Archive: Amy Gardner

Posted at 1:13 PM ET, 11/ 2/2009

Jim Moran Calls GOP the "Taliban Ticket"

Always good copy, U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) likened the Republican ticket in Virginia this year to Afghanistan's radical Taliban movement in comments broadcast Sunday by WAMU radio.

At a get-out-the-vote rally in Fairfax County, Moran said: "I mean, if the Republicans were running in Afghanistan, they'd be running on the Taliban ticket as far as I can see."

Moran was talking about Republicans Robert F. McDonnell for governor, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and state Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, who is running for attorney general. By some accounts, the three represent the most conservative Republican ticket to run in Virginia in many years. Moran's comments clearly were aimed to motivate Democratic voters to turn out on Tuesday and vote blue.

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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 10/30/2009

Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloween, politicos! And welcome to our first (and only?) All Hallows/Election Eve costume contest!

How are you dressing up for Halloween this year? Democrat R. Creigh Deeds drew a few yucks (and groans) by promising earlier today to come as himself -- unlike Republican Bob McDonnell, who is "masquerading" as a moderate.

Team McDonnell was prepared for some fright-night fun too, with this retort from spokesman Tucker Martin: "Halloween is spooky, but Creigh Deeds's plan to raise taxes is flat-out scary."

Actually, and bear with us here, Martin had more. McDonnell is dressing up as himself for Halloween, Martin said, but if he WERE going to go in costume, he'd dress up like the GEICO money stack with eyes -- "to represent how much money he will save Virginians by stopping Creigh Deeds from raising our taxes."

Oof...

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

Log Cabin Repubs praise McDonnell, slam Cuccinelli

Yesterday, the Log Cabin Republicans praised Republican Bob McDonnell for his "inclusive" statements promising never to discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation.

Today, the group of Republican gay activists slammed McDonnell's ticket-mate, Ken Cuccinelli, for the reverse. Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general, was quoted in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper declining to commit to the state's nondiscrimination policy against gays and lesbians.

"My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong," Cuccinelli told the newspaper. "They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that. . . They don't comport with natural law. I happen to think that it represents (to put it politely; I need my thesaurus to be polite) behavior that is not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society."

David Lampo, vice president of the Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia, put out the following statement today:

"That Mr. Cuccinelli would make such incendiary and prejudicial remarks as a candidate for the state's highest legal office is truly frightening, and we call on him to apologize for injecting his personal and hateful opinions into this race," said David Lampo, vice president of the Log Cabin Republican Club of Virginia. "The overwhelming majority of Virginia voters, 90 percent according to Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio, support a policy of employment nondiscrimination for state employees. We hope voters evaluate very carefully a candidate who intends to let his personal beliefs and prejudices guide his decision making as Attorney General."

"Cuccinelli's remarks stand in stark contrast to the inclusive statements of Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for Governor," Lampo continued, "Mr. McDonnell has rightfully said the government should not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and so we call on Republican leaders and candidates throughout Virginia to repudiate Cuccinelli's hateful remarks and stand with Bob McDonnell on this important issue."

Cuccinelli's opponent, Democrat Steve Shannon, also criticized Cuccinelli for his remarks. Shannon sent a letter to McDonnell urging him to denounce Cuccinelli's remarks, and McDonnell did -- sort of, while also taking a swipe at Shannon for focusing on the issue at all.

"Bob McDonnell's record and position is clear: he does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and he hires and promotes based solely on merit and ability," spokesman Tucker Martin said. "That was his policy as attorney general, and will be his policy as governor. There are only six days left in this critically important race. Bob will spend that time continuing to advance innovative ideas to create new jobs, improve our schools, fix our roads and turn Virginia's economy around. Steve Shannon, as a candidate for statewide office in these tough times, should think about doing the same thing."

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Posted at 3:21 PM ET, 10/23/2009

Pssst! McDonnell stumps in ... Arlington

Republican Robert F. McDonnell continued his "New Jobs, New Virginia" tour with a stop at a flower shop in the Cherrydale area of Arlington -- but don't tell the neighborhood!

Owner John Nicholson hosted the event this afternoon at the request of the National Federation of Independent Business, which is supporting McDonnell. Nicholson is a past chairman of the Virginia NFIB's Leadership Council.

"My wife said, 'Are you sure you want to do this? Our customers might picket us,'" Nicholson said with a laugh, making a reference to Arlington's overwhelmingly Democratic electorate.

Nicholson went through with the event anyway, giving McDonnell a short tour of his flower shop, Company Flowers, and talking about what he views as the bigger challenges facing small business today -- the Business and Professional Licensing tax and the high cost of health insurance, among others.

Surrounded by greeting cards and Halloween decorations and the heavy scent of roses, Nicholson said, "It's nice to see somebody who really understands business."

But then he added, "I disagree with you on widening I-66," prompting a grin from McDonnell and this response: "I know Arlington's had some objections to that. We have to find a way to improve it. How about if we double-stack it?"

In case anyone doubted it, there are Republicans in Arlington -- and Sally Linderman is one of them. Out to support McDonnell at his flower shop appearance, Linderman said she's been looking forward to his gubernatorial campaign for two years.

"He looks the part, he speaks the part, he carries the whole aura of the governor of Virginia," she said. "And we need a change."

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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 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 5:37 PM ET, 10/22/2009

McDonnell airs new ad: 'Jobs'

Republican gubernatorial contender Robert F. McDonnell debuted a new ad titled "Jobs" to coincide with his four-city "New Jobs, New Virginia" tour, which was in Culpeper today and comes to Arlington on Friday.

Here's the ad's script:

"Creigh Deeds job-killing policies: A billion dollars in new taxes. A new energy tax that would kill up to 56,000 jobs. Deeds pushed a billion dollars in new spending. Creigh Deeds, higher taxes, job-killing policies"

"Bob McDonnell: a jobs governor. Job-creating policies endorsed by Virginia businesses.
Bob McDonnell, no to higher taxes and wasteful spending. Yes to innovative policies to create jobs. Bob McDonnell: a jobs governor."

And view 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 3:08 PM ET, 10/12/2009

Cuccinelli Airs New Ad; Shannon, Kaine Protest

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for attorney general, has a new advertisement running across Virginia accusing his Democratic opponent, Steve Shannon, of not helping fix state law to address a Supreme Court decision that could have jeopardized thousands of DUI and drug convictions in Virginia.

The ad is so objectionable to Shannon and other Democrats that he and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine held a conference call with reporters to offer their version of events.

View the ad here:

At issue is a recent Supreme Court ruling in the Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts case that says live testimony is needed to introduce scientific reports in criminal trials. After the ruling, Cuccinelli was the first lawmaker in Virginia to publicly ask Kaine to call a legislative session to address the issue.

Both Shannon and Kaine were among those who sought to fix the issue administratively, without legislative intervention. Shannon went so far as to call Cuccinelli's open letter a "political stunt;" he also expressed concerns about the cost of a legislative session.

Today, Kaine said he and his staff had numerous conversations with Shannon, a former prosecutor, on how to address the Melendez-Diaz case. Cuccinelli's implication that Shannon did nothing is "frankly something that either he or somebody on his team just made up," the governor said.

"Everyone agreed that the preferable way to fix this was to try to fix it administratively," Kaine said. "We concluded that there were many items we could fix administratively and we moved to do that, but there were some items that required legislative action and we did that. We didn't wait. We weren't asleep at the switch. We acted to fix this more quickly than anybody else."

Here's the text of Cuccinelli's ad.

Narrator: It's a study in contrasts and judgment. Ken Cuccinelli earning praise for forcing a change in the law to protect the public. Steve Shannon called it a political stunt, offered no solutions, while DUI and felony drug cases were being thrown out of court. Shannon put politics before public safety. The Fraternal Order of Police said "No" to Steve Shannon. They endorsed Ken Cuccinelli for attorney general.

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Posted at 9:33 PM ET, 10/ 7/2009

Cuccinelli and Shannon Go At It -- Again

It wasn't a James Brown concert but it sorta felt like one when supporters of state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for Virginia attorney general, filed into tonight's candidate debate in Prince William County draped in yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags.

Again proving that Cuccinelli-Shannon is the most dramatic down-ballot matchup of 2009, the two candidates were not shy about attacking one another on a range of issues.

Cuccinelli criticized Shannon for not supporting a special session last summer to address a Supreme Court decision that could have caused thousands of drunk-driving cases to be thrown out. Shannon criticized Cuccinelli for not demanding the resignation of Republican Del. Phil Hamilton, the embattled Newport News Republican who is under investigation for accepting a part-time job from Old Dominion University while securing the school a $500,000 state appropriation.

Cuccinelli criticized Shannon for having a "100 percent" pro-union voting record and for accepting money and endorsements from labor organizations. Shannon reminded the audience that he, and not Cuccinelli, has gotten the majority of pro-business endorsements this year.

Shannon: "All things being equal, Republicans should be getting the business endorsements, but Ken's not getting very many."

Cuccinelli: "He can have the pro-tax endorsements. I'll take the small-business owners who want government off their backs and out of their way."

They talked about guns, immigration and taxes. And they talked about whether Cuccinelli, an unabashed conservative who calls himself a strict constructionist when it comes to the constitution, plans to enforce state laws that he doesn't agree with. Shannon said he doesn't. Cuccinelli said he does.

The best moment was probably when Cuccinelli asked Shannon to name all the divisions in the attorney general's office. Shannon said he'd get to that in a second but first wanted to address Cuccinelli's previous remarks about a state tax increase in 2004.

Cuccinelli leaped to his feet, turned to moderator Scott Thuman of WJLA-TV, and said:
"Mr. Moderator, in court I'd object to a witness not answering the question."

Oh well, it wasn't court. Shannon didn't answer the question.

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Posted at 3:01 PM ET, 10/ 7/2009

House Call: And in Virginia Beach ...

Hello politicos! And welcome to another installation of House Call. We haven't spent much time outside of Gotham this election season (that would be Northern Virginia), but today we're going to travel to the other urban powerhouse of Virginia electoral politics -- Hampton Roads.

Two House races in particular are shaping up to be quite competitive this year. Both seats are in Virginia Beach, and both are currently held by first-term Democrats. One is R.W. "Bobby" Mathieson of the 21st District, a longtime Virginia Beach city police officer who unseated Republican John J. Welch III in 2007. Mathieson faces Virginia Beach City Council member Ron A. Villanueva.

The other Democratic incumbent fighting for survival at the Beach is Joe F. Bouchard of the 83rd District, a former Naval commander who is in a rematch against Republican Chris P. Stolle, an obstetrician and brother of soon-to-retire state Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle. Bouchard beat Chris Stolle in 2007 in an open-seat contest to replace Republican Leo C. Wardrup Jr., who retired.

So here's what's interesting about these races.

1) Bouchard won by a hair two years ago, beating Stolle by just 131 votes. Mathieson won more handily, with 57 percent of the vote. But both Democrats had the political winds at their back at a time when then-President Bush's approval ratings were very low and anger over the Iraq war was high. This year, the winds have shifted and the historical Republican-leaning nature of these districts gives the challengers a lift.

2) Bouchard carried a financial advantage over Stolle as of Aug. 31; he had $68,000 on hand compared to Stolle's $26,000. But since then, Stolle has received more than $230,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. Mathieson had $86,000 in the bank at the end of August; Villanueva had $15,000.

3) First-term incumbents are always vulnerable. They don't have much record, they don't have much name recognition, yet they must fight the negative imagery often associated with incumbency.

4) Virginia Beach is Robert F. McDonnell's hometown, the community he represented in the House of Delegates for 14 years. It's also the city that has elected Ken Stolle to the state Senate since 1991; Ken Stolle is on the ballot this year to become the city's next sheriff. Both those names give down-ballot Republicans a coat-tailing advantage.

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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 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 11:00 AM ET, 10/ 2/2009

Cuccinelli and Shannon Go At It

A contender for Best Debate of the Year wrapped up on WTOP radio, where Mark Plotkin moments ago finished moderating a slugfest between Republican state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli and Democratic state Del. Steve Shannon, the two candidates for Virginia attorney general.

Cuccinelli came out of the starting blocks by hammering Shannon during his opening remarks for agreeing to only two debates. Ahem ... one wonders how much this matters to listeners, but we're grateful for the feisty and entertaining tone that the Republican's opening remarks set.

Shannon went after Cuccinelli for his "strict constructionist" philosophy of interpreting the Constitution and suggested that Cuccinelli would not uphold laws pertaining to abortion rights because he doesn't believe that Roe v. Wade is constitutional. Cuccinelli said that while it's true he would not defend unconstitutional laws, it wouldn't apply in cases where courts have already weighed in. Cuccinelli continued:

"You mean you would defend an unconstitutional law?" he asked. "...If a law isn't constitutional, your job isn't to violate what you believe is constitutional after a thorough review of the subject."

Host Mark Plotkin didn't have to do very much to keep the conversation going; at one point Plotkin said: "This has been such a precedent shattering event where the candidates say enough ugly things about each other that I don't even have to question them!"

Other points of interest:

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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 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 1:35 PM ET, 09/28/2009

UPDATE -- Everyone Owns Bob McDonnell

Have you noticed how many local ties Republican Bob McDonnell has across Virginia? Fairfax's Own! Virginia Beach's Own! As McDonnell has said again and again: "I'm basically your local candidate all over the state. It doesn't matter where you live."

We wrote about this topic a while back, but those yard signs keep popping up showing McDonnell's personal ties to [community name here], so the time has come for a proper photo gallery.

McDonnell_HamptonRoads.jpg

We're also launching a contest to name the next generation of signs. Certainly "Henrico's Own" is in the offing, as that's where McDonnell lives now. And "Richmond's Own", where he's worked for the past four years. How about "Third Crossing's Own?" or "Notre Dame's Own?" What other slogans can you think of?

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin was happy to speak seriously about his candidate's ties to different parts of the state.

"Bob has deep and personal connections to both Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, two dynamic and growing regions of our state," Martin wrote in an email a few moments ago. "He was raised in Northern Virginia. And he raised his family in Hampton Roads, and represented Virginia Beach in the House of Delegates for 14 years. We want all Virginia voters to know about his connections to these two regions. They provide Bob with the kind of broad understanding of Virginia that is of great benefit to someone seeking to serve as governor of all of Virginia."

Keep the slogans coming as well as the pictures -- we'll gladly expand the photo gallery with your images and ideas. And don't forget -- we jabbed Democrat Creigh Deeds last week for an interesting placement of a "Deeds Country" sign in the middle of Great Falls mansion-land.

UPDATE: Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold wins the prize for the first contest entry: "It doesn't matter where in Virginia you're from, taking $5.4 billion from our schools is bad for every community. We're looking forward to seeing that on a sign."

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Posted at 6:43 AM ET, 09/28/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Monday, Sept. 28, 2009

Busy, busy, busy! Our statewide candidates scurried around over the weekend, and many of us scurried after them. Republican Bob McDonnell endured a tough interview with Chris Wallace on FOX News Sunday, during which Wallace asked pointed questions about his transportation plan, his support of the Governor's Opportunity Fund and, yes, his thesis. With friends like these...

FOX News invited Democrat Creigh Deeds, but he declined to appear with McDonnell, Wallace said. Instead, Deeds toured Southwest Virginia and appeared before a group of Arab-Americans in Vienna Sunday night, with former Republican Tom Davis serving as McDonnell's proxy. And his campaign has begun holding those book clubs we told you about last week, including this one in Roanoke with the mother of Mayor David Bowers.

Today, McDonnell will appear with U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes in Suffolk (a roundtable on modeling and simulation!); he will also make a policy roll-out with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling in a telephone conference call. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general, will hold a press conference in Richmond this morning. We'll keep you informed as events unfold. Deeds is in Northern Virginia today but not for anything public.

In the news over the weekend:

Much as Democratic House candidates are pressing their opponents to take a stand on McDonnell's thesis, the battle between Deeds and McDonnell over taxes has spilled over into a number of House races. Republicans are demanding their Democratic opponents to state whether they agree with Deeds's willingness to sign a tax increase to fund transportation improvements.

The Washington Examiner took a look at how the two campaigns are fighting for Virginia's black vote. And the Washington Times scrutinized Deeds's efforts to fight back against Republican accusations that he's just another tax-and-spend liberal.

McDonnell's wife Maureen took to the hustings on Saturday to defend her husband's graduate school thesis, saying that women are "too smart" to fall for Deeds's efforts to paint the Republican as too conservative for Virginia.

Here's an interesting look at how both campaigns are using social media to win votes.

And finally, we'll leave you with your daily dose of woe regarding the Virginia Information Technologies Agency; this time, it's a look by the Richmond Times-Dispatch on whether views on privatization are shifting as a result of the failures of the state's largest contract in history.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 09/25/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Sept. 25, 2009

Happy Friday, Virginia politicos! Only 39 days to go, but who's counting?

The big news Thursday was the long-awaited answer to this question: WWWD (What Will Wilder Do?) Nothing, it turns out; after many weeks of playing footsie with Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell, former governor Doug Wilder decided he will endorse no one in the race. It's a blow for Deeds, particularly because of the energy that both Deeds and President Obama have given to courting Wilder, who was the first elected African-American governor in the nation. The news even made The New York Times, thanks in part to the intervention of the president. Bearing Drift provides some analysis from a former state Democratic Party chair, who finds Wilder's statement more troubling than his nonendorsement.

Whether it will affect how black voters cast their ballots Nov. 3 and in what numbers they turn out are separate questions. McDonnell is taking advantage of the news with a campaign swing today featuring Sheila Johnson, a Democrat and perhaps the most prominent African-American businesswoman who has endorsed the Republican this year.

McDonnell also will continue his endorsement momentum with an announcement this morning from a "major Hampton Roads organization." The event will take place at Kitco Fiber Optics in Virginia Beach. It's been a good week for McDonnell with the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police endorsing the Republican.

Deeds, meanwhile, begins his day in Roanoke and then swings east across Southside Virginia, through Martinsville, Danville, Halifax and South Boston, for a series of meet-and-greets with voters.

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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 1:20 PM ET, 09/24/2009

New Ad From Bolling

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) debuted his second television ad of the campaign this week, making use of the ample financial advantage over Democratic challenger Jody Wagner he reported in recent fundraising disclosure forms.

In the ad, titled "Plan," Bolling promises to act as the state's first "jobs creation officer," to "continue" creating incentives to attract jobs to Virginia, to "root out" wasteful government spending and to oppose "job-killing" tax increases.

"These are challenging times," Bolling says. "We have to do more to create jobs and help families."

In Bolling's first ad, "Lessons," the lieutenant governor took credit for writing legislation extending health care to lower-income children, and he promised to increase teacher pay and send more money to classrooms (without raising taxes). "Lessons" has been on the air for two weeks, but the campaign boosted the ad's airtime on Tuesday, so now it is airing everywhere (except pricey Northern Virginia, where it appears on cable only).

According to the Virginia Public Access report, Bolling had $1.3 milllion in the bank on Aug. 30, compared to Wagner's $600,000.

Watch "Plan" below, and "Lessons" below that:

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Posted at 4:45 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Shannon On the Air

Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, debuted two television ads this week describing his plans to be tough on sexual predators if he's elected attorney general.

According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Shannon holds a more than two-to-one financial advantage over his opponent, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, with $1.6 million in the bank compared to Cuccinelli's $752,000. Shannon has decided to start spending it with a television ad buy in Hampton Roads, Richmond, Roanoke and the Abingdon/Bristol market, as well as a cable buy in Northern Virginia.

In the new ads, Shannon touts his background as a prosecutor and his role creating Virginia's AMBER Alert system. He promises to be tough on sexual predators, Internet criminals and gang leaders who recruit children. We all know that the attorney general's office is mostly about providing legal advice to state government and defending state laws in court. But according to the Shannon campaign, Internet crimes are one area where state code gives the attorney general authority to play a role in prosecutions.

Here are the ads, with the scripts below.

Script: When a child is abducted, the first few hours are the most important. It's why Steve Shannon and his wife brought the AMBER Alert to Virginia, to make every minute count. As a prosecutor Steve Shannon sent sexual predators, drunk drivers and child molesters to prison. As Attorney General, Steve Shannon will target internet predators and gang leaders that recruit children. As Attorney General, Steve Shannon will focus on keeping families safe.

Script: If you're trafficking in child pornography you should listen to what I am saying. We know who you are. Law enforcement has tracked child pornography to 19,357 specific computers across Virginia. I am Steve Shannon and when I am Attorney General we will use that information to track down exactly where you are. We will find you, and we will find those children and bring them to safety. Steve Shannon for Attorney General- A Prosecutor to Protect our Families.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/23/2009

House Call: Slicin' and Dicin' the Sept. 15 Reports

Hello, politicos! Welcome to this week's installment of House Call, in which we take a quick look at the state of money in various House races.

Last week, we talked of three incumbent Democrats in Northern Virginia being targeted by Republicans. This week, we know that two of these Democrats still squarely hold the financial advantage.

The conventional wisdom this fall is that, as a result of the economic downturn and concern about a variety of federal issues such as health care reform, Republicans have an opportunity even in Northern Virginia this year to pick up seats in the House of Delegates. The latest reports, however, show that it's always hard to overcome the financial advantage of being an incumbent.

And what does this mean for you and me? Mail. Lots of it.

Democrat Chuck Caputo in the 67th District in western Fairfax and eastern Loudoun wrapped up summer with $104,000 on hand after raising $44,000 in July and August, according to the always fabulous Virginia Public Access Project. Caputo's opponent, Republican Jim LeMunyon, reported $51,000 on hand. LeMunyon raised $40,000 in July and August, but more than half was a personal loan from himself.

Take a short hop west to the 32nd District in Ashburn and Sterling, and Democrat David Poisson reports $110,000 on hand on Aug. 31, after raising $44,000 in July and August. Poisson's opponent, Tag Greason, reports $36,000 on hand after raising $39,000.

Only in the meandering 34th District in McLean and Great Falls is the Democrat losing the money wars. Democrat Margi Vanderhye closed the summer with $133,000 on hand after raising $55,000. Vanderhye's Republican opponent, Barbara Comstock, a seasoned Washington operative with lots of fundraising contacts, had $158,000 in the bank after raising $60,000 in July and August.

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Posted at 6:44 AM ET, 09/23/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009

Good morning, Virginians! Here's what's happening in the political universe today.

Republican Robert F. McDonnell and Democrat R. Creigh Deeds campaigned in the same room at different times twice on Tuesday, first before a group of IT workers in Williamsburg and later at Virginia Union University in Richmond. In Williamsburg, McDonnell levied tough criticism at the beleaguered Virginia Information Technologies Agency, and in Richmond, both candidates pointedly courted the black voters in the room.

Deeds published an op-ed piece in today's Washington Post titled "My Transportation Plan," in which he states perhaps in his most direct manner yet his willingness to raise taxes to pay for road improvements across Virginia. ("I'll sign a bipartisan bill with a dedicated funding mechanism for transportation -- even if it includes new taxes.")

It's the day of columns, apparently; Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling penned a piece for Bob Holsworth's blog Virginia Tomorrow; in it, Bolling promoted the "McDonnell/Bolling Education Funding Plan," which promises to secure a half-billion dollars for K-12 teachers and students without raising taxes.

It's probably not a plan that U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner and former state senator John H. Chichester think very highly of. Both men spoke to reporters by telephone Tuesday to criticize McDonnell's opposition to the 2004 tax increases, which they said were essential to protect K-12, higher ed and a host of other core state services.

Republicans, meanwhile, continued to hammer Deeds on the taxes issue. Expect more of that.

And the Doug Wilder Watch continues, with news expected today or Thursday from the former governor regarding an endorsement in the governor's race. Wilder met with Deeds on Tuesday, and subsequently took a phone call from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine. Finally, Wilder reported, Deeds actually asked for Wilder's support.

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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 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 6:30 AM ET, 09/21/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Happy Monday, Virginia politicos! Oh, and Happy Last Day of Summer. Only 43 days to go until Election Day -- and, yes, we're counting.

It was a relatively quiet post-Labor Day weekend for our gubernatorial contenders, with Democrat Creigh Deeds sweeping through central Virginia and Republican Bob McDonnell campaigning Sunday at the Redskins season opener in Landover. McDonnell's wife, Maureen, relived her days as a Redskinette by hitting Fedex Field for a cheerleader reunion and a little dancing to Michael Jackson.

The big news was yet another poll (our own this time) showing that Deeds has narrowed McDonnell's summertime lead, due largely to gains among independent women in Northern Virginia.

The poll indicates significant effects of the publication of McDonnell's controversial graduate school thesis, but it also shows that the Republican remains for many voters the better choice to contend with the economy, transportation, taxes and the state budget. In other words, fasten your seat belt and turn off your TiVo, if you want to watch where this race is really going to play out over the next six weeks: on the airwaves.

In addition to the poll, The Post conducted a couple of focus groups of women voters with some interesting results.

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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 11:05 AM ET, 09/20/2009

Scary Music Award: Cuccinelli

State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general from Fairfax County, wins the Scary Music Award this week for a new Web ad he is circulating linking his Democratic opponent, Steve Shannon, to ACORN, the troubled liberal political action group.

In the ad, Cuccinelli slams Shannon for remaining silent about ACORN'S substantial troubles (including the embezzlement of nearly $1 million by a top officer as well as a video capturing two people posing as a prostitute and pimp receive counseling from ACORN workers that could help them evade federal tax laws).

The ad also hits Shannon for receiving money from the powerful Service Employees International Union, which also has given money to ACORN.

"SEIU, ACORN, Steve Shannon: A trio Virginia can't afford to put in power," the narrator says.

Shannon's campaign manager, Mike Henry, quickly put out an email to supporters making fun of Cuccinelli's ad and comparing it to a Saturday Night Live parody of political attack ads.

Is the Cuccinelli ad a stretch? You be the judge. View the ad here:


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Posted at 2:25 PM ET, 09/17/2009

McDonnell Airs Transportation Ad

Republican Robert F. McDonnell began airing a TV ad in Northern Virginia today contrasting his transportation plan with that of his Democratic opponent, R. Creigh Deeds. Or, more accurately, taking credit for having a transportation plan at all.

Here's the ad script, helpfully furnished by the McDonnell campaign: "The Washington Post says Creigh Deeds has not even bothered to formulate much of a transportation plan. On road funding Deeds' approach is as politically expedient as it is irresponsible. Deeds' 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."

Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold responded that the ad conveniently leaves out details from those same editorials, which also criticized some of McDonnell's proposals.

"The two editorials that he cited both attacked his plan as not having solutions and being unrealistic," Leopold said.

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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 11:55 AM ET, 09/17/2009

Fact Check: Working Women

Here's the thesis again. Creigh Deeds just went after Bob McDonnell for not supporting working women, and Bob McDonnell reacted pretty powerfully.

"I'm offended," McDonnell said, that Deeds would say he doesn't support working women when his wife and daughters, including a daughter who served as a platoon leader in Iraq, were sitting in the front row here at the Capital One center. Men and women, McDonnell said, should be judged on merit, on their character and "on their love for Virginia."

In his graduate thesis 20 years ago, he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. McDonnell also voted against a resolution in the House of Delegates in support of equal pay for women.

McDonnell said in response to inquires about the thesis: "Like everybody, my views on many issues have changed as I have gotten older." He said that his views on family policy were best represented by his 1995 welfare reform legislation, and that he "worked to include child day care in the bill so women would have greater freedom to work." What he wrote in the thesis on women in the workplace, he said, "was simply an academic exercise and clearly does not reflect my views."

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Posted at 11:35 AM ET, 09/17/2009

Fact Check: I'm Not Going To Raise Taxes

That's what Creigh Deeds just said when asked point-blank by David Gregory. But then he said he wants to find new sources of revenue for transportation.

How do you find new revenue without raising taxes? Deeds also has said in the past that he is open to new taxes, so today's remark sounds like a departure.

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Posted at 11:32 AM ET, 09/17/2009

Fact Check: Cap-and-Trade

This has become a common accusation from Bob McDonnell: That Creigh Deeds supports cap-and-trade. McDonnell uses as an example the fact that a larger employer and Deeds's back yard in western Virginia, paper manufacturer MeadWestvaco, supports him and not Deeds.

Deeds never has said he supports the bill in Congress now. Today, Deeds said it more clearly than he's done before: "I don't support the bill." He supports "long-term" efforts to thwart climate change, but he won't support any bill that has the effect of increasing fuel prices during a recession.

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Posted at 11:19 AM ET, 09/17/2009

Fact Check: Contraception for Married Couples

Well it didn't take long for the thesis to come up. By way of contrast to what Bob McDonnell wrote in his controversial graduate school thesis in 1989, Creigh Deeds just said that he didn't say, at age 34, that the state should get involved in regulating contraception for married couples.

But neither did McDonnell.

McDonnell did say that the Supreme Court was "radical" and "illogical" when it ruled that the government cannot intrude into married relationships -- and, later, unmarried relationships -- by barring access to contraception.

He also says now that he does not support banning contraception.

Here's a look at McDonnell's legislative record:

As a state lawmaker from Virginia Beach from 1992 to 2006, McDonnell voted for a bill to give pharmacists a "conscience clause" allowing them to not fill prescriptions. He also voted for a bill barring the morning-after pill from public college health clinics and against a bill that would have declared the morning-after pill and anything like it to be contraception.

We're not aware of any legislation to keep contraception away from married couples.

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Posted at 11:03 AM ET, 09/17/2009

Fact Check: Governor's Opportunity Fund

Good morning from Tysons Corner, folks! In his opening remarks, State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds just brought up one of our favorite topics, the Governor's Opportunity Fund, charging that his opponent, Republican Robert F. McDonnell, has voted against putting money into what most folks call the state's "deal-closing" kitty to bring businesses and jobs to Virginia.

Here are some of the facts.

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.

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Posted at 3:48 PM ET, 09/16/2009

Kaine To Announce New Corporate HQ in Tysons

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) is expected to announce next week the relocation of Science Applications International Corp.'s corporate headquarters from San Diego to Tysons Corner, several sources said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations, several government and business leaders said the move would bring more than 1,000 high-paying jobs to SAIC's existing Tysons operations.

In an interview today, Kaine would say only that he will make a major economic announcement next week.

SAIC, one of the region's largest federal contractors, employs 45,000 around the world, including roughly 16,000 in the Washington region. In Tysons, SAIC occupies a building on Leesburg Pike in front of a future Metro station on the Silver Line, which is under construction from Arlington to Dulles International Airport.

With the addition of so many new employees in Tysons, SAIC could become a cornerstone of planned redevelopment there.

An SAIC spokeswoman did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/15/2009

House Call: A Reverse Trend in Northern Virginia? (Updated)

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

Welcome, race fans! And sorry for the House Call hiatus. Things happen.

This week, let's take a quick look at three seats held by Democrats in Northern Virginia that are attracting more and more attention as Nov. 3 gets close. We've told you that Republican lawmakers Dave Albo and Tom Rust are vulnerable. For about six years we've told you: They're always vulnerable to the inexorable march of the Democrats trampling across Northern Virginia.

But the story line has shifted this year, yes? The march is not so inexorable? President Obama's approval ratings have sagged. The economy has tanked. Angst is growing about health-care reform and government spending. Suddenly, folks are talking about Northern Virginia Democrats who might be in trouble this year. Chuck Caputo, David Poisson and Margi Vanderhye: This one's for you.

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Posted at 7:32 PM ET, 09/14/2009

Rove, Romney helping out Comstock in Mclean

Republican Barbara J. Comstock, who is challenging state Del. Margi Vanderhye in the McLean-based 34th House District, will hold a fundraiser Tuesday headlined by Karl Rove.

And Comstock will appear with former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Sunday at a fundraiser in the home of former solicitor general Ted Olson and his wife, Lady Booth Olson.

Comstock comes by her big-name contacts naturally: She is the former director of public affairs for the Department of Justice; the former chief counsel for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and a former senior aide to U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.). She is a founding partner of Corallo Comstock, a lobbying and public relations firm.

Comstock's Washington connections have served her campaign purse well. At the end of June, Comstock had outraised first-term delegate Vanderhye, with $167,000 in the bank, putting the 34th District on the map as one to watch in Northern Virginia. Check back with us Tuesday to see if the latest reports show more of the same.

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Posted at 4:01 PM ET, 09/10/2009

Freshmen Virginia Democrats Safe?

Well, one of them is. Or two. But probably not all three. So says the University of Virginia's Larry Sabato in the latest edition of his Crystal Ball report, also known as The Web's Most Accurate Political Analysis.

Sabato's report is titled "Red Dawn: GOP Revival For 2010 House?" and projects that Republicans will pick up between 20 and 30 seats in next year's midterm elections. However, only one of the three seats Democrats picked up in Virginia last year is likely to be among them, Sabato predicts.

"While this is nothing to sneeze at, especially given that it would be the largest gain for congressional Republicans since 1994, it still puts them short of the 40 seat pick-up they need to take back the House," Sabato writes.

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly of Fairfax County, who won an open seat vacated by Republican Tom Davis, is a "likely" winner next year, Sabato says. Rep. Glenn Nye of Virginia Beach, who unseated Republican Thelma Drake, "leans" toward prevailing. And Tom Perriello, the Democrat who narrowly upset Virgil Goode in Virginia's 5th Congressional District, is a "toss-up," the Crystal Ball says.

VA-05 "was the closest race in the country in 2008 and has a chance to repeat that distinction this cycle," the Crystal Ball says. "The district is a conservative one, with the notable exception of liberal, college town Charlottesville. The natural inclination of its voters is to back a Republican, but Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello has spent his August recess combating that urge, holding the most town hall meetings (21) of any congressman in the county. It is that type of effort that he, and the other members on this list, will have to undertake to hold their seats in 2010."

In sum: "Seventy Democratic-held seats are competitive, while only 34 Republican seats are as endangered. Bear in mind that races will be added to our competitive categories as new candidates jump in and incumbents jump out of each race over the next few months. Politics, like life, is full of changes and nobody can now predict what tomorrow will bring."

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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Democrats Opposed Askew, Too

The Republican Party of Virginia, Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell and state Sen. Ken Stolle want you to know something about the controversial reappointment hearing in 2003 of Newport News Circuit Judge Verbena M. Askew: Two prominent Fairfax County Democrats, Janet Howell and now-Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, also voted to deny Askew a second term.

The Post published a story this morning about McDonnell's role in the episode.

Askew was voted off the bench after an emotional, seven-hour hearing during which she and other witnesses were questioned extensively about her judicial conduct and also the fact that she had been the subject of a sexual harassment claim by a female colleague. Askew denied the claim, but the city of Hampton, where Askew operated a drug court and which was also named in the claim, settled with the accuser for $64,000.

Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), who led the hearing as chairman of the Senate Courts of Justice committee, said Saslaw's and Howell's votes with the majority are a crucial detail left out of the story this morning. He said the fact of their votes dispels the idea that the committee proceeding was about Askew's alleged sexual orientation -- something he and other senators denied vigorously at the time, as well.

Saslaw and Howell both said at the time that the hearing was as fair as it could be. McDonnell, too, was credited with making sure that witnesses testifying on behalf of Askew were allowed to speak.

However, McDonnell's role in the episode -- and the focus of this morning's story -- stretched beyond the hearing itself when he spoke individually to a reporter about the relevance of homosexual behavior to qualifying to be a judge.

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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 7:39 PM ET, 08/31/2009

McDonnell Fights Back On Google

Search "McDonnell" and "thesis" on Google, and you'll get a list of stories about the controversy surrounding Republican Bob McDonnell's 1989 master's thesis.

But check out the right-hand column of paid advertisements. You'll also see a sponsored link to "Women For McDonnell." Coincidence? Not on your life. McDonnell is pushing against the controversy on many fronts, and one of them, clearly, is the Internet.

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 08/28/2009

First Click - Virginia

Friday, Aug. 28, 2009

Happy Friday!

The campaigns are firing more ads into the sky -- as sure a sign as any that Labor Day is approaching. Here's the latest ad from Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, with a tough smack on Republican Robert F. McDonnell linking him to the economic policies of former President George W. Bush.

Deeds has a busy day planned: He'll start in Staunton this morning with an event with small business owners, head to Waynesboro for a campaign office opening, swing through Clifton Forge for a quick visit with diners at a local restaurant, speak to the annual dinner of the Virginia Loggers Association in Lexington and then head to Covington for the big game of the day: Alleghany High vs. Covington High. The best part of the schedule appears to be how close it will deposit Deeds to his home in Bath County once this long day is done.

McDonnell has a lighter load today. He will be in private meetings most of the day, will hit a luncheon barbecue in Disputanta, outside Petersburg, and and then he will attend a GOP dinner in Richmond.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) took a shot at McDonnell's plan to privatize the state's liquor stores to pay for transportation. Kaine said on a Richmond radio program yesterday that liquor consumption would rise as private stores marketed booze.

And Deeds told the Associated Press's Bob Lewis that the embattled Virginia Information Technologies Agency would be the first to face a performance review if he is elected.

In other news, House Speaker William J. Howell, (R-Stafford), yesterday called for more exploration of oil and gas off the coast of Virginia.

The intensity of the headlines regarding Newport News Republican Del. Phil Hamilton's ethics controversy appears to have ebbed. But here's one interesting tidbit from the Daily Press: Hamilton's name has been scrubbed from the state GOP's list of candidates. Ouch.

The liberal group Americans United for Change launched ad campaigns against Virginia Republican congressmen Frank R. Wolf and Eric I. Cantor, hitting them for their votes against the federal climate bill.

The indefatigable Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) held his 18th town hall on health care this week, possibly more than any other congressman in the country.

U.S. Sen. James Webb (D) says health care reform should slow down.

And Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) has begun of the work of trimming $1.5 billion out of the 2010 state budget.

That's all, folks. Have a great weekend!

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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 08/27/2009

First Click - Virginia

Good morning, folks!

The gubernatorial candidates are quiet today, but their campaigns and supporting casts -- not so much. Two weeks before Labor Day, the ad wars have officially begun. Here's one from Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, and here's news from the Republican Governors Association.

Deeds has one appearance tonight: a visit with supporters in Staunton at the Mill Street Grill restaurant. Republican Robert F. McDonnell has no public gigs today.

McDonnell picked up another endorsement yesterday, this one from the Virginia chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

And the Associated Press's Bob Lewis reports that McDonnell has pledged to take a pay cut if elected governor.

Sen. Jim Webb visited Norfolk yesterday for a private talk with business leaders and a visit to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, but he's yet to venture out to talk to voters about health care reform. And Rep. Tom Perriello (D) said he would support a plan with no public option.

Here's an interesting video posted on YouTube by someone called leftofthehill and taken outside Tuesday's health care town hall in Reston with Rep. Jim Moran and former DNC chairman Howard Dean. Nothing like a little political theater from Randall Terry to liven things up a bit.

Finally, former senator John Warner reminisced yesterday about his early clashes - and later friendship - with the late Ted Kennedy.

That's all for today, folks. Happy Thursday!

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Posted at 7:19 AM ET, 08/26/2009

First Click - Virginia

Greetings, fellow travelers!

So have you heard the news about Phil Hamilton? Kidding. It is the dog days of summer, after all, so unfortunately for Hamilton and the GOP, this story is not going away if the Democrats can help it. Virtually every major newspaper and television station in the state has covered, over the past 24 hours, Hamilton's ethics controversy, the growing chorus of Republicans and Democrats calling for his resignation, his refusal to comply, and the secret ethics investigation that is about to start.

Here's an interesting look at Speaker William J. Howell's decision to ask for the probe. One question I've not seen answered: Even if Hamilton wins, does he keep his leadership post on the House Appropriations Committee? And if not, what value is he then to the voters of Newport News?

But enough about that. In gubernatorial news, Republican Robert F. McDonnell takes a break from his statewide RV tour to accept an endorsement in Richmond from a "major Virginia business association." Deeds's public appearances are done for the day; he did two radio interviews this morning and that's all. And his campaign blog STILL says "Find out where Creigh will be this weekend!" Meaning LAST weekend. Time to update the schedule, folks.

McDonnell debuted a new TV ad yesterday in which he promises to be the energy and jobs governor. The pro-McDonnell PAC Virginia Common Sense is also going up on the air, and we know how the group is paying for it now, too: with a massive influx of cash from the Republican Governors Association.

Meanwhile, the political theater continued on the national stage with two raucus town hall meetings on health care reform hosted by Democratic congressmen in Northern Virginia yesterday.

That's all for today. Happy Wednesday!

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Posted at 4:53 PM ET, 08/25/2009

More Fallout Over Phil Hamilton

Enough said.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 08/25/2009

House Call: The Republican Rainbow Ticket

Hello, legislative junkies! Yes, the big story in House races this week remains Del. Phillip A. Hamilton, the Newport News Republican fighting for his life amid a bipartisan chorus of calls for his resignation. But by now, the back-room banter among both Republicans and Democrats is that Hamilton is sunk -- and that even if he steps down and the Rs can find a candidate to step in, they'd be hard-pressed to hang on against Democrat Robin Abbott in the ever-bluer 93rd District.

And so, like the Republican Party, I'm moving on -- to an entirely different topic: this year's Rainbow Coalition. Let me explain with a question: Which major party is mounting the most diverse ticket of legislative challengers that anyone can remember? And, in two-thirds of those races, which party is facing a slate of incumbents who could be described with perfect accuracy as bunch of middle-aged white guys? I know, I know, I'm playing to stereotypes. But even the Republicans admit that it's surprising that the GOP challenge ticket is packing such diversity this year. At the very least, it's interesting and worth a closer look. So here are some eye-opening facts on the subject, in no particular order:

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Posted at 6:45 AM ET, 08/25/2009

First Click - Virginia

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009

Good morning, politicos! Here's what's happening today.

In the gubernatorial universe (is there any other??), Republican Bob McDonnell continues his RV tour of Virginia with stops in Botetourt County, Woodstock, Weyers Cave and Harrisonburg. Democrat Creigh Deeds ... well, if I knew what Democrat Creigh Deeds were doing today, I'd tell you. No word yet from the campaign on his public schedule, other than that he'll be in Northern Virginia at least part of the day.

On Monday, in an appearance in Charlottesville, Deeds highlighted his plans to help small businesses. McDonnell, meanwhile, will join Deeds Wednesday on the airwaves. The Republican Governors Association is also launching a TV ad campaign, and national HuckPAC volunteers are pitching in for McDonnell as well.

The big news of the day remains the fate of Newport News Del. Phillip A. Hamilton, the beleaguered ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee who is under fire for seeking a job at a new teacher training center at Old Dominion University at the same time he was securing the center $500,000 in annual state funding.

House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) has called for an ethics investigation, and a bipartisan chorus of state leaders (including McDonnell) has urged Hamilton to resign, but the 21-year House veteran said he won't. McDonnell's stand may neutralize the potential for Hamilton's fate to harm Republicans beyond the 93rd District. But Democrat Robin Abbott, now expected by just about everyone to prevail over Hamilton in November, isn't likely to let the issue alone. Expect this race to remain ugly so long as Hamilton stays in it.

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Posted at 5:50 PM ET, 08/24/2009

House Democrats Join the Hamilton Fray

House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong of Henry County has weighed in on the flap over Republican Del. Phillip A. Hamilton of Newport News, who is under fire for asking for a job at Old Dominion University while also securing for the school a $500,000 annual state appropriation.

Armstrong criticized Republican House leaders for referring the matter to a legislative ethics panel, which he said typically meets behind closed doors, instead of sending it to the House Privileges and Elections Committee, which is open.

"Unfortunately, a lack of transparency is what led to this situation in the first place. Delegate Hamilton is a public official, and any investigation into his actions should be conducted in full view of the citizens of Virginia," Armstrong said.

"We cannot risk losing the public's trust in our institution by continuing to cloak this incident in secrecy."

Still no word from Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell on whether he thinks Hamilton should resign.

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Posted at 2:39 PM ET, 08/24/2009

House GOP Sends Hamilton to the Ethics Police

GOP House speaker William J. Howell and other top House Republicans decided Monday to ask the House Ethics Advisory Panel to look into the actions of Del. Phillip A. Hamilton, the Newport News Republican who is under fire for securing state funding for Old Dominion University while also seeking a job there.

Following statements from top Democratic statewide candidates calling for Hamilton's resignation, Howell (Stafford) issued a statement Monday sending the matter to the independent panel "to protect the integrity of the House." Howell said he has not asked Hamilton to resign, and Hamilton said he has no plans to.

"The seriousness with which I view this matter dictates determining the facts and finding out if any impropriety occurred," Howell said.

Although the panel has 120 days to review the matter, Howell said he asked that the review occur as quickly as possible. He added: "It is important to me and the citizens in whose name all delegates serve to know whether Delegate Hamilton's activities in this matter were legal and in keeping with expected standards of conduct for lawmakers. Virginia has a reputation for good government and I want to keep it that way."

The panel is composed of five members, including two former lawmakers and a former judge. If it finds that Hamilton knowingly violated the state's ethics law, the matter will be referred to Attorney General William C. Mims.

No word yet from Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell about whether Hamilton should resign.

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Posted at 7:45 AM ET, 08/24/2009

First Click - Virginia

Monday, Aug. 24, 2009

Greetings Earthlings, and Happy Monday! Here's what's happening in the ever-exciting world of Virginia politics today.

Gubernatorial hopefuls R. Creigh Deeds and Robert F. McDonnell continue their breakneck, pre-Labor Day campaign pace this week. McDonnell will hammer home his message that it's all about jobs with his ongoing RV tour of Deeds Country, I mean rural Virginia. And Deeds, on the air in his first TV ad campaign of the season, will seek to turn the momentum around in a race where he is trailing in polls and where his fortunes seem tied to a souring national mood for Democrats.

Deeds remains in his home turf of Charlottesville today for a visit to a small business selling only made-in-Virginia products, where he will tout his plan to boost, you guessed it, small businesses. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Deeds travels on to Northern Virginia for events still being mapped out by the campaign. McDonnell makes stops today in tiny Hurley, Oakwood and Marion. For inquiring minds, that's Buchanan (buck-AN-in) and Smyth counties in the far southwest of Virginia.

In the news over the weekend, The Washington Post's Anita Kumar explored how much is riding on Gov. Timothy M. Kaine in this year's gubernatorial race, i.e., what a disaster it would be for Kaine and President Obama if Deeds lost. And for those who were in media blackout mode on Saturday, here's Roz Helderman's take on Deeds's big Northern Virginia speech Friday, in which he slammed McDonnell and presented himself as a bipartisan heir to Kaine and his predecessor, Mark R. Warner. Here's the Virginian-Pilot's take on Deeds' effort to turn his campaign around. And the Richmond Times-Dispatch's take on the Deeds speech is here.

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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 08/21/2009

UPDATE: House Call: Hamilton's Seat Gets Hotter

Republican Del. Phillip A. Hamilton of Newport News has a little more explaining to do this week regarding the paid job he took with Old Dominion University after helping the school score a half-million-dollar state appropriation for a teacher training program.

According to reports in today's Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot, Hamilton actively sought the position before securing the state funding for ODU
as the House Appropriations Committee's ranking Republican.

The emails Hamilton sent to ODU officials seeking a post with the training center he was helping don't do him much good. They'll sting even more if (when?) Democrat Robin Abbott starts quoting them in radio and TV ads.

To then-ODU president Roseann Runte: "...when we talked about the Center last August, I expressed an interest in being associated with the initiative from a professional perspective."

Ouch.

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Posted at 2:37 PM ET, 08/17/2009

Moran, Dean to Host Health Care Discussion in Reston

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) will host a town hall meeting on health care Tuesday in Reston. He will be joined by Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, presidential candidate and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, to discuss efforts in Congress to reform the health care system.

The meeting will take place from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday in the South Lakes High School auditorium, 11400 South Lakes Drive, Reston. The event is free, but seating is limited. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 08/13/2009

House Call: As Albo Goes, So Goes Virginia

Hello politicos, and welcome to our second installment of House Call! This week we're going to drill down into the Fightin' 42nd District in southeastern Fairfax County, because you know what they say: As Albo goes, so goes the commonwealth.

Actually, as far as I know, I'm the only one who said that. But I think it's a reasonable way to describe what should be the Democrats' easiest pick-up of the year. If Republican incumbent Dave Albo hangs on again this year in one of the state's two most Democratic-performing districts currently held by Republicans (the other is Tom Rust's 86th District in Herndon and Loudoun County), then Democrats have little hope of winning the six seats they need to take back the House of Delegates.

It's really hard to say what will happen. Albo, when he has a challenger, is always deemed vulnerable. And yet he has always scraped by in a district that by most accounts is pretty evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. The district includes West Springfield, where Albo grew up, as well as Lorton and a chunk of Route 1.

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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 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 2:46 PM ET, 08/ 5/2009

House Call!

Hello everyone! And welcome to House Call, the Virginia Politics blog's new weekly feature that will focus on, yep, you guessed it -- the House of Delegates! Call me a geek, but there are few subjects I'd rather blog than the murky depths of this year's down-ballot races.

Where else is a senior appropriator in the political fight of his life (and under investigation) for budgeting state money to his future employer? And where else is the seat of the former chairman of the state GOP one of the Democrats' top targets? And where else did a challenger from the Northern Neck urge supporters to take to the bullet box if the ballot box didn't work out?

Forget about the fireworks, though. There's a lot of serious business at stake in the House of Delegates, the lower house of the General Assembly where all 100 seats are up for election this year. The House is currently controlled by a coalition of Republicans and independents who tend to favor fiscally and socially conservative policies, gun rights and private property rights. That puts them at odds with the Democrat-controlled state Senate, not to mention Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine -- an overall dynamic often blamed for the policy gridlock (transportation, anyone?) that has beset Richmond for Kaine's entire term.

Democrats must win six new seats on Nov. 3 to win back the House for the first time this decade, a task that even Democrats concede is a steep hill to climb. Much depends on factors beyond House candidates' control: the economy, the popularity of President Obama and what happens at the top of the ballot between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell.

But a lot depends on what happens on the ground. Where are the bloodiest battlegrounds likely to be? Who's got the better transpo plan? Who's raising the biggest pile-o-cash? What are the polls saying? And what do YOU think? All tips, opinions and even idle musings are welcome, as there are 12 weeks to go between now and Nov. 3, and that means TWELVE House Calls must be made. Reach me by email at gardnera@washpost.com or by telephone, (703) 383-5102.

In the meantime, here are a few quick, Northern Virginia-centric thoughts to get us started:

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Posted at 5:44 PM ET, 08/ 4/2009

McDonnell: I Am Not a Birther

Okay, he didn't say that exactly. In fact, one might fairly surmise that Republican Bob McDonnell wanted to change the subject pretty darn quickly.

But during an online video chat with The Richmond Times-Dispatch, McDonnell had this exchange with reporter Tyler Whitley.

Whitley: Do you believe that President Obama was born in the United States?

McDonnell: President Obama is a citizen; he is the president of the United States.

That's all, folks.

Perhaps this issue goes away, perhaps it doesn't. There is much Democratic buzz right now about polls (of varying reputation) showing how many Republicans don't believe Obama was born in the United States. But McDonnell's quick dismissal of the issue, which he has called a "distraction," could suffice.

Disclosure: The Times-Dispatch's "Ask the Candidate" chat relied on questions from viewers, including this e-mailed submission from me.

For those wanting to listen to the audio directly, here it is.

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Posted at 2:49 PM ET, 08/ 4/2009

Cuccinelli Puts His Money Where His Ear Is

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for attorney general, sure does like his property rights.

He's even willing to give up his cell phone to make the point.

Cuccinelli switched cell phone companies this week after learning that Verizon, his previous carrier, was supporting Democratic opponent Steve Shannon. Verizon and Cuccinelli have a history of disagreeing over how much power the company should have to lay cable across private property.

"They have always been strongly outspoken because of my position," Cuccinelli said. "They have to be respectful to everybody else in the process and that includes the property owner whose land they want to cross, and that's an inconvenience for them."

"People don't support me, I'm not going to support them."

Cuccinelli was speaking, incidentally, on his new Sprint telephone.

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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 5:46 PM ET, 07/23/2009

Elleithee Back in the Game

Mo Elleithee, Terry McAuliffe's communications guru during the Democratic primary for governor, has returned from the wilderness.

Okay, he wasn't really in the wilderness. He was luxuriating on the Caribbean island territory of Anguilla, probably having loads more fun than the rest of us. And he's still on Jody Wagner's team in the lieutenant governor's race.

In the meantime, Elleithee has signed on as senior communications advisor for the state Democratic Party as well as Gov. Tim Kaine's PAC, Moving Virginia Forward.

As the the party's newest spokesman, Elleithee noted that this represents his fourth head-to-head against Republican Tim Murtaugh, who signed on just recently with the state GOP. The two battled previously in the George Allen-Chuck Robb Senate race in 2000 and Mark Earley-Mark Warner and Jerry Kilgore-Tim Kaine governor's races in 2001 and 2005, respectively.

Elleithee points all this out, needless to say, because he's currently ahead two to one in the series.

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Posted at 4:24 PM ET, 07/23/2009

Another Update In Virginia's 11th Congressional District

Here's the post from Republican Paul Miller's personal Facebook page about not running. It sounds like the state GOP is behind Keith Fimian because, as the founder of a successful home inspection business, he can inject his own money into the race (just as he did last year against Democrat Gerry Connolly).

I wanted to let you all know I've decided to end my campaign for the 11th congressional district seat in Virginia. This is one of the hardest decisions I've had to make because I am not a quitter and doing so feels like quitting.


It has become apparent this week that the Virginia Republican party wants a self-funding candidate. I would have thought as a party we could have seen that in recent elections self-funding doesn't mean a candidate can buy the election. We saw this most recently in the Democratic Gubernatorial primary race where self-funding was trumped by message and ideas. We went down this road in 2008 and we lost badly. I hope in 2010 the results are different.

I cannot thank you enough for your early support. I plan to stay involved and work to ensure we elect a good crop of delegate candidates this November. If you want to get involved in helping join the OurVirginiaNow Facebook group.

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Posted at 4:18 PM ET, 07/23/2009

In Virginia's 11th: Lots of Activity

UPDATE: Two sources say Paul Miller decided today that he is NOT running for Congress next year.

Republican Keith Fimian, the founder of a national home-inspection business, announced this week that he is planning for a rematch against Democrat Gerry Connolly in Northern Virginia's 11th Congressional District.

But wait! Fimian is not the only Republican eager to challenge Connolly, who is just six months into his first term in Congress. Although Connolly beat Fimian resoundingly last November (55 percent to 43 percent), he did so in a historic election year when much of the heavy turnout favored Barack Obama (and therefore Connolly too).

That's one reason why Paul Miller, a Capitol Hill lobbyist, is also pondering a run. Miller hasn't formally announced, but he has set up a "Paul Miller for Congress" Facebook page.

Remember: Republican Tom Davis held the 11th District for 14 years, and Davis helped redraw the boundaries in 2001 to keep it as Republican-leaning as possible. Certainly the district, which encompasses central and southern Fairfax County and a large swath of Prince William, has grown bluer in recent elections. But it is by no means viewed as a slam-dunk for Democrats, and this race is worth watching, especially as Connolly weighs in on President Obama's increasingly controversial federal agenda, notably health care reform. Connolly also voted for tougher emissions standards, also known as cap and trade.

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Posted at 1:42 PM ET, 07/23/2009

More on Republicans for Deeds (and Other Endorsement News)

Among the seven Republicans who announced their support for Democrat Creigh Deeds for governor yesterday, the two "surprising" endorsements weren't really that surprising after all.

Marty Williams, the longtime Republican state senator from Newport News, and Brandon Bell, the two-term senator from Roanoke, had never before endorsed a Democrat for statewide office. But both faced primary challenges from the right in 2007, and both lost -- without any support from Republican Bob McDonnell.

Sure, there's plenty of precedent for statewide officeholders (McDonnell was attorney general at the time) to stay out of primary battles. But in this case, two prominent Republicans were facing challengers who derived much of their support from the conservative wing of their local parties. (One of them, unknown Tricia Stall of Newport News, went on to lose to Democrat John Miller.)

In other words, Williams and Bell were not conservative enough for some in their districts. If nothing else, Wednesday's endorsements show that they have not forgotten.

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Posted at 7:45 PM ET, 07/20/2009

Potty Politics, Part II

Even as the clock ticks down on the life of 18 rest stops set to close tonight across Virginia, lawmakers, statewide officials and even political candidates are weighing in.

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) worked the ranks of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation pretty heavily on Friday, trying to attach an amendment to this year's transportation spending bill that would allow Virginia to privatize its rest stops. The move would have kept the facilities open -- and opened them up to the Sbarros, Starbucks and Cinnabons that we all know and love on our journeys through Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

Enter the fast-food lobby, which pressured members of the subcommittee to leave well enough alone so as not to kill the McDonald's and Wawa franchisees with strategic locations just off some of the exit ramps of Virginia's federal highway system. It's a reasonable discussion point: Should the state take business away from private business operators?

State Del. Bob Marshall, meanwhile, spent much of Saturday (and today) at the rest stop on Interstate 66 near Manassas asking travelers how they feel about the pending shuttering of nearly half of the state's 40-something rest areas. (Answer: not good). Marshall has good reason to feel pretty strongly about the issue: his son died on Interstate 81 after rear-ending a tractor-trailer parked along the side of the road for lack of a safer place to stop.

Back on Capitol Hill, there was some grumbling that Gov. Tim Kaine (D) didn't ask for the amendment until Thursday, giving federal lawmakers too little time to go to bat for him. Kaine, let's remember, is juggling duties as governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and he has taken some heat for traveling to California last week to attend the annual ESPY Awards ceremony. On Thursday, he was in Colorado for a DNC fundraiser.

There was also some grumbling that Kaine was unwilling to take the $9 million needed to keep the facilities open from other parts of the transportation budget -- notably, the from the budget for paving and bridge maintenance.

On that issue, administration officials said they are unrepentent. (They also said the governor's travel schedule had nothing to do with the failure of the rest stop amendment.)

Meanwhile, the word this evening is that an attempt will be made to amend the transportation spending bill on the floor of the U.S. House on Tuesday.

By then, the barricades will already be up across the commonwealth.

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Posted at 5:33 PM ET, 07/16/2009

More Money Tidbits

Del. Phil Hamilton (R) of Newport News emailed me to point out that, in addition to the $180,000 he's got in his campaign account, his leadership PAC, Leading VA Forward, has $78,000 on hand. So his advantage against Democratic challenger Robin Abbott is bigger than I suggested earlier today.

(As an aside, and this is not directed only at you, Phil, but is there a machine that spits out the names of these PACs? How many combinations of the words moving, leading, Virginia, Dominion, forward and together ARE there? An endless number, apparently.)

Secondly, I left out the 34th House District, which runs from McLean to the Loudoun County line along the Potomac River. First-term Democrat Margie Vanderhye raised $70,000 in June, bringing her total on hand to $123,000. But here's the real news: Vanderhye's Republican challenger, Barbara Comstock, raised $44,000 and has $167,000 in the bank.

This race is worth watching.

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Posted at 8:22 AM ET, 07/16/2009

Miscellaneous Slicin' and Dicin' (Part III)

And now, the bits and pieces from the latest Virginia money reports.

Down the ballot, candidates collected a pale shadow of the millions rolling in for Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell, but here's the overview. For attorney general, Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Steve Shannon brought in virtually the same amount, $292,000 and $285,000, respectively. Shannon remains far ahead in cash on hand, with $1.3 million compared to Cuccinelli's $333,000.

For lieutenant governor, incumbent Republican Bill Bolling retains a cash advantage, taking in $366,000 and bringing his on-hand total to $1.1 million. Democrat Jody Wagner raised $232,000 but spent $317,000, including a big chunk of television in the final days of her primary against Mike Signer. Wagner's new total in the bank: $188,000.

Here's an interesting tidbit, courtesy of my intrepid colleague Tim Craig, who hasn't broken his addiction to VPAP or Virginia politics in general: Terry McAuliffe gave himself $500,000 on June 22, presumably to settle his account.

And here's a noteworthy contribution to Bob McDonnell that might surface, say, in a discussion of the Republican's ties to the religious right: McDonnell received $5,000 from the Campaign for Working Families. That's the "unapologetically pro-family, pro-life and pro-growth" shop of Gary Bauer, the former presidential candidate and former president of Family Research Council.

Last but not least, this just in from the waaaay-down-ballot races: Incumbents have the advantage.

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Posted at 6:59 AM ET, 07/16/2009

Slicin' and Dicin', Part II

Everybody knows by now that Democrat R. Creigh Deeds won the latest money race yesterday by raising nearly twice as much, $3.2 million, than rival Bob McDonnell, in June. Here are a few other tidbits that might interest you:

Just as the McDonnell folks predicted, Deeds got a ton of money from unions: $500,000 from AFSCME, $100,000 from SEIU, $20,000 from the Virginia AFL-CIO, $10,000 from IBEW Local #26, $5,000 from the Virginia UAW. Expect this issue to resurface time and again as McDonnell tries to tie Deeds to unions, the card-check issue and the sanctity of right-to-work.

Mark Warner (the man, not the PAC) gave Deeds $25,000. You might expect Warner to throw himself behind the Democratic nominee now that the primary is over. But $25,000? It's the largest single check Warner's cut for a candidate (aside from himself) since Don Beyer ran for governor in 1999. That "golden silence" that our friends at Politico wrote about before the primary might not have been about Terry McAuliffe after all.

Deeds got a tidy sum from folks who supported other candidates in the primary -- a nice sign for him that Democrats have united behind him despite the rancor of the spring. Barbara Fried, the retired developer from Albemarle County, gave Deeds $100,000, the same sum she delivered to Brian Moran in May. Boyd Tinsley, famed fiddler for the Dave Matthews Band, gave Deeds $15,000 after giving him $10,000, Moran $15,000 and McAuliffe $7,500 in the spring.

Here's a little surprise: Deeds didn't do that well from corporate PACS, despite the assumption that those sources would have been ready to cut checks after staying out of the primary -- and play catch-up on the money they've already sent McDonnell's way. According to a VPAP analysis, Deeds got some nice checks from a few heavy hitters: $50,000 from Verizon Good Government, $15,000 from Glenworth Financial, $13,500 from LeClairRyan, $10,000 from Alpha Services. But overall, Deeds appears to have collected just $131,000 from corporate PACs, according to VPAP, while McDonnell reported nearly $137,000. The presumption is that Deeds should have done much better than McDonnell now that we're in the general election, when corporate PACs tend to hedge their bets and give to both sides.

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Posted at 7:54 PM ET, 07/15/2009

Slicin' and Dicin' the Money Reports, Part I

Republican Bob McDonnell spilled some ink yesterday talking not only about how much more money he has in the bank than his gubernatorial rival, Democrat Creigh Deeds, but also comparing how many of his donations came from Virginia in the most recent reporting period.

It's not quite the same picture that emerges from McDonnell's campaign finance filings for the period from May 28 to June 30, which were made public today.

McDonnell's on-hand advantage is real: He's got nearly $5 million compared to Deeds's $2.7 million. But the numbers, compiled by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project, show that McDonnell spent almost exactly what he raised ($1.82 million versus $1.79 million), meaning the amount of cash he has on hand remains virtually unchanged.

The numbers also show that the two biggest sources of money remain, by a long shot, the Republican Governors Association ($1.95 million) and the Republican National Committee ($1.5 million). The next biggest sources ring in at the $50,000 level, including these newcomers to the list: Joseph Luter, chairman of Smithfield Foods, and Richard Gilliam of Keswick, president of the coal-mining company Cumberland Resources.

McDonnell revealed yesterday that 75 percent of his donors this period are from Virginia. He didn't mention that 70 percent of his money all year -- not including the most recent period -- is from out of state.

Next up: Creigh Deeds.

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Posted at 11:49 AM ET, 07/14/2009

McDonnell Raises $1.8M in June

Republican Bob McDonnell announced today that he raised $1.8 million in June, little more than half what Democrat Creigh Deeds posted yesterday in what everyone expects to be a pricey Virginia governor's race.

You wouldn't know that McDonnell underperformed his rival from a quick glance at his press release, which touts the fact that McDonnell has almost $5 million in the bank -- "far more money" from "far more donors" than rival Deeds.

It's not a bad point -- cash on hand is an crucial indicator of the spending power of a campaign -- but Deeds just emerged from an expensive primary. And neither campaign is spending a ton of money just yet, so if Deeds continues his June trajectory of outraising McDonnell nearly two-to-one, his nest egg quickly will overtake McDonnell's.

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Posted at 5:28 PM ET, 07/13/2009

Deeds Raises $3.4 Million

Creigh Deeds, who has spent much of his time since the June 9 primary raising money, announced today that he collected $3.4 million during the one-month fundraising period that ends June 30.

It's more than Tim Kaine and Mark Warner accumulated in a similar time period during their gubernatorial races, according to the announcement, which also touted the fact that 63 percent of the nearly $5 million Deeds has raised this year came from within Virginia.

GOP nominee Bob McDonnell's spokeswoman, Crystal Cameron, said the former attorney general's campaign would release his campaign finance numbers tomorrow. She also took a swing at Deeds for accepting support from unions.

"Creigh promised the unions that he would be a good partner, and it looks like his partners are paying him well," she said.

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Posted at 4:04 PM ET, 07/13/2009

Update: Surovell Hits Ground Running -- and Collecting

Scott Surovell, the outgoing chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee who is running against Republican Jay McConville in the 44th House District, announced today that he collected an astonishing $82,000 in his first seven days in the race.

See corrections to numbers on McConville at the bottom of this posting.

Surovell, who jumped in quickly after incumbent Democrat Kristen Amundson announced late last month that she would step down, was described recently by fellow Fairfax Democrat Ken Plum as the "energizer bunny" of Northern Virginia politics. He also has deep roots in the Mount Vernon-based 44th District, where he grew up, went to high school and cut his political teeth as chairman of the local Democratic political committee.

Surovell's biggest donations have come from Amundson ($10,000), and from his law firm, his dad, state Sen. Toddy Puller and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association ($5,000 each), he said. But Surovell boasted that about two-thirds of 266 donors who gave during those seven days gave $100 or less.

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Posted at 2:40 PM ET, 07/13/2009

Obama Machine Heads to Reston Tonight

Folks from President Obama's grassroots political machine, Organizing for America, will host a meeting in Reston tonight to take questions and ideas from supporters and volunteers as part of a national listening tour.

The meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Fairfax's North County Government Center, at 12000 Bowman Towne Drive in Reston.

Participants will be asked to offer ideas on how to support President Obama's priorities locally, notably health care reform, and how to make their voices heard in Washington.

Organizing for America, which operates under the umbrella of the Democratic National Committee, carries the goal of building on the grassroots network that Obama built during last year's presidential campaign and using it to advance his policy agenda.

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Posted at 7:48 PM ET, 07/ 1/2009

Mr. Connolly Goes to Washington

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) is pretty happy this week about his first major legislative victory in the House of Representatives: a bill that affords financial protections to deployed service personnel.

Connolly, who today was anointed president of the House's freshman class, pushed the bill (which, to the chagrin of his staff, he named the HADD Act, for Helping Active Duty Deployed) through in a speedy 10 days, he said.

The law makes it illegal for cell phone companies and landlords to charge early termination fees against service members who have to back out of contracts because they are deployed.

Connolly introduced the measure on behalf of a group of veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan who visited him on Capitol Hill.

"One guy told a horror story," he said. "It took him seven months of personally going to the office to get out of his telephone contract. Seven months," Connolly said. "And here's a man who has been called up by his country to serve."

The bill was made into an amendment to the defense authorization bill, which passed the House on Thursday and awaits consideration in the Senate.


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Posted at 8:15 AM ET, 06/29/2009

Hot and Heavy House Races This Year

The paperwork is in and the names are filed, and it's official: 2009 will be the most competitive election year in Virginia in more than a decade.

According to an analysis by the Virginia Public Access Project, 57 of 100 House districts in Virginia feature major-party challenges -- a higher number than any other year going back to 1997. It's not saying much in a state with a pretty sorry record on such matters -- i.e. 33 competitive races two years ago -- but it's something.

Democrats, just six seats shy of taking back the House after a decade in the minority, are gunning for the usual suspects this year: Dave Albo and Tom Rust in Fairfax; Bob Marshall and Jeff Frederick's open seat in Prince William; Phil Hamilton in Newport News; and others. (They missed challenge opportunities in the 31st and 33rd districts, though, where Scott Lingamfelter of Prince William and Joe May of Loudoun run unopposed.)

Republicans say they are just as eager to make gains themselves, mounting campaigns in 15 of 17 House seats in Fairfax County alone and assembling most of those candidates at a pep rally-cum-barbecue Saturday at Mason District Park in Annandale

"We're competitive," House Speaker William J. Howell told about 200 party activists at the picnic. "We can speak to the issues in Fairfax. We're going to do well."

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Posted at 6:20 PM ET, 06/26/2009

Kaine to Mullins: No Travel Records For You

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today declined to release his daily schedule since January, when he became chairman of the Democratic National Committee, despite a Freedom of Information Act request to do so from the Republican Party of Virginia.

Kaine spokeswoman Lynda Tran said, although the governor releases his public schedule every week, private meetings are exempt from disclosure as are records of his schedule that relate to is work for the DNC, which is not a public entity.

Pat Mullins, chairman of the state GOP, had also asked for all records relating to the cost to state taxpayers of the governor's out-of-state travel, but Tran said those records are not with the Governor's Office but with the Virginia State Police.

Kaine has come under increasing scrutiny in the press and from Republicans for his travels as DNC chairman, some of which has occurred on weekdays and taken him away from his daily duties as governor.

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Posted at 1:53 PM ET, 06/26/2009

Deeds Takes Fire From Gingrich Group

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds is under fire in a full-page newspaper ad in Charlottesville that demands that he take a stand on a federal energy bill that could come up for a vote on Capitol Hill today.

The ad was paid for by American Solutions for Winning the Future, an organization founded and led by former House speaker Newt Gingrich. The group launched a major media campaign this week to defeat the federal bill, which it terms a "national energy tax."

Click here to view the ad.

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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 06/26/2009

Davis: 'Probably Not' on Cyber Czar

Tom Davis, the former Republican congressman from Fairfax County and now a director with Deloitte's Federal Government Services division, said he (probably) won't take a job as President Obama's new cyber security czar.

Although Davis prefaced his remarks by saying, "Never say never," he said the job's scope and authority are too uncertain. He also said he is pretty darn happy at Deloitte, where, presumably, he makes a little more than he did in Congress (and than he would as cyber czar).

"If I were going to stay in government, I think I would have stayed in Congress," Davis said. "I wish them well."

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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 06/ 9/2009

Mayhem at the Polls

Today's t-storms caused only minor glitches for voters, cutting power at four polling places across the state but not affecting voting, state election officials said. Election officials followed contingency plans and used back-up battery equipment, so voting equipment was not affected.

However, two voting locations were locked down for 45 minutes in Virginia Beach following reports that a gunman was in the area. No injuries were reported.
One voter in Virginia Beach was asked to come back later.

And in Prince William County, someone forgot to tell the custodian to open the doors at one polling location, so election officials followed their contingency plan and opened in a parking lot.

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Posted at 3:55 AM ET, 06/ 9/2009

An Election-Eve Letter on Guns

Just hours before the polls are due to open in this year's Democratic primary for governor, two young men touched by the Virginia Tech tragedy have sent out an open letter opposing Creigh Deeds because of his position on guns.

Colin Goddard, a victim who survived the mass shootings in April 2007 (and was in the room when shooter Seung Hui Cho killed himself), and Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was killed, issued the somber letter just after 5:30 p.m.

They noted that Deeds voted against closing the gun show loophole before voting for it, and has supported allowing concealed weapons in bars.

"Senator Deeds has a record on guns that worries us," they wrote. "Senator Deeds opposes our one-gun-a-month law -- and even Bob McDonnell supported that."

"We believe Senator Deeds is a good person. And on many issues, we agree with him. But keeping the people we love safe is the single most important issue to us, and that's why Senator Deeds won't be getting our vote on Tuesday."

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Posted at 5:09 PM ET, 06/ 8/2009

Moran Travels Home to Alexandria

Brian Moran of Alexandria chose to spend the final day before the election in his hometown, rallying about 250 supporters over the lunch hour in front of Alexandria City Hall in Old Town.

Glistening under a blazing sun, Moran stuck with the left-leaning message he has trumpeted for much of the campaign: promises to expand access to medical and dental care, push a transportation plan through the legislature, block off-shore drilling and repeal a constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage.

"All along 've been talking to voters about just how important this election is," Moran boomed to the crowd, flanked by more than a dozen local elected officials who support him. "We made history electing Barack Obama in the fall, but we need a partner for President Obama in the governor's office, and I intend to be that governor."

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Posted at 2:38 PM ET, 06/ 8/2009

Dialing Brian Moran

When Brian Moran gave out his private cell phone during a television interview last week, folks from his opponents' campaigns chortled.

But someone out there was listening. Moran said he got about a dozen hang-ups in the few days following the interview, probably from people "who wanted to know if the number was real."

But then this morning, on the road between an appearance on MSNBC and a pre-Election Day rally in Alexandria, his phone rang again. And he picked it up.

It was a woman whose grandchildren had been taken from her daughter's home by child welfare officials, and who wanted help getting the children back to her home.

"She said we ignore grandparents' rights in Virginia," Moran said. "I told her to send me the information and I will look into it."

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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 06/ 4/2009

Another Big Name in the 47th House District

The endorsements in Arlington's 47th House District, where five men are vying in Tuesday's Democratic primary to replace Del. Al Eisenberg, keep rollin' in. Today, retired U.S. Army general Wesley Clark endorsed Adam Parkhomenko.

We're not sure how Clark, a presidential contender in 2004, feels about widening Interstate 66, preserving affordable housing along Route 50 or fostering transit-oriented development around North Arlington's Orange Line Metro stations.

But we do know that Parkhomenko, a 23-year-old former campaign staffer last year to Hillary Rodham Clinton, has put his national political connections to work. Parkhomenko also nabbed the endorsement of former president Bill Clinton, who has placed robocalls into the district on Parkhomenko's behalf.

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Posted at 9:53 AM ET, 06/ 2/2009

Warner Steps into 47th House District Race

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) has weighed in on the five-way primary battle to replace Al Eisenberg in Arlington's 47th House District, endorsing Alan Howze, who was Warner's policy director in the governor's office.

Already hard to predict by virtue of the size of the field, the race has been complicated by the divided allegiances of big-name Democrats. First, former president Bill Clinton recorded a robo-call for Adam Parkhomenko, the 23-year-old former staffer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Then, after rumblings from irritated Arlington Democrats that Clinton had butted into a local race, Del. Bob Brink and state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple endorsed Patrick Hope, a civic activist and adjunct professor of health at Johns Hopkins University. Arlington board member Chris Zimmerman, meanwhile, supports Andres Tobar, a veteran of the U.S. Department of Education who directs a day-labor center. And a number of Virginia's liberal blogs have thrown their support behind Miles Grant, an employee of the National Wildlife Federation.

Now comes Warner.

"When I was governor, Alan worked closely with me to get Virginia's finances back on track and make needed investments in education and the environment," Warner wrote. "Alan is a hard worker and a dedicated Democrat, and I know he'll be a great delegate for Arlington."


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Posted at 10:13 PM ET, 05/31/2009

Moran Strong in Fairfax

Former delegate Brian Moran has won the latest gubernatorial straw poll -- that most uncertain of grassroots political gauges that we all spend too much time studying.

Just as interesting, perhaps, is the fact that Terry McAuliffe came in third.

This time, the straw poll was in Fairfax County, Virginia's largest community and a critical battleground for the primary next Tuesday. (At last, we can start saying next Tuesday!) The setting was the Fairfax County Democratic Committee's annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner at the McLean Hilton.

Moran won 166 votes compared to 123 for Creigh Deeds and 117 for Terry McAuliffe.

The results give Moran, from Alexandria, more bragging rights for a strong position in his homebase of Northern Virginia. They also keep alive talk that Deeds has been surging in recent days, following his endorsement by this newspaper on May 22. Finally, the results fuel recent speculation that McAuliffe's lead is narrowing, and that he may have peaked too soon in this most eventful of primary seasons.

P.S.: For lieutenant governor, Jody Wagner won with 260 votes compared to 136 for Mike Signer.

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Posted at 9:05 PM ET, 05/28/2009

Connolly Endorses Keam in 35th District House Race

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) has endorsed Mark L. Keam in the four-man race for the Democratic nomination in the House of Delegates' 35th District.

Connolly's endorsement comes a day after one of Keam's opponents, Roy J. Baldwin, criticized Keam for his work as a federal lobbyist for Verizon. Keam is a former chief counsel to Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and also worked stints at the Federal Communications Commission and Small Business Administration.

Keam is also a Korean-born immigrant, a potential advantage in increasingly diverse and Democrat-leaning Fairfax County. And he has raised more money than the other three contenders, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 05/24/2009

More Fodder for Turnout Debate

Will turnout in the Democratic gubernatorial primary June 9 be low? high? And who benefits? If it's all activists, the theory goes, Brian Moran gains an edge. If a broader electorate shows up, perhaps that's to Terry McAuliffe's advantage, since his message is reaching the most Virginians on radio and TV. If the rural parts vote more, that might be to Creigh Deeds' advantage.

Here's some new corn feed to throw into the trough.

In Arlington, political numbers-cruncher Frank O'Leary (the county treasurer by day) is pretty excited that absentee balloting is on a trajectory to exceed past primary elections (excluding last year's historic presidential contest).


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Posted at 2:47 PM ET, 05/19/2009

Moran: Helped Bring Payday Lending in Virginia?

McAuliffe just accused Moran of supporting legislation that allowed payday lending into the state.

It's true, but at the time most lawmakers thought the bill would regulate the industry and prevent it from preying too deeply on the poor.

Moran voted for a bill in 2002 that opened Virginia to payday lending. Lawmakers from both parties thought the bill would license and regulate the industry, but instead payday operators quickly multiplied.

Three years later, Moran did vote to enact some of the nation's most stringent reforms of the payday loan industry, though many opponents did not think it went far enough.

Since 1996, Moran has taken $30,200 in donations from lending or consumer credit companies.

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Posted at 2:24 PM ET, 05/19/2009

Moran: I Led Efforts on Equality Issues

Answering a question about same-sex marriages, candidate Brian Moran said he led efforts in the state House of Delegates to protect the rights of gays and lesbians in Virginia.

While Moran has made it a major plank of his campaign to overturn a state constitutional amendment passed in 2006 banning same-sex marriages in Virginia, he voted yes to a proposal (put forth by Republican Bob McDonnell, the former delegate and attorney general who will face the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary) urging the Congress to pass a federal constitutional amendment.

Moran says he voted against that proposal too, and his campaign says the one vote in favor was in the middle of the process and does not reflect his true feelings on the issue.

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Posted at 2:23 PM ET, 05/19/2009

McAuliffe: I Created Thousands of Jobs

Terry McAuliffe talked again today about how he has created thousands of jobs, and he made a new claim that many of those jobs are union jobs.

McAuliffe led a home-building company in Florida that did, indeed, create thousands of jobs in the construction trades. And most of those jobs were union.

But McAuliffe never created jobs in Virginia, despite claiming on the campaign trail that he started five businesses here. (McAuliffe did create five businesses in Virginia, but all are investment partnerships registered to his home address in McLean, and none has employees).

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Posted at 2:03 PM ET, 05/19/2009

McAuliffe: Virginia To Lose Federal Highway Dollars?

In our first fact-checker item of today's debate at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, we'll take a look at a statement Terry McAuliffe made, not for the first time, that Virginia could soon lose federal highway dollars if it doesn't find new sources of transportation revenue.

It's true. Part of the discussion about Virginia's transportation crisis has revolved around that that more and more of the state's investment in highways has gone toward maintenance and repair rather than new construction. If the state allows its expenditure on construction to dip too low, it will miss out on federal highway dollars that are available on a matching basis to the states.

Currently, Virginia is eligible for about $1 billion in matching federal dollars, but it must spend about $200 million of its own money to qualify. It's generally viewed as a good bargain -- $4 of federal money for every $1 in state funds. But the state is on a trajectory right now not to have the money to take full advantage of the federal pool.

The alternative is to reduce spending on maintenance, and the Commonwealth Transportation Board tomorrow will propose doing just that in its next six-year transportation improvement program. But that path is fraught with peril too, most leaders say.

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Posted at 9:39 PM ET, 05/18/2009

Webb Says No to Detainees in Virginia

Virginia's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Jim Webb, told George Stephanopoulous of ABC's "This Week" yesterday that he opposes the release of detainees from the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, onto U.S. soil.

Webb's remarks added to the chorus of Virginia political leaders who have positioned themselves against the possibility that as many as 17 Chinese Muslims known as Uighurs might be released into a Uighur community in Fairfax County.

"It can be argued that they were simply conducting dissident activities against the government of China," Webb said. "On the other hand, they accepted training from al-Qaeda, and as a result, they have taken part in terrorism. I don't believe they should come to the United States."

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Posted at 8:25 PM ET, 05/16/2009

Bowerbank: I Didn't Want to Go Negative

Jon Bowerbank, the Russell County supervisor who surprised many Democrats yesterday by dropping out of the race for the lieutenant governor nomination, was as upbeat and cheerful as ever last night at the Arlington County Democratic Committee's Jefferson Jackson dinner in Ballston.

Bowerbank was happy to talk about his decision, and he cited two reasons for it. First, he was on track to lose (his exact phrase: "The business model wasn't working.") And second, to change that fact, Bowerbank would have had to resort to a negative campaign against Jody Wagner, the presumed front-runner in a contest that also features Mike Signer.

"I just didn't want to do that," Bowerbank said.

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Posted at 5:58 PM ET, 05/15/2009

Moran to Drug Companies: Stop Embarrassing Me

Democratic Rep. Jim Moran wants to stop blushing when he's watching a Capitals game with his grandkids.

Moran, who turns 65 tomorrow, sent a letter this week to three drug manufacturers who make drugs for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, or ED, urging them to tone down their television ads, which he and other parents and grandparents he knows are tired of viewing with children in the room.

Earlier this year, Moran introduced legislation that would require such ads to meet more stringent decency standards. He did so in 2005 as well, but at the time a verbal agreement was reached with some of the bigger manufacturers to tone down their ads and limit their airtime before 10 p.m.

Lately, Moran said, the companies have been kicking their airtime back up.

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Posted at 10:28 AM ET, 05/15/2009

Brink, Whipple for Hope in the 47th House District

Del. Bob Brink and Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple have endorsed Patrick Hope in the five-man Democratic primary to replace Al Eisenberg in the 47th House District in Arlington.

The endorsement could make a difference in such a crowded field, particularly in an election likely to be dominated by activist voters who know Brink and Whipple personally. The nod also comes, perhaps not coincidentally, on the heels of former president Bill Clinton's endorsement of Adam Parkhomenko -- an endorsement that caused some Arlington Democrats to grumble privately about Clinton's entrance into a local primary contest.

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Posted at 6:45 PM ET, 05/13/2009

Werkheiser Blasts Albo

If Democrat Greg Werkheiser's open letter today to Republican Del. Dave Albo of southeastern Fairfax County is any indication, voters of the 42nd House District are in for a high-energy election year.

Werkheiser, who is challenging Albo for the second time after an unsuccessful bid four years ago, distributed a pointed and lengthy attack on Albo for sending out a mail piece to supporters that is "chock full of lies" about whether Werkheiser lives in the district, works there, and would do a good job representing its residents if elected in November.

In Albo's letter, which he said he sent to about 1,200 supporters inviting them to his campaign kickoff event June 4 at the Springfield Country Club, the 16-year incumbent suggested that Werkheiser lives in Petersburg and that his business, the nonprofit Phoenix Project, focuses on helping the poor in other parts of the state but not Northern Virginia.

Nothing could be further from the truth, Werkheiser said.

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Posted at 5:47 PM ET, 05/ 6/2009

McAuliffe Wades Into It

Democratic gubernatorial contender Terry McAuliffe harvested algae today. Need we say more?

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Posted at 11:19 AM ET, 05/ 4/2009

Bill Clinton Steps Into Arlington Delegate Race

Former President Bill Clinton has endorsed Adam Parkhomenko, one of five candidates for the House of Delegates' 47th District seat in Arlington.

If that feels like a nice get for Parkhomenko, it is: The longtime aide to Hillary Clinton (he was Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle's top assistant) has parlayed his political relationships into a healthy list of campaign donors and endorsements that have distinguished him from his four opponents in the June 9 primary.

But the Clinton call has also irked some local Arlington Democrats who are supporting other candidates. Parkhomenko, a lifelong Arlington resident, is just 23. He is not universally viewed by local activists as the best candidate for the job. Even those who are neutral in the race said they were surprised by the endorsement. Del. Bob Brink of the adjacent 48th District is among them, but Brink also wondered whether in the end it would matter.

"It's interesting that the president is getting involved in a little House of Delegates race," Brink said. "It's like nothing we've ever seen before. But you know, at the end of the day, I'm not certain how much difference endorsements make. You stand or fall on your own qualifications."

One of Parkhomenko's qualifications, clearly, is his loyalty to the Clintons.

Click here to to view Parkhomenko's web page. The other candidates to replace retiring Del. Al Eisenberg in the June 9 Democratic primary are: Miles Grant, Patrick Hope, Alan Howze and Andres Tobar.

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Posted at 9:58 AM ET, 05/ 3/2009

McAuliffe's Business Background: For and Against

Democratic gubernatorial contender Brian Moran wasn't the only one ready to respond to a Washington Post article published today on rival Terry McAuliffe's background mingling business and politics.

At 1:22 a.m., a few hours after the story posted to the Post's web page, Moran spokesman Jesse Ferguson issued a blistering press release highlighting the article's premise that McAuliffe's history of intricate partnerships and investments, often with political associates, could prove to be a liability in the governor's race.

But wait: Flash back to 10:51 p.m. yesterday, less than two hours after the story appeared. That's when Team McAuliffe hit the send button on an extensive dissertation defending his business bio (and circling back nicely to his campaign themes of creating jobs, supporting President Obama and listening to the Virginia grassroots).

If McAuliffe's response appears a bit defensive, it certainly wins the prize for thoroughness and speed. Or maybe awards should go to Creigh Deeds, the third Democrat vying for the nomination June 9, and Republican Bob McDonnell, for tuning out and enjoying a quiet Saturday night.

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Posted at 9:40 AM ET, 04/29/2009

Kennedy Matriarch to Host Moran Event

Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, will host a fundraiser in May for Democratic gubernatorial contender Brian Moran.

The event will take place May 27 at Hickory Hill, the 19th-century family homestead in McLean where the Kennedys raised their 11 children. McLean is also where Moran rival Terry McAuliffe lives.

As matriarch of the Kennedy clan, Ethel Kennedy's decision to host a fundraiser for Moran could boost his standing with Democratic activists -- and serve as a counterweight to former president Bill Clinton, who is stumping for McAuliffe.

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Posted at 3:44 PM ET, 04/21/2009

McAuliffe's Top Donor Touched by AIPAC Investigation

Haim Saban, a wealthy California media mogul and Terry McAuliffe's top individual donor in his bid for Virginia governor, was part of an effort to influence a Justice Department investigation of two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of spying, according to a report published this week in The New York Times.

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Posted at 3:53 PM ET, 04/15/2009

The People's Business

An enterprising student at Virginia Commonwealth University has posted to YouTube an amusing compilation of video footage from this year's General Assembly session showing lawmakers doing anything but the people's business on their state-issued laptops.

The video, compiled by Tracy Kennedy from Capital News Service footage of floor sessions in the House chamber, shows lawmakers Facebooking, instant messaging, even shopping for guns. Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) is seen checking out a $3.5 million house for sale in Mason Neck. Democrat Al Eisenberg of Arlington is shown browsing Civil War relics. Democrat Bob Brink, also of Arlington, is seen shopping for furniture at crateandbarrel.com.

Some lawmakers are shown reading news clips, but no one is looking at the state's Legislative Information System, an online database of bill status, committee calendars and state code that is presumably a big reason why the state spent hundreds of thousands of dollars issuing the laptops and wiring the Capitol for high-speed Internet access. As Kennedy points out: "It might just be time for the Capitol to get a firewall to help keep the legislators focused."

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Posted at 2:32 AM ET, 03/26/2009

McAuliffe's Ties to Lobbyists

Terry McAuliffe's ties to lobbyists go beyond the political friendships that prompted a group of supporters to host a fundraiser for him this week in the offices of the BGR Group, a prominent Washington lobbying firm. For nearly 10 years, McAuliffe was the managing partner of a law firm with its own thriving lobbying practice.

The Washington Post reported this morning on Brian Moran's criticism of the fundraiser and effort to tar McAuliffe's long history as a Washington political insider.

That history includes his affiliation with the Washington law firm, McAuliffe Kelly Raffaelli, where he was managing partner until his departure in 1994. Although McAuliffe did not lobby himself, news clips and federal lobbying disclosure forms show that others with the firm represented the nuclear power industry, a chemical company, the telecommunications industry, fast-food chains and the foreign governments of Taiwan, India and Turkey. The company came under fire for some of that work.

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Posted at 9:50 PM ET, 03/17/2009

McAuliffe Wins Fairfax Straw Poll

Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe overwhelmingly won an informal straw poll in Fairfax County tonight against his two Democratic rivals for governor, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds.

At a jam-packed St. Patrick's Day party hosted by U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), McAuliffe earned 58 percent of votes, Moran took 30 percent and Deeds earned 12 percent. Connolly told the crowd of about 1,400 that a total of 934 ballots were cast.

If nothing else, the vote sprinkled a healthy pinch of fish food into Virginia's political aquarium. McAuliffe outshined his rivals in both organization and spirit at the event, arranging for donors to purchase 400 tickets for his guests, staffing the party with 60 paid campaign workers and prompting the loudest cheers when he spoke to the crowd.

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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 03/16/2009

Connolly St. Patrick's Day Straw Poll Tuesday

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) will hold his annual St. Patrick's Day party Tuesday at the Kena Temple in Fairfax featuring the usual fare of corned beef, cabbage and a Democratic straw poll.

Connolly is expecting upwards of 500 guests. The straw poll will measure support for candidates in this year's contested Democratic primaries for governor and lieutenant governor.

Most Democratic statewide candidates are expected to attend, organizers said. For tickets, contact Donald Brownlee at 703-267-6888. The event will run from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Kena Temple, 9001 Arlington Blvd., Fairfax.

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Posted at 10:17 AM ET, 03/11/2009

John Warner to Return to D.C. Law Firm

Former U.S senator John W. Warner, a Virginia Republican, announced today that he will return to the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson, where he was a partner until launching a long career in public service in 1969.

Warner left his Senate seat in January after 30 years in office; before that, he was undersecretary and secretary of the U.S. Navy.

A graduate of the University of Virginia law school, Warner will return to Hogan & Hartson as a partner concentrating on national security, international trade and global climate issues.

"People say I will be a rainmaker," Warner said. "And, well, yes, I will probably bring a few showers. But what I want to do is to work with the younger lawyers to inspire them to try to achieve the goals in life that they have. In return, I ask them to invigorate me so that I can press on for a few more years.

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Posted at 11:16 PM ET, 02/10/2009

Moon Wins Firehouse Primary in Fairfax County

Fairfax County School Board member Ilryong Moon defeated community activist Janyce N. Hedetniemi and the Rev. Ronald F. Christian in a "firehouse" primary yesterday and today for the Democratic nomination for the county's Braddock District supervisor seat.

Moon now faces Republican John Cook, 45, a lawyer and community activist, and Carey C. Campbell, an independent who ran unsuccessfully in the chairman's race, in a special election scheduled for March 10. The three are vying to replace Democrat Sharon S. Bulova, who narrowly defeated Supervisor Pat S. Herrity (R-Springfield) to become chairman of the Board of Supervisors. Bulova replaced Democrat Gerald E. Connolly, now in Congress.

Scott A. Surovell, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, reported that Moon earned 1,528 votes, Hedetniemi earned 1,073 votes and Christian earned 92 votes in the firehouse primary. The fate of an additional eight uncounted votes was uncertain, but they won't change the outcome, Surovell said.

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Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 02/ 4/2009

Candidates For Fairfax Board Waste No Time

The provisional ballots still aren't counted in yesterday's special election for Fairfax County board chairman, but already a new gaggle of candidates are launching campaigns to replace Democrat Sharon S. Bulova in the board's Braddock District seat.

According to unofficial results, Bulova narrowly defeated Republican Pat S. Herrity to replace Democrat Gerald E. Connolly, who is now in Congress. Herrity has not yet conceded, however, and county election officials are still canvassing the results. Rokey Suleman, the general registrar, said he does not expect the results to change dramatically, meaning Bulova is likely to be certified the winner with no option of a recount for Herrity.

In the meantime, state Democrats are celebrating Bulova's victory as a sign of momentum heading into the fall elections for governor and the House of Delegates. And local leaders are positioning themselves to replace Bulova.

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Posted at 4:45 AM ET, 02/ 3/2009

Fairfax Special Election Is On

Weather may be an impediment for those wishing to vote today in the special election for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. But the election will proceed, Rokey Suleman, the county's general registrar, said early this morning.

Suleman was up at 2 a.m. to talk with state highway officials and the State Board of Elections about whether today's forecast warranted a postponement.

"The reports look good through the close of polls," he said. "The weather service says we dodged a bullet. It's going to snow but the roads will just be wet."

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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 01/24/2009

UPDATED: Connolly under fire for vote-suppression joke

U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) is under fire, mostly from Republicans, for jokingly urging fellow Democrats at a recent political event to give Republicans the wrong date for the Feb. 3 special election for Fairfax County chairman.

Speaking to about 700 guests at a Fairfax County Democratic Committee ball held last weekend at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Connolly, who was chairman until taking congressional office earlier this month, urged the crowd to help elect Vice Chairman Sharon S. Bulova (D-Braddock) in the Feb. 3 special election to replace him.

"You know, it's really important to tell every Democrat we know this election is on Tuesday, Feb. 3, and to tell every Republican we know that this election is on Tuesday Feb. 10," Connolly said to laughter.

The remarks were captured on video and have been bouncing through the blogosphere -- and accompanied by charges that Connolly crossed a line by attempting to suppress Republican voter turnout. The video, which was first highlighted on the blog NotLarrySabato, was also featured on the conservative television commentator Sean Hannity's program, "Hannity's America." Hannity dubbed the video "Enfranchisement, Connolly style," and described Connolly as "all for voting rights until the election gets too close for comfort."

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Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 06/11/2008

Low Turnout Yesterday Says Little About November

Democrat Gerald E. Connolly of Fairfax County, the top elected official of the region's largest jurisdiction, won a decisive primary victory yesterday in Northern Virginia's 11th Congressional District against former representative Leslie L. Byrne.

But with less than 6 percent of registered voters participating in the election, the results don't say a whole lot about what could happen come November.

Connolly beat Byrne with nearly 58 percent of the vote to her 33 percent. In raw numbers, however, he won by just over 6,000 votes -- little more than 1 percent of the 11th Congressional District's 446,000 active registered voters.

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Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 06/11/2008

Low Turnout Yesterday Says Little About November

Democrat Gerald E. Connolly of Fairfax County, the top elected official of the region's largest jurisdiction, won a decisive primary victory yesterday in Northern Virginia's 11th Congressional District against former representative Leslie L. Byrne.

But with less than 6 percent of registered voters participating in the election, the results don't say a whole lot about what could happen come November.

Connolly beat Byrne with nearly 58 percent of the vote to her 33 percent. In raw numbers, however, he won by just over 6,000 votes -- little more than 1 percent of the 11th Congressional District's 446,000 active registered voters.

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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 06/10/2008

Turnout Worse Than Expected on Primary Day

After morning and lunch-hour rushes that looked more like a trickle, Northern Virginia election officials predicted historically low turnout in today's congressional primaries despite a fiercely competitive Democratic contest for an open seat in the 11th District, where Republican Tom Davis is retiring.


At Sleepy Hollow Elementary School, Democratic candidate Leslie Byrne greets a prospective voter and his son at the polls. (By Emma Patti -- washingtonpost.com)

Through much of the afternoon, precincts across the region looked like ghost towns. At the Fair Oaks precinct of central Fairfax County, just 15 ballots had been cast at 2 p.m., officials said.

"Turnout is, I don't want to say anemic, but turnout is very, very, very, very light," said Rokey Suleman, Fairfax County's general registrar, who predicted that turnout was unlikely to exceed 5 percent by the time polls close at 7 p.m. -- a dismal contrast to the one-third of registered voters who participated in February's presidential contest statewide. Turnout in the 2006 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate was 5.8 percent in Fairfax County.

In Fairfax City, general registrar Jeremiah Vangen reported just 605 ballots cast by 2 p.m. out of more than 14,000 registered voters. Polls close at 7 p.m.


At the Mantua polling place, Democratic candidate Gerry Connolly greets Mantua precinct captain Patty Parker before voting. (By Emma Patti -- washingtonpost.com)

"The presidential campaign has overshadowed this campaign," said Sally Ormsby, a precinct captain at the Price precinct in central Fairfax County. "People weren't focused on this, even though it's a huge competition."

In the hotly contested 11th District, which encompasses central and southern Fairfax County and a swath of Prince William County, low turnout adds a measure of uncertainty in a four-way primary battle between Fairfax County Board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly, former representative Leslie L. Byrne, former Navy pilot Doug Denneny and physical therapist Lori P. Alexander.

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Posted at 1:53 PM ET, 06/ 5/2008

Rep. Scott endorses Byrne; labor union backs Connolly

U.S. Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-Va.) said today he has endorsed Leslie L. Byrne in the hotly contested Democratic primary in the 11th Congressional District, while the Mid-Atlantic Laborers Union has backed Byrne rival Gerald E. Connolly.

Scott, who lives in Newport News and represents Virginia's only majority-African-American district, worked alongside Byrne both in the General Assembly and in Congress during her one term in the early 1990s. Like Byrne, he is viewed as one of Virginia's most prominent liberal Democrats.

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Posted at 5:25 PM ET, 05/21/2008

A Byrne Poll in the 11th

The congressional campaign of Leslie L. Byrne has released details from an internal poll showing her in a statistical dead heat with fellow Democrat Gerald E. Connolly.

The two are competing in the June 10 primary along with two others, Doug Denneny and Lori P. Alexander, for the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional District, where incumbent Tom Davis is retiring. The winner will face Republican newcomer Keith Fimian in the fall in an increasingly blue-leaning district that includes much of central Fairfax County and a part of Prince William County.

According to an internal memo issued by the campaign, Connolly is ahead of Byrne 37 percent to 34 percent among likely Democratic primary voters -- a statistical dead heat given the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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Posted at 6:04 PM ET, 04/14/2008

Connolly Still Leads the Money Race

The money keeps flowing into the 11th Congressional District's Democratic primary showdown.

According to disclosure reports to be filed to the Federal Election Commission tomorrow, Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, is leading the pack of four after raising $500,000 during the first quarter of 2008.

As of March 31, Connolly had $424,000 on hand, his campaign reported.


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Posted at 5:53 PM ET, 04/ 8/2008

Gartlan Reverses Endorsement For Byrne

Former state Sen. Joseph V. Gartlan Jr., for 28 years one of the most liberal voices of the General Assembly, has endorsed Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, for the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional District.

The endorsement provides a boost for Connolly in an area where he needs it: among liberal party activists, with whom his principal opponent, former state senator Leslie L. Byrne, has strong roots. Such voters will be crucial in the June 10 primary.

Gartlan's endorsement is notable for two reasons: As a liberal, he is ideologically close to Byrne. And that leads to point No. 2, which is that Gartlan had already endorsed Byrne, but he changed his mind after Connolly got in the race.

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Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 03/31/2008

Cuccinelli Is First to Enter AG Race

State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax), one of Northern Virginia's few conservative elected officials with deep roots in the conservative wing of the Republican Party, announced plans today to run for state attorney general in 2009.

Cuccinelli, 39, is a proven campaigner who narrowly won reelection last fall in western Fairfax County despite the region's increasing tendency to choose Democrats at the polls. He touted his conservative credentials on such issues as illegal immigration, gun rights, the death penalty and abortion as evidence that he can court Republican votes and round out a conservative GOP ticket that will also feature Robert F. McDonnell, the current attorney general, for governor, and Lt. Gov. William T. Bolling, who will seek reelection next year.

"We have the opportunity to have the strongest ticket that Republicans have fielded in years, many years," Cuccinelli said. "And I believe I can round out that ticket, bringing in my history of conservative leadership and a strong grassroots network based here in Northern Virginia."

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Posted at 10:48 AM ET, 03/10/2008

Connolly Far Ahead, His Poll Shows

Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and candidate for the congressional seat of retiring Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), released poll results today giving him a 23-point lead over Democratic rival Leslie L. Byrne.

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Posted at 8:27 AM ET, 02/15/2008

Connolly Makes It Official

Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, formally announced his candidacy for Congress yesterday.

Connolly is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional District. He faces three opponents: former congresswoman and state senator Leslie L. Byrne, community activist Douglas J. Denneny and physical therapist Lori P. Alexander.


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Posted at 3:53 PM ET, 02/10/2008

Obama Greets Supporters in Alexandria

Sen. Barack Obama arrived at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria just before 2 p.m. today, greeting thousands of supporters in a packed gymnasium and hundreds more hoping for a glimpse outside.

Obama came to Virginia on the heels of a sweeping victory in three smaller states Saturday. He is hoping to ride his momentum to victory in the region in Tuesday's first-ever "Potomac Primary", when voters in D.C., Maryland and Virginia will go to the polls. Obama is expected to do well on all three contests, but just how well could improve his momentum heading into the much larger and more important Texas and Ohio primaries next month.

Obama used Williams' history as a racially and economically divided community -- as told in the book and movie "Remember the Titans" -- to describe his agenda to improve quality and access to public and higher education.

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Posted at 12:49 PM ET, 02/ 8/2008

In the 11th: Hunt Out, Fimian Up

Steve Hunt, the former Fairfax County School Board member, has decided to withdraw his name from consideration for the Republican nomination in the 11th Congressional District in Northern Virginia.

That leaves Keith Fimian, a successful Oakton business owner favored by U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), who will retire from the 11th at the end of this term.

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Posted at 11:38 AM ET, 02/ 8/2008

Onward and Upward for Marin

David Marin, minority staff director of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will move on to a new gig this month as a principal with the Podesta Group, a bipartisan government relations and public
relations firm with such clients as Google, Wal-Mart and BP.

Marin, who has been the right-hand wunderkind of U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), joined on with Davis nine years ago, at the tender age of 29. He rose from the rank of Davis spokesman to staff director during Davis's tenure as committee chairman. Supervising a committee staff of 80, Marin led high-profile inquiries into steroid use in major league baseball, federal defense contracting and treatment of wounded veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Marin is next in a line of Davis staffers likely to move on to new opportunities now that their boss has announced that he will retire at the end of the term. Already gone is David Foreman, who was Davis's field director and now serves as chief of staff to Fairfax County Supervisor Pat S. Herrity (R-Springfield).

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Posted at 1:04 PM ET, 01/30/2008

He's Out

U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) said today he will retire from Congress at the end of the year, bringing to a close a 14-year stint in the House of Representatives during which he rose rapidly through the ranks of Republican leadership and championed such issues as D.C. voting rights and a vibrant defense-contracting industry.

"It's time for me to take a sabbatical," Davis said. "I would say I'm not ruling out future public service, but it's time to be refreshed, to see what it's like in the private sector. That doesn't mean I will or won't come back."

Davis, 59, a self-described political wonk who has wanted to serve in Congress since childhood, said the decision was remarkably difficult. He said that even as some media outlets were reporting this week that he would retire, he had not made up his mind.

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Posted at 12:55 PM ET, 01/29/2008

Is The Race On?

Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, still hasn't moved past the "exploratory" phase of his bid for Congress. But his committee very proudly shared some early fundraising numbers to make the point that Connolly has the ability to run a well-financed campaign.

According to James Walkinshaw, who runs Connolly's exploratory committee, Connolly has raised $161,000 since the beginning of January, when he announced the formation of the committee to pursue a bid in the 11th Congressional District. By contrast, fellow Democrat Leslie L. Byrne will report at the end of the month that she raised $115,000 between the November elections and the new year, she said in an interview yesterday.

"That's in just three and a half weeks," Walkinshaw said.

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Posted at 12:27 PM ET, 01/29/2008

Will He or Won't He?

The suspense continues to build about whether U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) will seek an eighth term representing Northern Virginia this year. Davis has said for months that he would announce a decision by the end of January. And here we are.

Despite media reports that Davis has decided to retire, he told WTOP this morning that he has not yet made a decision. Most observers believe retirement is the likelier of the two possibilities, but as a source close to Davis not authorized to speak for the congressman said today: "Anyone who says they know what Tom is doing knows more than Tom, because he hasn't made a decision yet."

A Davis retirement has all kinds of implications for the region. Most immediate is the likelihood that Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, would upgrade his "exploratory campaign" to a full-fledged candidacy, facing off against fellow Democrats Leslie L. Byrne and Doug Denneny in what is sure to be an exciting and competitive primary contest.

Then there's the prospect of losing Davis's seniority in the House, where he is ranking minority member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and has taken a lead role pushing for D.C. voting rights.

Stay tuned. An announcement is nigh.

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Posted at 2:48 PM ET, 01/18/2008

Petersen Jumps On the Train

State Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax), who just the other day sent a letter to the Federal Transit Administration urging a "time out" on the approval process for a proposed Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport, has now signed a letter urging "immediate action" to approve the project's final design.

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Posted at 9:12 PM ET, 01/16/2008

Petersen Throws Himself in Front of a Train

State Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax), just a few days into his first legislative session since upsetting Republican Jeannemarie Devolites Davis last November, did something pretty interesting the other day: He sent a letter to Federal Transit Administration chief James S. Simpson urging him to take a "time out" on approving federal funding for the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport so that a tunnel through Tysons Corner can be more thoroughly studied.

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Posted at 8:25 PM ET, 01/16/2008

Byrne gets serious

Leslie L. Byrne declared herself the frontrunner today in the battle for the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional District -- but others have something else to say about her numbers.

Byrne released polling numbers today that show her with a 10-point lead over potential primary opponent Gerald E. Connolly, the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors who recently formed an exploratory committee to consider running for Congress.


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Posted at 4:55 PM ET, 01/ 9/2008

More Steam For Rail

Increasingly impatient with the silence emanating from the Federal Transit Administration, the Dulles Corridor Rail Association will publish a full-page, $100,000 ad in The Washington Post tomorrow reminding the FTA and the public just how important they view the proposed $5-plus billion extension of Metro to Dulles Internatonional Airport.

"We're ready to ride," states the ad, which supporters described as "positive," and which also states: "The Dulles Metrorail has never had so much support."


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Posted at 2:59 PM ET, 12/ 4/2007

More New Blood for Fairfax Board

Supervisor-elect Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), who will assume the seat now held by retiring Elaine N. McConnell, has hired David Foreman to be his chief of staff. Foreman, who currently serves as field director for U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Fairfax), and Herrity attended West Springfield High School together.

But the connections don't end there. Foreman's dad was the chief of staff to Herrity's dad, the late John F. "Jack" Herrity, a former county board chairman. And Foreman's wife works for Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully), who is likely to be a friendly face on the board for fellow Republican Herrity.

Foreman did not return a phone call for comment, but others close to Davis said Foreman's impending departure is not a signal that Davis has decided not to seek reelection. Herrity said his old high school friend has helped him with the campaign all year.

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Posted at 7:01 PM ET, 12/ 3/2007

Baise Still Fighting Tysons Tunnel -- For a Fee

Gary H. Baise, the Republican candidate for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors who lost to incumbent Gerald E. Connolly (D) last month, is still talking about the Tysons tunnel. But Baise has hung up his politician's cap and put on the one he wears as lawyer.

Baise is representing tysonstunnel.org in the lawsuit it filed last week against the Federal Transit Administration seeking a renewed look at the proposal to extend Metrorail from Falls Church to Dulles International Airport. Current plans call for an elevated track through busy Tysons Corner, but tysonstunnel.org claims that state, local and federal officials have not sufficiently considered the tunnel option.

When asked if he was doing the legal work pro bono, Baise replied, "Oh no." But it's not clear how quickly, or by whom, he will be paid. Scott Monet, who heads tysonstunnel.org, said in an interview last week that the organization's primary benefactor, WestGroup, has stopped providing financial support, and that he is trying to raise money now to pay for the suit.

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Posted at 7:08 PM ET, 11/27/2007

Ferguson Heads to Lottery

Frank S. Ferguson, one of the institutional brains of the Virginia attorney general's office, will serve as interim director of the Virginia Lottery while a permanent replacement for Sheila Hill-Christian is found, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) announced today.

Hill-Christian left her post as lottery director this month to become chief administrative officer for Richmond Mayor (and former governor) L. Douglas Wilder.

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Posted at 5:27 PM ET, 11/15/2007

Kicking (or Shooting) Her When She's Down?

State Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-Fairfax) has been taking quite a beating in the public domain since she lost resoundingly to Democrat J. Chapman Petersen in last Tuesday's election. The Democratic-friendly blogs have been crowing over her defeat, and the de facto blow that the loss represented for her husband, U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, who devoted much of the last two months, hundreds of thousands of dollars in his campaign money, and a fleet of his political staff to saving his wife's political career.

The beating is coming from the other side today, when the gun-rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League will hold a party to celebrate Devolites Davis's loss. In an effort to win in an increasingly Democrat-leaning district, the one-term senator campaigned in part on a promise to enact further gun controls. She also angered gun-rights activists by appearing with New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who praised her push for greater gun controls.

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Posted at 3:25 PM ET, 11/ 8/2007

Not Just Any Phone Call

The phone's been ringing a lot in the household of Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who not only overwhelmingly won a second four-year term against Republican Gary H. Baise on Tuesday, but also picked up another Democrat on the board. Come January Democrats will hold an 8-to-2 majority.

But even for Connolly, one call stood out yesterday morning. It was from presidential contender Hillary Clinton, who rang up to offer her congratulations.

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Posted at 1:28 PM ET, 11/ 5/2007

The Final Push

The entire cast of Democratic characters could hardly fit onto the stage at George Mason University this morning, when Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, former governor Mark R. Warner and U.S. Sen. James Webb led a throng of candidates and legislative leaders at an outdoor rally before hundreds of supporters.

"So far what we've heard from the other side is, 'No,'" Warner said in the autumn sunshine. He urged the candidates behind him on the stage not to reflexively vote Democratic on issue, but, "What I desperately want them to do is not reflexively say, 'No.'"

Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, emceed the event. Connolly earned laughs by saying, "First of all, can I mention: I'm on the ballot." He also earned cheers by saying, "Here in Fairfax, we are on the verge of a sweep."

Other luminaries included state Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), the House Democratic Caucus chairman; Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry), the House minority leader; and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath). Deeds and Moran have both been mentioned as possible gubernatorial candidates in 2009.

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Posted at 4:47 PM ET, 10/31/2007

More fodder in Davis-Petersen ad wars

State Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-Fairfax) has debuted a new advertisement on network television tonight, continuing the high-dollar, high-stakes ad wars with Democrat J. Chapman Petersen that could permanently transform Northern Virginia electoral politics.
Devolites Davis became the first Virginia legislative candidate from Northern Virginia to buy expensive network air time in the Washington market. Petersen quickly followed suit, as has Democrat Janet Oleszek, who is challenging state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II in western Fairfax County.
Watch the new ad here.

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Posted at 10:59 AM ET, 10/30/2007

Money Money Money

The latest money reports are in, and the cash is flowing like rainwater in the hottest legislative races in the state. In Northern Virginia, state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R-Fairfax), in one of the toughest contests of the year against Democratic challenger J. Chapman Petersen, accepted $183,000 from the congressional committee of her husband, U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III. To date, Devolites Davis has accepted more than $400,000 from Davis, much of it directed toward network television advertising.

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Posted at 6:21 PM ET, 10/18/2007

More GOP division

State Sen. Martin E. Williams (R-Newport News) is the latest moderate Republican to predict trouble on the horizon for the GOP if it doesn't open its tent to a broad range of voters. Williams, who lost a fierce primary battle earlier this year to conservative Tricia Stall, has launched a new blog, www.reagansgop.com, whose principal theme will be to lament the damage that the party's conservative wing is wreaking on GOP majorities.

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Posted at 6:26 PM ET, 10/16/2007

An Exaggeration or an Untruth?

Democrat J. Chapman Petersen, who is seeking to unseat Fairfax state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis (R) in what is widely viewed as one of the most competitive races in Virginia this year, put the Fairfax Education Association in a tough spot at a candidates forum Sunday at which he claimed that the teacher group endorsed Davis only because she is the incumbent.

"I don't have the FEA endorsement because I'm not an incumbent," Petersen told the audience at Temple Rodef Shalom Sunday morning. "It's funny -- the president of the FEA said, 'I'll come to every single one of your fundraisers, and I'll write you a personal check, but understand that we can't go against an incumbent that meets the minimum score.' Our children deserve better than the minimum score. If I'm elected, you're going to get better than the minimum score."

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Posted at 3:54 PM ET, 10/12/2007

Air Wars Go Local

Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, launched his first round of television advertising this week with a $40,000-a-week cable TV buy, he said. And there's plenty more where that came from.

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Posted at 4:32 PM ET, 09/17/2007

Connolly Endorsed by Green Groups

Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, on Tuesday will announce endorsements from three environmental organizations: the Sierra Club, the Clean Water Action Project, and the Fairfax chapter of the League of Conservation Voters.

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Posted at 1:16 PM ET, 09/17/2007

The Race Is On

The ad wars have begun in Fairfax County, where two incumbent Republican state senators -- Ken Cuccinelli and Jay O'Brien -- went up on cable TV last week. Cuccinelli's opponent, Democrat Janet Oleszek, is also running an ad on cable.

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Posted at 10:40 AM ET, 09/ 6/2007

About the Bloggers - Amy Gardner

Amy Gardner has covered local and state politics for 14 years. Amy touched down in Virginia in 1994, when she joined The Daily Press in Newport News, covering local government as well as the Virginia General Assembly and former Gov. Jim Gilmore. She moved on to The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., where she covered two Tar Heel governors and an endless series of state budget crises. Amy joined The Washington Post's Virginia desk in 2005. Although a Yankee by birth, she has earned her southern bona fides through the births of her two sons, one in Richmond and the other in Raleigh.

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