Archive: Anita Kumar

Posted at 1:57 PM ET, 11/10/2009

Joe "You Lie!" Wilson headlines Fairfax fundraiser

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson will headline a fundraiser in Fairfax County next Thursday to help raise money for the GOP nominee running to fill Sen. Ken Cuccinelli's seat.

OurVirginiaNow, a new state political action committee, is hosting the reception as a kickoff for its group, which aims to help local candidates get elected across the state.

About 40 people are expected. Hosts include Del. Tim Hugo, former state Sen. Jay O'Brien and Kay Cole James, a member of Gov.-Elect Bob McDonnell's transition team.

Wilson -- as if you don't remember?! -- was the congressman who yelled "You lie!" while President Obama addressed Congress on healthcare earlier this year. He has been a much-sought-after speaker and fundraiser for the conservative branch of the Republican party.

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Posted at 4:33 PM ET, 11/ 9/2009

Hurt signs up LaCivita

State Sen. Robert Hurt has hired veteran Republican operative Chris LaCivita to manage his campaign for Congress next year.

LaCivita is fresh off a big win -- helping conservative Sen. Ken Cuccinelli defeat Steve Shannon in the race for attorney general.

But some political insiders are speculating that Hurt hired LaCivita to shore up his conservative credentials in what is expected to be a tough primary for the GOP nomination.

Hurt is the best known of the five Republicans running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, but some GOP activists question his conservative credentials because he voted in favor of former governor Mark Warner's 2004 tax increase -- one of the defining moments of modern Virginia politics.

LaCivita declined to comment today. Hurt did not immediately return calls for comment.

Other Republicans running include Feda Kidd Morton, a teacher in Fluvanna County; Michael McPadden, an Albemarle County pilot; Laurence Verga, an Albemarle real estate developer and consultant; Ken Boyd, a member of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors; and businessman Ron Ferrin. Republican Bradley Rees of Bedford County recently announced that he will run as an independent.

Democrats are hoping that the GOP primary in the 5th Congressional District will turn moderates and conservatives against each other, weakening the nominee before he faces Perriello. (Similar to last week's special election in New York's 23rd congressional district).

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Posted at 11:27 AM ET, 11/ 8/2009

Health care: How Virginia members voted

Virginia's congressional delegation voted 4 to 7 Saturday night in favor of passage of the landmark health-care reform bill. Two Democrats, Rick Boucher and Glenn Nye, broke with their party and voted no.

"Passage of the House bill is but a first step in a long legislative process to final enactment of a reform,'' Boucher said. "I look forward to future steps in that process offering an opportunity for my concerns to be resolved." Read his full statement here.

"Health care costs are crippling our small businesses and forcing families into bankruptcy, and any reform plan needs to reduce those costs. Although this version of the bill takes important steps to lower the deficit in the short term, the CBO has said that it does not address the fundamental problem of reducing skyrocketing health care costs," Nye said. See his full press release here.

A complete list of how the delegation voted is below.

Rick Boucher (D), No
Eric Cantor (R): No (Statement)
Gerry Connolly (D): Yes (Statement)
Randy Forbes (R): No (Statement)
Bob Goodlatte (R): No (Statement)
Jim Moran (D): Yes (Speech)
Glenn Nye (D): No
Bobby Scott (D): Yes (Statement)
Tom Perriello (D): Yes (Statement)
Robert Wittman (R): No (Statement)
Frank Wolf (R): No (Statement)

For a complete House roll call, along with a list of campaign contributions from the health care industry and the number of uninsured by district, click here.

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

McDonnell on Sunday morning talk shows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 2:13 PM ET, 11/ 5/2009

Kaine announces new job

As we reported earlier, Gov. Tim Kaine announced today that he will resume a teaching career in law and leadership at the University of Richmond after the end of his term in January.

Kaine accepted a joint appointment in the university's law school and Jepson School of Leadership Studies. He will also have additional responsibilities in advancing the university's strategic plan, The Richmond Promise.

"I have always been a believer in the power of education, and I am thrilled to be rejoining the faculty of the University of Richmond this coming semester," Kaine. "I look forward to contributing to the next generation of legal scholars and leaders, while helping the University of Richmond advance The Richmond Promise."

Kaine, a Harvard law graduate who served as mayor of Richmond and lieutenant governor of Virginia, previously taught law at the private university, including courses in professional responsibility.

"It is hard to imagine anyone better equipped than Gov. Kaine to help train the next generation of lawyers for those roles,'' said Law Dean John Douglass. "He offers a breadth of experience in government and politics that will bring to life our students' exploration of executive decision-making, legislative process and public policy issues that shape the formation and interpretation of law."

The governor's appointment is a part-time term appointment without tenure. He will teach one course a semester. His first course will be offered at the Jepson School, during the spring semester. He will teach at the law school next fall.

Kaine made the announcement at the university, where he was joined by the school's president Edward Ayers.

Read the president's announcement to faculty below:

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Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 11/ 5/2009

Cuccinelli names transition team

Ken Cuccinelli, who was elected the state's new attorney general Tuesday, announced today that his transition will be led by a pair of former attorneys general -- Democrat Andrew Miller and Republican Richard Cullen -- along with former state GOP chairman Pat McSweeney.

Miller who ran for governor and U.S. Senate in the 1970s is a lawyer in Washington.

Cullen completed Jim Gilmore's term as attorney general when he resigned to run for governor and now heads the McGuire Woods law firm in Richmond. He is close to Governor-elect Bob McDonnell.

McSweeney in a Richmond lawyer who challenged the constitutionality of a proposed transportation sales-tax referendum and the state's 2007 landmark transportation plan, including its high fees for egregious driving offenses.

Republican Bernie McNamee was named transition director. McNamee is Cullen's law partner and a lobbyist who worked for former attorney general Jerry Kilgore and former Gov. George Allen.

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Posted at 2:04 PM ET, 11/ 5/2009

GOP hopes to keep Cuccinelli's seat

Virginia Republicans are eager to hold on to the soon-to-be open seats in the state Senate.

Sen. Ken Cuccinelli from Fairfax County was elected the state's attorney general and Sen. Ken Stolle was elected Virginia Beach's new sheriff. Stolle's seat will likely stay in GOP hands but Democrats thinks they can pick up the increasingly left-leaning district held by Cuccinelli. He is the only remaining Republican senator in Northen Virginia.

Three Republicans are already running -- Marianne Horinko, a former George W. Bush appointee who runs a consulting firm, Steve Hunt, a former member of the Fairfax County School Board, and Will Nance, executive director of Greenspring Retirement Community. Their Websites went live after Tuesday's election.

Democrats who have been talked about for the seat include Dels. David L. Bulova and Dave W. Marsden (D-Fairfax) and Janet Oleszek, a former school board member who ran against Cuccinelli in 2007.

Gov. Tim Kaine has yet to call a special election to fill either seat.

Democrats hold a one-seat advantage in the state Senate, and Republicans are talking about whether the incoming governor Bob McDonnell would try to lure a couple of Democrats in GOP-leaning districts into his administration, paving the way to switch control of the chamber. McDonnell sidestepped questions about that possibility this week.

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Posted at 8:35 AM ET, 11/ 5/2009

Kaine to teach at the University of Richmond

Gov. Tim Kaine will announce today that he is joining the faculty at the University of Richmond after he leaves office in January, sources close to the governor say.

Kaine will teach two classes -- one at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies and one at the university's law school. He previously taught an ethics class at the law school. He will teach one class a semester.

Kaine will also begin serving full time as chairman of the Democratic National Committee after Republican Bob McDonnell is sworn in as governor.

White House officials and the governor said yesterday that Kaine will continue to serve as DNC chairman despite gubernatorial losses for his party Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey.

Kaine held a news conference yesterday in which he talked about returning home to his family's previous house in the Ginter Park section of Richmond.

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Posted at 7:36 PM ET, 11/ 4/2009

McDonnell names transition team

Governor-elect Bob McDonnell announced his transition team at a packed news conference this afternoon at the State Capitol in Richmond.

The five co-chairmen will be: Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling; longtime friend Attorney General Bill Mims; Tom Farrell, a high school classmate and president of Dominion Power; Bobbie Kilberg, president of the Northern Virginia Technology Council; and Kay Cole James, who served in George Allen's and George W. Bush's administrations.

Kilberg and James were not at the press conference, but Kilberg quickly released a statement saying she was delighted to participate. "The Governor-Elect clearly recognizes the importance of the technology industry to the economic growth of the Commonwealth and we look forward to working with him, his staff, and the incoming administration," she said.

Campaign manager Phil Cox will serve as McDonnell's transition director. Tucker Martin will serve as director of communications -- a job he held during the campaign.

McDonnell was laughing off questions today about a future vice presidential run, even as he fielded calls from President Obama, national Republicans leaders and TV networks clamoring for interviews. He also received calls from U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb and Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor and assistant to the president for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama administration.

His wife, Maureen, received a call from Virginia's First Lady, Anne Holton, who took her and four of the McDonnell's children on a tour of the Executive Mansion, this afternoon.

McDonnell is now being protected by State Police, who attended the press conference.

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Posted at 1:45 PM ET, 11/ 4/2009

Updated: Kaine's October travel


View Kaine's Travel Adventures in a larger map. KEY: Blue markers are DNC trips, red markers are official state trips, and purple markers included a mix of both or are unclear at this time.

Gov. Tim Kaine, who serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, spent nearly half the days in October out of state, including 11 weekdays.

Kaine spent all or part of 14 days outside Virginia, taking trips to five other states and eight trips to Washington.

Kaine's office released his travels for October in keeping with his pledge to do so at the end of each month, which was made following pressure by the media and others to disclose his whereabouts. This month, however, his office waited a few extra days and released the information on Election Day when his schedule would likely be overhadowed by other news. Kaine's spokesman Gordon Hickey said the schedule was "released in error" Tuesday because he forgot to release it Monday.

His out-of-state travel included trips to Chicago and Boston (Thurs. Oct. 15 -Fri. Oct. 16),
New York (Tues. Oct. 20-Wed. Oct. 21), Tallahassee and Miami (Fri. Oct. 23-Sat. Oct. 24), New Jersey (Thurs. Oct. 29-Fri. Oct. 30). He also reported spending part of five weekdays and two weekends in Washington.

Much of the out-of-state travel was likely for DNC business, but may have been in his role as governor or for both jobs. The travel log does not indicate the purpose of the trips, but the New Jersey trip was primarily to campaign for Gov. Jon Corzine, who was in a tough three-way race for re-election.

In June, Kaine traveled for the DNC half of the days. In July, he traveled to eight other states, while spending part of four days in Washington that month. Kaine significantly limited his out-of-state travel in August, traveling to five states and spending only part of one day in Washington. But his travel increased in September. He reported spending all or part of 12 days out-of-state that month, including five trips to Washington.

See October's full schedule below:

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

Obama calls McDonnell

We just heard that President Obama called Republican Bob McDonnell, who won a landslide victory over Democrat Creigh Deeds last night in Virginia's governor race.

The two men spoke for about 10 minutes in what McDonnell's campaign called a "very friendly conversation."

Obama told McDonnell: "The first thing you need to do is thank your wife!"

The two also talked about their shared support for charter schools and McDonnell's support of Obama's "Race to the Top" program -- a federal grant for schools committed to closing achievement gaps and getting more students into college. McDonnell frequently parised those programs on the campaign trail.

McDonnell is spending the morning at the Richmond Marriott with his wife, Maureen, five children and assorted other family members. He declined multiple requests to appear on news shows today. He will hold a 2 p.m. press conference at the state Capitol.

Gov. Tim Kaine also called McDonnell this morning. McDonnell's staff has already begun moving into the state-funded transition office off of Capitol Square in Richmond.

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

Gibbs calls Deeds underdog, praises Kaine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 11/ 4/2009

Discuss last night's results with Post reporters

Anita Kumar and Rosalind Helderman, who spent the past several months trailing the Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds campaigns, will be online at 10 a.m. today to take your questions and comments about McDonnell's resounding gubernatorial victory and the rest of Tuesday night's results. Send in your questions now and watch the discussion at 10 a.m. or read the transcript afterward.

You might also want to check out Post columnist Robert McCartney's lengthy live session from Tuesday night. Here's a review sent to McCartney from a reader:

Vienna, Va.: No this is not your Dad or Mom -- you've been at this for four hours, and even though I don't agree with many of the opinions you express in your column, tonight's chat has been civil and interesting. Thanks to you and the Post for the back-and-forth. Kudos.

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Posted at 12:24 AM ET, 11/ 4/2009

Kaine reacts to two Democratic defeats

Tim Kaine, Virginia's governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, released a statement tonight reacting to Republican gubernatorial wins in both Virginia and New Jersey.

Kaine said that both Democratic hopefuls, Creigh Deeds and Jon Corzine, were strong candidates, but faced uphill battles. Both states tend to vote for the party that is not in power in the White House in their off-year gubernatorial elections. "It would have been historic if not unprecedented to win one or both of these races given historical trends,'' he said.

Kaine downplayed the notion that these races were a referendum on President Obama.
"These races turned on local and state issues and circumstances and on the candidates in each race - and despite what some will certainly claim - the results are not predictive of the future or reflective of the national mood or political environment,'' he said.

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

"The Republican candidate, a moderate, was purged from the Republican Party by the most extreme elements of the conservative right wing including Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck,'' Kaine said. "This race turned out to be the worst of all possible worlds for Republicans as not only did the Democrat, Bill Owens, win a seat that Democrats have not held in more than 100 years, but what occurred in New York has exposed a war within the Republican Party that will not soon end...The all out war between Republicans and the far right wing is a disaster for the Republican Party and will dog it well after today."

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Posted at 11:04 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Reactions to McDonnell's landslide win

Reactions from various corners of the nation were starting to come after 8 p.m. after Republican Bob McDonnell defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds in the governor's race:

Here's a sampling:

Terry McAuliffe, who lost to Deeds in the Democratic primary:

"The voters have spoken, and I'd like to congratulate the next Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia: Bob McDonnell. Creigh Deeds is an outstanding public servant, and I want to thank him for his continued commitment to improving the lives of all Virginians. He ran a hard-fought campaign and I was honored to support him."

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican Governors Association:

"Bob McDonnell proves that when Republicans campaign on solutions to the challenges on voters' minds, we win. His focus on ideas and pocketbook issues will serve as a model for Republicans running next year."

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D)

"Eight years ago, we changed the tone of politics here in Virginia, and showed how much you can accomplish when you work together and focus on producing results. Virginia, like many states, continues to face fiscal challenges. Yet, Bob McDonnell will become the governor of a commonwealth that has repeatedly been designated as the best managed state and the best state for business. I look forward to working with him on those joint efforts that will continue to move Virginia forward."

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

Deeds pens a letter to supporters

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

Here's the text:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Creigh Deeds

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Posted at 7:37 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Kaine gets ready for transition

Gov. Tim Kaine will hold a press conference tomorrow in Richmond to talk about how his office will transition to a new governor.

Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will appear on Larry King Live at 9 tonight to talk about the three major races taking place in Virginia, New Jersey and New York.

Kaine will also appear on the following show tomorrow:

7:05am - NBC Today Show
7:15am - MSNBC Morning Joe
7:30am - CNN American Morning
1:00pm - MSNBC Andrea Mitchell
4:30pm - CNN Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer


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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 11/ 3/2009

Va. Some precincts switch to paper ballots

A handful of the state's 2,300 precincts were forced to switch to paper ballot today because of a variety of problems with the electronic machines.

The problems varied at locations across the state. Among them: Workers couldn't enter one precinct because keys didn't work so they set up shop outside. Power outages. Equipment failure. A voter jammed a machine when the person used hand sanitizer available at the precinct to help prevent the spread of H1N1 flu.

Affected localities include the counties of Loudoun, Chesterfield and York as well as Bristol and Suffolk.

Nancy Rodrigues, secretary at Virginia State Board of Elections, said all problems were minor and quickly resolved.

In addition, a few voters had registration problems when they appeared in the electronic poll log as absentee voters, and one of the political parties passed out sample ballots that did meet color regulations, Rodrigues said.


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

McDonnell votes, greets voters

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

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

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

Check out the video below:

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

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pat Robertson and family donate money to McDonnell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palin, Huckabee call Virginia voters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaine appears on MSNBC on election eve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Click -- Virginia

Monday, Nov. 2, 2009

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

The polls open in less than 24 hours!

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 11:16 PM ET, 11/ 1/2009

Palin records calls urging Virginians to vote

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has recorded a phone message encouraging Virginians to get out and vote on Tuesday, Palin adviser Meg Stapleton told us tonight.

We are awaiting more details about the calls and will bring you the information as soon as we get it.

Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, said Palin's calls were not being made at the request of the campaign or the Republican Party of Virginia. He said the campaign had no firsthand knowledge of the calls.

Almost all of the Republicans considered top candidates for a 2012 presidential run have made stops in Virginia this year to help McDonnell. But McDonnell has made it pretty clear in recent months that he did not want Palin's help.

McDonnell epeatedly and personally asked Palin for help this summer, but by late August Palin learned that the McDonnell campaign no longer wanted her assistance, Stapleton told us a few weeks ago.

Palin drew enormous, enthusiastic crowds in Virginia while campaigning as Sen. John McCain's runningmate during the presidential election last year. But she is a polarizing figure that could turn off independent voters. In the summer, she drew criticism for abruptly resigning as governor and later insisting that the healthcare bill being considered by Congress would cause the creation of "death panels."

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

Last-minute endorsements roll in

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q & A with statewide candidates

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

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

Gubernatorial candidates, Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell are here

Lieutenant governor candidates, Jody Wagner and Bill Bolling are here

Attorney general candidates, Steve Shannon and Ken Cuccinelli are here

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

Campaigns use new media to get the vote out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McDonnell on FOX News's Hannity show

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 8:32 PM ET, 10/30/2009

McDonnell urges voters to go to polls

Earlier we told you what Democrat Creigh Deeds's final message to voters will be, now we are showing you what Republican Bob McDonnell's final contact with Virginians will be before Tuesday's election.

We have the final mailer going out from the Republican Party of Virginia on behalf of McDonnell as well as the doorhanger that volunteers are leaving at houses through Election Day supporting the entire GOP ticket -- McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

McDonnell's message is the same one we have heard for months: Improvements to the economy, education and transportation will be made without new taxes. (And, of course, there's also a photo or two of his family).

"We need to work together to bring jobs and opportunity to all Virginians,'' he says on the doorhanger. "I have specific plans and new ideas to create jobs, cut wasteful spending, make government more efficient, invest in our schools and improve transportation -- all without raising taxes. I would be honored to have your support and ask for your vote."

See the mailer here and the doorhanger here.

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Posted at 12:50 PM ET, 10/30/2009

Planned Parenthood criticizes McDonnell's comments

Planned Parenthood is protesting Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell's statement this week on Laura Ingraham's conservative radio show that he would veto any attempts to use tax dollars to fund their organization.

Ingraham asked McDonnell: "Can you promise that as governor you'll use the veto pen to ensure that Virginians' tax dollars are not used to fund Planned Parenthood or abortion?"

McDonnell responded: "Yeah, I've said that I would do that. We shouldn't be doing that in Virginia...That's common sense...That'll be part of what we'll get done."

Planned Parenthood, which serves 30,000 women in the state a year, is eligible for state money, but does currently not receive any. (In 2008 and 2009, attempts to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for funding were killed in the General Assembly.) But a change could mean the organization's clinics would not be reimbursed for providing healthcare to patients who receive Medicaid, a state-run program.

"The fact is Bob McDonnell is out of step and out of touch with voters and the wrong choice for Virginia,'' said Jessica Honke, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. "As governor, he will continue the anti-choice and anti-women's health policies he's pushed since his first day in public office."

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia endorsed McDonnell's opponent, Democrat Creigh Deeds.

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Posted at 5:44 PM ET, 10/29/2009

Trump donates to McDonnell

Donald Trump, the wealthy real estate magnate and reality show host, donated $25,000 to Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell today, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign contributions in the state.

You may recall that The Donald gave $25,000 to Terry McAuliffe in the Democratic primary, which caused rival Brian Moran to bark: Democrats don't need "Trump-like money" to win.

Trump bought the 800-acre Lowes Island Golf Club in Sterling in April with grand plans to create a world-class golf course and renamed it Trump National. Of course.

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Posted at 5:05 PM ET, 10/29/2009

Immigrants urged to back Deeds

Immigrants, who traditionally are not well represented at the polls, are being encouraged to get out and vote Tuesday for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

Organizers of the effort say they want to get the same immigrants who turned out in record numbers for Barack Obama to turn out for Deeds because of his stances on the economy, education, healthcare and, yes, illegal immigration. Deeds and McDonnell have not spoken much about illegal immigration on the stump, but organizers say that Deeds would treat immigration as a federal issue, while McDonnell would not. (Read more about McDonnell's record on immigration and other issues as attorney general here.)

The Virginia New Majority and Mi Familia Vota Civic Participation Campaign are working to get the targeted immigrants to the polls through canvassing, phone calls, mailers and commercials.

The effort kicked off Sept. 15. The goal is to reach 60,000 potential voters in nearly 40,000 households in Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach.

The groups are spending money on radio and TV spots, full-page ads in ethnic newspapers and mailers. Click here to see one of their mailers (.pdf).

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Posted at 12:19 PM ET, 10/29/2009

McDonnell gets last-minute biz endorsement

Less than a week before Election Day, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell picked up the endorsement of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, a key business group in the D.C. metro region.

The group endorsed Democrat Mark Warner in 2001, but declined to endorse in the 2005 race between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Jerry Kilgore.

"We believe Bob McDonnell will focus the attention needed to improve this region's transportation crisis and enhance economic development efforts throughout the commonwealth, which in turn helps strengthen the entire greater Washington region," said John M. Kane, board chairman and president of Office Movers, Inc.

Kane said the group endorsed after interviews with McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds. Issues of importance to the group include transportation, emergency preparedness, energy and the needs of the region's workforce.


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Posted at 9:18 AM ET, 10/29/2009

Despite scandal, Hamilton endorsed

The only two newspapers that offer home delivery in the 93rd House district have both endorsed Del. Phil Hamilton for re-election.

This is interesting, of course, because the powerful Republican lawmaker from Newport News is under federal investigation.

The Daily Press and the Virginia Gazette both say that even with the scandal, Hamilton is the better choice.

Hamilton is under investigation for negotiating a job offer with Old Dominion University before securing state money for the school. A federal grand jury served the Newport News school system and ODU with subpoenas and search warrants.

"Phil Hamilton was way out of line on the ODU pay-to-teach scheme, but his value to the 93rd House as an experienced legislator trumps that. If he remains on the Appropriations Committee, all the better,'' the Gazette writes in its editorial.

Both newspapers are owned by the same company, but do not share articles or editorials. They often come down on different sides on endorsements, including this year's race for governor. That obviously means that both papers do not always go with Republicans. The Gazette endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds over Republican Bob McDonnell for governor.

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Posted at 6:31 PM ET, 10/28/2009

Romney stumps with GOP ticket

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and possible presidential hopeful, spent a long ay flying across the state with the Republican ticket -- Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinell.

"This is a team that has the experience and qualifications to be able to get this state rolling again, creating jobs,'' Romney said. "This is a jobs ticket."

The four appeared together at a fundraiser in Virginia Beach on behalf of McDonnell, a rally in Roanoke and a press conference in Richmond. They flew in a borrowed plane belonging to Dan Banker, who owns Lynchburg-based Banker Steel, which is helping put together the foundation for the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero.

Romney also headlined a pair of fundraisers for Bolling today -- one this morning in Charlottesville and one tonight outside Richmond. The two events will bring in about $150,000. His fundraiser for McDonnell brought in $100,000.

"We will feel pretty good about where we are in this campaign six days prior to election day,'' Bolling said. "But we know that to win we have to work just as hard the next six days as we have the last six months. And that's exactly what we intend to do."

The GOP ticket will leave for a five-day tour across the state tomorrow morning.

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Posted at 3:38 PM ET, 10/28/2009

McDonnell airs new TV ad

In one of his final TV ads in the race for governor, Republican Bob McDonnell sticks with the positive.

In the ad, "Hope" McDonnell lays out his vision for the state, which includes keeping taxes low and controlling spending, while noting his service as an army officer and attorney general. Oh, and he also asks Virginians for their vote next Tuesday.

Watch it here:

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Posted at 3:09 PM ET, 10/28/2009

Updated: Steele campaigns in Virginia

Expect to see a lot of Michael Steele this week.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee will rally volunteers at a campaign office outside Richmond tonight as they begin another night of calling potential voters.

Thursday and Friday, Steele will be with Bob McDonnell and the entire Republican ticket as they campaign in Southside, Southwest and Central Virginia.

In an interview, Steele told us that he expects to spend election night with McDonnell in Richmond too.

Does that mean he expects to win the governor's mansion in Virginia, and not New Jersey?

Of course, he didn't say that. He said he expects to spend time in the Garden State earlier on Tuesday.

Updated: For those of you who are wondering, Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will also be In Richmond on election night. Kaine will spend the evening at Deeds's party. Steve Shannon and Jody Wagner will also be there.

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

Excerpts: Post reporter, polling analyst answer questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q&A with Deeds and McDonnell

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

Who is your political hero?

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

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

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

Read the answers here.

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

Get your governor's race questions answered

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

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

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

Obama, Deeds: funny names

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

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

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

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

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

Read the story here.

Read Obama's full remarks below:

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Posted at 9:19 PM ET, 10/26/2009

Holtz, McDonnell share some laughs

Lou Holtz, the legendary football coach who led Notre Dame to a national championship and is now an ESPN analyst, cracked jokes and shared stories with a standing room only crowd of Bob McDonnell supporters in Richmond tonight.

A sampling of Holtz's quips:

What do you call a former Redskins player with a Super Bowl ring? "Senior citzens."

What was the most important thing you learned while coaching at William & Mary? "We had too many Marys and not enough Williams."

"I know we have Democrats in here. I tried to use small words."

"Well, they may have a few more people with the president tomorrow, but it won't be as entertaining,'' McDonnell proclaimed.

About 200 people sipped wine and munched on cheese and crackers at the Willow Oaks Country Club as Holtz spoke. Former Lt. Gov. John Hager attended, as did many McDonnell staffers and lobbyists. McDonnell was accompanied by his wife, Maureen, a former Redskins cheerleader, and three of their five children.

Throughout his speech, Holtz offered bits of wisdom to the audience and McDonnell.

"We're down near the end of the race here,'' he said. "You have to finish a game. You have to finish a race. There's never anything easy about it. You're got eight days left. Finish what you started. Be committed to it. Do the very best to your ability."

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Posted at 6:15 PM ET, 10/26/2009

Huckabee draws a crowd in Richmond

Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor turned FOX News commentator, said the White House's feud with FOX is only helping the network.

"The ratings are already at the top and now they are soaring to new levels,'' he said in a press conference Monday afternoon. "The sad thing is it's not just FOX news. [Obama] is taking on the Chamber of Commerce and the insurance companies. It seems like if people disagree with him, it becomes very personalized. It's unfortunate. I think it's going to be very troubling to the White House if they continue this tact."

Huckabee will headline the Family Foundation's gala Monday night at the convention center in Richmond. About 1,300 people are expected to attend, including House Speaker Bill Howell, who will introduce Huckabee. Statewide candidates Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli are on the campaign trail and will not attend.

Huckabee will headline a fundraiser Tuesday in Newport News for McDonnell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Posted at 4:18 PM ET, 10/26/2009

Updated: Fundraising numbers start to roll in

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling raised nearly $500,000 during the first three weeks of October and had $524,000 going into the final two weeks of the race, according to his campaign.

His Democratic opponent, Jody Wagner, raised $464,000 and had $237,365 in the bank, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign finance.

Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Steve Shannon, candidates for attorney general, both raised about $532,000 during the same three weeks. Shannon had $955,000 cash on hand, while Cuccinelli had $154,000, according to VPAP.

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Posted at 1:03 PM ET, 10/26/2009

Bolling Unveils New Ad on Record

A week before Election Day, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling released a positive new TV ad today highlighting Bolling's accomplishments.

The ad mentions Virginia's Children's Health Insurance Program, securing funding for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, expanding the Governor's Opportunity Fund in economically depressed areas of the state and his opposition to higher taxes.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 10/26/2009

GOP group to air ad during Monday Night Football

The Republican Governors Association will air a new TV ad across the state tonight during the Washington Redskins-Philadelphia Eagles game on Monday Night Football.

The topic? Taxes, of course. The ad refers views to the Website www.deeduncut.com.

"Deeds' game plan to raise taxes is what will result in Democrats turning over the governorship,'' RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said.

Watch the ad here:

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

Kaine rallies the troops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NAACP Berates Shannon, Bolling

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 4:23 PM ET, 10/23/2009

RNC sends money to downticket candidates

Just how excited is the Republican National Committee about Virginia this year?

Today, the RNC transferred $300,000 to Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli and House Speaker Bill Howell on behalf of his members.

"From the Virginia delegate races all the way to the Governor's mansion it is the top priority of the Republican National Committee to help Virginia Republicans win again,'' RNC Chairman Michael Steele told us in a statement this afternoon. "All of our efforts are focused on rebuilding our Republican majority and we see Virginia as the first step in achieving that goal."

The RNC has made an unprecedented committment to Virginia -- nearly $8 million -- that is being directly given to candidates and being spent on getting voters to the polls Nov. 3.

The RNC and the state GOP together coordinate the state's get-out-of-the vote efforts with 30 offices and 40 staffers across the state.

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

New NRA ad for McDonnell

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

Check it out here:

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

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

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Posted at 10:31 AM ET, 10/23/2009

Steele to rally in Virginia today

The Republican National Committee just announced that chairman Michael Steele will be making a pair of last-minute stops in Virginia today, rallying volunteers at two GOP campaign offices in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has seen a slew of prominent Republicans come into the state, but Steele has made only one public appearance and has made few statements about the race. We're still waiting to talk to him about the governor's race from a request made two weeks ago.

Steele appeared at a rally in May with McDonnell in Bristol. Information about today's two Steele events are below.

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

Democrats work on getting out the vote

Want to guess whose photo appears with Democrat Creigh Deeds on blue fliers encouraging people to vote being hung on doorknobs acoss the state?

Not Barack Obama. Not Tim Kaine. Again, Deeds turns to U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, the state's most popular politician.

Deeds and Warner appear together on the brochure with the title "Move Virginia Forward."

"Rebuilding confidence in our economy starts with responsible leadership from a new governor like Creigh Deeds," Warner says.

Tonight, Warner will headline two Richmond events for Deeds -- a fundraiser at the home of Susan Swecker, an ABC commissioner and former Deeds campaign manager, and a happy hour at a restaurant in the Shockoe Slip area.

Warner and Deeds will campaign together this weekend in Lynchburg, Roanoke, Blacksburg and Hampton Roads.

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

New women's group airs McDonnell attack ad

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

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

Watch the ad here:

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

McDonnell talks health care on FOX News

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 6:44 PM ET, 10/22/2009

Shannon accuses Cuccinelli of 'states' rights' stance

Stephen C. Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, accused Republican rival Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II today of planning to fight the federal government in a way reminiscent of the state's opposition to civil rights legislation in the past.

At a debate in Richmond, Shannon said Virginians who opposed federal law supported slavery, shut down schools instead of integrating them, prevented inter-racial marriage and sterilized the mentally retarded.

"Our history in Virginia of states' rights is not a flattering picture,'' Shannon said. "When he's talking about states' rights, you have to understand the mistakes we have made in the past."

Cuccinelli called Shannon a "race baiter" and later told reporters that his opponent took his allegations too far.

"That is truly desperate and over the line,'' he said. "He was just literally trying to throw a grenade in and, frankly, it's terribly inappropriate."

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

McDonnell: I will not raise taxes

Would Republican Bob McDonnell ever be willing to raise taxes?

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

The McDonnell campaign says no.

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

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

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

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

Updated: McDonnell up on black radio

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to the ad here:








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

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Posted at 10:09 AM ET, 10/22/2009

GOP All-Stars to campaign for McDonnell

Democrat Creigh Deeds may be holding rallies with Presidents Obama and Clinton, but we hear Republican Bob McDonnell has a few bold names coming into the state for him too.

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who serves as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, all are scheduled to campaign for McDonnell in the next two weeks. All have been mentioned as possible candidates for president in 2012.

In addition, Hall of Famer Bruce Smith -- a Norfolk native and Virginia Tech alum -- and former NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein will hold a rally for McDonnell in Virginia Beach Saturday.

College football Hall of Famer Lou Holtz, a former Notre Dame coach-turned-TV commentator, will hold a meet-and-greet with McDonnell Monday in Richmond.

All four possible GOP presidential hopefuls have been in the state for McDonnell before, and are scheduled to return before Nov. 3.

Giuliani is scheduled to be Northern Virginia on Oct. 28, and Romney will participate in several events. We'll bring you details as they become available.

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

GOP group launches Deeds ad on public option

We knew this was coming.

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

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

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

Watch the ad here:


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Posted at 1:38 PM ET, 10/21/2009

Cuccinelli: Shannon doesn't know the job

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general, is up on the air new with a new TV ad that accuses his Democratic opponent Steve Shannon of not knowing much about being attorney general.

At their last debate, Cuccinelli asked Shannon to name all the divisions in the attorney general's office.

Shannon said he would get back to the question, but that first he wanted to return to a previous issue. Later, when he did return to the question, he said it didn't matter. He never did answer the question.

"Shannon didn't answer the questions ... because Shannon doesn't know the job,'' the ad says at the end.

Check out the ad here:

(For the record, Office of the Attorney General spokesman David Clementson shared the following divisions off of the department's internal organizational chart: Administration; Civil Litigation; Financial Law and Government Support; Health, Education and Social Services; Technology Real Estate, Environment and Transportation; Public Safety and Enforcement; and STAG (Sexually Violent Predators, Tobacco and Agriculture) and Debt Collections. The only place these appear to be listed and described online are in annual reports from the state auditor (pdf file).

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

U.S. Chamber Targets NoVa Drivers

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the ads after the jump.

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Posted at 11:41 AM ET, 10/20/2009

Shannon blasts Cuccinelli for 'personal political agenda'

Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, released two new TV ads today. Both ads attack his Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, for having what Shannon calls a "personal political agenda."

"Unfortunately, my opponent has not released a single public safety proposal,'' Shannon said. "Instead, he has focused on divisive issues and his personal political agenda, and has even said won't enforce laws he disagrees with."

Watch the ads here:

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

McDonnell for president?

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOP activist questions Deeds's contributions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 2:11 PM ET, 10/19/2009

Bolling links Wagner to Deeds in new ad

Well, this is a first. We got a response from Democrat Jody Wagner on Republican Bob Bolling's new attack ad before Bolling even released the ad.

Bolling started airing his fourth television ad, "Bring," across the state Monday, including in Northern Virginia. It seeks to link Wagner with gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds on their support for higher taxes and "dishonest" campaigns.

"Jody Wagner knows that Virginians won't support her plan for higher taxes, which is why she has been engaging in negative and dishonest attacks against Bill Bolling,'' said Bolling campaign manager Matt Wells.

"It's ironic that the candidate who ran the first false negative ad of this race would use yet another misleading attack to complain about negative campaigning,'' Wagner campaign manager Elisabeth Pearson said.

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Posted at 10:02 AM ET, 10/19/2009

Watts helps Va. GOP get out the vote

With two weeks left, there's no shortage of national Republicans willing to help the GOP ticket win on Nov. 3.

Tonight, former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma will headline a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Virginia's get-out-the-vote efforts.

About 100 people are expected to attend the event at the Alexandria home of Sandy Liddy Bourne, a Republican activist and daughter of former Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy.

Bourne, a one-time candidate for the House of Delegates who works for a conservative think tank, was mentioned as a possible successor to former state chairman Jeff Frederick in the spring, but she declined to run.

The fundraiser is the last one for the state party before the election. Tickets are $50 to $500. The event is expected to raise about $50,000.

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

Deeds, McDonnell Make Their Cases

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

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

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

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

Does Bob McDonnell Believe in Global Warming?

Yes. Well, sort of.

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

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

But does he believe manmade carbon emissions created the problem?

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

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

McCain Rallies McDonnell Supporters

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

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

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

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

The Goracle Lands in Virginia

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

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

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

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

Democrats Make a Weekend Push In Va.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deeds On Air With TV Ad Accusing McDonnell of Misrepresentation

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 1:37 PM ET, 10/16/2009

Women's Group Forms to Oppose McDonnell

A new state political action committee called Working Women for Virginia recently formed to oppose Republican Bob McDonnell's views in his race for governor against Democrat Creigh Deeds.

The group is trying to raise enough money to air a TV ad in Northern Virginia during the last week of the election, said Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster who helped form the group.

The group registered with the state two weeks ago, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. It has raised $1,600 in the last day through word of mouth, social networking and online advertising.

"Whatever we raise will be used solely to spread the word about McDonnell's extreme views on women,'' Omero said. 

"I don't think the prospect of more false, divisive and backwards-looking attack ads from Deeds and his national Democratic allies will please Virginians who are roundly rejecting one of the most negative campaigns in the commonwealth's political history,'' said Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman.

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

McDonnell Airs New Ad on Cap-and-Trade

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

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

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

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Posted at 5:22 PM ET, 10/15/2009

Deeds Raises $3.5M, $2.7M in the Bank

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds raised $3.5 million in September and had $2.7 million in the bank going into the final month of the race.

In September, the Democratic Governors Association gave Deeds $257,500 while the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees gave him $400,000, one of several large checks Deeds received from national unions.

As of the end of September, Deeds had raised $14.2 million and McDonnell $18.9 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign finance.

By this point in 2005, Democrat Tim Kaine had raised $15.9 million and Republican Jerry
Kilgore had raised $17.4 million.

Deeds' latest totals reflect the single highest fundraising month for the campaign so far. The campaign raised more money from more donors in September than in either of the previous two months.

Deeds received money from 3,763 total donors. Of those 2,489 of these contributors were new donors and 59 percent contributed less than $200

"We are encouraged by the enthusiasm from grassroots Virginians and the investments of the Democratic National Committee," Deeds campaign manager Joe Abbey said. "Their support will help us as we move to turn out an unprecedented Democratic vote in 19 days."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 1:28 PM ET, 10/15/2009

UPDATED: AG Candidates Report Fundraising

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general, raised $672,315 in September, according to records released by his campaign.

Cuccinelli had $936,045 in the bank heading into October -- solid numbers for someone who had a tough three-way fight for his party's nomination earlier this year.

As of Aug. 31, Democractic nominee Steve Shannon had a two-to-one financial advantage over Cuccinelli. Shannon had $1.6 million compared with Cuccinelli's $750,000.

Shannon may still have more cash on hand, but Cuccinelli may have outraised him in September. We'll you know when we hear from Shannon's campaign.

UPDATE: As we predicted, it looks like Cuccinelli outraised Shannon by a bit in September, but not enough to erase the Democrat's money advantage.

According to his campaign, Shannon raised $531,965 in the month of September, ending the month with $1,420,859 on hand. That gave Shannon about a $500,000 lead on Cuccinelli at month's start.

The campaign had as of Oct. 1 raised $2,610,515 total.

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Posted at 12:21 PM ET, 10/15/2009

Five Va. Governors Sit Down for a Chat

Ever wonder what Tim Kaine, Doug Wilder, George Allen, Jim Gilmore and Linwood Holton would say to each other if they were in the same room?

Well, you can find out.

The five men sat down with Charlottesville's NBC station for a 30-minute special that aired earlier this week, and is now available online. Check it out here.

The men, seated in the governor's mansion on Capitol Square in Richmond, talked about blogs, "groveling and begging" for money, being a lame duck and the possibility of serving two terms. Yes, Gilmore mentioned the car tax a few times.

Noticeably absent? The state's most recent former governor, Mark Warner, who defeated Gilmore for a U.S. Senate seat last year. Maybe the two men didn't want to be in the same room?

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

Jones, McClellan Headline Deeds Fundraiser

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 8:14 PM ET, 10/14/2009

Shannon Blasts Cuccinelli in New Ad

Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, launched a new TV ad today that criticizes Republican Ken Cuccinelli for what Shannon calls a "weak" record on drunk driving legislation.

"My opponent has not released a single plan to combat drunk driving in Virginia, and in the state Senate he has consistently voted against tougher penalties for drunk drivers,'' Shannon said. "Virginia needs better public safety leadership than that."

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

Democrats Hit McDonnell on Stimulus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McDonnell Opposes Regent Hiring Policy

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

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

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

That seems pretty clear, right?

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

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

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Posted at 12:43 PM ET, 10/14/2009

DNC Facebook Ad Links McDonnell, Regent Policy

DNC adThe Democratic National Committee is launching new ads on Facebook today that will be directed at women, students and supporters of Republican Bob McDonnell.

The ads target McDonnell on his alma mater Regent University, which has a non-discrimination policy that pledges equal opportunities for men and women, consistent with Biblical teachings that men are the head of households.

McDonnell served for eight years on the Board of Trustees at the Virginia Beach college founded by televangelist Pat Robertson. He received both a law and master's degree at the school in 1989. The DNC is trying to spread the word about the school's hiring practice here.

"McDonnell's support for this discriminatory policy can be directly traced to his belief articulated in his thesis that working women were 'detrimental to the family,' " DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said. "We wanted to ensure that Virginians knew that, despite his denials, Bob McDonnell's radical social agenda not only would deny equal rights for Virginians, but would deny them jobs as well."

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

The Politics of Virginia's Computer Contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 12:43 PM ET, 10/13/2009

Hamilton, Under Investigation, Endorsed by Police

Here's one of the most interesting endorsements this campaign season.

Del. Phil Hamilton was endorsed today by the Virginia Police Benevolent Association.

Yes, you read correctly.

The powerful Republican lawmaker from Newport News who is under federal investigation got the backing of more than 2,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officials.

Hamilton is under investigation for negotiating a job offer with Old Dominion University before securing state money for the school. A federal grand jury served the Newport News school system and ODU with subpoenas and search warrants.

"We will ask our members, their friends and families, and all citizens who respect the strong and efficient enforcement of our laws to cast their ballots in the upcoming election in your favor,'' William B. Gordon, Newport News Chapter President of PBA wrote in a letter to Hamilton.

Does the PBA know something we don't know?

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

Updated: Limbaugh Calls Deeds 'Mealy-Mouthed Idiot'

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mealy-mouthed idiot? Ouch!

Read his full comments here.

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

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

GOP Launches New Ad on Deeds and Taxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

McDonnell Airs New Ad on Jobs

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

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

Read the script below:

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Posted at 8:51 PM ET, 10/ 9/2009

Palin: McDonnell Personally Asked for Help

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell repeatedly and personally asked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for help this summer in his campaign for Virginia governor, a Palin spokeswoman said.

But by late August, Palin learned that the McDonnell campaign no longer wanted her assistance, Palin adviser Meg Stapleton said in an interview tonight.

Earlier this week, McDonnell reacted with a bit of sarcasm when asked whether Palin would be campaigning with him. "There was a time earlier on when she was governor when I thought she would come here,'' he said. "But I think she seems to be busy with books and other things like that. We've still got about 20 different events scheduled down the road and she's not one of them."

But Stapleton says Palin is not too busy to come. She says that her boss offered to help McDonnell numerous times both in conversations with him and his campaign and through the Republican Governors Association.

"The Governor, SarahPAC, and I have all communicated to the candidate, the campaign and to the RGA the Governor's continued willingness to assist in any way possible - even as recently as two weeks ago,'' Stapleton said.

Palin drew enormous, enthusiastic crowds in Virginia while campaigning as Sen. John McCain's runningmate during the presidential election last year. But she is a polarizing figure that could turn off independent voters. In the summer, she drew criticism for abruptly resigning as governor and later insisting that the healthcare bill being considered by Congress would cause the creation of "death panels."

McDonnell decision to back away from Palin is typical of his attempt to moderate himself. In his comments this week, he tried to communicate that he did not want to be seen with Palin without saying that it was his decision.

In recent months, he has welcomed a succession of other national GOP figures to Virginia including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

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

Palin a No-Show in Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conservative Group Targets Deeds

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 2:49 PM ET, 10/ 9/2009

Two Lt. Gov. Candidates, Same Endorsement

On Wednesday morning, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling issued a press release proudly announcing an endorsement from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce political action committee.

On Thursday afternoon, his Democrat rival Jody Wagner also issued a press release proudly announcing her endorsement from the very same PAC.

Did one of the candidates make a mistake? Or did the group change its mind?

Actually, it's neither. It turns out the chamber endorsed both candidates for lieutenant governor.

Do they know that's not how it works? And that if you endorse both candidates, it's not really .... well, an endorsement.

"I understand,'' said Ira Agricola, chamber senior vice president. "It would not be my personal preference."

The PAC's 12-member board voted to endorse both candidates for the first time in its history -- clearly split between the incumbent who has campaigned on business issues and the challenger who hails from the region and worked on the state finances.

Check out the statements from the chamber for Bolling and Wagner below:

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

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Oct. 9, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaine Can't Confirm Obama Visit to Help Deeds Campaign

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

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

So is the president coming?

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

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

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

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

Deeds Airs Transportation Ad

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

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

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

Read the script below:

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

NRA Airs Ad for McDonnell Featuring Bloomberg

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

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

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

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


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Posted at 9:30 AM ET, 10/ 8/2009

Kaine Goes Hollywood

Gov. and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine will lead a diverse of group of Hollywood stars in helping to pick a 30-second commercial that will air nationally promoting healthcare reform.

Judges include musician Will.I.Am, actors John Cho, Dulé Hill and Brandon Routh, actresses Rosario Dawson, Kate Walsh and Olivia Wilde and 'Family Guy' creator Seth MacFarlane.

Organizing for America sent an email to members soliciting videos ads that would explain the need for healthcare reform. Submissions will be accepted until Oct. 18. A winner will be announced in next month.

The state GOP, which has been critical of Kaine's role as party leader, immediately seized on the issue as an example of the governor paying more attention to national politics, than Virginia.

"You really can't make this stuff up," said Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. "You've heard people say, 'Oh, that story is so crazy, it's not even believable enough for Hollywood. Well, Tim Kaine ought to run his recent activities past his committee and see if they would sign off on the script. I'll bet he wouldn't get any takers."

The DNC referred calls for comment to state party officials, but they naturally only wanted to talk about Republican Bob McDonnell: "What you can't make up is a party that would put forward a candidate for governor who thinks women shouldn't work outside the home, and thinks that's main stream,'' said Allison Jaslow, party spokeswoman.

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

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpts: Post Reporters, Bob Holsworth on Gov. Race

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

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

Excerpts:

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

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

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Posted at 2:28 PM ET, 10/ 7/2009

GOPAC Helps McDonnell, Va GOP

GOPAC, a national organization dedicated to electing Republicans to state and local office, is donating $100,000 to gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and Virginia's House of Delegate candidates. More is expected to come.

The group is assisting several Republican House candidates in Northern Virginia including Del. Dave Albo (42nd district), Jay McConville (44th), Barbara Comstock (34th), Rich Anderson (51st) and Jim LeMunyon (67th).

"We are going to win because Bob McDonnell and Republicans running for the House of Delegates have better solutions to the issues that concern voters: low taxes, adequate transportation funding and patient-centered health care," Chairman Frank Donatelli said.

In the spring, GOPAC launched its first ever multi-media campaign to support McDonnell that includes cable TV ads and run ads online using Google search engine advertising, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other media. It also trained House candidates on how to best communicate GOP positions on healthcare and taxes.

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Posted at 1:21 PM ET, 10/ 7/2009

Boehner Lends McDonnell A Hand

We don't know yet how much Republican Bob McDonnell raised in September, but we are starting to get some hints.

We told you that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal raised $250,000 for him, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich raised $100,000, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney raised $100,000 and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty raised $75,000.

Now we learn that on the last day of the one-month reporting period, Sept. 30, U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner headlined a fundraiser at the Alexandria home of lobbyist Bruce Gates, which brought in about $120,000.

For those of you who are doing the math, that's more than $600,000. We'll get his fundraising report on Oct. 15.

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

McDonnell Airs New TV Ad

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

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

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

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

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


Read the script below:

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

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McDonnell Appears on CNBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted at 2:20 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

McCain to Hold Rally With McDonnell

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee and former prisoner of war, will hold a veterans campaign rally with Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell Oct. 17 in Hampton Roads.

Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame football coach turned TV commentator, will hold a meet-and-greet with McDonnell on Oct. 26 in Richmond.

McDonnell has appeared with many prominent Republicans, but most events were closed-door fundraisers. These two events are being billed as open to the public.

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Posted at 1:15 PM ET, 10/ 6/2009

After the Unfortunate Remarks ...

Here's a fun fact on a Tuesday afternoon, 28 days until the big day -- Election Day, that is.

Republicans have been reminding us with some frequency about the number of viewers who have taken a look at the video of Democrat Creigh Deeds's post-debate scrum with reporters in which he struggles to explain whether he would raise taxes and snaps at a female reporter.

Well, check this out:

The clip of Deeds's post-debate scrum with reporters from Sept. 18 now has 52,050 views (and that's with nearly three weeks worth of Web ads directing viewers to the video)

But the video clip of Sheila Johnson, the billionaire co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and Bob McDonnell supporter who mocked Deeds's speaking style, now has 61,212 views after a mere 24 hours.

And, in case you aren't one of these thousands of people, you can see both videos right here:

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Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 10/ 6/2009

Bolling Airs Wagner Attack Ad

Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling began a new statewide TV ad today -- and his first one attacking his Democratic opponent, Jody Wagner.

What's the attack? Taxes, taxes, taxes. We saw that one coming.

Bolling accuses Wagner, the former state treasurer and secretary of finance, of supporting "every major tax increase proposed over the last eight years."

"During a time of record unemployment and significant economic decline, Virginians should be very concerned about Jody Wagner's consistent support of job-killing tax increases," said Matt Wells, Bolling campaign manager.

"Bolling and his campaign once again proved they just do not understand the state's finances if their chosen line of attack is to degrade Jody Wagner's fiscal record -- a record that includes balanced budgets, the two largest investments in education in Virginia history, two 'Best Managed State' awards, eight 'Best State for Business' awards, and maintaining our AAA credit rating," said Elisabeth Pearson, Wagner campaign manager.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 10/ 6/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2009

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

Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell will appear at a candidate's forum sponsored by the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce this morning. (We will be live blogging so be sure to check back around 8:30 a.m. for a full report).

Deeds will spend the rest of the day meeting residents at Leisure World, a private senior community in Leesburg, talking up higher education plans at Shenandoah University in Winchester and holding a rally at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. McDonnell will attend a veterans event in Arlington with his daughter, Jeanine, who served in Iraq.

Tonight, Deeds and McDonnell will participate in interviews as part of a previously taped hour-long TV special. Tune in to ABC 7/WJLA-TV or Politico's Web site at 7 p.m. to watch.

We're just four weeks from Election Day! And the allegations and accusations are flying.

Yesterday's mini-scandal was over Sheila Johnson's mocking of Deeds's speaking style. The billionaire co-founder of Black Entertainment Television quickly apologized but not before making national headlines.

Later in the day, Democrats seized on a canceled event between Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and current Republican candidate for California governor, and McDonnell but his campaign said it was a miscommunication.

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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

McDonnell-Whitman Event Canceled

Democrats said today that Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO and current Republican candidate for California governor, canceled a campaign event with Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell because she did not want to be tied to the views he expressed in his 20-year-old graduate thesis.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the event was canceled more than a week ago and would not be rescheduled because the two campaigns could not work out an alternate date. The McDonnell campaign provided confidential emails to The Wasington Post that made clear that the event was canceled 10 days ago due to a miscommunication.

The fundraiser was set to take place Thursday at the Northern Virginia home of businessman John Backus, who has known Whitman since the 1980s. Backus said in an interview that the McDonnell campaign notified him last Monday that Whitman could not attend this Thursday. He said he initially wanted to reschedule the event at his home but that he and his wife, who is pregnant, realized it was too close to her due date.

The liberal group Americans United for Change sent an email to supporters today encouraging them to pressure Whitman not to attend the Virginia event before realizing that the event had already been canceled. Whitman's campaign did not return phone calls today.

The Democractic National Committee and Americans United for Change each sent out two emails tonight that linked the cancellation to McDonnell's thesis.

"I'm sure Meg Whitman didn't want Californians to know that she was not only embracing, but was also raising money for, a candidate who believes that women working outside the home are a 'detriment to the family' and who voted against the principle of equal pay for equal work," DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said.

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Posted at 5:27 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

NRA Airs Ads for McDonnell

Get ready for even more TV ads.

The National Rifle Association is spending more than $500,000 on TV and radio ads for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign spending.

We told you last week that McDonnell and his supporters were outspending Democrat Creigh Deeds and his backers nearly 2 to 1 on TV ads. The NRA ad buy is only going to add to McDonnell's advantage.

Deeds's gun-friendly record earned him the NRA's endorsement in 2005 but cost him the support of former governor L. Douglas Wilder. This year the NRA switched to McDonnell, citing his record as attorney general and Deeds's "flip-flop" on the gun show loophole.

The NRA refused to disclose any details on the radio or TV ads -- so let us know when you see or hear them!

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Posted at 2:05 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Wagner Goes Up On Air

Jody Wagner, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, began airing her first TV ads of the general election today in Richmond, Norfolk and Roanoke.

The positive ad highlights Wagner's role as treasurer and secretary of finance for Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and touts her role in cutting billions of dollars to balance the budget during the worst national recession in decades.

Her Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, has been on the air for several weeks.

The script is below:

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Posted at 12:22 PM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Updated: GOP Blasts Kaine on Transportation Spending

Republicans continued to blame Gov. Tim Kaine -- and his would-be successor Creigh Deeds -- for being slow in spending the state's share of federal stimulus money for transportation.

U.S. Frank Wolf and Fairfax Supervisor Pat Herrity, among others, criticized Kaine this morning on a conference call for not using the money for much-needed existing projects in congested Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

"We could use that money desperately,'' Wolf told reporters. "We're in a critical situation. The economic growth and the opportunities here depend on improving transportation. There are a lot of things up here that that money could be used for."

Republicans have been talking nonstop about transportation stimulus money since Friday, when the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent Kaine a stern letter that said the state is the last in the nation to spend its money.

"These projects have all been on the book for years. I just don't understand why they are not moving," Herrity said. "It seems we ought to be leading the pack, not behind the pack."

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Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 10/ 5/2009

RGA Airs Ad About Deeds's 'Young Lady' Comment

Remember when Democrat Creigh Deeds made that sharp remark to a female reporter who asked him about his plan to pay for road improvements? "I think I made myself clear, young lady," Deeds said.

The exchange, which was quickly posted on YouTube and sent out by the state Republican Party, has now made it into a TV ad paid for by the Republican Governors Association and airing in Northern Virginia.

Watch it here:

Some wondered whether Deeds might have hurt his attempts to appeal to women voters when he made that comment after the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce debate. Deeds later called to apologize to the reporter, Chelyen Davis of the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star, who said she was not offended by the remark.

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Posted at 10:28 AM ET, 10/ 5/2009

Education Group Airs New Ad Against McDonnell

The Virginia Education Association has launched a new TV ad, accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of opposing smaller class sizes and teacher raises while supporting vouchers for private schools.

The group, which has been airing ads for two weeks in Richmond and Hampton Roads, directs viewers to a Web site that compares McDonnell's and Democrat Creigh Deeds's education plans. (Check out The Post's take on their education plans).

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Posted at 2:18 PM ET, 10/ 4/2009

McDonnell Launches New TV Ad on Transportation

Republican Bob McDonnell began airing a new TV ad on transportation today in traffic-clogged Northern Virginia.

McDonnell hopes to pick up some votes in the left-leaning region by touting his plan to fund road and transit improvements and by accusing Democrat Creigh Deeds of only having a vague plan that may include raising taxes (though the ad does not specifically mention Deeds.)

McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation by shifting state money and relying on funding sources that don't involve tax increases, such as privatizing the state's liquor stores and adding tolls on some highways, though some have criticized him for offering a plan that would take money from core services.

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Posted at 11:29 AM ET, 10/ 4/2009

DNC To Donate Another $1 Million to Deeds

The Democratic National Committee will announce tomorrow that it is donating another $1 million as well as additional in-kind contributions to Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

That brings the DNC commitment in Virginia to more than $6 million -- roughly equal to the Republican National Committee's pledge of $7 million to aid candidate Bob McDonnell.

The DNC, chaired by Gov. Tim Kaine, made the decision to donate more money and other resources to Deeds after seeing McDonnell's lead narrow considerably in recent weeks.

"We see a real strong opportunity here,'' said Brad Woodhouse, DNC communications director. "We're real pleased with the direction of the race."

The DNC's $1 million check will be sent to Deeds tomorrow.

"We're thrilled with the additional commitment from Governor Kaine and the DNC,'' said Mo Elleithee, a senior adviser to the Deeds campaign. "The fact that they are digging so deep shows that they're fully committed to Creigh and to this race, and we are very appreciative of their support."

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Posted at 6:08 PM ET, 10/ 3/2009

Kaine Responds to Transportation Criticism

Gov. Tim Kaine said today that he was "completely surprised' that the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent him a blunt letter accusing him of being slow in spending the state's share of federal stimulus money for transportation.

"Look, do you want to spend it fast or do you want to spend it best?" Kaine said in an interview. "We're going to spend it best."

U.S. Rep. James Oberstar wrote in a letter yesterday that Virginia had started construction on only about 17 percent of millions of dollars worth of transportation projects -- making the state last in the nation to spend its money.

Kaine blamed the ranking on the White House and Congress using two different ways to report spending. Virginia, he said, is following the administration's guideline.

"This House committee is doing their own analysis and they do it differently,'' Kaine said. "It might frankly be a disagreement of opinion -- this is not completely unusual -- between the administration and Congress. We feel like by following the adminstration's deadline and reporting requirements, we're fine."

What does Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, say to Republicans who are using this issue to accuse him of not paying attention to the state?

"They do that,'' he said. "I don't worry about it."

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Posted at 5:01 PM ET, 10/ 3/2009

Deeds Country Comes to Richmond

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds received a warm welcome at the annual Second Street Festival this afternoon in the historically black neighborhood of Jackson Ward in Richmond.

The event -- known by locals as the Two Street Festival or the Deuce -- was truly Deeds Country.

The predominately African American crowd gathered around Deeds, dressed casually in khakis and a polo shirt, to shake his hand, snap his picture, wish him luck. Most were wearing blue Deeds stickers. There were no McDonnell stickers in sight.

"I think you're going to win,'' one man yelled over the crowd.

"Governor! I'm going to call you governor already!" another man said as he reached out to grab his hand.

Deeds was accompanied by Gov. Tim Kaine, a festival regular since 1995, and most of the city's African American leaders, including Mayor Dwight Jones, Del. Jennifer McClellan and Sens. Don McEachin and Henry Marsh. Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, also worked the crowd.

Jones, a former House member who used to lead the legislative black caucus, said Deeds has momentum. "He's right where he wants to be,'' he said. "We just want to make sure there is no slippage in the black community."

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Posted at 9:00 PM ET, 10/ 2/2009

Democratic Congressman Criticizes Kaine

In a stern letter today, U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, criticized Gov. Tim Kaine for being slow in spending the state's share of federal stimulus money for transportation.

In Virginia, construction has started on about 17 percent of the millions of dollars worth of transportation projects -- making the state last in the nation to spend its money.

Oberstar sent a letter to states that were slow to spend their money in August, urging them to do so immediately "to create and sustain family-wage jobs" to help the nation recover from the worst recession since the 1930s. Some states moved quickly in starting projects.

"Regrettably, Virginia is not among these states,'' Oberstar wrote. "Based on the state progress reports submitted to the committee in September 2009, Virginia has fallen behind other states in putting to work its Recovery Act highway formula funds."

This summer, we reported that Virginia submitted lists of shovel-ready projects to the federal government after the other 49 states had.

The letter from the Minnesota Democratic to Kaine, his party's national leader, drew swift response from Virginia Republicans.

"This is the result of having a governor who is more concerned with traipsing around the country tipping wine glasses with the Democrat elite to raise money for his national party," said Pat Mullins, chairman of the state Republican party. "If Creigh Deeds wants to run on the Kaine legacy, he can have it."

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Posted at 5:40 PM ET, 10/ 1/2009

NVTC Endorses Shannon, NRA Back Cuccinelli

We told you earlier that the Northern Virginia Technology Council endorsed Republican Bob McDonnell for governor. Now the group is also supporting Democrat Steve Shannon for attorney general.

NVTC, the largest council of technology companies in the nation, has about 1,000 member companies representing more than 200,000 employees and is considered one of the premier business groups in the region.

"As attorney general, Shannon will be a strong partner with the private sector to ensure we have the legal framework, critical infrastructure, and public policies in place to support Northern Virginia's status as a global technology center," said Dendy Young, TechPAC chairman and chairman and chief executive of McLean Capital LLC.

Two days ago, Shannon received the endorsement of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, which also backs McDonnell.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association backed his Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli.

"Ken Cuccinelli has been a leader in the Virginia State Senate in defending our right to keep and bear arms,'' said Chris W. Cox, NRA's chief lobbyist. "He has been and will continue to be a champion of law-abiding gun owners, hunters and sportsmen."

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Posted at 1:38 PM ET, 10/ 1/2009

Updated: Northern Virginia Tech Group to Endorse McDonnell

Republican Bob McDonnell picked up the support today of the Northern Virginia Technology Council's PAC -- marking his second major business endorsement in the all-important vote-rich region.

The political arm of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce endorsed McDonnell over Democrat Creigh Deeds last week.

The NVTC has about 1,000 member companies representing more than 200,000 employees and is considered one of the premier business groups in the region.

The TechPAC board voted to endorse McDonnell after interviewing both candidates this week and examining their voting records on issues of importance to Northern Virginia's technology community.

"The trustees determined that Bob McDonnell is a strong leader with specific proposals to ensure Virginia remains a competitive and innovative global technology center," said Dendy Young, TechPAC chairman and CEO of McLean Capital. "McDonnell has a consistent history of working closely with our technology industry and will build on his record of developing and supporting Virginia's technology initiatives and on his long-term commitment to business development in the commonwealth."

Still, the endorsement wasn't too much of a surprise. In 2005, the group backed Republican Jerry Kilgore over Democrat Tim Kaine.

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Posted at 11:59 AM ET, 10/ 1/2009

Shannon Receives $225K Boost

The Democratic Attorneys General Association donated $225,000 to Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign donations in the state.

The group gave Shannon $25,000 in May and an additional $50,000 in August. It is by far his largest contributor.

The latest donation came Wednesday, the final day of the one-month reporting period, when candidates are scrambling to raise every last cent.

As of Aug. 31, Shannon had a two-to-one financial advantage over Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who faced two Republicans to win his party's nomination. Shannon had $1.6 million compared with Cuccinelli's $750,000, according to VPAP.

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Posted at 8:37 PM ET, 09/30/2009

RGA Spends $1.7M on Ads, DGA Donates $500K

The Republican Governors Association plans to spend $1.7 million on TV ads for Bob McDonnell in Northern Virginia starting tomorrow, according to several sources familiar with the ad buy.

The RGA has been airing $2 million worth of ads across the state since late August, but this will be the first time the group is spending money in the pricey Washington market. The $1.7 million will pay for ads for the next three weeks.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Governors Association wrote Creigh Deeds another check this week -- this one for $250,000. The DGA gave Deeds a total of $500,000 in September on top of $500,000 in June. The DGA has spent more on this year's Virginia governor's race -- $4 million in cash and TV ads -- than any other race in the group's history.

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Posted at 5:18 PM ET, 09/30/2009

Kaine's September Travel


View Kaine's Travel Adventures in a larger map. KEY: Blue markers are DNC trips, red markers are official state trips, and purple markers included a mix of both or are unclear at this time.

Gov. Tim Kaine, who serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, reported spending all or part of 12 days out-of-state this month, including five trips to Washington.

Kaine's office released his travels for September in keeping with his pledge to do so at the end of each month, which was made following pressure by the media and others to disclose his whereabouts.

His out-of-state travel included trips to Burlington and Norwich, Vt. (Wed., Sept. 2), Dallas, Brownsville and Austin, Tx. (Wed., Sept. 9-Sat., Sept. 12), New York and Greenwich, Conn. (Mon., Sept. 21-Tues., Sept. 22). He also reported spending part of four weekdays and one Saturday in Washington.

Much of the out-of-state travel was likely for DNC business, but may have been in his role as governor or for both jobs. The travel log does not indicate the purpose of the trips, but the Texas trip was primarily to preside over his first full meeting as national party leader at the DNC summer meeting in Austin.

Kaine significantly limited his out-of-state travel in August as he faced yet another budget shortfall and continued criticism for his out-of-state travel. But his travel increased in September.

In June, Kaine traveled for the DNC half of the days. In July, he traveled to eight other states, while spending part of four days in Washington that month. In August, he traveled to five states and spent only part of one day in Washington.

See September's full schedule below:

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Posted at 4:41 PM ET, 09/30/2009

Virginia Notebook: Wilder Again Plays His Hand Alone

It's one of the most popular parlor games in Virginia politics: guessing who, if anyone, will get former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder's endorsement.

This year, the game came to a swift end when Wilder announced last week that he would sit out the Virginia governor's race.

The decision itself wasn't shocking (he had done the same in prior years), but it was surprising this year considering he had been courted by President Obama and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, his party's national chairman.

Wilder said in a lengthy statement that he could not endorse Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in his race over Republican Robert F. McDonnell because Deeds supports a tax increase to pay for road and transit improvements ("This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase") and boasts a pro-gun record ("I do not see how endorsing a proposal to have more handguns brought into our cities and suburban areas qualifies as any type of urban renewal plan").

Wilder, an outspoken and sometimes combative politician who has a place in history books as the nation's first elected black governor, doesn't mind breaking with his party. He relishes the sport of keeping everyone guessing about what he's going to do -- and his pattern, if there is one, is to wait until the end and try to figure out who is going to win.

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Posted at 2:20 PM ET, 09/30/2009

Updated: Is Bolling Criticizing McDonnell, Too?

In recent days, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has been attacking Democrat Jody Wagner for quitting her job as state finance secretary to run for office.

"Ms. Wagner quit to run for higher office, putting her own personal political interests ahead of Virginia's interests and the fulfillment of her responsibilities as Secretary of Finance,'' Bolling wrote in a news release yesterday.

Bolling, of course, remained in his part-time job to run for reelection. But wait a minute.

His friend and running mate, Bob McDonnell, quit his job as attorney general to run for governor. Is Bolling criticizing McDonnell, too?

The folks at the state Democratic Party want to point out this obvious disconnect.

''Do you think Bolling has ever confronted McDonnell about his decision to step down as Virginia's Attorney General to run for governor?'' the party wrote in a news release. "Judging by his willingness to campaign with McDonnell across Virginia, it seems as if Bolling has opted to put HIS personal political interests first and stayed quiet."

Updated: Matt Wells, Bolling's campaign manager responds. "There is a fundamental difference between the two. Bob McDonnell left office as one of the most successful attorneys general in modern Virginia history. He accomplished the goals he laid out when he entered office and left the attorney general's office in excellent standing. On the other hand, Jody Wagner totally mismanaged the state's finances. She missed her revenue projections by 20 percent points and created $7 billion in budget shortfalls. And then, when the extent of her financial mismanagement became known, she quit and asked the people of Virginia to give her a promotion. She put her personal political interests ahead of the people's interests and didn't even stick around to help clean up the mess she created."

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Posted at 6:45 PM ET, 09/29/2009

Updated: Police Group Backs Bolling

Four years ago, the Virginia Police Benevolent Association endorsed Democrat Leslie Byrne over Republican Bill Bolling for lieutenant governor. This year, the group is going with Bolling.

The PBA, which represents more than 2,000 law enforcement officers in the state, endorsed Bolling today.

"Lt. Governor Bolling has demonstrated his support for the issues that are important to law enforcement,'' PBA President Jason Knorowski said. "The Virginia PBA encourages all Virginians to support strong, effective law enforcement by re-electing Bill Bolling as our Lieutenant Governor."

The group cited Bolling's support of efforts to increase the number of state-funded local law enforcement positions, increased retirement benefits for law enforcement officers and funding for a task force on internet sexual predators.

In his press release, Bolling again criticizes his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner, for "mismanaging" the state's finances to the point that $150 million has had to be cut from the budget in the last two two years.

Update: Wagner's campaign responds. "Jody Wagner has won accolades from Democrats and Republicans alike for her fiscal stewardship of Virginia -- its why we've been named the 'Best State for Business' seven times in the last four years -- not to mention the 'Best Managed State' twice,' '' said Elisabeth Pearson, Wagner campaign manager.

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Posted at 12:06 PM ET, 09/29/2009

Updated: McDonnell, Cuccinelli Talk About Mental Health

Republican candidates Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli released their plans to improve mental health care in the state on a conference call today with reporters.

The proposal includes improving services for children, adolescents and veterans, allowing people who are receiving in-patient care to transfer to out-patient care with oversight, requiring that temporary detention orders be issued by 72 hours from detention to hearing, encouraging partnerships between schools and mental health providers, providing better care at jails and allowing trained law students to represent willing petitioners with behavioral health issues.

"Mental health care is a critically important issue that unfortunately often is overlooked,'" McDonnell said. "We must improve and expand community based mental health care."

Read the full plan here

Update: Democrats criticize McDonnell and Cuccinelli for supporting a trabsportation plan that they say will divert from the general fund for core services, which could include mental healthcare. "The Republican campaign strategy of smoke and mirrors continues," said Allison Jaslow, spokeswoman for the state Democratic party. "I imagine it will be difficult to improve the quality of mental health care in the state of Virginia, when Bob McDonnell actually plans to eliminate one of its dedicated sources of funding."

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Posted at 11:28 AM ET, 09/29/2009

McDonnell Receives Another Business Endorsement

We told you before that Republican Bob McDonnell is the choice of many of Virginia's business groups -- or at least the groups that endorse in the governor's race.

Here's another sign: This morning, McDonnell was endorsed by yet another business group -- this time the Virginia Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, representing more than 600 construction and related companies across the state.

"Bob McDonnell is a proven leader with a record of protecting the free enterprise system,'' said Pat Dean, the group's president. "He is the candidate best prepared to get our economy back on track and help Virginia's business owners create great jobs statewide."

McDonnell has been endorsed by the Fairfax County and Hampton Roads chambers of commerce as well as groups representing realtors, farmers, credit unions and small businesses.

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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 09/29/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009

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

Election Day is exactly five weeks away. And it feels like it. The campaigns are in full swing -- working around the clock, rolling out policy plans, airing new TV ads.

Democrat Creigh Deeds heads back to a metro station this morning -- this time, to unveil an endorsement from former Republican Gov. Linwood Holton. (Didn't we already know Holton supported Deeds? After all, he's Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law and he's endorsed Democrats in most recent statewide elections, including Barack Obama).

Deeds debuted a TV ad yesterday featuring U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, arguably the most popular politician in the state.

Republican Bob McDonnell rolls out another policy -- on mental health -- this morning on a conference call with reporters.

McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling released the second part of their good government plan yesterday. McDonnell also raised $350,000 at a pair of fundraisers with
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Virginia Business magazine takes a look at how Deeds and McDonnell plan to create jobs and boost the economy. And as part of his voter series, Joel Rubin of Cox1Hampton Roads has posted new interviews with Deeds here and here, and McDonnell here and here.

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Posted at 5:12 PM ET, 09/28/2009

All Aboard! Deeds Campaigns on Metro

deedsmetro.JPG

Yes, that really was Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds riding the blue line through Northern Virginia this morning. No, he wasn't commuting to his Alexandria office.

Deeds rode the blue line nine stops from Franconia-Springfield to Rosslyn, shaking hands, handing out literature and introducing himself to potential voters from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. He got out at some of the stops, including King Street, where he was accompanied by son, Gus, and Alexandria Mayor William Euille (who did a Q&A for this weekend's Post Magazine).

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Posted at 4:50 PM ET, 09/28/2009

Shannon, Cuccinelli: Dueling Ads, Endorsements

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general, released his first TV ad today, a week after his Democratic rival Steve Shannon released his first two ads.

Cuccinelli also released endorsements from 77 sheriffs, commonwealth's attorneys and other elected law enforcement officials from across the state at a news conference today in Richmond. Some commended him for calling on Gov. Tim Kaine (D) to convene a special session this summer to revise laws to conform to new standards set by the Supreme Court that live testimony is needed to introduce scientific reports in criminal trials.

"When justice was denied here in Virginia this summer, Ken Cuccinelli stepped up to the plate,'' Chesterfield Commonwealth's Attorney Billy Davenport said.

Meanwhile, Shannon announced the endorsements of 40 law enforcement and first response organizations and officials from across the state, including the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, the Fairfax Coalition of Police, the Virginia Professional Firefighters and others.

"I've known and respected Steve for a long time, as I've followed his career as a tough prosecutor, a strong advocate for children, and a steadfast supporter of law enforcement officers," said Beth Arthur, Arlington County Sheriff.

Shannon also picked up the support of the political arm of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, which has gone with Republicans in the past. In a press release, chamber officials talk about the difficult decision they had to make.

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Posted at 2:22 PM ET, 09/28/2009

Updated: McDonnell, Bolling Unveil Good Government Plan

Republicans Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling rolled out the second part of their "good government plan" to bring more fiscal responsibility to Richmond through changes to the way the state budgets and spends money.

The plan includes a more accurate revenue-forecasting model, increasing the size of the rainy-day fund and instituting performance audits of major agencies. Read the whole plan here.

Back in May, they released a plan calling for bipartisan redistricting, limits on political contributions to executive branch officials, creation of a watchdog group to eliminate waste in state agencies and greater lobbyist disclosure.

"We must put an end to the roller coaster spending by Richmond,'' McDonnell said. "That will require exercising spending restraint, not just in bad times but in good times, too."

McDonnell used the call to -- again - to criticize Democrat Creigh Deeds for supporting a tax hike and to praise former governor Doug Wilder, who as we all now know snubbed Deeds last week by announcing that he would not support him.

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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 09/28/2009

Deeds Airs Another Ad on Electric Rates

First, Democrat Creigh Deeds aired an ad accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of supporting power rate increases during an economic downturn. Then, McDonnell responded with an ad saying he saved $300 million in rate increases as attorney general.

Here we go again. Deeds is back with another ad about rate increases in response to McDonnell's ad.

Deeds' campaign did not initially release the ad or post it on its Web site, leading the McDonnell campaign to issue this press release: "After multiple editorials finding Creigh Deeds's attacks on Bob McDonnell regarding electricity rate increases to be completely without merit and false, the Democrat has now gone up with a NEW ad reiterating the same erroneous claims. As of this press release, it does not appear the Deeds' campaign has posted this new ad to their website, perhaps aware of the new lows the ad reaches."

Post reporter Derek Kravitz fact-checked the electricity-rate issue earlier this month.

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Posted at 12:29 PM ET, 09/28/2009

UPDATED: Jindal Raises Money for McDonnell Tonight

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will headline a fundraiser for Republican Bob McDonnell tonight at the McLean home of Dwight Schar, founder of NVR Inc, one of the nation's largest homebuilders.

The event will be attended by about 20 people and is expected to raise about $250,000. For those who need a quick math calculation, that means the guests would donate an average of $12,500.

McDonnell will be joined by Sheila Johnson, the wealthy co-founder of Black Entertainment Television who endorsed him earlier this year despite being a major Democratic fundraiser.

Schar donated $5,000 to McDonnell last year, and was a major fundraiser for Republican John McCain in Virginia last year.

McDonnell has campaigned with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. This is Jindal's second trip to Virginia.

Updated: We neglected to tell you that McDonnell raised $100,000 at a breakfast fundraising this morning with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the Falls Church Marriott.

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Posted at 11:04 AM ET, 09/28/2009

O'Malley Helps Deeds Raise Money

Democrat Creigh Deeds will make a brief stop in neighboring Maryland next week to raise money as he heads into the final month of the governor's race.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Turnbull will host a fundraising reception for Deeds Oct. 8 at the Potomac home of lobbyist Barbara Goldberg Goldman.

"Our friends and neighbors just across the Potomac River and the entire Democratic Party need our help!'' according to the invitation. "Here is an opportunity to help Creigh continue serving the fine people of Virginia, and to keep Virginia blue! This race is in the home stretch with just under 37 days to go and, according to recent polls, is neck and neck."

Read the full invitation below:

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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 09/27/2009

McDonnell Appears on FOX News Sunday

Anyone who thinks FOX News goes easy on Republicans should check out Chris Wallace's interview with Republican Bob McDonnell this morning.

McDonnell faced a barrage of tough questions on FOX News Sunday including: Why did he vote to slash the the governor's opportunity fund if he now supports it? Will he cut education to pay for transportation improvements? Did he introduce any bills to create jobs in his 14 years in the legislature? How does he explain the "radical agenda" he wrote his graduate school thesis 20 years ago?

McDonnell mostly held his own, providing the national audience with many of the same answers he has been giving here in the state during the campaign.

"I've spent a lot of time in my legislative career and as attorney general finding ways to reduce the tax and regulatory burden on folks, to create tax credits for jobs creation -- all of which I think contributed to the real good economic base in Virginia,'' McDonnell said.

Democrat Creigh Deeds had been invited to appear several times, according to Wallace, but declined to participate in what had been set up as a debate. Deeds campaign said he offered to appear alone, but that the show declined.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 09/27/2009

Deeds, McDonnell and Northern Virginia Promises

The Washington Post asked Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell to pen op-eds explaining what they would do to help Northern Virginia if they were elected governor.

The exact question they were asked: "If you're elected, what will you do to improve the lives of the people in Northern Virginia? Please be as specific as you can."

Their responses were printed in today's newspaper. Read Deeds' response here and McDonnell's response here.

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Posted at 1:49 PM ET, 09/25/2009

McDonnell Unveils A Pair of New Ads

Republican Bob McDonnell is up on air with two new TV ads today, as predicted in this morning's First Click.

The first ad accuses Democrat Creigh Deeds of "disingenuous" and "deceitful" attacks against him. The second is another attempt to appeal to the female vote post-thesis. For this ad, he had his eldest daughter speak about the values her father taught her and her service in Iraq.

Read the scripts below:

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Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 09/25/2009

McDonnell Picks Up Another Endorsement

Republican Bob McDonnell scored another endorsement today -- the third day in a row.

The political arm of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce announced its support of McDonnell at a morning news conference. The group represents 2,500 member firms that employ nearly 300,000 workers in the state's second-most populous area.

"Bob McDonnell's detailed transportation plan and solid stance on strategic business issues were key to his receiving this endorsement," said W. Sheppard Miller III, chairman of the Hampton Roads Business PAC.

The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce PAC also endorsed McDonnell this week, citing transportation, economic development and tax policy.

Both chambers have given the nod to Republicans in the past, so these endorsements were not a huge surprise. But there's no denying it's been a pretty good week for McDonnell, who also picked up support from the Fraternal Order of Police and scored a victory when former governor Doug Wilder refused to endorse Democrat Creigh Deeds.

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Posted at 12:11 PM ET, 09/24/2009

Updated: Wilder Declines to Endorse Deeds

Former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder said today that he will not endorse either candidate in the race for Virginia governor despite serious courting from both candidates, Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democration National Committee, and even President Barack Obama.

The decision can only be considered a slap in the face to Democrat Creigh Deeds and a victory -- of sorts -- for Republican Bob McDonnell. No one really expected Wilder to endorse McDonnell because he never has supported a Republican, but declining to endorse anyone -- and resisting Obama's personal lobbying --- sends enough of a message.

Wilder specifically mentions his opposition to increasing taxes (which Deeds has said he would be open to for road and transit) and his desire to limit the number of handguns.

UPDATE: Deeds' campaign responds. "We respect Governor Wilder's decision,'' said Jared Leopold, a Deeds spokesman. "While Creigh and he may not agree on every issue, they share a fundamental commitment to keeping Virginia the best managed state in the nation, as Governor Wilder first made it in 1992. As governor, Creigh intends to seek Governor Wilder's counsel often, and looks forward to working with him."

Meanwhile, McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said: "Bob McDonnell and Governor Wilder have worked together well on issues ranging from combating gangs to promoting programs to help the homeless in Richmond. They share the same commitment to fiscal responsibility and keeping taxes low. They both understand that during these tough economic times public servants have to focus on the real-world situation of working families and small businesses who are struggling to make ends meet. The last thing they need is another tax increase that makes their burdens heavier and dries up job opportunities. Bob holds the Governor in high regard for his historic achievements and public service, and he looks forward to continuing to work closely with him in the years ahead."

In the meantime, read Wilder's full statement below:

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Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 09/24/2009

VEA Airs TV Ads Against McDonnell

The Virginia Education Association is airing TV ads in Richmond and Hampton Roads that criticize Republican Bob McDonnell for opposing money for smaller class sizes and teacher raises, and for supporting vouchers for private schools.

The commercial directs viewers to a Web site that gives them the VEA's take on McDonnell's and Democrat Creigh Deeds's education plans and urges them to sign a petition asking McDonnell to change his positions while encouraging Deeds to continue his education efforts.

"Our commercial asks those who agree with us to ask the candidates for governor to support our positions for smaller class sizes and increased teacher salaries and against draining dollars from public schools to fund private school tuition vouchers," VEA President Kitty Boitnott said.

McDonnell's campaign's response: "Only one candidate in this race is actually advocating bold reforms for Virginia's public education system: Bob McDonnell,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "He has put forward an innovative plan to get nearly half a billion dollars more each year into the classroom, increasing teacher salaries and improving technology, without raising taxes. And he is standing with President Barack Obama in strong support of charter schools and performance pay, policies opposed by the VEA and Creigh Deeds. We know the VEA is backing Creigh Deeds, but Virginia's parents, students and teachers in the classroom are standing with Bob McDonnell."

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/24/2009

Updated: FOP Endorses McDonnell, GOP Ticket

The Virginia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed former attorney general Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, this morning at a news conference on Capitol Square in Richmond.

The group represents more than 8,000 local, state and federal law enforcement officials and lodges across Virginia.

The FOP also endorsed McDonnell's running mates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is running for re-election against Jody Wagner, and attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli, who faces Steve Shannon.

There were signs that Democrat Creigh Deeds may have trouble securing the FOP endorsement as early as last week when he gave the FOP and another group representing state public safety employees differing answers about whether he supports collective bargaining for law enforcement personnel.

McDonnell won the FOP endorsement when he ran against Deeds for attorney general in 2005. In recent elections, the FOP has generally endorsed Republicans in statewide races, including Jerry Kilgore for governor in 2005 and George Allen for Senate in 2006. The group endorsed Democrat Mark Warner for Senate last year.

Updated: "Bob McDonnell understands that one of the primary functions of government is to keep citizens safe,'' said Tommy Edwards, president of the Fraternal Order of Police. "His record is one of leadership on major public safety initiatives and a steadfast commitment to Virginia's public safety professionals. Bob McDonnell is a leader Virginians can count on to keep our communities safe."

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Posted at 6:15 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Kaine Responds to Joe "You Lie" Wilson

Gov. Tim Kaine sent out an email to supporters this afternoon encouraging them to donate money to Virginia Democrats looking to win three statewide races and pick up seats in the House of Delegates.

No surprise that he mentions Bob McDonnell's thesis. But he also pays particular attention to the House, where Speaker Bill Howell and the Republicans are looking to hold onto their six-seat majority.

After all, just yesterday, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson sent out a fundraising letter for Howell. Yes, that Joe Wilson -- the same one who yelled "You lie!" while President Obama addressed Congress on healthcare. Wilson happens to be the Republican flavor of the month and Howell is pulling out all the stops to hold onto their majority, and possibly gain a few seats.

Here's what Kaine has to say about it:

"Today, I woke to find that the Speaker of the House in Virginia has solicited the help of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) - the Congressman who recently embarrassed himself and his constituents by trying to shout down President Obama - to raise money for Republican Delegates,'' Kaine wrote. "We have already seen from the Virginia House a philosophy of government that is basically about voting no - no to transportation solutions, no to non-partisan redistricting, no to meaningful help to Virginia's unemployed. Now, with their tacit approval of disrespectful behavior, Virginia Republicans are making very plain what values and ideas they hold and how they will govern if given the chance."

Pretty harsh words from Kaine, who sent the letter from his Virginia PAC, Moving Virginia Foward, but also serves as his party's national chairman.

You can read the entire letter below:

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Posted at 5:30 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Wilder Watch Continues

It turns out Democrat Creigh Deeds wasn't the only one who met with former governor L. Douglas Wilder this week.

Republican Bob McDonnell had a face-to-face meeting with Wilder yesterday -- a day after Deeds, several sources say.

Both men are hoping to score an endorsement from the nation's first elected black governor.

Wilder said this morning that he would not make any announcement today, but would release something by the end of the week. Remember, that doesn't mean he will actually endorse anyone this week. He may just issue a statement about what he is looking for in a candidate. This is Wilder we are talking about, after all.

McDonnell and Wilder, who have had a good working relationship for years, met for lunch in downtown Richmond back in May, and have spoken regularly since then.

It's unclear which of them set up yesterday's meeting. Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman, refused to comment.

Wilder has been downright critical of Deeds in the past, but it's still unlikely he would endorse a Republican. He could, however, sit the race out.

In 1997, Wilder refused to endorse Democrat Don Beyer in the governor's race, which helped Republican James S. Gilmore. And then, in 2005, he refused to back Deeds in the attorney general's race against McDonnell because of his position on guns.

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Posted at 5:05 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Fairfax Chamber Asks Deeds: What Transportation Plan?

Fairfax Chamber of Commerce officials had some harsh words for Democrat Creigh Deeds in explaining their endorsement today of Republican Bob McDonnell in the Virginia governor's race.

On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, they faulted Deeds for not having a plan to ease traffic congestion in Northern Virginia.

"It was disappointing when we met with Creigh Deeds that not only didn't he have a plan, he also said he was not in favor of using any general fund money for transportation,'' said lawyer Stuart Mendelsohn, chamber chairman. "He objected to even using bonds for transportation and I don't know how you are going to do any of this without bonds."

McDonnell's "plan is working toward a solution, whereas Mr. Deeds has not proposed a plan, and we had no way of really comparing what the two had to say,'' said Fran Fisher, chairwoman of the NOVABizPAC, the chamber's political arm. "He hasn't been clear about what his plan is ... after numerous times of direct questioning. He hasn't spoken about how he would use those funds. He hasn't spoken specifically about how he would raise the funds. All he will say is vaguely that he will be willing to raise additional taxes but not leaving any other alternatives."

Deeds has pledged to come up with a statewide, long-term solution in his first year in office but has offered few details. McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation by shifting state money and relying on funding sources that don't involve tax increases, such as privatizing the state's liquor stores and adding tolls on some highways. Deeds and others have criticized McDonnell for offering a plan that would take money from public education, public safety and other core services.

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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 09/23/2009

Warner Rallies Staff at Deeds HQ

Governor-turned-senator Mark Warner stopped by Democrat Creigh Deeds' headquarters in Alexandria unannounced this morning.

The goal? Rally the troops as they head into the final six weeks of the grueling governor's race.

Warner came armed with a couple dozen donuts, a box of joe from Dunkin' Donuts and, of course, a pep talk for the 40 or so staffers who were present -- many of them who had worked for him last year (including campaign manager Joe Abbey).

Warner, arguably the state's most popular politican, told the crowd that they had all been through successful races before, and they could do it again. "There'll be plenty of time to sleep afterward,'' said Warner, in shirtsleeves.

Warner, accompanied by spokesman Kevin Hall who has been helping Deeds off and on, then raced to Capitol Hill, where he was helping to organize floor speches on healthcare by the 10 freshmen Democratic senators.

You can guess what happened next, right? Interstate 395 was backed up, much as it usually is at that time of the morning. Warner was late, but his colleagues stalled until he got there.

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Posted at 1:58 PM ET, 09/23/2009

GOP Group Donates $200,000 to Cuccinelli

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which calls itself the nation's largest caucus of GOP state leaders, donated $200,000 Wednesday to attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

The group has contributed $515,000 to Virginia candidates this election cycle, including more than $90,000 to the state Republican party.

"Ken Cuccinelli is a common-sense conservative who understands that a competitive Virginia, with state government officials who will keep tax and regulatory burdens low, will allow individuals and businesses to prosper," said Scott Ward, the group's president.

The RSLC is a national organization with more than 75,000 donors that works to elect Republicans to state legislatures as well as to the offices of attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

Virginia changed its campaign finance reporting law after the RSLC gave Bob McDonnell more than $2 million in his 2005 race for attorney general against Creigh Deeds. At the time, the group did not have to reveal the source of its donations.

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Posted at 7:30 AM ET, 09/23/2009

UPDATED: Fairfax Chamber Endorses McDonnell

The political arm of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce is expected to endorse Republican Bob McDonnell this morning in the Virginia governor's race.

The chamber represents more than 700 member companies and an influential voting bloc in the all-important, vote-rich region of Northern Virginia.

As we told you last week, some business groups that have supported Democrats in recent years have not warmed to Democrat Creigh Deeds this year.

Instead, many of them are supporting McDonnell who has pledged to create jobs, fix roads, keep taxes and regulation low and protect Virginia's right-to-work laws. In recent weeks, he has been endorsed by groups that represent small businesses, credit unions, Realtors and farmers.

We will provide you with more details when they become available later this morning.

Update: The annoucement came via press release at 9:30 a.m. "Mr. McDonnell earned the support of NOVABizPAC because of his overall stronger support for the Fairfax County Chamber's priorities, specifically for identifying a plan for transportation,'' NOVABizPAC Chairwoman Fran Fisher said.

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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 09/22/2009

Deeds, McDonnell Court the Black Vote

Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell wooed the all-important African-American vote at a candidate's forum tonight at historically black Virginia Union University in Richmond.

Deeds and McDonnell each answered the same 10 questions about felons' voting rights, minority contracting, abortion and urban issues, while avoiding attacking each other as they spoke in front of hundreds of people. Most of those in attendance seemed to have already made up their minds on who to vote for in November. Many waved campaign signs.

The candidates did not appear on stage together due a disagreement about the forum's format. (McDonnell says Deeds refused to stand on stage with him, while Deeds says they never agreed to do that).

Deeds handed out campaign brochures with a "message" from President Obama though he didn't mention him much in his remarks. McDonnell talked about Sheila Johnson, a Democrat and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television who endorsed him, and praised Obama for his support of charter schools and his fatherhood Initiative.

Oh, in case you were wondering, Doug Wilder did not show up to hear Deeds and McDonnell speak as he contemplates who may endorse.

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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 09/22/2009

GOP Candidates Press Dems on Taxes

Last week, Democrat Creigh Deeds said he would consider raising taxes for much-needed road improvements (though he had a little trouble actually saying it) -- something Republican Bob McDonnell has pledged not to do.

Now, McDonnell's running mates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and attorney general hopeful Ken Cuccinelli, are trying to to pin down their Democratic opponents, Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon, on the sticky issue of taxes and whether they agree with the man at the top of their ticket.

"Today I am asking Jody Wagner to state in clear terms to the people of Virginia whether or not she supports Creigh Deeds' plan to raise taxes to pay for transportation," Bolling said. "The voters deserve a simple 'yes or no' to this fundamental question."

"Will he or won't he stand with Creigh Deeds in support of higher taxes?" Cuccinelli said..

Bolling and Cuccinelli are touting their "strong" records of opposing tax hikes, including the one Virginia politicos can't seem to stop talking about -- former Gov. Mark Warner's 2004 increase.

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Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 09/22/2009

Shannon Hits the Airwaves

Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, went up on statewide TV today with a positive commercial, "Focused," that touts his background as a prosecutor and talks about what he would do as the state's top cop.

Shannon faces Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who has yet to go on air.

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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/22/2009

Updated: Shannon Mum on Hamilton At Meeting

The most vocal critical of Republican Del. Phil Hamilton -- by far -- has been his Democratic House colleague Steve Shannon. Shannon, who is running for attorney general, was the first to call for Hamilton's resignation, is airing radio ads about him and talks about him frequently on the stump.

But yesterday Shannon attended a House Appropriations meeting, alongside Hamilton, and had a chance to publicly call into question whether Hamilton should continue to serve on the House's most powerful committee -- and he said nothing.

It was the first committee meeting since the release of emails showing that Hamilton worked to get a job with Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school. He is under federal investigation.

Democratic leaders who do not serve on appropriations -- Ward Armstrong and Ken Plum --sent out a statement calling for House Speaker Bill Howell to remove Hamilton from the committee.

But not a single Democrat said a word about Hamilton at the meeting. They even stood by while Hamilton, who serves as vice chairman, briefly presided over the meeting while the chairman stepped out of the room.

Updated: Shannon's campaign responds. "A committee hearing is not the appropriate place to raise allegations against another member, no matter how serious or well-founded they may be. Del. Shannon hopes that the Speaker will act on this matter before the committee's next hearing."

By the way, in case you were wondering, Shannon's opponent Ken Cuccinelli has called on Hamilton to be removed from the committee as well.

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Posted at 2:55 PM ET, 09/21/2009

Deeds, McDonnell Attend Fundraisers Tonight

Both candidates for governor will be trying to raise some money tonight.

Republican Bob McDonnell will attend a fundraiser with Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and possible presidential hopeful, at the offices of the American Gas Association in the District. About 100 people are scheduled to attend the fundraiser, which is expected to bring in about $100,000.

The fundraiser prompted a response from the Democratic National Committee, which has been critical of Romney and McDonnell in recent days.

"I suppose if Mitt Romney's trying to burnish his right wing credentials to make up for the credibility gap with his party's base that his serial flip-flopping has earned him, embracing a candidate so extreme that he believes that women shouldn't work outside the home, victims of rape and incest should be denied medical options, and even married adults should not have access to contraception, is a good way to go," DNC Press Secretary Hari Sevugan said.

Meanwhile, Deeds is attending a fundraiser at the home of Harry Watkins and Arvat McClaine at Vistas on the James in downtown Richmond. The couple run Renaissance Inc., a counseling and mentoring service, and helped found the Nubian Village Academy, an African-themed private school.

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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 09/21/2009

Updated: Deeds Unveils News Ads on Thesis

Democrat Creigh Deeds hits the airwaves today with two hard-hitting new TV ads that attack Republican Bob McDonnell on his 20-year-old thesis and social issues, including abortion.

Updated: McDonnell's campaign responds: "With only six weeks to go until election day, it's disappointing that Mr. Deeds continues to wage these negative and false attacks against Bob McDonnell,'' said Crystal Camerson, a McDonnell spokeswoman. "This is just another example of how desperate he is to rally his own base. It's no surprise Mr. Deeds doesn't want to talk about himself --- he has no plan for transportation, supports a cap and trade scheme that will kill Virginia jobs, bragged about being the biggest spender in Richmond, and has said he will a partner for big labor after accepting millions in campaign contributions."

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/21/2009

Union Sends Mailers for Deeds

First, we told you how labor unions are pouring money into Democrat Creigh Deeds's bank account. Then, how they started making recorded calls to potential voters.

Now come the mailers.

The Virginia AFL-CIO has started mailing campaign brochures to potential voters on Deeds' behalf. Mailers have been received in Richmond, and possibly other locations across the state.

One side of the mailer features a photo of former governor Mark Warner and says: "Eight years ago Mark Warner put Virginia on the road to prosperity. Only Creigh Deeds will keep Virginia moving forward."

On the flip side, with a nice photo of Deeds and a not-so-flattering picture of Republican Bob McDonnell, the mailer claims that Deeds voted to accept $125 million in federal money for Virginia's unemployed workers while McDonnell opposed it.

"In difficult economic times like these, it's more important than ever to continue the common sense policies started by Mark Warner. We need policies that cut wasteful spending, invest in our future and protect working families -- not the super-rich."

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Posted at 6:02 PM ET, 09/18/2009

Mrs. McDonnell to Perform at Redskins Game

If you were lucky enough to score Redskins tickets for Sunday, or even if you plan to watch on TV, make sure you pay special attention to the ladies performing at the halftime show.

maureenmcdonnell.jpgMaureen McDonnell, the 55-year-old wife of Bob McDonnell and former "Redskinette," will join other former cheerleaders on the field to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their alumni association. She will be wearing black pants and a Redskins Jersey (with McDonnell and the number 76 on the back) as they dance to Michael Jackson tunes.

McDonnell will be campaigning (and tailgating) before the game and then in the stands watching when his wife takes the field.

The former Maureen Gardner loves to tell the story of how she became a cheerleader at campaign events.

In case you were wondering: It was her father's idea. He wanted the free tickets that came with the job. Can you blame him?

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Posted at 4:59 PM ET, 09/18/2009

McDonnell Snags More Business Support

Republican Bob McDonnell announced endorsements this afternoon from Mark Kington, managing director of X-10 Capital (and Sen. Mark Warner's former partner) and John Luke, CEO of MeadWestvaco, as he unveiled the formation of a business coalition of more than 200 leaders from across the state.

"The men and women on this list know this is the campaign on the side of Virginia's job creators and workers,'' McDonnell said. "They know where I stand on the issues crucial to Virginia's economy in the years ahead."

Kington said he has supported Republicans and Democrats in the past, although he supported Republican Jerry Kilgore in 2005. He has donated $78,500 to McDonnell.

"Bob McDonnell is focused on the issues that matter to Virginians and how they lead their daily lives -- job creation, education excellence, transportation solutions -- and I proudly support him as our next governor."

See the full list of coalition members below:

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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 09/18/2009

Deeds: North Carolina Bound

Demoratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds will travel next month to North Carolina, where the governor will roll out the welcome mat.

Gov. Bev Perdue and former longtime Gov. Jim Hunt -- both Democrats, of course -- will host a fundraiser for Deeds Oct. 1 in downtown Raleigh. The suggested contribution is $500.

Perdue was elected governor last year after two terms as lieutenant governor. Like her counterparts across the nation, she has faced a financial crisis and, as a result, sagging approval ratings. Her ratings are in the 20s -- among the lowest in the nation.

Deeds is rarely out of state (unlike his former rival Terry McAuliffe) but he did fly to Los Angeles and San Francisco last month to meet with some Hollywood types and a business mogol or two. (No word yet on how much he raised on the west coast. We'll let you know when the next finance reports come out.)

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Posted at 9:45 AM ET, 09/18/2009

McDonnell 50, Deeds 43

As we've told you a few times we don't trust all polls, but here's one that we don't mind telling you about.

A DailyKos/Research 2000 poll on the governor's race shows that Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds among likely voters, 50 percent to 43 percent -- virtually unchanged since an August poll.

Back in mid-June, McDonnell had 45 percent and Deeds 44 percent. But once again the favorable numbers prove quite interesting: McDonnell at 56 percent, Deeds at 47 percent.

The left-leaning Daily Kos tells us that McDonnell is aided by support from independent voters, who support him by a 13-point margin, 51 to 38 percent.

And in case you were wondering the poll shows Deeds narrowly leads among women -- 47 to 44 percent -- but he has all along. No change this month due to McDonnell's thesis.


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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 09/17/2009

McDonnell's Money

Now that we have told you a little about Democrat Creigh Deeds's money, we thought we would tell you a bit more about Republican Bob McDonnell's cash.

McDonnell's top donors in the two-month period that ended Aug. 31 were a combination of businesses, longtime Republican donors and, of course, the Republican National Committee, which gave him $350,000.

Top individual donors include Edward and Lynn Via of Roanoke ($150,000), chemical company executive Bruce C. Gottwald ($50,000), Dominion resources president Tom Farrell ($15,000), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's political action committee ($5,000).

Top non-individual donors include: the Virginia Association of Realtors ($60,000), Fluor Enterprises -- the company helping build HOT lanes on the Beltway -- ($15,000), law firm McGuire Woods's political action committee ($18,000) and the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly ($5,000).

Notably absent: Sheila C. Johnson, the billionaire co-founder of the Black Entertainment Television network, who has been a major donor to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and other Democrats, but who endorsed McDonnell in July.

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Posted at 10:35 AM ET, 09/17/2009

Unions Help Deeds With More Than Money

We told you today about how much money labor unions are pouring into Democrat Creigh Deeds's bank account, but that's not all they're doing.

The AFL-CIO has started making recorded calls to potential voters on Deeds's behalf. Calls are being made in Richmond, and possibly other locations across the state.

Here is the script:

Hello. This is Julie calling from the AFL-CIO with important information about the upcoming election for governor.

Creigh Deeds is the only candidate for governor who has a track record of standing up for our working families. He supported a plan to invest federal resources to create jobs and help turn around our economy. And Deeds voted to help workers by accepting $125 million in federal aid for Virginia's unemployed workers.

Bob McDonnell opposed resources to protect our jobs and failed to support aid for recently laid-off workers. That's why the AFL-CIO has endorsed Creigh Deeds for governor. Our working families can't afford Bob McDonnell. Vote Creigh Deeds for governor Nov. 3.
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Posted at 4:15 PM ET, 09/16/2009

Shannon Calls for Reform in Response to Hamilton Scandal

Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, was the first statewide candidate to call for Del. Phil Hamilton of Newport News to resign after e-mails showed he worked to get a job with Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school. He then aired ads on the topic.

And now today, he's back -- unveiling a plan to Virginia's government more transparent and accountable in the wake of the scandal.

"I was both shocked and outraged -- not only at Del. Hamilton's behavior but at the system that allowed this to occur,'' Shannon told reporters today. "This episode has left a stain of public corruption on the legislature and on one of our public universities."

Shannon hopes the Hamilton scandal can help, particularly since his Republican rival, Ken Cuccinelli, is the only statewide candidate not to call on Hamilton to step down, saying the voters should decide his fate. (Gov. Tim Kaine says the same thing.)

Shannon's policy proposal includes a five-point plan to reform conflict of interest laws, increase penalties for officials who violate them and encourage better public access to important information such as lobbyist and campaign finance disclosure forms.

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Posted at 4:08 PM ET, 09/16/2009

Forbes, Gingrich, Cantor Help Bolling Raise $165,000

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling may have raised less money than his Democratic rival in the most recent fundraising period, but he already has a good start on the next report with several events with a slew of high-profile Republicans this month.

Today, Bolling expects to raise $50,000 at a fundraiser headlined by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at the Northern Virginia home of U.S. Rep. Tom Davis. About 160 people are expected to attend.

He raised another $75,000 at a fundraiser attended by 180 people yesterday in Richmond with Steve Forbes, publishing tycoon and former presidential candidate.

Two weeks ago, U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor helped him raise another $40,000 at a Sept. 2 event attended by 90 people in Newport News.

And on Friday morning, he will appear with Mitt Romney -- former Massachusetts governor and possible presidential hopeful -- at the home of Fran and Gant Redmon in Alexandria. About 75 people are expected to attend.

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Posted at 10:56 AM ET, 09/16/2009

Romney to Raise Money for McDonnell

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and possible presidential hopeful, will headline a fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell on Monday in Washington.

The event will be held at the offices of the American Gas Association on Capitol Hill. About 100 people are scheduled to attend the fundraiser, which is expected to bring in about $100,000.

Romney spent two days in Virginia in May campaigning for Virginia's top Republicans, including McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and received an enthusiastic welcome when he spoke at a sold-out fundraiser of 1,300 for the state party in Richmond.

Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty campaigned with McDonnell last week. A slew of other Republican stars have helped out McDonnell, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 09/16/2009

Gov Hopefuls Attend Closed Candidate's Forum

Both candidates for Virginia governor will speak at a forum today in Richmond but you aren't invited. That's the right. The public is not invited.

Virginia FREE, a Richmond-based coalition of businesses from across the state, is hosting all six statewide candidates, including gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell, at a gathering of more than 100 of its members. Bob Holsworth, political commenator and author of the Virginia Tomorrow blog will be the moderator.

The group made the decision to close the event so its members could have a "candid and open discussion" with the candidates, said Clayton Roberts, the group's executive diector. It's the same thing Virginia FREE has done for two decades.

Deeds will speak around 9 a.m. McDonnell will talk about an hour later.

We'd tell you what they said if we could but alas, we are not invited either.

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Posted at 4:05 PM ET, 09/15/2009

McDonnell: $2.9 Million in July-August

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell raised half a million dollars less than Democratic rival Creigh Deeds in the two-month period ending last month.

But McDonnell, who did not have a primary opponent, has more money in the bank -- $5.8 million compared with Deeds's nearly $4.4 million.

McDonnell reports receiving donations from 6,239 donors -- significantly more than Deeds's 3,764. About $350,000 came from national groups.

Phil Cox, McDonnell campaign manager, said the 2,500 additional donors "is reflective of the grass-roots energy we have seen building throughout our campaign."

We'll be taking a closer look at these numbers and bringing you our findings.

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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 09/15/2009

Updated: RNC Pledges $7 Million to McDonnell, Va. GOP

The Republican National Committee pledged Tuesday that it will pour a whopping $7 million into the Virginia governor's race this year.

The number will include money that will go directly to gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell and some that will go to the Virginia Victory committee, a joint effort between the state and national party, for organization and coordination efforts.

The RNC transferred $400,000 to McDonnell on Tuesday. It has already given $2 million to him this year.

"Bob McDonnell is a proven leader in the state of Virginia and the RNC is fully committed to ensuring that the campaign has the resources necessary to elect Bob McDonnell the next governor of Virginia," said Katie Wright, a spokeswoman for the RNC.

The RNC is certainly trying to outdo its Democratic counterpart. The DNC, chaired by Gov. Tim Kaine, announced a couple of weeks ago that it will spend $5 million to support Creigh Deeds.

Updated: Deeds campaign responded. "Bob's had a couple of rough weeks,'' said Jared Leopold, Deeds spokesman. "He's got his back up against a wall dealing with questions about his thesis and record, and he was outraised pretty significantly this quarter. So while we always knew that the RNC would be helpful to him, right now it's looking like a pretty big bailout."

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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/15/2009

Warner: No. 5 Wealthiest Congressman

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner has been ranked the fifth-richest member of Congress, according to Roll Call, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill.

Warner, a wealthy venture capitalist who co-founded Nextel, is worth about $75 million, according to the newspaper's analysis of his financial disclosure reports. And like many of his colleagues, Warner reports he lost money in the past year.

No other Virginians are on the top 50 list, which you can view here.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts is ranked the wealthiest member of Congress -- for the second year in a row.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/15/2009

GOP Group Donates $250,000 to Va Candidates

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which calls itself the nation's largest caucus of GOP state leaders, has donated nearly $250,000 to Virginia candidates this election cycle.

This week, the group gave more than $90,000 to the state Republican party (which let's face it, desperately needs the money) and Chris Stolle, a House candidate in Hampton Roads (and yes, brother of the state senator.)

"We believe that the Republican candidates are well-positioned for victory in November because they understand the private sector, not the public sector, will create the road to recovery and keep Virginia competitive,'' said Scott Ward, the group's president.

The RSLC is a national organization with more than 75,000 donors that works to elect Republicans to state legislatures as well as to the offices of attorney general, lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

You may recall that Virginia changed its campaign finance reporting law after the RSLC gave Bob McDonnell more than $2 million in his race for attorney general against Creigh Deeds. At the time, the group did not have to reveal the source of its donations.

Today is the deadline for candidates and others to report to turn in their campaign finance reports for the two months ending in August. Check back here for details on those reports as we get them.

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Posted at 4:48 PM ET, 09/11/2009

Updated: McDonnell Airs Two New Ads

Republican Bob McDonnell unveiled a pair of positive new TV ads today -- including one in which he refutes criticism about his 20-year-old graduate thesis and his stance on working women. In the ads, he speaks directly into the camera, talking about the kind of governor he would be and his quest to create more jobs in the state.

"Protect" began airing today in the Northern Virginia, Norfolk, Richmond, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg markets.

"Jobs Agenda" began airing today statewide, except Northern Virginia.

Updated: Here's a response from Democrat Creigh Deeds campaign: "Bob's new ad is correct -- attacks on his character HAVE raised questions about who he is and what kind of governor he'll be,'' said Jared Leopold, a Deeds spokesman. "And he still doesn't explain why he sponsored 35 bills to restrict a woman's right to choose; why he voted against equal pay for women; why he voted repeatedly against public schools; why he voted against child care programs; or why he voted against access to contraception. The problem with his thesis is that it was a blueprint for how he legislated."

Read the scripts below:

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Posted at 8:50 AM ET, 09/11/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Friday, Sept. 11, 2009

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

Republican Bob McDonnell will be a guest on Mark Plotkin's radio show on WTOP at 10 a.m. (listen live online here) while Democrat Creigh Deeds is taking a day off from public events.

Deeds and McDonnell spoke about business issues -- many of them federal -- in a candidate's forum yesterday in McLean.

Later, the GOP ticket -- McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and attorney general hopeful Ken Cuccinelli -- talked health care. No surprise that they're not fans of President Obama's plan, and instead introduced their own.

The ads are coming fast and furious these days. Deeds launched a new TV ad accusing McDonnell of supporting power rate hikes in Southwest and Southside. Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association started airing TV and radio ads focusing on Deeds's past support of tax increases.

Former Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe gets back into the game by accusing McDonnell of stealing his energy slogan. (By the way, what was The Macker doing at the Palm with Billy Crystal and Pat Sajak?)

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 5:05 PM ET, 09/10/2009

Obama Taps Bryant to Serve on Commission

President Obama has appointed Preston Bryant, Gov. Tim Kaine's secretary of natural resources, to serve as chairman of the planning agency for federal lands and buildings in the Washington metro area.

Bryant, a former Republican legislator from Lynchburg, will continue to serve in Kaine's Cabinet.

"Secretary Bryant's work in my administration and his private-sector experience make him an ideal choice to chair the commission," Kaine said in a statement. "I'm sure he will bring the same dedication, creativity, and hard work to this job that he has demonstrated while serving the people of Virginia."

The National Capital Planning Commission conducts environmental studies, conserves open space and parks and plans new memorials, monuments, and museums on federal lands.

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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 09/10/2009

Kaine Lends Shannon A Hand

Gov. Tim Kaine sent out an email to supporters today on behalf of Steve Shannon, encouraging them to attend a fundraiser for the Democratic nominee for attorney general later this month.

Kaine, who also serves as his party's national chairman, sent the email out though his in-state political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward.

"The next Attorney General of Virginia will be charged with a great responsibility in upholding the highest ethical standards and keeping our families safe from crime,'' Kaine wrote. "For this reason, I am asking you to support my friend - Steve Shannon - for Attorney General of the Commonwealth."

Kaine will headline a fundraiser for Shannon at the Charlottesville home of former congressman L.F. Payne.


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Posted at 11:47 AM ET, 09/10/2009

UPDATED: Deeds Airs New Ad

Democrat Creigh Deeds launched yet another new TV ad today -- this one, accusing Republican Bob McDonnell of supporting power rate hikes in Southwest and Southside Virginia during tough economic times.

The ad, which is running in Roanoke and Bristol, references McDonnell's comment from the July 25 debate that utility companies "are entitled to rate increases."

UPDATE: McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said Deeds should know that the attorney general does not approve rate increase, but rather serves as the consumer counsel. "We know Creigh is desperate, but he should still treat Virginia voters with a little more respect,'' he said. "This negative ad sets a new standard for political duplicity. Creigh voted for the bill that allows utility companies to recoup expenses. ... This ad is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Virginia."

Read the script below:

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Posted at 9:20 AM ET, 09/10/2009

GOP Group Launches Attack Ads

Another day, another new ad.

The Republican Governors Association started airing new negative TV and radio ads across the state (except for Northern Virginia) today against Democrat Creigh Deeds.

The ads focus on Deeds's vote last year to raise the gas tax (to pay for roads and transit) and says that he would support other tax increases "even in a bad economy."



"We already know that Creigh Deeds wants to pump up spending in Richmond," RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. "So it's no surprise that he wants to pump up the taxes too, even if it means further deflating the economy."

The RGA ads come a day after Deeds started his own attack ad against Republican Bob McDonnell on social issues. We did ask the Deeds campaign for a reaction to the RGA ads but have yet to hear back

See below for the longer radio version:

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 09/10/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009

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

Democrat Creigh Deeds will meet with supporters at a cafe in Sterling this morning while Republican Bob McDonnell will spend much of the day in Winchester, where he will stop by Shenandoah University, a GOP campaign office and the Hob Nob in the Valley event.

Deeds and McDonnell will participate in a forum hosted by the Potomac Officers Club and ExecutiveBiz online magazine at noon in McLean. It's not a debate -- one candidate will speak and then another -- but still will be worth a listen. (Check back for our coverage).

Deeds unveiled a series of education proposals yesterday, including a college scholarship program for students who agree to spend two years in public service, and a new attack ad on TV.

McDonnell held a news conference with Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota governor and possible GOP presidential hopeful, yesterday that didn't go quite the way he wanted. His campaign added a much-needed staffer to its press shop -- Stacey Johnson, who is on loan from U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor to serve as traveling press secretary for the next two months.

Those on the right are fighting back against a barrage of negative McDonnell coverage by circulating a 10-year-old Deeds campaign mailer on gays and lesbians in which he says "I don't believe in special rights for anyone." Overnight, the mailer has hit the blogosphere and can be found here and here.

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 6:08 PM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Bolling Airs First TV Ad

Today, Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling became the first statewide candidate in one of the downticket races to air TV ads.

The positive ad is airing solely in Hampton Roads -- the home base of his Democratic opponent Jody Wagner -- and focuses on children and education.

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Posted at 4:44 PM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Updated: Deeds To Air Attack Ads in NoVa

Democrat Creigh Deeds will launch a new attack TV ad against Republican Bob McDonnell in Northern Virginia starting tonight. Yes, he has had negative ads before, but this one mentions the hot-button issues of abortion and birth control. Take a look:

Updated: Here's a response from the McDonnell campaign: "Creigh Deeds refuses to put together even an outline of a transportation plan, but he's got plenty of time to craft negative, backwards looking attack ads and run a campaign which divides Virginians,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "In these tough times Virginians deserve far better from candidates for the Commonwealth's highest office."

Read the script below:

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Posted at 2:20 PM ET, 09/ 9/2009

Updated: The Pawlenty-McDonnell Press Conference

Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota governor and possible GOP presidential hopeful, appeared with Republican Bob McDonnell this afternoon at a downtown Richmond hotel after a fundraising lunch for the gubernatorial nominee.

The packed news conference did not go well -- marking a rare stumble for the usually organized McDonnell campaign.

A couple reporters were allowed to dominate the news conference -- which started almost 30 minutes late -- with questions about McDonnell's 20-year-old thesis and Gov. Tim Kaine's budget cuts.

McDonnell was calm and relaxed under some tough questioning, although he didn't say much new (beyond criticizing Kaine for miscalculating the ever-escalating budget shortfall). But his staff abruptly ended the news conference anyway, leaving most of the remaining reporters who were never called on yelling questions at McDonnell and Pawlenty as they tried to leave.

Pawlenty, a rising star in the Republican Party who was considered as John McCain's running mate last year, was quickly escorted out of the room. But McDonnell was not so lucky -- he was caught in the hall by angry reporters, some with TV cameras.

The result? No one got to ask Pawlenty any questions, including basic ones such as: "Are you running for president?" or "How can the Republicans start winning again?" or "Why do you support Bob McDonnell?"

UPDATE: McDonnell's campaign reports that 20 people came to the Pawlenty lunch, raising $75,000.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 09/ 9/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009

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

Republican Bob McDonnell is bringing a little GOP star power to Richmond this afternoon. He will campaign with yet another possible presidential hopeful, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, at a luncheon. Perhaps not surprisingly, a pair of progressive groups in his home state have called on Pawlenty to cancel his trip and to distance himself from McDonnell and his views on women as outlined in his 20-year-old graduate thesis. Later, McDonnell will attend a veterans rally in Chesterfield.

Democrat Creigh Deeds will join students from Virginia Union University and other area colleges to discuss education issues in Richmond. He answered questions for an online business magazine yesterday.

Both McDonnell and Deeds aired their first new television ads in Northern Virginia since the general election kicked off in June.

The Post takes a look back today at a controversial piece of McDonnell's legislative career: the hearing on the reappointment -- eventually denied -- of Verbena M. Askew, the state's first female, black Circuit Court judge.

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 6:20 PM ET, 09/ 8/2009

Kaine Takes a Swipe at McDonnell

That's not really a surprise these days, is it?

But the venue Democrat Gov. Tim Kaine used to criticize Republican Bob McDonnell was a bit surprising.

At a news conference to outline how the state would close a $1.5 billion budget shortfall, Kaine stopped to express his disapproval of those who want to spend education dollars on transportation.

"There's been some discussion in this time of year -- I know it's campaign season -- about using general fund education dollars to fund things like transportation. Three and a half years of being governor under tough circumstances tells me that is a horrible idea,'' Kaine said to a room packed with reporters and lobbyists. "We shouldn't be going to the eduction budget to try to fund other priorities."

No, he didn't mention any names, but there was no need. Democrats have been attacking McDonnell for weeks over a plan to divert a fraction of sales tax receipts collected in Northern Virginia now used for schools, public safety and other core services to fund roads.

In fact, Deeds said the same exact thing today, first in a press release to reporters responding to the budget and then again in an e-mail to supporters.

"Given the budget shortfalls and traffic gridlock that have characterized Governor Kaine's administration, we think Virginia voters may be looking elsewhere for advice on these issues," said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman.

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Posted at 12:50 PM ET, 09/ 8/2009

Pawlenty to Campaign with McDonnell

Minnesota governor and possible presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty will campaign with Bob McDonnell tomorrow in Richmond.

Pawlenty, a rising star in the Republican Party who was considered for John McCain's running mate last year, also will appear solo in Fredericksburg and Alexandria.

He campaigned last week with Chris Christie, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in New Jersey -- the only other state with a governor's race this year.

A slew of Republican stars have come to Virginia to help McDonnell, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 09/ 8/2009

McDonnell Airs Ad Responding to Thesis

Republican Bob McDonnell has started airing a new radio ad in Northern Virginia that attacks Democrat Creigh Deeds for attacking what McDonnell wrote in his graduate school thesis two decades ago.

McDonnell's campaign repeatedly has said they are done talking about the thesis, in which he wrote that working women, feminists and homosexuals were detrimental to the traditional family, but apparently that doesn't apply to the ad.

The ad -- which says "Deeds's recent political attacks smack of desperation" -- also mentions that McDonnell raised his daughters to be "strong, independent, successful women, including his oldest who served as a platoon leader in Iraq."

McDonnell's campaign did not announce the ad, as is customary, and did not answer questions about it.

Read the script below:

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/ 8/2009

Thompson Helps Cuccinelli Raise Cash

Former presidential hopeful Fred Thompson will headline a fundraiser next week for state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for attorney general.

The former Tennessee senator and his wife, Jeri, will host an event in Arlington next Wednesday with beer, barbecue, cigars and bluegrass band The Naked Mountain Boys.

Thompson already has helped gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell raise nearly $500,000 at a pair of fundraisers.

Thompson, who owns a house in McLean, played New York District Attorney Arthur Branch on the Emmy Award-winning NBC drama "Law & Order" and has appeared in more than 20 films, including "Days of Thunder" and "The Hunt for Red October."

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

First Click -- Virginia

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009

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

The big news from Richmond is the bleak budget picture. Gov. Tim Kaine will unveil another $1.5 billion in cuts to state agencies that likely will include trims to core services like education, and layoffs and furloughs for state employees.

Gubernatorial candidates Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell, will take a rare day off from public events today to allow Kaine to make his announcement (though we fully expect them to issue statements reacting to the bad news).

Later, Deeds will attend a Kaine-hosted fundraiser at the historic Main Street Station in downtown Richmond.

While most of the world took the day off yesterday, Deeds and McDonnell officially kicked off the fall campaign at the Buena Vista Labor Day Parade. For 39 years, it has been a must-do for statewide candidates. Check out some photos from the festivities. Later, Deeds and Kaine gathered with hundreds of Democratic activists at U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott's annual picnic in Newport News.

Continue reading this post »

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 09/ 8/2009

Sights and Sounds from Buena Vista

Gov. Tim Kaine enjoyed his eighth stroll down the Buena Vista Labor Day parade route -- the unofficial starting line of the fall campaign trail -- despite some periodic heckling.

Enthusiastic Republicans taunted Kaine, who serves as his party's national chairman, for being a part-time governor and following in lockstep with his friend, President Obama. "Nothing but a Kool-Aid-drinking governor,'' one woman yelled to Kaine as she clutched a "McDonnell for Governor" sign.

Kaine didn't respond to the criticism. Instead, he ditched his state-issued SUV and walked along Magnolia Avenue, shaking hands and greeting local residents who needed no introduction. Occasionally, he climbed into the back of a pickup truck to play harmonica with local bluegrass band (and Creigh Deed supporters) Walker's Run.

(See a gallery of The Post's photos from the parade.)

But after the parade, even Bob McDonnell got into the act of ridiculing the governor for holding two jobs in his speech to a few hundred spectators at a park pavilion. McDonnell, still smarting from Kaine's harsh comments about him last week, said snidely "Governor, thanks for stopping back by in Virginia for just a little bit." (To be fair, Kaine has been around a little more lately.)

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 09/ 5/2009

Grand Jury Investigating Hamilton's ODU Job

The Virginian-Pilotand the Daily Press are reporting that a federal grand jury served the Newport News school system with a subpoena and search warrant involving Del. Phil Hamilton's former job at Old Dominion University.

Hamilton, who works for the school system, used his e-mail account to negotiate a job offer with ODU before securing state money for the school, according to e-mails released by the university a couple of weeks ago.

"I welcome the inquiry and it is my hope that it will be completed swiftly,'' Hamilton said In an e-mail to reporters last night. "I am sure that the investigation will confirm my innocence, and I look forward to continuing my service to the people of Newport News and James City County."

Hamilton has refused to step down despite calls for his resignation -- even from leaders of his own party, including Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling.

No word yet on whether ODU or the House of Delegates were subpoenaed.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/ 5/2009

Kaine Hits the Campaign Trail With Deeds

There's no doubt that Gov. Tim Kaine has been helping Creigh Deeds with his gubernatorial campaign, though in recent weeks it has been largely behind the scenes.

But this Labor Day weekend, (the unofficial kickoff to the race), Virginia's governor and DNC chairman will be out with Deeds in full force.

Kaine and Deeds will appear together in Dublin and Harrisonburg Sunday and then again at a slew of Labor Day events on Monday, including the traditional Buena Vista Labor Day parade and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott's 32nd annual picnic in Newsport News.

Expect Kaine to be a lot more visible as the race kicks into high gear the final two months.

Next up? Kaine will host a fundraiser for Deeds Tuesday at the historic Main Street Station in downtown Richmond. Tickets are $100 to $500.

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Posted at 5:15 PM ET, 09/ 4/2009

Remembering (and Forgetting) the Titans

This is one of those small-world stories.

Three decades ago, when Bob McDonnell played football at Bishop Ireton High School, he once faced the same undefeated T.C. Williams team later depicted in the movie "Remember the Titans."

McDonnell scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Of course, we all know how the story ends -- the Titans won -- but apparently some of the Titans' players were not too fond of McDonnell after he scored.

McDonnell's high school friend, Tim Battle, remembers that one player even shoved him, costing him a penalty. (McDonnell doesn't remember having a run-in with one particular player but does remember getting "clocked" in the end zone by a bunch of Titans.)

Battle said that teenager was Earl Cook -- the same Earl Cook who took over as Alexandria's first black police chief last week (after the former chief was arrested for drunken driving in Arlington County). Cook's office did not return calls for comment.

"I hope he's still not mad at me,'' McDonnell quipped. "It's going to be rough driving in Alexandria."

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Posted at 4:21 PM ET, 09/ 4/2009

McDonnell, Deeds Talk Business

For those of you who think we don't write enough about the issues, this is for you.

ExecutiveBiz, an online publication that serves the Washington metro government contracting community, published interviews with Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds this week.

How would you make Virginia a more business friendly state? What's the future of VITA? How do you plan to protect the state from future cyber attacks? (Remember the one involving the $10 million ransom?)

You can read Deeds' answers here and McDonnells' here.

Both candidates will speak at ExecutiveBiz's event next week.

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Posted at 6:23 PM ET, 09/ 3/2009

McDonnell Airs New TV Ad

Republican Bob McDonnell began airing positive new TV spots highlighting his middle-class roots (in which he mentions he was raised by an Army officer and working mom), his service in the Army and his business and law degrees.

The ad, called "Leadership," will run in every market across the state (except the pricey Northern Virginia market) for a week.


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Posted at 4:30 PM ET, 09/ 3/2009

GOP Attacks Deeds on Social Issues Talk

Virginia Republicans continue to mock Creigh Deeds for saying the governor's race should be about the economy, transportation and education while he attacks Bob McDonnell on abortion, covenant marriage, stem-cell research and, of course, his 20-year-old graduate thesis.

Check out the party's new video that includes a TV interview with Deeds this morning in Newport News in which he, once again, says the race isn't about social issues.


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Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 09/ 3/2009

McDonnell, Deeds: Works in Progress?

During the primary, Creigh Deeds was criticized by his Democratic opponents for having changed his views on hot-button issues, including same-sex marriage and background checks for gun buyers. (His favorite expression at the time was "Each of us is a work in progress.")

Now, months later, Republican Bob McDonnell says he has changed his views on whether women should work outside the home and other issues he explored as a graduate student two decades ago.

But the Deeds' campaign has attacked him every day this week (including again today) for views he longer says he holds.

So why is that any different than Deeds' changing mind? Well, we asked him.

Deeds said at a press conference today at the state Capitol in Richmond that he doesn't actually believe McDonnell has changed his mind. "His record throughout his period of public service is consistent with the thesis,'' he said. Now you can say you've changed your mind today but the record doesn't go away."

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Posted at 4:33 PM ET, 09/ 2/2009

Virginia Receives $2.8M in Inaugural Expenses

More than seven months after President Obama's inauguration, the federal government finally has cut Virginia a check for some of its expenses.

Virginia and some localities spent $5.7 million on the inauguration, but the state only received $2.8 million -- the maximum allowed, according to Gordon Hickey, Gov. Tim Kaine's spokesman.

Expect Republicans to ask Kaine, also chairman of the Democratic National Committee, why the state won't be receiving a full reimbursement.

Back in January, they accused him of using tax dollars for his friend's inauguration when the administration directed almost $1 million to offer free bus service on Inauguration Day.

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Posted at 2:32 PM ET, 09/ 2/2009

Realtors (Some Democrats) Want to Revisit McDonnell Endorsement

Six female Realtors are asking the Virginia Association of Realtors to reconsider its endorsement of Bob McDonnell following the release of his 20-year-old graduate thesis.

But it's unlikely that the women -- at least some of them -- were ever fans of McDonnell in the first place.

That's because three of them have given to Democratic candidates in the past, according to the Virginia Public Access Project and OpenSecrets.org. One of them donated money to Creigh Deeds, and another to his former Democratic rival Brian Moran.

The association represents 33,000 Realtors statewide.

McDonnell's campaign described the letter as a stunt. "I guess to counter this transparent stunt we should put out a letter with six Republicans not supporting Creigh Deeds, or a letter from 10 teachers asking the VEA to rescind their endorsement of Creigh, but frankly but we're not interested in wasting reporters and voters time," said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman.

John L. Powell, association president, said the endorsement process focuses on issues relating to the real estate industry and is unlikely to be restarted at this late date in the campaign. "This endorsement process is a pretty lengthy one,'' he said. "It involves scrutiny of voting records, policy statements -- we even do a detailed questionnaire that we send out to all candidates in advance."

Powell said he didn't know anything about the association members who asked for the review. But you can read the full letter from the women below:

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Posted at 6:06 PM ET, 09/ 1/2009

McDonnell Unveils Proposal, Avoids Thesis Talk

Bob McDonnell, joined by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, unveiled the fourth part of his education plan (yes, fourth!) -- designed to boost money for schools by $480 million a year -- in Alexandria this afternoon. And no, he's not proposing a tax increase.

Instead, McDonnell and Bolling want to shift money from administration to the classroom by an average of 4 percent, so that 65 percent of education dollars will go to the classroom. Some schools already do that, but the proposal would be implemented statewide.

"Our children will get the best education by having the best teachers, best textbooks and best technology, not excessive administration and bureaucracy,'' McDonnell said. We need to put education funding in the classroom, where it counts."

McDonnell tried to steer attention away from the uproar over his 20-year-old thesis, but that was difficult. He was greeted at T.C. Williams High School by reporters who peppered him with questions. For the second day in a row, McDonnell, who was surrounded by female supporters carrying pink "Women for McDonnell" signs, was prepared for the onslaught .

"Listen, this campaign to me is not about a 20-year-old thesis," he said. "This campaign is about who's got the best ideas about jobs and the economy and transportation and education. These are the things people all over Virginia have told me that they care about."

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Posted at 3:30 PM ET, 09/ 1/2009

Excerpts: Live Discussion With Post Reporters

Anita Kumar and Rosalind Helderman were online earlier today to answer readers' questions about the Virginia governor's race, and Bob McDonnell's graduate school thesis specifically. Excerpts follow.

Arlington, Va.: Thank you for taking my question. I want to know if McDonnell is still a practicing Catholic.

His controversial thesis from Regent University has really opened my eyes. As a Catholic I am extremely offended by the anti-Catholic rhetoric of Pat Robertson and his ilk over at Regent University. This thesis has opened up a whole new angle to the gubernatorial race that I am very concerned about.

washingtonpost.com: Governor's Race Erupts Over McDonnell's Past Views (Post, Sept. 1)

Anita Kumar: Thanks for the question. Yes, McDonnell is a practicing Catholic and talks frequents about how important his faith is to him. He attends church weekly. At Regent University, he was sole Catholic in his graduating class. He would the state's second Catholic governor, if elected, after Gov. Tim Kaine.

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Posted at 2:11 PM ET, 09/ 1/2009

Deeds Continues to Push McDonnell Thesis

As expected, Creigh Deeds's campaign continued today to try to make Bob McDonnell's thesis an issue in the race for governor.

The campaign held a conference call with moderate former legislators who served with McDonnell in the General Assembly. Of course, these are Republicans who have said they are breaking with their party to support Deeds.

Here's what they said about McDonnell:

"His record really has been one of pushing social issues in the entire time he has been in the assembly, and for him now to try to back away from that is the total reinvention of that now so he can be governor,'' former delegate Jim Dillard of Fairfax said.

"I believe Bob McDonnell wants to govern from the right and I believe he will have an extreme right-wing agenda if he's elected governor,'' former senator Russ Potts said.

Meanwhile, McDonnell's campaign is trying to move on. McDonnell traveled to Alexandria to roll out the fourth part of his education plan. More on that soon.

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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 09/ 1/2009

Kaine Curbs DNC Travel


View Kaine's Travel Adventures in a larger map. KEY: Blue markers are DNC trips, red markers are official state trips, and purple markers included a mix of both or are unclear at this time.

Facing yet another budget shortfall and continued criticism for his trips on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, Gov. Tim Kaine significantly limited his out-of-state travel last month.

Kaine's office released his travels for August in keeping with his pledge to do so at the end of each month, which was made following pressure by the media and others to disclose his whereabouts.

His out-of-state travel included trips to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket (Aug. 1-2), to New Jersey (Aug. 20) and Louisville, Nashville and Birmingham (Aug. 27-29).

By comparison, Kaine traveled for the DNC half of the days in June. He reported traveling to eight other states in July while spending part of four days in Washington that month.

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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Deeds: California Dreaming

With all the talk about Bob McDonnell's thesis today, you may be wondering why we never heard directly from his rival Creigh Deeds? We wondered too.

It turns out Deeds is in Los Angeles today raising money. He flew out of state Sunday night and will return Tuesday night.

The Deeds's campaign confirmed that he was in the City of Angels when we asked, but they won't tell us which city he will be in tomorrow (but we hear it's San Francisco) or who is hosting his fundraisers. (Why won't they say?)

Deeds is rarely out of state (unlike his former Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe who was always jet setting around the nation).

McDonnell has been out of town raising money once this month. He went to Wyoming the first week of August, along with Republican gubernatorial hopeful Chris Christie, to meet with top RNC donors.

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Posted at 6:50 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Down-Ticket GOP Candidates on McDonnell's Thesis

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who stepped aside so Bob McDonnell could run for governor and has been campaigning for re-election as McDonnell's running mate, dismissed the GOP candidate's thesis as a 20-year-old academic paper.

"A candidate with 18 years of public service in the House of Delegates and as attorney general should be judged by his record in office, not by a term paper he wrote as a college student,'' Bolling said. "Bob's record is clearly one of supporting women and families."

State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II of Fairfax County, the Republican nominee for attorney general, said that he had not read the thesis and that his initial reaction was that the Post's article had taken the quotes out of context, and merely wrote about it because it was written while McDonnell was at Regent University.

Bolling said the issue will not affect his race against Democrat Jody Wagner. Cuccinelli said he doesn't know if the thesis will impact his race, though he acknowledges that his campaign, in part, depends on McDonnell's success. "Creigh Deeds is desperate to change the subject,'' he said.

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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Kaine Has 'Grave Concerns' About McDonnell's Thesis

Gov. Tim Kaine said today that he was not surprised by what Bob McDonnell wrote in his thesis.

"The views expressed in that paper are views that I have long felt were Bob McDonnell's very sincere and long-held views,'' Kaine said in an interview. "In interactions with Bob on a number of those issues, he has demonstrated to me that I think that many of those views he still holds."

Kaine reminded reporters that when McDonnell was attorney general, he told him that he did not have the authority to issue an executive order barring state agencies from discriminating based on sexual orientation. McDonnell said at the time that he did not consider sexual orientation when hiring employees for his office, but that Kaine's order violated the "founders' mandate to separate and limit the power of the executive branch."

"I would never challenge someone's personal beliefs. [But] I think they are not the right governing philosophies for the commonwealth, however, so I was not surprised to read about the thesis,'' Kaine said. "To me, it seems like kind of a blueprint of here's what I hope to do as an elected official and I think he's been working diligently to do that."

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Posted at 2:50 PM ET, 08/31/2009

Who is Jennifer? Another Case of Inter-Campaign Trickery

Bob McDonnell's campaign received a call this morning from a woman who called herself "Jennifer" and claimed to be a freelance reporter from the Connection newspapers in Northern Virginia. She asked for information about McDonnell's schedule.

The problem? She isn't a reporter. She actually works for Creigh Deeds's campaign.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin, who took her call, said the caller ID showed Deeds's campaign headquarters phone number and the words "Deeds for Va."

Deeds campaign manager Joe Abbey questioned his staffers after hearing about the call from a reporter. He later said he found out the caller was one of his staffers -- though he did not release the woman's name.

"An overzealous campaign worker was trying to figure out where Bob McDonnell was today,'' Abbey said. "We have made it clear to all staff and volunteers that this behavior is not acceptable and should not happen again."

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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 08/31/2009

Holland & Knight Snags Brownlee

John Brownlee, who lost his bid for the Republican nomination for attorney general in May, has landed a job at mega-law firm Holland & Knight.

Brownlee, the former U.S. attorney in the western district of Virginia, was named a partner in the firm's white collar defense and government contracts practices. He will split his time between Northern Virginia and the District.

Brownlee and David Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, lost to state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II of Fairfax at the May GOP convention. Cuccinelli faces Del. Stephen D. Shannon in November.

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Posted at 4:15 PM ET, 08/28/2009

Republicans Gather In Richmond

More than 350 Republican activists from around the state will gather at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Richmond tonight to hear from the party's three statewide candidates -- Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli.

Also speaking: former governors George Allen and Jim Gilmore and former U.S. Rep. Davis. Rep. Rob Wittman, House Speaker Bill Howell and several members of the General Assembly will be in attendance.

The "Victory Dinner," an annual fundraiser for the state party, will raise about $250,000.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 08/28/2009

Ad Watch: "No Good Deeds"

The ads are coming fast and furious.

And we told you that when they started, we'd be analyzing the commercials, picking apart claims made by the campaigns and assessing the messages they are intending to send.

Here's our latest installment: a Republican Governors Association ad -- the first one of the general election -- attacking Democrat Creigh Deeds, which began airing Wednesday.

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Posted at 6:51 PM ET, 08/27/2009

House Speaker Pushes for Drilling

In certain districts in Southside, Southwest and along the I-81 corridor, Republicans are hoping the hot-button issue of offshore drilling may work to their advantage in the House of Delegates races.

So House Speaker Bill Howell (R) is trying to push the issue to the forefront by sending a letter this week to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking for the federal government to allow for the exploration of oil and gas off Virginia's coast.

His letter comes after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) sent his own letter to Salazar earlier this year asking for a delay in drilling off the Virginia coast.

"The expedited lease of the 2.9 million acres 50 miles offshore of Virginia would significantly improve Virginia's - and America's - energy security as well as assist in meeting that growing demand,'' Howell wrote in his letter. "Developing these resources would create thousands of new jobs in our Commonwealth, arriving at the right time to assist in lifting our workers, families and communities out of this economic recession."

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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 08/27/2009

TV Ads Target Wolf, Cantor

The liberal group Americans United for Change is airing TV ads criticizing U.S. Reps. Frank Wolf of Northern Virginia and Eric Cantor of Richmond for voting against a climate bill that would establish limits on greenhouse gases, create a trading system for emission permits and provide incentives to alter how companies use energy.

The group is spending $430,000 on the ads, which began airing this week and will run through Sept. 7. The "Dear Congressman" ads will run on cable TV in Washington (for Wolf) and on broadcast TV in Richmond (for Cantor).

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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 08/26/2009

Another Day, Another Endorsement

Republican Bob McDonnell received yet another endorsement from yet another business group today.

Yes, McDonnell is surpassing rival Democrat Creigh Deeds in endorsements, but the question is, will they translate to actual votes in November?

The National Federation of Independent Business, which calls itself Virginia's leading small-business association, endorsed McDonnell and Bill Bolling for lieutenant governor this afternoon. (What happened to the attorney general's race?)

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Posted at 2:05 PM ET, 08/26/2009

Updated: RGA Launches Attack Ads

Bob McDonnell goes negative. Sort of. The Republican Governors Association is doing it for him.

The RGA's political action committee, Virginia Common Sense, launched TV and radio ads across the state (except pricey Northern Virginia) that criticize Democrat Creigh Deeds for supposedly supporting big government spending.

The ads feature footage from remarks Deeds made to a crowd in Lexington April 4 when he said: "In Richmond we don't have earmarks, we have budget amendments. And I had the most budget amendments in 2008 of all."

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/26/2009

On The Record

Recently, we introduced you to On The Record , a regular feature here on the Virginia Politics blog -- a funny, outrageous or otherwise memorable quote from someone in the state's political world. Have a quote you want to share? E-mail me at kumaranita@washpost.com.

Now on to our latest installment:

"It used to be that the Republican plan was that you'd run in Northern Virginia and hope you didn't lose too badly. Now you have to run and you have to run strong up here or you will lose. It's why we've lost all these races in the past," Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) said.

"For the Democrat, you need to win big. For the Republican, you have to hang in there and do respectfully and not get blown out. It's a critical battleground," Sen. J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen (D-Fairfax) said.

The pair of Fairfax legislators were speaking to my colleague Roz Helderman about the importance of their region -- home to 27 percent of Virginia voters and an increasingly liberal area. Several recent statewide Democrats owe their wins to Northern Virginia, which has turned the once-reliably Republican state into a contested battleground. Both Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell have been campaigning heavily in Northern Virginia, where a recent Washington Post poll shows the two men virtually tied.

What do you think about their quotes? Share your thoughts with us below.

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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 08/26/2009

Where's Dick Cranwell?

The usually outspoken chairman of the state Democratic party has remained uncharacteristically silent during the escalating scandal over his former House colleague Phil Hamilton.

One by one, Gov. Tim Kaine, all six statewide candidates, the chairman of the state GOP and, of course, the House speaker have voiced an opinion on what should be done in Hamilton's case.

But not Cranwell.

Reporters have been asking for his response for days, but have received nothing from him or his staff -- though they issue multiple attacks against Bob McDonnell each day.

All three statewide Democratic candidates - Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon - have called for Hamilton's resignation so it's unlikely Cranwell would stray from that message.

But maybe, just maybe, Cranwell doesn't agree with his fellow Democrats and that's why he's silent?

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Posted at 5:33 PM ET, 08/25/2009

National GOP Group Gives Pro-McDonnell PAC $2.5 Million

We told you yesterday that a Republican PAC, Virginia Common Sense, was starting to air TV ads for Bob McDonnell this week.

Now we know how it's paying for the ads:

The Republican Governors Association has just reported giving $2.5-million to Virginia Common Sense, the RGA's political action committee, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign money in the state.

McDonnell and the RGA were critical of the Democratic Governors Associaton's PAC, Common Sense Virginia, which spent nearly $3 million on ads opposing McDonnell during the Democratic primary. McDonnell's spokesman said at the time that those Democratic ads were funded by "out of state special interests who have no real interest in the future of Virginia's workers."

So what's the difference?

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Posted at 1:09 PM ET, 08/25/2009

Kaine: I'm an Asset to Deeds

"Are you an asset or a liability for Creigh Deeds?"

That's the question Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine was asked today on his monthly call-in show on WTOP.

As we reported Sunday, much has been made in recent days about U.S. Sen. Mark Warner -- not Kaine -- appearing in Deeds' first TV ad. And privately, some Deeds staffers have said they realize it's not always politically beneficial for Deeds to be associated with Kaine because of his sagging approval ratings and tie to national politics.

But Kaine said today that he is "working my tail off for Creigh as an individual, as a governor and also as DNC chair."

"I'm around the country raisiing funds for him. I'm doing events for him,'' Kaine said. "I think it's great to have an ad with Mark in it...I've done radio ads for Creigh that are up and running...I'm sure he's going to have Jim Webb in ads...He's got a lot of assets on the field. He doesn't have to use me in every ad."

Kaine cited a recent Washington Post poll that showed he had a 55 percent approval rating -- considerably lower than where he was a year ago and considerably lower than Warner -- but higher than other governors during the worst recession since the 1930s. "There are governors who have had no scandals, no challenges that are at approval ratings of 19 percent right now," he said.

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Posted at 12:08 PM ET, 08/25/2009

McDonnell's New TV Ad on "Green Jobs"

Republican Bob McDonnell will continue with his mantra of "jobs governor" with his new TV ad that will air in every market in the state except for pricey Northern Virginia starting tomorrow.

In the ad, McDonnell speaks about "green jobs" and new sources of energy -- a topic that should be familiar to all of us since he, Creigh Deeds and the former Democratic candidates have been talking about it since the race began.

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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 08/24/2009

Updated: GOP Leaders Ask Hamilton to Resign; He Refuses

We expected Democrats to call for GOP Del. Phillip A. Hamilton to resign in response to emails showing he sought a job at Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school. But now Republicans leaders are calling for his resignation too.

In extremely strong statements, gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Pat Mullins, chairman of the state GOP, all said tonight that Hamilton should resign.

"From what I have seen of published news accounts containing emails and admissions, it appears that Delegate Hamilton has violated the public trust,'' McDonnell said. "Based on this public information it would be in the best interests of his constituents for him to step down."

McDonnell and Mullins called for the resignation, but acknowedge that Hamilton has the right to defend himself in any investigations first if he chooses to do so.

Updated: Hamilton said in a statement late tonight that he was disappointed in the statements of the statewide candidates but "their collective opinions have not lessened my resolve to continue serving the people of the 93rd District."

"These gentlemen have cited the best interests of the people of the 93rd District as their
reason for calling on me to resign,'' he said. "Yet, it appears that only Governor Kaine and Senator Cuccinelli possess sufficient confidence in those voters to permit them the privilege of expressing their opinion at the ballot box. I share that view, have confidence in the fairness and judgment of the people I serve, and will continue to campaign for their support."

Read the full statements from Republican leaders and Hamlton below:

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Posted at 6:10 PM ET, 08/24/2009

McDonnell, GOP Hit the Airwaves

Get ready to see more political ads -- a lot more.

Democrat Creigh Deeds went on the air with his first TV ad of the general election a few days ago. Now, Republican Bob McDonnell has decided to go up on TV too.

McDonnell will begin airing ads Wednesday, and the the Republican Governors Association's PAC Virginia Common Sense is expected to start ads on his behalf Thursday. (You'll recall that the RGA formed the group only after criticizing the Democratic Governors Association for creating its own PAC called Common Sense Virginia. Don't you just love politics?)

No word on yet on what the ads will say, but with McDonnell leading in the polls you can expect his to be positive. The RGA's ad, on the other hand, will most likely be negative.

McDonnell aired a slew of TV ads in May before the general election began, and then another 10 days worth of ads on the economy in late June.

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/24/2009

Kaine Hosts Southern Govs

Gov. Tim Kaine is hosting the nation's southern governors in Williamsburg. The topic? Climate change, energy and the environment.

Kaine, the ougoing chairman of the Southern Governors Association, will wrap up the group's conference today after a weekend of panel discussions, a dinner at the Governor's Palace in Colonial Williamsburg and a formal Virginia State Dinner. Former Sen. John Warner participated in a discussion about global warming threat to world peace.

Eleven governors are attending the event at the Kingsmill Resort & Spa, though some of the best-known governors skipped the event altogether including Charlie Crist of Florida (he's running for U.S. Senate), Bobby Jindal of Louisiana (he's running for president?) and Mark Sanford of South Carolina (we don't really need to say why, do we?).

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 08/24/2009

McAuliffe Heads to Harvard

First, Terry McAuliffe took his family on vacation to Turkey. Then, he headed to Las Vegas for pal Bill Clinton's birthday bash.

Now we hear that McAuliffe, who lost to Creigh Deeds in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in June, is joining Harvard University's Institute of Politics as a visiting fellow this fall.

Other fellows include former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (who lost to former comedian Al Franken), former Obama campaign advisor Stephanie Cutter and columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan.

McAuliffe will head to Boston in October where he will participate in classes, meet with student groups and lead discussions on his experiences. We're betting McAuliffe has a few stories to tell.

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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 08/22/2009

On The Record

Recently, we introduced you to On The Record , a new regular feature here on the Virginia Politics blog -- a funny, outrageous or otherwise memorable quote from someone in the state's political world. Have a quote you want to share? Email me at kumaranita@washpost.com.

Now onto our latest installment:

"It shows [Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell] just doesn't understand the serious needs in Northern Virginia and the fact that it will take rational leadership based on good thoughtful public policy to solve these problems, not the kind gimmicks he's proposed," Del. David L. Englin (D-Alexandria), said in an interview with my colleague Roz Helderman.

Englin was responding to McDonnell's criticism of Gov. Tim Kaine for postoning construction on HOT lanes on interstates 395 and 95 even though private companies, not the state, are picking up the tab. McDonnell has proposed paying for transportation in part by privatizing the state's liquor stores, adding tolls on some highways and promoting public-private partnerships like the HOT lane project. Englin, whose district includes a large portion of the proposed project, said McDonnell is misreading a much-sought-after delay by some residents who want time to study the potential effect on their neighborhoods.

What do you think about Englin's quote? Share your thoughts with us below.

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Posted at 2:52 PM ET, 08/21/2009

Updated: Howell, McDonnell "Disappointed" in Hamilton

House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) said in a statement this afternoon that he was "deeply disappointed" to hear that Del. Phil Hamilton sought a job at Old Dominion University while securing state money for the school to open a teaching center.

"I believe he certainly did the right thing in resigning his position at ODU and is correct in accepting full personal responsibility for his role in this very unfortunate situation," Howell said.

Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, who served with Hamilton (R-Newport News) in the House of Delegates for 14 years and represented the same area of the state, said late today that he was "surprised and very disappointed" in his friend's actions.

"Elected officials must maintain the highest levels of integrity and accountability,'' McDonnell said. "I am both surprised and very disappointed in the actions taken by Delegate Hamilton in this matter. Delegate Hamilton was correct to immediately resign from his position at Old Dominion University, accept full responsibility for his actions and publicly apologize for his conduct."

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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 08/20/2009

Mark Warner: The Teflon Senator?

How does Mark Warner do it?

Despite an increasing national fatigue with Democrats and a more Republican-friendly electorate in Virginia, the Democratic governor-turned-senator continues to receive incredibly high approval ratings.

In a Washington Post poll released this week, 68 percent of registered voters approved of Warner's job performace (31 percent of them strongly).

By comparison, Virginia's two other statewide Democrats, Tim Kaine and Jim Webb, have approval rating of 55 and 51 among registered voters, respectively.

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Posted at 2:50 PM ET, 08/20/2009

Kaine In N.J., Participates in DNC Forum

It's been a while since we told you what Gov. Tim Kaine has been doing as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Here's one thing we heard. This afternoon, he is participating in a virtual town hall meeting with President Obama to talk about health care. He is calling in from New Jersey, where he is helping Gov. Jon Corzine raise money for his re-election campaign.

Pat Mullins, chairman of the state GOP, quickly sent out a statement criticizing Kaine for participating in the forum the day after he announced the state had a $1.5 billion budget shortfall.

"Tim Kaine was elected to be the governor of Virginia, and there are obviously some very serious fiscal problems here at home he should be addressing," Mullins said.

On Tuesday, Kaine and the DNC sent out an e-mail urging people to participate in the health care town hall meeting. "Organizing for America and President Obama are holding a National Health Care Forum on Thursday at 2:30 Eastern Time. I'll be participating, and I hope you can join us, either on the internet or by calling in," Kaine wrote.

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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 08/20/2009

Virginia Notebook: Obama, Kaine and Deeds

In every gubernatorial race in Virginia since 1977, the party that won the White House lost the governor's mansion.

Coincidence? Maybe, but Virginia's tradition is understandable.

After an administration comes in, people are naturally anxious. Some think the president is moving too fast, some think he is moving too slow.

In a Washington Post poll released this week, only 34 percent of registered voters in Virginia think the nation is moving in the right direction, and only 47 percent think the state is -- down from 65 percent in 2005.

The poll shows that discontent about the nation and the state -- run by a president and governor who are Democrats -- is helping fuel Republican Robert F. McDonnell's early lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in the race for governor.

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Posted at 6:25 PM ET, 08/19/2009

Updated: Budget Politics in Virginia

It seems like everyone in Richmond has an opinion about Gov. Tim Kaine's announcement Wednesday that the state needs to make up a $1.5 billion budget shortfall this year.

There will likely be trims to core services, including education, health care and public safety, but on Wednesday, the talk was less about the cuts and more about -- what else? -- politics.

State Senator and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds praised Kaine, criticized George W. Bush (yes, we know he's been gone for months) and talked about his "responsible and comprehensive government efficiency plan" that will save money.

Not to be outdone, his Republican rival Bob McDonnell issued a statement praising another Democrat (as has become his practice as he tries to run as a moderate), former governor Doug Wilder, and criticized Deeds for supporting a tax increase (Deeds has said he would support one, though he hasn't proposed one). "My opponent has repeatedly supported higher taxes on the people of Virginia,'' he said. "That is the wrong approach to take, both for our citizens and for our government."

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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 08/19/2009

Candidates Back at the Capitol

Four of Virginia's six statewide candidates will attempt to take a break -- at least briefly -- from campaigning when they return to the state Capitol at noon Wednesday for a special legislative session.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds and Republican attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli are both members of the Senate. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling will preside over the Senate while Democratic attorney general candidate Steve Shannon is a member of the House of Delegates.

Deeds and Cuccinelli were back yesterday for a meeting of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to talk about how the state might change law to deal with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on trials. Deeds did briefly attend the meeting after holding a news conference, but then he apparently left. His premature disappearance prompted Cuccinelli to announce on Facebook:

Okay, we started this Courts Committee meeting just after 230 p.m. to address the Melendez problems. Creigh Deeds showed up briefly today, for about a half hour or so, and he left before we resolved a single issue that we're dealing with, and we're still not done yet.

We'll keep an eye on all four candidates today and let you know if anyone skips out -- or does any politicking. (Yeah, right.)

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Posted at 12:10 PM ET, 08/17/2009

Pomata To Resign as Va. Information Officer Following AG Opinion

Gov. Tim Kaine's technology secretary, Len Pomata, is expected to resign as chief information officer of the state's technology agency, according to sources close to the governor.

His resignation, which could come as early as today, will come days after Attorney General William C. Mims (R) issued a written opinion that Pomata should not be doing both jobs.

Earlier today, House Speaker Bill Howell (R) and other House leaders called on Pomata to step down.

"There is no question that Governor Kaine and Secretary Pomata need to act immediately to determine in which one government role Mr. Pomata should serve and which one he should resign," Howell said. "Like so many, I await the decision by the secretary or governor so Virginians can be assured that their leaders are acting in accordance with the law."

The decision doesn't exactly make Kaine look good. The governor has said repeatedly that he did not have a problem with Pomata serving as the chief information officer until a new permanent replacement was hired. A search for a new chief information officer was already underway, and a replacement is expected to be named in the coming weeks.

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Posted at 6:42 PM ET, 08/15/2009

McDonnell Talks Tourism

Republican Bob McDonnell rolled out a series of proposals today designed to boost Virginia's tourism, hospitality and film industries.

He made the announcement from Luray Caverns on what is dubbed Discovery Day, the annual celebration of its discovery in 1868.

The proposals include doubling the funding for the Virginia Tourism Corporation, convening a tourism summit, promoting Virginia wine and increasing money for the governor's motion picture fund by $2 million.

"There is no better state to visit, no better place to film,'' McDonnell said. "You seemingly can't throw a rock here without hitting a beautiful vacation spot, a former president's home, or a Civil War battlefield,'' McDonnell said.

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Posted at 9:30 PM ET, 08/14/2009

Virginia Attorney General Opinion Finds IT Conflict

Attorney General William C. Mims said late tonight that Gov. Tim Kaine's technology secretary Len Pomata should not be moonlighting as chief information officer of the state's technology agency.

Legislators had asked for Mims' opinion after the former chief information officer was abrupty removed and replaced by Pomata.

The General Assembly is investigating the state's unprecedented 10-year, $2 billion contract to upgrade the state's computer system.

Kaine has questioned some aspects of the contract, but has said repeatedly that he did not have a problem with Pomata serving as the chief information officer until a new permanent replacement was hired.

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Posted at 3:00 PM ET, 08/14/2009

Deeds Calls Relative of Virginia Tech Victim

Creigh Deeds is reaching out to families of the Virginia Tech shooting, some of whom actively opposed him in his three-way Democrat primary against Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe, because of his stance on guns.

This morning, he called Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was killed in the April 2007 shootings.

"Creigh and Omar spoke this morning and had a good, friendly conversation,'' said Mo Elleithee, Deeds spokesman. "As with all the families of the Virginia Tech tragedy, Creigh intends to have an open door and continued dialogue with him."

Samaha and Colin Goddard, a victim who survived the shooting (and was in the room when shooter Seung Hui Cho killed himself), issued an open letter opposing Deeds hours before the polls opened in June.

Deeds has voted repeatedly against closing a loophole that allows some private vendors at gun shows to make sales without background checks -- a change in law that has been pushed by the Virginia Tech familes. But he later changed his mind, championing amendments to the bill to close the loophole that would weaken the legislation but, he believed, would secure enough votes to get it out of committee. The bill never passed.

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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 08/14/2009

On The Record

Last week, we introduced you to On The Record , a new regular feature here on the Virginia Politics blog -- a funny, outrageous or otherwise memorable quote from someone in the state's political world. Have a quote you want to share? Email me at kumaranita@washpost.com.

Now onto our second installment:

Today's quote: "All they've got to do is look at the birth certificate in Hawaii. To me that is convincing evidence...This is a distraction from discussion of real issues that do matter. I'm convinced he was born in United States, that he was duly elected president and he's proposing some really bad ideas for our country," George Allen said in an interview with my colleague Sandhya Somashekhar.

Allen, the former Republican senator and governor, was responding to a question about the so-called "birther movement" -- comprised of those who do not believe Barack Obama is a natural born citizen, a requirement to be president of the United States. Recent polls show that a majority of Republicans do not believe, or say they do not know, if Obama is a citizen. But Allen has made it crystal clear he does not fall in that category. Three years after he made an infamous political gaffe, a conciliatory Allen is stepping back into the spotlight in part by campaigning regularly for gubernatorial hopeful Bob McDonnell, prompting speculation of a comeback.

What do you think about Allen's quote? Share your thoughts with us below.

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Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 08/14/2009

McDonnell Snags Farm Endorsement

In the end, it didn't matter that Creigh Deeds had performed surgery on farm animals.

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation's PAC endorsed Bob McDonnell today over Deeds in the governor's race.

Both candidates spoke a couple of weeks ago in front of the state's farmers at a candidates forum. Deeds grew up on a farm (and performed surgery on animals), but the group selected McDonnell because of his record on property rights as a legislator and attorney general. "Protecting the rights of property owners has been and continues to be a priority issue for the Virginia Farm Bureau," said Wayne F. Pryor, VFBF president and chairman of the Virginia AgPAC board of trustees.

The decision wasn't a total surprise. The group endorsed McDonnell over Deeds in the attorney general's race in 2005.

The group did not split its ticket. It also endorsed Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli for attorney general, both Republicans.

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Posted at 8:19 AM ET, 08/14/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Aug. 14, 2009

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

Republican Bob McDonnell heads home to Northern Virginia, where he will speak at the Republican National Hispanic Assembly's convention in Tysons Corner. Tomorrow the McDonnell RV takes a tour of Luray Caverns where he will roll out a policy proposal on -- what else? -- tourism.

He spent yesterday on the Eastern Shore talking about outer space. He toured the spaceport on Wallops Island and announced plans to make it the "top commercial spaceport in the country." Meanwhile back in Richmond, his campaign announced a newly-redesigned Web site.

Democrat Creigh Deeds will travel to Newport News today for a community day hosted by a mental health agency. Then he's off to Courtland for the Franklin-Southampton County Fair. Funnel cake, anyone?

He announced the creation of Nurses for Deeds yesterday in Portsmouth along with fellow state Sen. Louise Lucas, the best-dressed legislator in the General Assembly.

In other Deeds news, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato stands by his statements about the upheaval in the Deeds campaign. It turns out there have been some changes, but the message from the Deeds camp is that Joe Abbey remains on top.

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Posted at 3:20 PM ET, 08/13/2009

Does Deeds Play Follow the Leader?

Both candidates for governor found themselves talking about kind of an obscure Virginia topic this week -- the spaceport on tiny Wallops Island.

Coincidence?

Bob McDonnell's campaign doesn't think so. They say when McDonnell plans to visit a certain part of the state to talk up a certain issue, Creigh Deeds ends up there too.

Virginia is only so big, so both candidates are likely to end up in the same places, talking about the same issues some of the time. But McDonnell and the Republicans have been working hard to try to convince people that Deeds is following his lead. As part of the "Me too! campaign," the state GOP has tweaked Deeds for following McDonnell on several issues -- agency audits, charter schools and ABC privatization, just to name a few.

"Creigh Deeds is playing a grown up version of follow the leader,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said.

Not true, the Deeds campaign says. In fact, they say McDonnell may be following Deeds. Afterall, McDonnell unveiled his rural economic plan as Deeds wrapped up his "Deeds Country" to the rural parts of the state. "I could care less where Bob's taking his campaign,'' Deeds spokesman Mo Elleithee said. "I just want him to be honest about where he's taking Virginia."

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/13/2009

Virginia Notebook: Where Is McDonnell From?

In campaign literature mailed recently to Northern Virginia residents, Robert F. McDonnell touts himself as a "governor that Fairfax County families can be proud to call their own." In another mailer sent to Hampton Roads residents, he touts himself as "a governor Virginia Beach can be proud to call our own."

But McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor, doesn't live in Fairfax or Virginia Beach. He lives in Henrico County, just outside Richmond.

McDonnell grew up in Fairfax, represented Virginia Beach in the General Assembly for 14 years and then moved to Henrico when he was elected attorney general in 2005.

He has been campaigning aggressively in Virginia's suburban core, hoping his strong ties to the state's three most populous areas, and support from traditionally conservative rural areas, will give him enough votes to carry the state in November.

"I'm really the candidate who has really lived his whole life in suburbia," he said in a recent interview. "Fairfax and Virginia Beach, the two largest jurisdictions in the state, and now Henrico. I want to make sure that people know that's my background. I understand the problems of suburbia."

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 08/13/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Aug. 13, 2009

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

Democrat Creigh Deeds will continue his week-long push on abortion, access to birth control and other women's health issues at a news conference in Portsmouth. Later, he will tour a shellfish hatchery in Willis Wharf and then hitch a ride on a boat to help workers load clam seed.

Expect Republicans to continue to gleefully talk up Deeds comments yesterday during an online chat with the Richmond Times-Dispatch about raising taxes.

It already has been a long week for Deeds. Criticism (largely conservative, of course) of his abortion strategy and a Confederate flag flap quickly have been replaced by talk of a shake-up at his campaign.

Republican Bob McDonnell will spend the day on Wallops and Tangier islands off Virginia's Eastern Shore. (He'll temporarily ditch his RV for a helicopter). He'll tour the spaceport and talk up his grand plan to make it the top commercial spaceport in the country.

The trip comes a day after McDonnell released a lengthy proposal designed to curb crime in Virginia, including lifetime monitoring for sexual predators through GPS. Deeds may not like it, but McDonnell continues to talk about federal issues ("Are you running for Congress?") by touting a new study that shows the federal cap-and-trade bill would hurt Virginia workers and families.

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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 08/12/2009

McDonnell Donates $300k to State GOP

Republican Bob McDonnell has donated $300,000 to the state GOP in recent months as the beleagured party struggles to reverse its recent problems with fundraising and leadership.

The Republican gubernatorial nominee gave the party $50,000 in May and another $250,000 in July, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign donations in Virginia. McDonnell is the party's largest donor in at least two years.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the campaign made the donation to help pay for the party's "victory" program, which is designed to help the entire ticket including the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and House of Delegates. The program includes get-out-the-vote efforts, canvassing, regional offices and signs.

"We have supported RPV's grassroots efforts because they are critical to our success statewide," Martin said..

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Posted at 2:18 PM ET, 08/11/2009

McDonnell: Not Our Flag -- With Update from Show Manager

In a posting on Twitter, the campaign manager for Democrat Creigh Deeds is encouraging people to look at a photograph posted on the left-leaning blog Not Larry Sabato that claims to show that Republican Bob McDonnell's campaign displayed a confederate flag in its booth at a sportsman show.

But McDonnell's campaign says the flag was not theirs.

Flag Photo.jpg

"The flag was not in our booth,'' McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said. "However, there still is an actual story here. The fact that Creigh Deeds' campaign is actively pushing this falsehood demonstrates their desperation is greater than anyone expected. And it also will cost them a lot of credibility right as the campaign enters the home stretch. Not a good day for them."

"To misrepresent a photo for political gain is the worst kind of politics,'' Martin said.

Martin said the flag belonged to an adjacent booth, which was selling confederate flags and other paraphernalia, though the angle of the photo makes it appears as if the flag was McDonnell's. He said the campaign has spoken to the six people -- a combination of staff and volunteers -- who worked the Mechanicsville show last weekend and all denied that they displayed a flag.

Joe Abbey, Deeds campaign manager, sent out a tweet this afternoon: "BREAKING NEWS: MCDONNELL HAS CONFEDERATE FLAG POSTED IN HIS BOOTH AT GUN SHOW IN RICHMOND" linking to the blog story.

"It was Joe's personal retweet, not the campaign's,'' said Mo Elleithee, Deeds spokesman. "Today we're focused on drawing a contrast between Creigh's vision of moving Virginia forward and Bob McDonnell's record of hurting southside Virginia and his support of the Bush economic agenda. If the McDonnell campaign would like to answer for that, we're all ears."

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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 08/11/2009

Dems Attack McDonnell on Rural Va., Day 2

As Republican Bob McDonnell travels from South Boston to Virginia Beach on Route 58 today in his RV, Democrats are attacking him for repeatedly neglecting that same corridor as a member of the House of Delegates.

The state Democratic party accuses McDonnell of repeatedly voting against proposals that would boost economic development along Route 58. "While 2009 is full of rhetoric, McDonnell's record shows he opposed progress on Route 58, a key to bringing greater economic development to various areas across Virginia," the party stated in a release.

Here are some the votes Democrats cite: In 1999, he voted against $659 million in bonds to help Route 59 and Northern Virginia. In 2002, he voted to cut $10 million from the Route 58 Corridor Development Fund. Three times, in 2002 and 2004, he voted to trim $16 million from the governors opportunity fund, which is designed to lure businesses to the state.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin declined to respond to the attacks. "The theme continues: Bob talks about jobs, the Democrats attack," he said. "We aren't going to respond to gotcha vote-pulling on transportation from the party of a candidate who vows not to even have a transportation plan."

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 08/11/2009

First Click -- Virginia

Aug. 11, 2009

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

Republican Bob McDonnell unveiled a plan yesterday in Southside to bring new jobs to rural Virginia. But Democrats quickly criticized him for what they call his new interest in the economically-distressed area, and said it comes after years of neglect as a legislator. You can always count on House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong for a good quote -- or two.

Today McDonnell heads to various events along Route 58 from South Boston to Virginia Beach (look for the blue McDonnell RV on the road), including visits to local newspapers in South Boston, Lawrenceville, Emporia, Franklin and Suffolk. Tonight he will stop by the Republican campaign offices in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

Democrat Creigh Deeds began a week-long attack on McDonnell on abortion (video, pdf). Some newspapers criticized Deeds for talking about abortion instead of the all-important economy, while some bloggers accused him of bringing up social issues after he said only a few weeks ago he would not. Naturally opponents deemed the abortion move as risky and desperate, while supporters did not.

Deeds is taking a day off from public events today, but will be in Richmond tomorrow for a press conference. Will there be more talk about abortion or will he switch to another topic?

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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 08/10/2009

McDonnell Unveils Plan; Dems Criticize Him

Republican Bob McDonnell unveiled a proposal today in Henry County (unemployment rate 15.4 percent) that he said would bring new jobs to rural Virginia.

The plan calls for designating a deputy secretary to focus solely on rural economic development, forming a rural Virginia taskforce and providing a $1,000 tax credit per job to businesses that create 50 jobs or 25 jobs in economically distressed areas, among other things. Read the full plan here.

"From manufacturing to dairy farms, I know that rural Virginia will be a key part of the economic resurgence that we will create in the Commonwealth,'' McDonnell said.

It didn't take long for the Democrats to criticize McDonnell.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 08/10/2009

First Click - Virginia

Aug. 10, 2009

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

It's Monday, the start of what promises to be a busy week on the campaign trail.

Democrat Creigh Deeds wrapped up his tour of the state's rural areas with a rare visit to his home county of Bath where he announced several proposals to improve government accountability.

Deeds is expected to roll out three other policy proposals this week. Today, he will talk about abortion in Northern Virginia as he tries to portray Republican Bob McDonnell as out of the mainstream. The effort is deemed desperate by some, mostly Republicans of course, and has led to a lot of chatter on conservative blogs. But Deeds hopes to energize his lackluster base, and the initial response shows it may be working.

McDonnell got a moment in the national spotlight when he delivered the response to President Obama's weekly radio address this weekend. (Okay, so it's not really a response). He kicked off his month-long "New Jobs, More Opportunities" tour at the Patrick County Peach Festival in Stuart. Check out the RV here.

McDonnell, too, plans to unveil four policy proposals this week. Today, he will hold a press conference to release his economic plan for rural Virginia in Martinsville before heading to Danville.

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 08/ 8/2009

McDonnell's National Address

Republican Bob McDonnell's address to the nation this morning sounded a lot like other speeches he has given on the campaign trail -- with an emphasis on jobs, the economy and the federal cap-and-trade bill.

"As I travel throughout Virginia, I listen to our people who are concerned about the jobs they have, worried about finding the jobs they need, and concerned about what jobs will be available for their kids in the years ahead,'' he said. "As a father of five, I share those same concerns; that's why our main goal is to bring Virginians together to create jobs and more opportunities all across our state."

McDonnell also mentioned education (even praising President Obama on the issue), healthcare (opposing the Democrats plans on Capitol Hill), offshore oil drilling and, of course, this being Virginia, transportation.

U.S. House GOP leader John Boehner tapped McDonnell to deliver what is commonly referred to as the response to the president's radio address (though it never actually responds to that speech).

Read the full speech below:

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Posted at 5:54 PM ET, 08/ 7/2009

McDonnell Hits the Road

Bob McDonnell will starting traveling the state in an RV tomorrow as part of his month-long "New Jobs, More Opportunities" tour.

The tour kicks off at the Patrick County Peach Festival in Stuart and ends on Labor Day at the Buena Vista Labor Day Parade.

In the first week, McDonnell plans to travel more than 1,500 miles and unveil four policy proposals. His wife, Maureen, will accompany him for about half the tour. "There isn't one region of Virginia we won't visit; there isn't one single vote we will write off,'' he said.

McdonnellRV.jpg

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Posted at 3:13 PM ET, 08/ 7/2009

Dems Attack McDonnell on Sotomayor

Virginia Democrats tried to use yesterday's historic confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to bash Bob McDonnell today on his lack of support for the new Supreme Court justice.

McDonnell never said he was opposed to Sotomayor, but he never said he supported her either.

In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, Emma Violand-Sanchez, an Arlington School Board Member and yes, a Democrat, said she was disappointed McDonnell did not take a position. Carlos del Toro, a business leader and yes, a Creigh Deeds supporter, said McDonnell is being hypocritical on issues important to the Latino community. "Bob McDonnell had an opportunity to come out of the partisan fray," he said.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 08/ 7/2009

First Click - Virginia

Aug. 7, 2009

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

Lots of news coming out of Virginia. President Obama was here yesterday after all.

Obama tried to provide a boost to Creigh Deeds campaign, appearing before 1,500 cheering, sign-waving supporters at the McLean Hilton Tysons Corner. Obama talked up the Democratic nominee for governor, but used the opportunity to defend his own record too.

While Deeds was with Obama, Republican rival Bob McDonnell attended former Congresswoman Thelma Drake's annual party on the pier in Norfolk.

Deeds was endorsed by the Teamsters yesterday --- though he didn't tell anyone. Expect McDonnell and the Republicans to be more than willing to do it for him as they continued to attack him for being tied to big labor (and therefore anti-business).

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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Kaine's Timing

Gov. Tim Kaine had three years and seven months to announce his decision to pardon the former sailors convicted of raping and killing a woman in 1997 in the infamous Norfolk 4 case.

But Kaine, the outgoing governor and DNC chairman, waited until today--when President Obama is in Virginia to campaign with Creigh Deeds.

Strange timing?

Campaign staffers, political insiders and reporters were certainly scratching their heads about Kaine's motives.

No one really thought he was trying to take the spotlight away from Deeds and Obama, but it kind of worked out that way.

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Posted at 4:17 PM ET, 08/ 6/2009

McDonnell 51, Deeds 43

As we've explained before we don't trust all the polls that come out during the governor's race, but here's one that we can tell you about.

A DailyKos/Research 2000 poll on the governor's race shows that Republican Bob McDonnell leads Democrat Creigh Deeds among likely voters, 51 percent to 43 percent.

Back in mid-June, McDonnell had 45 percent and Deeds 44 percent. Check out the favorable numbers: McDonnell at 57 percent, Deeds at 46 percent.

The left-leaning Daily Kos tells us that undecided voters gradually have gotten behind McDonnell with gains coming primarily from independents and a handful of Democrats.

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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 08/ 6/2009

Democrats Targets Wolf on Health Care

The health care debate is hitting the road. Expect to hear plenty about it during Congress's monthlong August recess.

Here in Virginia, national Democrats have started making calls -- both automated and live -- in Rep. Frank Wolf's Northern Virginia district to push him to to support President Obama's health care plan.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting 25 Republicans as part of a program called "Health Care ER" that includes radio ads, phone calls, mass e-mails, letters to the editor, online petitions and teleconference town halls.

"Time and again, Republicans including Rep. Wolf protect a broken system of skyrocketing costs, insurance companies making health care decisions, and record-setting insurance company profits instead of working with President Obama to bring real health insurance reform for middle class families," said Jon Vogel, executive director.

Wolf spokesman Dan Scandling called the attack "standard operating procedure," and said his office is receiving four times as many calls against the health care plan as for it. "I think the only people who support the health care plan are the people working at the DCCC," he said.

Read the script of the calls in Wolf's district below:

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Posted at 4:29 PM ET, 08/ 5/2009

McDonnell to Deliver National Address

Here's just one more sign that the national spotlight is on Virginia's gubernatorial race.

Bob McDonnell has been tapped by U.S. House GOP leader John Boehner to deliver the weekly Republican address this Saturday.

His comments, which will air on national TV and radio, will focus on opportunities to create jobs in Virginia and in the United States.

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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 08/ 5/2009

Beyer's Going-Away Party

Tonight, a who's who of Virginia politics will attend a lavish party in honor of the soon-to-be ambassador to Switzerland, Don Beyer.

The garden party will take place at the Old Town Alexandria home of David Abshire, a former ambassador himself (to NATO).

Hope it doesn't rain. Two hundred people is a lot to have in your house. Unless maybe you are Abshire and have an undoubtedly large house that was featured in the 2000 Kevin Bacon movie Hollow Man.

Hosts include Sen. Mark Warner, former senator John Warner and former governor Chuck Robb and their wives.

Guest include Susan Eisenhower (yes, that Eisenhower -- granddaughter of the former president), Rep. Jim Moran, William Webster, former director of the FBI and CIA and Mack McLarty, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton. There will also be a few ambassadors in attendance: the ambassador to Liechtenstein, former ambassador to the European Union and former ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

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Posted at 3:44 PM ET, 08/ 4/2009

Kaine Defends Decision on Va Tech

This morning, Gov. Tim Kaine defended his decision not to reconvene a special panel on the Virginia Tech massacre, as had been requested by more than 60 family members and survivors last week.

"There are some who want it re-opened and there are some who definitely don't want it re-opened,'' Kaine told reporters at a news conference. "This is a very, very painful and sensitive subject. The family members are not alike. It would be wrong to expect everyone to grieve the same way."

Kaine declined to say how many families have asked him to not recovene the special panel. He said he will accept any factual corrections families wish to make to the report until Aug. 19. At that point, TriData, the independent public safety consulting firm that helped the panel write the original report in 2007, will review proposed corrections and submit a report to the governor.

Kaine said the state is still waiting to hear whether attorneys for shooter Seung Hui Cho's family will agree to release his mental health records, which surfaced in recent weeks in the home of the former director of the university's counseling center. If the family does not agree, attorneys involved in suing the state on behalf of victims' families can subpoena them.

"We know who committed the crime. We know the circumstances of the crime,'' Kaine said. We don't yet have any suggestion that materials in this file will suggest anything different than what we already know."

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/ 3/2009

On the Record

Today we introduce the first installment of what will be a regular feature here on the Virginia Politics blog -- a funny, outrageous or otherwise memorable quote from someone in the state's political world. Campaign season is in full swing so you can expect many of the quotes to come from the candidates or their staffers. Unless Joe Biden comes to Virginia, then you can expect many of the quotes to come from him!
Have a quote you want to share? Email me. Now onto today's quote:

Today's quote: "Growing up in southwest Virginia taught me many important values, like the importance of hard work, loyalty, and the power of education," Creigh Deeds wrote in the first line of his email to supporters Sunday.

Nice line. The only problem is Deeds didn't grow up in southwest Virginia. He grew up in Bath County, which is the western part of the state, but not south and definitely not southwest. The email was sent to promote his 21-stop "Deeds Country" tour that will take him to the state's largely Republican-leaning areas -- the Shenandoah Valley, southside and southwest -- over the next week. Yes, he is going to southwest but no, he doesn't live there. In fact, the Deeds campaign has been known to correct people who accidentally mistake rural Bath County for rural southwest Virginia

So what do you think about Deeds' quote? Share your thoughts with us!

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Posted at 8:17 PM ET, 08/ 2/2009

Deeds Kicks off Statewide Tour

A couple weeks ago we told you how the gubernatorial candidates had been largely absent from the campaign trail, chosing instead to spend much of the summer hunkered down, amassing resources and plotting strategy.

Those days are over.

Today, Democrat Creigh Deeds kicked off a 21-stop "Deeds Country" tour that will take him to the state's largely Republican-leaning areas -- the Shenandoah Valley, Southside and Southwest -- over the next week.

"Because of my rural background, because of where I live, I believe that I am going to do better than a lot of Democrats in areas like that,'' Deeds said. "To often Democrats concede certain areas. I'm not going to concede one square inch of terrority."

Not to be outdone, Republican Bob McDonnell plans to spend much of August traveling the state in a Winnebago. "Every region of the state is going to be hard fought,'' McDonnell said. "I'm sure virtually every place he goes I'll be there myself."

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Posted at 3:53 PM ET, 08/ 1/2009

McDonnell v. Deeds

Tomorrow's Washington Post features columns by prominent supporters of Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds who crossed party lines two weeks ago when making their endorsements.

Sheila Johnson, a co-founder of Black Entertainment Television and one of the most politically active Virginia businesswomen, explains her support for McDonnell.

Former state senator Marty Williams, who had never endorsed a Democrat in a statewide race before, explains his support for Deeds.

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Posted at 6:30 PM ET, 07/31/2009

Kaine's Weekend Travel and More


View Kaine's Travel Adventures in a larger map. KEY: Blue markers are DNC trips, red markers are official state trips, and purple markers included a mix of both or are unclear at this time.

Gov. Tim Kaine will jet off to posh Martha's Vineyard tomorrow morning as part of his job as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He will return from the island Sunday night.

In keeping with his recent promise to reveal his whereabouts (which came after pressure by the media and others to tell us where he spends his time), Kaine's office released his travels for the second half of July this evening.

His out-of-state travel included trips to San Francisco (July 25-26), Seattle (July 26-27), Portland (July 27) and Chicago (July 28-29.) He also reported spending part of July 25 in Washington. The trips were taken in a time period that spanned Wednesday to Saturday.

Much of the out-of-state travel was likely for DNC business but may have been in his role as governor or for both jobs. The travel log does not indicate the purpose of the trips.

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Posted at 3:05 PM ET, 07/31/2009

Deeds, McDonnell and a Roomful of Farmers

Creigh Deeds has operated on farm animals. Bob McDonnell has not.

That's one of the things we learned this afternoon when Deeds and McDonnell made their pitches to Virginia farmers at a candidates' forum designed to determine which of the men is the "most farm and forestry friendly."

Deeds relished the opportunity to talk up his rural roots in Bath County, his 18 years service on the General Assembly's agriculture committees and his long record on issues important to farmers. He doesn't often get to tout that part of his record (bills creating a board to promote the state's sheep industry, classifying potbellied pigs as companion animals and guaranteeing the right to hunt and fish) when he campaigns around the state but Friday's event gave him the chance.

"You've got to remember I grew up on a farm,'' Deeds said. "You won't find too many candidates for statewide office who have performed surgery on cows and pigs." (For the record, Deeds told reporters later that the surgeries were the kind performed on male animals. Enough said.)

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 07/31/2009

McDonnell Secures a Vote -- or Two

We're guessing Bob McDonnell won over at least one potential voter yesterday with his visit to a facility that aids veterans in central Virginia.

Yolanda Dean, the founder of the aptly named Compassion House, wrote a letter that was printed in the Culpeper newspaper asking McDonnell and Creigh Deeds which of them she should vote for -- and encouraging them to pay her a visit.

McDonnell's wife, Maureen, saw the letter and convinced her husband to go. McDonnell, who served in the military, visited yesterday and spoke about his veterans plan.

Dean was so impressed with his scheduled visit that she wrote a follow up letter to the newspaper last week. "Bob McDonnell is right to bring to light the importance of supporting those who have fought to keep us safe," she said yesterday.

We're not sure, but we'd bet Dean casts a ballot for McDonnell come November.

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 07/31/2009

Griffith Jumps In

GriffithMove over Michael Phelps. Make some room in the water for Morgan Griffith.

Yes, that is none other than the Virginia House majority leader pictured at a swimming competition at the Salem YMCA this week. Check out the expression on his face!

Our friends at the Roanoke Times describe Griffith's long history as a swimmer in this feature story from Sunday's paper. Who knew?

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Posted at 4:32 PM ET, 07/30/2009

The Blame Game

Today, Gov. Tim Kaine blamed U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor for doing his part in closing 18 of the state's highway rest stops last week due to a budget shortfall.

On his monthly radio program on WRVA in Richmond and the Virginia News Network, Kaine accused Cantor (a frequent foe of Kaine's friend, President Barack Obama) of encouraging Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee to vote against a Kaine request that would allow private businesses to operate rest stops.

Federal law specifies that the rest areas must be run by the state, but Kaine was seeking a waiver as part of a last-minute effort to prevent the rest stops from closing. U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R) supported the waiver and offered the amendment.

"The solution is easy and won't cost a penny,'' Kaine said.

The decision to close the rest stops -- made by the Commonwealth Transportation Board -- has garnered quite a bit of attention in recent weeks. All of it bad. No wonder politicians are blaming each other for the closures.

Updated: Cantor does not sit on that committee and members of the Virginia delegation deny that he worked against the amendment. "Chairman Kaine's rash decision to close the rest stops has raised serious safety concerns, especially in rural communities,'' said Brad Dayspring, a Cantor spokesman. "Congressman Cantor believes that instead of politicizing this issue, we should work toward a smart solution that addresses the safety concerns of Virginians in rural communities and is efficient for all residents of the Commonwealth."

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Posted at 4:03 PM ET, 07/30/2009

Deeds Picks Up Another Kaine Staffer

A familiar face has joined the Deeds campaign.

Jeff Tiller, the always enegetic and helpful deputy press secretary to Gov. Tim Kaine, started his new gig today in Creigh Deeds' press shop.

Tiller left Virginia last summer to work on Barack Obama's advance team but he obviously couldn't keep away.

Other Kaine staffers working for Deeds include Matt Felan, who served as the executive director of Kaine's political action committee Moving Virginia Forward, and Kevin Hall, his former press secretary, who is working on and off as an communications advisor.

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Posted at 7:55 PM ET, 07/10/2009

Biden To Appear With Deeds

Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Virginia next week to campaign with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

Biden and Deeds will appear at a fundraiser together Thursday in Richmond at the home of Leon and Lisa Roday. Leon Roday is a senior vice president at Genworth Financial.

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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 07/10/2009

Virginia Receives Another Accolade

The accolades keep coming.

Tim Kaine (and Mark Warner before him) loves to tell people about all the various awards, rankings and compliments the state has received on his watch. He just got one more reason to gloat.

Virginia was ranked among the "Five Best States to Start a Business" by U.S. News & World Report this week.

"The latest accolades accorded the commonwealth demonstrate that Virginia remains a power player among business-friendly states," Kaine said. "As we work to get our economy back on track, it's great to be recognized for continuing to attract innovative businesses to Virginia."

The magazine said Virginia "mixes the highly educated workforce and technological sophistication'" and is known for its low taxes. "This state boasts the highest number of information technology jobs in non-IT industries as a total share of jobs, which indicates that Virginia's businesses are more technologically advanced than businesses in other states."

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Posted at 3:33 PM ET, 07/10/2009

Debate to be Available Online

For years, the Virginia Bar Association has hosted the first debate between statewide candidates, either at the Homestead or Greenbrier resorts. This year is no exception.

But for the first time, everyone will be able to watch the debate instead of just the few hundred lawyers attending the association's annual meeting.

This time, the association in conjunction with the soon-to-be-launched Web site, VirginiaTalks.com, will offer a free, live and interactive statewide broadcast of the debate to be held July 25 at 11 a.m.

Viewers of the live streaming video will be able to join a simultaneous, online discussion during the debate and to submit questions that may be asked during the debate. The debate will be available online through Election Day.

"We're honored to partner with the Virginia Bar Association to provide access to this debate across the Commonwealth and beyond," said Jason Roop, editor in chief of VirginiaTalks.com. "The VBA should be commended for launching this important election season by transforming this special event into one that can be seen and heard by voters everywhere."

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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 07/10/2009

Deeds Son Charged with Alcohol Possession

Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds' 20-year-old son was charged with alcohol possession May 30 for drinking at a party in his native Bath County.

Austin Creigh Deeds, a student at the College of William and Mary, has an arraignment set for next Wednesday, and a court date Sept. 9. He faces a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Deeds has four children. His spokesman Jared Leopold simply said the incident was a "family matter."

See the court document here.pdf

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Posted at 10:35 PM ET, 07/ 9/2009

Henry Joins Shannon's Campaign

Mike Henry is back.

Henry, who has a long track record of winning races for Democrats in general elections in Virginia and is seen as one of the driving forces behind the party's recent successes in the state, has signed on to manage Steve Shannon's campaign for attorney general.

It's a major coup for Shannon.

Henry, of course, finds himself unexpectedly free after managing Terry McAuliffe's losing gubernatorial campaign. We hear he will start his new job Monday.

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Posted at 9:00 PM ET, 07/ 9/2009

Healthcare Fight Comes to Va

Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group that supports limited government and free trade, started its second advertising blitz on TV across Virginia today to oppose the Democrats' healthcare plan.

The ads are part of a $1.3-million, one-week buy in a dozen states targeting senators, including U.S. Sen. Mark Warner.

Meanwhile, Organizing for America, an arm of the Democratic National Committee that is lobbying for President Obama's agenda, has moved into Virginia with the immediate goal of garnering grassroots support for his healthcare plan. Three staffers are based in Richmond and Northern Virginia.

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Posted at 1:05 PM ET, 07/ 9/2009

Hugo Calls on Kaine to Resign

Del. Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax) called on Gov. Tim Kaine to resign after reading today about how he is spending one and half days of his week working for the Democratic National Committee.

Hugo said Kaine should not have accepted the job of DNC chairman in January and called on him to resign as governor if he wants to continue working for the national party. "Virginia deserves a full-time govenor,'' Hugo said.

Kaine said in an interview this week he typically spends one day a week traveling as his party's national chairman to attend fundraisers and policy events another half a day working at the DNC headquarters in Washington.

Kaine was asked by reporters this morning at an unrelated press conference about his travel schedule. He refused again to release a full schedule. "We always release public scheduling and we will continue to,'' he said. "We just don't notice private events and no previous governor has either."

Kaine will spend tomorrow in Minneapolis on DNC business. He will travel to Los Angeles Wednesday to attend the ESPY Awards, an annual sports awards ceremony created by ESPN, with a friend. He will then fly to Colorado for the DNC before spending two days in Biloxi, Miss. for a National Governor's Association meeting.

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Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 07/ 9/2009

Updated: McDonnell Takes Swipe at Kaine

Republican Bob McDonnell used the announcement of his jobs plan Thursday to attack the man he wants to replace.

McDonnell complained that Gov. Tim Kaine (D) has not used all the money available to him through the governor's opportunity fund to help attract new businesses to the state. He said the account has a balance of $11 million. "If I was governor, I would be dispersing that money immediately,'' he said.

The plan, unveiled by McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, calls for doubling the fund and broadening rules to allow companies that generate additional state and local tax revenue to qualify.

"The governor's opportunity fund can be a powerful weapon in the fight to attract new employers to the commonwealth. And fight is the right word,'' McDonnell said. "We are competing against every other state, and increasingly many other nations, for the private companies that bring with them high paying jobs and much needed tax revenue."

McDonnell's opponent Creigh Deeds is running as the heir apparent to the past two Democratic governors, Kaine and U.S. Mark R. Warner. Deeds was the sponsor of the original bill in 1996 to create the fund, while McDonnell voted at times to trim money from the fund.

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Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 07/ 8/2009

Palin Tweets Allen

Days after surprising just about everyone with her resignation, and just back from a salmon fishing trip with her family, the almost-former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin has been tweeting away.

Just this morning, Palin sent this message to her 87,083 followers: "Couple of thoughts for the day on beautiful bright AK morn: You have to sacrifice to win. That's my philosophy in 6 words. - George Allen."

That turned some heads in Virginia, where we all wondered which George Allen she was quoting: The former Republican governor and U.S. senator? Or his legendary Redskins football coach father?

All signs point to the quote belonging to dad -- but figuring it out is more difficult than it appears (though the quote can be found in the book "Knowledge in a Nutshell")

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 07/ 8/2009

Updated: McDonnell on Palin

Republican Bob McDonnell told the folks at ABCNews.com yesterday that Gov. Sarah Palin would be a "good spokesman" if she still wants to come to Virginia to campaign for him this year.

"She was a successful governor in Alaska,'' he said. "She was a popular governor in Alaska, got a lot of things done on taxes, and government regulation and ethics, and you know, those are some of the things that I'm interested in getting done here in Virginia."

Palin has raised some taxes and increased regulation of oil companies, but McDonnell's campaign explained that he was referring to her record of shrinking the state budget and suspending the state fuel tax as governor and cutting small business inventory taxes and personal property taxes as a mayor).

Some had speculated that McDonnell would not want Palin to campaign for him after her surprising announcement last week that she will resign from office later this month. She is being criticized by Republicans and Democrats for her decision but McDonnell doesn't seem to be ruling out a visit.

As we told you earlier this week, Palin had expressed interest in helping McDonnell, but the two had yet to set up a specific event. Democrats would have a field day with Palin's arrival if she did come here, but her visits to Virginia last year during the presidential race drew enormous, enthusiastic crowds of Republicans.

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Posted at 9:00 PM ET, 07/ 7/2009

Kaine Declines -- Again -- to Release Records

It should come as no surprise that Gov. Tim Kaine today refused to release information about his travel on behalf of the Democratic National Committee to the Associated Press.

Kaine's office has declined similar requests by the Washington Post and the Republican Party of Virginia citing state law that exempts the "governor's working papers" from open records.

Kaine's office typically releases a public schedule of gubernatorial events that includes speeches, bill signings and news conferences -- but does not include appointments in his office, activities for the national party or fundraisers for his in-state political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward.

Kaine has said that anyone who wants to know where he is can just ask him when they see him, but he won't let his spokesmen say where he is when he is not around. That answer has not stopped a growing firestorm by open-government advocates, newspapers and critics over his refusal to disclose his schedule.

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Posted at 5:12 PM ET, 07/ 7/2009

McDonnell Renews Debate Request

Republican Bob McDonnell isn't dropping his debate challenge.

McDonnell renewed his request today for a series of 10 debates with Democrat Creigh Deeds after his campaign said Deeds rejected the original offer last week.

"There is a hunger for robust political discourse in this campaign," said Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman.

Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold said Deeds never rejected the challenge but that the campaign will continue to work with potential organizers to devise a list of debates across the state on their timetable, not McDonnell's.

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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 07/ 7/2009

Governor, Senator, Author

Former Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen has signed a publishing contract with Regnery Publishing to write a book, "The Triumph of Character: What Washington Can Learn from the World of Sports. "

The book, to be released in June 2010, will bring together two all-American passions -- politics and sports -- and reveals what Washington could learn from the principles found in athletic competition and team sports, according to a press release.

Allen, the son of a NFL Hall of Fame Coach, played football and rugby at the University of Virginia. He is the founder and chairman of the American Energy Freedom Center and president of George Allen Strategies, LLC.

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Posted at 1:55 PM ET, 07/ 7/2009

The Courting of Wilder Continues

Doug Wilder continues to keep everyone guessing. That's just the way he likes it.

The nation's first elected black governor has said some not-so-nice things about Creigh Deeds in the past and in the 2005 attorney general's race he refused to back Deeds because of his position on guns.

Now Deeds has won the Democratic nomination for governor but the cagey Wilder still won't say whether he will support him on or not.

Wilder said in a recent interview that Deeds has called him a couple times since the June 9 primary, but that the two keep missing each other and have now scheduled a meeting in the coming weeks. But he also said Republican Bob McDonnell has come a-calling too. The two men speak regularly.

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Posted at 4:11 PM ET, 07/ 6/2009

Kaine Heads to Minneapolis

Gov. Tim Kaine will spend Friday in Minneapolis in his role as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Also, this week: Kaine will spend the afternoon working out of the DNC headquarters in Washington Wednesday after attending an economic development event in Falls Church.

That night he will attend a fundraising event for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds at the McLean home of Mark Lowham, senior vice president of WEST*GROUP. (who endorsed Deeds last week).

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Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 07/ 6/2009

Palin to Campaign in Virginia? You Betcha.

Gov. Sarah Palin's stunning annoucement that she would resign later this month in part because she wanted to be free to help other candidates made us wonder if she has plans to come to Virginia -- one of only two states with governor's races this year.

Bob McDonnell, Virginia's Republican gubernatorial nominee, attended a meeting of the Republican Governor's Association late last year. Many governors, including Palin, Rick Perry (Tex.) and Charlie Crist (Fla.), pledged to help him.

McDonnell's campaign has not heard from Palin's staff to set up a specific event, but it's been made pretty clear in recent days she plans to spend some time here this fall.

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Posted at 4:01 PM ET, 07/ 2/2009

GOP Ramps Up

While Democrats spent their spring preoccupied with a grueling, three-way primary for governor, Republicans quietly started opening field offices around the state to get ready for the November election.

The so-called "victory" offices -- a joint venture of the Republican Party of Virginia and the Republican National Committee -- will number 20 by the end of this week.

So far, about 30 staffers have been hired to identify voters, promote the Republican ticket (three statewide offices and House of Delegates) and eventually work to get people to the polls in all corners of the state. In Northern Virginia, offices are located in Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties.

By comparison, Democrats -- who were waiting on a nominee for the top of the ticket -- have about five coordinated campaign offices in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond.

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Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 07/ 1/2009

Deeds, McDonnell Pledge to Release Schedule

With all this talk about Gov. Tim Kaine's refusal to release his political schedule, we wondered what the men wanting to replace him think about the ongoing debate.

Both Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell told us that they would disclose complete schedules, including political activities, if elected.

Deeds was careful not to criticize the man whose coattails he is trying to ride into the governor's mansion, but made it clear he would handle the situation differently.

We tried to get Deeds directly on this topic, but he would not make himself available. His spokesman Jared Leopold said: "Creigh Deeds is committed to transparency in government."

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Posted at 11:34 AM ET, 07/ 1/2009

McDonnell Challenges Deeds to 10 Debates-Updated

Republican Bob McDonnell sent a letter to Democrat Creigh Deeds this morning asking for 10 gubernatorial debates across the state.

The two have already agreed to a July 25 debate at the Homestead resort in Deeds' home county of Bath.

McDonnell sent Deeds a schedule of debates that would start July 25 and conclude with a final debate at the University of Virginia on Oct. 20, two weeks before Election Day. Each would be available on TV, radio or Internet.

"Virginians are tired of sound bite campaigns,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "They want to know where the candidates stand on the issues of today. And they want to hear this directly from the candidates."

We are awaiting a response from the Deeds campaign and will let you know when we get it.

UPDATE: Deeds said this afternoon that he is eager to debate McDonnell but he had not yet read McDonnell's press release and his campaign is evaluating the issue.

"I'm not going to let Bob McDonnell dictate my campaign schedule," he said. Deeds noted he participated in eight forums and debates during the run-up to the recent Democratic primary, outings he said helped boost his campaign from third to first place.

"I'm not afraid of debating Bob," Deeds said, but, he added, "The modern logistics of scheduling these things are tough, because you're trying to get two campaigns together."

"I think we'll probably end up with a debate schedule much like past years," he said.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 06/30/2009

Kaine Appears With Obama, Raises Money

This time it wasn't so difficult to find Gov. Tim Kaine. We just looked at President Obama's schedule.

Kaine will appear with Obama tomorrow at a healthcare townhall at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale.

Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, spent Monday in New York and Washington on party business. Tonight, he will appear at a fundraising reception for Del. David Poisson at the Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls.

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Posted at 9:10 AM ET, 06/30/2009

Deeds Wins SEIU Support

The first endorsements of the general election are starting to roll in.

Today, Democrat Creigh Deeds won the support of the Service Employees International Union, which has more than 5,000 members in Virginia. SEIU will be the first in a long line of labor unions standing behind Deeds.

"Hardworking women and men simply cannot afford to slip any farther behind in this economy, and they want their next governor to not just understand their concerns but to fight for them,'' SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger said. "Senator Deeds has an impressive record fighting on behalf of working families and has earned his reputation as a consensus builder who the working families of Virginia can count on."

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Posted at 8:00 PM ET, 06/29/2009

Kaine: Governor of NJ?

Vice President Joe Biden, well known for his verbal gaffes, accidently introduced Tim Kaine as the "great governor of New Jersey" this weekend at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington.

You'd think Biden would remember Kaine a little bit better. Not only is Virginia's governor chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he was one of the three finalists for the job Biden eventually won.

The event wasn't a total loss for Kaine. The chairman helped the DNC raise $1 million at the 10th annual LGBT Leadership Council fundraiser.

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Posted at 9:52 AM ET, 06/29/2009

State GOP Disappointed in Kaine

Pat Mullins, leader of the state GOP, said this morning that he is "disappointed" that Gov. Tim Kaine refused to release his full calendar, which would include his work as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

But, Mullins said, the Republican Party has decided not to pursue the Freedom of Information Act request further in court.

"As a Virginia resident, I continue to believe that the people have the right to know where their elected governor is, especially when he leaves the boundaries of the commonwealth for political business unrelated to the concerns of the taxpayers of Virginia,'' Mullins said.

Repeated attempts to review Kaine's schedule by the Washington Post have been unsuccessful. The requests made through the governor's office, the DNC and Kaine's political action committee, Moving Virginia Forward, have been denied or gone unanswered.

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 06/25/2009

Kaine's Travel Adventures


View An Often-Absent Governor in a larger map

Despite saying he would largely conduct Democratic National Committee work on weekends, Gov. Tim Kaine spent yesterday in Philadelphia on DNC business. He will do the same next Monday when he travels to New York.

The Washington Post has learned that Kaine, the new DNC chairman, has been to North Carolina, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio in recent months in addition to attending frequent fundraisers across the state and in Washington. Read our story today here.

Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause, a nonprofit group in Washington that monitors government ethics issues, said in an interview this week that he did not think Kaine should have taken the DNC job while he was still governor, but since he did he should be upfront about what he is doing.

"If he is going to do two jobs he has to do more than the letter of the law,'' he said. "If he is going to be governor and head of the Democratic party at the same time he has a moral responsibility to make, as transparent as possible, his whereabouts.''

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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 06/22/2009

Kaine's Latest Fundraising Trips

We may not know when Gov. Tim Kaine is flying around the country for the DNC, but we are starting to get a better idea of when he is doing his in-state fundraising.

Tonight, Kaine attended at a fundraiser for Del. Chuck Caputo at the Centreville home of Steve and Lu Ann McNabb, friends of a family of a Tech student who died in the 2007 shootings.

Tomorrow night, he is expected at a fundraiser for Del. Joe Morrissey at Old City Bar in Richmond. Saturday afternoon, he will head to Virginia Beach for a barbeque with Sen. John Miller and a fundraiser for Del. Joe Bouchard.

No word on whether Kaine is heading out of state this week for DNC fundraising trips. As usual, we will let you know when we know.

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Posted at 12:58 PM ET, 06/22/2009

Barbour Helps Raise $250,000 for McDonnell

It seems like every Republican considering a possible presidential run in 2012 is coming to Virginia to help Bob McDonnell and, in the process, raising their profile in the swing state.

Haley Barbour was just the latest.

The Mississippi governor is spending the day with McDonnell at fundraisers in Virginia Beach, Richmond and Alexandria. The Richmond event at the Marriott was attended by House Speaker Bill Howell and Attorney General Bill Mims, among others. The three events are expected to raise $250,000.

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Posted at 1:52 PM ET, 06/21/2009

Howell Refutes Kaine on Transportation

Last Sunday, Gov. Tim Kaine wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post blaming state transportation woes on House Republicans.

Today, House Speaker Bill Howell offers his response. Check it out here.

For a few years, transportation was the issue in Virginia. It died down this year, but these two pieces are a clear sign that transportation will play a significant role in this year's House elections.

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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 06/20/2009

Longtime Deeds Aide Departs for Hill

Creigh Deeds' campaign is going through a lot of changes as it heads into the general election.

We told you about his many new hires a couple days ago. Now word is out that his longtime aide Peter Jackson is leaving.

Jackson, who worked on Deeds' 2005 unsuccessful campaign for attorney general, had served as executive director of the Future Deeds political action committee, spokesman and senior advisor. Jackson was the guy with the institutional memory and his departure is surprising considering he was one of Deeds' longest serving aides.

On Monday, he will start a new job as communications director for the Congressional Oversight Panel on TARP. "Even though I'll be working on the other side of the Potomac, don't be surprised to see me putting up yard signs and helping out Creigh's campaign in whatever way I can,'' he wrote in an email to friends.yesterday.

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Posted at 1:45 PM ET, 06/19/2009

UPDATED: GOP Wonders: Where Is Kaine?

After reading that Gov. Tim Kaine has been in Chicago and Kansas City in the last couple weeks, Virginia Republicans are asking just where Kaine's job as chairman of the Democratic National Committee is taking him.

The Republican Party of Virginia has sent a public records request for Kaine's schedule to the governor's office and produced a video mocking him for his repeated absences from the state.

We've asked repeatedly for Kaine's various gubernatorial and political schedules, so far with no success -- if you attend or hear about an out-of state appearance, let us know. But make no mistake that the Republicans are not asking just for the sake of public information. They are trying to tarnish the reputation of a popular governor in a election year in which a Democrat is trying to ride his coattails into the governor's mansion.

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Posted at 4:00 PM ET, 06/18/2009

Kaine Jets Off To Kansas City

We told you the other day that we weren't sure where Gov. Tim Kaine's travels as DNC chairman were taking him. He sure isn't telling us. But today, we learned he will be in Kansas City tomorrow.

Thanks to the folks at the Kansas City Star, we know Kaine will be at the home of Mira and Kris Flint of Kansas City for a fundraiser for Organizing for America, a group that pushes President Obama's policies. (The original newspaper post called Kaine the former governor of Virginia, but they quickly corrected their mistake).

Kaine's official schedule as governor lists public events Monday and Tuesday and nothing for the rest of the week. No word from the DNC on his event tomorrow. But we did hear he appeared at a fundraiser for Del. David Toscano Tuesday in downtown Charlottesville.

We'll keep our eyes open for Kaine's other trips and let you know what we find out.

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Posted at 8:26 AM ET, 06/18/2009

DGA Sends Deeds $$$

Consider it the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.

The Democratic Governors Association gave Creigh Deeds $100,000 last Wednesday -- a much-needed financial boost a day after a tough three-way primary in which Deeds spent every penny he could on TV ads.

So far, the DGA has spent more than $3 million in Virginia's closely watched governor's race. Almost all of it has gone to Common Sense Virginia, a political action committee formed to attack Republican Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell has received $1.95 million from the Republican Governors Association. You can expect both McDonnell and Deeds to receive millions more before this election is over.

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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 06/17/2009

UPDATED: Gingrich's Group Sends Letter to Deeds, McDonnell

Newt Gingrich's American Solutions will send letters to gubernatorial candidates, Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell this afternoon, asking them to oppose a federal proposal that the groups says would establish a national tax system on energy.

"As leaders who aspire to lead Virginia forward, you have a responsibility to speak out now to protect the commonwealth from proposed laws that would kill jobs in Virginia,'' Dan Varroney, the group's senior vice president writes in his letter. "Your leadership responsibility is to help create Virginia jobs, not support their destruction (either actively or through silence)."

American Solutions is kicking off a national campaign to oppose the bill in Congress. The push begins in Virginia with information being sent to the group's 55,000 members and an advertising blitz starting next week.

Updated: Republican McDonnell responded swiftly -- as you would expect -- calling on Deeds and Gov. Tim Kaine to join him in opposing the bill that "would increase taxes and unemployment in Virginia." He cited multiple studies from groups on either side of the political spectrum that say the bill would hurt the economy.

"It would hurt Virginia's competitiveness in the world economy, raise our electricity rates and have a direct impact on every Virginia citizen. It's a job-killer,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "The...legislation under consideration is exactly the wrong approach to take. It is a heavy-handed big government approach based on ideology, not science."

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 06/17/2009

How Business-Friendly is Deeds?

Republican Bob McDonnell frequently talks about how he is the business friendly candidate in the governor's race.

But what about his rival, Democrat Creigh Deeds?

In newly released rankings from Virginia FREE, a Richmond-based coalition of businesses from across the state, Deeds received a 72 as his 2009 business ranking -- a score that that is based on this year's General Assembly voting record and incumbent evaluations done by leading business lobbyists.

His score is higher than most other Democrats, but lower than most Republicans in the 40-member state senate. Twenty five senators have a higher ranking than him.

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Posted at 5:15 PM ET, 06/13/2009

Democrats Rally Until the Rain Came

Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the newly minted Democratic nominee for governor, clapsed hands with his party's elite, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, this afternoon at an outdoor rally as he pledged to follow in their footsteps if he wins in November.

Deeds gave a brief but energetic speech promising to turn Virginia into a leader in renewable energy, make college more affordable and accessible and fix the state's transportation problems.

"We are taking this state forward,'' Deeds said. "In this election the choices will be stark. Do we move back to failed policies of the past or do we move forward?"

Deeds was joined for the first time by the rest of November's Democratic ticket -- lieutenant governor nominee Jody Wagner and attorney general nominee Steve Shannon -- and U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, Rep. Bobby Scott, Dick Cranwell, chairman of the state Democratic party, and members of the General Assembly, including Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong.

Democrats from across the state munched barbecue sandwiches and baked beans and waved blue Deeds signs on a lawn on the College of William and Mary campus. But the sunshine gave way to rain, and the speeches were cut short as the 250 supporters ran for cover.

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Posted at 4:01 PM ET, 06/13/2009

A (Brief) Reprieve from the Ads

Tuesday's Democratic primary brought an end to all television ads in the govornor's race, including those attacking Republican Bob McDonnell paid for by the Democratic Governors Association.

But it's unclear how long that will last.

The future of the DGA-funded political action committee, Common Sense Virginia, which has spent nearly $3 million on ads criticizing McDonnell, remains uncertain.

Creigh Deeds, the newly minted Democratic nominee, said he has not given any thought to whether those ads should continue. "I am sure we will have some conversations in the coming weeks,'' he said. "I have not put any thought into that."

Emily DeRose, a DGA spokeswoman, also said no decisions have been made. "The future remains to be seen."

Of course, regardless of who is paying, we know that the political ads for and against Deeds and McDonnell will be back. But maybe we will get a reprieve until the end of the summer.

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Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 06/12/2009

Wagner Challenges Bolling to Debates

Jody Wagner sure hit the ground running after her landslide victory in Tuesday's primary.

This morning, Wagner, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, challenged Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) to a series of monthly debates across the state.

That's a lot of debates -- more than we will likely see in any of the three statewide races.

"I believe it's important that voters have a clear understanding of both candidates, including our records, priorities, and visions for the future,'' Wagner wrote to Bolling in a letter. "I believe voters throughout the commonwealth deserve to hear from both of us, so they're able to make informed decisions in November about the direction they believe is best for Virginia."

Matt Wells, Bolling's campaign manager, said he looks forward to a "vigorous discussion of the candidate's qualifications, their records and their vision for the future of Virginia,'' but would not commit to a certain number of debates. "I'm confident there will be opportunities for debates during the course of the campaign," he said.

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Posted at 7:20 PM ET, 06/11/2009

Ambassador Beyer

President Obama appointed Don Beyer, a former Democratic lieutenant governor and a Northern Virginia car dealer, ambassador to Switzerland and the principality of Liechtenstein.

Beyer was an early supporter of Obama in Virginia and served Obama's mid-Atlantic finance chairman during last year's campaign. He and his wife, Megan, raised more than $1.5 million for Obama.

Obama was the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state in more than four decades.

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Posted at 6:26 PM ET, 06/10/2009

Democrats Get Unified

Democratic nominee Creigh Deeds launched his general election campaign today at a solidarity rally with his two vanquished opponents and Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Terry McAuliffe, former DNC chairman, former delegate Brian Moran, and their senior campaign staff, milled around the state Democratic headquarters, many wearing blue Deeds stickers. Members of the exuberant crowd held massive blue letters spelling their new standard-bearer's name: D E E D S.

"They both committed to help me anyway they can,'' Deeds said of his former rivals. "I'm going to hold them to that."

Kaine met briefly with the three men behind closed doors. (Wouldn't you have loved to be a fly on that wall?)

"I want to begin by saying how proud I am of Virginia Democrats,'' Kaine said. "That our three great candidates would all get up and shelp down to Richmond for this and stand together and to pledge that we are going to keep Virginia moving forward in a good direction is a wonderful tribute to all of them."

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Posted at 5:42 PM ET, 06/10/2009

Obama, Biden and McDonnell

We told you a little earlier that newly minted Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds spoke briefly to President Barack Obama at around 11 this morning. It turns out both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both called in the hours after he won his come-from-behind-victory Tuesday.

"It was pretty cool," Deeds said of his brief call from Obama. "I like him a lot. He was just personable. He offered help. He had ideas. He had watched this campaign. He was knowledgeable about the approach we took to things."

Deeds said Obama, then a U.S. senator, had campaigned with him previously in Norfolk and Richmond when Deeds was running for attorney general in 2005 against Republican Bob McDonnell.

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Posted at 9:30 PM ET, 06/ 8/2009

Family Time for McDonnell

So where was Bob McDonnell today while his three Democrats rivals campaigned hard in the last full day before tomorrow's primary?

Spending some quality time with his family.

The Republican nominee's in-laws, Frank and Gerry Gardner, introduced him to the residents at the vast Greenspring Retirement Community, where they live.

Greenspring, home to 2,000 residents, is a frequent stop for statewide candidates looking to meet some Virginians who are regular voters.

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Posted at 4:58 PM ET, 06/ 8/2009

McAuliffe Rallies Supports

Democratic gubernatorial Terry McAuliffe appeared in front of 100 enthusiastic supporters wearing bright blue "McAuliffe for governor" stickers at a coffee shop near Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. McAuliffe signs snaked around the coffee shop and up and around the adjacent streets.

He bounded up the makeshift stage, wearing a suit jacket on one of the hotter days this summer, after he was introduced as the next governor of commonwealth of Virginia.

"Tomorrow's the big day!'' McAuliffe said to a crowd waving blue McAuliffe for governor signs. "This has been what you are working on for months!"

McAuliffe, who was losing his voice, rattled off his campaign's get-out-the vote-effort: Six thousand volunteers are projected to make 1 million phone calls and knocked on 8,500 doors in the state.

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 06/ 8/2009

Top 10 House Fundraisers

If you're trying to figure out which House of Delegates races will be the most competitive in Tuesday's primary, and later this fall, just follow the money.

Below find the 10 candidates that raised the most money in the two-month period that ended May 27, as compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in Virginia politics.

You'll notice that seven out of the 10 are Democratic candidates. Is that a sign that the Democrats have more strength heading into fall elections? Maybe not. Of the 12 primaries on Tuesday, nine are among Democrats, including four in Northern Virginia, so they have to have money right away..

Democrats are working hard to regain control of the 100-member House, which has been in Republican hands since 1999. They have won 11 seats since 2003 and need to win six more to win the majority.

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Posted at 1:25 PM ET, 06/ 7/2009

Moran Woos Black Voters

Democratical gubernatorial hopeful Brian Moran began his day at a small Baptist church in the Highland Park neighborhood on the north side of Richmond -- the same place his rival, R. Creigh Deeds, appeared two months ago.

Only about 50 people attended the 8 a.m. service at Fifth Street Baptist Church, where the windows were adorned with stained glass and a yellow banner read "Bringing the Kingdom to the Community."

Evelyn Morris-Harris, chairwoman of the Democratic Black Caucus of Virginia, invited Moran to her church of six years and introduced him to the congregation.

"He's a family orientated man,'' she told them. "And we look for that. We need that. We need someone who understands what family is all about."

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Posted at 11:00 PM ET, 06/ 6/2009

Deeds Fights Back

Here's how we can tell we're in the midst of the final days of a hard-fought race: The attacks are coming fast and furious. It's hard to even keep up.

Each of the three Democrats running for governor -- Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran -- are accusing each other of unfair attacks daily. Forget daily. Try every few hours.

Most of the attacks have been aimed at Deeds, who recent polls show surging ahead of his rivals, and his lengthy record of support for gun rights.

McAuliffe sent out a mailer that poses the question: "Which of the Democratic candidates supports concealed weapons in bars?" And Moran has been hammering Deeds in his own campaign mailer as well as in radio interviews.

Now, Deeds is fighting back.

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Posted at 4:33 PM ET, 06/ 6/2009

Clinton Lends A Hand Once More

Bill Clinton, who has helped out his pal Terry McAuliffe throughout his race for governor, is at it again.

In the final frenzied days of campaigning before Tuesday's primary, the former president has recorded a phone call for McAuliffe asking Virginians to get out and vote.

"As your governor, Terry McAuliffe will fight harder than anyone to improve the economy and create jobs,'' Clinton says. Listen to the call here (MP3).

Clinton is making at least one more appearance in Virginia today to help out McAuliffe. He will be at McAuliffe's McLean home for a barbecue.

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Posted at 4:33 PM ET, 06/ 5/2009

What Do Huckabee and Schweitzer Have in Common?

A couple months ago, Terry McAuliffe blasted Bob McDonnell for keeping quiet while his surrogate Mike Huckabee encouraged Virginia Republicans to keep voters from the polls on Election Day.

Well, today, McAuliffe's surrogate, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer sounded like he was trying to suppress a few votes himself when he said -- jokingly? -- that supporters of McAuliffe rivals, Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran, should show up at the polls on Thursday, instead of Tuesday.

"The other two guys are good guys," Schweitzer said at an Arlington stop with McAuliffe this morning. "They're in the legislature. No one's campaigning against anyone. And if you decide you're going to vote for one of the other guys, show up on Thursday."

No, it wasn't a slip of the tongue.

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Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 06/ 5/2009

The Repsonse to Schweitzer

As we all now know gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe was endorsed this morning by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who also happens to be chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

So what's been the response from his rivals?

Democrat Creigh Deeds tweeted about it this morning: "well I guess terry has a leg up in the montana precincts."

Brian Moran's campaign manager Andrew Roos said: "The guy who was rumored to be running for governor of New York, and wanted to be governor of Florida is having the governor of Montana tell us why he should be governor of Virginia?''

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Posted at 4:33 PM ET, 06/ 4/2009

Wilder Endorses...

Former governor L. Douglas Wilder finally endorses in Tuesday's Democratic primary.

No, not for governor.

Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor, endorsed Fairfax County Del. Bob Hull, who is in a surprisingly tough Democratic primary race against Fairfax School Board memeber Kaye Kory. He recorded robocalls for the man he calls his friend.

Wilder was governor when Hull was first elected to the General Assembly in 1992. "You could have no better person representing your interests in Richmond than Bob Hull," Wilder says in the call.

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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 06/ 4/2009

Updated: Moran Scores an Unusual Endorsement

The folks at OpenCarry.org, a gun rights group, have done something we never would have expected: They endorsed Brian Moran in the Democratic primary for governor.

Moran, a former delegate from Alexandria who has a lengthy record of gun control votes, had no idea he was getting the endorsement -- or even why. As you might imagine, an endorsement from a gun rights group is not exactly what a candidate is looking for in a Democratic primary -- especially one who is trying to appeal to the most liberal voters.

So why did OpenCarry.org pick Moran, especially over state Sen. Creigh Deeds, who is well known for his gun rights votes and his NRA endorsement in 2005?

The group's Mike Stollenwerk says they don't trust Deeds anymore because he has changed his views on gun issues over the last couple years.

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Posted at 5:51 PM ET, 06/ 3/2009

Mr. Kaine Goes to Washington

Gov. Tim Kaine talked high-speed rail today with Mr. Amtrak himself, Vice President Joe Biden.

Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was one of a handful of governors at the White House today to chat with Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The roundtable was billed as a unique opportunity for state leaders to share their ideas with the Obama administration about the future of high-speed trains in America.

"Everyone knows I'm a big believer in our nation's rail system -- I've devoted a big part of my career doing what I can to support it -- and I'm proud that this administration is about to transform that system fundamentally," Biden said in a statement.

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Posted at 2:23 PM ET, 06/ 3/2009

Deeds Airs Ads in NoVa

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds will begin airing ads tonight on broadcast and cable TV in the pricey Northern Virginia market, and will continue them through the Tuesday primary.

The 30-second ad, Tradition, touts Deeds' recent endorsement from the Washington Post and claims that he is the "most prepared Democrat to build on the Warner-Kaine legacy."

Deeds' latest TV buy means the state senator from Bath County will be on TV in every media market in the state in the five days leading to the primary. Rival Terry McAuliffe began airing ads in Northern Virginia this week.

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Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 06/ 3/2009

Deeds' Momentum?

Is Deeds surging?

Six days before the Democratic primary for governor, that's certainly what state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds wants us to think.

His campaign has been quietly -- and not so quietly -- letting everyone who will listen know he is moving ahead in recent polls and could go down as one of the greatest come-from-behind success stories in recent state history. (Okay, well since Jim Webb, anyway).

"This huge surge for Creigh happened because of you,'' Deeds' campaign manager Joe Abbey wrote in a letter to supporters this week. "Now that we are in the lead, we can expect our opponents to come out swinging."

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Posted at 6:37 PM ET, 06/ 2/2009

GOP Ballot Breakdown

Three days after the state Republican convention, we finally have gotten our hands on the vote totals of the more than 10,000 delegates Saturday.

In the closest race, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II of Fairfax garnered 57 percent of the vote to become his party's nominee for attorney general. He defeated former federal prosecutor John Brownlee, who received 37 percent, and David M. Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, who received six percent.

Cuccinelli, who will face Del. Stephen C. Shannon (D-Fairfax) in November, won with surprising ease. The hard-fought attorney general contest was widely expected to go to a second, maybe third, ballot but Cuccinelli secured the 50 percent he needed to win on the first try.

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Posted at 3:26 PM ET, 06/ 2/2009

New Ads for McAuliffe, Moran

Another day, another new ad. Actually today, two new ads.

Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran release new TV ads today. McAuliffe's ad uses one of his better lines from the debates (President Kennedy didn't say we're going halfway to the moon - he said we're going all the way!) while Moran takes a swipe at Republican nominee Bob McDonnell.

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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 06/ 2/2009

Updated: More About Money

We told you yesterday that Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe has raised more cash than his rivals, R. Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran, heading into the final week of the primary.

Today, we are providing you with some of the interesting tidbits about their donations, according to campaign filings made public last night. Check back often because we will be updating this post as we discover new fun facts.

Both Deeds and Moran received money from Dominion Virginia Power's political action committee. Deeds' $5,000 came the day after he criticized McAuliffe about his pledge to refuse campaign contributions from one of the most influential companies in the state. Moran's $10,000 came after he stated in interviews that he had taken less money his opponents.

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Posted at 4:30 PM ET, 06/ 1/2009

Updated: The Money Game

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe raised $1.8 million in the two-month period ending last week. He has nearly $1.3 million cash on hand as he heads into the last week before next Tuesday's primary.


Brian Moran raised $844,000 in the same period and has $700,000 in the bank. Creigh Deeds, raised $676,326 and has $521,135 in the bank. 

Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell raised $3.7-million. He goes into the general election with $4.9 millon cash on hand.

Today is the deadline for candidates to report to the state how much money they raised in the two-month period ending last week. For Democrats, it will give us a good idea of how much money they have to spend on TV ads and-get-out-the-vote efforts as they head into the final week before next Tuesday's primary. For Republicans, it will tell us how much money they have going into the general election.

We will be providing you information as we get them from the candidates, so check back often as the day progresses. See other statewide candidates below:

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Posted at 5:20 PM ET, 05/31/2009

Kaine Rallies Fla Dems

While Virginia Republicans spent the weekend getting energized for the state's off-year elections this fall, Gov. Tim Kaine flew to Miami Beach to try to set the groundwork for Democratic wins across the nation next year.

Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was the keynote speaker at the Democrats' Jefferson-Jackson dinner last night in Florida, where five statewide offices are on the ballot next year.

Kaine told the crowd of 1,100 that he was looking forward to helping the Democrats win back the Florida governor's mansion -- which will be vacated by Republican Charlie Crist who plans to run for U.S. Senate -- in one of the nation's battleground states.

"I understand your current governor has decided that he's had enough after a couple of years. The economy is tough, and there's tough decisions to be made and he wants to leave those to somebody else. Hey, we're glad to take it," said Kaine, according to the Associated Press. "We do very well at coming in to tough situations that others have left."

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Posted at 4:44 PM ET, 05/31/2009

Deeds Picks Up More Newspaper Support

Creigh Deeds was endorsed by the newspapers in Martinsville and Bristol today, a week after our colleagues on the editorial board at the Washington Post did the same.

It's not particularly surprising for Deeds to receive backing in the south and southwest parts of the state, where he is expected to do better than his Northern Virginia-based opponents, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran.

But it is fair to note that, so far, Deeds has picked up support from the only three daily newspapers that have endorsed in the Democratic primary. Several major newspapers in the state, including the Richmond Times Dispatch and the Virginian Pilot in Norfolk, will not endorse.

Newspaper endorsements, especially those in Martinsville and Bristol, are not likely to change a lot of votes. But it helps perpetuate Deeds' message that he has seen momentum in the last few weeks and definitely should not be counted out. Besides, in a low turnout primary -- as this one is expected to be -- every little bit counts.

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Posted at 8:00 PM ET, 05/30/2009

GOP Target: Terry

Bob McDonnell never mentioned his Democratic rivals by name in his speech today officially accepting the Republican nomination for governor. He didn't have to.

Enough other prominent Republicans made it clear this weekend at the state GOP convention in Richmond that they think former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe will win the primary next month and compete against McDonnell in the general election.

Here's what U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the House minority and an all around popular guy at the convention, said about McAuliffe:

"He saw Virginia's governship pop up on ebay and he wants to buy it,'' he told more than 10,000 cheering Republicans. "We won't let him do that."

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 05/30/2009

LIVE: The GOP Convention

The state Republican convention will kick off shortly at the Richmond Coliseum (where people are not allowed to bring in bottled water, but they are allowed to bring in guns).

More than 10,000 delegates have gathered here for an event that seems a lot like a national political convention complete with colorful political signs, campaign literature covering seats, cardboard cutouts of Mitt Romney, campaign buttons that declare "No Bama."

Bob McDonnell, the former attorney general, will officially accept his party's nomination for governor this morning. Delegates will pick Republican candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general, and chose a new party chairman.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling faces Alexandria lawyer Patrick Muldoon. Former federal prosecutor John Brownlee, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II of Fairfax and David M. Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, are running for attorney general. Pat Mullins, a longtime Fairfax County GOP leader tapped by the party's governing board to serve as interim state leader, faces Bill Stanley, the Franklin County party chairman.

We'll be offering occasionally updates as the day progresses. Check out the latest below:

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Posted at 9:05 PM ET, 05/29/2009

Romney Talks Up Va's Importance

Sadly, Mitt Romney decided not to announce his 2012 candidacy for president of the United States in Virginia tonight -- much to the disappointment of reporters and supporters.

Romney, who has spent two days in the state campaigning for Virginia's top Republicans Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling, sidestepped questions at a press conference about whether he would run for president in 2012.

"2012 is a horizon way too distant to make calls on at this time,'' he said. "I'm going to be working hard to get Republicans elected this year and in 2010."

The former Massachusetts governor received an enthusiastic welcome when he appeared later at the sold-out Commonwealth Gala as a kick off of the annual state GOP convention in Richmond. The audience of about 1,300 -- some who were seated at tables out of sight oustide the ballroom -- gave him a standing ovation.

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Posted at 7:36 PM ET, 05/29/2009

An Ad Scorecard, Part II

We told you a bit earlier how much the Democrats are spending on TV ads in the hotly-contested three-way gubernatorial primary.

So where does Bob McDonnell fit in?

McDonnell, who will officially accept the Republican nomination tomorrow, is outspending all of the Democrats -- even though the general election hasn't even started yet. And he is about spend a lot more.

In just over two weeks, McDonenell has aired a whopping $1.2 million worth of spots all over the state, including pricey Northern Virginia, according to sources familiar with the purchase. He will spend another $700,000 In spots -- more than half in Northern Virginia -- in the nine-day period starting Monday following the state GOP convention, sources say.

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Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 05/29/2009

Republicans Gather In Richmond

More than 10,000 party activists from around Virginia are traveling to Richmond for a two-day state convention that kicks off this afternoon at the Coliseum.

Mitt Romney, who's considering another run for president in 2012, will be the headliner at the sold-out Commonwealth Gala -- one of the party's biggest fundraisers.

Last year, then-Vice President Dick Cheney spokes to a few hundred attendees. This year, the former Massachusetts governor has attracted a crowd of 1,300. So many people wanted to attend the dinner that they are moving the media into the hall and setting up large-screen TVs.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 05/29/2009

National GOP Targets Va Congressmen

The mid-term elections aren't until 2010, but that hasn't stopped national Republicans from starting to try to reclaim a pair of U.S. House seats that they lost last November.

The National Republican Congressional Committee began broadcasting radio ads today targeting U.S. Reps. Glenn Nye in Hampton Roads and Tom Perriello in the southern part of the state.

The ad, Accountability Offensive, criticizes Nye and Perriello for supporting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been under fire recently for her conflicting claims that the Bush administration mislead her on its interrogation techniques.

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Posted at 3:38 PM ET, 05/28/2009

Nader Accuses McAuliffe of Suppressing Votes

Consumer activist Ralph Nader accused Terry McAuliffe Thursday of orchestrating an effort to remove him from the presidential ballot in 2004 when McAuliffe was chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Nader said that McAuliffe offered him an unspecified amount of money to campaign in 31 states if Nader would agree to pull his campaign in 19 battleground states.

"When you get a call like that, first of all it's inappropriate,'' Nader said in an interview. "The other thing is if you don't immediately say no, it's like taffy, you get stuck with it."

The latest charge against McAuliffe, who is in a hotly-contested three-way Democratic primary for governor, calls into question -- again -- whether his political career is a liability for him as a candidate.

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Posted at 2:43 PM ET, 05/28/2009

McAuliffe Wooing Black Voters

Terry McAuliffe scores another small victory with black voters.

McAuliffe was endorsed by the Richmond Free Press, a free newspaper in the capital city that caters to the African American community. "He demonstrated his concern for the black community, showing up at events in our community as he did in other communities-and following up to assure that he means what he says,'' the newspaper writes in a lengthy editorial published today.

Last week, McAuliffe gotthe backing of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, a civil rights group.

In what is expected to be a low turnout primary, African American voters will play a crucial role in the June 9 primary. McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran have launched aggressive campaigns to woo the state's African American voters through radio ads, endorsements and events.

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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 05/28/2009

Did McAuliffe Break His Pledge?

Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran are accusing rival Terry McAuliffe of breaking the pledge (he loves to repeat) to not go negative in a primary against fellow Democrats.

But his latest campaign mailer, just arriving in mailboxes in Northern Virginia, offers a comparison of the three candidates that seems, well, kind of negative.

The mailer compares the three Democrats and one Republican in the race for governor on four issues -- payday lending, campaign finance, lobby reform and renewable energy standard.

Deeds' campaign said McAuliffe's "deceptive" mailer shows he is running scared because recent polls show Deeds is gaining ground while Moran's camp says it shows McAuliffe can't be trusted.

Click the image below to see the ad.

mcauliffe_ad.jpg

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Posted at 8:07 AM ET, 05/28/2009

Plotkin Disses McAuliffe

Just what did Terry McAuliffe do to Mark Plotkin?

Plotkin blasted McAuliffe on WTOP radio this morning as part of a scathing commentary in which he urged Virginains to vote for Brian Moran or Creigh Deeds and not -- under any circumstances -- McAuliffe.

He slammed McAuliffe for his lack of ties to Virginia, his interest in fundraising and his "exaggerations." He ended simply with this line:

"The Democratic primary for governor is Tuesday, June 9. Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds are qualified to be governor. Terry McAuliffe is not."

Plotkin has been miffed since McAuliffe canceled his appearance on his radio show a couple weeks ago. He was the only one of the three candidates who did not appear.

McAuiffe's spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith's only reaction today was this: "Terry has the record of creating thousands of jobs and turning around struggling businesses. That's the record that Virginias are looking for in their next governor.''

Check out the full transcript below:

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Posted at 4:01 PM ET, 05/27/2009

McDonnell Can't Wait to Talk About Card Check

We told you yesterday how much Bob McDonnell was loving each of his Democratic rivals being forced to share their views on card check.

McDonnell wants to turn card check into the issue this year -- and he sure is doing his best. He talks about it everywhere he goes.

Check out today's effort. A video of Democrats Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran explaining -- sort of -- if they support card check.

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Posted at 1:48 PM ET, 05/27/2009

Anti-Tax Group Target Dem Healthcare Plan

Who says candidates are the only ones airing TV ads these days?

Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group that supports limited government and free trade, started an advertising blitz on TV across Virginia today to cricitize the Democrats' yet-to-be released healthcare plan.

The advertising campaign is part of a national effort to get the word out about potential changes that the group says could result in long waits for surgery and difficulty getting prescription drugs. In Virginia, the group is spending $250,000 over two weeks in every one of the state's media markets, including pricey Northern Virginia.

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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 05/27/2009

McDonnell Gears Up for General Election

With the Democratic primary less than two weeks away, Republican Bob McDonnell is starting to prepare for a high-profile battle in the general election.

McDonnell's campaign has hired Crystal Cameron -- mostly recently the morning anchor at WVIR TV station in Charlottesville -- as his press secretary. (Just another journalist leaving the industry.)

Cameron, 31, spent a dozen years as a reporter, producer and anchor in TV news in Florida and Virginia. After settling in, she will be McDonnell's primary spokeswoman.

The campaign also hired Taylor Thornley, 22, who worked on Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign last year, to serve as press assistant for the campaign. 

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Posted at 11:05 AM ET, 05/26/2009

Kaine Praises Sotomayor

Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, predicted an easy Senate confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the appeals court judge who President Obama nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court this morning.

"There's going to be a vigorous discussion. That's the way it ought to be,'' Kaine said on his monthly call-in show on WTOP. But "I think the demonstrated track record of success is going to carry the day for this nominee."

Kaine pointed out that Sotomayor was previously nominated by both Republican and Democratic presidents and was twice confirmed by the Senate.

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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 05/26/2009

Warner's Firsthand Look at War

While most of us were at cookouts this Memorial Day weekend, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner jetted off to Baghdad to visit with Virginia soldiers and chat with the Iraqi prime minister, the U.S ambassador and top U.S. military commanders in Iraq.

"I understand how difficult it is to be deployed away from family and loved ones, especially on a holiday such as this one, and I wish each of you a safe and speedy return to the States," Warner told troops.

The congressional delegation -- which includes Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island -- spent Saturday and Sunday in Iraq, where temperatures reached 115 degrees They will make several other stops in the region before returning to the United States Friday.

05.25.09.Warner.Va.Troops.jpg46.jpg

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Posted at 9:18 PM ET, 05/25/2009

GOP Establishment Endorses Mullins

Jeff Frederick may not be running for GOP chairman this week but that doesn't mean the race isn't going to be the same establishment vs. grassroots battle it was last year when Frederick won and this year when Frederick was ousted.

Tonight, Pat Mullins, the chairman who succeeded Frederick, announced that he had received the support of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell, the state's five GOP congressmen and House Speaker Bill Howell.

"Pat provides our party with a dedicated conservative leader who comes from the grassroots of our party and understands what it takes to win in a competitive state,'' McDonnell said.

But Jeb Wilkinson, Mullins' campaign manager, said Mullins is supported by many people in addition to elected officials, including grassroots activists who supported Frederick.

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Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 05/25/2009

Romney's Whirlwind Weekend in Va

Mitt Romney, who's considering another run for president in 2012, will spend the weekend right here in the Old Dominion helping the state's top Republicans get elected.

The former Massachusetts governor will be the headliner at the sold-out Commonwealth Gala in downtown Richmond Friday night as part of the annual state GOP convention.

He will be featured at a trio of fundraisers across the state for Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who was Romney's campaign in Virginia last year before he dropped out of the race. He will also make an appearance at an Arlington business forum on the Employee Free Choice Act, the federal legislation that would make it easier to form a union.

Romney is hoping he won't be forgotten in Virginia -- now a swing state in presidential elections -- come 2012.

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Posted at 6:00 PM ET, 05/23/2009

Crusade Endorsement Problems, Part II

A few days ago, we told you how angry state Sen. Henry Marsh was about the Richmond Crusade for Voters endorsement of Terry McAuliffe for governor.

Turns out he is not the only one.

Two other influential African Americans, State Sen. Don McEachin and Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, both longtime members of the storied civil rights group, join Marsh in accusing the Crusade of allowing non-members to vote at last Tuesday's endorsement meeting.

"It is a tainted endorsement,'' McEachin said.

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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 05/22/2009

Kaine Sings. Yes, Really.

Gov. Tim Kaine played the harmonica and sang a couple songs last night in front of a few hundred people at his last fundraiser for his political action committee.

A casually dressed Kaine was joined by Boyd Tinsley, a violinist with the Dave Matthews Band, on stage in the park outside the historic Maymont house in Richmond.

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Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 05/22/2009

Connolly Blasts McDonnell

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) lambastes Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell this week over the state's refusal to accept $125 million in federal stimulus money for unemployed Virginians.

"I would challenge you to explain to a single Virginia family why their economic security is less important than your party's political ambitions, and that Virginians facing the devastation of unemployment and the concomitant consequences of foreclosure, loss of healthcare, and creditworthiness for the partisan gain of the Republican Party and its gubematorial aspirants," Connolly wrote in a letter to McDonnell.

The Republican-led House of Delegates voted 53 to 46, largely along party lines, last month to reject the funds. McDonnell supported that decision.

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Posted at 5:46 PM ET, 05/21/2009

McAuliffe Leads in Poll

A DailyKos/Research 2000 poll on the governor's race today shows that Terry McAuliffe leads opponents Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds among likely voters in the Democratic primary.

The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee had 36 percent compared to 22 percent for Moran and 13 percent for Deeds.

McAuliffe showed a huge gain, while Moran and Deeds remained virtually steady, since the last poll was conducted. In early April, the same poll showed that Moran was ahead of the other two among likely voters.

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Posted at 4:30 PM ET, 05/21/2009

Moran vs. Moran

Last week, Democratic candidates for governor, R. Creigh Deeds and Terry McAuliffe, said they oppose inmates from Guantanamo Bay detention facility being housed in Virginia.

But their rival Brian Moran refused to say. Until today.

Today, Moran told reporters on a conference call that he, too, opposes housing inmates in Virginia and as governor, his first priority would be to keep residents safe.

The decision puts him at odds with his brother, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, who last weekend raised some eyebrows that he would be open to inmates being housed in Virginia though he would not prefer it.

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Posted at 12:16 PM ET, 05/21/2009

GOP Attacks McAuliffe On Union Ties

Republicans are blasting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe for touting this week that he hired all union workers in Florida because they say that violates the state's right-to-work law.

"I've gone into states like Florida -- right-to-work," McAuliffe said this week in a debate hosted by the Washington Post and News Channel 8 at Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus."And hired all union workers."

Florida, Virginia and 20 other states have laws that so not alow union membership to be a condition of employment.

"Terry McAuliffe either doesn't know or doesn't care what the letter and spirit of right-to-work laws are if he brags about discriminating against non-union workers," said party chairman Pat Mullins. "Requiring all workers to be unionized is against the policy of Virginia and it is shocking that he would boast about breaking it."

The GOP and Republican gubernatorial nominee have been hammering Democrats for their union ties and their support of the Employee Free Choice Act that, which would make it easier to form a union. But it's unclear whether criticisms like this one will stick.

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Posted at 6:15 PM ET, 05/20/2009

Update: McAuliffe's Endorsement Marred in Controversy

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe won the endorsement of the Richmond Crusade for Voters, a civil rights group well known for getting voters to the polls.

But tonight, longtime Crusade member, state Sen. Henry Marsh, accused the group of a series of "irregularities" that he said "reflect poorly on the Crusade and diminish the credibility of this historic organization."

Marsh, who is campaigning for McAuliffe's rival R. Creigh Deeds, accused the Crusade of allowing non-members and members who had not attended the required number of meetings to vote and permitting relatives and candidates' staff to serve on the committe that made endorsement recommendations.

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Posted at 5:20 PM ET, 05/20/2009

DGA Spends Another $750,000

The Democratic Governors Association has given another $750,000 to Common Sense Virginia, a political action committee set up to oppose Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell, according to state reports.

The DGA has now contributed nearly $3 million to Common Sense Virginia, which formed to spread the word about what it calls McDonnell's "conservative legislative record" and his close ties to religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

Common Sense Virginia is airing TV ads across the state that criticize McDonnell for opposing the state accepting millions of dollars in federa stimulus money.

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Posted at 3:20 PM ET, 05/20/2009

Where's the Jobs Plan?

Bob McDonnell calls himself a "jobs governor."

So Common Sense Virginia, a political action committee funded by the Democratic Governors Association, wants to know why the Republican gubernatorial nominee has yet to unveil a plan to create jobs.

The group launched the "No Jobs Bob" clock on its Website to track the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds since McDonnell declared himself the "Jobs Governor" without offering a jobs plan.

"Bob McDonnell is ready to deny help to Virginians struggling in challenging times, but McDonnell is not ready to create jobs in our commonwealth," said John Tyler, who recently lost his job and serves on the Common Sense Virginia advisory board. "No Jobs Bob likes to talk the talk, but for more than a year on the campaign trail, McDonnell hasn't walked the walk."

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Posted at 6:49 PM ET, 05/19/2009

Moran Airs Negative Ad

Brian Moran will begin airing his first television ad tonight during a broadcast of today's primary debate between the three Democratic candidates for governor. And no surprise Moran went negative.

Moran's ad hits hard at rival Terry McAuliffe's claims that he would bring a successful businessman background to the governor's mansion. Moran signaled that this would be a central theme for the closing days of the campaign: McAuliffe is not what he says he is. The ad will air in Hampton Roads and Richmond.

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 05/19/2009

Steele To Hold Rally With McDonnell

Michael Steele, the controversial chairman of the Republican National Committee, will hold his first rally with Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell Saturday.

Steele, the party's first black chairman drew strong criticism in the weeks following his January election for a series of political gaffes, but that has subsided in recent weeks.

"We are honored to have Chairman Steele joining us on the campaign trail in Bristol on Saturday,'' said Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman. "Together, Bob and the Chairman are going to let voters in Southwest Virginia know about Bob's commitment to growing our economy and creating good jobs all across the Commonwealth."

McDonnell and Steele will campaign together in the Republican friendly city of Bristol in southwest Virginia on the Tennessee border, where both men are expected to be greeted warmly.

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Posted at 2:26 PM ET, 05/18/2009

McAuliffe Gets Some Obama Star Power

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who has been hammered in recent days about his efforts to defeat Barack Obama in last year's presidential race, found a way to fight back today in a big way.

McAuliffe annnounced an endorsement from former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, one of Obama's earliest supporters and one of his national campaign co-chairmen.

"I was impressed by the time and energy Terry put into traveling across Virginia and the country on Barack Obama's behalf during the general election,'' Daschle said in a statement. "From the day Hillary Clinton ended her historic bid for president, Terry worked tirelessly to unify our party around Barack Obama and get him elected President. His energy and enthusiasm were tremendous assets on the campaign trail and we were grateful to have him on our side.

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Posted at 2:00 PM ET, 05/18/2009

The Policy Rollouts Continue

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds used the unveiling of his energy plan this afternoon as an opportunity to take a subtle jab or two at his Democratic rivals for governor, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran.

Deeds didn't actually mention either of them by name, but criticized those who are fixated on using chicken waste to produce energy (McAuliffe) and those who oppose coal plants (Moran).

"No Democrat is better prepared to lead on energy than I am,'' Deeds said.

Deeds plan includes offering grants to companies that weatherize the homes of low-income families, establish biofuel plants in economically stressed areas and offering tax exemptions for solar and wind projects.

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Posted at 1:36 PM ET, 05/18/2009

Kaine Plans a Jam Session

Looking for a chance to see Gov. Tim Kaine play the harmonica?

Kaine will hold a jam session with Boyd Tinsley, a violinist with the Dave Matthews Band, as part of his political action committee's big annual fundraiser Thursday night.

The event at Maymont -- a popular Richmond venue that includes a historical house and a 100-acre park -- will be the last fundraiser for Moving Virginia Forward before the Democratic primary June 9. Tickets are $100.

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Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 05/17/2009

Moran To Go On TV

For those of you wondering (like us) when Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Brian Moran would start airing TV ads, you finally have your answer.

His campaign has bought air time starting this week in Norfolk and Richmond, according to several sources familiar with the purchase. But the buy is substantially smaller than what his rivals have bought in those markets.

Moran has been spending money quickly and had the least money in the bank as of the reporting period. It shows. He is the last to go on the air.

Terry McAuliffe has been on and off TV since January. R. Creigh Deeds has been up for two weeks. Even Republican Robert F. McDonnell, who faces no opposition for his party's nomination, went on air last week across the state and in pricey Northern Virginia.

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Posted at 4:01 PM ET, 05/15/2009

Bowerbank Ends LG Campaign

Jon Bowerbank, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, announced today that he is suspending his campaign less than four weeks before the June 9 primary.

Bowerbank, a member of the Russell County Board of Supervisors, said he wanted to spend more time with his family and his employees at his company in southwest Virginia.

"I believe Virginia and the Democratic Party need someone who can devote their full attention and energy to the job of being the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor," he said in a statement.

Bowerbank endorsed former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner. She will compete against Michael Signer, an attorney who worked for former governor Mark R. Warner.

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Posted at 7:45 PM ET, 05/14/2009

McDonnell's Political Ties Endure

Bob McDonnell still remains close with many of his old political friends.

Tonight, the Republican gubernatorial nominee attended a fundraiser at the Fairfax County home of Kevin Gentry, one of the founders of a now defunct group that found itself playing a cameo in the coverage of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

According to a 2005 report, in The Washington Post, the group funded a range of secret political efforts, including one by Abramoff. The Faith and Family Alliance was used as a pass-through to fund a campaign against an Internet gambling ban and to attack U.S. Rep. Eric I. Cantor in his 2000 primary race, according to the Washington Post report.

No one involved in the group was ever accused of any wrongdoing in connection with its activities. While McDonnell, then a state delegate from Virginia Beach, provided legal advice and his law firm did work for the group, the Republican candidate said at the time that his law firm was hired to file "routine" incorporation papers for the group with the state but that he was not connected to any of the group's activities.

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Posted at 3:35 PM ET, 05/14/2009

Moran Sidesteps the Gitmo Issue

U.S. Rep. Jim Moran raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he wrote that he would be open to inmates from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility being housed in Virginia (though he would not prefer it).

So we thought we'd ask his little brother, gubernatial candidate Brian Moran, what he thought? But we didn't really get much of an answer.

"I have tremendous confidence in the leadership of President Obama,'' Moran said in a statement. "I look forward to his recommended plans and will evaluate them once they are released. It's important that we put a premium on protecting the community of Alexandria and preserving our local resources while ensuring everyone's legal rights."

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Posted at 2:47 PM ET, 05/13/2009

State Drops Fine Against National Dems

On Tuesday night, State Board of Elections officials announced they were fining the Democratic Governors Association $2,500 for failing to comply with state campaign finance laws involving the group's donations in the governor's race.

On Wednesday, they changed their mind.

So what happened?

Well, besides some obvious confusion within the State Board of Elections, the DGA gave the state the updated records it needed to comply with the law.

That doesn't mean some Republicans aren't going to speculate that the state agency run by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, decided to play politics.

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Posted at 12:44 PM ET, 05/13/2009

New GOP Leader Disparages Obama, Va Dems

Will Pat Mullins, the new chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, turn out to be another Jeff Frederick?

Democrats are hopeful after hearing about comments Mullins made in a speech to more than 100 Republicans in Virginia Beach Monday night.

Mullins said he is glad he is not a Democrat so he doesn't have "to defend a President who goes overseas and bows to dictators that would like to destroy this country."

Mullins was also quick to criticize Virginia's three top Democrats -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, Sen. Mark R. Warner and Sen. James Webb, who he called an "embarrassment."

In a recording obtained by the Washington Post, Mullins told members of the audience all the reasons that he was "excited I'm not a Democrat."

Here are some excerpts...

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 05/13/2009

Wilder...Will He or Won't He?

L. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor who is being wooed by all four candidates in the governor's race, sure likes to keep everyone guessing.

Four weeks before the June 9 primary, Wilder still won't say whether he will endorse anyone. He said he may follow the lead of the state's top three Democrats -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and U.S. Sens. James Webb and Mark R. Warner -- and sit out the primary.

"If (Kaine) won't, Webb hasn't, Warner hasn't, why should I? Why?'' Wilder asked In a recent interview at his office at Virginia Commonwealth University. "Why should I endorse anyone?"

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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 05/13/2009

Deeds Lays Off Staff

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, a Democratic candidate for governor, has laid off about five campaign staffers in order to keep airing TV ads four weeks before the June 9 primary.

Deeds now has 25 staffers across the state and six offices in Charlottesville, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Roanoke, Southside and Northern Virginia. Campaign officials refused to disclose how many staffers were fired but a month ago Deeds had 29 employees.

"With so much of the electorate still undecided, we've had to reassess our strategy and shift some of our resources so we can communicate Creigh's message to as many Virginians as possible,'' said Joe Abbey, Deeds campaign manager.

The layoffs are bad news for a campaign that has raised the least amount of money.

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Posted at 8:02 PM ET, 05/12/2009

National Dems to Appeal State Fine

The State Board of Elections will fine the Democratic Governors Association $2,500 tomorrow for failing to comply with state campaign finance laws involving the group's donations in the governor's race.

The DGA has contributed $2.15 million to Common Sense Virginia, a political action committee that is running TV ads attacking Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell across the state.

Virginia law requires out-of-state groups to report all donations it has received to the Board of Elections when it receives them if they are contributing more than $2,500 to PAC. DGA has not reported donations since April 15.

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Posted at 1:29 PM ET, 05/11/2009

The Money Keeps Rolling In...

National groups are reporting that they are spending an astonishing $1.6 million this week in the Virginia's governors race.

The Republican Governors Association reports giving another $750,000 to GOP nominee Bob McDonnell.

The Democratic Governors Association reports giving another $850,000 to Common Sense Virginia, a political action committee set up to oppose McDonnell.

Both McDonnell and Common Sense Virginia are airing TV ads across the state.

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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 05/ 8/2009

Oops!

Looks like someone is playing a trick on Tim Kaine, Virginia's governor and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Click on www.timkaine.com and you'll see what we mean. Instead of being sent to a site devoted to Kaine or Democrats, you get sent to the homepage of Steve Lonegan, a Republican candidate for governor in New Jersey.

Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states with governor's races this year. As DNC chairman, Kaine is tasked with trying to keep both governor's mansions Democratic.

How long until Kaine gets this fixed?

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Posted at 10:26 AM ET, 05/ 8/2009

Hamilton to Kaine: "I'm Appalled"

Del. Phillip Hamilton, a Newport News Republican who is chairman of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, told Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today that he was "appalled" hackers were able to access millions of personal pharmaceutical records they say they stole from the state's prescription drug database.

The FBI and State Police are searching for hackers who demanded that the state pay them a $10 million ransom by yesterday for the return of 8 million patient records and 35 million prescriptions collected by the Prescription Monitoring Program.

"I am appalled that, given concerns over identity theft and computer hackers, a breach of security for the prescription drug monitoring program was even a remote possibility,'' Hamilton wrote in a letter to Kaine today. "I would have thought that sufficient security firewalls would have been in place to protect the identity of those legally receiving prescription drugs."

Hamilton wrote that he hopes the hackers are arrested and "that the job performance of the individual or individuals responsible for protecting the sanctity of these records would be dealt with appropriately."

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Posted at 3:15 PM ET, 05/ 7/2009

McDonnell Fights Back with TV Ads

It seems like Bob McDonnell is being attacked almost daily these days. Now, the Republican nominee for governor has decided to fight back.

McDonnell will begin airing TV ads Monday. His campaign has bought air time for one week in Norfolk, Richmond, Roanoke, Charlottesville and Tri-Cities, according to several sources familiar with the purchase.

McDonnell declined to comment today.

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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 05/ 7/2009

$500,000 More to Attack McDonnell

This is getting serious.

It's only May and national Democrats have already sunk more than $1 million into attacking Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell.

Today, the Democratic Governors Association reported to the state that it donated another $505,000 to Common Sense Virginia, a group formed to spread the word about what it calls McDonnell's "conservative legislative record" and his close ties to religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

The DGA had previously given the group $854,000.

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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 05/ 7/2009

The Return of Jim Gilmore

Who is the Republican public official most frequently mentioned by the Democratic gubernatorial candidates besides, of course, Bob McDonnell?

Former governor Jim Gilmore.

They blame the one-time presidential candidate and former U.S. Senate hopeful every chance they get for Virginia's economic and financial woes --- and stress that electing McDonnell will bring about similar problems.

Gilmore, who has been defending his record in letters to the editor and columns, praised McDonnell this week.

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Posted at 5:13 PM ET, 05/ 6/2009

GOP vs. GOP

The infighting among Republicans is not over yet.

Bill Stanley, leader of the Franklin County Republican Committee, announced today that he will run for state GOP chairman against Pat Mullins on May 30 at the state convention.

"Our party must be driven and guided from the grassroots up and not the top down,'' he said in a statement. "While we must give all those who work on our party's behalf their due, the Republican Party must not permit the judgment of the few to instruct or override the will of the many. The position of chairman must be elected, not anointed."

Stanley sounds a little like ousted chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick, doesn't he?

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Posted at 5:45 PM ET, 05/ 5/2009

Big Labor Helped Republicans Too

Every time the Democratic Governors Association (and its Virginia-based arm Common Sense Virginia) attacks Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell, his staff is quick to point out that that the groups are funded by big unions.

Phil Cox, McDonnell's campaign manager, even sent out a fundraising letter today with a subject line "National Unions Attack Bob McDonnell" to combat Common Sense Virginia's new advertsing campaign.

Not so fast.

It turns out the Republican Governors Association has received plenty of money from them too.

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Posted at 9:29 AM ET, 05/ 5/2009

Group Launches Anti-McDonnell TV Ads

The most expensive ad campaign of the Virginia governor's race so far is not from the three Democrats running in the June primary. It's from Common Sense Virginia, a new group that formed with money from the Democratic Governors Association to oppose Republican Robert F. McDonnell.

The group is spending more than half a million dollars on broadcast and cable TV in Northern Virginia, Richmond, Norfolk and Roanoke starting today. They are the first ads in the governor's race to be aired in Northern Virginia.

The ad, "Empty," highlights McDonnell's opposition to Virginia's acceptance of $125 million in federal stimulus money for additional unemployment benefits to thousands of Virginians.

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Posted at 1:18 PM ET, 05/ 4/2009

Frederick Declines to Run for GOP Leader

Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell is breathing a sigh of relief this afternoon.

Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, ousted chairman of the Republican Party, just announced that he will not run for party leader at the state convention later this month.

McDonnell supported Frederick's removal last month and, according to Republican leaders, had told Frederick that he would support his re-election campaign for House of Delegates if he agreed not to run for chairman.

Frederick of Prince William County said today he would not run for re-election to the House. His wife Amy planned to run, but last week she withdrew from the race.

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Posted at 12:09 PM ET, 05/ 4/2009

Is McDonnell Looking to Wilder for Support?

Is Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell looking for an endorsement from former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder?

McDonnell and Wilder, who have had a good working relationship for years, are having lunch today, according to sources close to McDonnell.

All three Democratic candidates -- R. Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran -- have already met with Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor, to seek an endorsement and advice on how to run a successful statewide campaign.

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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 05/ 4/2009

Deeds Goes Up on Air

Gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds has been saving his pennies, while his Democratic rivals Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran have been spending at a fast pace. Now we know why.

Deeds began airing two TV ads today in four markets -- Hampton Roads, Richmond, Roanoke and Bristol -- in Virginia. McAuliffe has aired ads on and off for months, but Moran has not aired any.

See below to watch Deeds' two new ads:

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Posted at 11:35 AM ET, 05/ 2/2009

Mullins Selected GOP Leader

The Republican State Central Committee selected Pat Mullins, Louisa County's Republican chairman and the former longtime leader in Fairfax, as the party's new chairman at a meeting in Richmond this morning.

For months, the leadership conflict has split the party and overshadowed Republican efforts to win the governor's mansion in a campaign that is viewed by many to be a harbinger for federal midterm elections in 2010.

Party rules require Mullins to run again later this month when 8,000 to 10,000 activists gather in Richmond for the party's state convention May 30.

Ousted chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick has said he will probably run for chairman again at the convention, but has made no formal announcement.

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Posted at 3:22 PM ET, 04/30/2009

More Money Pours Into Gov's Race

With just five weeks left before the June 9 primary, national Democratic groups continue to pour more money into Virginia to directly challenge Republican nominee Robert F. McDonnell.

The Democratic Governors Association donated another $740,000 to a new group, Common Sense Virginia, to spread the word about what officials there call McDonnell's "conservative legislative record" and his close ties to religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

Officials at Common Sense Virginia said the group will provide counter-programming about McDonnell through TV and Internet ads, canvassing and phone calls.

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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 04/28/2009

Thompson Raises $170,000 for McDonnell

For the second time in the last year, former presidential candidate Fred Thompson has helped Republican Robert F. McDonnell raise a heap of cash for his campaign for governor.

Thompson brought in $170,000 for McDonnell at a fundraiser Saturday in Charlottesville, according to McDonnell's campaign.

The former Tennessee senator headlined an event at the Farmington County Club attended by 75 people.

Campaign Finance Database:: Learn more about Bob McDonnell's donors.

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Posted at 9:57 AM ET, 04/28/2009

A House with No Fredericks?

It looks like the House of Delegates will no longer have a Frederick among its members.

Amy Frederick announced this morning that she is withdrawing from the race to replace her husband -- delegate and ousted party chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick -- in his Prince William County district.

In an email that blasts House Speaker William J. Howell and the Republican leadership, Frederick said she is "not interested in running for office to serve under broken leadership, where the speaker compromises principle for what he perceives as immediate political gain."

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 04/28/2009

Dominion's Hardy Joins Warner's Team

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner has tapped Eva Teig Hardy, a longtime executive at Dominion Virginia Power, one of the most influential companies in the state, to be his interim state director.

Warner (D) has been searching for a state director for months, but has not yet found the right permanent person for what he considers a key job on his staff. Instead, he asked Hardy, whose long years of experience make her an ideal, if perhaps overqualifed, candidate, to take on the job while he continues to search for a permanent director.

Hardy currently works part-time as a consultant to Dominion and a senior policy advisor at McGuireWoods law firm, but said she will resign from both companies before she starts the job for Warner.

Hardy will be paid about $70,000 a year. She will start in June.

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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 04/27/2009

The Five House Candidates Who Raised $100,000

Trying to determine which House of Delegates races are shaping up to be the most competitive this fall? Start by checking out the candidates' most recent fundraising numbers.

Here are the five candidates who have raised more than $100,000 in the three-month period that ended March 31.

The list, compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project, gives us a hint of which races to watch in November.

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Posted at 8:45 AM ET, 04/27/2009

State GOP in Limbo

In the three weeks since Jeffrey M. Frederick was ousted as state GOP chairman, two of the 12 staff members at the Republican Party of Virginia have resigned.

Matthew Kandrach, who headed the party's field operations in Northern Virginia, and Gerry Scimeca, the party's communications direction, have left.

Others are waiting to see who will be selected as the new chairman this weekend.

The State Central Committee is expected to pick a leader Saturday morning. But party rules require the election of a chairman four weeks later at the Republican state convention May 30.

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Posted at 9:31 AM ET, 04/23/2009

National GOP Getting Involved in AG's Race

Everyone knew national Republicans would invest heavily in former attorney general's Robert F. McDonnell's campaign for governor.

But now, they have even started getting involved in the attorney general's race.

Is it because every win is crucial to down-and-out Republicans hoping to turn their party around? Or is because the attorney general's office is always considered a stepping stone to a run for governor?

Whatever the reason, prepare for a slew of surrogates to swarm Virginia this spring.

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Posted at 10:01 AM ET, 04/22/2009

Clinton To Campaign With McAuliffe

He's coming.

After considerable speculation about what role former president Bill Clinton would play in campaigning for his best friend, Terry McAuliffe, the answer should become considerably more clear Monday.

McAuliffe ClintonClinton will campaign with the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Richmond and Roanoke.

For years, Clinton has made a powerful case for Democratic candidates around the country. But this time it's personal. The two were thick as thieves during Clinton's two presidential bids, and McAuliffe was chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign last year.

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Posted at 12:53 PM ET, 04/21/2009

Dems Blast McDonnell for Comments

Democrats called on Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell today to clarify comments he made last week about being "sort of unemployed."

"We're raising five kids in Virginia, we're feeling a little bit of it as well," McDonnell said in video taped at last week's Shad Planking. "I'm actually now a retired state employee, sort of unemployed myself."

C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, told reporters today that McDonnell's comments were "disingenous" and puts him out of touch with the 300,000 unemployed residents in Virginia.

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Posted at 12:16 PM ET, 04/21/2009

McDonnell Begins Online Ad Campaign

Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell launched a pair of online ads yesterday that will run for one week on the Drudge Report.

The ads tout McDonnell's support for federal legislation that would prevent inmates at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to Virginia.

"We see a great response,'' said Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman. "It shows the issue is important to voters."

President Obama has vowed to close Guantanamo by January, and the government is reviewing files on the detainees, who number about 240. The administration has strongly indicated that some will be transferred to federal courts, and a senior Justice Department official recently named Alexandria and Manhattan as possible destinations.

U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) introduced a bill to prevent federal money from being used to move the inmates to Virginia.

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Posted at 11:13 AM ET, 04/20/2009

GOPAC Lends McDonnell a Hand

GOPAC, a national organization dedicated to electing Republicans to state and local office, launched its first ever multi-media campaign to support Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell.

The campaign will air cable TV ads and run ads online using Google search engine advertising, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other media.

"There is no candidate in the country more important to GOPAC than Bob McDonnell as he campaigns to serve as Virginia's next governor," Chairman Frank Donatelli said. "He personifies GOPAC's belief that good candidates with good ideas run winning campaigns. GOPAC is fully supportive of Bob McDonnell's candidacy."

The first ad, running on cable TV in Northern Virginia and Richmond, began today, but will be brief. Donatelli declined to release the total amount of money to be spent on the campaign.

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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 04/20/2009

McDonnell Opposes Degree for Obama

Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell has stayed mostly silent on conservative social issues -- guns, the sanctity of marriage, school choice -- chosing instead to follow the lead of other statewide officials and tout himself as a moderate.

But Democrats are already starting to call attention to McDonnell's recent statement that the University of Notre Dame should not honor President Obama at its May graduation because of his views on abortion.

McDonnell, who attended Notre Dame, told WTOP radio that Obama should be allowed to speak, but should not be given an honorary degree because his views "appear to be in great conflict with the Catholic social teaching."

McDonnell did disagree with some Catholics who do not think Obama should be allowed to speak. "He's the president of the United States," McDonnell said. "We respect the office. I disagree with him on a number of issues, but I respect the fact that he is the leader of the free world."

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Posted at 6:02 AM ET, 04/18/2009

Top Kaine Aide Decamps for White House

By Michael D. Shear
and Anita Kumar

President Obama has named Virginia's Secretary of Technology, Aneesh
P. Chopra, to be the nation's first Chief Technology Officer.

The president announced the choice in his weekly radio and Internet
address today, adding Chopra to a small group of advisers whose aim it
to enhance and modernize the delivery of government services.

"Aneesh will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most
urgent priorities - from creating jobs and reducing health care costs
to keeping our nation secure," Obama said in the radio address.

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Posted at 6:18 PM ET, 04/17/2009

Chopra to White House

Aneesh P. Chopra, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's secretary of technology, will be named President Obama's information technology chief. Obama will make the announcement in his weekly radio address tomorrow, according to sources close to Kaine.

Chopra had been under consideration for months for a job in the Obama administration, including technology chief at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Chopra had put in long hours in Washington helping Obama's transition team get him ready for his first day as president job Jan. 20. He was one of about 50 volunteers from across the nation serving on the transition's technology, innovation and government reform policy working group.

Chopra did not return messages for comment today.

Chopra, former managing director with the Advisory Board Company, a publicly-traded health care think tank serving nearly 2,500 hospitals and health systems, has considered running for office himself.

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Posted at 5:21 PM ET, 04/17/2009

McDonnell Opposes Guantanamo Terrorists in Va

Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell said today that he supports legislation that would prevent inmates currently housed at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to a facility in Virginia.

President Obama has vowed to close Guantanamo by January, and the government is reviewing files on the roughly 240 detainees. The administration has strongly indicated that some will be transferred to federal courts, and a senior Justice Department official recently named Alexandria, along with Manhattan, as possible destinations.

"The terrorists and enemy combatants currently housed 90 miles from our shores at Guantanamo Bay are some of the most dangerous men in the world,'' McDonnell said. "Now the federal government is considering placing some of these individuals in the middle of a busy Virginia city, just feet away from hotels, apartments, restaurants and shops."

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) introduced a bill that would prevent federal money from being used to move Guantanamo Bay inmates to Virginia.

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Posted at 1:43 PM ET, 04/17/2009

Have Va Dems Found Their Election Issue?

Virginia Democrats hope that the largely party-line vote by Republicans last week to reject $125 million in federal unemployment funds will help carry them to victory in the fall.

First, they held a press conference and launched an online petition to pitch their party as the one that can be trusted to help lead workers and businesses out of the recession.

Now, Democrats are holding neighborhood canvasses in the districts of nine Republican delegates who voted to reject the federal stimulus money. That includes three in Northern Virginia in Springfield, Sterling and Dumfries.

Volunteers will knock on doors to inform voters of their delegates' decision not to accept the money.

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Posted at 8:05 PM ET, 04/16/2009

Top McAuliffe Donors Slept in Lincoln Bedroom

Seven people who have given Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at least $5,000 have slept in the Lincoln Bedroom during the Clinton administration, according to campaign reports released last night.

They are:

Mark Weiner, former Rhode Island Democratic state chairman and superdelegate ($40,000).

Carl Lindner, chairman of the board and founder of American Financial Group and former owner of the Cincinnati Reds ($15,000).

Alan M. Leventhal, chairman and chief executive officer of Beacon Capital Partners, an international real estate investment company ($15,000).

John Catsimatidis, owner of Gristedes Foods and the Red Apple Group and its subsidiary United Refining Company, which has holdings in aviation and real estate ($5,000).

Alan Patricof, co-founder of Apax Partners, Inc., one of the world's leading private equity firms and a finance chairman for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign ($5,000).

Stanley Shuman, managing director at investment banking firm Allen & Company ($5,000).

Steven Green, vice president and chief accounting officer at Pitney Bowes, an intelligence and marketing company ($5,000).

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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 04/16/2009

Money, Money, Money

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran returned $8,500 in contributions from Citigroup and Virginia Commerce Bank -- companies that received taxpayer-funded bailout money, according to campaign filings made public last night.

Moran returned the money on the same day that rival Terry McAuliffe first pledged not to take corporate contributions from companies receiving bailout money.

The campaign finance reports also show that McAuliffe spent $31,600 on supporter lists and office furniture from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and $10,700 on office equipment from U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner's campaign.

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Posted at 1:47 PM ET, 04/16/2009

Moran Picks Up A Little Labor Support

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran picked up a couple new endorsements, including one with ties to labor.

Barbara Easterling, the first woman ever to serve as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, endorsed Moran, citing recent polling that shows he is the strongest general election candidate against Republican nominee Robert F. McDonnell.

"We know Brian will be with us as governor because he always has,'' Easterling said. "In these tough times, working families are facing real tough choices and Brian Moran understands what we're going through. I know he won't stop fighting until he gets us result and that's what we need as governor."

Moran's rival Terry McAuliffe has spent decades in Washington working with national Democratic leaders forging close ties to unions, and has receive many of the biggest labor endorsements.

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Posted at 1:39 PM ET, 04/16/2009

Kaine Will Speak to Florida Dems

Timothy M. Kaine, Virginia's governor and new chairman of the Democratic National Commmittee, will be the keynote speaker at the Florida Democrats' Jefferson-Jackson dinner May 30 in Miami Beach.

In recent interviews, Kaine has said he spends about one day a week out of town on DNC business. He will work full time as chairman after his term ends in January 2010.

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Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 04/16/2009

Who Will Be Virginia's Next AG?

Del. Stephen C. Shannon of Fairfax County officially became the Democratic nominee for attorney general yesterday when the state party certified him as the only Democrat filed to run.

"As a former prosecutor and a delegate, Steve has a long record of protecting Virginia families and fighting crime,'' said C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.. He'll make an excellent attorney general.

Shannon will face one of the three Republicans competing at next month's convention: John Brownlee, a former federal prosecutor; Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax); and David M. Foster, the former chairman of the Arlington County School Board.

All four men were at the 61st annual Shad Planking yesterday afternoon. Before the event, Brownlee received the endorsement of Jerry Kilgore, former attorney general and Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2005 who will serve as general chairman of Brownlee's campaign.

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Posted at 11:09 AM ET, 04/15/2009

McDonnell Targeted in Online Ads

Common Sense Virginia, a group funded by the Democratic Governors Association, launched an online advertising campaign today designed to inform women about Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell's record on education, health care and abortion rights.

"The more Virginia women learn about the real Bob McDonnell, the more they'll realize he's not for us," said Sarah Buckley, a University of Virginia student who is a Common Sense Virginia advisory board member.

For at least the next two weeks, the ads will appear on Websites frequently read by women in the state, including Martha Stewart Living, Every Day with Rachel Ray and Women's Entertainment Television.

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Posted at 9:47 AM ET, 04/15/2009

Signer Petitions in Question

About 400 of the 13,354 signatures provided to the Virginia State Board of Elections by lieutenant governor candidate Michael Signer are missing required information, according to state and Democratic party officials.

If the 4,000 signatures are thrown out, his name would not appear on the ballot.

The state requires candidates to submit at least 10,000 signatures, including those of least 400 registered voters in each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts, to be on the June 9 Democratic primary ballot.

The state board of elections determined that the notary used by Signer made an error when he did not ensure the addresses of those collecting the signatures were included on the paperwork.

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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 04/15/2009

Tax Day Tea Parties

A series of tea parties will be held today -- tax day -- across Virginia to protest high taxes and big government spending, including recent federal bailout packages.

Americans for Prosperity, a group that supports limited government and free trade, called 40,000 Virginians last tonight in an effort to boost turnout at the tea parties. Another 30,000 will be called this morning.

"These tea parties are a testament to the growing anger toward politicians who are wasting our money,'' said Ben Marchi, the group's state director.

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Posted at 5:46 PM ET, 04/14/2009

Democratic Candidates Sign Petition

Almost 5,000 Virginians, including all three Democrats running for governor, signed a petition calling for GOP gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell and House Republicans to support an effort to collect $125 million in federal stimulus money for jobless Virginians.

The Democratic Party of Virginia launched the petition Monday. Twenty-four hours later, 4,817 Virginians had signed the petition calling for the General Assembly to return to Richmond and vote to accept the money.

"Bob McDonnell's opposition to urgent assistance for displaced workers is heartless,'' state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds said. "Bob McDonnell and Virginia Republicans are turning their backs on the Virginians who are hurting the most. It's time to put politics aside and get this done."

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Posted at 3:35 PM ET, 04/14/2009

Wagner Raises $375,000

Former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner (D) raised $375,000 for her campaign for lieutenant governor in the three-month period that ended last month, campaign officials announced today.

Wagner, who has more than $410,000 in the bank, boasted that she had raised more than Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who collected more than $300,000 in the same period, though he was barred by law for raising money during the 45-day legislative session.

"I'm grateful to have the support of so many grassroots volunteers, elected officials, and party leaders, and I know we all look forward to a common goal of defeating Bill Bolling in November," Wagner said.

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Posted at 1:14 PM ET, 04/14/2009

Richmond Leaders Endorse McAuliffe

More than a dozen Richmond community activists and leaders announced their support today for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

"We believe that Terry understands urban communities and the issues they face,'' they said in a joint statement. "Terry shares our concerns and will work with our communities to improve inner city schools, youth programs, neighborhood development, infrastructure improvements, voting rights issues and vital redistricting reform...Virginia needs Terry McAuliffe; he's the right man at the right time."

Endorsers include: Richmond City Council Marty Jewell; community activists Art Burton, Sharon Burton, Amelia Lightner, John Lloyd, Terry Binford, Hope Murphy Elliott, Reginald Malone, Carrie Cox, Rita Ricks, Regina L. Hatcher and and former school board members William Laffoon, Zarina Fazaldin.

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Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 04/14/2009

Moran Strives to Boost Development

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brian Moran announced this morning an "Innovation Agenda" to boost research and development and expand biotechnology, green energy technology and universal broadband.

"Virginia can be a national leader in research and innovation, growing our economy and creating thousands of new high-tech jobs," Moran said. "With a focus on the technology sector, we can attract investment and create jobs and position Virginia as a leader in the innovation economy. Virginia has the potential to become a national and international leader in innovation, but we have to get to work."

Moran's proposal includes incentivizing research and development, establishing a strategic plan for research and development to coordinate the efforts of Virginia's colleges and universities, investing in biotech facilities, creating energy technology parks and building modeling and simulation clusters.

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Posted at 10:14 AM ET, 04/14/2009

Bolling Raises $300,000

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) raised more than $300,000 from 404 contributors in the three-month period that ended last month, campaign officials announced today.

Bolling, who was barred from raising money during the 45-day legislative session, has $735,000 in the bank. Since he kicked off his re-election campaign in March 2008, he has raised $1.3 million.

"I am honored that hundreds of hard working Virginians have invested more than $300,000 in my reelection campaign in just a few short weeks," Bolling said. "I know that times are tough and people are worried about their budgets and jobs. That makes me appreciate even more the generous support that I have received from so many people."

Bolling will face lawyer Patrick Muldoon for the Republican nomination next month.

Three Democrats are running: Jon Bowerbank, a businessman from Russell County, Michael Signer, an attorney who worked for former governor Mark R. Warner and former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner. Pat Edmonson, a member of the Virginia Beach School Board, withdrew from the race last week.

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Posted at 4:50 PM ET, 04/13/2009

McDonnell Raises $2.2 Million

Former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell (R) raised $2.2 million in his campaign for Virginia governor in the three-month period that ended last month, campaign officials said today.

McDonnell, who was barred by state law from raising money during most of the legislative session, has $3.5 million cash on hand.

"We have far more cash on hand than any of our potential opponents,'' McDonnell campaign manager Phil Cox said. "This is a crucial advantage as we take Bob McDonnell's positive message of new jobs and more opportunities to every voter in Virginia."

McDonnell, who raised $1.6 million during the second half of last year, received help from national leaders including Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

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Posted at 12:10 PM ET, 04/13/2009

Dems Launch Petition on Stimulus

The Democratic Party of Virginia launched this morning a Website calling on Republicans to accept $125 million in federal stimulus money for additional unemployment benefits for jobless Virginians.

The General Assembly narrowly rejected the money last week despite pressure from a visibly angry Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The Republican-controlled House of Delegates, a fiscally conservative body that has long opposed fundamental changes to laws that extend such benefits, killed the proposal after members argued it would translate into higher taxes for businesses once the supply of stimulus money was exhausted.

The Website specifically targets House Republicans and GOP gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell, who is not in the legislature and did not vote on the bill but has said he opposed accepting the money.

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Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 04/13/2009

McAuliffe, Deeds Unveil Education Plans

Two of three Democratic candidates for governor, Terry McAuliffe and R. Creigh Deeds, released proposals this morning to improve Virginia's education system.

McAuliffe told reporters on a conference call that he wants to commercialize more research at the state's universities to allow them to lower tuition costs. His proposal also includes providing a less expensive alternative for the first two years of community college, expanding pre-kindergarten programs, allowing high school juniors to bypass their senior year and go straight to college and increase incentives to attract teachers such as raising salaries to the national average.

"To attract the employers and jobs we want in the future, we need to ensure that Virginia has the best-educated, best-trained, most skilled workforce in the world," McAuliffe said. "Over the past eight years, we've seen steady progress and better results in education. The challenge for the next governor will be to make better use of what we have. That means we have to build more flexibility, more innovation and more creativity into the system."

Deeds announced at a press conference outside the state Capitol a plan that would create an additional 70,000 degrees over the next 10 years for two- and four-year degrees. He proposes creating a rainy day fund to help curb tuition increases during tough economic times, a loan forgiveness for teachers in high-need areas and a state grant for job training. His plan would cost about $78 million in the first year.

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Posted at 5:47 PM ET, 04/10/2009

Moran Leads in Poll

A DailyKos/Research 2000 poll on the governor's race shows that former delegate Brian Moran leads former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe among likely voters in the Democratic primary, 24 percent to 19 percent. State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds had 16 percent.

The poll found that Moran was nearly tied with Republican Robert F. McDonnell in a general election. McAuliffe and Deeds each trailed McDonnell by 7 percent.

"Not only are we leading in the primary, but, more importantly, this poll confirms that Brian is the strongest Democrat to take on Bob McDonnell in November,'' Moran campaign manager Andrew Roos said. "Virginia Democrats know that we need a fighter and we need a winner come November, and this poll is further evidence that we are running a campaign that will accomplish exactly that."

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Posted at 10:12 AM ET, 04/ 9/2009

Kaine Berates Legislators

A handful of legislators traditionally walk to the governor's third-floor Capitol office when the House and Senate are ready to adjourn a session. In the last year or two, Kaine and legislators have ignored the largely symbolic practice.

But last night when legislators were ready to adjourn their one-day session they decided to stick with tradition, partly out of respect for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and what is likely to be his last session during his four-year term.

Afterwards, some Republicans wished they skipped the event.

A visibly angry and red faced Kaine berated legislators for narrowly rejecting $125 million in federal stimulus money that would have provided additional unemployment benefits to thousands of jobless Virginians.

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Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 04/ 8/2009

McAuliffe Raises $4.2 Million: Moran $800,000

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe raised an impressive $4.2 million in his campaign for Virginia governor in the three-month period that ended last month, campaign officials said today.

Rival Brian Moran raised $800,000 in the same period -- more than he raised in the previous six months, but still far less than McAuliffe.

"We expect to be outspent, but we also expect to win,'' Moran Campaign Chairwoman Mame Reiley said. "Virginia Democrats have long confirmed that money in and of itself does not sway them to a candidate. Instead, they want someone who is a proven fighter for their families and a leader who can win in November."

McAuliffe has spent nearly half of the total amount that he has raised and has about $2.5 million cash on hand.

Democrat R. Creigh Deeds did not release his campaign finance reports today.

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Posted at 11:57 AM ET, 04/ 8/2009

Shannon Files Petitions; Raises $270,000

Del. Stephen C. Shannon, the sole Democrat in the race for attorney general, filed the necessary petitions today to get his name on the ballot.

Shannon of Fairfax, who was forbidden by law from raising money during the 45-day legislative session this year, received more than $270,000 in the first three months of 2009. He has $900,000 cash on hand.

Shannon submitted 14,267 signatures. The state requires candidates to submit at least 10,000 signatures, including those of least 400 registered voters in each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts.

Three Republicans seek the nomination for attorney general: Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax); John Brownlee, a former federal prosecutor; and David M. Foster, the former chairman of the Arlington County School Board.