been critically important."

Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, also said McDonnell has been focusing on the issues most affecting Virginia voters, namely taxes and transportation.

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Posted at 6:22 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

The Deeds party: The candidate makes the early rounds

Both Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and attorney general candidate Del. Stephen C. Shannon (D-Fairfax) said moments ago that the name of the game tonight is turnout.

The turnout so far inside the Richmond hotel ballroom reserved for their election night bash is sparse. It's scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.

With little more than an hour to go before the polls close, the room rented out at the Westin had plenty of reporters, video cameras and campaign staffers--but there were virtually no guests in sight so early in the evening.

Candlelit tables covered in white cloth dotted an empty ballroom floor in front of an empty stage, over which a massive banner hung reading: "ALL IN FOR VIRGINIA."

Deeds (D-Bath) made the rounds, stopping to chat with various TV networks. The Washington Post caught up with him for no more than 30 seconds in a hallway before he rushed away toward the lobby.

"I feel great," said the candidate, who lagged in pre-election polls. "We have an hour and 25 minutes left to turn voters out and we're working as hard as we can to get them turned out. What I'm hearing is good news from places like Charlottesville and some areas of Hampton Roads and Roanoke and Arlington, Alexandria--all good for us. We need it to be better, but I'm hearing some good news so far."

He didn't mention Fairfax County, Virginia's largest jurisdiction, and a critical component of a Deeds victory.

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Posted at 4:53 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

On tap for tonight at washingtonpost.com

Watch the election results roll in live tonight here at washingtonpost.com. On the new local homepage we'll have a county-by-county map of governor's race results and how they compare to previous year's statewide races.

For the House of Delegates, we'll keep you up-to-the-minute on the vote count in each race and how it impacts the overall balance of power in Richmond.

If you've got questions about the results and how they came to be, send them in to Post columnist Robert McCartney, who starting at 7 p.m. will offer you answers and give you a peek at what we learn from exit polling.

And of course there will be the usual array of the Post's excellent reporting, analysis and photography.

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Posted at 1:14 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

McDonnell votes, greets voters

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell voted at 8:30 this morning at the Rivers Edge Elementary School in Glen Allen outside Richmond.

He was accompanied by his wife, Maureen, and his four of his five children, and was greeted by volunteers, supporters and reporters.

Del. Bill Janis, a Republican, was also on hand. He is running for re-election in the House of Delegates.

Check out the video below:

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Posted at 9:54 AM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Video: Chesterbrook voters explain their choices

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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 11/ 3/2009

No. 21: Deeds votes at tiny Bath precinct

An area that will likely see high turnout today is rural Bath County, the home of Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds. Still, as the second most sparsely populated county in Virginia, that will end up translating to only a couple thousand votes at most.

But we've got word from Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold that Deeds cast his own ballot this morning at 6:25 a.m. at the Millboro Ruritan Club.

He was voter number 21.

Voters 22 through 25 were wife Pam Deeds and children Gus, Amanda and Rebecca Deeds. Deeds's youngest daughter Susannah is 17. Afterward, the family hosted an outdoors reception for Bath residents. Biscuits were served.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Deeds poll coverage lags?

Are we in for a stunner of unexpected Democratic turnout? Not if the Internets are to be believed, where Democrats and Republicans are taking to blogs and Twitter to note what feels to them like low turnout in strongly Democratic precincts and poor poll coverage by candidate Creigh Deeds and other Democrats.

From Twitter:
@Joseph_Taylor Not a single deeds poll worker in nokesville.

@AmayaNSugar Not a single Creigh Deeds sign or worker in my area of Hampton Roads either.

@npry 2 precincts in Portsmouth (70% Obama) no Deeds signs or volunteers

From the two best read liberal bloggers in Virginia politics, who have been somewhat critical (Lowell Feld) and highly critical (Ben Tribbett) of Deeds in recent weeks:

Feld at 6:22 a.m., after looking at a tweet indicating no lines in Arlington: After this tweet, I'm almost tempted to call the election for McDonnell/Bolling/Cooch. There should be LONG LINES IN ARLINGTON on a gubernatorial election day. No lines at all a few minutes after polls open? Horrible.

And Tribbett from Twitter: Hearing @CreighDeeds has the worst Dem poll coverage in a Virginia election since reconstruction

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 11/ 3/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

This is it! Election Day has finally arrived. Check back frequently for all of our election coverage throughout the day and night.

In the meantime, here's some morning reading to start your day:

Republican Bob McDonnell will vote outside Richmond this morning, before greeting voters at his childhood precinct in Fairfax County and at a Virginia Beach precint he represented in the House of Delegates.

Democrat Creigh Deeds will vote in Bath County this morning before greeting voters in Charlottesville, which he represents in the state Senate.

Both men will spend election night in the capital city. McDonnell will be at the Marriott downtown with Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli, candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Deeds will be at the Westin Hotel in Richmond's West End with Gov. Tim Kaine and Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon, candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

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Posted at 10:33 PM ET, 11/ 2/2009

Pat Robertson and family donate money to McDonnell

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell received a trio of last-minute donations totaling $40,000 from religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, his son and daughter-in-law.

Robertson contributed $25,000 on Oct. 20, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics. His son, Tim, donated $5,000 Friday for in-kind services (listed as catering) and his wife, Lisa, donated $10,000 to McDonnell today.

McDonnell attended CBN University, the Virginia Beach school founded Robertson and named after the Christian Broadcasting Network, whose studios share the campus. (Yes, this is where he wrote that controversial thesis.) He later served on the Board of Trustees of that school, now named Regent University, for eight years and spoke at its law school graduation last year.

McDonnell said in an interview earlier this year that he and Robertson only speak a couple times a year. But Robertson has become one of his biggest donors.

Robertson donated $35,000 to his campaign for governor (the other $10,000 donation was in December 2008) and $66,000 to his race for attorney general, according to VPAP.

Tim Robertson donated $24,000 to McDonnell's campaign for governor in 2008 and 2009, but nothing since April until the recent donation. He had previously donated $10,000 to his campaign for attorney general and $5,000 to his campaign for House of Delegates.

Another son, Gordon Robertson, contributed $500 to McDonnell's run for attorney general.

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Posted at 9:28 PM ET, 11/ 2/2009

Deeds: 'We got 'em just where we want them'

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds gave his final plea tonight to his supporters, promising a victory if they could bring out the same voters that put Virginia in the win column for President Obama.

In describing his longshot odds, Deeds told the story of Lt. Gen. Chesty Puller, the father of state Sen. Toddy Puller (D-Fairfax), who fought behind enemy lines in December 1950 during the Korean War.

"Chesty said the enemy was in front of us, their behind us, they're on our right, they're on our left," said the Bath County Democrat as he stood behind a banner that read, "All In For Virginia." "And we got 'em just where we want them. We're going to win this thing!"

More than 150 people crowded into Alexandria's Market Square for the rally near vote-rich Fairfax County, with many of the politicians in attendance extolling the potential impact of the last-minute Obama surge voters while decrying polls showing a possible GOP top-ticket sweep.

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Posted at 6:31 PM ET, 11/ 2/2009

Palin, Huckabee call Virginia voters

We told you yesterday that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin recorded a phone message encouraging Virginians to get out and vote on Tuesday.

Now, we have learned that a conservative group affiliated with former Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed asked both Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to make calls to nearly 700,000 voters in Virginia.

The Huckabee calls were made Saturday and the Palin calls were made Sunday and today.

The recordings make no mention of Republican candidate Bob McDonnell, who has embraced Huckabee but distanced himself from Palin during the governor's race.

"Virginia, hello, this is Sarah Palin calling to urge you to go to the polls Tuesday and vote to share our principles," Palin said. "The eyes of America will be on Virginia and make no mistake about it, every vote counts. So don't take anything for granted, vote your values on Tuesday, and urge your friends and family to vote, too."

You can download an mp3 of the Huckabee call or the Palin call.

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Posted at 4:49 PM ET, 11/ 2/2009

Kaine appears on MSNBC on election eve

Tim Kaine, Virginia governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said this afternoon on MSNBC that Democrats still have a chance to win both gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey tomorrow, even though polls show both men behind.

"For 24 years, the party that wins the White House loses both of these governships in Virginia and New Jersey,'' Kaine said. "So the way we look at it at the DNC is that these are uphill races. We had underdog candidates. They were writing us off in mid-summer, but we fought back strong and we're working awfully strong to break that 24-year string and we feel like we have a good shot tomorrow."

Kaine downplayed the significance of the races going into the 2010 midterm elections.

"Traditionally these races right after the presidential year are very focused on local issues and haven't been much of a bellwether for the midterms,'' he said.

Kaine said Obama and the statewide Democratic leaders -- he and Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb -- remain popular in Virginia, which should help gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds.

"There's a strong approval from Democratic voters,'' he said. "What we have to do is we just got to close that gap. We have to energize President Obama supporters. He's been to Virginia twice for Creigh Deeds. And that's what we are working to do."

But Kaine said that the real story tomorrow may be the outcome of New York's special congressional election where the Republican party's candidate dropped out this weekend and now backs the Democratic candidate against a conservative. "It portends a great divide in the Republican party,'' he said. "I think that's going to be the continuing story after tomorrow night."

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 11/ 2/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Monday, Nov. 2, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

The polls open in less than 24 hours!

In what has to be one of the last polls before Election Day, Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds, 53 to 41, in a Mason Dixon poll released this weekend.

In the same poll, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is up 13 percentage point over Jody Wagner and Republican Ken Cuccinelli is up 14 percentage points over Steve Shannon in the race for attorney general.

Whoever wins the governor's mansion Tuesday will face continuing budget shortfalls and will have to figure out how to pay for ambitious campaign promises.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has recorded a phone message encouraging Virginians to get out and vote on Tuesday, while Gov. Tim Kaine makes calls for Shannon.

The last newspaper endorsements came out Sunday, and now it's just up to sophisticated get-out-the-vote efforts to get Virginians to the polls.

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Posted at 4:46 PM ET, 11/ 1/2009

Last-minute endorsements roll in

The last of the newspaper endorsements were published today in the race for Viginia governor. Or at least we think they're the last ones with just two days left until Election Day.

The Staunton News Leader endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds over Repubublican Bob McDonnell.

"The Deeds we saw and heard in our editorial board interview was a man filled with energy, passion and good ideas for Virginia,'' the paper wrote in its editorial. "We think you will agree he's the man we all want to see in the governor's mansion."

Both the Charlottesville Daily Progress and Danville Register & Bee endorsed McDonnell, citing his economic and transportation plans.

"If the economy and transportation are the two top crises facing Virginia, then the question is: Which candidate for governor has the best chance of solving those intertwined problems? And the answer has to be: Bob McDonnell,'' the Daily Progress writes.

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Posted at 3:59 PM ET, 11/ 1/2009

McDonnell's money lead grows and grows

It is now not out of the realm of possibility that by Tuesday's election day, Republican Bob McDonnell will have received a three times as much a Democrat Creigh Deeds in late big-dollar donations.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, as of 5 p.m. on Saturday, McDonnell had collected $1.34 million in big contributions since Oct. 21, when the candidates began having to report gifts of $5,000 or more within 24 hours. Deeds had collected only $549,000 in big donations since then.

Those numbers included gifts through Oct. 30 and they showed that donations to McDonnell have been snowballing in recent days as poll after poll has shown him with big leads and contributors perhaps look to provide some late help to the candidate they perceive as the likely victor.

On Friday alone, McDonnell collected $184,310 in such gifts. Deeds received only $40,000.

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Posted at 1:54 PM ET, 11/ 1/2009

Q & A with statewide candidates

The folks at the Richmond Times Dispatch asked all six statewide candidates to answer a series of policy questions and published them today.

They didn't break much new ground (after all, we're only two days from election day) but if you're still trying to decide who to vote for, check out the answers on jobs, transportation, college tuition, abortion and off shore drilling.

Gubernatorial candidates, Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell are here

Lieutenant governor candidates, Jody Wagner and Bill Bolling are here

Attorney general candidates, Steve Shannon and Ken Cuccinelli are here

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Posted at 1:27 PM ET, 11/ 1/2009

One more poll puts McDonnell way up

A final Mason-Dixon poll in the Virginia race shows Republican Bob McDonnell continues to lead big over Democrat Creigh Deeds going into Tuesday's election. The survey, funded by the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Virginian Pilot and other state media outlets, showed McDonnell with a 12-point lead, while his ticketmates Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli led opponents Jody Wagner and Del. Steve Shannon by 13 points and 14 points respectively.

What must be most encouraging for McDonnell about all these late polls that have shown with strong, double-digit leads is that they have provided no indication that core Democratic groups are showing late enthusiasm for Deeds. His campaign is insisting it is running an aggressive effort to reach out to voters who helped elect President Obama last year.

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Posted at 4:06 PM ET, 10/31/2009

Campaigns use new media to get the vote out

Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell are concentrating much of their get-out-the-vote efforts on traditional neighborhood canvasses and phone calls, but are also using online ads, Facebook and Twitter.

McDonnell's Website features an absentee ballot application and an interactive map where voters can look up their precinct location.

The campaign is urging Facebook members to donate their profile photo or status to McDonnell so their status can say things like: "Today is Election Day. Please don't forget to vote for Bob McDonnell and the Republican ticket." Facebook users can add a yard sign.

McDonnell's campaign has used their Website, email lists and GOP-friendly bloggers to get the word out about signing up for volunteer shifts. It has gained more than 2,500 interested volunteers via social media and the Website.

Deeds's campaign is reaching out to voters through Facebook ads in which President Obama's image is used and voters are encouraged to visit the Deeds Website to find their polling place. Voters who have signed up with the campaign will receive text messages asking them to volunteers.

The DNC also released a highly targeted ad on Facebook touting the president's support for Deeds. The ad appears only on pages of Virginia Facebook fans of Obama, people who live within 50 miles of Norfolk, Richmond or Fairfax and students of Virginia colleges and universities.

"Our goal, especially as we try to reach out to these surge voters who are less likely to read news sites or campaign Websites is to reach them where they reside online, which is social networks an search engines," Deeds new media director Eli Kaplan said.

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Posted at 2:55 PM ET, 10/31/2009

With Scozzafava out, McDonnell might be sharing limelight Tuesday

It had appeared increasingly possible that Virginia Republican Bob McDonnell could be the only GOP victory Tuesday, despite all the talk about the national mood turning the party's direction one year after President Obama's election.

That's because Republican Chris Christie is locked in a head heat with Democrat Jon Corzine in the race for New Jersey governor. And it had been because it looked like Democrats might pick up a seat in Congress in a special election in New York, where a deep split had erupted in the GOP between supporters of the party's nominee and a third party conservative.

But, no longer.


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Posted at 1:41 PM ET, 10/31/2009

Get a mop? Va. GOP says get a broom

Republicans rallying this morning in Springfield had a new prop: A broom that read "McBolliNelli" on the handle.

The Republican ticket is stumping throughout the state Saturday but began with a traditional GOP pep rally at Interstate Van Lines in Springfield. Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell was joined by ticket mates Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, attorney general candidate Sen. Ken Cuccinelli and a variety for Republican luminaries, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

It was Cuccinelli-- introduced to the crowd as Ken "Don't Tread on Me" Cuccinelli -- who held up the broom, which he had been handed as he made his way to the load dock that served as a stage.

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Posted at 9:53 PM ET, 10/30/2009

McDonnell on FOX News's Hannity show

GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell said in a live interview tonight on FOX News that Republican wins in Virginia and New Jersey next week could provide momentum going into the 2010 mid-term elections -- much like Republican wins in both states did in 1993.

"There's a lot of national in this race obviously,'' McDonnell said. "I do think that (people are saying) if McDonnell and (Chris) Christie win there are some opportunities for some added momentum for 2010."

In a five-minute interview, McDonnell told conservative host Sean Hannity that he has been able to win over many independents that had voted for Democrats in Virginia in recent years in part because of discontent with President Obama and Congress.

"Some of the policies that this Congress has pursued and supported by the president like cap and trade and card check and tax increases and intrusions on the free enterprise system and deficit spending, I've made those issues in the race and I think Virginians are not enamored with those policies,'' he said. "I don't think they're good for Virginia....I think that is making a difference in the race."

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Posted at 7:16 PM ET, 10/30/2009

Despite odds, Deeds camp working to rouse voters

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, trying to counter a string of bad campaign news and discouraging poll numbers, made four stops in Northern Virginia on Friday, trying to excite his Democratic base and last year's many first-time voters.

Deeds (D-Bath) brought with him a host of state politicians touting his ability to come back from what some analysts have called an insurmountable deficit (read Michael Gerson's and E.J. Dionne Jr.'s takes). Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William) predicted the "greatest upset since Harry Truman." U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) argued that Deeds come-from-behind victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary was proof that he could close out a race. He touted the work of 14,000 Virginia volunteers during his own Senate campaign in 2006.

"In Virginia, in the off years, voters tend not to focus until the final days," Webb said. "The trick is to appeal to people's self-interest and motivate them to come out and vote."

The stops came on the heels of a Norfolk event with President Obama. A mailer from the Democratic Party sent to 330,000 Virginians carried the president's signature.

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Posted at 3:19 PM ET, 10/30/2009

Updated: Warner misses Deeds events due to flu

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has a case of the seasonal flu, prompting Virginia's junior senator to cancel several planned campaign stops with Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds.

Warner showed up to Deeds' first campaign event Friday, at Cheeseburger in Paradise in Woodbridge, but he was visibly ill and told Democratic supporters and Deeds staffers that he was sick and would be leaving early.

Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said the former Virginia governor visited a doctor Thursday and got the flu diagnosis, adding that Warner "regretted missing the events but he is contagious."

Hall said Warner's illness is regular seasonal flu, not H1N1, known as swine flu.

One sign-holding supporter at the Woodbridge event was overheard asking whether Warner had a case of the "bad-poll-number virus," referring to Deeds' underdog status in his race with Republican Robert F. McDonnell.

-Derek Kravitz

Updated: We just learned that Warner's illness will keep him from the rest of this weekend's events with Deeds. But Deeds still expects to campaign with Gov. Tim Kaine and U.S. Sen. Jim Webb.

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Posted at 11:51 AM ET, 10/30/2009

The McCartney Scorecard: The final bell

Post columnist Robert McCartney is tracking the governor's race for readers, tallying up the blows week-by-week. Here's his take on the past week:

The Washington Post's last poll before Election Day shows McDonnell with his biggest lead yet, 11 points, and no sign of flagging. Obama campaigns with Deeds in Norfolk, but 7 in 10 likely voters said their view of Obama wouldn't affect their vote. With this result, McDonnell's won six out of nine rounds on this scorecard, going back to late August. But remember: The only referee that matters is the electorate. No matter which brawler you prefer, get out and vote!

Read the full McCartney Scorecard.

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Posted at 7:11 AM ET, 10/30/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Oct. 30, 2009
Good morning Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

With just four days until Tuesday's election, we are now at the stage where there is nothing new for the candidates to say. Just many more people for them to say it to, and quickly.

Each have launched their final sweeps through the state, as Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds start multi-day, many stop stumps.

McDonnell's five-day, 25-stop "New Jobs, More Opportunities: It Starts Now!" tour began yesterday, with stops in Glen Allen, Danville, Martinsville and Rocky Mount. Deeds was in Richmond and Roanoke.

Both candidates finished their days Thursday greeting spectators tailgating at the Virginia Tech-UNC football game. The fans surely were eager to discuss issues of importance to the Commonwealth. Or, perhaps they were drunk and excited for the opportunity to hand their cellphones to a candidate, after shouting to their girlfriends/buddies/mothers, "Hey, talk to this guy! He's running for governor!"

Deeds's final tour is a four-day. 20-stop "All in for Virginia" tour, which will focus heavily on get out the vote efforts. The Democrat will hit Northern Virginia today. McDonnell today is in Lynchburg, Waynesboro, Culpeper, Ashland and Virginia Beach.

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Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 10/29/2009

Obama push for Deeds continues

Ever receive a letter from the president of the United States? About 330,000 Virginians are about to get one, as the Democratic Party of Virginia puts a letter in the snail mail from President Obama to voters identified as part of the "surge" who came out to the polls to elect Obama last year and are now seen as critical to closing the gap between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell.

The letterhead includes a nifty presidential symbol with the words, "A special message from President Barack Obama." In the letter, Obama writes, "To make real changes in this country, it will take more than just my presidency - it requires your continued vigilance in the cause of progress. To move this country forward, I need the support and partnership of good governors who are ready to help lay the foundations of change. And this November 3rd is your opportunity to help Virginia do just that."

You can read the whole letter here.

The party says this letter will be its last mailer to Virginia voters on Deeds' behalf.

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Posted at 7:06 AM ET, 10/29/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009
Good morning Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

Five days until the election, and the candidates continue their mad dash last campaign sweeps around the state. A day after President Obama came to town for Democrat Creigh Deeds, Republican Bob McDonnell gets help from some of his party's biggest stars. Likely 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney traveled with McDonnell Wednesday. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani campaigned on McDonnell's behalf in Fredericksburg and Fairfax, telling crowds that he hopes McDonnell sparks a national Republican resurgence akin to the one that began in 1993 with his own election as mayor and George Allen's election as Virginia governor.

McDonnell today visits Glen Allen, Danville, Martinsville, Rocky Mount and then concludes the day tailgating at the Virginia Tech football game in Blacksburg. Deeds yesterday was in Charlottesville, Reston and Sterling and today has several events in Richmond, then goes to Roanoke and also finishes the day out in the parking lots of Virginia Tech's football stadium.

Take from this what you will: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is in Virginia today to campaign for McDonnell. He will also be spending election night in Richmond. Democratic National Committee chairman Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, on the other hand, heads today to New Jersey to campaign for Democratic governor Jon Corzine. (He'll be back Friday to pick up work on Deeds's behalf.)

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Posted at 5:43 PM ET, 10/28/2009

Deeds makes rounds in Northern Virginia

A day after Tuesday's much-anticipated campaign rally with President Obama, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds visited two Northern Virginia schools in his final-week push to bring out the young, enthusiastic voters who gave the president an Election Day surge one year ago.

Deeds (D-Bath) spent Wednesday afternoon speaking to students at Northern Virginia Community College's Loudoun County campus in Sterling, touting his higher education proposals and college scholarship program. He also stopped by South Lakes High School in Reston, where he spoke with members of the Young Democrats club before canvassing a nearby neighborhood.

"We have six days. We will win this race but we have a lot of work to do," Deeds told the South Lakes crowd.

But facing grim poll numbers and lingering questions from within his own party about his campaign, the path to victory does not seem easy. A recent Washington Post poll (poll data) showed Deeds' Republican opponent, Robert F. McDonnell, with an 11-point lead.

"If you look at the poll numbers, you could be discouraged," Deeds said Wednesday. "But the only poll numbers that matters is the ones that come next Tuesday."

Deeds called his rally with Obama on Tuesday a "heady moment" and vowed to energize the electorate. After the South Lakes event, Deeds said turnout among Obama's most loyal supporters will be crucial to his showing on Tuesday. When asked about if another Obama visit would have helped his fledgling campaign, he said, "We did the best we could."

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Posted at 5:08 PM ET, 10/28/2009

Deeds airs closing argument

Democrat Creigh Deeds has now released his positive, final days television ad. The spot talks about Deeds' endorsement by three of the state's four largest papers and implores voters to elect "substance over style."

The campaign says the ad will air statewide. The question in these closing days for the Deeds campaign will be one of money.

Chances are, no matter where you live in Virginia, you'll be seeing the new spot released by Republican Bob McDonnell a heck of a lot more frequently than this new Deeds ad. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, McDonnell had a cash advantage on Oct. 21 that's only grown since then. Since that day, McDonnell has taken in more than $850,000 in donations of $5,000 or more. Deeds has received only $367,000 in big dollar gifts.

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Posted at 2:18 PM ET, 10/28/2009

Excerpts: Post reporter, polling analyst answer questions

Post reporter Anita Kumar, who has been trailing the Deeds campaign, and Post polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta were online earlier today to discuss the Virginia governor's race and the week remaining in it. Read the full transcript or check out some excerpts from the chat below.

Fairfax County, Va.: Looking at the poll story and the graphics and table provided, it appears that Deeds is polling about as well in northern Virginia as, say, Mark Warner, but doing much worse in the rest of the state than anybody else you list -- Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, or Warner. Yet Deeds is the guy who's emphatically not from northern Virginia (admittedly Kaine isn't either). What gives?

washingtonpost.com: McDonnell's edge over Deeds grows stronger (Post, Oct. 27)

Jennifer Agiesta: Thanks for the question, Fairfax! The regional split is one of the most interesting things we found in this last poll. Deeds' victory in the primary seemed to be more about his electability and appeal outside of the DC suburbs than his positions on the issues, and that bit of strategic voting by Virginia Democrats may have backfired.

Conventional wisdom says a Democrat needs to win around 60 percent of the votes in Northern Virginia to win statewide, but that assumes the candidate can run closely with his or her opponent in the rest of the state, and Deeds is clearly lagging behind other successful Democrats on that front. Outside of Northern Virginia, half of all likely voters call Deeds "too liberal," and McDonnell has whopping advantages on handling taxes (32 points), transportation and the economy (25 points), and issues of special concern to women (17 points). Even in the western part of the state (which includes his home in Bath County) Deeds trails McDonnell in the race by 27 points.

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Posted at 1:34 PM ET, 10/28/2009

Q&A with Deeds and McDonnell

The folks at Style Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Richmond, sat down with gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell to ask them a few final, pressing questions before Tuesday's big day.

Who is your political hero?

When is the last time that you were moved by a piece of great art?

If you were to invite us over for dinner, what's the best meal you could make?

And this final interesting question: Can you name one good reason that someone should vote for your opponent?

Read the answers here.

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Posted at 11:27 AM ET, 10/28/2009

Get your governor's race questions answered

Washington Post staff writer Anita Kumar and Post polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta will be online today at noon to discuss the race for governor of Virginia in the final week of the campaign between Democrat R. Creigh Deeds and Republican Robert F. McDonnell. Kumar covered Deeds's rally with Obama yesterday, while Agiesta can explain The Post's polling in the race.

Submit your questions now or return at noon to read the discussion.

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Posted at 7:12 AM ET, 10/28/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009
Good Morning Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

With just a week to go before Election Day, President Barack Obama sweeps into Norfolk for a brief but spirited rally for Democrat Creigh Deeds' bid for governor.

A presidential visit--with its Hail-to-the-Chiefiness and its Air Force One photo ops--is all-consuming to the news cycle of a state race, a fact obvious from a quick glance at this morning's Virginia media. Every outlet in the state carried news of the president, his exhortation "I don't believe in can't," and his plea for his supporters to ignore polls and pundits and work to get Deeds elected.

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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 10/27/2009

Obama, Deeds: funny names

President Obama and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds share at least one thing in common: funny names.

Or at least that's what Obama said at his rally for Deeds at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

"I said before, look, I would have liked this guy no matter what, because he's got a funny name like Barack Obama,'' Obama said as he and the audience broke into laughter. "So we both overcome these hardships." More laughter. "Served in the state legislature, just like me. So me and him, we're like that."

The crowd of nearly 6,000 interrupted Obama's speech several times with applause, shrieks and laughter as he delivered a rousing 20-minute speech for Deeds.

"Again and again, Creigh has been there for the people of Virginia, and now he needs you to be there for them,'' he said.

Read the story here.

Read Obama's full remarks below:

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Posted at 4:27 PM ET, 10/27/2009

Gibbs: Virginia as 'purple as it can get'

Speaking to reporters on board Air Force One en route to this afternoon's rally in Norfolk, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Obama will not be returning to Virginia for Creigh Deeds after today.

"Not that I'm aware of," he said, before noting that he will be returning for a day of stops for Democratic governor Jon S. Corzine (N.J.).

"Look, certainly at a federal level, I mean, we were happy to see the progress in the commonwealth, but also understanding that Barack Obama was the first Democratic candidate to carry that state since 1964," Gibbs said, according to a transcript of the gaggle, explaining why Deeds is not doing better in the polls against Republican Bob McDonnell. "So I think everybody understands that it was -- you know, Virginia is a -- is probably as purple as it can get, certainly among a presidential state, given the fact that it's been in the red column for so long."

He rejected the idea that Deeds has been adversely impacted by perceptions of Obama, specifically citing this morning's Washington Post poll that showed that 70 percent of likely voters said their views of Obama will play no role in their vote. Of the 3 in 10 who said the president will play a role, half said they will be voting to express support for him rather than opposition.

"Obviously I think any number of factors go into what has happened in each state, and I think one of the factors that goes into Virginia is a Democrat that's been outspent," Gibbs said.

He said the White House is "very comfortable" with the level of support it has provided Deeds, noting Obama's role and Vice President Biden's two fundraisers, as well as help from the Democratic National Committee.

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Posted at 3:04 PM ET, 10/27/2009

VPAP crunches finance numbers, with fascinating results

The Virginia Public Access Project has been working hard to slice and dice finance reports submitted by the campaigns yesterday and has already reported some very interesting findings.

For instance, there are 87 people and organizations who contributed a total of almost $504,000 to Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine in 2005, who this year have given to Republican Bob McDonnell instead, to the tune of almost $494,000. By contrast, there are only 50 such people and groups who gave to Republican Jerry Kilgore four years ago and who have contributed to Democrat Creigh Deeds this year. They have given Deeds a total of just under $150,000. We'll be looking through the list of donor switchers for interesting names and stories.

VPAP also shows us that of the $16.95 million Deeds has raised for his campaign committee, he has taken in $9.4 million from Virginians and $7.4 million from outside the state. Broken down by industry, outside of political committees, Deeds has received the most money from organized labor, followed by the legal industry and then real estate and construction.

McDonnell has raised far more than Deeds -- $22.4 million. It breaks down to $13.8 from in-state and $8.6 million from outside Virginia. After political committees, the top industry for McDonnell has been real estate/construction followed by retail and service businesses, then the finance and insurance industries.

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Posted at 1:58 PM ET, 10/27/2009

Obama wants his 'friends' to come out for Deeds

As if there was any doubt that in these closing days, the strategy for Democrat Creigh Deeds is AAO (all about Obama), the Democratic National Committee today releases a new highly targeted Facebook ad touting the president's support for Deeds. The ad will appear only on pages of Virginia Facebook fans of Obama, people who live within 50 miles of Norfolk, Richmond or Fairfax and students of Virginia colleges and universities.

The goal here is to reach voters who backed Obama last year but may not be inclined to vote in a state election. Such voters, particularly young ones, are notoriously hard to reach through traditional means. (It is assumed that they are probably not reading this blog, for instance.) But Facebook is one way to find them.

The exclamation point on the effort, of course, comes this afternoon with the Norfolk rally for Deeds, which Obama is headlining. Stay tuned for more coverage of the event.

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Posted at 7:12 AM ET, 10/27/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2009
Good morning, Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

Virginia voters go to the polls one week from today. Which makes news that Republican Bob McDonnell now leads Democrat Creigh Deeds in the race for governor by 11 points in a new Post poll all the more exciting for Republicans and worrying for Democrats. Though Deeds often talks about past races where he overcame a deficit in the polls, the numbers this year have all been moving towards McDonnell in the last few weeks and time is running out.

Plus, McDonnell has already been outspending Deeds and he will continue to do so through Nov. 3--as new reports from the Virginia Public Access Project show he raised more than Deeds in the first three weeks of October.

The big news today will take place at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, where Deeds rallies with President Obama. If anything could still scramble the race's dynamics in the last few days, it would be the engagement of so-called Obama surge voters, non-regular voters who came out for the president last year. Can a splashy, though brief, rally help? (Obama will be in Virginia for just a couple hours, total.)

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Posted at 5:51 PM ET, 10/26/2009

Deeds meets a surprise 'feisty' woman at forum

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds had an unlikely encounter with a political opponent during a town hall-like forum Monday afternoon -- the sister of the top Democrat in Virginia's General Assembly.

During the question-and-answer portion of a Deeds' visit to Greenspring Village, a Springfield retirement community, a 74-year-old Alexandria woman asked Deeds about his transportation plan. She was fed up, she said, with having to "literally make an appointment to pull out" of her driveway off of Duke Street, where she has lived for more than 14 years.

But when Deeds, a Democrat from Bath County who is facing Republican Robert F. McDonnell for governor, started to answer her question, the woman cut him off. Deeds had talked about the difficulties Virginians face with congested roads and needed improvements; Ellie Schendell said he was being evasive.

"You don't get off the hook that easy," she interjected.

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Posted at 5:45 PM ET, 10/26/2009

Updated: Deeds raises $3.1 million, McDonnell $4 million

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds raised $3.1 million in the first three weeks of October, while his Republican rival Bob McDonnell raised $4 million during that same period, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in Virginia politics.

Deeds had nearly $1 million cash on hand going into the final weeks of the race, while McDonnell has almost double that, or $1.8 million, according to VPAP.

Deeds's campaign reported 2,392 total donors -- 68% who contributed less than $200. The campaign received contributions from 1,471 new donors.

"We are proud of the work the campaign has done to attract support and grassroots involvement in every corner of Virginia," Deeds campaign manager Joe Abbey. "This support will be vital as we get our message out in the final 10-days of this election and look to turn out an unprecedented vote for the Democratic ticket."

McDonnell's campaign picked up 2,758 first-time donors over the period and received 2,426 donations of $100 or less. But more than half of McDonnell's total were in-kind contributions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the state Republican party.

"As this campaign enters the final days we have the resources we need to continue getting Bob's positive vision out to voters statewide,'' McDonnell campaign manager Phil Cox said. "And we have all the momentum in this race."


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Posted at 9:58 AM ET, 10/26/2009

New Post poll coming today

With just a little more than a week to go until Election Day, the Post will release the results of its final poll in the Virginia governor's race later today.

Among other key findings, the poll will reveal whether perceptions about President Obama are a factor among likely voters, whether Creigh Deeds has managed to convince core Democrats to vote and whether it appears that Republican Bob McDonnell's arguments on taxes have been effective.

And, of course, the poll will tell us who's ahead and by how much.

Check it all out later today.

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Posted at 9:27 AM ET, 10/26/2009

Live Discussion With Creigh Deeds

Democratic candidate for governor R. Creigh Deeds will be online at 11 a.m. today to answer your questions about the governor's race and his plans for running the state. Submit your questions now and tune back in at 11 a.m. to see his answers.

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Posted at 12:07 AM ET, 10/26/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Monday, Oct. 26, 2009
Good Morning Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

Eight days and counting until Election Day. The big event of the week is tomorrow's rally by President Obama in Norfolk for Democratic candidate for governor Creigh Deeds. It comes just a few days after some of the president's senior aides were quoted anonymously saying they see virtually no chance for a Deeds victory against Republican Bob McDonnell and preparing to blame Deeds--and not their boss--for the loss. Awkward alert!

But Deeds supporters are working hard to prove those unnamed Cassandras wrong--including working to pump up Obama supporters over the weekend. McDonnell brings in a celeb of his own today, holding a rally in Richmond with former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz. Deeds today campaigns at two retirement communities in Fairfax with U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly.

Campaign finance reports are due today covering the first 22 days of October. They're the last before the election but we're now in the zone where campaigns must also report all donations of $5,000 or more within 24 hours. So far, those daily reports have shown a big advantage in last minute contributions for McDonnell. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, McDonnell took in $80,000 in big dollar donations on Sunday alone. And how much did Deeds get? $0.

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Posted at 5:37 PM ET, 10/25/2009

Kaine rallies the troops

Gov. Tim Kaine spent the day in the Richmond area rallying volunteers at several stops, encouraging them to knock on doors and make calls on behalf of the Democratic ticket -- Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon.

"Again and again these three who are on the Republican ticket have been standing in the way,'' Kaine told a group of about 40 vounteers. "Fighting against us on unemployment insurance, on transportation, on pre-K, on banning smoking, on non-partisan redistricting...They know what they're against and that's virtually everything."

Kaine was joined by Wagner, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, Tom Shields, who is running against Republican Del. John O'Bannon and two of Deeds's four children, Gus and Amanda.

The group visited campaign offices in Henrico and Chesterfield and Lucille's Southern Fused Cuisine. (A union-sponsored bus (Building Trades United for Deeds) was parked outside.) Tonight, Kaine will headline a fundraiser for Wagner, who faces Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling next Tuesday.

With a couple months left in his own term, Kaine, the new Democratic National Committee chairman, sounded a bit nostalgic for his nearly 16 years in elected office.

"I was doing this last Saturday and I was thinking I'm really going to miss this,'' he said. "And I thought 'No I'm not. I'm going to be doing it every year.' " What a great ride I've had. It's a little bit bittersweet coming to the end. (But) I'm so excited about the next role that I have."

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Posted at 11:50 AM ET, 10/25/2009

Big endorsements arrive on morning stoop

The remaining big Virginia newspapers made their endorsements this morning in the race for governor. No big surprises in the bunch, as papers' editorials boards largely went with the candidate's from the parties that best represented their well known policy stands.

The Richmond Times Dispatch backed Republican Bob McDonnell, as did the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star.

The Roanoke Times backed Democrat Creigh Deeds. So did the Virginian-Pilot.

That last editorial provided the only moment of intrigue for the moment. For one, choosing Deeds meant going against hometown candidate McDonnell. But, for the other, the endorsement is marked by a lack of enthusiasm for the chosen candidate. The paper's board chose Deeds as the better bet to fix transportation and manage state finances. But they called his campaign "chaotic" and generally slammed sophistication of the arguments advanced by both sides.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 10/25/2009

Fact Checker: Is that $7,800 number accurate?

Earlier this month, the GOP launched two television ads claiming that that Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds' support for a statewide gas tax and federal cap-and-trade legislation would result in $7,800 in additional taxes per Virginia family every four years.

Deeds (D-Bath) has fired back, debuting his own ad in southwest Virginia that called on Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell to "knock off the lies" about the Democrat's support for the cap-and-trade bill. So who is right and how did McDonnell reach that $7,800 number?

McDonnell's $7,800-figure ads were based primarily on two assumptions. The first is that Deeds would support a 20-cent-per-gallon state gas tax to raise the $1 billion he has said is needed for road and transit improvements. Deeds has yet to support such an increase.

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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 10/24/2009

Anne Holton gets out the vote in Alexandria

Perhaps it was the intermittent rain today, but only about a dozen Democratic activists showed up this afternoon at Ben Brenman park in Fairfax County for a plea by First Lady of Virginia Anne Holton for volunteers to get out the vote for gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds and the entire Democratic ticket.

Delegates Charniele Herring and Dave Englin and Alexandria Vice Mayor Kerry Donley joined Holton by the big gazebo at the park, which sits on a former Army base south of Alexandria, for what was billed as a rally but ended up a more subdued affair. The group enjoyed a brief respite from the windy, wet weather on a day when volunteers for virtually every candidate on the ballot in Virginia would be out knocking on doors.

Holton told the gathered volunteers that it was imperative that they motivate the masses who turned out last fall to elect President Obama. More than 500,000 new voters registered last year, with most of those newcomers likely drawn into politics by the history-making race.

Republicans, she said, "are counting on those new voters not turning up," she said. "If the Democratic core voters turn out, and they will, if all the new voters turn out, then we will win."

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Posted at 1:24 PM ET, 10/24/2009

NAACP Berates Shannon, Bolling

Virginia NAACP Executive Director King Salim Khalfani repeatedly criticized Democratic attorney general candidate Steve Shannon and Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling for failing to attend the group's candidate's forum last night.

Khalfani mentioned their absences multiple times in front of the more than 100 people gathered at the Richmond Marriott for the candidate's forum as part of the group's annual conference.

He told the audience how Shannon initially agreed to come but then canceled two days ago with a phone call in which he said he assumed his Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli was not attending either. Actually, Khalfani said, Cuccinelli was the first of six statewide candidates to RSVP and did so personally.

He also said that Bolling's campaign called for the first time an hour before the event to say Bolling could not attend and offered to send a surrogate in his place, but the NAACP told the campaign that the group does not allow surrogates.

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Posted at 1:31 PM ET, 10/23/2009

New NRA ad for McDonnell

The National Rifle Association is airing new TV ads on behalf of Republican Bob McDonnell that appeal to those who are worried about government intervention.

Check it out here:

Meanwhile, two Italian American organizations are calling on McDonnell to ask the NRA to o take down a previous TV commericial because of its "offensive characterization of Italian American."

"This type of negative imagery reinforces defaming stereotypes about an entire ethnic group and undermines the progress made in ending prejudice against all groups in our country,'' says a joint statement by the Columbus Citizens Foundation and the National Italian American Foundation: "We would hope that gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell would appeal to the electorate through substantive policy discussion on issues of importance to the State of Virginia rather than appealing through negative stereotyping."

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Posted at 1:09 PM ET, 10/23/2009

Potts takes Deeds off-message on charter schools

Former state senator Russ Potts, a Republican who backs Democrat R. Creigh Deeds for governor and stumped for him Wednesday in Winchester, took a little detour off the message train by criticizing Republican Robert F. McDonnell for supporting charter schools.

Um, Deeds supports charter schools. And so does President Obama. And Deeds doesn't need to give Obama supporters another reason to think he's not fully supportive of the president. (And that's probably why McDonnell's campaign shopped around the reference to Potts's remarks, which were published yesterday in the Northern Virginia Daily).

Here's an excerpt from the article:

"One candidate is for charter schools, Bob McDonnell, the other is opposed to charter schools," Potts said.

Few charter schools have been created in the Old Dominion for a simple reason, Potts said. Communities that considered it "were very happy with the public education system in Virginia."

McDonnell does support charter schools, and he often cites Obama's similar view when he talks about it. Deeds has also publicly come out in favor of charter schools, although the McDonnell campaign today noted that Deeds has voted against charter schools in the legislature.

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Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 10/23/2009

McDonnell grilled on health care

Republican Robert F. McDonnell today held a brief town hall meeting at the Manassas offices of Micron Technology Inc., which employs about 1,600 people in Virginia. The Idaho-based semiconductor microchip manufacturer's political action committee has contributed at least $10,000 to McDonnell over the years and its CEO, Steve Appleton, delivered a warm introduction before McDonnell's remarks.

That's not to say McDonnell was handed softball questions. More than 100 employees gathered in a large conference room to hear McDonnell speak, among them Charles McClure, an electrician who delivered the hardball of the day: How, he asked, will you ensure that Virginians receive the same quality of health insurance you do as a public employee?

McDonnell was typically on message, though clearly less comfortable on this issue than the topics he has been talking about regularly on the trail, such as job creation and energy independence.

"Anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of Virginians don't have a bona fide insurance policy, and there are a lot of reasons for it. Some are illegal immigrants, some don't have insurance by choice, some have legitimate preexisting conditions and don't qualify," he said. "My opinion is that overall, people are generally satisfied with the doctor-patient relationship under our current system."

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Posted at 11:03 AM ET, 10/23/2009

More ads on cap-and-trade in Southwest

Democrat Creigh Deeds is out with a new ad--we're at that point in the campaign where that's going to be the story, for both sides, pretty much every day. This one's on jobs and is running in southwest Virginia and Harrisonburg. It features just folks calling on Republican Bob McDonnell to "knock off the lies" about Deeds and the cap-and-trade bill. Deeds has said he supports efforts to reduce global warming but opposes the cap-and-trade bill now pending in Congress.

You can watch the ad here:

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Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 10/23/2009

New women's group airs McDonnell attack ad

A new state political action committee called Working Women for Virginia will start airing TV ads in Northern Virginia today to oppose Republican Bob McDonnell's views in his race for governor against Democrat Creigh Deeds.

We told you last week that the group registered with the state three weeks ago, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. It has been raising money through word of mouth, social networking and online advertising to pay for the TV commercials, said Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster who helped form the group.

Watch the ad here:

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Posted at 9:08 AM ET, 10/23/2009

Deeds meets with IP workers

In campaign world, Thursday was the day Democrats in Washington began preparing for a loss by Creigh Deeds in the Virginia governor's race by blaming him for running a poor campaign.

In the real world, it was the day International Paper announced they were closing their paper mill in Franklin County, resulting in the loss of 1,100 Virginia jobs. Both campaigns put out statements expressing sympathy to the workers, as did Gov. Tim Kaine. From twitters, we see that Deeds made a detour from his campaign schedule to meet with workers at the gate last night.

Late last night, he tweeted:

Shook hands at IP gate. Devestating. Met employees of 41, 36, 31 years. We have much to do to restore hope

We're told he was with workers until almost midnight, then got up to do the early morning shift today as well.

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Posted at 7:19 AM ET, 10/23/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Oct. 23, 2009

Good morning, Virginia! Just 11 days to go until Election Day, and today we have some news for you.

Democrat R. Creigh Deeds took a body blow Thursday from the White House, where senior administration sources said they were deeply frustrated with his failure to more fully embrace President Barack Obama on the campaign trail. Preparing for a Deeds loss, these officials seem to be trying to minimize any damage to the president or his agenda by laying the blame squarely at the candidate's feet.

Deeds appeared before the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Hampton Thursday night, while surrogates continued the campaign's "Educational Opportunity" school bus tour across the state in a school bus.

Republican Robert F. McDonnell continued his "New Jobs, New Virginia" tour yesterday with a stop in Culpeper and the debut of a new ad, "Jobs." He also reiterated, as forcefully as one can, that he has no plans to raise taxes if elected.

Today, McDonnell continues the jobs tour with stops in Manassas and Arlington, and he goes before the Southern Christian Leadership Conference tonight. Deeds rallies in Petersburg with actors and film industry leaders Tim and Daphne Reid. Both candidates will appear tonight in Richmond before the Virginia chapter of the NAACP.

In other news, Newsweek takes a look at Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's leadership at the Democratic National Committee.

The proverbial sparks flew at a debate Thursday between attorney general hopefuls Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican, and Steve Shannon, the Democrat.

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Posted at 7:06 PM ET, 10/22/2009

McDonnell talks health care on FOX News

Republican Bob McDonnell criticized the health care package being written on Capitol Hill in a live interview today on Your World with Neil Cavuto on FOX News.

"I know our voters are telling us that they're concerned,'' McDonnell said. "While they think it's legitimate to address the cost and access to health care, turning over the greatest medical system in the world to the federal government is probably not a good idea."

McDonnell said Virginians are worried about increased costs, decreased choices and a interruption in the doctor-patient relationship.

Cavuto said Democrat Creigh Deeds was invited to appear on the show, but that he never heard back from Deeds' campaign. This is the third time in recent weeks that McDonnell has appeared on national TV alone with Deeds either declining or not responding to a interview request.

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Posted at 2:40 PM ET, 10/22/2009

McCartney Scorecard: This Week Endorsed by Deeds

Post columnist Robert McCartney is tracking the governor's race for readers, tallying up the blows week-by-week. Here's his take on the past week:


Deeds takes the round on points. He receives a ringing endorsement from The Washington Post's editorial page, and early enough to use it in television ads. Deeds also gets Obama to commit to campaign with him again, despite White House grumbling that he's run a poor campaign. All this help might well come too late for the Democrat, who's been well behind in the polls and didn't land any big blows in the fourth and final debate.

Read the full McCartney Scorecard.

McCartney also was on News Channel 8 earlier today to discuss his column about GOP attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli. You can watch the clip below.

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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 10/22/2009

McDonnell: I will not raise taxes

Would Republican Bob McDonnell ever be willing to raise taxes?

Our colleague Lee Hockstader suggests in a column that he might. He questions whether the gubernatorial candidate might in fact be leaving himself some wiggle room to support a tax increase after the economic recession is over.

The McDonnell campaign says no.

McDonnell usually says he won't raise taxes in "this tough economic time," though he has on occasion dropped those last few words and stated unequivocally that he would not raise taxes under any circumstances.

"Bob McDonnell will not raise taxes as governor,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. "Creigh Deeds, on the other hand, has pledged to raise taxes immediately, even in a recession. It's a defining difference in this race."

Deeds has said he would be willing to raise taxes for transportation, though he has not said which taxes or how much. He has said he would sign a tax increase to provide new revenue for roads if it was the result of a bipartisan compromise passed by the General Assembly.

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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 10/22/2009

A second Deeds ad on The Post endorsement

We noted that a Northern Virginia ad that Democrat Creigh Deeds released several days about Deeds's endorsement by The Washington Post featured only lines praising Deeds -- and none of the endorsement's criticism of Republican Bob McDonnell.

It turned out, the Deeds campaign was saving those tidbits of the piece for a second ad, this one all about McDonnell. The ad began running Thursday morning and features pretty much nothing but quotes from The Post ed board about McDonnell, against a white background.

Watch it here.

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Posted at 11:18 AM ET, 10/22/2009

Updated: McDonnell up on black radio

Republican Bob McDonnell will start airing a radio ad today mentioning three prominent African American leaders -- President Obama, former Virginia governor Doug Wilder and businesswoman Sheila Johnson -- as he tries to cut into the usually Democratic black vote.

All three African Americans in the ad are Democrats, and only Johnson has endorsed him.

The ad mentions that McDonnell, worked as attorney general with Wilder to reduce gang violence, holds the same views with Obama on charter schools and is supported by Johnson, wealthy co-founded of Black Entertainment Television.

"Bob McDonnell is a bipartisan leader who gets results,'' Johnson says in the ad. "That's the kind of governor we need. And that's why this Democrat strongly supports Bob McDonnell.''

The positive 60-second ad is airing on African American stations in Hampton Roads.

Listen to the ad here:








Update: Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) and Del. Lionell Spruill (D-Chesapeake) responded to McDonnell's ad with a joint statement: "This ad is blatantly misleading and a shameful attempt to dupe people into thinking Bob McDonnell supports the President. It would be laughable if it weren't clear that he was trying to lure voters into thinking he would be a partner and friend to our President and a good steward of Virginia's future. When Creigh Deeds stood with Mark Warner and Tim Kaine to make record investments in education, Bob McDonnell voted no. His education policies would rob much needed funding from Virginia classrooms and leave children with fewer books and teachers. His election would erode nearly a decade of progress here in Virginia."

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Posted at 9:27 AM ET, 10/22/2009

GOP group launches Deeds ad on public option

We knew this was coming.

The Republican Governors Association launched a new ad in Northern Virginia today seizing on what it calls Democrat Creigh Deeds's conflicting statements about whether he would consider opting out of a public health insurance option if Congress extended that possibility to the states.

"Creigh Deeds waffles more than IHOP after church lets out on Sunday," RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. "But unlike their customers, Deeds leaves 'everything on the table.'"

Deeds made the comments at Tuesday night's final debate in Salem. Immediately after the debate, he tried to explain to reporters that he believed the public option might help reduce health care costs and expand coverage, but he is not certain it is the best way to achieve those goals. "It may be one way, it might not be the best way," he said.

Watch the ad here:


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Posted at 7:35 AM ET, 10/22/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009

Good morning politicos! Twelve days to go until Election Day, and the campaigns for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates are sprinting along.

The narrative remained largely static Wednesday, with more encouraging poll numbers for Republican Bob McDonnell and more evidence that Democrat Creigh Deeds is banking on a last-minute surge of support from supporters of President Obama.

Public Policy Polling, which uses a methodology that our in-house polling experts don't love, released numbers Wednesday giving McDonnell a 12-point lead over Deeds, a large jump from three weeks ago, when the same firm put Deeds within five points.

Deeds announced that Obama would campaign with him next Tuesday at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Deeds also launched a new TV ad featuring Obama campaigning for him in Tysons Corner.

McDonnell launched his "New Jobs, New Virginia" tour yesterday with a stop at a Lynchburg furniture maker; today he continues the tour with a visit to a Culpeper home building company. And he got a boost when former state senator Brandon Bell, a Republican who had endorsed Deeds, switched horses midstream.

Deeds's only public appearance today is at a forum in Hampton sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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Posted at 7:15 PM ET, 10/21/2009

Deeds takes heat online over public option comments

Left-leaning blogs and Democratic twitters are giving Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds a hard time over his comment at Tuesday night's final debate in Salem, indicating that he would consider opting out of a public health insurance option if Congress extended that possibility to the states. Daily Kos has run some items taking Deeds to task over his wishy-washy support for the public option, for instance. That's not to mention Virginia bloggers Ben Tribbett and Lowell Feld.

After the debate, Deeds tried to explain to reporters that he believed the public option might help reduce health care costs and expand coverage, but he is not certain it is the best way to achieve those goals. "It may be one way, it might not be the best way," he said.

(His campaign also circulated a statement today about the issue saying that "if the public option proves to be the best way" to reduce costs and expand coverage, "he'd support having Virginia participate. He'll examine all of the proposals on the table and choose the option than provides Virginians with the most affordable and quality coverage.")

But his attempt to clarify his position has now been turned into a new Republican video that is making the rounds, much like the Fairfax Count post-debate scrum.

And now it appears Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Jody Wagner is embracing the public option more vigorously, at least slightly, than Deeds.

It's hard to know whether the online world will filter into the rest of the world on this issue. But it's clear Deeds needs to energize committed Democrats behind his efforts--and some of them were not at all impressed with his answer on health care.

Just check out some of the tweets.

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Posted at 4:58 PM ET, 10/21/2009

Excerpts: Post reporters discuss election

Rosalind Helderman and Amy Gardner of The Post were online earlier today to answer questions about the governor's race and the down-ballot campaigns. Read the full discussion transcript. Excerpts follow.

Richmond, Va.: You've reported several times that Deeds is having a tough time energizing Democrats and Obama voters and that was something he was going to emphasize over the next two weeks. However, last night he waffled on his support for the public option. Combined with his distancing himself from many of Obama and Congressional Democrat policies, is Deeds contradicting his proclaimed path to victory?

Amy Gardner: Great question. I think this speaks to the heart of Deeds's challenge -- the fact that he is a conservative Democrat, many of whose positions are to the right of President Obama, but who is seeking election in a year when the clear path to victory for a Democrat is to rally Obama voters. I don't know if Deeds has "waffled," but certainly he has wobbled a little bit trying to explain his views on health care reform and cap and trade legislation without sounding like he is contradicting Obama and without alienating those who support the president.

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Posted at 2:58 PM ET, 10/21/2009

Obama signs email for Deeds

More signs that Democrat Creigh Deeds has made a late turn to Obama Democrats, in hopes of revving up the Democratic base behind his candidacy for governor: An email went out Wednesday to supporters of Organizing for America in Virginia, Obama's political organization. Unlike last week's missive that come out under the hand of the group's executive director, this email was signed by the man himself.

"We've worked too hard and come too far to let Virginia slip back. Creigh Deeds has embraced the movement you started by speaking directly and honestly to Virginians about the challenges ahead and the ideas that will move us forward," writes President Obama in the email.

OFA sent out in an email in Obama's name once before, the day after Deeds won the Democratic primary. Click through to read today's email in full.

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Posted at 1:12 PM ET, 10/21/2009

Questions about the race? We'll answer them today.

Post reporters Rosalind Helderman and Amy Gardner will be online at 2 p.m. to discuss their stories today on the debate and Bill Clinton's Virginia visit, as well as any other aspect of the Virginia governor's race. Submit questions now or read the full discussion.

Earlier today, Post editorial board member Lee Hockstader took questions about the board's decision to endorse Deeds in the race -- read some excerpts from that discussion after the jump.

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Posted at 12:28 PM ET, 10/21/2009

Obama in Norfolk for Deeds next week

We told you we'd let you know when we had more details about President Obama's Oct. 27 foray into Virginia to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial hopeful R. Creigh Deeds.

Here you go: A "Rally for Virginia" featuring Obama and Deeds will take place at the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. The Deeds folks say further information will be available in the coming days.

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 10/21/2009

GOP supporter defects from Deeds camp

Former Roanoke state Sen. Brandon Bell, who had been among some prominent Republican supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds earlier this year, announced Wednesday that he changed his mind and now supporters Republican Robert F. McDonnell, the McDonnell campaign announced today.

"I've watched this campaign unfold since both candidates secured their respective nominations," Bell said in a statement issued by the McDonnell folks. "In the four months since that time, Bob McDonnell has impressed me with his campaign, and his determined focus on rolling out specific policy proposals for Virginia's future."

Two steadfast Republican supporters of Deeds, former state senator Russ Potts of Winchester and former delegate Jim Dillard of Fairfax, are on the road in Northern Virginia today talking up his education plan. Mike Gehrke of the Deeds campaign today simply said, "We're still proud of the support we have from Republicans who know Bob McDonnell and have served with him."

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Posted at 11:31 AM ET, 10/21/2009

U.S. Chamber Targets NoVa Drivers

As we told you earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is airing radio and TV ads in the pricey Washington media market to target Northern Virginians stuck in traffic.

The hard-hitting ads accuse Democrat Creigh Deeds of having no plan for transportation, while Republican Bob McDonnell has proposed widening I-66 inside the Beltway and extending Metro to Dulles airport.

"Tell Creigh Deeds we need a real transportation plan now,'' a narrator says at the end.

The transportation TV ad -- as well as a second one airing in the rest of the state on the so-called federal card-check legislation -- are part of a significant ad buy by the chamber that began last week.

McDonnell and his backers, which include the Republican Governors Association, the NRA and the chamber, continue to significantly outspend Deeds and his supporters on advertising.

Check out the ads after the jump.

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Posted at 10:22 AM ET, 10/21/2009

Deeds releases ad featuring Obama

If there was any doubt that R. Creigh Deeds has President Obama in a bear hug in the final two weeks of the gubernatorial campaign, it should be erased today.

The Democratic hopeful has just released an ad called "Fired Up," which features the president at his inspirational best, calling on supporters to throw their support behind Deeds as a continuation of his history-making campaign last year. As we've reported before, Deeds lags Republican Robert F. McDonnell in the polls and must whip up the Democratic base in the two weeks left before the election.

"Last year, Virginia, you helped lead a movement of Americans who believed that their voices could make a difference," Obama says in the ad. "I need every one of you to get fired up once again so that we can go towards the future, with Creigh Deeds leading the great Commonwealth of Virginia."

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Posted at 6:51 AM ET, 10/21/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009

Good morning, politicos! Though perhaps not if you're a Virginia Democrat.

Several new polls this week show Republican Robert F. McDonnell with a comfortable, even growing lead against Democrat R. Creigh Deeds -- and the word from Public Policy Polling, which releases new numbers this morning, seems to indicate more of the same. (Usual caveat: Our polling experts don't love the methodology on these polls).

PPP's Tom Jensen wrote in a blog item yesterday that even Democrats planning to vote are unenthused, and that many more are simply sitting this one out.

"We're looking at a McCain +6 electorate this year in a state that was Obama +6 last year," Jensen wrote. "There's no path to victory if that stays true through election day. We'll see how much good the visits from Obama, Bill Clinton, and other leading national Democrats do in the last few weeks but there is a lot of ground to make up."

Meanwhile, if Deeds had an opportunity to turn things around at Tuesday's final debate at Roanoke College, he seems to have missed the opportunity. Both candidates struck out at the other, with McDonnell accusing Deeds of planning to raise taxes and linking him to the controversial policies of President Obama, and Deeds portraying McDonnell as an election-year convert to moderation.

Before the debate, Deeds continued his last-ditch effort to turn the numbers around with an appearance with former president Bill Clinton in Tysons Corner. The Deeds campaign is focused on rallying core Democratic voters in these final two weeks, but the candidate may not have helped himself as he tried to articulate his position on a public option in health care reform after the debate.

Here's the video from the debate:


And here's the post-debate scrum:

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Posted at 6:57 PM ET, 10/20/2009

Moderator Proves Tough in Salem

Moderator Jay Warren is tough on both guys tonight. Here's a rough exchange he had with Democrat Creigh Deeds, pushing him on his transportation plan.

Warren: "What tax would you see increase under creigh deeds?"

"What tax would you see increase under creigh deeds?" Deeds asked incredulously.
"I can answer that," McDonnell said, as the crowd laughed.

"No you can't," Deeds responded.

"What I've said is that anything that has a nexus to transportation," Deeds began.

"What does that mean? Sales tax on cigarettes? Alcohol?" Warren asked.

"Anything that has a nexus to transportation. Anything that involves all the people who use the transportation system, both people who live in state and out of state."

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Posted at 6:43 PM ET, 10/20/2009

Roanoke College Prepares for Final Debate

Greetings from the campus of Roanoke College in Salem, Va., where Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds are 9 minutes from taking the stage for their final debate before the Nov. 3 election. Both candidates have enthusiastic supporters outside and went out and visited with their people before the kickoff. We'll give you a couple live updates as the debate progresses.

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Posted at 3:43 PM ET, 10/20/2009

Clinton: 'Governor Deeds' is 'the best choice'

Former president and Democratic celebrity Bill Clinton dropped into Virginia today to fire up the ground troops for Creigh Deeds, who is racing to catch up to Republican Robert F. McDonnell with just 14 days to go until Election Day.

Clinton spoke to about 300 supporters and a bank of TV cameras crowded into his friend Terry McAuliffe's old campaign headquarters in Tysons Corner. With McAuliffe and Deeds at his side, the former president praised Deeds's plans to create jobs, improve access to college, protect education funding and find new money to fix Virginia roads.

"Senator Deeds -- Governor Deeds. It sounds pretty good, huh?" Clinton said.

The room was filled with local elected officials and party organizers, many of whom expressed private doubts about Deeds's ability to overcome McDonnell's lead. But supporters greeted Clinton, McAuliffe and Deeds with excitement and cheers -- and they delivered laughter at all the right moments.

"I tried to help Terry McAuliffe beat Creigh Deeds, and we failed," Clinton said. "But I respect people who win and win fair and square. And I'm a lifetime Democrat and I like this guy. I like Creigh Deeds. I like the way he handled himself in the primary. I like the way he's handling himself in the general election. I believe he would be the best choice for the commonwealth of Virginia."

McAuliffe had a few laugh lines too, as well as an adoring introduction for Clinton.

"Let me say first that it is great to be back at my old headquarters. Not the way I thought I'd be back, but I am honored to be back with all of you today."

And:

"When Creigh is elected governor, he is going to fight for the things we care about ... He's going to make sure we turn chicken waste into energy products."

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Posted at 2:57 PM ET, 10/20/2009

GOP spoofs ads touting Post endorsement of Deeds

Good Samaritans that they are, Virginia's Republicans Tuesday put up a new Web ad that fills in some lines omitted from a Washington Post endorsement that heartily endorsed the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds.

The GOP ad, entitled "Second Cut," slyly juxtaposes lines about Deeds' pledge to raise taxes for roads, if necessary, with images lifted from a Democratic ad that touts Deeds' receipt of the newspaper's endorsement.

The GOP ad throws in some other choice lines from other Post opinion pieces, too, to drive home the point Deeds' stand on taxes may not be as popular with voters as it is with the editorial board.

To be fair, this ad omits some choice lines of its own -- including the editorial board's assertion that Republican candidate Robert F. McDonnell is a culture warrior who "has staked out the intolerant terrain on his party's right wing."

To read the editorial by our colleagues on the other side of the wall between news and opinion, click here.

--Fredrick Kunkle

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Posted at 2:49 PM ET, 10/20/2009

The Kitchen Table: Disenchanted Obama voter, revisited

In August, we brought you the story of Chris Ann Cleland, a real estate agent from Prince William County whose buyer's remorse over voting for President Obama last fall was coloring her view of the Virginia governor's race. Obama was not the change agent he promised to be, Cleland said. "I feel like I've been punked."

The quote so resonated that it got picked up by New York Times columnist Frank Rich and scored Cleland an interview on Fox News. But two months later, we wondered what she had finally decided about the governor's race.

Well, she settled on Democrat R. Creigh Deeds. The reason, she said, came down to two words: liquor stores.

A few weeks ago, Cleland was so busy with her work and so tired of what she perceived as politics as usual that she thought she might not even vote in the election this year. But then she learned that Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell had proposed privatizing state liquor stores to collect $500 million for road improvements, an idea that suggested a transformation of her community from tranquil to "trashy."

"While his plan may be thought out very well, I'll take my chances with the other guy, Deeds, because I don't want to feel like I live in Maryland or D.C.," she told us in a phone interview. "I like the way Virginia handles the liquor stores."

And how does she feel about Obama these days?

"I feel worse about him now," she said, citing what she viewed as his failure to adequately push for a public health care option and his deferential attitude toward misbehaving banks. "He just seems to be very self-interested and just continuing a run of bad choices, in my opinion."

The video we shot of Cleland back in August is below.

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Posted at 6:52 AM ET, 10/20/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2009

Good morning, politicos! Just 14 days to go until Election Day, and things are looking good for the GOP/bad for the Dems.

A new poll gives Republicans Robert F. McDonnell a substantial lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds. We have a few issues with this poll, but there's another one out this morning from Clarus that shows McDonnell up by 8 points, 49 to 41.

Democrat Creigh Deeds says he's still got plenty of time, and that his campaign will now focus on drawing out supporters of President Obama and core Democrats generally.

The candidates for lieutenant governor, incumbent Republican Bill Bolling and Democrat Jody Wagner, took the proverbial gloves off last night in a televised debate.

And Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, unveiled a tough new ad accusing Republican Ken Cuccinelli of not being tough enough on public corruption because he hasn't called for the resignation of Del. Phil Hamilton.

The gubernatorial candidates meet for their final debate tonight in Roanoke. McDonnell is holed up to prepare, while Deeds will fit in a quick campaign appearance in Tysons Corner at lunchtime today with former president Bill Clinton and his pal Terry McAuliffe.

There's more grim news out regarding Virginia's revenue outlook, raising the obvious question of why all these folks even want the jobs they're seeking.

Lastly, we'll leave you with this thought: Bob McDonnell for President!

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Posted at 10:35 PM ET, 10/19/2009

McDonnell for president?

Republican Bob McDonnell pledged to serve his entire four-year term -- and not run for president in 2012 -- if he is elected Virginia governor Nov. 3.

We never really considered McDonnell a serious contender for president in 2012, but In an interview with Ryan Nobles of Richmond's NBC12 McDonnell puts a stop to any presidency rumors that are out there.

"I think those are all pipe dreams down the road. You know there are a number of national political pundits that are paying an exceptional amount of attention to Virginia,'' he said. "I am running to be governor of Virginia, this is a state that I have lived in virtually my entire life. I love this state we have great opportunities ahead for the state to create more opportunity and prosperity for our citizens, in so many ways, I am fully committed to four years as Virginia's governor."

But McDonnell didn't stop there. He took a little jab at Tim Kaine, who has been criticized by some for serving both as governor and his party's national chairman. "We need a full time governor,'' he said.

Nobles interviewed Democrat Creigh Deeds last week. You can watch the full McDonnell interview here:

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Posted at 7:24 PM ET, 10/19/2009

Another polls shows a big McDonnell lead

A new poll out this evening from the Virginian-Pilot, WVEC television, the ABC affiliate in the Hampton Roads area and Christopher Newport University shows Republican Bob McDonnell with a hefty lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds in the race for governor.

The poll is out this evening but involved interviews with 506 likely voters from Oct. 8 to 13. It showed McDonnell with a 14 point lead over Deeds, leading the Democrat by 44 to 30 percent. But the poll also showed that 22 percent of likely voters were undecided, a figure that would mean the race remains far from decided. And it's worth recalling that the poll is now a week old.

CNU professor Quentin Kidd told the television station that one reason the poll indicates so many undecided voters is that the results do not included so-called "leaners," people who told the pollsters that they their decision was not entirely set but they were leaning one way or the other.

"Anyone who counts Deeds out at this point is crazy," said Kidd, the poll's director.

The poll also indicated that two-thirds of likely voters said that McDonnell's controversial 1989 master's thesis wouldn't affect their vote.

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Posted at 7:10 PM ET, 10/19/2009

New ad pushes Deeds as hometown choice

Another new ad from the Deeds campaign today, this one for the Bristol and Harrisonburg markets. The spot is designed to get votes for Deeds as the hometown kid. It features footage of Deeds with a shotgun and notes his A rating from the NRA; it does not mention that the NRA has endorsed Republican Bob McDonnell this year.

"For too long...our part of Virginia has been forgotten. Forgotten by Richmond when it comes to jobs, roads and schools. But this election we have a chance to change all that by voting for Creigh Deeds," the narrator says.

It's a message that Deeds has hit hard before and that could go over well in rural Virginia where many people do feel forgotten. It may not be as well received in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, where many voters think too few of their tax dollars stay in their regions already.

The ad concludes, "Creigh is from here...and has never left," a notion that has already earned him some mocking from the Republican Party of Virginia. Deeds' Bath County home is definitely on the state's rural end. But it's 85 miles from Harrisonburg and a full 240 miles to Bristol.

Watch the ad here:

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Posted at 5:26 PM ET, 10/19/2009

GOP activist questions Deeds's contributions

Longtime Republican activist Gary Byler is asking the State Board of Elections to investigate whether Democratic gubernatorial Creigh Deeds violated state law by receiving contributions from labor unions.

Byler, a longtime friend of GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, claims that Deeds and his backers, including the Democratic Governors Association, have accepted millions of dollars from groups that have not registered with the state or disclosed donors.

In a letter sent Monday, Byler asked the board to look into whether $3.7 million from the DGA and $1.1 million from unions comply with state laws.

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Posted at 4:47 PM ET, 10/19/2009

Updated: U.S. Chamber airs ads in governor's race

Have you heard or seen the radio or TV ads being paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the Virginia governor's race?

They've been airing since last week in Northern Virginia and will be up through Election Day. The topic is transportation.

But the chamber, which has not endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds or Republican Bob McDonnell, refuses to share the ad, script or message with us.

It's an odd strategy -- considering that the ads are already on the air in the state. What is the nation's largest business group trying to hide?

In addition, the chamber is airing TV ads across the state on the so-called card check legislation that would remove the secret ballot from union elections. They won't give us any information on that one either, but we know where chamber officials stands on that issue: They oppose the bill.

McDonnell has repeatedly tried to pressure Deeds to talk about controversial issues, and accused him of supporting the card check bill. I guess we know whose side the chamber is on.

Have you heard or seen the ads? Let us know below.

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Posted at 11:24 AM ET, 10/19/2009

One day later, Deeds gets Post nod in ad

That didn't take long. Democrat Creigh Deeds will begin airing a television ad today in Northern Virginia using lines from Sunday's endorsement by The Post editorial board, praising Deeds on education, transportation and the economy. It worked to spark momentum for the Deeds campaign during the Democratic primary -- Deeds hopes it can do the same this time.

The ad is all positive, including only lines from the editorial that support Deeds and resisting the temptation to use some of the choice language the ed board had for opponent Republican Bob McDonnell.

Watch the ad here.

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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 10/19/2009

Get to know a candidate: Hair edition

Welcome to Get to Know a Candidate, an occasional Virginia Politics blog feature about the the more light-hearted personal side of the gubernatorial candidates. Today, we consider the topic of the two men's hair. There are probably some metaphors to be drawn about the campaign from the topic. The coif of Republican Bob McDonnell, who has run a largely smooth and disciplined campaign, appears unshakable, with never a hair out of place. Democrat Creigh Deeds sometimes does television interviews with his hair still mussed from the wind.

This item was inspired by Julian Walker's profile of McDonnell in Saturday's Virginian-Pilot, where Walker took on directly the issue of whether the Republican dyes his hair.

"McDonnell laughed when asked whether he uses dye to conceal the silver strands in his never-out-of-place head of hair. He insists that he doesn't apply color; wife Maureen said a combination of natural extracts like chamomile and green tea and the summer sun have altered the hue of his hair," Walker wrote.

This intrigued us. Chamomile? Green tea? Was McDonnell's wife referring to some kind of hair product? Or is there actual brewing going on in the McDonnell household?

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Posted at 7:56 AM ET, 10/19/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Monday, Oct. 19, 2009

Good morning, politicos! Just 15 days to go, and boy has it gotten busy. Republican Robert F. McDonnell and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds have transformed the race for governor into a sprint, with both zooming through mostly friendly crowds over the weekend to rev up their bases.

On Saturday, McDonnell rallied veterans in Virginia Beach with U.S. Sen. John McCain -- but coverage of the event didn't turn out exactly as planned when McDonnell was asked for his views on climate change. McDonnell went on to attend a Norfolk State-Hampton University football game in Norfolk, a seafood festival in heavily Republican Poquoson, a voter event in Glen Allen with House Minority Whip Eric I. Cantor and a Hispanic reception at a Mexican restaurant in Richmond.

Deeds flooded the zone too, rallying across Northern Virginia Saturday with various ethnic groups seen as crucial to Democratic turnout: Latinos in Baileys Crossroads, Vietnamese at the Eden Center in Falls Church, Ethiopians and more. On Sunday, Deeds hit five black churches in the Richmond area (and if you think that's a lot, wait until next week, when he's planning to visit 15 in one day in Hampton Roads). Terry McAuliffe rallied canvassers at his McLean home Sunday after going at it with Karl Rove on Fox News Sunday (and betting Rove $5 that Deeds will win).

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Posted at 7:43 PM ET, 10/18/2009

McAuliffe tells Fairfax Dems: Don't count out Creigh

So if former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe is betting Gov. Jon Corzine takes New Jersey by seven, what about his former opponent Creigh Deeds in Virginia?

"Deeds by two," McAuliffe said this evening at the Fall Festival of the Dranesville Democratic Committee, at his McLean home.

Dozens of longtime Democrats were greeted by an enormous plastic pumpkin in front of the home before heading inside for the fundraiser and general pep rally. They crowded into the McAuliffe's kitchen to hear from Del. Margi Vanderhye and Del. Jim Scott, lieutenant governor candidate Jody Wagner, McAuliffe and Deeds' campaign manager Joe Abbey. A laminated copy of this morning's Washington Post endorsement of Deeds was propped up on the kitchen table.

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Posted at 2:36 PM ET, 10/18/2009

On Fox, McAuliffe and Rove Wager $5 on Va., N.J.

Former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe appeared this afternoon on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, along with Karl Rove, mostly to discuss recent charges by the White House that Fox's news coverage is slanted. But as the interview concluded, the two got into a brief but spirited debate over the outcomes of the Virginia and New Jersey races.

It started as Wallace was wrapping up the piece, with McAuliffe shouting out, "Democrats big win, Virginia and New Jersey, coming up!" That prompted Rove to pull out a folder he had brought for the occasion and hold up a print-out of a story from the Richmond Times Dispatch that ran just before the June 9 primary between McAuliffe, Brian Moran and now Democratic nominee Creigh Deeds.

Headline: McAuliffe says Deeds Can't Beat McDonnell

"I agree with Terry McAuliffe," Karl Rove said.

"I said Deeds can win. Of course he can win. He's gonna win," said McAuliffe.

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Posted at 11:49 AM ET, 10/18/2009

In the Morning Papers, Endorsements Start Arriving

The editorial boards of Virginia's newspapers are starting to make their endorsements for governor.

The Daily Press this morning backed Republican Bob McDonnell. So did Inside Nova, which includes both the Manassas News-Messenger and the Potomac News. Also endorsing McDonnell this weekend were the Winchester Star and the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record.

The Washington Post's editorial board endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds this morning.

Do newspaper endorsements matter?

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Posted at 10:59 AM ET, 10/18/2009

Deeds, McDonnell Make Their Cases

The Richmond Times Dispatch published op-eds today from Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell on why Virginians should vote for them on Nov. 3.

Both candidates for governor talk about jobs, traffic, schools and energy.

Read Deeds's response here and McDonnell's here.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 10/18/2009

Fact Check: Fueling the Debate Over Taxes

In a campaign that has lately shifted the debate to taxes, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic Party candidate for governor, says Republican candidate Robert F. McDonnell is exaggerating the potential cost that Deeds' proposals would cost Virginia's families.

Leaving aside the GOP's questionable claim that Deeds' total tax tab would amount to about $7,800 per family -- which would require yet another foray into the thicket of computations and counter-computations of the impact of cap-and-trade regulation on American consumers -- let's focus for the moment on the bill for transportation.

Deeds says Virginia needs at least $1 billion in new revenues every year to fix its transportation woes.

He does not specify where the new money will come from, other than to say that he will not use any money that now supports the state's public schools. He tells a scrum of reporters that he will not raise any taxes that go to the state's general fund, such as sales and income taxes. But he promises in writing that, as governor, he would enact a bipartisan, comprehensive transportation plan, "even if" it includes new taxes, to fix "a multibillion-dollar backlog."

For taking this stand, Deeds has won plaudits from some, including the editorial page of The Washington Post. The Post praised Deeds for "political guts" in acknowledging that taxpayers must foot the bill for "tens of billions of dollars in new revenue." The same page dismissed McDonnell's plan, which spurns any new taxes for roads, "as phony-baloney."

Yet when McDonnell accused Deeds during a recent debate -- and now in ads that began airing Oct. 10 -- of supporting "another billion dollars in taxes" or a "billion dollar tax increase," Deeds said McDonnell was lying.

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Posted at 6:18 PM ET, 10/17/2009

Does Bob McDonnell Believe in Global Warming?

Yes. Well, sort of.

Republican Bob McDonnell said today that he believes the world has gotten warmer but declined to blame manmade carbon emissions.

"I think it's a real concern, and we need to find ways to be able to reduce (carbon dioxide) emissions," he told reporters after a rally with Sen. John McCain in Virginia Beach. "Well, there's some debate that various scientists are going on. I think the temperature of the earth, from the science I've seen, has gone up and what we need to do is promote reductions" in cardion dioxide.

But does he believe manmade carbon emissions created the problem?

"Look, it's not going to affect my policy decisions. What the policy decision needs to be is to find ways that are creative to be able to reduce" carbon dioxide, he said. "I am going to accept the science that's out there, and the science is that we need to do everything that we can to reduce (carbon dioxide) emissions in the atmosphere."

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Posted at 5:17 PM ET, 10/17/2009

College Dems Bus in For Deeds

The Wolverines have arrived for Democrat Creigh Deeds.

Among about 100 canvassers who rallied with Deeds at the Mason District Park amphitheater in Annandale on this rainy afternoon were 30 students from the college Democrats at the University of Michigan. The group is spending their fall break knocking doors for Deeds.

A recent Washington Post poll showed that young voters appeared likely to make up a smaller portion of the electorate this year than in last year's presidential election, when they comprised 20 percent of the electorate. But Sam Marvin, 21, a senior at the University of Michigan, said his group hopes to help get Obama voters engaged for Deeds.

"It's about mobilizing those people. They would vote for him. I don't think there's anyone out there who would vote for Obama and not vote for Mr. Deeds. But it's about making sure they understand this is an important race too," said Marvin, who grew up in Fredericksburg before moving with his family to Kalamazoo.

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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 10/17/2009

McCain Rallies McDonnell Supporters

VIRGINIA BEACH -- Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, headlined a packed veterans rally for Virginia's Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell on a cold, rainy Saturday morning.

About 300 supporters crammed into a Veterans of Foreign Wars post that had been decorated with massive red, white and blue "Veterans for McDonnell" signs.

"This is the man who will bring about fiscal discipline, who understands what it means to balance a budget, who understands what pork barrel spending is, who understands that we have an obligation not just to our present citizens and out present veterans but to our children and our grandchildren and not hand them an unsustainable debt,'' McCain said. "That's Bob McDonnell. He will be a fiscal conservative."

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Posted at 6:43 PM ET, 10/16/2009

The Goracle Lands in Virginia

We learned today that if you bring Al Gore into a state to campaign, you're headed for a discussion about the politics of climate change.

Gore, the former vice president (and almost, but not quite president), who won an Oscar for his documentary An Inconvenient Truth and Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, is attending a fundraiser dinner tonight with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds at a McLean home. (Tickets are $5,000).

Republicans accused Deeds and Democrats of supporting a "devastating" cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Democrats accused Republican Bob McDonnell and the rest of his ticket of failing to believe in the concept of global warming.

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Posted at 6:34 PM ET, 10/16/2009

Democrats Make a Weekend Push In Va.

Organizing for America, an arm of the Democratic National Committee, is asking supporters from other states to travel to Virginia this weekend for gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

The group sent emails to thousands of members in D.C. and Maryland, asking for volunteers to door-knock for Deeds, with a goal of working 5,000 hours by next weekend.

"Because this race isn't just about Virginia -- it's about standing up for the progress we've all fought so hard for and making sure our entire country keeps heading in the right direction,'' Mitch Stewart, the group's director, writes in the email.

Deeds will appear at six events with DNC Chairman and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine and Jody Wagner, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, in Northern Virginia.

McDonnell will appear a veterans rally with Sen. John McCain tomorrow morning in Virginia Beach. He will appear with U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor in Richmond in the afternoon

McDonnell and Deeds do not have any public events Sunday. They will visit churches in the morning and spend the day preparing for the fourth and final debate, which will take place in Ronoake Tuesday night. Deeds will also have a mid-day fundraiser in Richmond.

Check back tomorrow for updates from Deeds's and McDonnell's travels.

In the meantime, read the Organizing for America letter below:

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Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 10/16/2009

Deeds On Air With TV Ad Accusing McDonnell of Misrepresentation

Democrat Creigh Deeds started airing a new TV ad today in Southwest Virginia accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of mispresenting Deeds on taxes.

The ad refers to the Roanoke Times and the nonpartisian Factcheck.org, both of which have questionned a McDonnell ad claiming Deeds supports a gas tax increase and the federal cap-and -rade bill.

Deeds has said he opposes the cap and trade bill, and has never said what specific tax increase he would support.

"He's running ads fabricating numbers for proposals Creigh Deeds doesn't support,'' Deeds campaign spokesperson Jared Leopold said. "The only thing clear from this ad is that Bob McDonnell will say or do anything to get elected."

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Posted at 12:54 PM ET, 10/16/2009

McDonnell Airs New Ad on Cap-and-Trade

Republican Bob McDonnell began airing a new ad today in Roanoke and Southwest featuring an official from MeadWestvaco talking about the impact of the so-called cap and trade bill.

The ad says that Deeds supports the federal climate change legislation, though he has said in recent appearances that he is opposed.

Meadwest, a paper and packaging company, has a plant in Deeds's state senator district. The company has donated $15,000 to McDonnell and John Luke, its chairman, has given $10,000.

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Posted at 11:09 AM ET, 10/16/2009

Clinton to Campaign for Deeds

The President's coming to Virginia for Democrat Creigh Deeds.

Former President Bill Clinton, that is. Clinton will hold a rally with Deeds somewhere inside the Beltway in Northern Virginia on Tuesday, the Deeds campaign confirms. Also in attendance will be Clinton buddy and Deeds's rival during the primary campaign, Terry McAuliffe.

Clinton did several appearances for McAuliffe before the June 9 primary. His work for Deeds comes as national Democrats swing into action to try to rev up a party base that polls have shown is unenthusiastic about Deeds's candidacy. This evening, Deeds holds a fundraiser with former vice president Al Gore.

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Posted at 7:31 AM ET, 10/16/2009

First Click - Virginia

Happy Friday Virginia! Here's what's happening around the state in politics.

More evidence today that Republican Robert F. McDonnell has the advantage with less than three weeks left in the race for governor. As of Oct. 1, McDonnell had $4.5 million in the bank, $1.8 million more than his opponent Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, and in September had about 6,400 donors compared with Deeds's 3,800. Lots more information on the recent reports from all the Nov. election candidates -- and on all things campaign finance -- available from our friends at the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project.

Deeds comes to Northern Virginia today, where Organizing for America, the Democratic group that grew out of President Obama's historic campaign, launches a major canvassing push this weekend. While there's still no word on a second campaign visit by Obama to the state, Obama's opponent from last fall, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), headlines a veterans rally for McDonnell in Virginia Beach tomorrow.

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Posted at 6:57 PM ET, 10/15/2009

Obama "Will Be Back," Says Deeds

For the second time in week, Democrat Creigh Deeds has virtually promised that President Obama will be back to campaign for him before the Nov. 3 election, even though no date for such an event has been set.

In an interview with Ryan Nobles of Richmond's NBC12, Deeds said, "President Obama will be back in Virginia." Nobles asked the candidate, "Within the next 19 days, we will see you and Barack Obama, standing on a stage in Virginia?" And Deeds answered, "You will, yes."

Deeds told Mark Plotkin something similar last week on WTOP. Yet, Obama has announced a rally for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and so far, no such love for Deeds.

Deeds also tried to explain why he called himself a "Creigh Deeds Democrat" when asked at a recent debate whether he was a "Barack Obama Democrat." Was he trying to distance himself from the president?

"You know, I support the President, but I will not visit my sins upon anyone else. I support the President, I think he is doing a good job, I worked hard for his election last year, I want him to be successful. It is in the interest of every single American citizen that he be successful as President of the United States, But I speak for myself, I am my own kind of Democrat and I have always been a Creigh Deeds Democrat," he said, according to Nobles transcript of the interview.

You can watch the interview here:

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Posted at 5:07 PM ET, 10/15/2009

McDonnell Raises $3.8M, Has $4.5M in Bank

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell raised $3.8 million in September and had $4.5 million in the bank going into the final month of the race.

The campaign raised more in September than July and August combined.

McDonnell had 6,440 unique donors. Of those, 4,819 were new contributors and 4,454 gave less than $100.

"With three weeks left in the race we have great momentum and the resources we need to continue to get Bob McDonnell's new ideas and positive vision out to voters across the state,'' said Phil Cox, McDonnell campaign manager.

The Republican National Committee donated $400,000, and several national Republican stars helped McDonnell raise more than $600,000 last month.

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and possible presidential hopeful, headlined a fundraiser at the offices of the American Gas Association on Capitol Hill. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal hosted fundraiser for McDonnell at the McLean home of Dwight Schar, founder of NVR Inc, one of the nation's largest homebuilders. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hosted a breakfast fundraising at a Falls Church Marriott. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty raised $75,000 at a small luncheon at a Richmond hotel. And on the last day of the fundraising period, U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner headlined a fundraiser at the Alexandria home of lobbyist Bruce Gates.

Democratic rival Creigh Deeds raised half a million dollars more than McDonnell in July and August, though McDonnell, who had no primary opponent, had more in the bank.

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Posted at 2:24 PM ET, 10/15/2009

McCartney Scorecard: Nothing Changes, McDonnell Wins

Post columnist Robert McCartney is scoring the Virginia governor's race blow-by-blow, round-by-round. Here's how he graded this past week:

The campaign turns static with McDonnell holding the lead. Deeds does better than expected in the first prime-time television debate, but expectations were low and he didn't do anything to turn it around. Deeds is still waiting for Obama to schedule a another event with him in Virginia -- and the delay is highlighted when White House says the president will campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Corzine in New Jersey.

Who do you think won? See and comment on the full McCartney Scorecard.

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Posted at 12:32 PM ET, 10/15/2009

National Democratic Jewish Group Makes Push in Virginia

The National Jewish Democratic Council launched a major push Thursday in Virginia, its largest ever in the commonwealth, the organization said. The group will send at least three paid organizers to the state, including one based at the University of Virginia focusing on students, and is also organizing a Virginia Volunteer Corps. There will also be literature drops, phone calls and other grass-roots canvassing.

NJDC Political Director Linda Berg said the group's members were excited by Virginia's turning blue last year and determined to keep the state in the Democratic column this year -- particularly given the national attention on Virginia as harbinger of the 2010 midterm elections.

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Posted at 9:10 AM ET, 10/15/2009

UPDATED: Gaffe or No, McDonnell Puts Johnson in Ad

Here's how much Republican Bob McDonnell thinks of calls for him to distance himself from businesswoman Sheila Johnson, after video surfaced of Johnson mocking opponent Deeds' speaking style: McDonnell's latest campaign ad features Johnson.

In the spot, airing as of this morning on Northern Virginia television, the co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and prominent supporter of Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine looks straight into the camera and says, "I'm Sheila Johnson, a Democrat business woman. I know what it takes to start and grow successful businesses and create jobs. That's why I support Bob McDonnell for governor."

She goes on to list some of McDonnell's resume before concluding, "That's why this Democrat strongly supports Bob McDonnell for governor."

Johnson apologized for her comments at a McDonnell event in which she adopted a faux stutter in mocking the way Deeds speaks. Her joke drew condemnation from the National Stuttering Association and others in the disability community and the Deeds campaign had called on McDonnell to apologize as well.

UPDATE: Here's the ad video:

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 10/15/2009

Jones, McClellan Headline Deeds Fundraiser

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and Del. Jennifer McClellan will headline a fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds tonight in downtown Richmond.

The 28-member host committee is a diverse group that includes grocery chain founder Jim Ukrop, developer Mark Merhige, ophthalmologist Shantarm Talegaonkar and lawyers David Gammino, Lakshmi Challa and Nupa Agarwal.

Others include Dominion executive Irene Cimino, Rosa Finch, finance manager at management and technology consulting company BearingPoint and Alice Tousignant, executive director of Virginia Supportive Housing.

Today is the deadline for Deeds, Republican Bob McDonnell and all candidates to turn in their campaign finance reports for September. We'll be bringing you the numbers as we get them throughout the day, so check back often.

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Posted at 7:40 AM ET, 10/15/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning Virginia! Here's what's happening on this rainy fall day in state politics.

Today is the deadline for candidates in November's election to submit their campaign finance reports for September, offering the latest snapshot of the state of the fast-approaching race. Our friends at the Virginia Public Access Project are expected to post the information on their Web site by 6 p.m., and executive director David Poole joined with the Post's Amy Gardner yesterday to answer reader questions about campaign finance.

President Obama came to Virginia yesterday -- but not for Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds, giving fodder to the chattering classes who have been wondering aloud about whether Obama has given up on the Democratic nominee. The questioning intensified yesterday when news broke that Obama has committed to a campaign stop for the other Democrat running for governor this year, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine.

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Posted at 6:22 PM ET, 10/14/2009

Democrats Hit McDonnell on Stimulus

U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner will host a low-dollar fundraiser tonight for Republican Bob McDonnell at Jones Day law firm in Washington. More than 100 young professionals are expected to attend.

Democrats didn't say anything the last time the two campaigned together but this time, they seized on the news -- sending out multiple statements criticizing McDonnell for appearing with a congressman who opposes the federal stimulus package and accusing him of opposing it too.

"The question every Virginia voter should ask: why is Bob McDonnell more than happy to take John Boehner's money when it benefits his political campaign, but not willing to take money for roads and infrastructure projects benefiting all Virginians?" DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said.

It's true that Boehner did oppose the federal stimulus money, but it's not clear McDonnell did. He said he wasn't a huge fan of the package, but would accept federal money if elected governor.

"The money is coming from Virginia taxpayers, frankly it's coming from the children of Virginia taxpayers," McDonnell told the Washington Post in February. "I think we ought to take it to the maximum degree as possible."

McDonnell opposed changing Virginia's unemployment system so the state could take advantage of $125 million in federal stimulus money because he said it could translate to higher taxes for businesses. The General Assembly voted to reject the money in April.

Boehner headlined a fundraiser for McDonnell at the Alexandria home of lobbyist Bruce Gates on Sept. 30, raising $120,000.

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Posted at 5:54 PM ET, 10/14/2009

Obama Commits to Corzine, but No Word on Deeds

President Obama has not yet agreed to campaign again for Virginia Democrat Creigh Deeds--but he's made time for the nation's other Democratic gubernatorial candidate. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine's campaign announced today that Obama will be holding a rally for his reelection effort at Fairleigh Dickinson University next Wednesday.

The news comes as Corzine's effort has pulled even with Republican Chris Christie, even as Deeds trails Republican Bob McDonnell by nine points in a recent Washington Post poll.

Obama did visit Virginia today, to tout the impact of the federal stimulus package at the Fairfax County Parkway extension construction project, the largest project of its kind in Virginia and a federal highway project partially funded by stimulus dollars.

But the event was not a campaign stop and Deeds was not present. Also not on site: Democratic Governor and Obama ally Timothy M. Kaine, who stood at the very same project with Obama in February to push for the stimulus' passage in Congress, citing the Fairfax County Parkway as a possible benefactor.

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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 10/14/2009

McDonnell Opposes Regent Hiring Policy

Democrats including Creigh Deeds have been criticizing Republican Bob McDonnell since news broke about the hiring policy of his alma mater Regent University.

But when we asked today, we were told McDonnell opposes Regent's non-discrimination policy that pledges equal opportunities for men and women, consistent with Biblical teachings that men are the head of households.

"Bob McDonnell supports hiring and promoting individuals based solely on merit and ability, and regardless of gender, race, creed, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. He supports equal pay for equal work,'' said Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman. "He does not support any policy to the contrary."

That seems pretty clear, right?

So why then did McDonnell serve for eight years (1998 to 2005) on the Board of Trustees at the Virginia Beach college founded by televangelist Pat Robertson when he opposed the hiring policy?

Here's the answer we got, though it doesn't answer the question: "Bob McDonnell's position is clear,'' Martin said. "He supports hiring based on merit and ability, and nothing else."

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Posted at 3:42 PM ET, 10/14/2009

Excerpts: Post Reporter, Fundraising Expert Take Your Questions

Washington Post staff writer Amy Gardner and David Poole, executive director of Campaign Finance for the Virginia Public Access Project, were online today to discuss the Virginia governor's race between Creigh Deeds (D) and Bob McDonnell (R) and the candidates' campaign financing. Excerpts follow. Read the full transcript here.

Charlottesville, Va.: Has the recession played much of a role in fundraising this year for Deeds and McDonnell? What about in the down-ticket races?

David Poole: Yes, the recession seems to be a factor. We know this anecdotally from talking to political fundraisers. People who are worth $25 million don't feel rich because, well, last year they were worth $50. We've seen this in the numbers, too. Here is a chart showing the trends in spending for the last few gubernatorial cycles.

You can see things have been on a fast-growth pace. You can ignore this year, because the numbers are preliminary. But through August 31, the amount raised by McDonnell-Deeds was less than raised four years ago at this point by Kilgore-Kaine.

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Posted at 10:19 AM ET, 10/14/2009

Obama in Virginia, But Not For Deeds

President Obama is in Fairfax County today.

But not to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

Snap!

Instead, Obama visits the Fairfax County Parkway extension today with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to talk about federal stimulus spending.

After days of very public discussions about whether Obama will choose to visit Virginia again on Deeds behalf before Nov. 3 and whether the president is trying to limit his exposure in the swing state in anticipation of a possible Deeds loss, that's got to hurt.

The campaign points out that it's not unusual for Obama to make quick hops across the Potomac to talk about how federal policy is affecting people in the states. And that it would be rare to co-mingle a political event with a policy event. And Jake Tapper of ABC twittered yesterday the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said time is being carved out for the president to campaign in Virginia, New Jersey and New York before election day. (Tapper soon added, however, that Gibbs did not specify "if and whom" Obama would campaign for.)

Plus, you heard it here first, Vice President Al Gore will be doing an event for Deeds--a private fundraiser Friday night in McLean at the home of Al and Claire Dwoskin.

"The White House has been very clear that the Virginia governor's race is a huge priority for them. We've been thrilled with their commitment so far. I think it would not have been appropriate to mix a political event with a visit in his official capacity, and I think people will appreciate that. There's still plenty of time for him to help, and the White House has been remarkably helpful," said Deeds's senior adviser Mo Elleithee.

But if the president has time for Virginia, it's hard to argue he would not have time for Deeds. Maybe Obama will say something about Deeds and transportation while he's talking about the topic in Fairfax? Event starts at 2:05 p.m. and we'll all be listening carefully.

UPDATE: Elleithee has something additional to note--he calls the $177 million Fairfax County Parkway Extension that Obama will tout "incredibly important" to Northern Virginia and says that if Republican Bob McDonnell had had his way on federal stimulus money, the project would not be underway. He said McDonnell tonight holds a fundraiser with House Minority Leader John Boehner, who opposed the stimulus package. McDonnell has said he did not oppose the bulk of the stimulus package--but did oppose a $125 million portion of the package for unemployment benefits in Virginia.

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Posted at 7:28 AM ET, 10/14/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning, Virginia, here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Today's big news in state politics comes not from the Virginia governor's race but from the latest chapter in the Virginia Information Technologies Agency fiasco. A state audit released yesterday shows that the bungled $2 billion contract with Northrup Grumman to upgrade computer systems could end up costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars if canceled.

The news did prompt some response from the two men running for governor, with Democrat R. Creigh Deeds blaming Republican Robert F. McDonnell, who was attorney general at the time, and McDonnell's spokesman blaming Democratic leaders.

The Virginia governor's race continues to get national scrutiny for what the outcome might say about President Obama's presidency. Earlier this week it was the New York Times; last night it was the Newshour on PBS, whose Judy Woodruff moderated Monday's gubernatorial debate in Roanoke. While it's still uncertain if Obama will campaign for Deeds in Virginia a second time, Organizing for America, the political organizing group that grew out of his campaign, has been making robo-calls around the state, according to Huffington Post.

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Posted at 7:09 PM ET, 10/13/2009

The Politics of Virginia's Computer Contract

In light of today's stinging legislative audit detailing massive computer problems, Democrat Creigh Deeds accused Republican Bob McDonnell, the former attorney general, of failing to help safeguard the state in its 10-year, $2 billion contract with Northrop Grumman.

"Today's news, coupled with previous reports that Bob McDonnell's office knew of problems in the contract, calls his record into question,'' Deeds said in a statement. "McDonnell owes Virginians answers to questions of what he knew about problems in the contract, when he became aware of them, and whether he did anything at all about it."

The state looked for a private company to oversee its computer system in 2003 after a legislative review showed that its technology was out of date and increasingly expensive to maintain. Then-governor Mark Warner, now a U.S. senator, received approval to consolidate computer operations into one agency and overhauled the system to make it more efficient and less costly.

"VITA was created during a Democratic administration, and is run by Democratic governor Tim Kaine,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "We know that Creigh Deeds is increasingly angry as his negative campaign falls further behind in the polls. His latest baseless attack is as wrong as it is predictable."

The Attorney General's Office will not comment on what advice it provided state agencies with regard to the contract because of attorney-client privilege.

Both Deeds and McDonnell pledged to reform the troubled agency and support changes that would force the agency to report to the governor.

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Posted at 1:57 PM ET, 10/13/2009

Excerpts: Post Columnist Discusses Gov. Race

Washington Post Metro columnist Robert McCartney was online earlier today to discuss the Monday night Virginia governor's race debate, the Deeds and McDonnell campaigns and his recent columns. Some excerpts follow. Read the entire discussion transcript here.

Northern Virginia: I thought that Deeds (in addition to talking issues) worked harder to introduce his biography to voters who are just "tuning in" -- the great uncle's summer camp "all in" philosophy, the four $20 bills going to college, the older Virginians in his family. Do you agree? We did learn about McDonnell's father's Alzheimer's, which is such a shame, but that was the only really personal or emotional thought from him.

Robert McCartney: Yes, Deeds talked a bit more about personal stuff than McDonnell. I've heard Deeds use some of those anecdotes before in public, but he probably figured it made sense to repeat them since this was the first debate televised live in prime time and a lot of people were tuning in for the first time.

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Posted at 11:59 AM ET, 10/13/2009

Live Now: Post Columnist Robert McCartney Takes Your Questions

Got questions about last night's debate or the Virginia governor's race in general? Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney is answering those questions, as well as any about his recent columns, right now in a live online discussion.

Click here to submit a question or click here to read the discussion.

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Posted at 7:11 AM ET, 10/13/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Just about every Virginia publication has a story about last night's bitter debate between gubernatorial candidates R. Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert F. McDonnell (R), who covered the same wide range of issues that have dominated the race, including transportation, education and the economy. Deeds's performance -- he accused McDonnell of "lying" then acknowledged the language might have been too harsh to reporters later -- will likely do little to appease critics who have said the Democratic nominee has been too negative. More on that from Politico and Talking Points Memo.

Deeds, who is behind in the polls, embarks on his second day of his "Hope and Opportunity Tour" of rural Virginia. McDonnell heads back to Northern Virginia for a Vienna rally with businesswoman Sheila Johnson, whose mocking of Deeds' speaking style apparently did not damage her standing with McDonnell's campaign. (And you can add Rush Limbaugh to the list of folks who have similarly attacked Deeds.)

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Posted at 9:00 PM ET, 10/12/2009

Live-Blog: Virginia Governor's Debate

Beginning at 8 p.m. tonight, the Post will have live video, blogging and more from the debate between governor's race candidates Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell in Richmond.

For a look at what each candidate needs to accomplish tonight, read the preview by Rosalind S. Helderman and Anita Kumar.

UPDATE 6:18 p.m.: Apparently our TV partners will not be showing the debate live after all, which means we will be unable to stream it. C-SPAN appears to be streaming the debate live on its Web site, however. It also will be broadcast on WETA and C-SPAN3 in the D.C. area.

UPDATE 7:49 p.m.: We're getting started here. Questions for all of you out there: What could Deeds do to reverse the momentum in this race? How big a gaffe could McDonnell commit and still score a win on Nov. 3? Post your thoughts in the comments. Click through for the live-blogging.

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Posted at 6:45 PM ET, 10/12/2009

Kaine Stumps for House Candidates, Calls Nobel 'Great Thing for Our Country'

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) paid a visit to Northern Virginia today in the hopes that his appeal among suburban voters might rub off on four fellow Democrats running for the House of Delegates: Incumbents Paul Nichols (Prince William) and Chuck Caputo (Fairfax/Loudoun), and newcomers John Bell (Loudoun/Prince William) and Mark Keam (Fairfax).

Video 32 0 00 10-07.jpg

If you'll recall, Kaine won the 2005 gubernatorial race in part by emphasizing the issues that mattered to suburbanites: traffic, development and education. He became the first Democratic gubernatorial candidate in two decades to win Loudoun and Prince William counties, and he still enjoys a 71 percent approval rate in Northern Virginia, according to a recent Washington Post poll -- despite Republican efforts to paint him as a part-time governor because of his second job as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

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Posted at 6:02 PM ET, 10/12/2009

Updated: Limbaugh Calls Deeds 'Mealy-Mouthed Idiot'

Here's a friend Republican Bob McDonnell probably wasn't looking for.

Conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh decided to put on his well-worn pundit's hat and weigh in on the race for Virginia governor.

Wouldn't you know, he thinks Democrat Creigh Deeds has been too negative? He gleefully told listeners that McDonnell remains ahead despite Deeds's attempt to paint McDonnell as "an anti-female caveman."

Why? Because Americans have sourced on the "radical" Democratic agenda.

But here's the part that might be just what Deeds needs to get pumped for tonight's televised debate.

"I'll tell you what I think's going on out there. I think the New York Times must not see the ads in Virginia, the Democrat, the mealy-mouthed idiot named Creigh Deeds."

Mealy-mouthed idiot? Ouch!

Read his full comments here.

Updated: Deeds responded to Limbaugh's comments after the debate tonight. "I feel I've hit the big time!'' he said with laugh. "They've called out the heavyweights on me."

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Posted at 3:20 PM ET, 10/12/2009

Johnson's Apology Complete, McDonnell to Campaign Again With Her

Republican Bob McDonnell holds a rally for women tomorrow with Sheila Johnson, a top endorser who apologized last week after video of her surfaced at a previous campaign stop mocking Democrat Creigh Deeds's speaking style.

"We need someone who can really communicate," said Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television. "And Bob McDonnell can communicate. The other people that I talk to, especially his o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-opponent ... could not articulate what needed to be done."

McDonnell declined opportunities last week to apologize for sitting quietly while Johnson poked fun at Deeds. And he clearly does not think the incident made her persona non grata for his campaign, despite condemnation from the National Stuttering Association and others in the disabilities community. He rallies with Johnson and other women supporting his effort at the Tysons Corner Marriott tomorrow. Johnson was a top supporter of Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine but endorsed McDonnell, arguing that he would do a better job handling the state's economy. Oh yes, and communicating his ideas for the future.

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Posted at 9:20 AM ET, 10/12/2009

GOP Launches New Ad on Deeds and Taxes

The Republican Governors Association is out this morning with a new TV ad in Northern Virginia.

Guess what this one is about? You guessed it. Taxes again.

The new ad shows Democrat Creigh Deeds making what appears to be conflicting statements on taxes during and after the last debate.

"No amount of political double-talk can hide the fact that Creigh Deeds wants to hike taxes," RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.

Update: By the way, in case you are wondering, McDonnell's and Deeds's campaigns signed an agreement not to use footage of the debate afterward it was over, but the RGA was not part of that agreement.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 10/12/2009

Deeds Ad Suggests McDonnell is Robertson's, Not Fairfax's Own

Democrat Creigh Deeds is not backing off negative campaign ads against Republican Bob McDonnell, at least in the Northern Virginia area.

The campaign this morning releases a new spot already airing in the Washington area, which attacks McDonnell's claim, featured on many campaign signs, that he is "Fairfax's Own" because of his Northern Virginia childhood.

"Bob McDonnell says he's from Fairfax County," the narrator says. "But that was before he attended Pat Robertson's law school. And served on its board." Before, the narrator continues, he wrote that working women are detrimental to the family, he introduced 35 bills on abortion or voted against equal pay for women.

"So no matter what McDonnell claims, all signs say he's not from around here...anymore," it concludes.

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Posted at 7:21 AM ET, 10/12/2009

First Click - Virginia - UPDATED

Good morning Virginia! Twenty-two days before Election Day, but who's counting. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

After a brutal week of discouraging poll numbers and questions about his electability, Democrat R. Creigh Deeds will try to make good on his reputation as a strong finisher and turn the race for governor around in its waning weeks. In the face of criticism over what voters perceive as his negative focus, Deeds launched a positive ad yesterday focused on education. And he will have an important opportunity to make his case to Virginians tonight in Richmond, when he faces off against Republican Robert F. McDonnell in the men's first prime time televised debate.

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Posted at 4:59 PM ET, 10/11/2009

New Deeds Ad on Education

Democrat Creigh Deeds is out with a new ad, a spot that does not mention his Republican opponent at all and instead focuses on Deeds' education proposals. The ad particularly highlights Deeds' Virginia Forward scholarship proposal, in which Deeds has said he would offer a 50 percent scholarship to any Virginia student at a Virginia public college who maintains a B average and commits to spending two years in public service after graduation.

The ad begins airing now in Richmond and will expand to other markets next week--no word yet on which.

Watch it here.

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Posted at 3:11 PM ET, 10/11/2009

Cuccinelli Calls Obama's Nobel "A Joke"

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell may have been "delighted" that President Obama was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize, but his ticket-mate, attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli, feels a little differently.

"Well, it's official, the Nobel Peace Prize is officially meaningless," Cuccinelli opened his Cuccinelli Compass newsletter to supporters Friday. He went on to quote commentator John Podhoretz about what Cuccinelli termed the "Nobel hilarity." Podhoretz argued that the win is not surprising because Obama represents the Nobel committee's highest ideals because he is "an American President queasy about the projection of American power."

"I suspect that whoever nominated him actually did it as a joke. And how about that, it really did turn out to be a joke," Cuccinelli concluded on the subject.

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Posted at 10:57 AM ET, 10/11/2009

Mason-Dixon Shows McDonnell by 8

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which like the Post does live interviews and not automated robocalls, is out with a poll in the Virginia governor's race. And it shows a similar spread to the Post poll last week--Republican Robert F. McDonnell over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds by eight percentage points.

Like the Post, Mason-Dixon, which was funded by the Richmond Times Dispatch and other Virginia press outlets, has McDonnell way up with independents, which will be encouraging to his campaign. The new poll shows him ahead by 15 with that group--a striking lead though not quite the 21 point gap the Post showed last week.

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Posted at 5:34 PM ET, 10/10/2009

McDonnell Airs New Ad on Jobs

Republican Bob McDonnell launched a new TV ad in Southwest Virginia today that talks about his desire to be a "jobs governor." It's the second ad in a week that accuses Democrat Creigh Deeds of costing families $7,800 -- a number that includes the estimated costs of a gas tax increase and the federal cap and trade bill.

The ad assumes Deeds would support a gas increase, which he has voted for many times in the past, to raise the $1 billion that he says is needed for road and transit improvements, and that he favors a climate proposal with a greater emissions cap than the one being considered by Congress. But Deeds has never said what, if any, gax tax increase he would support as governor and has specifically said he does not support the cap and trade bill.

Read the script below:

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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 10/ 9/2009

Palin a No-Show in Virginia

After the election last year, Republican Bob McDonnell expected former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to campaign with him.

In the summer, even after Palin's stunning announcement that she was resigning as governor of Alaska, McDonnell said he would welcome her to Virginia.

This week, McDonnell made it clear that would not happen.

"There was a time earlier on when she was governor when I thought she would come here,'' McDonnell said after a candidates' forum in Loudoun County earlier this week. "But I think she seems to be busy with books and other things like that. We've still got about 20 different events scheduled down the road and she's not one of them."

But Palin adviser Meg Stapleton told Politico that her boss offered to help McDonnell. Calls and e-mails to Palin's political action committee were not returned. Her PAC donated $2,500 to McDonnell this summer.

Palin's visits to the state drew enormous, enthusiastic crowds of Republicans last year, but Democrats would have a field day with Palin's arrival if she did come here.

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Posted at 5:07 PM ET, 10/ 9/2009

Conservative Group Targets Deeds

A political action committee tied to the conservative Family Research Council began airing TV ads accusing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds of flip-flopping on the issues of same-sex marriage and partial-birth abortion.

The Virginia Values Voter PAC ad is airing for one week on cable TV in Southwest Virginia.

"Creigh Deeds is willing to do anything to appease the most radical special interest groups within his party,'' PAC president Connie Mackey said. "His rhetoric doesn't match his votes. It appears he will do and say anything for votes except stick by his own."

Deeds voted for a ban on partial-birth abortion but later changed his mind because he said he worried that the bills were unconstitutional. He, voted to put on the ballot a state constitutional amendment prohibiting civil unions and same-sex marriage, but said he came to regret his decision and to believe that the language was discriminatory and said so publicly before the 2006 balloting.

"Another day, another false attack from Bob McDonnell and his allies,'' said Jared Leopold, a Deeds spokesman. "But all their false attacks don't change the fact that Bob McDonnell pushed 35 bills to restrict a woman's right to choose while not personally sponsoring one bill to create a job."

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Posted at 4:18 PM ET, 10/ 9/2009

McDonnell "Delighted" Obama Won Nobel

Don't include Virginia gubernatorial candidate Republican Bob McDonnell among those conservatives who are deriding the Nobel Committee for awarding its Peace Prize to President Obama less than a year after he took office.

"I'm delighted to see the President of the United States bring honor to our country by receiving the Nobel Peace Prize," McDonnell said this afternoon. His Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds issued a statement early this morning praising the committee for its selection.

McDonnell said that he's been on the road and has not extensively read the committee's reasoning for the award, other than that it had to do with Obama's diplomatic efforts. But he said he was pleased with anything that "brings accolades to the United States." And then he repeated, "I'm delighted to see him win the award."

McDonnell's answer stands in stark contrast to others in in his party, including Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele, who said it was "unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights."

McDonnell has a habit of offering praise for Obama, a way of signaling that he is a moderate willing to work across party lines. He frequently praises Obama's support for charter schools and the president's work to strengthen fatherhood.

UPDATE: Deeds senior adviser Mo Elleithee responds: "It's nice to see Bob McDonnell join us in celebrating the President's Nobel Prize. I just wonder where this 'delight' was when he said the President shouldn't receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame because he was pro-choice."

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Posted at 11:49 AM ET, 10/ 9/2009

Deeds on Obama: 'Yes, He Will.'

Will President Obama be back in Virginia before the Nov. 3 election? The Deeds campaign has spent days saying that they would love to see the president and believe he and the Democratic National Committee will be helpful in the final weeks of the governor's race. But everyone's been careful not to say that Obama will definitely be back, with no date yet offered by the White House.

Until this morning. Asked by Mark Plotkin on WTOP if President Obama will campaign for him, Deeds responded, "Yes, he will." Plotkin then asked where Obama will appear and Deeds answered, "I don't know that yet. I know he will be back in Virginia before Nov. 3."

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Posted at 9:54 AM ET, 10/ 9/2009

Sagging in Northern Virginia, Deeds Introduces New Rural Ads

New poll results suggest that Democrat Creigh Deeds do more to sell himself to Northern Virginians, including the traditionally left-leaning inner Washington suburbs, and that voters believe his campaign has become largely negative.

Today we get positive ads from Deeds ... aimed at convincing rural Virginians that he's fighting for them to get their "fair share" from Richmond. And that Deeds will fight for "small towns." And that he understands "your part of the state." And that he's "From Here. For Here." There's a new "Hope and Opportunity" tour in the Shenandoah Valley and Southside. This is all going to give the political pundits something to chew on.

His campaign did make a nod at healing tensions with the White House and energizing Obama Democrats with a statement praising the Nobel Committee for awarding their Peace Prize to the president. "I join the Nobel Committee in standing by President Obama as he continues to spread his message of hope throughout the world," the statement reads in part.


Here's the new TV version:

UPDATE: We're being reminded that Deeds did begin airing a new ad on transportation in Northern Virginia on Thursday. You can watch that ad elsewhere on the blog.


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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 10/ 9/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Oct. 9, 2009

Good morning and happy Friday everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Big news. The Washington Post released a new poll showing that Republican Bob McDonnell has widened his lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds. The entire GOP ticket is up by a hefty nine points.

The poll shows a lack of enthusiasm among many voters who elected President Obama last year and raises questions for the Democrats as they head into the 2010 mid-term elections. Democrats continue to wonder what Deeds's message will be and what the White House's role will be in the remaining weeks of the campaign.

Deeds will be a guest on Mark Plotkin's radio show on WTOP at 10 a.m. Listen here. Tonight, he'll join fans at the Riverbend High football game in Fredericksburg.

McDonnell will attend the Patrick County Rally with former U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode in Stuart and the Greater Richmond Urban League of Young Professionals candidate's forum tonight.

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Posted at 3:55 PM ET, 10/ 8/2009

Post Poll: McDonnell's Lead Widens; Deeds Slips in NoVA

Republican Robert F. McDonnell has taken a commanding lead over R. Creigh Deeds in the race for governor of Virginia, as momentum the Democrat had built with an attack on his opponent's conservative social views has dissipated, according to a new Washington Post poll.

McDonnell leads 53 to 44 percent among likely voters, expanding on the four-point lead he held in mid-September. Deeds's advantage with female voters has all but disappeared and McDonnell has grown his already wide margin among independents. Deeds, a state senator from western Virginia, is widely seen by voters as running a negative campaign, a finding that might indicate his aggressive efforts to exploit McDonnell's 20-year-old graduate thesis are turning voters away.

Read the full story and see the raw data.

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Posted at 1:25 PM ET, 10/ 8/2009

Kaine Can't Confirm Obama Visit to Help Deeds Campaign

Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said today that President Obama's support is crucial for Democrat Creigh Deeds to win the Virginia governor's race, but said he could not confirm that Obama would return to the state to campaign.

"The way to win is to energize the huge upsurge of Obama '08 voters,'' Kaine said. "We registered an awful lot of people and we got a lot of them to turn out...We've got to have folks that care passionately about the president and care passionately about Creigh."

So is the president coming?

"I can't say one way or another,'' he said.

But Kaine denies recent news reports that Obama and the White House are distancing themselves from Deeds.

"Obviously the White House is very focused on this,'' Kaine said. "What we are doing at the DNC, ramping up our involvement is definitely in consultation with the White House. They're very focused and every week they're making decision about where to spend time. With the vice president here today and with the addiational resorces from the DNC, the White House is very engaged in this race. They're highly involved, highly engaged and it's not just dollars. We're helping in a lot of ways too."

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Posted at 1:24 PM ET, 10/ 8/2009

Deeds Airs Transportation Ad

It doesn't appear that Democrat Creigh Deeds is taking the advice of some of his party's elected officials to stop going negative.

Deeds today released a new statewide TV ad, entitled Dishonest, that, well, is negative. It outlines what some newspapers are saying about Republican Bob McDonnell's transportation plan -- calling it "dishonest" and "dead on arrival."

"This ad proves two points,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "First, Creigh Deeds and The Washington Post editorial board both agree on hitting Virginians with a massive tax hike in the middle of a recession. Second, Terry McAuliffe still knows his politics. He presciently noted yesterday "Creigh pretty much doesn't have to say anything because the Washington Post is out there every day doing it."

Read the script below:

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Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 10/ 8/2009

NRA Airs Ad for McDonnell Featuring Bloomberg

The National Rifle Association is airing TV ads on behalf of Republican Bob McDonnell targeting New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- and the mob, too.

In the ad, a mobster explains to Virginia voters that it would be in their best interest not to vote for McDonnell if they "know what's good" for them.

"When Mayor Bloomberg got down here, your guy, Bob McDonnell, kicked him out of Virginia, and it was very disrespectful," the man says. "When you vote, I strongly suggest you forget about your freedoms and your Mr. Second Amendment Bob McDonnell."

"I haven't seen the ad; heard about it. I'll leave Virginia politics to Virginians and worry about the politics here," Bloomberg told the New York Times.


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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 10/ 8/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Vice President Joe Biden returns to Virginia for a second time to help Democrat Creigh Deeds raise some cash at a mid-day event in Alexandria. It's a busy fundraising day for Deeds. Tonight, he appears with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley at the Potomac home of lobbyist Barbara Goldberg Goldman.

Republican Bob McDonnell will discuss plans to aid senior citizens at the Herndon Senior Center. Yes, McDonnell is still rolling out policy proposals less than four weeks before the big day.

Questions continue to arise about Deeds's negative message and whether he can make his case to voters in the last month of the race -- with or without help from President Obama.

The Wall Street Journal weighs into the Virginia governor's race for the second day in a row. This time, the paper reports on the Deeds campaign's formation of 60 book clubs to talk about McDonnell's graduate thesis.

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Posted at 3:49 PM ET, 10/ 7/2009

Excerpts: Post Reporters, Bob Holsworth on Gov. Race

Earlier today, Post reporters Anita Kumar and Rosalind Helderman -- who are assigned to the McDonnell and Deeds campaigns respectively -- and former VCU professor Bob Holsworth (now blogging at Virginia Tomorrow) answered readers questions about the Virginia governor's race. Some excerpts follow. Read the entire discussion here.

And come back next Wednesday for another chat with Post reporters, who will be joined by fundraising watcher David Poole of the Virginia Public Access Project.

Excerpts:

Alexandria, Va.: I want to like Deeds but feel he is taking NoVA for granted because it generally skews highly democratic. Does he have any plans for flyers, ads, appearances in the area that would help him convey his stances on the issues or plans for Virginia? So far, he hasn't done that at all (at least as far as I have noticed). He really needs to step up his game and come out with some real details if he wants to do well here.

Rosalind Helderman: Deeds was in Northern Virginia yesterday, attending a forum at the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce in Leesburg. He's doing the Mark Plotkin show on Friday. He also has a variety of television ads up in the area and is sending mail home to voters. Having said that, certainly plenty of Northern Virginians have suggested he has not done enough to explain who he is in this region.

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Posted at 1:10 PM ET, 10/ 7/2009

National Democrats Step Up Effort for Deeds

National Democrats are stepping up efforts to demonstrate they remain fully supportive of Virginia candidate Creigh Deeds. A new email is going out today from President Obama's Organizing for America to 500,000 Virginia voters urging them to help Deeds and check out Republican Bob McDonnell's 1989 thesis. It ties Deeds directly to the president, opening:

"As President Obama said, Creigh Deeds' pragmatic and bipartisan approach to politics "has an ability to bring people together, build consensus and deliver results."

There are also new ads going up on Facebook today urging voters to look into the thesis.

You can read the full OFA email after the jump.

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Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 10/ 7/2009

Will Obama Be Back?

Will he or won't he?

Will President Obama be campaigning in Virginia again for Democrat R. Creigh Deeds?

It's the question of the moment as a story appears in this morning's Wall Street Journal citing a source who says the White House is backing off support for Deeds, and Gov. Brian Schweitzer, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, is quoted over the weekend suggesting that the Dems' chances in the New Jersey race are stronger than in Virginia.

No event has yet been announced, and the Deeds campaign continues to say only that they hope one will occur and they are working closely with the White House.

They also insist that all is well with the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association, as the three groups hold daily conference calls and coordinate closely. The DGA pumped $250,000 into the campaign last week, and Deeds senior adviser Mo Elleithee said a $1 million contribution from the DNC announced Monday was not a pledge. It was a check -- wired directly into the Deeds account.

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Posted at 10:39 AM ET, 10/ 7/2009

McDonnell Airs New TV Ad

Republican Bob McDonnell launched a new TV ad today that calculates the cost of a pair of proposals that Democrat Creigh Deeds has indicated he supports -- a gas tax increase and the federal cap and trade bill.

The ad assume Deeds would support a gas increase, which has voted for many times in the past, to raise the $1 billion that he says is needed for road and transit improvements. In Virginia, the gas tax produces roughly $50 million per penny, and would take a 20-cent increase to produce $1 billion a year. McDonnell's ad uses information from the state Department of Taxation to determine that a 20-cent increase would cost a household with two cars an average of $300 a year.

The ad assumes Deeds supports a climate proposal with a greater emissions cap than the one being considered by Congress. The cap and trade number comes a U.S. States Department of the Treasury report that found that Americans would see an impact of $1,761 per household if the bill passed.

The ad calculates the number over four years. It is airing statewide except for Northern Virginia:

"Creigh Deeds has the only realistic plan to solve Virginia's transportation crisis,'' said Jared Leopold, Deeds spokesman. "Bob McDonnell's dishonest ads are a desperate attempt to distract from his 'phony baloney' transportation scheme that would take $5.4 billion from Virginia schools. On transportation, the contrast is clear: Creigh Deeds has an honest plan, Bob McDonnell has dishonest, negative ads."


Read the script below:

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Posted at 10:28 AM ET, 10/ 7/2009

Get Your Questions Answered, and Debate the Transportation Plans

Today the Post brings you two opportunities to discuss the Virginia governor's race with our reporters and editors and your fellow readers.

At noon today, Post reporters Anita Kumar and Rosalind Helderman, who are assigned to the two campaigns, will take your questions and comments on the race. They'll be joined by former VCU professor Bob Holsworth, who now runs his Virginia Tomorrow blog. Submit your questions, then watch the discussion from noon to 1 p.m.

Those interested in digging deeper into Creigh Deeds's and Bob McDonnell's competing transportation plans can use our annotation tool to comment on and debate specific points in the candidates' proposals. Click here to see McDonnell's plan or click here for Deeds's.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 10/ 7/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds shared a stage twice yesterday. Well, sort of.

First, they appeared at a candidate's forum sponsored by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce. Later, they participated in interviews as part of a previously taped hour-long TV special where Deeds blamed Washington woes for his problems.

Today, McDonnell will shake some hands at the Chesapeake Sheriff's Great American Food Fest while Deeds will discuss his higher ed plans with students and faculty at the University of Virginia.

Sen. John McCain will hold a veterans rally for McDonnell this month, while the Wall Street Journal is just the latest newspaper to wonder if McCain's former opponent, President Obama is distancing himself from Deeds's campaign.

The flap over billonaire BET co-founder Sheila Johnson's remarks about Deeds' speaking styleis not quite over. A Northern Virginia PAC that advocates on behalf of people with disabilities is calling on McDonnell to apologize for his supporter's remarks. The issue has prompted some to wonder if the race is all about style ?

Gov. Tim Kaine, his party's national chairman, talks about Deeds's need to sell himself. McDonnell continues to woo Redskins fans.

The Washington Business Journal talks energy, and the Washington Post talks traffic.

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Posted at 8:30 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

McDonnell Appears on CNBC

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell had to be pleased with his performance on national TV tonight.

In his seven-minute interview on the Kudlow and Company show on CNBC, McDonnell got to tout the federal issues he loves to talk about, received no questions about his 20-year-old thesis and gave his spin on how to fund transportation.

And to top it off, host Larry Kudlow mispronounced Democrat Creigh Deeds's name (It's Cree) and the show flashed an unflattering photo of Deeds (His mouth was hanging open).

Kudlow mentioned that McDonnell was up in the polls, and asked him if Republican wins in Virginia and New Jersey this year will help GOP candidates in 2010.

"The answer is yes,'' he said. "If we are able to win and Chris (Christie) wins in New Jersey, I think people will look at this, in part, as a referendum of left-leaning policies the United States Congress has been advocating -- intrusion into the free enterprise system, more deficit spending, more regulation and say that's not the direction we want to go."

Deeds was invited to appear on the show as well, and his campaign said they are still trying to work out a date.

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Posted at 7:42 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

Deeds v. McDonnell on Politico

Democrat R. Creigh Deeds and Republican Robert F. McDonnell faced off -- well, sort of; they were taped separately in back-to-back interviews -- at a forum moderated by WJLA's Leon Harris and Politico's John Harris and broadcast live tonight.

The two Harrises touched on all the usual subjects -- transportation, taxes, the thesis -- and the two candidates offered all the usual answers. But there were a few interesting moments.

Deeds was shown a video from a similar forum in during the Democratic primary in which he said he was "itchin'" to debate McDonnell in the fall -- and then he was asked why he agreed only to a forum with consecutive instead of joint appearances.

"I do not control the schedule at all," Deeds offered as a defense. Really?

McDonnell, meanwhile, was asked not only to defend his 20-year-old thesis, but to explain the fact that he had a conservative voting record in the General Assembly.

"I didn't," he said.

Finally, the hosts had some fun asking a few more frivolous questions, such as:

Should Jim Zorn be fired? Deeds: No. McDonnell: No comment.

Do you TiVo: No.

Do you watch Tom DeLay on Dancing With the Stars? No.

Do you Twitter? Yes.

Do you own an iPod? McDonnell: No. Deeds: Yes. What's on your iPod? Little Feat, Grateful Dead, other '60s and '70s rock.

To watch the show, click here.

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Posted at 5:53 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

PAC for People with Disabilities Demands McDonnell Apology

A political action committee in Northern Virginia that advocates on behalf of people with disabilities is calling on gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell to apologize for remarks made by a top supporter that mocked state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds's manner of speaking.

The controversy arose after Sheila Johnson, the billionaire co-founder of Black Entertainment Television who is backing McDonnell, mimicked Deeds's talking style during a Sept. 25 campaign event as she criticized his inability to communicate effectively. A video of her remarks has received a lot of play on the Web since its posting this week by liberal blogger Ben Tribbett.

"Sheila Johnson enjoys the same freedom of speech that all Americans have, but we are appalled and saddened that she used a political speech and introduction of the Republican candidate for Governor Bob McDonnell to laugh at people who have speech impediments," said Martha J. Toomey, a co-founder of disAbility Votes. The PAC, which is endorsing Deeds, has also supported candidates seeking to broaden insurance coverage for children with autism. "We are especially concerned that the message Mr. McDonnell seems to be endorsing is that of a playground bully making fun of a child who has disabilities. This is unacceptable."

Johnson later apologized. Earlier Tuesday, McDonnell declined to apologize for Johnson's remarks, saying that she had issued a statement "she believed was appropriate."

-- Fredrick Kunkle

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Posted at 2:20 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

McCain to Hold Rally With McDonnell

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee and former prisoner of war, will hold a veterans campaign rally with Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell Oct. 17 in Hampton Roads.

Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame football coach turned TV commentator, will hold a meet-and-greet with McDonnell on Oct. 26 in Richmond.

McDonnell has appeared with many prominent Republicans, but most events were closed-door fundraisers. These two events are being billed as open to the public.

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Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

McDonnell Responds to Johnson Flap

Leaving a forum this morning hosted by the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, Republican Bob McDonnell was asked what responsibility he bears for Sheila Johnson's videotaped comments mocking Democrat Creigh Deeds's speaking style and whether he would apologize for it. McDonnell did not apologize. Instead, he said that he knew that Johnson had issued a statement "she believed was appropriate." He went on to try to explain what he thought Johnson was trying to express in her comments.

"Listen," he told reporters. "Senator Deeds hasn't had any problem for the last two months viciously attacking me on any number of things that misrepresented my position. So I think he's a very good spokesman for his cause. ... The reason she's supporting me, that she said at the announcement speech, is that she believes I've got the best ideas on jobs, the economy and economic development."

"What she was saying, is what I understood her to say ... is that Senator Deeds hasn't been able to put together a comprehensive plan, a positive vision about where he's going to take Virginia. Now that's what I understood from Sheila's statement."

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Posted at 1:15 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

After the Unfortunate Remarks ...

Here's a fun fact on a Tuesday afternoon, 28 days until the big day -- Election Day, that is.

Republicans have been reminding us with some frequency about the number of viewers who have taken a look at the video of Democrat Creigh Deeds's post-debate scrum with reporters in which he struggles to explain whether he would raise taxes and snaps at a female reporter.

Well, check this out:

The clip of Deeds's post-debate scrum with reporters from Sept. 18 now has 52,050 views (and that's with nearly three weeks worth of Web ads directing viewers to the video)

But the video clip of Sheila Johnson, the billionaire co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and Bob McDonnell supporter who mocked Deeds's speaking style, now has 61,212 views after a mere 24 hours.

And, in case you aren't one of these thousands of people, you can see both videos right here:

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 10/ 6/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell will appear at a candidate's forum sponsored by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce this morning. (We will be live blogging so be sure to check back around 8:30 a.m. for a full report).

Deeds will spend the rest of the day meeting residents at Leisure World, a private senior community in Leesburg, talking up higher education plans at Shenandoah University in Winchester and holding a rally at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. McDonnell will attend a veterans event in Arlington with his daughter, Jeanine, who served in Iraq.

Tonight, Deeds and McDonnell will participate in interviews as part of a previously taped hour-long TV special. Tune in to ABC 7/WJLA-TV or Politico's Web site at 7 p.m. to watch.

We're just four weeks from Election Day! And the allegations and accusations are flying.

Yesterday's mini-scandal was over Sheila Johnson's mocking of Deeds's speaking style. The billionaire co-founder of Black Entertainment Television quickly apologized but not before making national headlines.

Later in the day, Democrats seized on a canceled event between Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and current Republican candidate for California governor, and McDonnell but his campaign said it was a miscommunication.

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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

McDonnell-Whitman Event Canceled

Democrats said today that Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and current Republican candidate for California governor, canceled a campaign event with Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell because she did not want to be tied to the views he expressed in his 20-year-old graduate thesis.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the event was canceled more than a week ago and would not be rescheduled because the two campaigns could not work out an alternate date. The McDonnell campaign provided confidential emails to The Wasington Post that made clear that the event was canceled 10 days ago due to a miscommunication.

The fundraiser was set to take place Thursday at the Northern Virginia home of businessman John Backus, who has known Whitman since the 1980s. Backus said in an interview that the McDonnell campaign notified him last Monday that Whitman could not attend this Thursday. He said he initially wanted to reschedule the event at his home but that he and his wife, who is pregnant, realized it was too close to her due date.

The liberal group Americans United for Change sent an email to supporters today encouraging them to pressure Whitman not to attend the Virginia event before realizing that the event had already been canceled. Whitman's campaign did not return phone calls today.

The Democractic National Committee and Americans United for Change each sent out two emails tonight that linked the cancellation to McDonnell's thesis.

"I'm sure Meg Whitman didn't want Californians to know that she was not only embracing, but was also raising money for, a candidate who believes that women working outside the home are a 'detriment to the family' and who voted against the principle of equal pay for equal work," DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said.

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Posted at 5:27 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

NRA Airs Ads for McDonnell

Get ready for even more TV ads.

The National Rifle Association is spending more than $500,000 on TV and radio ads for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign spending.

We told you last week that McDonnell and his supporters were outspending Democrat Creigh Deeds and his backers nearly 2 to 1 on TV ads. The NRA ad buy is only going to add to McDonnell's advantage.

Deeds's gun-friendly record earned him the NRA's endorsement in 2005 but cost him the support of former governor L. Douglas Wilder. This year the NRA switched to McDonnell, citing his record as attorney general and Deeds's "flip-flop" on the gun show loophole.

The NRA refused to disclose any details on the radio or TV ads -- so let us know when you see or hear them!

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Posted at 4:46 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Sheila Johnson Apologizes for Deeds Remark

We just received the following statement from Sheila Johnson, about the video clip of her appearing to mock Democrat Creigh Deeds's speaking style:

"Two weeks ago I made reference to Creigh Deeds' inability to clearly communicate effective solutions to the serious problems facing Virginia. I shouldn't have done it in the manner in which I did and for that I apologize for any offense he, or others, may have taken," she said.

Does that end this campaign kerfuffle? We'll see.

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Posted at 4:06 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Does Creigh Deeds Have a Stutter?

As the National Stuttering Association releases a statement condemning comments made recently by McDonnell supporter Sheila Johnson, in which she mocked Democrat Creigh Deeds's speaking style, his consultants fielded question after question this afternoon about whether the Democrat, in fact, has a stutter.

"It's something he's dealt with his whole life," said senior adviser Mo Elleithee in a call with reporters. "He's never sought any type of medical attention for it."

So does he have a stutter? "He sometimes stumbles over his words. He's spoken that way his entire life. He's never sought medical attention for it. There are people out there who have much worse problems. Many of them stutter," Elleithee went on to say.

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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Moran Advises Deeds: Give People a Reason to Vote for You

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran says Democrat Creigh Deeds is very much in a position to win his campaign for governor, but says he counseled his party's nominee last night that he needs to push back against consultant advice to run negative ads, and run positive spots instead.

Moran said Deeds is being supported by an anti-McDonnell vote but now must give voters a reason to vote for him instead of against the other guy.

"We had a conversation last night," Moran said. "I said: 'All your consultants are going to tell you to go negative, just like they told my brother. And spend all your money on negative because positive ads don't move anything.' ... I said: 'You've got to go with your instinct. You're a genuine guy. People relate to you.' "

"That's how Creigh won the primary and I think that's how he'll win the general, by showing that he's very decent guy," Moran continued. "People know about the thesis -- the people who care about the thesis, they're in Northern Virginia and they read The Post and they know. But there's got to be more. He's got to give people a reason to vote for Creigh."

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Posted at 2:16 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Sheila Johnson on Deeds's Speaking Style

This video clip of Sheila Johnson, a supporter of Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine now backing Republican Bob McDonnell for governor, has been making its way around the Internet, starting on Ben Tribbett's blog.

In the clip, Johnson, who co-founded BET, talks about her feeling that Democrat Creigh Deeds has trouble articulating his views for Virginia and seems to mock his stammering speaking style. Deeds senior adviser Mo Elleithee called Johnson's imitation of the rural senator a "petty personal attack."

Deeds himself said at a campaign stop today that he was "disappointed" in Johnson's comments.

"I'm disappointed and I'll be honest. If it's about being smooth or being a slick communicator, I'm never going to win that discussion. But I work as hard as I can to be honest and forthright and tell people what I think and I'm going to continue to work toward creating opportunity and hope and prosperity in every corner of Virginia. I think I've laid out my vision very well," Deeds said.


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Posted at 12:22 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Updated: GOP Blasts Kaine on Transportation Spending

Republicans continued to blame Gov. Tim Kaine -- and his would-be successor Creigh Deeds -- for being slow in spending the state's share of federal stimulus money for transportation.

U.S. Frank Wolf and Fairfax Supervisor Pat Herrity, among others, criticized Kaine this morning on a conference call for not using the money for much-needed existing projects in congested Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

"We could use that money desperately,'' Wolf told reporters. "We're in a critical situation. The economic growth and the opportunities here depend on improving transportation. There are a lot of things up here that that money could be used for."

Republicans have been talking nonstop about transportation stimulus money since Friday, when the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent Kaine a stern letter that said the state is the last in the nation to spend its money.

"These projects have all been on the book for years. I just don't understand why they are not moving," Herrity said. "It seems we ought to be leading the pack, not behind the pack."

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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 10/ 5/2009

RGA Airs Ad About Deeds's 'Young Lady' Comment

Remember when Democrat Creigh Deeds made that sharp remark to a female reporter who asked him about his plan to pay for road improvements? "I think I made myself clear, young lady," Deeds said.

The exchange, which was quickly posted on YouTube and sent out by the state Republican Party, has now made it into a TV ad paid for by the Republican Governors Association and airing in Northern Virginia.

Watch it here:

Some wondered whether Deeds might have hurt his attempts to appeal to women voters when he made that comment after the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce debate. Deeds later called to apologize to the reporter, Chelyen Davis of the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star, who said she was not offended by the remark.

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Posted at 10:28 AM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Education Group Airs New Ad Against McDonnell

The Virginia Education Association has launched a new TV ad, accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of opposing smaller class sizes and teacher raises while supporting vouchers for private schools.

The group, which has been airing ads for two weeks in Richmond and Hampton Roads, directs viewers to a Web site that compares McDonnell's and Democrat Creigh Deeds's education plans. (Check out The Post's take on their education plans).

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Posted at 10:24 AM ET, 10/ 5/2009

McAuliffe BBQ Nets $100,000 for House Dems

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is following through on a promise made in the spring to raise money for Democratic candidates for the House of Delegates, yesterday hosting a barbecue at his McLean home for House caucus chair Ken Plum's political action committee.

It may not be the millions he was rumored to have pledged to candidates if he were the nominee -- though Del. Plum insists the two had never talked numbers -- but Plum said the event netted about $100,000 for his Invest in Virginia committee. That's a pretty sizable figure given that Plum, who had endorsed McAuliffe, says the fund likely will raise $400,000 to $500,000 total this campaign season. And Plum said most attendees at the event were friends of McAuliffe who might not have given to the PAC otherwise.

"I never had an expectation he would necessarily do anything if he didn't get the nomination, so I'm very appreciative," Plum said. "I think he still has the potential for being a force in Virginia politics to keep us looking ahead and being progressive and working hard."

Is nominee Creigh Deeds being as supportive to House candidates? Plum said Deeds is doing what he can, but everyone recognizes he's got a tough campaign of his own to concentrate on. "There's an understanding that while Creigh Deeds is fully supportive and recognizes the need to win the House, he's got a race on his hands," Plum said.

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Posted at 7:11 AM ET, 10/ 5/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Monday, Oct. 5, 2009
Good morning! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

One month and counting until Virginia voters go to the polls. Have you registered to vote yet? Today's the deadline!

This may be a critical week in the campaign, as pretty much everyone who is going to vote is starting to pay real attention to the governor's race, even these highly sought late-deciders.

Is the national Democratic party doubling-down on Sen. Creigh Deeds in attempt to close the gap with Republican Bob McDonnell? The DNC will give him $1 million more to spend on his effort. But meanwhile national Democrats begin to say quietly they think they may have better chance in New Jersey than Virginia. Those doing the talking, very diplomatically include Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, head of the Democratic Governors Association.

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Posted at 11:18 PM ET, 10/ 4/2009

'Fairfax's Own' Pays Homage

Bob McDonnell's visit to a Fairfax County GOP breakfast pep rally yesterday was a homecoming of sorts. The Burke Fire Department hall was surrounded with those familiar "Fairfax's Own" signs, and the more than 300 activists getting pumped over coffee and pancakes were more than happy to claim him as their own.

But the visit also offered an acknowledgement of the role the county has played this year in reviving Republican hopes after a morale-crushing few years in the once-red state.

McDonnell, who leads Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in the polls, gave a particular shout-out to Fairfax supervisors Pat Herrity and John Cook, whose better-than-expected performances in a couple of elections (along with the success of Republican Frank Fannon and GOP-endorsed independent Alicia Hughes in Alexandria and a close House of Delegates special election in Arlington) helped create momentum for Virginia Republicans this year. ""Pat Herrity and John Cook, the leaders of the revolution," McDonnell said to thunderous applause.

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Posted at 5:34 PM ET, 10/ 4/2009

Warner to Campaign for Deeds Again

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D), who recent polls have suggested may not be just Virginia's most popular sitting politician but perhaps it's more popular in decades, is stepping up his efforts on behalf of fellow Democrat Creigh Deeds as Election Day approaches.

Already, Warner is featured in a television ad airing around the state. Monday, he campaigns with Deeds in Northern Virginia. Warner will greet the lunch crowd with Deeds at Busboys and Poets in Shirlington.

Also there to lend a hand will be the Moran brothers, U.S. Rep. Jim, as well as former delegate and contender for the gubernatorial nomination Brian, and state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple.

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Posted at 2:18 PM ET, 10/ 4/2009

McDonnell Launches New TV Ad on Transportation

Republican Bob McDonnell began airing a new TV ad on transportation today in traffic-clogged Northern Virginia.

McDonnell hopes to pick up some votes in the left-leaning region by touting his plan to fund road and transit improvements and by accusing Democrat Creigh Deeds of only having a vague plan that may include raising taxes (though the ad does not specifically mention Deeds.)

McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation by shifting state money and relying on funding sources that don't involve tax increases, such as privatizing the state's liquor stores and adding tolls on some highways, though some have criticized him for offering a plan that would take money from core services.

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Posted at 11:29 AM ET, 10/ 4/2009

DNC To Donate Another $1 Million to Deeds

The Democratic National Committee will announce tomorrow that it is donating another $1 million as well as additional in-kind contributions to Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

That brings the DNC commitment in Virginia to more than $6 million -- roughly equal to the Republican National Committee's pledge of $7 million to aid candidate Bob McDonnell.

The DNC, chaired by Gov. Tim Kaine, made the decision to donate more money and other resources to Deeds after seeing McDonnell's lead narrow considerably in recent weeks.

"We see a real strong opportunity here,'' said Brad Woodhouse, DNC communications director. "We're real pleased with the direction of the race."

The DNC's $1 million check will be sent to Deeds tomorrow.

"We're thrilled with the additional commitment from Governor Kaine and the DNC,'' said Mo Elleithee, a senior adviser to the Deeds campaign. "The fact that they are digging so deep shows that they're fully committed to Creigh and to this race, and we are very appreciative of their support."

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Posted at 6:08 PM ET, 10/ 3/2009

Kaine Responds to Transportation Criticism

Gov. Tim Kaine said today that he was "completely surprised' that the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent him a blunt letter accusing him of being slow in spending the state's share of federal stimulus money for transportation.

"Look, do you want to spend it fast or do you want to spend it best?" Kaine said in an interview. "We're going to spend it best."

U.S. Rep. James Oberstar wrote in a letter yesterday that Virginia had started construction on only about 17 percent of millions of dollars worth of transportation projects -- making the state last in the nation to spend its money.

Kaine blamed the ranking on the White House and Congress using two different ways to report spending. Virginia, he said, is following the administration's guideline.

"This House committee is doing their own analysis and they do it differently,'' Kaine said. "It might frankly be a disagreement of opinion -- this is not completely unusual -- between the administration and Congress. We feel like by following the adminstration's deadline and reporting requirements, we're fine."

What does Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, say to Republicans who are using this issue to accuse him of not paying attention to the state?

"They do that,'' he said. "I don't worry about it."

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Posted at 5:01 PM ET, 10/ 3/2009

Deeds Country Comes to Richmond

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds received a warm welcome at the annual Second Street Festival this afternoon in the historically black neighborhood of Jackson Ward in Richmond.

The event -- known by locals as the Two Street Festival or the Deuce -- was truly Deeds Country.

The predominately African American crowd gathered around Deeds, dressed casually in khakis and a polo shirt, to shake his hand, snap his picture, wish him luck. Most were wearing blue Deeds stickers. There were no McDonnell stickers in sight.

"I think you're going to win,'' one man yelled over the crowd.

"Governor! I'm going to call you governor already!" another man said as he reached out to grab his hand.

Deeds was accompanied by Gov. Tim Kaine, a festival regular since 1995, and most of the city's African American leaders, including Mayor Dwight Jones, Del. Jennifer McClellan and Sens. Don McEachin and Henry Marsh. Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, also worked the crowd.

Jones, a former House member who used to lead the legislative black caucus, said Deeds has momentum. "He's right where he wants to be,'' he said. "We just want to make sure there is no slippage in the black community."

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Posted at 3:40 PM ET, 10/ 3/2009

A McCain-McDonnell Event on the Horizon?

Will Arizona senator and former Republican presidential candidate John McCain be headlining a rally for gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell sometime soon? Maybe.

While shaking hands at a fall festival in Manassas today, McDonnell told a voter that McCain would be holding a veteran's rally for him.

But asked about McCain shortly after, McDonnell sounded less certain. He said McCain, who held a fundraiser for McDonnell back in March, told him months ago he was interested in holding an rally for veterans, likely in Hampton Roads, but there is no date.

"I know we were working on that," he said. He promised his staff would be back in touch to provide the "straight scoop" on any event.

"I must have misspoken on that," he added.

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Posted at 8:15 PM ET, 10/ 2/2009

Schweitzer: Dems Have Better Shot in New Jersey

The head of the Democratic Governors Association suggested Friday that Democrats would have a better shot at winning the governor's race in New Jersey than in Virginia, although he said the revelation of Republican Robert F. McDonnell's controversial thesis could hurt the GOP in the commonwealth.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said in an interview that Democrat R. Creigh Deeds is "a good candidate," but was more laudatory of Gov. Jon S. Corzine's campaign in New Jersey. Schweitzer believed Corzine would win re-election despite many public polls showing the Democratic incumbent lagging behind Republican Chris Christie.

In Virginia, Schweitzer said McDonnell's graduate thesis detailing his conservative social views shows him as "out of step with most of Virginia."

"Creigh Deeds is a good candidate, he'd be a strong governor and he's building his coalition in the way that he sees fit," said Schweitzer, who was in Washington this week for a Democratic Governors Association fundraiser featuring President Obama.

In Virginia's Democratic primary, Schweitzer endorsed Terry McAuliffe and campaigned with him in the closing days before the June vote. Asked if he had put his prestige on the line by doing so, Schweitzer said: "I didn't have any prestige when I started. Nobody had ever heard of me in Virginia."

Since then, Schweitzer said, he has had little contact with Deeds, although the Democratic Governors Association staff has been working closely with the Deeds campaign.

At a recent debate, Deeds was asked whether he would consider himself an "Obama Democrat," and paused before eventually saying: "I'm a Creigh Deeds Democrat." Asked what Deeds's remark said about the popularity of Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia, Schweitzer said: "I don't know. You'd have to ask Creigh Deeds."

-- Philip Rucker

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Posted at 4:15 PM ET, 10/ 2/2009

New Deeds Ad: Elections Matter"

Democrat Creigh Deeds has been the star of the most recent Republican ads in the governor's race. Now Deeds is making Republican Bob McDonnell the star of his most recent spot.

This ad is designed to the be exclamation point on the Deeds argument that social issues have been the driving force in McDonnell's public career, using footage of McDonnell telling the National Right to Life Committee last year that elections are important because they determine whether pro-life lawmakers reach office. The Deeds campaign says it will air statewide from now until Nov. 3.

Watch the ad here:

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Posted at 1:33 PM ET, 10/ 2/2009

Two New McDonnell Ads Are Up . . .

... and boy, are they tough.

The first, called "Trust," shows a series of women defending Republican Bob McDonnell's record of working with women and advocating on behalf of women and children.

The second, called "Reality TV," mirrors the new Republican Governors Association piece that shows video of Democrat Creigh Deeds answering questions last month after the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce debate about whether he would raise taxes. It features a starring role for Washington Post columnist Bob McCartney.

One interesting note about "Trust" is that McDonnell's campaign did what Deeds refused to do when the Democrat launched an ad of women criticizing McDonnell: He provided the names and affiliations of the women in the spot. All are current or past co-workers of McDonnell's who are supporting him for governor.

Another interesting note about "Trust" is that it sure seems like the McDonnell campaign is placing new emphasis on the women's vote -- contrary to spokesman Tucker Martin's assertion to the contrary earlier this week.

And on "Reality TV": It's a minute long, but it's in rotation across Virginia, even pricey NoVa. The other one's rotating across the land as well.

View the two ads here:

Read on for the scripts.

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Posted at 10:33 AM ET, 10/ 2/2009

The Fix: RGA Plays Hole Card Against Deeds

Cross-posted from The Fix.

In a move we've been waiting on for several weeks, the Republican Governors Association is using footage of Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) fumbling his way through an answer on whether he would raise taxes in a new blitz of television advertising aimed at critical northern Virginia voters.

The ad excerpts comments Deeds made in the aftermath of a Sept. 17 debate in a impromptu press conference with reporters in which he appears to argue simultaneously that he will not raise taxes and that all options to fund transportation improvements are on the table. (Note to candidates: DO NOT hold press availabilities after debates. Risk of stepping on message: High.)

It's well worth watching:

The the full post at The Fix.

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Posted at 7:06 AM ET, 10/ 2/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Fri., Oct. 2, 2009
Happy Friday! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

With a new push in Northern Virginia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and his friends at the Republican Governors Association are now airing twice as many ads than Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds, even counting ads run by the Virginia Education Association.

The Democratic Governors Association spent millions in the spring trying to tarnish McDonnell while the Dems were fighting it out before the June primary. Was that a mistake? Will Gov. Tim Kaine let his DNC be outspent by the RNC? Will President Obama let that happen? Talk to us Nov. 4.

At a forum attended by a who's who of Virginia politics, both Deeds and McDonnell endorsed awarding tens of thousands of new college degrees in future years. Neither said much about how they would pay for that.

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Posted at 5:41 PM ET, 10/ 1/2009

RPV Blasts Deeds for GOP-Backed Bill

The Republican Party of Virginia held a conference call this afternoon with physicians Del. John O'Bannon and delegate candidate Chris Stolle, as well several other doctors, to slam Democrat Creigh Deeds for sponsoring a 1999 bill that would have raised Virginia's cap on medical malpractice settlements from $1 million to $3 million.

"During our last real malpractice crisis, to triple the cap is just real bad judgment," O'Bannon said.

But here's something kind of interesting about that bill: Though co-sponsored by Deeds and then-delegate, now Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman C. Richard Cranwell, its chief sponsor was Republican Del. Terry Kilgore, brother of the GOP's last gubernatorial nominee, and himself a possible future Republican candidate for Congress.

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Posted at 2:55 PM ET, 10/ 1/2009

Environmental Groups Back Deeds

Put this one into the rather large and growing file of not-very-surprising endorsements: the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter and the Virginia League of Conservation Voters joined today to endorse Democrat Creigh Deeds for governor.

They noted Deeds has received an 86 percent on the LCV's legislative scorecard; Republican Bob McDonnell got an 18 percent. They praised Deeds for his work preserving rural land in Virginia and said they believed he was better-positioned to help Virginia become a leader in alternative energy technologies. And they slammed McDonnell's transportation as relying on a "false promise" of future oil drilling revenues.

"Creigh Deeds is going to work for a common sense solution on that rather than offering false promises that do nothing but dig us in deeper," said Lisa Guthrie, executive director of the Virginia LCV.

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Posted at 2:29 PM ET, 10/ 1/2009

Biden to Headline Deeds Fundraiser

Details are starting to emerge about Vice President Joe Biden's work for Creigh Deeds on Oct. 8. Biden will be headlining a Deeds fundraiser at a private home in Alexandria that morning.

According to an invitation for the event, tickets for a special host reception go for $2,400 a person, and general reception tickets will cost $1,000 a head.

The event will be held at the home of Shaista and Rafat Mahmood. Rafat Mahmood's an investor who originally supported Brian Moran for the Democratic nomination.

Biden previously hosted a Deeds fundraiser at a Richmond home.

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Posted at 1:38 PM ET, 10/ 1/2009

Updated: Northern Virginia Tech Group to Endorse McDonnell

Republican Bob McDonnell picked up the support today of the Northern Virginia Technology Council's PAC -- marking his second major business endorsement in the all-important vote-rich region.

The political arm of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce endorsed McDonnell over Democrat Creigh Deeds last week.

The NVTC has about 1,000 member companies representing more than 200,000 employees and is considered one of the premier business groups in the region.

The TechPAC board voted to endorse McDonnell after interviewing both candidates this week and examining their voting records on issues of importance to Northern Virginia's technology community.

"The trustees determined that Bob McDonnell is a strong leader with specific proposals to ensure Virginia remains a competitive and innovative global technology center," said Dendy Young, TechPAC chairman and CEO of McLean Capital. "McDonnell has a consistent history of working closely with our technology industry and will build on his record of developing and supporting Virginia's technology initiatives and on his long-term commitment to business development in the commonwealth."

Still, the endorsement wasn't too much of a surprise. In 2005, the group backed Republican Jerry Kilgore over Democrat Tim Kaine.

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 10/ 1/2009

GOP Governors Group Features Deeds in New Ad

It's never a good thing for a candidate when he is the star of the video clips used in campaign ads by the other side. But as soon as the media scrum concluded after the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce debate, it was pretty obvious that Republicans would be using footage of Creigh Deeds's bumbling answer on taxes for transportation in an ad sometime soon. And now they have.

The Republican Governors Association will spend $1.7 million over the next three weeks to air "Deeds Uncut" in Northern Virginia. Also featured prominently in the ad is our colleague Bob McCartney, pressing Deeds on taxes.

Watch the ad here.

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Posted at 7:06 AM ET, 10/ 1/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009
Good morning! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

We hope everyone really lurves those campaign ads. For those of us in Northern Virginia, the pace is picking up significantly today, as a big three-week, $1.7 million blitz by the Republican Governors Association for Bob McDonnell hits the airwaves.

McDonnell joins Democrat Creigh Deeds, Gov. Tim Kaine and others today at a forum to discuss higher education organized by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council. Post columnist Bob McCartney thinks neither gubernatorial candidate has said enough about how they would pay for their ambitious higher ed proposals.

Sometime afterward, Deeds heads to North Carolina, where will attend a fundraiser hosted by Gov. Bev Perdue and former longtime Gov. Jim Hunt in downtown Raleigh. McDonnell will tour a charter school in Richmond.

Have we mentioned before our reservations about polls that perform automated robo-calling? Right, they still exist. Another such poll came out yesterday--Rasmussen Reports showed McDonnell up by a wide margin.

Both candidates were pretty quiet yesterday, as they raced to meet the September 30 fundraiser deadline. Deeds got a boost from AFSCME, which donated $400,000 to his effort this week.

At least 75 people also crowded into a newly opened Deeds campaign office in downtown Falls Church Wednesday night, where Deeds was joined by local political luminaries and former rival Brian Moran.

Here's a special First Click report on the event: It was Moran's second appearance with Deeds in as many days, the continuation of his reappearance since his defeat to Deeds in the Democratic primary in June. But after a long summer in Maine with his family, Moran is back.

He was a bit late, but it made for good speechifying in his home territory: He got stuck in traffic. After bounding up onto the dais and grabbing the microphone, Moran led the crowd in a spirited pep talk on why Deeds is the only choice for Virginia, and began with a story about Falls Church's top-rated schools and how Republican Bob McDonnell's plan to improve roads with general fund growth could harm those schools.

"I hear this fellow from Virginia Beach telling me about Northern Virginia traffic," Moran said. "He's coming to Northern Virginia, telling me, 'We have to do something about the roads in Northern Virginia.' You don't have to tell me about the roads in Northern Virginia! It's a frustration. It's a daily frustration. But we in Northern Virginia, especially here in Falls Church, understand that we will not fix our roads at the expense of our school children."

After the event, Moran and Deeds left for a fundraiser hosted by Moran.

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Posted at 8:37 PM ET, 09/30/2009

RGA Spends $1.7M on Ads, DGA Donates $500K

The Republican Governors Association plans to spend $1.7 million on TV ads for Bob McDonnell in Northern Virginia starting tomorrow, according to several sources familiar with the ad buy.

The RGA has been airing $2 million worth of ads across the state since late August, but this will be the first time the group is spending money in the pricey Washington market. The $1.7 million will pay for ads for the next three weeks.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association wrote Creigh Deeds another check this week -- this one for $250,000. The DGA gave Deeds a total of $500,000 in September on top of $500,000 in June. The DGA has spent more on this year's Virginia governor's race -- $4 million in cash and TV ads -- than any other race in the group's history.

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Posted at 5:03 PM ET, 09/30/2009

New Deeds Radio Ad for Northern Virginia

Democrat Creigh Deeds has a new radio ad, versions of which will play in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Both are about jobs, education and transportation, slamming Bob McDonnell's plans on the topic and then transitioning to praise for Deeds's proposals. It opens by trying to make McDonnell regret accepting that Chris Wallace invitation to appear on Fox News last weekend.

The ad's got a woman and man talking to each other. "So this Bob McDonnell is not all he's cracked up to be..." the woman says to the man.

"I know, Fox News just said his jobs and transportation plan just doesn't add up," the man says.

And she responds: "Fox News?"

Take a listen to the Nova version here:








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Posted at 4:41 PM ET, 09/30/2009

Virginia Notebook: Wilder Again Plays His Hand Alone

It's one of the most popular parlor games in Virginia politics: guessing who, if anyone, will get former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder's endorsement.

This year, the game came to a swift end when Wilder announced last week that he would sit out the Virginia governor's race.

The decision itself wasn't shocking (he had done the same in prior years), but it was surprising this year considering he had been courted by President Obama and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, his party's national chairman.

Wilder said in a lengthy statement that he could not endorse Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in his race over Republican Robert F. McDonnell because Deeds supports a tax increase to pay for road and transit improvements ("This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase") and boasts a pro-gun record ("I do not see how endorsing a proposal to have more handguns brought into our cities and suburban areas qualifies as any type of urban renewal plan").

Wilder, an outspoken and sometimes combative politician who has a place in history books as the nation's first elected black governor, doesn't mind breaking with his party. He relishes the sport of keeping everyone guessing about what he's going to do -- and his pattern, if there is one, is to wait until the end and try to figure out who is going to win.

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Posted at 2:20 PM ET, 09/30/2009

Updated: Is Bolling Criticizing McDonnell, Too?

In recent days, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has been attacking Democrat Jody Wagner for quitting her job as state finance secretary to run for office.

"Ms. Wagner quit to run for higher office, putting her own personal political interests ahead of Virginia's interests and the fulfillment of her responsibilities as Secretary of Finance,'' Bolling wrote in a news release yesterday.

Bolling, of course, remained in his part-time job to run for reelection. But wait a minute.

His friend and running mate, Bob McDonnell, quit his job as attorney general to run for governor. Is Bolling criticizing McDonnell, too?

The folks at the state Democratic Party want to point out this obvious disconnect.

''Do you think Bolling has ever confronted McDonnell about his decision to step down as Virginia's Attorney General to run for governor?'' the party wrote in a news release. "Judging by his willingness to campaign with McDonnell across Virginia, it seems as if Bolling has opted to put HIS personal political interests first and stayed quiet."

Updated: Matt Wells, Bolling's campaign manager responds. "There is a fundamental difference between the two. Bob McDonnell left office as one of the most successful attorneys general in modern Virginia history. He accomplished the goals he laid out when he entered office and left the attorney general's office in excellent standing. On the other hand, Jody Wagner totally mismanaged the state's finances. She missed her revenue projections by 20 percent points and created $7 billion in budget shortfalls. And then, when the extent of her financial mismanagement became known, she quit and asked the people of Virginia to give her a promotion. She put her personal political interests ahead of the people's interests and didn't even stick around to help clean up the mess she created."

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Posted at 1:31 PM ET, 09/30/2009

AFSCME Drops Another $400K on Deeds

This will brighten Democrat Creigh Deeds fund-raising report for the month: the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees yesterday donated another $400,000 to Deeds' campaign.

The national union was already one of Deeds' largest donors, along with the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association, giving him $500,000 in June.

The Republicans will surely use the donation to continue a campaign against Deeds for accepting money from big national unions. But $400,000 is nothing to sneeze at--it almost buys you a week on television in pricey Northern Virginia.

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Posted at 12:24 PM ET, 09/30/2009

Excerpts: Post Reporters Take Questions on Governor's Race

Washington Post staff writers Amy Gardner and Sandhya Somashekhar were online Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss Virginia politics and the Race to Richmond.

See some of their answers to readers' questions below, or read the full transcript.

Aldie, Va.: When the Post broke the thesis story, did you detect a shift in Deeds's focus on issues? Aside from social concerns, what issues does Deeds talk about the most on the campaign trail?

Amy Gardner: Hello, and thanks for the question. There's no question that Deeds's campaign strategy shifted pretty significantly after the story of the thesis broke on Aug. 30. Certainly his campaign was planning to focus on Bob McDonnell's record of conservatism, particularly on such social issues as abortion and covenant marriage. But since then it's been pretty much a blitz about McDonnell's thesis and the votes he's taken in the General Assembly that have matched some of the ideas laid out in it.

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Posted at 11:27 AM ET, 09/30/2009

VPBA Endorses Deeds, Four Years After Backing McDonnell

The Virginia Police Benevolent Association has endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds for governor. The group's announcement comes on the heels of the Fraternal Order of Police's endorsement of Republican Bob McDonnell last week. But the FOP also endorsed McDonnell in 2005 when the two ran against each other for attorney general.

The VPBA, on the other hand, is switching teams -- after endorsing McDonnell in 2005, this time the group has gone with Deeds. And, to put an exclamation point on their bipartisan nods, the same group is also backing incumbent Republican Bill Bolling for reelection as lieutenant governor.

Deeds Country helpfully notes that McDonnell called the VPBA's endorsement one of the "most important endorsements that a candidate can have" when he received it in 2005. (Full context: McDonnell's quote referred both to the VPBA and the FOP nods in 2005. "These are the most important endorsements that a candidate can have," McDonnell told The Post. "I think they show that I've received the support from the law and order community.")

Group president Jason Knorowski said Deeds won the group's backing by demonstrating "his support for issues that are important to law enforcement and keeping our neighborhoods safe."

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Posted at 7:03 AM ET, 09/30/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Wed., Sept. 30, 2009
Good morning! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

Remember soccer moms? And security moms? The Virginia election this year is shaping up to be a battle for working moms--and other women--as Democrat Creigh Deeds senses opportunity and makes an explicit appeal to the group that make up 54 percent of registered voters and Republican Bob McDonnell works to defend ground with the group.

In the category of the not very surprising, Gov. Linwood Holton, Virginia's first Republican chief executive since reconstruction and, oh yes, Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law, endorses Deeds. McDonnell joins Republican attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli to talk mental health.

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 5:15 PM ET, 09/29/2009

Virginia's Regional Divide on the Issues

Our colleagues on the polling team have put up an interesting analysis of perceptions of the Virginia governor's race in Northern Virginia versus the rest of the state in the most recent Washington Post poll on their blog, Behind the Numbers.
Take a look here.

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Posted at 3:51 PM ET, 09/29/2009

New Deeds Ad: 'Detrimental'

Democrat Creigh Deeds has a new McDonnell thesis-related ad going up in television markets statewide. The new ad begins, "What kind of person writes a thesis calling working women 'detrimental to the family' ... then lies about his opponent to cover up his own record?"

I don't think we're supposed to conclude a very good one!

As this race gets nastier and nastier, the ad relies heavily on newspaper clips to slam Republican Bob McDonnell as a guy running a deceptive campaign. (In that regards, it's similar to a McDonnell ad that went up last week that makes the same claims about Deeds.)

You can watch the new spot here:

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Posted at 12:06 PM ET, 09/29/2009

Updated: McDonnell, Cuccinelli Talk About Mental Health

Republican candidates Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli released their plans to improve mental health care in the state on a conference call today with reporters.

The proposal includes improving services for children, adolescents and veterans, allowing people who are receiving in-patient care to transfer to out-patient care with oversight, requiring that temporary detention orders be issued by 72 hours from detention to hearing, encouraging partnerships between schools and mental health providers, providing better care at jails and allowing trained law students to represent willing petitioners with behavioral health issues.

"Mental health care is a critically important issue that unfortunately often is overlooked,'" McDonnell said. "We must improve and expand community based mental health care."

Read the full plan here

Update: Democrats criticize McDonnell and Cuccinelli for supporting a trabsportation plan that they say will divert from the general fund for core services, which could include mental healthcare. "The Republican campaign strategy of smoke and mirrors continues," said Allison Jaslow, spokeswoman for the state Democratic party. "I imagine it will be difficult to improve the quality of mental health care in the state of Virginia, when Bob McDonnell actually plans to eliminate one of its dedicated sources of funding."

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Posted at 11:28 AM ET, 09/29/2009

McDonnell Receives Another Business Endorsement

We told you before that Republican Bob McDonnell is the choice of many of Virginia's business groups -- or at least the groups that endorse in the governor's race.

Here's another sign: This morning, McDonnell was endorsed by yet another business group -- this time the Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, representing more than 600 construction and related companies across the state.

"Bob McDonnell is a proven leader with a record of protecting the free enterprise system,'' said Pat Dean, the group's president. "He is the candidate best prepared to get our economy back on track and help Virginia's business owners create great jobs statewide."

McDonnell has been endorsed by the Fairfax County and Hampton Roads chambers of commerce as well as groups representing realtors, farmers, credit unions and small businesses.

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Posted at 10:51 AM ET, 09/29/2009

Former Gov. Holton Endorses Deeds

Former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton, who in the 1960s became the first Republican elected to statewide office since Reconstruction, endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds this morning.

The nod was not exactly a surprise -- Holton is Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law and has been backing Democrats for office for a while now. Holton lives in Richmond, but the campaign chose the Clarendon Metro stop as the location for a press conference on the announcement -- all the better to get on D.C. area television to talk about, what else, transportation.

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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 09/29/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Election Day is exactly five weeks away. And it feels like it. The campaigns are in full swing -- working around the clock, rolling out policy plans, airing new TV ads.

Democrat Creigh Deeds heads back to a metro station this morning -- this time, to unveil an endorsement from former Republican Gov. Linwood Holton. (Didn't we already know Holton supported Deeds? After all, he's Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law and he's endorsed Democrats in most recent statewide elections, including Barack Obama).

Deeds debuted a TV ad yesterday featuring U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, arguably the most popular politician in the state.

Republican Bob McDonnell rolls out another policy -- on mental health -- this morning on a conference call with reporters.

McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling released the second part of their good government plan yesterday. McDonnell also raised $350,000 at a pair of fundraisers with
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Virginia Business magazine takes a look at how Deeds and McDonnell plan to create jobs and boost the economy. And as part of his voter series, Joel Rubin of Cox1Hampton Roads has posted new interviews with Deeds here and here, and McDonnell here and here.

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 5:49 PM ET, 09/28/2009

Warner Blitz for Deeds Is Under Way

Democrat Creigh Deeds debuted a new campaign ad today featuring Mark Warner, the U.S. senator and former governor whose popularity surpasses any other elected official in Virginia.

Expect to see plenty more of Warner between now and Nov. 3. Warner has committed to work every weekend for Deeds between now and Election Day; he's also hosting a fundraiser at his home in Alexandria.

Here's the script of Deeds's new ad "Senator." View the ad below.

Mark Warner into camera:

The choice in this election for Governor is really pretty simple:

Do we move Virginia forward by continuing the pro-business economic policies that I helped put in place...

...Or do we go backwards with the failed economic approach that ruined our economy?

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Posted at 5:12 PM ET, 09/28/2009

All Aboard! Deeds Campaigns on Metro

deedsmetro.JPG

Yes, that really was Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds riding the blue line through Northern Virginia this morning. No, he wasn't commuting to his Alexandria office.

Deeds rode the blue line nine stops from Franconia-Springfield to Rosslyn, shaking hands, handing out literature and introducing himself to potential voters from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. He got out at some of the stops, including King Street, where he was accompanied by son, Gus, and Alexandria Mayor William Euille (who did a Q&A for this weekend's Post Magazine).

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Posted at 2:22 PM ET, 09/28/2009

Updated: McDonnell, Bolling Unveil Good Government Plan

Republicans Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling rolled out the second part of their "good government plan" to bring more fiscal responsibility to Richmond through changes to the way the state budgets and spends money.

The plan includes a more accurate revenue-forecasting model, increasing the size of the rainy-day fund and instituting performance audits of major agencies. Read the whole plan here.

Back in May, they released a plan calling for bipartisan redistricting, limits on political contributions to executive branch officials, creation of a watchdog group to eliminate waste in state agencies and greater lobbyist disclosure.

"We must put an end to the roller coaster spending by Richmond,'' McDonnell said. "That will require exercising spending restraint, not just in bad times but in good times, too."

McDonnell used the call to -- again - to criticize Democrat Creigh Deeds for supporting a tax hike and to praise former governor Doug Wilder, who as we all now know snubbed Deeds last week by announcing that he would not support him.

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 09/28/2009

Deeds Airs Another Ad on Electric Rates

First, Democrat Creigh Deeds aired an ad accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of supporting power rate increases during an economic downturn. Then, McDonnell responded with an ad saying he saved $300 million in rate increases as attorney general.

Here we go again. Deeds is back with another ad about rate increases in response to McDonnell's ad.

Deeds' campaign did not initially release the ad or post it on its Web site, leading the McDonnell campaign to issue this press release: "After multiple editorials finding Creigh Deeds's attacks on Bob McDonnell regarding electricity rate increases to be completely without merit and false, the Democrat has now gone up with a NEW ad reiterating the same erroneous claims. As of this press release, it does not appear the Deeds' campaign has posted this new ad to their website, perhaps aware of the new lows the ad reaches."

Post reporter Derek Kravitz fact-checked the electricity-rate issue earlier this month.

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Posted at 12:29 PM ET, 09/28/2009

UPDATED: Jindal Raises Money for McDonnell Tonight

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will headline a fundraiser for Republican Bob McDonnell tonight at the McLean home of Dwight Schar, founder of NVR Inc, one of the nation's largest homebuilders.

The event will be attended by about 20 people and is expected to raise about $250,000. For those who need a quick math calculation, that means the guests would donate an average of $12,500.

McDonnell will be joined by Sheila Johnson, the wealthy co-founder of Black Entertainment Television who endorsed him earlier this year despite being a major Democratic fundraiser.

Schar donated $5,000 to McDonnell last year, and was a major fundraiser for Republican John McCain in Virginia last year.

McDonnell has campaigned with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. This is Jindal's second trip to Virginia.

Updated: We neglected to tell you that McDonnell raised $100,000 at a breakfast fundraising this morning with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the Falls Church Marriott.

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Posted at 11:04 AM ET, 09/28/2009

O'Malley Helps Deeds Raise Money

Democrat Creigh Deeds will make a brief stop in neighboring Maryland next week to raise money as he heads into the final month of the governor's race.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Turnbull will host a fundraising reception for Deeds Oct. 8 at the Potomac home of lobbyist Barbara Goldberg Goldman.

"Our friends and neighbors just across the Potomac River and the entire Democratic Party need our help!'' according to the invitation. "Here is an opportunity to help Creigh continue serving the fine people of Virginia, and to keep Virginia blue! This race is in the home stretch with just under 37 days to go and, according to recent polls, is neck and neck."

Read the full invitation below:

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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 09/27/2009

McDonnell Appears on FOX News Sunday

Anyone who thinks FOX News goes easy on Republicans should check out Chris Wallace's interview with Republican Bob McDonnell this morning.

McDonnell faced a barrage of tough questions on FOX News Sunday including: Why did he vote to slash the the governor's opportunity fund if he now supports it? Will he cut education to pay for transportation improvements? Did he introduce any bills to create jobs in his 14 years in the legislature? How does he explain the "radical agenda" he wrote his graduate school thesis 20 years ago?

McDonnell mostly held his own, providing the national audience with many of the same answers he has been giving here in the state during the campaign.

"I've spent a lot of time in my legislative career and as attorney general finding ways to reduce the tax and regulatory burden on folks, to create tax credits for jobs creation -- all of which I think contributed to the real good economic base in Virginia,'' McDonnell said.

Democrat Creigh Deeds had been invited to appear several times, according to Wallace, but declined to participate in what had been set up as a debate. Deeds campaign said he offered to appear alone, but that the show declined.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 09/27/2009

Deeds, McDonnell and Northern Virginia Promises

The Washington Post asked Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell to pen op-eds explaining what they would do to help Northern Virginia if they were elected governor.

The exact question they were asked: "If you're elected, what will you do to improve the lives of the people in Northern Virginia? Please be as specific as you can."

Their responses were printed in today's newspaper. Read Deeds' response here and McDonnell's response here.

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Posted at 4:34 PM ET, 09/25/2009

Ad Watch: 'Transportation Contrast'

Republican candidate for governor Robert F. McDonnell took a page from his opponent in a recent television ad, quoting extensively from the Washington Post to promote his transportation plan. It's called "Transportation Contrast."

Script:

"The Washington Post says Creigh Deeds has 'not even bothered to formulate' much of a transportation plan. On road funding, Deeds's approach is 'as politically expedient as it is irresponsible.' Deeds's 'approach to transportation funding is to sidestep the subject.' Bob McDonnell's transportation plan 'deserves credit for the extent and specificity of its proposals,' like selling state liquor stores to invest a half-billion dollars to widen I-66, improve I-95 and expand Metro to Dulles. 'I'm Bob McDonnell, candidate for governor, and my campaign sponsored this ad."

Images:

The ad features excerpts from a Washington Post editorial, floating alongside unflattering cutouts of Deeds. Ominous music turns more inspiring as the ad transitions to images of McDonnell chatting up Virginians and walking around with his family.

Analysis:

This ad has been airing in Northern Virginia, where traffic congestion is a perennial source of frustration and transportation ranks just behind the economy as the top issue of concern among voters. It draws exclusively on a July 29 editorial that is particularly critical of McDonnell -- though you wouldn't know it from the ad.

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Posted at 1:49 PM ET, 09/25/2009

McDonnell Unveils A Pair of New Ads

Republican Bob McDonnell is up on air with two new TV ads today, as predicted in this morning's First Click.

The first ad accuses Democrat Creigh Deeds of "disingenuous" and "deceitful" attacks against him. The second is another attempt to appeal to the female vote post-thesis. For this ad, he had his eldest daughter speak about the values her father taught her and her service in Iraq.

Read the scripts below:

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Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 09/25/2009

McDonnell Picks Up Another Endorsement

Republican Bob McDonnell scored another endorsement today -- the third day in a row.

The political arm of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce announced its support of McDonnell at a morning news conference. The group represents 2,500 member firms that employ nearly 300,000 workers in the state's second-most populous area.

"Bob McDonnell's detailed transportation plan and solid stance on strategic business issues were key to his receiving this endorsement," said W. Sheppard Miller III, chairman of the Hampton Roads Business PAC.

The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce PAC also endorsed McDonnell this week, citing transportation, economic development and tax policy.

Both chambers have given the nod to Republicans in the past, so these endorsements were not a huge surprise. But there's no denying it's been a pretty good week for McDonnell, who also picked up support from the Fraternal Order of Police and scored a victory when former governor Doug Wilder refused to endorse Democrat Creigh Deeds.

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Posted at 6:49 PM ET, 09/24/2009

Deeds Country? Really?

If the Margi Vanderhye sign weren't such a dead giveway, we'd try to be coy and quiz you about where this picture of Democrat Creigh Deeds's signature "Deeds Country" yard sign was taken.

Bath County? Southside? Far Southwest? Okay, okay. It's the corner of Georgetown Pike and Springvale Road in Great Falls -- home of tech entrepreneurs and defense contracting execs and where 10,000-square-foot mansions with views of the Potomac River are as plentiful as Starbucks on K Street. In fact, a quick search on Google shows that the median household income in Great Falls is north of $150,000 -- quite possibly the highest in the state.

So. Deeds Country? Certainly these homeowners love their land, just as Deeds loves the land he grew up on west of the Blue Ridge. But that mountainscape backdrop does look a tad peculiar up here. And after the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce's endorsement of Republican Bob McDonnell on Thursday, it's not too much of a stretch to expect some Vanderhye-McDonnell precincts in these parts. Just ask all the McDonnell supporters who showed up at a fundraiser for Vanderhye at the Great Falls home of venture capitalist John Backus on Tuesday.

deeds country.jpg

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Posted at 4:28 PM ET, 09/24/2009

Ad Watch: 'Why Did You?'

Democratic candidate for governor R. Creigh Deeds unveiled two new ads this week hitting Republican Robert F. McDonnell over issues related to McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis. One is entitled "Why Did You?"

Script:

Woman: Bob McDonnell, we know what you wrote about working women ...

Woman: ... and we've seen all your ads and heard your excuses.

Woman: But your RECORD troubles me.

Woman: ... 35 bills restricting a woman's choice

Woman: And you opposed birth control for married adults.

Woman: Mr. McDonnell: We've read your words ...

Woman: We've checked your record.

Woman: Why did you vote that way?

Images:

Each line is spoken sternly by a different woman, looking straight into the camera. They are diverse in age and race and are featured in different settings--one in what looks like an office, another in front of a house. The Deeds campaign says the women are Virginia residents--not actors. They include Phyllis Randall, who ran for supervisor as a Democrat in Loudoun, and party activist Chrisi West. The campaign refused to release a full list.

Keep reading for an analysuis

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Posted at 12:11 PM ET, 09/24/2009

Updated: Wilder Declines to Endorse Deeds

Former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder said today that he will not endorse either candidate in the race for Virginia governor despite serious courting from both candidates, Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democration National Committee, and even President Barack Obama.

The decision can only be considered a slap in the face to Democrat Creigh Deeds and a victory -- of sorts -- for Republican Bob McDonnell. No one really expected Wilder to endorse McDonnell because he never has supported a Republican, but declining to endorse anyone -- and resisting Obama's personal lobbying --- sends enough of a message.

Wilder specifically mentions his opposition to increasing taxes (which Deeds has said he would be open to for road and transit) and his desire to limit the number of handguns.

UPDATE: Deeds' campaign responds. "We respect Governor Wilder's decision,'' said Jared Leopold, a Deeds spokesman. "While Creigh and he may not agree on every issue, they share a fundamental commitment to keeping Virginia the best managed state in the nation, as Governor Wilder first made it in 1992. As governor, Creigh intends to seek Governor Wilder's counsel often, and looks forward to working with him."

Meanwhile, McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said: "Bob McDonnell and Governor Wilder have worked together well on issues ranging from combating gangs to promoting programs to help the homeless in Richmond. They share the same commitment to fiscal responsibility and keeping taxes low. They both understand that during these tough economic times public servants have to focus on the real-world situation of working families and small businesses who are struggling to make ends meet. The last thing they need is another tax increase that makes their burdens heavier and dries up job opportunities. Bob holds the Governor in high regard for his historic achievements and public service, and he looks forward to continuing to work closely with him in the years ahead."

In the meantime, read Wilder's full statement below:

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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 09/24/2009

VEA Airs TV Ads Against McDonnell

The Virginia Education Association is airing TV ads in Richmond and Hampton Roads that criticize Republican Bob McDonnell for opposing money for smaller class sizes and teacher raises, and for supporting vouchers for private schools.

The commercial directs viewers to a Web site that gives them the VEA's take on McDonnell's and Democrat Creigh Deeds's education plans and urges them to sign a petition asking McDonnell to change his positions while encouraging Deeds to continue his education efforts.

"Our commercial asks those who agree with us to ask the candidates for governor to support our positions for smaller class sizes and increased teacher salaries and against draining dollars from public schools to fund private school tuition vouchers," VEA President Kitty Boitnott said.

McDonnell's campaign's response: "Only one candidate in this race is actually advocating bold reforms for Virginia's public education system: Bob McDonnell,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "He has put forward an innovative plan to get nearly half a billion dollars more each year into the classroom, increasing teacher salaries and improving technology, without raising taxes. And he is standing with President Barack Obama in strong support of charter schools and performance pay, policies opposed by the VEA and Creigh Deeds. We know the VEA is backing Creigh Deeds, but Virginia's parents, students and teachers in the classroom are standing with Bob McDonnell."

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Posted at 7:08 AM ET, 09/24/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009
Good morning Virginia! Here's what's happening in politics across the Commonwealth today.

For the fourth year in a row, Forbes.com has ranked Virginia the best place in the country to do business. It's good news for the state, coming on the heels of word that the unemployment rate has dipped and the Commonwealth now has the lowest rate of people out of work of any large state.

It's also good news for Democratic candidates for office, who have used the Forbes accolade as proof that Democratic leadership has been good for the state's economy and the candidates took little time to crow.

Not persuaded: The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, which Wednesday endorsed Republican Bob McDonnell for governor. The chamber says they believe McDonnell would be more likely to spark private sector growth. The Chamber slammed Deeds for not putting forward a specific funding proposal for transportation.

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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Wilder Watch Continues

It turns out Democrat Creigh Deeds wasn't the only one who met with former governor L. Douglas Wilder this week.

Republican Bob McDonnell had a face-to-face meeting with Wilder yesterday -- a day after Deeds, several sources say.

Both men are hoping to score an endorsement from the nation's first elected black governor.

Wilder said this morning that he would not make any announcement today, but would release something by the end of the week. Remember, that doesn't mean he will actually endorse anyone this week. He may just issue a statement about what he is looking for in a candidate. This is Wilder we are talking about, after all.

McDonnell and Wilder, who have had a good working relationship for years, met for lunch in downtown Richmond back in May, and have spoken regularly since then.

It's unclear which of them set up yesterday's meeting. Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman, refused to comment.

Wilder has been downright critical of Deeds in the past, but it's still unlikely he would endorse a Republican. He could, however, sit the race out.

In 1997, Wilder refused to endorse Democrat Don Beyer in the governor's race, which helped Republican James S. Gilmore. And then, in 2005, he refused to back Deeds in the attorney general's race against McDonnell because of his position on guns.

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Posted at 4:46 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Virginia Notebook: Young Women, Meet Young Bob McDonnell

If you live in Virginia and you're planning to vote for governor in November, if you happen to be between ages 18 and 44 and you also just happen to be a woman, gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds has something he'd like to talk to you about.

It has to do with a certain graduate school thesis written by Deeds's opponent, Robert F. McDonnell, in 1989. In the document, McDonnell wrote about how to use public policy to strengthen the traditional family and said that working women and feminism were "detrimental" to the family.

McDonnell has said that some of his views have changed since he wrote the paper and cited his working wife and daughters as proof that he does, indeed, support women in the workforce. But Deeds launched an ad blitz this week to publicize the issue, some featuring Virginia women looking straight into the camera and insisting that McDonnell's record as a lawmaker shows otherwise.

A Washington Post poll released Sunday showed that the thesis has had some impact on the race already, and that there is quite a bit of room left for Deeds to run with the issue.

Take a look at some pretty striking numbers about younger voters, those between the ages of 18 to 44, and that reality seems clear.

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Warner Rallies Staff at Deeds HQ

Governor-turned-senator Mark Warner stopped by Democrat Creigh Deeds' headquarters in Alexandria unannounced this morning.

The goal? Rally the troops as they head into the final six weeks of the grueling governor's race.

Warner came armed with a couple dozen donuts, a box of joe from Dunkin' Donuts and, of course, a pep talk for the 40 or so staffers who were present -- many of them who had worked for him last year (including campaign manager Joe Abbey).

Warner, arguably the state's most popular politican, told the crowd that they had all been through successful races before, and they could do it again. "There'll be plenty of time to sleep afterward,'' said Warner, in shirtsleeves.

Warner, accompanied by spokesman Kevin Hall who has been helping Deeds off and on, then raced to Capitol Hill, where he was helping to organize floor speches on healthcare by the 10 freshmen Democratic senators.

You can guess what happened next, right? Interstate 395 was backed up, much as it usually is at that time of the morning. Warner was late, but his colleagues stalled until he got there.

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Posted at 1:58 PM ET, 09/23/2009

GOP Group Donates $200,000 to Cuccinelli

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which calls itself the nation's largest caucus of GOP state leaders, donated $200,000 Wednesday to attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

The group has contributed $515,000 to Virginia candidates this election cycle, including more than $90,000 to the state Republican party.

"Ken Cuccinelli is a common-sense conservative who understands that a competitive Virginia, with state government officials who will keep tax and regulatory burdens low, will allow individuals and businesses to prosper," said Scott Ward, the group's president.

The RSLC is a national organization with more than 75,000 donors that works to elect Republicans to state legislatures as well as to the offices of attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

Virginia changed its campaign finance reporting law after the RSLC gave Bob McDonnell more than $2 million in his 2005 race for attorney general against Creigh Deeds. At the time, the group did not have to reveal the source of its donations.

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Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Moran to Hit the Trail for Deeds

On the day after the June Democratic primary, gubernatorial nominee also-rans Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran both promised to do whatever they could to get victor Creigh Deeds elected in November. McAuliffe's activities have been clear in recent weeks -- he's been sending his supporters a series of e-mails and personally donated $25,000 to Deeds. And Moran? After a summer spent resting and recovering in Maine, expect to see him on the trail starting Friday, when he will appear on Deeds's behalf.

Moran will serve as Deeds's surrogate at the 8th Congressional District's Kennedy/King Dinner, as the Deeds campaign begins to lean on Moran to help boost turnout in the Democratic strongholds of Arlington and Alexandria.

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Posted at 12:06 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Move Over Oprah -- It's the Deeds Book Club

Next week, Democratic candidate for governor Creigh Deeds is asking supporters to organize "book clubs" around the state. The book under discussion? You've got it. Republican Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis.

In an e-mail being sent to supporters today, lieutenant governor candidate Jody Wagner asks that supporters get together in homes around the state with a full copy of the thesis. (You can read it here.)

"The Deeds campaign is getting the word out on TV, but that's no substitute for real person-to-person interaction within your own communities," Wagner writes. "Bring along a friend or co-worker who has heard the attacks being thrown towards Creigh on TV and has questions about this race. Each party will include full copies of Bob's thesis so that you can read for yourself exactly what he wrote."

House parties are a tried and true method of using word-of-mouth, neighbor-to-neighbor connections to drive up excitement for a campaign. The book club -- a particularly popular activity among women, we'd note -- is a new twist. It's likely driven by experiences with focus groups that show that women who sit around talking about McDonnell's thesis for a while leave saying they are far more likely to vote for Deeds.

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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 09/23/2009

UPDATED: Fairfax Chamber Endorses McDonnell

The political arm of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce is expected to endorse Republican Bob McDonnell this morning in the Virginia governor's race.

The chamber represents more than 700 member companies and an influential voting bloc in the all-important, vote-rich region of Northern Virginia.

As we told you last week, some business groups that have supported Democrats in recent years have not warmed to Democrat Creigh Deeds this year.

Instead, many of them are supporting McDonnell who has pledged to create jobs, fix roads, keep taxes and regulation low and protect Virginia's right-to-work laws. In recent weeks, he has been endorsed by groups that represent small businesses, credit unions, Realtors and farmers.

We will provide you with more details when they become available later this morning.

Update: The annoucement came via press release at 9:30 a.m. "Mr. McDonnell earned the support of NOVABizPAC because of his overall stronger support for the Fairfax County Chamber's priorities, specifically for identifying a plan for transportation,'' NOVABizPAC Chairwoman Fran Fisher said.

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Posted at 5:50 PM ET, 09/22/2009

Rep. Joe Wilson Helps Va. GOP. No Lie!

It turns out U.S. Rep. Joe "You Lie!" Wilson has some interest in Virginia politics. Wilson e-mailed a fundraiser appeal Tuesday on behalf of the Dominion Leadership Trust political action committee, the PAC organized by House Speaker Bill Howell in 2002 to support Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates.

The South Carolina congressman encourages recipients to contribute to the PAC to keep a Republican majority in the House, to counter union money and national support from liberal groups including ACORN and to "send a message to the national Democrats -- Americans won't put up with your big government agenda."

It's worth noting that Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell has condemned Wilson's outburst during President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress, citing it as an example of the lack of civility now invading public life.

UPDATE: Eric Dell, Wilson's chief of staff, says the congressman sent the e-mail after Howell's office called and asked for his help. "They contacted us on this. The congressman said he'd be happy to help," Dell said.

You can read Wilson's whole e-mail after the jump.


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Posted at 4:12 PM ET, 09/22/2009

Warner, Chichester Defend 2004 Tax Deal

Woe unto the political candidate who questions 2004. That's what Republican Bob McDonnell did in last week's debate against Creigh Deeds in front of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, when he said the major tax increase of that year was a bad idea.

Button pushed. Conference call scheduled. Senators Warner and Chichester, are you on the line?

Democrat Mark R. Warner (D) the U.S. senator and former governor, and Republican John H. Chichester, the former state Senate president pro tem, both gladly spoke by telephone to reporters today to defend what they view as their historic stewardship of Virginia's finances five years ago.

"What we did in 2004 was not about creating new programs," Warner told a telephone gaggle of reporters this afternoon. "It was not about creating expensive new initiatives. It was about paying our bills."

What they did, specifically, was persuade a coalition of business leaders, community groups and moderate Republicans to back a $1.4 billion tax increase. The plan closed a gap in the state budget that had threatened Virginia's top-notch bond rating and boosted spending on schools, public safety and mental health care. State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, McDonnell's Democratic opponent, voted for the increase. McDonnell, then a delegate from Virginia Beach, voted against it.

Deeds, needless to say, arranged today's call.

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Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 09/22/2009

Updated: Wilder Watch on Deeds Endorsement Goes On

As promised, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds did indeed meet with former governor L. Douglas Wilder yesterday, meeting with him for more than an hour to discuss the gubernatorial race in what Wilder termed "a very nice conversation."

Unlike during a previous such confab, Wilder says this time Deeds did, formally, ask if he would endorse his candidacy for governor. And Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), chairman of the national Democratic party, called shortly after the meeting to appeal for the same thing, adding his voice to that of the president of the United States.

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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 09/22/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009

Happy Autumn, Virginia! And Happy Season of the Television Ad Blitz. Democrat Creigh Deeds is off to the races with, count 'em, three new TV spots -- two of them hitting Republican Bob McDonnell on his graduate school thesis, and the third showcasing Deeds's supreme comfort in the rolling farmland of Bath County.

The blitz tells us that Deeds is staking his campaign on recent polling information showing that McDonnell's thesis, which criticizes the role of working women on families, is a potential dealbreaker for voters, especially women -- if only he can reach them. It also makes clear that this race is going to be a mudfest from this day forward. Expect McDonnell not to sit back for too long; that same polling data shows the Republican with an advantage among voters when it comes to dealing with the economy, transportation and the state budget crisis.

Today, McDonnell and Deeds will appear in Williamsburg at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium, and again tonight at Virginia Union University in Richmond. But don't expect a photo opportunity of the two men arm in arm; according to the McDonnell campaign, Deeds requested a change in format at the Richmond appearance so that the two will not appear together on stage. Deeds folks say the appearance was never billed as a debate, so a back-to-back format was appropriate.

President Obama has gotten involved in the Virginia governor's race, calling former Virginia governor Doug Wilder to urge him to endorse Deeds. Wilder told reporters he will make an announcement regarding an endorsement later this week.

Congressmen Eric Cantor (R) and Bobby Scott (D) showed a Richmond-area crowd yesterday that public meetings on health care can remain civil.

And a novel idea from the beleaguered Virginia Information Technologies Agency to its contractor, Northrup Grumman: Please control costs.

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Posted at 4:18 PM ET, 09/21/2009

Democrats' Press Call Goes Awry with Mudcat's Candor

Oops. This afternoon, what was billed as a press call to slam former congressman Tom Davis (R) for allegedly anti-rural remarks turned into an all-too-candid strategy session, courtesy of David "Mudcat" Saunders.

The longtime Democratic operative apparently wasn't told by party officials or the campaign of gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds (D) that it was in fact a press call, rather than an internal chat about strategy. So for several minutes, Saunders spoke rather colorfully and indelicately about his indignation over Davis' recent comments and about how they could be leveraged to help Deeds.

He noted that the remarks might better be spun as anti-working-person, rather than anti-rural, because "From what I've seen up in Northern Virginia, they don't give a damn if people talk s*** about us." And in trying to explain that the comments might also be offensive to those with rural roots who live in Northern Virginia, he said there are "more rednecks on Route 1 in Alexandria than the sixth district of Virginia."

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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 09/21/2009

Updated: Deeds Unveils News Ads on Thesis

Democrat Creigh Deeds hits the airwaves today with two hard-hitting new TV ads that attack Republican Bob McDonnell on his 20-year-old thesis and social issues, including abortion.

Updated: McDonnell's campaign responds: "With only six weeks to go until election day, it's disappointing that Mr. Deeds continues to wage these negative and false attacks against Bob McDonnell,'' said Crystal Camerson, a McDonnell spokeswoman. "This is just another example of how desperate he is to rally his own base. It's no surprise Mr. Deeds doesn't want to talk about himself --- he has no plan for transportation, supports a cap and trade scheme that will kill Virginia jobs, bragged about being the biggest spender in Richmond, and has said he will a partner for big labor after accepting millions in campaign contributions."

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Posted at 9:34 AM ET, 09/21/2009

Wilder: Obama Made a Pitch for Deeds

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder says he received a call directly from President Obama about three weeks ago to discuss a variety of issues, but, top among them, was the Virginia governor's race.

Wilder said the call was confidential and he would not reveal his exact back and forth with the president, whom Wilder strongly supported last year. But, he said, Obama made clear that he would like the former Democratic governor to get off the fence and endorse Democrat Creigh Deeds.

"I'll just say he called and made his position known and made it clear, he's a Democrat, Mr. Deeds is a Democrat and obviously, the president would like to see a Democratic victory," Wilder said.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/21/2009

Union Sends Mailers for Deeds

First, we told you how labor unions are pouring money into Democrat Creigh Deeds's bank account. Then, how they started making recorded calls to potential voters.

Now come the mailers.

The Virginia AFL-CIO has started mailing campaign brochures to potential voters on Deeds' behalf. Mailers have been received in Richmond, and possibly other locations across the state.

One side of the mailer features a photo of former governor Mark Warner and says: "Eight years ago Mark Warner put Virginia on the road to prosperity. Only Creigh Deeds will keep Virginia moving forward."

On the flip side, with a nice photo of Deeds and a not-so-flattering picture of Republican Bob McDonnell, the mailer claims that Deeds voted to accept $125 million in federal money for Virginia's unemployed workers while McDonnell opposed it.

"In difficult economic times like these, it's more important than ever to continue the common sense policies started by Mark Warner. We need policies that cut wasteful spending, invest in our future and protect working families -- not the super-rich."

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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 09/20/2009

More on All-Important Business Support

On Saturday, The Washington Post reported that Democrat R. Creigh Deeds is struggling to make the sale with Virginia business leaders. One detail in that story worth fleshing out is how Deeds and McDonnell have done in the area of campaign contributions.

Thanks as always to David Poole and the Virginia Public Access Project for their outstanding compilation of donor data and a big assist on this analysis in particular.

We started with a baseline of all those donors who have given to both Democrat Mark R. Warner and Republican Tom Davis, two politicians with a long history of popularity with the state's business community, particularly the high-tech corridor of Northern Virginia. We then looked at how those donors performed through Election Day in 2005 -- and how they're behaving so far this year. Here's what we found:

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/20/2009

Fack Checker: McDonnell and School Funding

For some time now, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D) has been bashing Robert F. McDonnell, his Republican opponent in the governor's race, for his stance on school funding.

Deeds and fellow Democrats accuse McDonnell of wanting to raid K-12 education funding to fix the transportation mess in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.
In a press release earlier this month, the Deeds campaign said McDonnell "has pledged to take $5.4 billion from our schools to pay for roads."

Deeds made similar claims in an Aug. 21 speech at George Mason University and again at Wednesday's debate sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce in McLean.

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Posted at 6:02 PM ET, 09/18/2009

Mrs. McDonnell to Perform at Redskins Game

If you were lucky enough to score Redskins tickets for Sunday, or even if you plan to watch on TV, make sure you pay special attention to the ladies performing at the halftime show.

maureenmcdonnell.jpgMaureen McDonnell, the 55-year-old wife of Bob McDonnell and former "Redskinette," will join other former cheerleaders on the field to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their alumni association. She will be wearing black pants and a Redskins Jersey (with McDonnell and the number 76 on the back) as they dance to Michael Jackson tunes.

McDonnell will be campaigning (and tailgating) before the game and then in the stands watching when his wife takes the field.

The former Maureen Gardner loves to tell the story of how she became a cheerleader at campaign events.

In case you were wondering: It was her father's idea. He wanted the free tickets that came with the job. Can you blame him?

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Posted at 4:59 PM ET, 09/18/2009

McDonnell Snags More Business Support

Republican Bob McDonnell announced endorsements this afternoon from Mark Kington, managing director of X-10 Capital (and Sen. Mark Warner's former partner) and John Luke, CEO of MeadWestvaco, as he unveiled the formation of a business coalition of more than 200 leaders from across the state.

"The men and women on this list know this is the campaign on the side of Virginia's job creators and workers,'' McDonnell said. "They know where I stand on the issues crucial to Virginia's economy in the years ahead."

Kington said he has supported Republicans and Democrats in the past, although he supported Republican Jerry Kilgore in 2005. He has donated $78,500 to McDonnell.

"Bob McDonnell is focused on the issues that matter to Virginians and how they lead their daily lives -- job creation, education excellence, transportation solutions -- and I proudly support him as our next governor."

See the full list of coalition members below:

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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 09/18/2009

Deeds: North Carolina Bound

Demoratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds will travel next month to North Carolina, where the governor will roll out the welcome mat.

Gov. Bev Perdue and former longtime Gov. Jim Hunt -- both Democrats, of course -- will host a fundraiser for Deeds Oct. 1 in downtown Raleigh. The suggested contribution is $500.

Perdue was elected governor last year after two terms as lieutenant governor. Like her counterparts across the nation, she has faced a financial crisis and, as a result, sagging approval ratings. Her ratings are in the 20s -- among the lowest in the nation.

Deeds is rarely out of state (unlike his former rival Terry McAuliffe) but he did fly to Los Angeles and San Francisco last month to meet with some Hollywood types and a business mogol or two. (No word yet on how much he raised on the west coast. We'll let you know when the next finance reports come out.)

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Posted at 12:04 PM ET, 09/18/2009

Humane Society Endorses McDonnell, Shannon

The Humane Society's legislative arm has endorsed Republican Robert F. McDonnell for governor and Democrat Steve Shannon for attorney general, and had some sharp words for Shannon's opponent, Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

The animal welfare organization praised McDonnell and Shannon for supporting stiff penalties against animal fighting. The group singled out McDonnell for special praise, in part because of his stand opposing so-called "crush videos," which depict scantily clad women killing kittens, puppies and other small animals, sometimes using their high heels.

"Bob McDonnell included a crackdown on animal fighting as part of his anti-crime agenda, and he understands that the way we treat animals is a reflection of our basic attitudes and values in society," said Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, in the endorsement letter. "Virginians deserve a governor like Bob McDonnell who has demonstrated strong and consistent leadership in protecting animals from cruelty and abuse."

The group criticized Cuccinelli, however, saying the state senator "has often stood nearly alone in the Senate as an opponent of modest and mainstream animal protection reforms." For example, the group says, Cuccinelli was one of only two senators to vote against a stronger animal fighting law in 2007 and was one of only three to oppose restrictions on large-scale puppy mills a year later.

As you may recall, McDonnell was attorney general when two years ago, NFL quarterback Michael Vick was busted for a dogfighting operation outside of Newport News, where he lived at the time.

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Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 09/18/2009

McDonnell 50, Deeds 43

As we've told you a few times we don't trust all polls, but here's one that we don't mind telling you about.

A DailyKos/Research 2000 poll on the governor's race shows that Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds among likely voters, 50 percent to 43 percent -- virtually unchanged since an August poll.

Back in mid-June, McDonnell had 45 percent and Deeds 44 percent. But once again the favorable numbers prove quite interesting: McDonnell at 56 percent, Deeds at 47 percent.

The left-leaning Daily Kos tells us that McDonnell is aided by support from independent voters, who support him by a 13-point margin, 51 to 38 percent.

And in case you were wondering the poll shows Deeds narrowly leads among women -- 47 to 44 percent -- but he has all along. No change this month due to McDonnell's thesis.


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Posted at 7:12 AM ET, 09/18/2009

First Click - Virginia

Happy Friday, Virginia, here's what's happening in state politics today.

The news offers political junkies two interesting indicators about the gubernatorial contest between R. Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert F. McDonnell (R). The two men sparred over a wide range of issues, from the economy to energy to gay adoptions, at a debate in Tysons Corner yesterday, which was tense from the very start.

Afterward, Deeds was asked by a scrum of reporters about an apparent contradiction in his position on raising taxes for transportation. The line of questioning provoked a snippy response to a female reporter, which was caught on tape. Bob McCartney was not impressed with Deeds' performance.

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 09/18/2009

The Kitchen Table: The Reston Farmer's Market

So, we haven't actually taken you into someone's kitchen yet for "The Kitchen Table," our sorta-weekly feature bringing you the voices of Virginia's voters, but at least this one is food-related.

VIDEO | Virginia Voters Express Their Views on the Governor's Race

You know fall is coming when the early-season apples show up at the farmer's market and you can't buy a baguette there without someone trying to stuff your eco-friendly reusable bag with campaign literature -- particularly Democratic campaign literature.

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Posted at 2:17 PM ET, 09/17/2009

Fairfax Chamber Debate: The After Scrum

The Republican Party of Virginia is circulating this video of Democrat R. Creigh Deeds explaining how he's not for taxes except when he is after the close of his debate with Republican Robert F. McDonnell today at the Capital One center in Tysons Corner.

It's pretty self-explanatory, is probably not terribly helpful to Deeds, and undoubtedly is coming soon, all or in part, to a McDonnell television ad near you.

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Posted at 1:45 PM ET, 09/17/2009

Video Highlights: Fairfax Debate

After the jump, see clips from today's Virginia governor's race debate in which the candidates clashed on McDonnell's graduate school thesis and Deeds's references to it (posted now), as well as support for cap-and-trade legislation and women in the workplace (posted soon).

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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 09/17/2009

McDonnell's Money

Now that we have told you a little about Democrat Creigh Deeds's money, we thought we would tell you a bit more about Republican Bob McDonnell's cash.

McDonnell's top donors in the two-month period that ended Aug. 31 were a combination of businesses, longtime Republican donors and, of course, the Republican National Committee, which gave him $350,000.

Top individual donors include Edward and Lynn Via of Roanoke ($150,000), chemical company executive Bruce C. Gottwald ($50,000), Dominion resources president Tom Farrell ($15,000), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's political action committee ($5,000).

Top non-individual donors include: the Virginia Association of Realtors ($60,000), Fluor Enterprises -- the company helping build HOT lanes on the Beltway -- ($15,000), law firm McGuire Woods's political action committee ($18,000) and the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly ($5,000).

Notably absent: Sheila C. Johnson, the billionaire co-founder of the Black Entertainment Television network, who has been a major donor to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and other Democrats, but who endorsed McDonnell in July.

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Posted at 12:29 PM ET, 09/17/2009

Fact Check: Jobs

In his closing statement during today's debate, Deeds said McDonnell "never wrote a bill to create a job." Afterward, a reporter asked McDonnell about this accusation.

Here's how he responded: "I carried the historic welfare reform bill in 1995. Do you know what that bill did? It put women to work. It created the transportation and health-care benefits and tax support so that women could go back to work, and then a year after that I introduced a tax credit bill to give businesses the ability to receive tax credits for hiring people."

Okay, so neither exactly created jobs. But the welfare bill did require people to work to get state welfare benefits. We wrote more on that bill and McDonnell's repeated references to it in this campaign.

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Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 09/17/2009

Live Blog: The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Debate

Greetings from the glass-and-concrete fortress that is the Capitol One headquarters in Tysons Corner. We'll be live-blogging today's debate between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell. The debate will be kicking off shortly and so will we. Follow to the jump to read along.

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Posted at 10:35 AM ET, 09/17/2009

Unions Help Deeds With More Than Money

We told you today about how much money labor unions are pouring into Democrat Creigh Deeds's bank account, but that's not all they're doing.

The AFL-CIO has started making recorded calls to potential voters on Deeds's behalf. Calls are being made in Richmond, and possibly other locations across the state.

Here is the script:

Hello. This is Julie calling from the AFL-CIO with important information about the upcoming election for governor.

Creigh Deeds is the only candidate for governor who has a track record of standing up for our working families. He supported a plan to invest federal resources to create jobs and help turn around our economy. And Deeds voted to help workers by accepting $125 million in federal aid for Virginia's unemployed workers.

Bob McDonnell opposed resources to protect our jobs and failed to support aid for recently laid-off workers. That's why the AFL-CIO has endorsed Creigh Deeds for governor. Our working families can't afford Bob McDonnell. Vote Creigh Deeds for governor Nov. 3.
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Posted at 8:13 AM ET, 09/17/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Good morning Virginia, here's what's happening in state politics today.

R. Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert F. McDonnell (R) face off today in a much-anticipated debate before Northern Virginia's business community, to be moderated by David Gregory of "Meet the Press." A lot is at stake today for both gubernatorial candidates, as McDonnell seeks to move beyond the thesis that has dominated headlines in recent weeks and Deeds aims to overcome the unfriendly atmosphere for Democrats nationally.

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Posted at 7:17 AM ET, 09/16/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning, Virginia, here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

The campaign finance numbers are in, and they're big. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democrat running for governor, raked in a record $3.48 million in July and August, about a half million dollars more than Republican Robert F. McDonnell. But McDonnell, who didn't have a primary challenge, has more money in the bank, $5.8 million, compared with Deeds's nearly $4.4 million.

It's a good news, bad news day for Deeds. According to a recent poll of registered voters, McDonnell's lead has slimmed to five percentage points (the poll was conducted by live interviewers, which is critical to meeting the Post's standards). But the Democrat is facing questions about seemingly contradictory responses he gave two groups about collective bargaining.

Both men are in Richmond today at a forum sponsored by Virginia FREE. Sorry, you weren't invited.

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 09/16/2009

Gov Hopefuls Attend Closed Candidate's Forum

Both candidates for Virginia governor will speak at a forum today in Richmond but you aren't invited. That's the right. The public is not invited.

Virginia FREE, a Richmond-based coalition of businesses from across the state, is hosting all six statewide candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell, at a gathering of more than 100 of its members. Bob Holsworth, political commenator and author of the Virginia Tomorrow blog will be the moderator.

The group made the decision to close the event so its members could have a "candid and open discussion" with the candidates, said Clayton Roberts, the group's executive diector. It's the same thing Virginia FREE has done for two decades.

Deeds will speak around 9 a.m. McDonnell will talk about an hour later.

We'd tell you what they said if we could but alas, we are not invited either.

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Posted at 7:22 PM ET, 09/15/2009

McDonnell Responds on Energy

Republican Bob McDonnell is hitting back at Democrat Creigh Deeds over energy prices.

His campaign announced a new ad this evening, running in the same markets where Deeds put up a spot last week that claimed McDonnell had approved energy rate hikes as attorney general. (Read more about that claim here.) In McDonnell's ad, he takes credit for saving consumers money on energy and slams Deeds over the national Democrat's green house emissions bill that would include a cap-and-trade provision for energy companies. (Deeds has said he opposes the cap-and-trade as it is now written though he believes that action needs to be taken to address global warming.)

Watch the ad here.

Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold responded: "With tightening polls Bob McDonnell is starting to resort to false attacks. Bob McDonnell was sitting in the room last week when Creigh Deeds said again that he doesn't support the House cap and trade bill. Anyone in Virginia can tell you, energy rates are going up and Bob McDonnell could have done something about it. Why won't he ever take responsibility for his record?"

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Posted at 4:05 PM ET, 09/15/2009

McDonnell: $2.9 Million in July-August

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell raised half a million dollars less than Democratic rival Creigh Deeds in the two-month period ending last month.

But McDonnell, who did not have a primary opponent, has more money in the bank -- $5.8 million compared with Deeds's nearly $4.4 million.

McDonnell reports receiving donations from 6,239 donors -- significantly more than Deeds's 3,764. About $350,000 came from national groups.

Phil Cox, McDonnell campaign manager, said the 2,500 additional donors "is reflective of the grass-roots energy we have seen building throughout our campaign."

We'll be taking a closer look at these numbers and bringing you our findings.

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Posted at 12:51 PM ET, 09/15/2009

Deeds: $3.5 Million in July and August

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds has beaten Republican Bob McDonnell to the punch in getting out his fundraising numbers for the July and August period. According to the campaign, Deeds raised $3.48 million, including from 2,284 new donors. They say 90 percent of his donors were from Virginia and 68 percent of them gave $200 or less.

According to the campaign, that haul exceeds fundraising totals for gubernatorial candidates of both parties over July and August in both 2001 and 2005. Campaign officials say he had $4.38 million on hand as of Aug. 31.

They say his top individual donations included $37,500 from Washington Capitals and Mystics owner Ted Leonsis and $25,000 from Northern Virginia real estate executive Robert H. Smith.

We'll be taking a closer look at these numbers and bringing you our findings, as well as reporting McDonnell's haul, today and tomorrow.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/15/2009

GOP Group Donates $250,000 to Va Candidates

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which calls itself the nation's largest caucus of GOP state leaders, has donated nearly $250,000 to Virginia candidates this election cycle.

This week, the group gave more than $90,000 to the state Republican party (which let's face it, desperately needs the money) and Chris Stolle, a House candidate in Hampton Roads (and yes, brother of the state senator.)

"We believe that the Republican candidates are well-positioned for victory in November because they understand the private sector, not the public sector, will create the road to recovery and keep Virginia competitive,'' said Scott Ward, the group's president.

The RSLC is a national organization with more than 75,000 donors that works to elect Republicans to state legislatures as well as to the offices of attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

You may recall that Virginia changed its campaign finance reporting law after the RSLC gave Bob McDonnell more than $2 million in his race for attorney general against Creigh Deeds. At the time, the group did not have to reveal the source of its donations.

Today is the deadline for candidates and others to report to turn in their campaign finance reports for the two months ending in August. Check back here for details on those reports as we get them.

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Posted at 6:59 AM ET, 09/15/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning, Virginia, here's what's happening in state politics today.

Today is the deadline for candidates in November's election to file their summer campaign finance reports, including gubernatorial hopefuls R. Creigh Deeds (D) and Robert F. McDonnell (R). The reports will provide a valuable glimpse into the kind of support each man is attracting, as did yesterday's announcement that Deeds has been endorsed by the state firefighters and McDonnell got the nod from the NRA, which supported Deeds in their last match-up four years ago. Observers will also be on the lookout for evidence of the national groups that are expected to pour resources into one of the first big races since last year's history-making presidential election.

Both men attend a candidates forum at a Bar Association event in Norfolk today, offering a preview of Thursday's debate in Fairfax.

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Posted at 4:27 PM ET, 09/14/2009

Brady Campaign Responds to NRA

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has issued a statement responding to the National Rifle Association's endorsement of Bob McDonnell for governor. According to Helmke, the "one critical issue" that separates Virginia's candidates for governor on gun rights is the tightening of rules for buying weapons at gun shows--the so-called gun show loophole.

"Creigh Deeds agrees with the families of the victims of Virginia Tech that the most dangerous people, prohibited by law from purchasing guns from federally licensed gun dealers, shouldn't be able to get around those laws by buying them from non-licensed gun sellers at weapons bazaars," Helmke said in his statement. "Bob McDonnell, who now refuses to acknowledge that this gaping loophole in Virginia gun laws even exists, appears eager to do whatever the gun lobby wants him to. That's playing politics with public safety, and the voters should judge the candidates accordingly."

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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 09/14/2009

NRA Backs McDonnell

What a difference four years makes.

When Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell ran against each other for attorney general in 2005, the National Rifle Association's political action committee took the unusual step of endorsing Deeds, the rural Democrat, over McDonnell.

Not this year.

Chris W. Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, announced this afternoon that the group has endorsed McDonnell for governor and will urge the NRA's 120,000 Virginia members to vote for the Republican.

Cox told reporters in a conference call that the group was impressed by an amicus brief McDonnell filed in 2008 along with 30 other state attorney generals urging the Supreme Court to strike down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban. He also praised McDonnell for standing against New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has contended that criminals buy guns in Virginia because of its less restrictive laws and take them to New York.

Cox, meanwhile, declared that NRA members have been "shocked and disappointed" at Deeds because of his support in recent years for closing the so-called gun show loophole, which allows private individuals to sell weapons at shows without conducting the background checks required of weapons dealers. Deeds once opposed changing the law but has changed his position, he says in response to requests from family members of victims of the Virginia Tech shooting.

"Obviously a lot has changed in the last four years," Cox said. "Two things that haven't changed is the NRA and Bob McDonnell. The one thing that did change was Creigh Deeds."

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/14/2009

First Click -- Virginia

OMG, did you hear what Kanye West said at the MTV video music awards? Kidding, here's what's happening in Virginia politics today.

The candidates for Virginia governor stump in separate parts of the state today, with Republican Robert F. McDonnell addressing attendees at a rural summit in Lynchburg and Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, where he is planning to announce what his campaign has billed as a "major endorsement." The ad wars took a sharp turn late last week, and the two men will clash in person at their second debate of the season Thursday in Fairfax.

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Posted at 6:50 PM ET, 09/11/2009

Yet More Deeds Ads

To finish out this week of new ads, we get three -- count 'em, three -- new ads from Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds. They're all the same theme --taxes and fees that Republican Bob McDonnell has backed while in the House of Delegates. These ads come as the Republican Governors Association is running spots slamming Deeds for voting to increase the gas tax. Two are radio ads. One is a television ad, airing in the Roanoke, Tri Cities and Harrisonburg media markets.

It can be viewed here.

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Posted at 1:54 PM ET, 09/11/2009

UPDATED: Deeds on Gay Rights

Does Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Sen. Creigh Deeds support gay rights? His top campaign advisers were asked the question in a conference call with reporters today, in reference to a quote a Deeds' spokesman gave to the Staunton Daily News Leader during his 1999 campaign for the House of Delegates:

"Mr. Deeds does not support gay rights," spokesman Brian Worthy told the paper, in pretty clear language.

The issue, of course, is whether Deeds once held a more conservative position on gay rights than he now advertises to the progressive Democrats he is trying to energize. Deeds has already acknowledged shifting positions on the state's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which he voted to put on the ballot but then campaigned against. Through the Democratic primary campaign, he would often refer to himself as "a work in progress" on the issue.

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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 09/11/2009

Get to Know Your Candidates: Archive Edition

Get to Know Your Candidates--when we pose off-the wall and lighter questions to the gubernatorial candidates, to help you get to know them better as people instead of politicians. Today's question: Can the candidates sing? Answer: Absolutely! Can they sing well? We'll let you be the judge.

In 2006, a raging debate consumed the General Assembly. At issue, should Virginia delcare "Shenandoah" its official state song, replacing "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia," which had been declared the song emeritus some years earlier because of lyrics deemed racist. At the time, this blog was in its infancy. Lawmakers did not yet know to avoid us. We recorded a series of clips of lawmakers and others singing a few bars of Shenandoah, including demo tapes from Sen. Creigh Deeds and then-Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell.

After noticing that the song talks a lot about the Missouri River, which doesn't exactly flow through Virginia, the "Shenandoah" proposal failed. But the recordings live on. Enjoy.

Creigh Deeds sings Shenandoah.

Bob McDonnell sings Shenandoah.

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Posted at 8:50 AM ET, 09/11/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Sept. 11, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Republican Bob McDonnell will be a guest on Mark Plotkin's radio show on WTOP at 10 a.m. (listen live online here) while Democrat Creigh Deeds is taking a day off from public events.

Deeds and McDonnell spoke about business issues -- many of them federal -- in a candidate's forum yesterday in McLean.

Later, the GOP ticket -- McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and attorney general hopeful Ken Cuccinelli -- talked health care. No surprise that they're not fans of President Obama's plan, and instead introduced their own.

The ads are coming fast and furious these days. Deeds launched a new TV ad accusing McDonnell of supporting power rate hikes in Southwest and Southside. Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association started airing TV and radio ads focusing on Deeds's past support of tax increases.

Former Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe gets back into the game by accusing McDonnell of stealing his energy slogan. (By the way, what was The Macker doing at the Palm with Billy Crystal and Pat Sajak?)

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 09/10/2009

Live Blog: The Potomac Officers Club Forum

Greetings from the ritzy Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, where a forum hosted by the Potomac Officers Club with gubernatorial candidates Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell is about to kick off. The two men won't be sharing the same stage. We understand they are even attending two separate VIP events before the main event. But they'll appear consecutively on the same stage to answer questions from the critical business community. We'll be live-blogging the event when it kicks off, assuming our trusty wireless card holds out here in the hotel ballroom. Follow to the jump to read.

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Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 09/10/2009

UPDATED: Deeds Airs New Ad

Democrat Creigh Deeds launched yet another new TV ad today -- this one, accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of supporting power rate hikes in Southwest and Southside Virginia during tough economic times.

The ad, which is running in Roanoke and Bristol, references McDonnell's comment from the July 25 debate that utility companies "are entitled to rate increases."

UPDATE: McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said Deeds should know that the attorney general does not approve rate increase, but rather serves as the consumer counsel. "We know Creigh is desperate, but he should still treat Virginia voters with a little more respect,'' he said. "This negative ad sets a new standard for political duplicity. Creigh voted for the bill that allows utility companies to recoup expenses. ... This ad is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Virginia."

Read the script below:

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Posted at 9:20 AM ET, 09/10/2009

GOP Group Launches Attack Ads

Another day, another new ad.

The Republican Governors Association started airing new negative TV and radio ads across the state (except for Northern Virginia) today against Democrat Creigh Deeds.

The ads focus on Deeds's vote last year to raise the gas tax (to pay for roads and transit) and says that he would support other tax increases "even in a bad economy."



"We already know that Creigh Deeds wants to pump up spending in Richmond," RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. "So it's no surprise that he wants to pump up the taxes too, even if it means further deflating the economy."

The RGA ads come a day after Deeds started his own attack ad against Republican Bob McDonnell on social issues. We did ask the Deeds campaign for a reaction to the RGA ads but have yet to hear back

See below for the longer radio version:

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 09/10/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Democrat Creigh Deeds will meet with supporters at a cafe in Sterling this morning while Republican Bob McDonnell will spend much of the day in Winchester, where he will stop by Shenandoah University, a GOP campaign office and the Hob Nob in the Valley event.

Deeds and McDonnell will participate in a forum hosted by the Potomac Officers Club and ExecutiveBiz online magazine at noon in McLean. It's not a debate -- one candidate will speak and then another -- but still will be worth a listen. (Check back for our coverage).

Deeds unveiled a series of education proposals yesterday, including a college scholarship program for students who agree to spend two years in public service, and a new attack ad on TV.

McDonnell held a news conference with Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota governor and possible GOP presidential hopeful, yesterday that didn't go quite the way he wanted. His campaign added a much-needed staffer to its press shop -- Stacey Johnson, who is on loan from U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor to serve as traveling press secretary for the next two months.

Those on the right are fighting back against a barrage of negative McDonnell coverage by circulating a 10-year-old Deeds campaign mailer on gays and lesbians in which he says "I don't believe in special rights for anyone." Overnight, the mailer has hit the blogosphere and can be found here and here.

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Posted at 7:32 AM ET, 09/10/2009

Deeds Weighs in on Obama Speech

Among the many statements and releases flying around today about President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress was a release from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

Putting out a statement was an interesting choice for Deeds, who has resisted Republican calls to make federal issues a major part of the Virginia campaign. But staying silent on health care, with his party's president in the fight of his political life on the issue, likely was not an appealing option either.

Deeds seems to have settled on putting out remarks that are amorphously supportive of Obama but not exactly controversial in their substance. He wrote that rising health care costs must be solved and said he hoped Congress would reform the system "so businesses remain competitive and families get the medical care they deserve."

Here's the full statement: "The President challenged all of us to help solve America's health care crisis. I think Democrats and Republicans all agree that rising health care costs are a problem that must be solved. Like all Virginians, I hope our Congressional leadership will reform the system so our businesses stay competitive and families get the medical care they deserve. And as Governor, I will continue to fight to make health care affordable and accessible to all."

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Posted at 4:44 PM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Updated: Deeds To Air Attack Ads in NoVa

Democrat Creigh Deeds will launch a new attack TV ad against Republican Bob McDonnell in Northern Virginia starting tonight. Yes, he has had negative ads before, but this one mentions the hot-button issues of abortion and birth control. Take a look:

Updated: Here's a response from the McDonnell campaign: "Creigh Deeds refuses to put together even an outline of a transportation plan, but he's got plenty of time to craft negative, backwards looking attack ads and run a campaign which divides Virginians,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "In these tough times Virginians deserve far better from candidates for the Commonwealth's highest office."

Read the script below:

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Posted at 4:27 PM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Dems Ask Opponents to Repudiate McDonnell Thesis; One Does

At least three Northern Virginia Democratic candidates for House of Delegates have asked their Republican opponents to condemn the views espoused by gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell (R) in his much-discussed 1989 graduate school thesis.

It's unlikely that Greg Werkheiser and John Bell, who are respectively challenging Republican delegates Dave Albo and Bob Marshall, and Scott A. Surovell, who is up against Jay McConville (R) for the seat being vacated by Kris Amundson (D), actually expected a response. But one of them got one today.

Albo said in a phone interview that he did not know of Werkheiser's demand, but called the past assertion by McDonnell that working mothers are detrimental to the family "ridiculous."

"I think what Bob said [in the thesis] was ridiculous, but I know Bob McDonnell the legislator now and he's one of the best legislators who has ever served in Virginia," Albo said.

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Posted at 3:12 PM ET, 09/ 9/2009

UPDATED: DNC to Pawlenty: Do You Agree With McDonnell?

How radioactive would the Democratic National Committee like to make Virginia's Republican candidate? So hot that simply standing next to him will raise the rad count of other Republican politicians.

In a call with reporters today, DNC press secretary Hari Sevugan said that any elected official who campaigns in Virginia is "tainted by Bob McDonnell's extremist positions."

"At the very least, they should be willing and ready to answer whether they agree with Bob McDonnell's far-right positions on women in the workforce, on choice, on contraception, on public education," he said in a call designed to ask Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to do just that.

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Posted at 11:35 AM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Deeds Pushes College Scholarship Program

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds joined college students at Virginia Union University in Richmond this morning to unveil a series of new education proposals, including a new college scholarship program for students who agree to spend two years after school in public service.

Under the Virginia Forward plan, any student who got a B average or higher and committed to spend two years as a teacher, nurse, police officer or in "other needed fields" would receive up to 50 percent of their college tuition paid at public universities in Virginia.

Here's the cost breakdown on the program, a natural question as Gov. Tim Kaine announced big cuts to higher ed budgets Tuesday.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 09/ 9/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Republican Bob McDonnell is bringing a little GOP star power to Richmond this afternoon. He will campaign with yet another possible presidential hopeful, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, at a luncheon. Perhaps not surprisingly, a pair of progressive groups in his home state have called on Pawlenty to cancel his trip and to distance himself from McDonnell and his views on women as outlined in his 20-year-old graduate thesis. Later, McDonnell will attend a veterans rally in Chesterfield.

Democrat Creigh Deeds will join students from Virginia Union University and other area colleges to discuss education issues in Richmond. He answered questions for an online business magazine yesterday.

Both McDonnell and Deeds aired their first new television ads in Northern Virginia since the general election kicked off in June.

The Post takes a look back today at a controversial piece of McDonnell's legislative career: the hearing on the reappointment -- eventually denied -- of Verbena M. Askew, the state's first female, black Circuit Court judge.

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Posted at 3:44 PM ET, 09/ 8/2009

Deeds Knocks Down Pr. William Office Rumor

Has Creigh Deeds closed up shop in Prince William County?

That was the claim on some blogs this morning that lean to the right, featuring a photo of a Deeds office in the county with a "for lease" sign in the window and the suggestion that perhaps Deeds is pulling out of Northern Virginia to concentrate on rural areas instead.

Hogwash, said Deeds's campaign manager Joe Abbey. According to Abbey, the campaign has two offices up and running in the county, one in Dumfries and one in Woodbridge. The office in the photo is in Manassas and, rather than closing it up, the campaign is about to open there.

"Prince William County plays a critical role in our Election Day strategy," Abbey said. He said the campaign believes that after voters compare Deeds's record with that of Republican Bob McDonnell, Deeds will win Prince William and the rest of Northern Virginia "convincingly."


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Posted at 10:05 AM ET, 09/ 8/2009

Deeds, McDonnell on Air in NoVa

It's no joke that Labor Day is when the fall campaign season starts in earnest. Here's one good bit of evidence: Both Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell aired their first television ads in Northern Virginia since right around the time of the June 9 primary Tuesday morning.

Television advertising in the D.C. market is one of the biggest expenditures for any Virginia campaign. It costs about half a million dollars a week to run enough ads in Northern Virginia that people are actually likely to see them. And campaigns know much of that money is wasted on nonvoting television watchers in the District and suburban Maryland.

But with about a third of the voting population in Northern Virginia, persuading the region's voters is critical and so, sure enough, both campaigns were on air as of the Today show Tuesday morning. Ads for both are versions of spots that have run during the campaign. Watch Deeds's ad here:

McDonnell's is called "Leadership." You can see a version here, although in Northern Virginia, this ad is tweaked slightly to note that McDonnell grew up in Fairfax.


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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 09/ 8/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today

The big news from Richmond is the bleak budget picture. Gov. Tim Kaine will unveil another $1.5 billion in cuts to state agencies that likely will include trims to core services like education, and layoffs and furloughs for state employees.

Gubernatorial candidates Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell, will take a rare day off from public events today to allow Kaine to make his announcement (though we fully expect them to issue statements reacting to the bad news).

Later, Deeds will attend a Kaine-hosted fundraiser at the historic Main Street Station in downtown Richmond.

While most of the world took the day off yesterday, Deeds and McDonnell officially kicked off the fall campaign at the Buena Vista Labor Day Parade. For 39 years, it has been a must-do for statewide candidates. Check out some photos from the festivities. Later, Deeds and Kaine gathered with hundreds of Democratic activists at U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott's annual picnic in Newport News.

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 09/ 8/2009

Sights and Sounds from Buena Vista

Gov. Tim Kaine enjoyed his eighth stroll down the Buena Vista Labor Day parade route -- the unofficial starting line of the fall campaign trail -- despite some periodic heckling.

Enthusiastic Republicans taunted Kaine, who serves as his party's national chairman, for being a part-time governor and following in lockstep with his friend, President Obama. "Nothing but a Kool-Aid-drinking governor,'' one woman yelled to Kaine as she clutched a "McDonnell for Governor" sign.

Kaine didn't respond to the criticism. Instead, he ditched his state-issued SUV and walked along Magnolia Avenue, shaking hands and greeting local residents who needed no introduction. Occasionally, he climbed into the back of a pickup truck to play harmonica with local bluegrass band (and Creigh Deed supporters) Walker's Run.

(See a gallery of The Post's photos from the parade.)

But after the parade, even Bob McDonnell got into the act of ridiculing the governor for holding two jobs in his speech to a few hundred spectators at a park pavilion. McDonnell, still smarting from Kaine's harsh comments about him last week, said snidely "Governor, thanks for stopping back by in Virginia for just a little bit." (To be fair, Kaine has been around a little more lately.)

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/ 7/2009

Fact Checker: Deeds Wants to Clarify Cap-and-Trade Views

After reading our Fact Checker on whether state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds supports cap-and-trade despite worries that it could eliminate 1,500 jobs at one of the biggest employers in his backyard, Mike Gehrke, communications director for Deeds' campaign, took exception to the statement that Deeds' position is unclear.

So, by way of clarification, Gehrke offers some remarks -- and a shoutout to Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb -- that Deeds made during the June debate:


"Climate change is a serious issue and the people in Washington ought to be dealing on the issue of global warming," Deeds said. "Let's face it, in a recession any legislation that's going to call for an energy price increase for consumers or put Virginia or American businesses at a disadvantage is not good policy. I'm confident again that Senators Webb and Warner will protect our interests. On cap and trade I will tell you that I think Congressman Boucher did the yeoman's work to protect Virginia's business. I'm confident that Senators Warner and Webb will do more."

Now, in case you're wondering what the yeoman's work was, Gehrke also offered two items on Rep. Rick Boucher's efforts to create a cap-and-trade bill that would reduce greenhouse gases without inflicting too much pain on Virginians.

One is an article from The Bristol Herald Courier describing Boucher's rationale for backing the bill. Boucher told the newspaper he felt he had little choice but to back some sort of cap-and-trade measure, now that the Supreme Court has upheld environmental laws that view carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as pollutants. Such regulation is unavoidable.

In a piece in the Roanoke Times, Boucher discusses his efforts to help craft a bill that grants utilities offsets on the limits to invest in pollution controls.

Clearer now about Deeds' views? Or Boucher's?

-- Fredrick Kunkle

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/ 5/2009

Kaine Hits the Campaign Trail With Deeds

There's no doubt that Gov. Tim Kaine has been helping Creigh Deeds with his gubernatorial campaign, though in recent weeks it has been largely behind the scenes.

But this Labor Day weekend, (the unofficial kickoff to the race), Virginia's governor and DNC chairman will be out with Deeds in full force.

Kaine and Deeds will appear together in Dublin and Harrisonburg Sunday and then again at a slew of Labor Day events on Monday, including the traditional Buena Vista Labor Day parade and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott's 32nd annual picnic in Newsport News.

Expect Kaine to be a lot more visible as the race kicks into high gear the final two months.

Next up? Kaine will host a fundraiser for Deeds Tuesday at the historic Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. Tickets are $100 to $500.

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Posted at 5:09 PM ET, 09/ 4/2009

Deeds' California Dreaming Part II

Democrat Creigh Deeds was strangely quiet at the beginning of this week, out of state and raising money for his effort in California.

Wondering who he met with on the west coast?

Turns out, they included top entertainment executives and some pretty well known Democrats.

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Posted at 4:21 PM ET, 09/ 4/2009

McDonnell, Deeds Talk Business

For those of you who think we don't write enough about the issues, this is for you.

ExecutiveBiz, an online publication that serves the Washington metro government contracting community, published interviews with Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds this week.

How would you make Virginia a more business friendly state? What's the future of VITA? How do you plan to protect the state from future cyber attacks? (Remember the one involving the $10 million ransom?)

You can read Deeds' answers here and McDonnells' here.

Both candidates will speak at ExecutiveBiz's event next week.

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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/ 4/2009

Fact-Checker: Does Deeds Back Bill That Could Kill His Neighbors' Jobs?

While state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and fellow Democrats have been trying to focus the governor's race on Robert F. McDonnell's grad school thesis, McDonnell and fellow Republicans have been working to return everyone's attention to jobs.

The Republican Party of Virginia recently blasted him for supporting a ground-breaking bill in Congress that hopes to slow global warming by imposing limits on carbon-based emissions. McDonnell, while giving the GOP's response to President Barack Obama's weekly radio address, said the bill's proposed cap-and-trade regime would jeopardize 1,500 jobs in Deeds' district alone, a charge echoed by the state GOP.

Is it true that Deeds is supporting the bill? And is it true the bill could effectively shut down MeadWestvaco Corp's plant in Covington, Va.?

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Posted at 4:30 PM ET, 09/ 3/2009

GOP Attacks Deeds on Social Issues Talk

Virginia Republicans continue to mock Creigh Deeds for saying the governor's race should be about the economy, transportation and education while he attacks Bob McDonnell on abortion, covenant marriage, stem-cell research and, of course, his 20-year-old graduate thesis.

Check out the party's new video that includes a TV interview with Deeds this morning in Newport News in which he, once again, says the race isn't about social issues.


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Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 09/ 3/2009

McDonnell, Deeds: Works in Progress?

During the primary, Creigh Deeds was criticized by his Democratic opponents for having changed his views on hot-button issues, including same-sex marriage and background checks for gun buyers. (His favorite expression at the time was "Each of us is a work in progress.")

Now, months later, Republican Bob McDonnell says he has changed his views on whether women should work outside the home and other issues he explored as a graduate student two decades ago.

But the Deeds' campaign has attacked him every day this week (including again today) for views he longer says he holds.

So why is that any different than Deeds' changing mind? Well, we asked him.

Deeds said at a press conference today at the state Capitol in Richmond that he doesn't actually believe McDonnell has changed his mind. "His record throughout his period of public service is consistent with the thesis,'' he said. Now you can say you've changed your mind today but the record doesn't go away."

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Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 09/ 3/2009

First Deeds Thesis Ad Airing in Northern Virginia

Democrat Creigh Deeds is running his first ads in Northern Virginia since his June primary victory. He's putting up radio ads only for now, which are of course far cheaper than television commercials. And guess what the ads are about? Righto! Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis. Or rather, in the words of the ad, McDonnell's "plan to take us back to the dark ages."

Hear the ad here:







The ad of course does not mention that McDonnell has said he no longer believes key portions of his thesis, particularly the parts that form the thrust of the ad -- comments in the thesis about women in the workplace. Also, interestingly, the ad is thethe first mention of Pat Robertson's name by the Deeds camp in this year's campaign.

The ad is accompanied by a new Web site all about the thesis and new Google advertising. (Search "McDonnell" and "thesis" and see for yourself.)

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Posted at 8:17 AM ET, 09/ 3/2009

Deeds' Law Review Articles

Over the past few days, a number of people have asked a very reasonable question: So what did Democrat Creigh Deeds write his thesis about?

The answer: He didn't write a thesis. That's what he said in an interview Wednesday, and it matches what we found some days ago when we searched the library collections of Concord College in West Virginia, where he got his undergrad degree, and Wake Forest University, where he attended law school.

Deeds did write two articles published in the Wake Forest Law Review in 1983 and 1984, posted here for your reading pleasure.

Creigh Deeds' 1983 Wake Forest Law Review article

Creigh Deeds' 1984 Wake Forest Law Review article

Having had that exciting task, we must say it's hard to imagine either getting anyone's hearts beating.

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Posted at 4:14 PM ET, 09/ 2/2009

Update: Here It Comes!

The money, that is. The Democratic National Committee will pour $5 million into the Virginia governor's race this year, spokesman Brad Woodhouse said Wednesday.

Some will go directly to Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, and some will go to the state party for organization and coordination efforts. It will be much like four years ago, when the DNC sent $5 million to help then-candidate Tim Kaine. Kaine, Virginia governor and chairman of the DNC, wouldn't have it any other way, Woodhouse said.

And does the timing of the announcement have anything to do with this week's big news about Republican Bob McDonnell's graduate thesis? You betcha!

"Governor Kaine is very, very enthusiastic about this race," Woodhouse said. "He obviously knows Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds. He has a good sense that Creigh Deeds is who you see, and Bob McDonnell is who we learned about through his thesis."

Update: State GOP spokesman Tim Murtaugh had this to say about the $5 million headline: "It's no surprise given that Tim Kaine is partisan in chief. He can't leave an actual legacy, so he's trying to buy one."

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Posted at 2:33 PM ET, 09/ 2/2009

Deeds on McDonnell Thesis: It's Relevant

Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis is a relevant topic for the Virginia governor's campaign that helps shed light on McDonnell's record in public life, opponent Creigh Deeds said this afternoon in his first public comments since the publication of the thesis in the Post on Sunday.

"The thesis explains the social agenda that has apparently driven his legislative agenda during the years," Deeds said. "If anything, this ensures people understand there are very clear differences between me and the other guy in terms of our record. Records are important."

Deeds said he was not entirely surprised by some of the ideas expressed in the thesis, noting that McDonnell sponsored legislation to establish covenant marriage in Virginia four times, backed numerous bills restricting access to abortions and voted in 2001 against a resolution that urged equal pay for men and women.

He said the thesis explains the ideas McDonnell pursued once elected to the legislature, a "social crusade" that did not include the economic development the Republican has now made the center of his campaign. Deeds said his own record has focused on improving education and creating economic opportunity.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said, "It's good to see Creigh has come back from California and wants to talk about records. We will be happy to talk about his lifetime 94 percent rating from big unions, his championing of greater government spending, and his strong support for 3.5 billion in tax hikes in just the last 5 years.

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Posted at 12:18 PM ET, 09/ 2/2009

McDonnell Camp Declines TV Questions on Thesis

How anxious is Republican Bob McDonnell to change the subject from the thesis he wrote 20 years ago, at age 34, that's been consuming the campaign all week?

So much that his staffers have been declining to make surrogates available to defend their candidate on television about the issue.

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Posted at 12:04 AM ET, 09/ 2/2009

Matthews Plays Hardball with McDonnell

It looks like the national media is still learning about Virginia's race for governor.

On Chris Matthews's show "Hardball" this evening, Matthews began an almost 8-minute-long segment on the impact of Bob McDonnell's 1989 thesis on the governor's race by telling us he was hoping to be joined by Mo Elleithee, spokesman for the Democrat in the race, Creigh Davis. (Per Elleithee's twitter feed, technical difficulties kept him off the air.)

Watch the whole clip after the jump.

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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 09/ 1/2009

Excerpts: Live Discussion With Post Reporters

Anita Kumar and Rosalind Helderman were online earlier today to answer readers' questions about the Virginia governor's race, and Bob McDonnell's graduate school thesis specifically. Excerpts follow.

Arlington, Va.: Thank you for taking my question. I want to know if McDonnell is still a practicing Catholic.

His controversial thesis from Regent University has really opened my eyes. As a Catholic I am extremely offended by the anti-Catholic rhetoric of Pat Robertson and his ilk over at Regent University. This thesis has opened up a whole new angle to the gubernatorial race that I am very concerned about.

washingtonpost.com: Governor's Race Erupts Over McDonnell's Past Views (Post, Sept. 1)

Anita Kumar: Thanks for the question. Yes, McDonnell is a practicing Catholic and talks frequents about how important his faith is to him. He attends church weekly. At Regent University, he was sole Catholic in his graduating class. He would the state's second Catholic governor, if elected, after Gov. Tim Kaine.

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Posted at 2:11 PM ET, 09/ 1/2009

Deeds Continues to Push McDonnell Thesis

As expected, Creigh Deeds's campaign continued today to try to make Bob McDonnell's thesis an issue in the race for governor.

The campaign held a conference call with moderate former legislators who served with McDonnell in the General Assembly. Of course, these are Republicans who have said they are breaking with their party to support Deeds.

Here's what they said about McDonnell:

"His record really has been one of pushing social issues in the entire time he has been in the assembly, and for him now to try to back away from that is the total reinvention of that now so he can be governor,'' former delegate Jim Dillard of Fairfax said.

"I believe Bob McDonnell wants to govern from the right and I believe he will have an extreme right-wing agenda if he's elected governor,'' former senator Russ Potts said.

Meanwhile, McDonnell's campaign is trying to move on. McDonnell traveled to Alexandria to roll out the fourth part of his education plan. More on that soon.

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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Deeds: California Dreaming

With all the talk about Bob McDonnell's thesis today, you may be wondering why we never heard directly from his rival Creigh Deeds? We wondered too.

It turns out Deeds is in Los Angeles today raising money. He flew out of state Sunday night and will return Tuesday night.

The Deeds's campaign confirmed that he was in the City of Angels when we asked, but they won't tell us which city he will be in tomorrow (but we hear it's San Francisco) or who is hosting his fundraisers. (Why won't they say?)

Deeds is rarely out of state (unlike his former Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe who was always jet setting around the nation).

McDonnell has been out of town raising money once this month. He went to Wyoming the first week of August, along with Republican gubernatorial hopeful Chris Christie, to meet with top RNC donors.

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Posted at 5:11 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Shannon Jumps In on McDonnell Thesis

Remember the Sesame Street song "One of These Things is Not Like the Other?"

It might have seemed a little odd when Democratic attorney general candidate Steve Shannon's campaign declined to comment on Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis, just as the rest of the Democratic establishment was racing to condemn McDonnell for the work.

Apparently, that wasn't where the Shannon campaign wanted to end up on the story of the day, so spokesman Brian Coy put out a new statement on the issue late this afternoon:

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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Va. Democratic Party Video on Thesis: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Is Bob McDonnell's 1989 thesis scary? That's sure what the Democratic Party of Virginia wants people to conclude with the following video, distributed today. Of course, clips of puppies playing in a meadow would be frightening if set to the music used in this video. Is it over the top? Certainly, Republicans will conclude so. What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Kaine Has 'Grave Concerns' About McDonnell's Thesis

Gov. Tim Kaine said today that he was not surprised by what Bob McDonnell wrote in his thesis.

"The views expressed in that paper are views that I have long felt were Bob McDonnell's very sincere and long-held views,'' Kaine said in an interview. "In interactions with Bob on a number of those issues, he has demonstrated to me that I think that many of those views he still holds."

Kaine reminded reporters that when McDonnell was attorney general, he told him that he did not have the authority to issue an executive order barring state agencies from discriminating based on sexual orientation. McDonnell said at the time that he did not consider sexual orientation when hiring employees for his office, but that Kaine's order violated the "founders' mandate to separate and limit the power of the executive branch."

"I would never challenge someone's personal beliefs. [But] I think they are not the right governing philosophies for the commonwealth, however, so I was not surprised to read about the thesis,'' Kaine said. "To me, it seems like kind of a blueprint of here's what I hope to do as an elected official and I think he's been working diligently to do that."

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Posted at 3:03 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Downticket Dems Take Different Paths on McDonnell Thesis

Might Bob McDonnell's 20-year-old thesis, already the talk of the governor's race, also affect the races for attorney general and lieutenant governor?

It's hard to say, especially since the two Democratic campaigns are taking such different positions on the issue. Pete Kavanaugh, an advisor to lieutenant governor candidate Jody Wagner, said that as a working mother of four, she was particularly disturbed by McDonnell's writing. Wagner is the only woman on either party's statewide ticket.

"She proves how successful working women can be," Kavanaugh said. "Our question right now for [Lt. Gov. Bill] Bolling is is this really what he believes? Will he stand with McDonnell through this?"

Meanwhile, Brian Coy, a spokesman for Democratic attorney general candidate Steve Shannon, declined to comment.

"Steve Shannon is proud to be running with Creigh Deeds and thinks he is the right choice to be next Governor. Steve is running for Attorney General to make Virginia safer by cracking down on gangs, drunk drivers and internet predators who target our kids," he said.

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Posted at 2:50 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Who is Jennifer? Another Case of Inter-Campaign Trickery

Bob McDonnell's campaign received a call this morning from a woman who called herself "Jennifer" and claimed to be a freelance reporter from the Connection newspapers in Northern Virginia. She asked for information about McDonnell's schedule.

The problem? She isn't a reporter. She actually works for Creigh Deeds's campaign.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin, who took her call, said the caller ID showed Deeds's campaign headquarters phone number and the words "Deeds for Va."

Deeds campaign manager Joe Abbey questioned his staffers after hearing about the call from a reporter. He later said he found out the caller was one of his staffers -- though he did not release the woman's name.

"An overzealous campaign worker was trying to figure out where Bob McDonnell was today,'' Abbey said. "We have made it clear to all staff and volunteers that this behavior is not acceptable and should not happen again."

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Posted at 12:26 PM ET, 08/31/2009

McDonnell: Women Support Me

* Earlier: Deeds Camp: Our Phones Are Ringing Off the Hook *

We hear Bob McDonnell's response to the story about his thesis is coming soon. It will feature quotes from women who back his efforts, who talk about how supportive he has been of working women...

UPDATE: You can find this release here.

The women defending McDonnell include Judy Wason Ford, head of Virginians for McDonnell and formerly head of Virginians for (Mark) Warner. "Bob has always respected and supported working women and will continue to do so. Virginians are worried about the future, not a decades-old academic paper," writes Wason, who identifies herself as a pro-choice woman.

Other women include Janet Polarek, a top McDonnell aide who managed his 2005 attorney general's campaign, commonwealth attorneys, a deputy attorney general, and business leaders.

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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 08/31/2009

Deeds Camp: Our Phones Are Ringing Off the Hook

* Update: McDonnell: Women Support Me *

Bob McDonnell's graduate school thesis has the "potential to really change the dynamics of this race."

That's the claim (and hope) of Creigh Deeds's communications director, Mike Gehrke, and senior adviser Mo Elleithee, who just held a media call to talk about how they think the thesis is relevant to the race. Is there interest in the story? Judging by the media list who listened in to the call, which included everyone from CNN to Amy Walter of Hotline, absolutely.

"Our phones are ringing off the hook," Elleithee said. "Our e-mail box is filing up. People are wanting to know how they can get more engaged in the race. People are coming up to the campaign office and our canvassers and the candidate and asking how they can help because the stakes are too high."

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Posted at 8:45 AM ET, 08/31/2009

First Click-Virginia

Monday, Aug. 31, 2009
Good morning, Virginia! Here's what's doing in politics across the Commonwealth today.

How much impact will this weekend's Post story about Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell's 1989 graduate school thesis have on the race for governor? It's the big political question of the moment as the week begins. Articles about the thesis have appeared in pretty much every Virginia newspaper now, so the story's gotten plenty of statewide attention and it's now time to watch how the campaigns respond.

A lot of Republicans are dismissing the writings as an ancient academic exercise that will count for little on Nov. 3. The McDonnell campaign did not make their candidate available to answer questions about the thesis to the Associated Press on Sunday. So far they instead have stuck to a statement on the issue composed before The Post's story appeared. But expect McDonnell to face lots of questions about the thesis this week.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 08/30/2009

Fact Check: Is Economic Fund a Cure-All?

If you listen to state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D) and ex-attorney general Robert F. McDonnell (R), a little-understood fund run by the governor's office is a quick ticket to economic prosperity in Virginia.

Both gubernatorial candidates have called for doubling the state appropriation for the Governor's Opportunity Fund to $20 million, and both say the potential for economic growth is big.

But Democrats also charge that McDonnell, as a House delegate from Virginia Beach earlier this decade, voted three times to cut the fund. And Republicans argue that Gov. Tim Kaine (D) isn't using the fund to its full potential, letting millions sit unused.

Neither claim is completely accurate.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 08/28/2009

Ad Watch: "No Good Deeds"

The ads are coming fast and furious.

And we told you that when they started, we'd be analyzing the commercials, picking apart claims made by the campaigns and assessing the messages they are intending to send.

Here's our latest installment: a Republican Governors Association ad -- the first one of the general election -- attacking Democrat Creigh Deeds, which began airing Wednesday.

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Posted at 5:07 PM ET, 08/27/2009

Deeds Ad Hits McDonnell on Bush

The governor's race ads are getting tougher. First, the Republican Governor's Association hit Creigh Deeds on spending. Now, Deeds has put out a variant of the happy, shiny ad he first aired last week. It addresses similar themes as his first spot--Deeds will govern like Warner, offer tax credits to businesses that create jobs, audit state agencies.

But this time around, instead of merely mentioning that he won't govern like George Bush, Deeds makes the link between Republican Bob McDonnell and Bush explicit.

The Deeds camp says the ad will be airing in all Virginia media markets except pricey NoVa.

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/27/2009

The Kitchen Table: Greenspring Village on the Governor's Race

This week's Kitchen Table takes us to Greenspring Village, a retirement community in Springfield and one of the most politically engaged communities in the state. Just about every candidate running for Fairfax County or statewide office makes at least one swing through this tree-lined 100-acre campus, and no wonder: turnout in last fall's election was 87 percent of its 1,945 registered voters (and just about everyone here is registered to vote).

So it's perhaps no surprise that Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D), a former chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors who knows these residents well, on Tuesday held a healthcare town hall meeting at Greenspring Village. (You can meet some of these residents in a video published on washingtonpost.com.)

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 08/27/2009

What Might Have Been

Here's one headache Virginia Democrats must be relieved they do not have to face.

A top national Democratic financier has been charged with lying about his assets to get a $74 million loan from Citibank and leading Democrats have been racing to return his donations. Hassan Nemazee, son of an Iranian shipping tycoon and CEO of Nemazee Capital, served as co-chair of fundraising efforts for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year. And who was Clinton's campaign chairman? Former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

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Posted at 6:39 PM ET, 08/26/2009

Deeds Ad: "Grass Stains"

How can we tell it's almost Labor Day? The campaigns are putting out new ads left and right. Here's the latest radio spot from Creigh Deeds, featuring the two most politically attuned people ever to attend a junior high school football practice.

On the sidelines of football field, a man and woman talk about the campaign and Republican Bob McDonnell's comments praising George Bush economic policy.

"What I can't figure is why this Bob McDonnell wants to do it JUST LIKE Bush," the guy says.

Together, the conclude that Deeds is "that underdog guy" and "a little more Mark Warner, a lot less George Bush."

And current Gov. Tim Kaine? Once again for a Deeds ad, he doesn't come up on the sidelines.

Listen to the ad here.

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Posted at 5:35 PM ET, 08/26/2009

Virginia Notebook: Regional Differences Challenge Candidates

Do Northern Virginians look at the world differently from residents of the rest of the state?

It's been a sensitive question in the commonwealth's recent electoral history, one that has gone hand in hand with an occasional suggestion that those who live north of the Rappahannock River don't hold the same views as those in "real Virginia."

When The Washington Post last week published an article featuring the voices of Northern Virginians who had taken part in a recent Post poll, respondents said gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds's rural roots made them anxious about whether he could understand their lives. Some readers said that the story reinforced stereotypes about differences between Washington area suburbanites and Virginians who live in other parts of the state.

But drill down further into the survey's results, and this much becomes clear: There are real distinctions between how voters in the northern counties view issues and candidates and how Virginians elsewhere in the state look at them.

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Posted at 2:05 PM ET, 08/26/2009

Updated: RGA Launches Attack Ads

Bob McDonnell goes negative. Sort of. The Republican Governors Association is doing it for him.

The RGA's political action committee, Virginia Common Sense, launched TV and radio ads across the state (except pricey Northern Virginia) that criticize Democrat Creigh Deeds for supposedly supporting big government spending.

The ads feature footage from remarks Deeds made to a crowd in Lexington April 4 when he said: "In Richmond we don't have earmarks, we have budget amendments. And I had the most budget amendments in 2008 of all."

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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 08/26/2009

Ad Watch: "This Election"

As the ads begin running in the governor's race, we'll be analyzing the commercials, picking apart claims made by the campaigns and analyzing messages they are intending to send. First up, Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds, whose first ad of the general election campaign began airing Friday.

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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 08/26/2009

Where's Dick Cranwell?

The usually outspoken chairman of the state Democratic party has remained uncharacteristically silent during the escalating scandal over his former House colleague Phil Hamilton.

One by one, Gov. Tim Kaine, all six statewide candidates, the chairman of the state GOP and, of course, the House speaker have voiced an opinion on what should be done in Hamilton's case.

But not Cranwell.

Reporters have been asking for his response for days, but have received nothing from him or his staff -- though they issue multiple attacks against Bob McDonnell each day.

All three statewide Democratic candidates - Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon - have called for Hamilton's resignation so it's unlikely Cranwell would stray from that message.

But maybe, just maybe, Cranwell doesn't agree with his fellow Democrats and that's why he's silent?

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Posted at 1:09 PM ET, 08/25/2009

Kaine: I'm an Asset to Deeds

"Are you an asset or a liability for Creigh Deeds?"

That's the question Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine was asked today on his monthly call-in show on WTOP.

As we reported Sunday, much has been made in recent days about U.S. Sen. Mark Warner -- not Kaine -- appearing in Deeds' first TV ad. And privately, some Deeds staffers have said they realize it's not always politically beneficial for Deeds to be associated with Kaine because of his sagging approval ratings and tie to national politics.

But Kaine said today that he is "working my tail off for Creigh as an individual, as a governor and also as DNC chair."

"I'm around the country raisiing funds for him. I'm doing events for him,'' Kaine said. "I think it's great to have an ad with Mark in it...I've done radio ads for Creigh that are up and running...I'm sure he's going to have Jim Webb in ads...He's got a lot of assets on the field. He doesn't have to use me in every ad."

Kaine cited a recent Washington Post poll that showed he had a 55 percent approval rating -- considerably lower than where he was a year ago and considerably lower than Warner -- but higher than other governors during the worst recession since the 1930s. "There are governors who have had no scandals, no challenges that are at approval ratings of 19 percent right now," he said.

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Posted at 12:08 PM ET, 08/25/2009

McDonnell's New TV Ad on "Green Jobs"

Republican Bob McDonnell will continue with his mantra of "jobs governor" with his new TV ad that will air in every market in the state except for pricey Northern Virginia starting tomorrow.

In the ad, McDonnell speaks about "green jobs" and new sources of energy -- a topic that should be familiar to all of us since he, Creigh Deeds and the former Democratic candidates have been talking about it since the race began.

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Posted at 6:10 PM ET, 08/24/2009

McDonnell, GOP Hit the Airwaves

Get ready to see more political ads -- a lot more.

Democrat Creigh Deeds went on the air with his first TV ad of the general election a few days ago. Now, Republican Bob McDonnell has decided to go up on TV too.

McDonnell will begin airing ads Wednesday, and the the Republican Governors Association's PAC Virginia Common Sense is expected to start ads on his behalf Thursday. (You'll recall that the RGA formed the group only after criticizing the Democratic Governors Association for creating its own PAC called Common Sense Virginia. Don't you just love politics?)

No word on yet on what the ads will say, but with McDonnell leading in the polls you can expect his to be positive. The RGA's ad, on the other hand, will most likely be negative.

McDonnell aired a slew of TV ads in May before the general election began, and then another 10 days worth of ads on the economy in late June.

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Posted at 3:31 PM ET, 08/24/2009

Deeds Highlights Small Business Initiatives

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds on Monday held a small business event in Charlottesville, where he picked up a theme from his Friday address at George Mason University: He would give every business that creates a job a tax credit.

"Create a job, get a tax credit," runs a new stump speech line he introduced Friday and repeated Monday. Expect to hear it many times again between now and November.

Under Deeds' proposal, any business that creates a new job will get a state tax credit equivalent to the increase in federal payroll taxes paid by the business on the new employee. McDonnell, meanwhile, has proposed a $1,000 per employee tax credit for any business that creates 50 new jobs anywhere in the state or 25 new jobs in economically depressed areas.

Other ideas for small businesses highlighted by Deeds include expanding state contracting with minority and women-owned small businesses, creation of a Rural Business Fund to make loans to small businesses expanding in rural or depressed areas, and incentives to help small businesses pool together to buy lower-cost health insurance for employees.

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Posted at 1:37 PM ET, 08/24/2009

Democrats Issue Call for Hamilton's Resignation

All three Democrats running for statewide office have now called for powerful Newport News Republican Del. Phillip A. Hamilton to resign, in response to emails showing Hamilton sought at job at Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school to open a teaching center.

Attorney General candidate Steve Shannon was the first to call for Hamilton's resignation Sunday. Now gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds and lieutenant governor candidate Creigh Deeds have hopped aboard too.

Democrats are clearly hoping the scandal will have legs. They hope it will tar Republicans with the whiff of possible corruption while also providing a helpful reminder to remind voters, who have been showing anxiety about elected officials of late, that Richmond in leadership is shared between the parties.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 08/24/2009

McAuliffe Heads to Harvard

First, Terry McAuliffe took his family on vacation to Turkey. Then, he headed to Las Vegas for pal Bill Clinton's birthday bash.

Now we hear that McAuliffe, who lost to Creigh Deeds in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in June, is joining Harvard University's Institute of Politics as a visiting fellow this fall.

Other fellows include former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (who lost to former comedian Al Franken), former Obama campaign advisor Stephanie Cutter and columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan.

McAuliffe will head to Boston in October where he will participate in classes, meet with student groups and lead discussions on his experiences. We're betting McAuliffe has a few stories to tell.

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Posted at 9:58 AM ET, 08/22/2009

Get to Know Your Candidates

Happy weekend, Virginia!

As part of our continuing series "Get to Know Your Candidates," we are occasionally posing more personal and lighthearted questions to Virginia's gubernatorial candidates. Today's edition, inspired we'll admit by intriguing news from Maryland: How did you propose marriage to your wife?

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Posted at 1:25 PM ET, 08/21/2009

Deeds Goes on the Offensive in Speech, Ad

Democrat Creigh Deeds worked to recharge his gubernatorial bid Friday with what his campaign billed as a major address at George Mason University and his first television ad of the general election campaign. You can watch the ad below and read more about the remarks here.

The speech contained little that's new in the way of policy proposals -- Deeds said as much to reporters afterward. But he did attempt to sharpen the message he will present throughout the fall. And what's that message? It's all about backwards-forwards. Republican Bob McDonnell will take the state back, Deeds will take it forward.

Deeds said he would govern in the bipartisan vein of former governor Mark Warner, recalling what he said was the pivotal 2004 tax fight when Deeds backed Warner's budget and McDonnell was opposed. Deeds said he would create opportunity by giving tax credits to job-creating businesses and expanding access to higher education.

Republicans blasted the speech as a backwards-looking stunt, trying to hit the "reset" button on a floundering campaign. "If Creigh Deeds thinks blowing the dust off an old political playbook amounts to a major new announcement, he doesn't get what the voters of Virginia are looking for in their next governor," said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin.

Here's the ad, going up in every state media market except Northern Virginia.


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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 08/21/2009

Young Voters Split for the Moment

Does Creigh Deeds have a problem motivating voters in the Democratic base? It's one reason many have proposed for why his poll numbers are not looking so hot two months before Election Day. And given that conversation, this is an interesting figure to contemplate from The Washington Post's first poll of the race:

Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell are running about even with voters ages 18 to 34, with Deeds at 44 percent and McDonnell at 42 percent.

That's an age group that got particularly excited about President Obama last year. If Deeds is to pull a come-from-behind victory in November, he will probably need to find a way to wow younger voters far more than he has so far.

But Deeds might take comfort in some historical perspective.

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Posted at 6:45 AM ET, 08/21/2009

First Click - Virginia

Happy Friday, here's what's happening in Virginia politics today.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds goes on the offensive, making an 11 a.m. speech in Northern Virginia, where some Democrats say they aren't fired up about his candidacy. He follows the address with his first television ad of the general election and immediately plunges back into rural Virginia with a weekend spin through Harrisonburg, Salem, Roanoke, Christiansburg, Bland, Tazewell and Bristol.

McDonnell, meanwhile, continues his RV tour of the state, making stops in Lynchburg, Appomattox and Harrisonburg today. At recent events he has sought to deflect Deeds' attacks on his record opposing abortion, accusing the state senator of being the one who is overly focused on the issue.

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Posted at 7:58 AM ET, 08/20/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning Virginia, here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

The big news was yesterday's special legislative session in Richmond. The General Assembly yesterday voted to change a law governing breath tests in drunk driving cases in a mad dash to accommodate a recent Supreme Court ruling that would have made prosecutions in those cases more difficult.

Lawmakers also received a grim update on the budget. Gov. Kaine announced a $1.5 billion shortfall that will require significant cuts, which he'll announce in early September. They also decided to compensate a Norfolk man wrongly convicted of rape with a $633,000 settlement.

With the special session over, both men vying for Virginia governor turn their attention back to the campaign. Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, a state senator, participated in yesterday's session. He tries to give a boost to his campaign by spending the day in the Democratic-leaning Washington suburbs, where he will make a major campaign speech tomorrow.

Republican Robert F. McDonnell, the former attorney general who stepped down to focus on the campaign, kept it low-key yesterday as well but began his day at 5:30 this morning meeting workers at the Newport News Shipyard.

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Posted at 4:59 PM ET, 08/19/2009

Special Session Wrap-Up

Lawmakers had a productive day in Richmond on Wednesday, successfully coming to agreement on two bills. Identical versions of the measures have unanimously passed both the House of Delegates and the Senate. One measure is designed to address the issue that brought the General Assembly to town on a blazing hot August day, a Supreme Court decision that requires live testimony from forensic analysts in DUI and drug cases.

The bill passed by the legislature allows prosecutors to use written testimony but requires them to alert defendants in advance that they will do so, providing time for objections. The House and Senate have also passed identical bills that would provide more than $600,000 in compensation to a Hampton Roads man who spent 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

While in Richmond, Democratic delegates and senators also report receiving a briefing during their closed-door caucus meetings from gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds's campaign manager, Joe Abbey.

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Posted at 6:07 AM ET, 08/19/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning Virginia, here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

While state lawmakers meet in Richmond today to address a recent Supreme Court ruling that could throw a wrench into many prosecutions, one big piece of news out of the special session will be the additional cuts Gov. Kaine is expected to propose to the budget.

Among the attendees will be state senator and gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds (D) . He and GOP opponent Bob McDonnell each picked up a key endorsement yesterday, and today McDonnell spends the day in private meetings and visiting with businesses and law enforcement officials in Hampton Roads, a spokeswoman said this morning.

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Posted at 3:27 PM ET, 08/18/2009

Realtors Back McDonnell; Black Caucus Favors Deeds

Gubernatorial candidates Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell held back-to-back news conferences in Richmond on Tuesday to announce endorsements, neither of them of the too terribly shocking variety.

McDonnell picked up the support of the political action committee of the Virginia Association of Realtors, the state's largest professional organization. The group represents 33,000 Realtors and, after interviewing both candidates,
backed McDonnell as more likely to promote home ownership.

The support from the right-leaning business group is not a surprise, although it was also not assured: The group also endorsed Democrat Steve Shannon on Tuesday for attorney general, along with Republican Bill Bolling for reelection as lieutenant governor.

Even less surprising was Deeds's announcement that he had received the backing of the legislative black caucus.

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Posted at 7:58 AM ET, 08/18/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning, here's what's happening in politics around the state.

Virginia lawmakers struggle with the reality that the piggy bank is empty for transportation. Gov. Kaine has decided to delay part of the HOT Lanes project, a decision that drew an instant rebuke from GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell.

The Post uses Virginia as a test case for the health care debate and finds broad skepticism.

State lawmakers have begun working on legislation to address a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that could make prosecuting criminals more difficult. The General Assembly meets tomorrow to consider the changes and will likely get some bad news about the state budget too, says the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star.

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Posted at 5:23 PM ET, 08/17/2009

Va. Northern Neck GOP Embraces Crabill - Again

Not only is Republican delegate candidate Catherine Crabill not stepping aside, as requested by the state GOP last week, but local party leaders are redoubling their support for her campaign in the Northern Neck against Democrat Del. Albert C. Pollard Jr.

Crabill's campaign Monday announced that the top Republican in the 99th legislative district, R. Allen Webb, will chair a grassroots steering committee for her campaign.

The announcement came just a few days after state GOP leaders, including all three candidates for statewide office, formally denounced Crabill over her comments last month that her supporters might have to "resort to the bullet box" if not successful at the ballot box. State party chairman Pat Mullins called on her to abandon her run for office.

"I'm happy to answer the call to help Catherine Crabill as the Republican Party's 99th District nominee," Webb said in a press release, urging party members to rally around Crabill. "Local Republicans made their views known overwhelmingly at our district convention earlier this year, and I will do all that I can to help Catherine succeed."

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Posted at 7:24 AM ET, 08/17/2009

First Click - Virginia

Happy Monday, here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

TOP STORIES:
Bob McDonnell starts his week with good news: A Washington Post poll conducted last week shows the GOP gubernatorial hopeful with a clear advantage among registered voters, though lots of respondents acknowledged they don't know much about either candidate and Democrat Creigh Deeds still has more than two months to gain some ground, as the RTD points out. National Journal's Charlie Cook, however, argues that a Deeds victory at this point would be a "true upset."

The Post's editorial board today weighs in on McDonnell's record on abortion, which Deeds spent last week highlighting. Despite Deeds' efforts to show that the former attorney general is too conservative, the Post poll showed that more registered voters view Deeds as too liberal.

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Posted at 9:27 AM ET, 08/16/2009

Fact Check: Did McDonnell Turn His Back on Unemployed?

To accuse a Virginian politician of turning his back on Martinsville, the beleagured Southside mill town whose unemployment rate hit 21.6 percent in June, is almost like a slur.

But that's what the gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D) did last week, saying that Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell "stood against the workers in the area when textile plants shut down and left nearly 3,000 workers jobless."

As a former delegate, McDonnell voted against "a bipartisan emergency relief package" that would have provided enhanced jobless benefits, including health insurance, for laid-off Martinsville textile workers, the Deeds campaign said.

The allegation is accurate--but also deserves some context.

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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 08/14/2009

Republican Chairman Wants Crabill to Step Aside

No, Bob McDonnell is not attending an upcoming fundraiser with Republican House of Delegates candidate Catherine Crabill. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling won't be there either. Attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli II also will not appear with Crabill.

In fact, the Republican Party of Virginia has formally decided it will be giving Crabill no support for her campaign against Del. Albert Pollard, and chairman Pat Mullins has sent word to Crabill that he would prefer that she step aside and not run for the seat.

Crabill, who is the Republican nominee running in Virginia's Northern Neck, has said the federal government might have played a role in the Oklahoma City bombing. She was caught on video recently advocating "resorting to the bullet box" if her supporters do not win at the "ballot box."

Top campaign aides for McDonnell opponent Creigh Deeds were asked during a press call today about a report, erroneous it turns out, that McDonnell and Bolling would soon be campaigning with Crabill.

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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 08/14/2009

Deeds Calls Relative of Virginia Tech Victim

Creigh Deeds is reaching out to families of the Virginia Tech shooting, some of whom actively opposed him in his three-way Democrat primary against Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe, because of his stance on guns.

This morning, he called Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was killed in the April 2007 shootings.

"Creigh and Omar spoke this morning and had a good, friendly conversation,'' said Mo Elleithee, Deeds spokesman. "As with all the families of the Virginia Tech tragedy, Creigh intends to have an open door and continued dialogue with him."

Samaha and Colin Goddard, a victim who survived the shooting (and was in the room when shooter Seung Hui Cho killed himself), issued an open letter opposing Deeds hours before the polls opened in June.

Deeds has voted repeatedly against closing a loophole that allows some private vendors at gun shows to make sales without background checks -- a change in law that has been pushed by the Virginia Tech familes. But he later changed his mind, championing amendments to the bill to close the loophole that would weaken the legislation but, he believed, would secure enough votes to get it out of committee. The bill never passed.

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Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 08/14/2009

McDonnell Snags Farm Endorsement

In the end, it didn't matter that Creigh Deeds had performed surgery on farm animals.

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation's PAC endorsed Bob McDonnell today over Deeds in the governor's race.

Both candidates spoke a couple of weeks ago in front of the state's farmers at a candidates forum. Deeds grew up on a farm (and performed surgery on animals), but the group selected McDonnell because of his record on property rights as a legislator and attorney general. "Protecting the rights of property owners has been and continues to be a priority issue for the Virginia Farm Bureau," said Wayne F. Pryor, VFBF president and chairman of the Virginia AgPAC board of trustees.

The decision wasn't a total surprise. The group endorsed McDonnell over Deeds in the attorney general's race in 2005.

The group did not split its ticket. It also endorsed Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli for attorney general, both Republicans.

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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 08/14/2009

The Kitchen Table: Interview With Pew's Scott Keeter

Keeter headshot.jpgFor this week's installment of "The Kitchen Table," a regular feature about Virginia voters, we asked Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center in Washington and one of the nation's prominent thinkers on the subject of voter behavior, some questions about what makes voters tick.

Keeter has authored and co-authored several books and papers, including "What Americans Know About Politics and Why It Matters," and "A New Engagement? Political Participation, Civic Life, and the Changing American Citizen." A Virginia resident, he has been a political science professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason University.

The Post: Why do some people vote and others don't?

Keeter: Even though most people realize that their individual vote will probably not be the deciding factor in an election, most people realize that collectively their votes matter in determining the outcome. Still, many people don't vote, especially in off-year elections that don't have the high level of mobilization that presidential years do. Those who do vote tend to be older, better-educated and more affluent. That's true even in presidential elections, but is especially true in state races. The people who vote in elections like the Virginia or New Jersey gubernatorial and legislative elections tend to be perennially engaged in politics and better-informed than the average voter.

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Posted at 8:19 AM ET, 08/14/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Aug. 14, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Republican Bob McDonnell heads home to Northern Virginia, where he will speak at the Republican National Hispanic Assembly's convention in Tysons Corner. Tomorrow the McDonnell RV takes a tour of Luray Caverns where he will roll out a policy proposal on -- what else? -- tourism.

He spent yesterday on the Eastern Shore talking about outer space. He toured the spaceport on Wallops Island and announced plans to make it the "top commercial spaceport in the country." Meanwhile back in Richmond, his campaign announced a newly-redesigned Web site.

Democrat Creigh Deeds will travel to Newport News today for a community day hosted by a mental health agency. Then he's off to Courtland for the Franklin-Southampton County Fair. Funnel cake, anyone?

He announced the creation of Nurses for Deeds yesterday in Portsmouth along with fellow state Sen. Louise Lucas, the best-dressed legislator in the General Assembly.

In other Deeds news, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato stands by his statements about the upheaval in the Deeds campaign. It turns out there have been some changes, but the message from the Deeds camp is that Joe Abbey remains on top.

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Posted at 3:48 PM ET, 08/13/2009

Shake-up or Not, Deeds Campaign is Changing

University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato is standing by his story, circulated yesterday, that Deeds Campaign Manager Joe Abbey will retain his formal title but is no longer steering the ship in Deeds Country.

And the Deeds campaign is sticking to their statements from yesterday on this topic, when they said Abbey remains in charge. Monica Dixon, cited by Sabato as the campaign's new real power, said unequivocally that she works for Abbey.

The campaign's response could be all spin to protect Abbey and deflect story lines that suggest they think things are going so badly they need a major overhaul. But this much seems clear:

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Posted at 3:20 PM ET, 08/13/2009

Does Deeds Play Follow the Leader?

Both candidates for governor found themselves talking about kind of an obscure Virginia topic this week -- the spaceport on tiny Wallops Island.

Coincidence?

Bob McDonnell's campaign doesn't think so. They say when McDonnell plans to visit a certain part of the state to talk up a certain issue, Creigh Deeds ends up there too.

Virginia is only so big, so both candidates are likely to end up in the same places, talking about the same issues some of the time. But McDonnell and the Republicans have been working hard to try to convince people that Deeds is following his lead. As part of the "Me too! campaign," the state GOP has tweaked Deeds for following McDonnell on several issues -- agency audits, charter schools and ABC privatization, just to name a few.

"Creigh Deeds is playing a grown up version of follow the leader,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said.

Not true, the Deeds campaign says. In fact, they say McDonnell may be following Deeds. Afterall, McDonnell unveiled his rural economic plan as Deeds wrapped up his "Deeds Country" to the rural parts of the state. "I could care less where Bob's taking his campaign,'' Deeds spokesman Mo Elleithee said. "I just want him to be honest about where he's taking Virginia."

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/13/2009

Virginia Notebook: Where Is McDonnell From?

In campaign literature mailed recently to Northern Virginia residents, Robert F. McDonnell touts himself as a "governor that Fairfax County families can be proud to call their own." In another mailer sent to Hampton Roads residents, he touts himself as "a governor Virginia Beach can be proud to call our own."

But McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, doesn't live in Fairfax or Virginia Beach. He lives in Henrico County, just outside Richmond.

McDonnell grew up in Fairfax, represented Virginia Beach in the General Assembly for 14 years and then moved to Henrico when he was elected attorney general in 2005.

He has been campaigning aggressively in Virginia's suburban core, hoping his strong ties to the state's three most populous areas, and support from traditionally conservative rural areas, will give him enough votes to carry the state in November.

"I'm really the candidate who has really lived his whole life in suburbia," he said in a recent interview. "Fairfax and Virginia Beach, the two largest jurisdictions in the state, and now Henrico. I want to make sure that people know that's my background. I understand the problems of suburbia."

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 08/13/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Aug. 13, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Democrat Creigh Deeds will continue his week-long push on abortion, access to birth control and other women's health issues at a news conference in Portsmouth. Later, he will tour a shellfish hatchery in Willis Wharf and then hitch a ride on a boat to help workers load clam seed.

Expect Republicans to continue to gleefully talk up Deeds comments yesterday during an online chat with the Richmond Times-Dispatch about raising taxes.

It already has been a long week for Deeds. Criticism (largely conservative, of course) of his abortion strategy and a Confederate flag flap quickly have been replaced by talk of a shake-up at his campaign.

Republican Bob McDonnell will spend the day on Wallops and Tangier islands off Virginia's Eastern Shore. (He'll temporarily ditch his RV for a helicopter). He'll tour the spaceport and talk up his grand plan to make it the top commercial spaceport in the country.

The trip comes a day after McDonnell released a lengthy proposal designed to curb crime in Virginia, including lifetime monitoring for sexual predators through GPS. Deeds may not like it, but McDonnell continues to talk about federal issues ("Are you running for Congress?") by touting a new study that shows the federal cap-and-trade bill would hurt Virginia workers and families.

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Posted at 4:06 PM ET, 08/12/2009

Deeds Campaign: Abbey Still on Top

The Deeds gubernatorial campaign is shooting down a report by University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato that campaign manager Joe Abbey is keeping his title but is being supplanted by Monica Dixon, who headed Mark Warner's political action committee and has been serving as a senior advisor to the campaign since around the time of the primary.

"Joe Abbey is the campaign manager, and I work for him," Dixon said this afternoon.

A staff shake up might indicate the campaign is nervous about the direction of the race and looking for change. But communications director Mike Gehrke said the only change at the campaign in recent days has been the addition of Mo Elleithee, a Virginia veteran, as an advisor. The campaign announced that change Monday.

"Joe is in charge. He's the fearless leader. When he walks by, we salute," Gehrke said.


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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 08/12/2009

McDonnell Donates $300k to State GOP

Republican Bob McDonnell has donated $300,000 to the state GOP in recent months as the beleagured party struggles to reverse its recent problems with fundraising and leadership.

The Republican gubernatorial nominee gave the party $50,000 in May and another $250,000 in July, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign donations in Virginia. McDonnell is the party's largest donor in at least two years.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the campaign made the donation to help pay for the party's "victory" program, which is designed to help the entire ticket including the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates. The program includes get-out-the-vote efforts, canvassing, regional offices and signs.

"We have supported RPV's grassroots efforts because they are critical to our success statewide," Martin said..

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Posted at 10:56 AM ET, 08/12/2009

Both Campaigns Address Confederate Flag

The Confederate flag may be the third rail of Virginia politics.

Plenty of people are offended by it and think any candidate who fails to refute it entirely embraces Virginia's racist past. Plenty of people believe it's a symbol of their heritage and would disown any candidate who said otherwise.

The vociferousness of Bob McDonnell's campaign's reaction to the suggestion that his staffers flew the flag at their booth at a sportsman's show (Not our flag! We're appalled at the suggestion!) got us wondering: Does that mean McDonnell believes there's something wrong with the flag and believes it should not be flown?

Likewise, the tweet from Deeds' campaign manager Joe Abbey directing people to the photo had us wondering the same about Deeds, especially given that he told the House of Delegates in 1999 that he had a picture of the flag on his wall as a child.

We asked both campaigns Wednesday afternoon the same question: Does your candidate believe it is ever appropriate to fly the Confederate flag?

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Posted at 2:18 PM ET, 08/11/2009

McDonnell: Not Our Flag -- With Update from Show Manager

In a posting on Twitter, the campaign manager for Democrat Creigh Deeds is encouraging people to look at a photograph posted on the left-leaning blog Not Larry Sabato that claims to show that Republican Bob McDonnell's campaign displayed a confederate flag in its booth at a sportsman show.

But McDonnell's campaign says the flag was not theirs.

Flag Photo.jpg

"The flag was not in our booth,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. "However, there still is an actual story here. The fact that Creigh Deeds' campaign is actively pushing this falsehood demonstrates their desperation is greater than anyone expected. And it also will cost them a lot of credibility right as the campaign enters the home stretch. Not a good day for them."

"To misrepresent a photo for political gain is the worst kind of politics,'' Martin said.

Martin said the flag belonged to an adjacent booth, which was selling confederate flags and other paraphernalia, though the angle of the photo makes it appears as if the flag was McDonnell's. He said the campaign has spoken to the six people -- a combination of staff and volunteers -- who worked the Mechanicsville show last weekend and all denied that they displayed a flag.

Joe Abbey, Deeds campaign manager, sent out a tweet this afternoon: "BREAKING NEWS: MCDONNELL HAS CONFEDERATE FLAG POSTED IN HIS BOOTH AT GUN SHOW IN RICHMOND" linking to the blog story.

"It was Joe's personal retweet, not the campaign's,'' said Mo Elleithee, Deeds spokesman. "Today we're focused on drawing a contrast between Creigh's vision of moving Virginia forward and Bob McDonnell's record of hurting southside Virginia and his support of the Bush economic agenda. If the McDonnell campaign would like to answer for that, we're all ears."

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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 08/11/2009

Dems Attack McDonnell on Rural Va., Day 2

As Republican Bob McDonnell travels from South Boston to Virginia Beach on Route 58 today in his RV, Democrats are attacking him for repeatedly neglecting that same corridor as a member of the House of Delegates.

The state Democratic party accuses McDonnell of repeatedly voting against proposals that would boost economic development along Route 58. "While 2009 is full of rhetoric, McDonnell's record shows he opposed progress on Route 58, a key to bringing greater economic development to various areas across Virginia," the party stated in a release.

Here are some the votes Democrats cite: In 1999, he voted against $659 million in bonds to help Route 59 and Northern Virginia. In 2002, he voted to cut $10 million from the Route 58 Corridor Development Fund. Three times, in 2002 and 2004, he voted to trim $16 million from the governors opportunity fund, which is designed to lure businesses to the state.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin declined to respond to the attacks. "The theme continues: Bob talks about jobs, the Democrats attack," he said. "We aren't going to respond to gotcha vote-pulling on transportation from the party of a candidate who vows not to even have a transportation plan."

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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 08/11/2009

Deeds: Obama's Paying Attention to Virginia

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, who got to spend a little time with President Obama at a campaign rally last week (video), said the president's comments to him privately showed the leader of the free world had been reading up on the Virginia race -- or at least getting good staff briefings about it.

"He's paying more attention to this race than I would think," Deeds said Monday. "He is familiar with the details of the campaign, what's going on. He's familiar with the details of my biography. So he's paying a little attention."

Deeds was full of praise for the president, who revved up a ballroom of about 1,500 Deeds supporters last week.

"He's a really smart guy. Very thoughtful," Deeds said. "He asked a lot of questions. But mostly there was just banter about our families."

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 08/11/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Aug. 11, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Republican Bob McDonnell unveiled a plan yesterday in Southside to bring new jobs to rural Virginia. But Democrats quickly criticized him for what they call his new interest in the economically-distressed area, and said it comes after years of neglect as a legislator. You can always count on House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong for a good quote -- or two.

Today McDonnell heads to various events along Route 58 from South Boston to Virginia Beach (look for the blue McDonnell RV on the road), including visits to local newspapers in South Boston, Lawrenceville, Emporia, Franklin and Suffolk. Tonight he will stop by the Republican campaign offices in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

Democrat Creigh Deeds began a week-long attack on McDonnell on abortion (video, pdf). Some newspapers criticized Deeds for talking about abortion instead of the all-important economy, while some bloggers accused him of bringing up social issues after he said only a few weeks ago he would not. Naturally opponents deemed the abortion move as risky and desperate, while supporters did not.

Deeds is taking a day off from public events today, but will be in Richmond tomorrow for a press conference. Will there be more talk about abortion or will he switch to another topic?

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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 08/10/2009

Deeds Campaigns with Women in NoVa

Democrat Creigh Deeds kicked off his Women for Deeds tour this morning at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, surrounded by more than 80 activists, most of them women. He insisted his week long push to highlight opponent Bob McDonnell's record on pushing for abortion isn't just about the divisive social issue. Instead, he said the discussion is one of priorities.

"My opponent's rhetoric can be confusing. One day, he says his campaign is about jobs, jobs, jobs. The next, he says elections are litmus tests on abortion. But throughout his career, his record and his priorities have been clear," Deeds said. "He's focused on a narrow ideological agenda rather than one that would move Virginia forward."

Among the notables in the crowd, Lynda Robb, wife of former U.S. Senator Chuck Robb, Democratic state Sens. Toddy Puller and Mary Margaret Whipple, as well as delegates Kristen J. Amundson, Charniele Herring, Margaret G. Vanderhye, Vivian E. Watts and Secretary for the Commonwealth Kate Hanley.

Republicans are pushing back hard against the new Deeds message, convinced it will work to their advantage if Deeds is seen as the one making abortion central to the campaign.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 08/10/2009

First Click - Virginia

Aug. 10, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

It's Monday, the start of what promises to be a busy week on the campaign trail.

Democrat Creigh Deeds wrapped up his tour of the state's rural areas with a rare visit to his home county of Bath where he announced several proposals to improve government accountability.

Deeds is expected to roll out three other policy proposals this week. Today, he will talk about abortion in Northern Virginia as he tries to portray Republican Bob McDonnell as out of the mainstream. The effort is deemed desperate by some, mostly Republicans of course, and has led to a lot of chatter on conservative blogs. But Deeds hopes to energize his lackluster base, and the initial response shows it may be working.

McDonnell got a moment in the national spotlight when he delivered the response to President Obama's weekly radio address this weekend. (Okay, so it's not really a response). He kicked off his month-long "New Jobs, More Opportunities" tour at the Patrick County Peach Festival in Stuart. Check out the RV here.

McDonnell, too, plans to unveil four policy proposals this week. Today, he will hold a press conference to release his economic plan for rural Virginia in Martinsville before heading to Danville.

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Posted at 9:31 AM ET, 08/ 9/2009

Tracking the Tracker


Republican tracker Paul Logan, who's been following Creigh Deeds through Deeds Country this week for the state GOP, has spent so much time with the Deeds folks that they've grown kinda fond of him. Here's Logan with Deeds' wife Pam in Martinsville Saturday morning.

"We'll win him over yet," Pam Deeds said as she gave Logan a warm hug.

Check out this video if you're really fascinated with Logan, who was on hand for Deeds' rally with President Obama last week. He comes on about 15 seconds in.

\RPV Tracker.jpg

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Posted at 3:13 PM ET, 08/ 7/2009

Dems Attack McDonnell on Sotomayor

Virginia Democrats tried to use yesterday's historic confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to bash Bob McDonnell today on his lack of support for the new Supreme Court justice.

McDonnell never said he was opposed to Sotomayor, but he never said he supported her either.

In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Emma Violand-Sanchez, an Arlington School Board Member and yes, a Democrat, said she was disappointed McDonnell did not take a position. Carlos del Toro, a business leader and yes, a Creigh Deeds supporter, said McDonnell is being hypocritical on issues important to the Latino community. "Bob McDonnell had an opportunity to come out of the partisan fray," he said.

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Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 08/ 7/2009

The Kitchen Table

Welcome to a new weekly feature on the Virginia politics blog called "The Kitchen Table," which we hope will bring you interesting and illuminating glimpses into the lives of those regular folks who probably don't read this blog but dutifully embrace their democratic responsibilities when called upon to do so. We're talking about voters.

Our first installment takes us to the McLean Hilton, where President Obama made his first public appearance with Creigh Deeds (D) yesterday in support of the latter's run for governor. Earlier this week we told you about how some people's anxiety over Obama's domestic agenda could influence their vote for governor this fall, to Republican Bob McDonnell's advantage.

But the 1,500 who showed up for yesterday's rally proved that Obama's blessing was still a major plus for a lot of voters. Some, like Bonnae Powers, 43, a human resources director from Fairfax, were drawn by a chance to see Obama in the flesh but looked forward to "the opportunity to learn more about one of the candidates for Virginia governor." Others were already won over by the state senator from Bath County. Still others said they'd be voting for Deeds because he's a Democrat -- and that's reason enough.

Apologies for the shaky video to follow. I'll get better at this, I promise!


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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 08/ 7/2009

Organizing for America and for Deeds?

President Obama may have told supporters in Tysons Corner Thursday to get "fired up" for Creigh Deeds, but it's still a little uncertain how much support Deeds will get from Organizing for America, Obama's grassroots operation.

Negotiations are under way between campaign officials and OFA about whether the national group can send more hands over to Deeds Country, several Virginia Democratic sources said this week.

Several Obama volunteers said OFA's got them working exclusively on promoting health care reform to work for Deeds. Although Thursday was a good day for Deeds, who joined President Obama at a rally and fundraiser in Tysons Corner, Deeds wants more -- he needs the shoe-leather of those volunteers who manned phones and walked neighborhoods last year on behalf of Obama.

Obama urged those supporters to action -- and prompted thunderous cheers -- in a fiery speech at the McLean Hilton. But will his organization do the same?

"Last year, Virginia, you helped lead a movement of Americans who believed that their voices could make a difference," the president said. "A movement of young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled, not disabled. Everybody was involved. It didn't come from Washington. It came from the bottom up. That's what we need to do in this race. That's what Creigh Deeds is committed to. That's what this election is all about. I need every one of you to knock on doors and make phone calls and get fired up once again so that we can go toward the future, confident, with Creigh Deeds leading this great commonwealth of Virginia."

Expect this storyline to continue. We'll keep you posted. And please tell us what YOU think.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 08/ 7/2009

First Click - Virginia

Aug. 7, 2009

Good morning everyone. Here's what's happening in politics around the state today.

Lots of news coming out of Virginia. President Obama was here yesterday after all.

Obama tried to provide a boost to Creigh Deeds campaign, appearing before 1,500 cheering, sign-waving supporters at the McLean Hilton Tysons Corner. Obama talked up the Democratic nominee for governor, but used the opportunity to defend his own record too.

While Deeds was with Obama, Republican rival Bob McDonnell attended former Congresswoman Thelma Drake's annual party on the pier in Norfolk.

Deeds was endorsed by the Teamsters yesterday --- though he didn't tell anyone. Expect McDonnell and the Republicans to be more than willing to do it for him as they continued to attack him for being tied to big labor (and therefore anti-business).

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Posted at 1:18 AM ET, 08/ 7/2009

President Tells His Backers To Get 'Fired Up' for Deeds

The first Democratic president to win Virginia in more than four decades encouraged his supporters Thursday night to return to the polls in November and elect Democrat R. Creigh Deeds governor.

President Obama met first with about 200 of Deeds's top donors and then rallied with about 1,500 cheering, sign-waving Deeds supporters in a ballroom at the McLean Hilton Tysons Corner.

Obama said Sen. Mark Warner and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, both Democrats, had created a tradition of pragmatic, bipartisan leadership that helped the state weather the economic recession better than others.

"That's not just a stroke of good luck here in the state of Virginia," the president told the crowd. "It's because you stood up and chose that kind of politics. . . . Now you've got the chance to keep moving forward with someone who's cut from the same cloth, somebody who has that same vision for the commonwealth: Creigh Deeds."

Read the full article.

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Posted at 9:19 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Pool Report for Deeds Fundraiser

We were the pooler for the Virginia press corps at the fundraiser with President Obama held just before tonight's rally. Here's the pool report we filed. More coverage of the full event will be posted at www.washingtonpost.com shortly.

About 200 top donors crowded an atrium at the Hilton Hotel in McLean, Va., just off the main ballroom, for a closed fundraiser preceding the main event in the room next door. There was a bar along the right-hand wall and a podium at the front of the room backed by a velvet blue curtain.

From the pool hold, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine could be heard introducing state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds.

"As governor and lieutenant governor, I had a chance to work with everyone in state government," he said. "I got to know Creigh very very well. In tough times, you've got to show you have a backbone, you've got a heart."

"I have to tell you, I don't know of a finer man in public service than Creigh Deeds."

Deeds got the task of introducing Obama, but told the group he knew he was not the main event. He was immediately interrupted by the whole group chanting, "We love Creigh."

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Posted at 6:20 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Obama Backers and One Small Protest

A bit of the excitement from the fall Obama rallies pervaded the Hilton ballroom tonight as hundreds hundreds waited for the 6 p.m. program to begin (it was running a little late). Outside vendors peddled Obama merchandise, with a few Michael Jackson pins slipped in for good measure.

Inside the jam-packed ballroom, some sipped wine or cocktails while others watched for every twitch of the blue curtain, hoping that one of the evening's political stars would emerge.

"I told everybody at work I was going to see the president," said Ally Taylor, 48, a telecom company controller from Manassas.

rallyprotest.jpgShe and her husband, Rob Taylor, 42, sat in chairs away from the crowd and spoke of their hope that Obama's presence would boost Deeds's name recognition. "I think his biggest obstacle is going to be to get people to know who he is and not make it a referendum on the U.S. economy," he said.

Out in the parking lot, three local members of conservative Web site freerepublic.com -- including Steve Deming, 51, of Fairfax County, pictured here -- held a small protest that quickly broke up.

-- Sandhya Somashekhar

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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Kaine's Timing

Gov. Tim Kaine had three years and seven months to announce his decision to pardon the former sailors convicted of raping and killing a woman in 1997 in the infamous Norfolk 4 case.

But Kaine, the outgoing governor and DNC chairman, waited until today--when President Obama is in Virginia to campaign with Creigh Deeds.

Strange timing?

Campaign staffers, political insiders and reporters were certainly scratching their heads about Kaine's motives.

No one really thought he was trying to take the spotlight away from Deeds and Obama, but it kind of worked out that way.

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Posted at 4:49 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Ballroom Filling for Deeds Rally

So it's not exactly the Comcast Center on the eve of the Potomac Primary last February, when 20,000 people showed up in the bitter cold to hear then candidate Barack Obama.

But there's pretty serious energy going in the ballroom of the McLean Hilton, which is rapidly filling as we're about to hit the one-hour mark before the start of tonight's pre-rally. (We're two hours out from tonight's main event, featuring President Obama and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.)

(Editor's Note: Streaming video of the rally will not be available after all. Our apologies.)

The stage is set rally style, backed by an enormous American flag. A cash bar sits oh-so-close, yet oh-so-far from the roped off media section. Soft cocktail party music is playing. The roads on the way in were lined with Deeds/Wagner/Shannon signs, and the parking lot was full of cars with Obama stickers.

There's no sign of protesters here, but one car with a McDonnell sticker also featured a sticker that said "Where's the Birth Certificate?" It just had to be another attendee of this event that had gone with a pen, crossed out the last two words, and wrote in "My Brain."

deedsrally.jpg

We now have some early excepts from Deeds' remarks as prepared for delivery. Follow the jump to read.

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Posted at 4:17 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

McDonnell 51, Deeds 43

As we've explained before we don't trust all the polls that come out during the governor's race, but here's one that we can tell you about.

A DailyKos/Research 2000 poll on the governor's race shows that Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds among likely voters, 51 percent to 43 percent.

Back in mid-June, McDonnell had 45 percent and Deeds 44 percent. Check out the favorable numbers: McDonnell at 57 percent, Deeds at 46 percent.

The left-leaning Daily Kos tells us that undecided voters gradually have gotten behind McDonnell with gains coming primarily from independents and a handful of Democrats.

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Posted at 1:26 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Deeds Takes Page from Obama; Stay Tuned for Rally Coverage

Creigh Deeds looks to be trying to use tonight's rally with President Obama to inject a little oomph into his campaign for governor.

He just announced a new "Join Deeds" effort to build grassroots support, complete with a revamped Web site (now featuring an enormous photo of Obama), a text messaging push (today's message welcomes Obama and tells recipients -- you guessed it -- "yes we can") and two new radio ads recorded by Gov. Tim Kaine.

One ad appears aimed at Latino voters -- it's in Spanish, after all.







The other talks about education and African-American unemployment rates.







Stay tuned to The Washington Post for full coverage of tonight's rally, including streaming video.

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Posted at 7:13 AM ET, 08/ 6/2009

First Click-Virginia

Aug. 6, 2009
Good morning. Here's what's doing in politics across the Commonwealth today.

It's Obama day. Or rather the day of Obama evening. The president will appear at a rally with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds at the McLean Hilton this evening at 7 p.m. Just before, he'll address a smaller crowd at a closed fundraiser. For all the fretting lately about Obama's dropping approval numbers, the man did get 1.7 million votes in Virginia just eight months ago. This won't be his last trip to Virginia before November. (Did we say 1.7 million? Apologies. That should be *1.96* million votes.)

Republican Bob McDonnell will get a national stage on which to respond Saturday, as he delivers the response to Obama's weekly radio/youtube video address.

As the candidates make forays onto the national stage, some inconsistencies on both sides about how federal issues should play in the race. Deeds says the race is not about them, and then talks about George Bush. McDonnell says candidates should take stands on what's going on in Washington, but has now ducked a question about whether Judge Sotomayor should be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Deeds thinks she should.

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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 08/ 5/2009

Virginia Notebook: Tour Shows Deeds is a Little Bit Country

One thing about "Deeds Country," as the swath of rural Virginia extending through the Shenandoah Valley and down into southwest where state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds has been touring this week has been dubbed by his campaign: It apparently isn't Obama Country.

Outside stops in the more urban settings of Charlottesville, Danville and Blacksburg, many of the 20 visits Deeds is making on a nine-day campaign swing that begun Sunday are in places where President Barack Obama was beaten handily by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Appomattox, Hillsville, Tazewell, Floyd. All are areas where Obama did not break 35 percent of the vote.

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Posted at 7:11 AM ET, 08/ 5/2009

Daily Virginia Roundup

Aug 5, 2009
Good morning. Here's what's doing in politics across the Commonwealth today.

The Creigh Deeds team prepares for their big rally with President Obama tomorrow. This as polls show Obama's popularity slipping and some independents in Virginia start to get impatient at the pace of Obama change. All ears will be on the speeches Thursday to see whether Obama plays ball on the Deeds "all Virginia" strategy. Deeds gets to write his own speech. Not so much the president's.

Remember those tv ads slamming the Virginia GOP for rejecting unemployment insurance dollars from the stimulus package? Deeds does too. It seemed to be an economic winner for Dems. Deeds says the General Assembly should take up the issue next year.

Republican Bob McDonnell is pushing again for more debates, this time seven. Deeds communications director Mike Gehrke says, nah, we're good. (Actually: "As far we're concerned, we've got what we're going to do." And, "Frankly, there are a couple of debates and forums we proposed that we're still waiting for them to accept." And, "The whole thing is just a distraction."

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Posted at 7:15 AM ET, 08/ 4/2009

Daily Virginia Roundup

Aug. 4, 2009
Good morning. Here's what's doing in politics across the Commonwealth today.

Federal prosecutors in Virginia are quietly but vigorously lobbying for the chance to try big name terror suspects in Alexandria. Bob McDonnell says no thanks. No word yet from Gov. Tim Kaine, who has previously said he has faith in President Obama's handling of the issue or from Creigh Deeds, who has in the past called Gitmo prisoners in Virginia a "bad idea." That's one to watch.

Deeds, conveniently still on his tour of rural "Deeds Country," says McDonnell "doesn't get" rural Virginia because of a comment by McDonnell's party chairman Pat Mullins that some college students in Wise preferred welfare to work. Also because he supports Bush economic policies. The GOP says Deeds doesn't get rural Virginia because he supports Obama economic policy.

Give this to the folks at Public Policy Poll. They do a good job at building excitement before they release their polls. From PPP teases, we know today's--out at 11 a.m.--will show McDonnell with a big lead over Deeds. (PPP conducts its polling using recorded voice interviewing, meaning respondents puch their answers into their phones and do not speak with a live interviewer. This methodology is the subject of much controversy in the survey research field so take their results with a large grain of salt).

The "Deeds Country" tour continues as does the blog scrum on the left about whether this rural swing is a good idea in a suburbanizing state.

McDonnell today speaks at an education conference in Richmond and does an online video chat with the RTD.

Kaine has turned down a request from families of Va Tech victims to reconvene the investigatory panel that reviewed the incident. His response is gentle and he has assured families corrections they seek are being made to the report produced by the panel. But it's a tough spot to be on the opposite side of Tech families.

Today Kaine holds a news conference about infant mortality. His office has hinted he'll be announcing good news so, given the topic, it's good to assume the rate is likely down.

Republican former Sen. John Warner had kind words for sitting Democratic Sen. Jim Webb at a ceremony at GMU yesterday as Webb's updated GI Bill took effect. President Obama was on hand as well.

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Posted at 1:40 PM ET, 08/ 3/2009

Deeds, Cranwell: Mullins Comment Just Like Bush

The great thing about party chairmen is they can say all the hard edged partisan things that rev up the base but probably shouldn't come out of the mouth of a political candidate running as a pragmatic moderate.

The difficult thing about party chairmen is they say all the hard edged partisan things that probably shouldn't be said anywhere in the vicinity of a political candidate trying to run as a pragmatic moderate.

Democratic Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and Democratic state party chairman Richard Cranwell held a conference call this morning to blast a comment made recently by Cranwell's counterpart, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins.

At a recent speech in Monterey, Mullins told a story about insurance office forced to close in Wise, not because of the economy but because they couldn't recruit needed employees, even at a local college.

"They preferred to be on welfare," Mullins said.

Cue up the conference call.

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/ 3/2009

On the Record

Today we introduce the first installment of what will be a regular feature here on the Virginia Politics blog -- a funny, outrageous or otherwise memorable quote from someone in the state's political world. Campaign season is in full swing so you can expect many of the quotes to come from the candidates or their staffers. Unless Joe Biden comes to Virginia, then you can expect many of the quotes to come from him!
Have a quote you want to share? Email me. Now onto today's quote:

Today's quote: "Growing up in southwest Virginia taught me many important values, like the importance of hard work, loyalty, and the power of education," Creigh Deeds wrote in the first line of his email to supporters Sunday.

Nice line. The only problem is Deeds didn't grow up in southwest Virginia. He grew up in Bath County, which is the western part of the state, but not south and definitely not southwest. The email was sent to promote his 21-stop "Deeds Country" tour that will take him to the state's largely Republican-leaning areas -- the Shenandoah Valley, southside and southwest -- over the next week. Yes, he is going to southwest but no, he doesn't live there. In fact, the Deeds campaign has been known to correct people who accidentally mistake rural Bath County for rural southwest Virginia

So what do you think about Deeds' quote? Share your thoughts with us!

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Posted at 7:05 AM ET, 08/ 3/2009

Daily Virginia Roundup

Aug. 3, 2009
Good morning, Virginia. Here's what's doing in politics across the Commonwealth today.

It's a big week for the Creigh Deeds campaign. Thursday will find Deeds trying to jazz supporters at the side of the popular President of the United States in McLean. He's hoping that will put to an end discussions like this one suggesting he wants Obama's donors and excitement, but not his policies.But what will they talk about? We're betting not health care, if Deeds had his druthers. Maybe George Bush instead?

Before and after the NoVa Obama rally, Deeds travels through newly dubbed Deeds Country, southwest and western Virginia, kicked off yesterday in Charlottesville. Mark Warner won the state in part by making a credible play in such communities, long lost to Democrats, edging up in his numbers there and weakening the Republican base.

Of course, the last two Democrats to win state office have done so by concentrating on swing suburbs, areas that have only become more Democratic and populous since 2001. Does Deeds risk alienating the NoVa voters he desperately needs by a kick-off that suggests it is rural Shenandoah Valley that is Deeds country? Dem bloggers are concerned maybe yes. Campaign Manager Joe Abbey answers, via twitter, nope.

Bob McDonnell did some classic retail politics over the weekend. He'll have a hard time getting ink or links this week with Obama coming to town but is planning to start traveling the state soon in a Winnebago. People love a Winnebago.

Both camps keep getting bad press from state opinion writers about their transportation plans, but Deeds somewhat more so.

A new Public Policy Poll is out this week. The group's teasing tweets suggest it'll have the GOP up in Virginia.

Gov. Kaine was in Martha's Vineyard over the weekend for DNC business, but this morning sees Virginia National Guard troops off to Iraq in Virginia Beach, then meets with state budget officers in Norfolk and talks campus security in Richmond.

Sen. Webb and Warner join President Obama at George Mason this morning to sign Webb's new G.I. Bill for vets in a post Sept. 11 world.

Unemployment insurance is running out across the country. Can Dems use these numbers to restart the debate over benefits in Virginia?

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Posted at 8:17 PM ET, 08/ 2/2009

Deeds Kicks off Statewide Tour

A couple weeks ago we told you how the gubernatorial candidates had been largely absent from the campaign trail, chosing instead to spend much of the summer hunkered down, amassing resources and plotting strategy.

Those days are over.

Today, Democrat Creigh Deeds kicked off a 21-stop "Deeds Country" tour that will take him to the state's largely Republican-leaning areas -- the Shenandoah Valley, Southside and Southwest -- over the next week.

"Because of my rural background, because of where I live, I believe that I am going to do better than a lot of Democrats in areas like that,'' Deeds said. "To often Democrats concede certain areas. I'm not going to concede one square inch of terrority."

Not to be outdone, Republican Bob McDonnell plans to spend much of August traveling the state in a Winnebago. "Every region of the state is going to be hard fought,'' McDonnell said. "I'm sure virtually every place he goes I'll be there myself."

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 07/31/2009

McDonnell Secures a Vote -- or Two

We're guessing Bob McDonnell won over at least one potential voter yesterday with his visit to a facility that aids veterans in central Virginia.

Yolanda Dean, the founder of the aptly named Compassion House, wrote a letter that was printed in the Culpeper newspaper asking McDonnell and Creigh Deeds which of them she should vote for -- and encouraging them to pay her a visit.

McDonnell's wife, Maureen, saw the letter and convinced her husband to go. McDonnell, who served in the military, visited yesterday and spoke about his veterans plan.

Dean was so impressed with his scheduled visit that she wrote a follow up letter to the newspaper last week. "Bob McDonnell is right to bring to light the importance of supporting those who have fought to keep us safe," she said yesterday.

We're not sure, but we'd bet Dean casts a ballot for McDonnell come November.

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Posted at 4:03 PM ET, 07/30/2009

Deeds Picks Up Another Kaine Staffer

A familiar face has joined the Deeds campaign.

Jeff Tiller, the always enegetic and helpful deputy press secretary to Gov. Tim Kaine, started his new gig today in Creigh Deeds' press shop.

Tiller left Virginia last summer to work on Barack Obama's advance team but he obviously couldn't keep away.

Other Kaine staffers working for Deeds include Matt Felan, who served as the executive director of Kaine's political action committee Moving Virginia Forward, and Kevin Hall, his former press secretary, who is working on and off as an communications advisor.

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Posted at 2:52 PM ET, 07/30/2009

Get to Know Your Candidates

Today we introduce the first installment of what will be a regular though occasional feature here on the blog, where we pose light-hearted, personal questions to Virginia's two gubernatorial candidates to help you better know them.

Today's question: If you were invited to share a beer with the President of the United States, what kind of beer would you request and why?

Creigh Deeds campaign spokesman Jared Leopold put the question to his guy and came back with this answer: "Creigh would drink what he always drinks, Budweiser," he said. "He's a consistent guy."

From Bob McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin we learn the Republican would ask for a Coors Light, also his regular beer selection.

Both campaigns declined to provide any memorable stories involving their candidates consumption of their beverage of choice. "Any good stories he has are locked away until after Election Day," Martin joked.

We welcome your suggestions for future Get to Know Your Candidates questions!

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Posted at 1:50 PM ET, 07/30/2009

Dems: Stim Bill Pulled Economy from Brink

The RNC gave us Jerry Kilgore yesterday. Today the DNC presents Rep. Gerald Connolly and Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Richard Cranwell, slamming Rep. Eric Cantor and Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell for not supporting President Obama's stimulus package. Or the recovery bill, as they call it.

Cantor, they say, has touted jobs that will be created through building high speed rail in Virginia, funded with stiumulus money. McDonnell has recently spoken flatteringly of the impact of tax cuts pushed by George Bush.

"You can't have it both ways. You can't on the national stage say this is a bad bill...but when it comes to my district I want a big chunk of that money. I want to be there with all four paws and snout in the trough," Connolly said.

It's the start of a hot August of efforts by the national parties to target politicians they believe may be vulnerable at home. The DNC today launches TV and radio ads against several Republican congressional leaders, including Cantor, accusing them of supporting Bush polices that wrecked the economy. "They broke it. Now they refuse to fix it," the tv ad says.

Meanwhile, the RNC likewise last week launched a new $1 million ad campaign targeting 60 Democrats, including Virginians Reps. Tom Perriello, Glenn Nye and Rick Boucher.

UPDATE: And there's response from the RNC, where spokeswoman Katie Wright said the bill "wastes Virginians tax dollars and has done nothing to stimulate the economy." Noting rising unemployment since Obama's inauguration, she said "it is hard to see how this massive spending experiment can be billed as a success."

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Posted at 2:12 PM ET, 07/29/2009

Battleground Bristol

Residents of Bristol, Va. should be feeling pretty popular these days.

The small city on the Tennessee border is the place President Obama came to kick off his general election campaign last June. Then Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele made a special stop there in May to campaign with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. And today Obama is returning to Bristol, to hold a town hall meeting to push health care reform.

Bristol, a place with high unemployment and easy access to the tri-city media market, is a good place for politicians looking to address the issues of depressed rural communities. For today, it's also conveniently close to Raleigh, North Carolina where Obama was making an earlier stop to pitch his reform package as a way to protect Americans from corporate insurance companies.

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Posted at 5:53 PM ET, 07/28/2009

Stolle Threatens Special Session Filibuster

There are some interesting politics developing around what had been assumed likely to be a routine and quickie special legislative session scheduled for next month. The session was called by Gov. Tim Kaine to make legislative fixes in response to a recent Supreme Court decision that requires live testimony, rather than written reports, in court cases that use certain scientific evidence. Without the fixes, Kaine has said some DUI and other offenders would walk on technicalities.

When Kaine announced he was calling, he said he did so with the agreement of both parties that the session would last one day and legislators would consider only bills on this one topic, likely with legislative language agreed upon in advance.

Enter retiring and respected Republican Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach).

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Posted at 8:04 AM ET, 07/28/2009

More on Guns and Gubs

Just when you thought you knew everything about guns and gubernatorial candidates Robert F. McDonnell (R) and state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D), we offer, courtesy of both campaigns, a few more bullet points.

As part of Monday's story on guns and the gubernatorial campaign, we asked the candidates where they stood on several gun related issues besides the so-called gun show loophole.

Campaign answers are after the jump.

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Posted at 10:05 AM ET, 07/27/2009

McDonnell Shift on One-Gun-a-Month

Maybe Creigh Deeds' campaign should send a copy of this story by my colleague Freddy Kunkle, filed this weekend from Virginia's biggest gun show, to former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

Why?

Because in the story, Republican Bob McDonnell says his position on Virginia's law limiting handgun purchases to one a month has changed. He voted for it in the legislature; now he says it should be repealed.

That law was a signature achievement of Wilder's. That Deeds opposed it--and McDonnell supported it--was one reason Wilder withheld his endorsement from Deeds during the 2005 race for attorney general between the two.

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Posted at 1:20 PM ET, 07/25/2009

Photos From the Debate

homestead_podiums.jpgRepublican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, left, laughs along with Democratic opponent State Sen. Creigh Deeds, prior to the Virginia Bar Association debate at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., on Saturday, July 25, 2009. Timekeeper Steve Busch has his back to camera. (Steve Helber/The Associated Press)

See more photos after the jump.

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Posted at 10:57 AM ET, 07/25/2009

Live Blog: The Virginia Bar Association Debate

We come to you live from the historic Homestead, where Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell will be debating today live. The ballroom is full. The TV cameras are lined up. Follow to the jump for our live analysis as the event unfolds.

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Posted at 5:30 AM ET, 07/25/2009

Race Takes Shape

What had been a pretty sleepy campaign for governor woke up this week, with a number of important developments culminating in Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell's first debate this morning at the Homestead in rural Bath County.

The week saw some big endorsements--and non-endorsements. First, Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine's second biggest donor announced she was supporting Republican McDonnell. Deeds countered with the support of some moderate Republicans and the less surprising news that the Virginia Education Association is backing him. Good feeling from those nods was erased at week's end by news that former Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder said he remains neutral, White House pressure or no.

We also saw some major policy roll outs--a jobs plan from Deeds, a transportation plan from McDonnell.

All of this will be grist for what should be a vigorous engagement between the two candidates in front of the Virginia Bar Association. The event gives both candidates their first clear opportunity to fight for the title of the race's moderate, to compare and contrast their plans and to personally size one another up, four years after the two battled to the closest finish in Virginia history in the 2005 race for attorney general.

Stay tuned at this site for live coverage of the debate starting at 11 a.m., including live analysis as the debate unfolds and streaming video of the event.

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Posted at 1:33 PM ET, 07/24/2009

Wilder: Deeds Has Not Yet Asked

In an interview this afternoon, former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder expanded on earlier comments about his meeting this week with White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard, as well as his decision to rebuff the White House's request for him to get on board for Democrat Creigh Deeds.

Among other things, Wilder says Deeds hasn't really yet asked for his endorsement. He said the two last sat down in the fall, when Deeds specifically told him he had not come seeking support but merely to talk about the race. The two now have a meeting scheduled for August, but have not spoken since Deeds won the June 9 primary.

"Suppose the last thing you hear him say is 'I'm not asking for your support, I'm just coming to be here.' And then you don't hear anything else. How would you feel?" he said.

In contrast, Republican Bob McDonnell has come calling several times, Wilder said, including as recently as a few weeks ago. And he's asked outright for Wilder's support.

Wilder said he has a number of unresolved concerns that he would like to hear more about from Deeds. They include "financial stewardship" of the state, Deeds' gun control position and his position on abortion rights. Wilder said he disagreed with Gov. Tim Kaine's decision to save state money by closing highway rest stops and would have liked to hear Deeds forcefully part ways with his party's leader on the issue.

"The question is leadership. Where is your mantle of leadership?" Wilder said. "I have not seen it."

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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 07/24/2009

Wilder's Nod Remains Elusive

So what exactly was the White House thinking?

Sending a top envoy to pressure former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to endorse Creigh Deeds three full months before Election Day, in a week when it would look particularly badly for Deeds if news of such a meeting leaked and wasn't followed quickly by an endorsement?

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with Virginia politics and Wilder's role in them knows Wilder likes nothing more than withholding his nod, forcing months of personal wooing and press reports about his intentions. That's not to mention the fact that he has a history of tension with Deeds, whose candidacy for attorney general in 2005 Wilder declined to back because of the rural Democrat's strong support of gun rights.

And yet still there is news this morning, first reported by Politico, that the White House sent political director Patrick Gaspard to Richmond on Wednesday to meet with Wilder for two hours and encourage him to jump in.

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Posted at 5:30 AM ET, 07/24/2009

Deeds and McDonnell Prep for Saturday

With just a day left before their first debate, gubernatorial candidates R. Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell are huddled with aides practicing and prepping for battle.

It's not the first time the two men have clashed. They took part in a series of skirmishes in 2005 when the two were running for attorney general, so they have a pretty good idea of one another's temperament.

Helping them get ready--debate sparring partners. For the Deeds camp, David Hallock Jr., former deputy counsel to Gov. Mark Warner, is playing the part of McDonnell. Pretending to be a Republican should come easy to Hallock. He played Jerry Kilgore when Gov. Tim Kaine was prepping for debates in 2005 and then acted as Jim Gilmore for Warner when the two were running last year for the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, McDonnell's got several helpers. One person who has been serving as his Deeds: campaign chairman and former Republican National Committee chief Ed Gillespie.

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Posted at 7:10 PM ET, 07/23/2009

Deeds Pulls in the President

President Barack Obama will travel across the river on Aug. 6 for a fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial contender Creigh Deeds at the McLean Hilton, the Deeds campaign confirmed this evening.

Obama will also appear at some kind of public function that day, Deeds spokeman Jared Leopold said. Invitations for the fundraiser went out a couple of days ago.

"Creigh appreciated it when President Obama called him the day after the primary and we're looking forward to campaigning with him in Virginia," Leopold said.

Undoubtedly, the value of a picture of Deeds and Obama together in Virginia depends on who's talking -- and may change if Obama's popularity does between now and November.

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Posted at 10:31 AM ET, 07/23/2009

What Would You Ask at Governor's Race Debate?

Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell will meet for their first debate on Saturday morning. What's on the agenda? That's up to the Virginia Bar Association, which is hosting the meeting, as well as the men themselves. They'll have an opportunity to lob a few questions at one another.

We're curious in hearing McDonnell and Deeds engage directly about how to break the impasse on transportation funding. And these are lawyers doing the asking--we'd like to know how the candidates, lawyers themselves, propose to deal with a Supreme Court decision requiring live testimony in DUI and drug cases.

What would you like to hear answered? Let us know in the comments section.

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Posted at 1:56 PM ET, 07/22/2009

GOP Lawmakers Back Deeds

First Democrat Sheila Johnson endorses Republican Bob McDonnell for governor. Now, Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds had countered with some Republicans of his own.

Deeds announced today he has the backing of eight former senators and delegates, seven of them Republicans and one a former Republican who then ran for the House as an independent. Most are familiar names--Republicans who grew disenchanted with their party's leadership and had previously formed coalitions with Democrats, including former Gov. Mark Warner.

Two--former Sen. Brandon Bell (R-Roanoke) and former Sen. Marty Williams (R-Newport News)--have not before endorsed Democrats in statewide races. Read more about the endorsers and get a full list here.

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Posted at 1:57 PM ET, 07/21/2009

Debate Dance Part II

3, 4, 10...How many times should Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds debate?

The McDonnell camp has now put out its full statement on this morning's announcement by Deeds that he would be attending 10 forums and debates. McDonnell's side says the events include only four debates. He has renewed his call for 10 full scale debates.

"We hope the Deeds campaign will agree to a schedule of ten real debates available live to the public. We look forward to sitting down with them to put together this schedule," said McDonnell spokeswoman Crystal Cameron in a statement.

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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 07/21/2009

Debate Dance Goes On

Okay, so we know Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds will debate on Saturday at the Homestead, at an event sponsored by the Virginia Bar Association. Where and when and how else will they meet? The campaigns continue to spar.

The Deeds' camp today released a list of 10 forums and debates he will participate in and challenged McDonnell to appear as well. This comes after earlier this month McDonnell asked Deeds to participate in 10 events and then criticized him for not immediately agreeing.

This seems a pretty smart strategy by Deeds. He essentially takes up the McDonnell challenge but insists on choosing the times and places of their meetings. Which is exactly what Deeds' people had said they would do when they declined to immediately agree to the McDonnell request earlier this month.

Will McDonnell agree to appear at these events? We'll let you know. Details of the Deeds' events appear after the jump.

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Posted at 2:28 PM ET, 07/20/2009

Potty Politics

And you thought rest stops were just a convenient place to break up a long road trip, use the facilities and grab a Mr. Pibb from the vending machine.

Rest areas have become a hot political issue after VDOT announced that it will be shuttering 18 of the roadside respites, beginning tonight, as a cost-saving measure. The decision has provoked criticism from those who say Virginia's tourism industry will suffer (you know, all those pamphlets). More importantly, they say, it will rob the highways of some of a safe space for a drowsy driver to take a break before getting back on the road.

No fewer than three politicians have sent out alerts to the media today demanding that the rest area