The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Monday, January 31, 2005

Race for DNC Chair narrows

I've been meaning to blog on the race for DNC chair. It turns out that Norm over at One Man's Trash has been covering things well.

It's becoming a two man race between Howard Dean and Donnie Fowler. Fowler roughly represents the southern centrist branch of the Democratic party, while Dean, well...

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb dropped out Monday afternoon and endorsed Dean. Add this to Dean's stunning reversal of fortune at the Association of State Democratic Chairs, and he may have it locked up.

House engrosses abortion clinic standards

The House of Delegates also engrossed HB2784, which would require that abortion clinics meet the same requirements that other ambulatory surgery (outpatient) centers are currently required to meet. This bill will most likely be passed by the House tomorrow and will be communicated to the Senate.

There, the Senate Education and Health Committe, led by Russ Potts, will abort it for the third straight year.

You see, Russ can't waste his time with unborn humans. He's too busy making sure that the principles of humane treatment of animals are taught in public schools.

School Boards to be given option of picking up private schoolers

Del. Gary Reese's bill, HB1589, successfully passed its second reading on the House floor today. The Richmond Times Dispatch has good sound bites from Attorney General candidate Bob McDonnell.
Del. Robert F. McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, said opponents raised many of the same arguments years ago against legislation to establish semiprivate charter schools, but problems never materialized.

"These parents of private school students pay taxes for education just like any other taxpayer and having them take advantage of a common route for public schools that will get them to a private school is a matter of fairness," McDonnell said.

He said courts have ruled that such arrangements are permissible and that it would ease congestion by taking cars off the roadways.
An interesting fact about this bill is that it's sponsored by Del. Reese. Del Reese voted for the tax increase and is facing a primary challenger. On of the things that the tax hikers have said is that they will protect their right flanks by pushing conservative social issues. Social conservatives have been asking for equal access to public school perks for some time. It will be interesting to see if Reese's overture pays off.

House Dems to develop faith outreach

Nancy Pelosi has tapped U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., to lead the effort to recapture faith-based voters who, exit polls indicate, constituted a substantial bloc of votes in the 2004 U.S. elections.

Clyburn said he would convene a working group to review party policies and ideas and look at new ways to frame those issues in faith-based terms, Roll Call reported Monday.

"Our problem is not our programs," Clyburn added. "It's been our expressions and interpretations of those programs." The goal of the effort, he said, is to get Democrats comfortable talking about policies in faith-based terms.

"What we're trying to do is get people comfortable with the language, because our proposals are in line with what these people would have them be," Clyburn said. "The problem is our rhetoric is not in line with what people would like to hear."

Clyburn will need more than a K Street lobbyists' breakfast to reconnect with people of faith in this country. Notice that they don't plan any actual policy changes, just spin. My ideal scenario would involve fumbling this effort, and at the same time angering the Democratic radical secularist base.

Maybe Clyburn can hire Mara Vanderslice or Brenda Bartella Peterson to be on the working group.



Abingdon High School sets an example for us all

Here is an inspiring story from the Bristol Herald-Courier. The students of Abingdon High School have pledged to raise $5,000 to aid the Tsunami Relief efforts. If they are unable to meet their goal, the students have pledged to give away the money they have raised for their prom. In an era where so many of our young people grow up with such material abundance, it is great to see some of them giving so freely to those in need halfway around the world.

The Fight for Human Dignity

On a plane home from Orlando yesterday, I opportunely sat next to a women who is a friend of Sochua Mu Leiper, the former Minister of Women's and Veteran's Affairs for the Royal Government of Cambodia. She held that position until resiging in 2003 to join the political opposition. Sochua feels that her primary purpose is fight the sex industry and trafficking of young girls in Cambodia, a problem simply out of control there. In fact, in one month period last year, 5 of her colleagues struggling against the slave trade were assassinated by crime bosses who were upset with what they were doing to their business. Sochua is constantly in danger of assassination.

Here is a profile of Sochua from Oprah's magazine last year. If you can stomach reading anything produced by Oprah, the article is amazing and the discussion of the sex trafficking will make your heart ache.

A friend of mine attending an international Christian law school in South Korea was in Cambodia a two weeks to ago to help start a university in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and she roamed the red light districts researching and digesting the sights and smells of the underworld. Anyway, she may be headed back soon and I have put her in contact now with Sochua through the woman I met on the plane yesterday. Perhaps, a relationship will be able to be established for future fights against this blight on civilization that we know as slave trafficking.

William Wilberforce was able to defeat the slave trade after 30 years of lobbying and pushing leigslation in parliament in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Despite a multitude of failures, he persisted and with the help of brothers in arms he eventually was able to turn the tide against the horrible practice. Today's slave trafficking is essentially the same issue that he was fighting, just in a new form. It is our obligation as people who believe in justice and that men and women are created in the image of God to fight this as strongly as we fight for the unborn and stand up for the poor, the widow, and the orphan.

Smackdown on Tobacco Road

Following on the heels of UVA's embarrassing 34-point loss to North Carolina on Saturday, Virginia Tech one-upped the Hoos yet again by losing to Duke by 35 on Sunday. Granted, the game was at Cameron Indoor, not in Blacksburg, but the beating was brutal nonetheless. Techsideline.com has the wrapup here.

Honestly, I expected nothing less from the Blue Devils after losing their first game of the season. I had hoped that the Hokies would at least be competitive, which they were at times. Unfortunately, getting called for 22 personal fouls in the first half can tend to put your team at a disadvantage. The Blue Devils ended up shooting 49 total free throws, to the Hokies' 23. Still, the Hokies never gave up and continued to fight until the very end even though they were undermanned. Hopefully this loss will help the Hokies realize how far they have yet to go in the ACC and how hard they need to continue to work for the remainder of the season.

Next game: Hokies @ Miami, Wed. Feb 2 7:30pm

Give me liberty and give me death

The AP covers Del. Bill Janis's bill to remove mandatory helmet laws for motorcycle riders. The article only mentions HB1828, but I notice that Del. Janis has also introduced HB1979, which is broader in scope. I'm not sure which one is the preferred vehicle.

ABATE is the motorcycle group that has done the most lobbying on helmet laws. When I worked at the General Assembly, it was initially confusing to have gruff motorcycle dudes tell me that they were "pro-choice." The choice turned out to be the right not to wear a helmet.

I think there's a libertarian argument to be made here, but it's ultimately trumped by the fact that we have indigent health care system.

Champagne also makes economic arguments for keeping the helmet law, noting that taxpayers must foot the bill for uninsured motorcyclists who are seriously injured. "When you suffer a head trauma injury, if you're fortunate enough not to be killed you generally end up with such a disability that you may require
long-term care for the rest of your life," he said.





Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Car Tax Redux?

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has two stories (here and here) on the car tax phaseout. One criticism is the way that the car tax relief was capped in last year's session:

"By creating a cap, the tax source from the state is no longer inflation-proof," said Virginia Beach Treasurer John T. Atkinson.

The flat reimbursements are expected to especially hurt localities with fast-growing populations.

"Our population is growing. Our tax base is growing. But state participation is not growing," Atkinson said.

Local officials, especially in those fast-growing areas, predict the cap will prompt localities to raise personal-property rates above what the state is reimbursing, raise other tax rates and/or create new fees to help offset the diminishing role of the state reimbursements in city and county budgets.
The other article points out that the Senate and Governor are unlikely to go along with the House's plan to fully fund car tax relief. There are good soundbites about whether its a violation of a campaign promise to stop car tax relief (Republicans) or poor fiscal policy (Democrats).

The other thing about this article is that it demonstrates Creigh Deeds' ability to say something without saying anything. I've noticed this more from Deeds than from the other statewide candidates.
"The car tax is going to be a political issue until it's abolished and an alternative source of revenue is found for localities," said Deeds, who initially supported the phaseout.

Deeds danced quite a bit on the budget last session, and also on the Virginia Affirmation of Marriage Act.

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

Inked Finger

Liberty on the March

I just wanted to make a few comments regarding the Iraqi elections. While, January 30 may not seem like a very important day to those of us sitting in our living rooms this afternoon, I believe that somewhere down the road we will begin to understand what a momentous day it actually is.

The advent of free elections in a Muslim nation the size of Iraq is a remarkable achievement, particularly considering the decades of tyranny they have endured. I truly believe that the Bush administration will eventually be vindicated by a free, prosperous, and democratic Iraq. Such an ally will also help to bring a long-term change in attitude throughout the greater Middle East. Islam and Democracy are not mutually exclusive concepts, and I am confident that our efforts in Iraq will bear that out.

In addition, while the loss of American lives is terrible and unfortunate, I am absolutely certain that the end cost will be minimal compared to the lives saved and benefits gained by all Iraqis of having an elected government that will protect the rights and freedoms of all of that nation's people. It is entirely possible that the full effects of our actions may not be realized for several decades, but that makes them no less important or effective.

I applaud the fortitude of the Iraqi people, the determination of President Bush, and the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. Here's to a new Iraq!

Dealing with the Devils

The Virginia Tech Hokies Men's basketball team puts their 5 game win streak (4 straight in the ACC) to the ultimate test this evening as they travel to the cozy confines of Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University. This will be the first meeting between the teams since 1978. The Roanoke Times has you covered here.

Even as optimistic as I am, i can't see the Hokies having much of a shot in this one. The Blue Devils are coming off of their first loss of the season, at home no less, to one of their fiercest rivals, the Maryland Terrapins. The transitive property of basketball gives the Hokies some hope from the fact that they defeated NC State, who beat Maryland, who beat Duke. In reality, however, the Dukies are going to be fired up to give VT a proper welcome to the ACC. I just hope the Hokies don't put on a Hoo-esque performance, and can hang with the Devils for a half or so.

Tip-off is at 8:00 pm

Friday, January 28, 2005

Senate votes to end accelerated sales tax collection

The Senate passed SB709 today. The bill was on the uncontested calendar, and was voted through in a block.

In 2002, the GA required retailers with more than $1.3 million in sales to double pay a month of sales tax. That put $150 million or so into the fiscal year, and allowed the budget to be balanced. In essence, the state borrowed a month's worth of tax revenue from retailers, and now is paying it back.

This was one of two proposals that I mentioned two weeks ago. The sales tax cut on food is working its way through the house.

House passes tax cut

The Roanoke Times and RTD report that the House of Delegates unanimously passed legislation to reduce the sales tax on groceries from 4 cents to 2.5 cents on the dollar. The Senate has already passed the legislation and it will likely become law quite soon. While this tax cut is nice, it is being cleverly used by Warner to disguise the way in which he misled the Commonwealth about it's economic health. Now that the tax collectors in Richmond realize they have taken much more of the people's money than they need, they have decided to return a token drop to the empty bucket and keep the rest.

Both articles also note that the House passed the bill to make the big-eared bat the official bat of Virginia. The all-important chiroptologist constituency is surely rejoicing.

More from the 19th

Last night the Botetourt County Republican Committee held a meeting where former Roanoke Mayor Ralph Smith announced his intention to seek Lacey Putney's seat in the House of Delegates, should Putney decide to step down. The Roanoke Times and Lynchburg News and Advance have covered the story. Smith told the crowd that he had resigned his membership in the Roanoke GOP, and was applying for membership in the Botetourt GOP. Word also came out that Smith was prepared to sell his large home in Roanoke and move permanently to the 19th District.

While Smith may think he is a shoo-in due to his one term as Roanoke's mayor and political connections in the area, many in the 19th are not thrilled about the prosepect of Smith representing them. The first question that remains to be determined is whether Putney will in fact step down. While I stated yesterday that such a move looks likely, Smith's brashness and the urging of some local Republicans may still change his mind. Secondly, residents of the 19th are already sensitive about losing their identity and may not take well to a former mayor of the city whose suburbs are sprawling ever futher into the district. Further, Bedford and Botetourt Republicans may seek a candidate, like Obenshain, with deep roots in the community, a familiarity with the issues that face the district, and political ties that can rival those of Mayor Smith.

In short, this contest is far from over and there will be much more speculation and jockeying for position in the months and weeks to come. In the meantime, Botetourt and Bedford should enjoy all the attention they are getting.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Virginia's team notches 4th straight ACC victory

Virginia Tech 79, Virginia 73

Old Zach: I personally enjoyed the following articles from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Roanoke Times, and Newport News Daily Press.

Also the Kansas City Star (huh?) notes that Virginia Tech has the second-highest winning percentage (.667) of any team in the ACC since 1997. Ok, so the Hokies have only played six ACC games in that span, but hey, we'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Next up: at Duke, Sun. Jan. 30 at 8pm

The Dems Southern Strategy

The New Republic has a very interesting article about Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, and his potential as a Democratic Presidential candidate in 2008. The article names Bredesen along with former Senator John Edwards and Virginia Governor Mark Warner as Democrats "who could do well in Dixie" in a national election.

This article highlights the central dilemma within the Democratic party for the next four years. As I have stated before, the Democrats will face the choice of either moderating their platform and adopting Republican issues as their own by shifting the terminology and focus, or taking a hard leftward tack by vigorously opposing the Iraq war and the President's "ownership culture."

Hillary Clinton's recent attempts to move to the middle on social issues clearly represents the former viewpoint, one that served her husband quite well. The Howard Deans of the Democratic Party, however, clearly represent the latter view that the success of the GOP is the result of political shenanigans, not because America agrees with their message. I generally believe that Americans prefer optimism to fear, which is why Dean's leadership of the DNC could be such a boon for the GOP.

Candidates starting to line up in the 19th

Although Lacey Putney, the General Assembly's longest serving member, has yet to announce his intentions, it appears that some potential candidates are already jockeying for position in case he decides not to seek another term. Putney has been in office since 1962 and his impending retirement has been subject to much speculation for some time. Many insiders believed that he was certain to step down before the '03 cycle, but Putney surprised them all by running for re-election. Although an Independent, Republicans have traditionally given Putney a pass. Now it seems as though some folks of tired of waiting for Lacey to make up his mind and want to make the decision easier for him.

The Roanoke Times has this piece about former Roanoke mayor Ralph Smith's potential candidacy. I have also heard rumors from sources in Botetourt and Bedford that other Republicans may also join the fray if Putney declines to run again. One candidate may be Bedford County Republican Chairman Matthew Braud. Another may be Roanoke County Attorney and Botetourt resident Joe Obenshain. Obenshain ran in 2003 for the Republican nomination for the 22nd District State Senate seat eventually won by Brandon Bell. As a first time candidate he finished a respectable 3rd in a 6 person primary, behind two candidates with a good deal of experience in elective office. Obviously, the Obenshain name wouldn't hurt him at all in a pretty Republican district.

Still all this will likely remain speculation until Putney decides to make his intentions public, which will not likely happen before the end of the General Assembly session. From a money standpoint, however, I'd say it's unlikely that Putney runs again. According to VPAP, Putney has only raised $3,600 thus far and has $9,239 on hand. While Putney doesn't need as much money to win re-election in his safe district, he also doesn't seem too enthusiastic about campaigning.

Warner Lieutenant endorses Dean for DNC Chair

Blog for America has announced that Mame Reiley has endorsed Howard Dean for chair of the DNC. Democracy for Virginia reminds us that Ms. Reiley is the Executive Director of Mark Warner's PAC, OneVirginia, and continues to be one of his closest political advisors.

We here at Sic Semper have also endorsed Dean's candicacy (here and here) and it's good to see our judgment confirmed by mainstream Democrat Mame Reiley.

I'm not sure what this means for Virginia. Warner obviously boosts his 2008 chances by having a surrogate back the right choice for DNC chair. Most Virginians aren't going to care that Warner's key advisor is backing a liberal nutcase. At least not when it comes to evaluating Tim Kaine's relative place on the political spectrum. Now if we could get Tim Kaine to endorse Howard Dean...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Two new ODBA members

Sic Semper would like to welcome Brandon Meyer and Reporterette to the Old Dominion Blog Alliance.

They have been added to the sidebar.

Beatbox and Harmonica...at the same time

This is slightly outside of Sic Semper's normal coverage, but it caught my eye.

Our unpaid web design advisor is a big hiphop fan, and I knew he would appreciate it.

No gunshow background checks by private sellers

On Sunday, I mentioned Sen. Marsh's bill that would require private sellers to do background checks on buyers at gun shows.

Today that bill was killed on a 20-17 vote. I watched the proceedings on the internet stream, and the bill was actually voted down first on a 19-18 vote. Sen. Stolle then moved to reconsider the vote. Sen. John Watkins gave an impassioned defense of the bill, but for naught. For some reason, Sen. Frank Wagner voted for the bill the first time around and voted against it on reconsideration.

It could come back from the dead tomorrow, but I doubt it.

Del. Fenton Bland resigns

At the same time that Del. Fenton Bland was pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, a colleague was reading Bland's letter of resignation on the House floor.
"There comes a time when personal responsibilities overshadow the work of the people. I've come to the conclusion that I must refocus my mission. With this in mind, effective Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2005, I resign my seat," Alexander said,
reading from Bland's letter.
Bland's seat will remain empty until a special election for it can be held.

Jenna Bush dating a Virginian?

Richmond's Style Weekly has this article suggesting that Former Lt. Governor John Hager's son Henry may be starring in this latest version of "My Date With the President's Daughter." Both families are keeping tight-lipped about the relationship, but if true, it shows that Jenna has better taste than I thought. Now about Barbara...

UPDATE: A mutual friend of mine and Henry Hager's has confirmed to me that the two are, in fact, dating. All you young, single conservatives can feel free to exhale now.

Hammer down

In three bills that received have received final passage in the Senate (SB1210, SB1223, SB1229) the speed limits on a number of rural Virginia highways have been raised from 55 to 60 mph.

This will cut 5 minutes and 8 seconds off my trip from Port Royal to Saluda.

Laws and Sausage

The Daily Press has this article on Del. John Welch's bill to force meals tax increases to be approved by referendum. The article provides a good example of the sort of horse trading that goes on to get bills passed. It also illustrates some of the parliamentary procedures that can bring bills back from the dead.

Afterward, Welch was upset because some lawmakers deserted him on the first vote, he said.

"I felt that some people in this body have given me their word they would support my bill," he said. "Then all of a sudden, they weren't there when I needed them."

Welch said he had committed to vote "yes" on another tax bill that extended the time during which Arlington County could collect an additional transient occupancy tax. That bill also needed 67 votes and that's exactly what it got - including a key vote from Welch. He depended on some of that same group to help him.

"Mine was the very next bill," he said. "All of a sudden, whoa, they're in the 'no' column."

In apparent retaliation, Welch then managed to put the Arlington County bill in peril. He successfully got the House to reconsider passage, putting it back on the table. It could come up for a second vote later this week.

Virginia Tech: It's Not Just For Football Anymore

This morning's headline on Techsideline.com says it all. Virginia Tech, who was thought to be added to the ACC solely for their recent success on the gridiron (and only at the arm-twisting insistence of Gov. Warner), has since showed themselves to be far more than a one trick pony.

Aside from winning the outright ACC Football Championship in their first season in the league (something UVA has never done), the Hokies have also been competitive in a variety of other non-revenue sports. The men's soccer team defeated the #1 (Duke) and #2 (UVA) teams in the nation, the women's soccer team earned their first-ever berth in the NCAA Tournament. The wrestling team is currently 4-0 in the ACC and has three nationally ranked wrestlers. VT's men's indoor track team is also ranked #23 in the nation.

Basketball, however, is where the Hokies' success has been the most surprising. The addition of Virginia Tech and Miami to the ACC's basketball heirarchy was expected to "water-down" the league. Instead, Virginia Tech has won three ACC games in a row and now sits alone in fourth place behind the "big three" of Duke, UNC, and Wake Forest. While defeating Clemson and NC State in Blacksburg by a combined 3 points might not have been that surprising, it was their defeat of then #12 ranked Georgia Tech in Atlanta this past saturday that truly trumpeted the Hokies' arrival. Now the regional and national media are starting to take notice. The Roanoke Times is beside itself with gushing articles here and here. The Newport News Daily Press has a hilarious take here. Even other states are noticing Virginia Tech's surprising run as you can read in South Carolina's The State or North Carolina's Charlotte Observer (registration required). Even CNNSI.com's Stewart Mandel gives the Hokies props for helping to make the ACC even stronger in basketball.

Unfortunately for those Hoos who thought that VT's entrance into the ACC would simply give them an abundance of opportunities to pad their own teams' stats, you'd better think again. When the Hoos (1-5 in the ACC) and Hokies (3-2 in the ACC) meet on the hardwood tomorrow night in Blacksburg, it will likely be the latter who is the favorite.

In Defense of Marriage

As Addison has already pointed out, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee has endorsed a bill to enact a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. The Virginian-Pilot has a couple of articles on it here and here. If passed by the General Assembly, this proposed amendment could make its way to the voters as soon as November of 2006.

This legislation is crucial to keeping Virginia at the forefront of the nationwide battle to protect the true definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Last year, Virginia passed the Marriage Affirmation Act, which signified our Commonwealth's commitment to protecting marriage from renegade judges and activist groups who seek to destroy it. Last week, the House Courts of Justice Committee killed HB 1633, sponsored by Delegate Mitch Van Yahres, which would have repealed the Marriage Affirmation Act.

In a related matter, Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz has introduced a bill to keep the radical gay-rights agenda out of our public schools by preventing the formation of school organizations that promote sexual behavior. The Daily News-Record has the story here.

The Commonwealth's Official Flying Rodent

Among the more bizarre pieces of legislation being considered in the General Assembly this year is HB 2579, which would designate the Virginia big-eared bat as the official bat of Virginia. I certainly understand the significance of the cardinal and the dogwood to our Commonwealth, and I am even fond of the state dog, the American Foxhound, which was brought here by George Washington. I can't fathom, however, why in the world we would want or need a state bat. These kinds of bills only encourage other people to campaign for even more "official" state symbols. At some point, we must draw the line.

House Republican Dominate News Cycle with Car Tax

Lots of good quotes about fulfilling an obligation to the taxpayer, returning the surplus to the citizens, etc. Here are direct links to the articles.

Washington Post
Washington Times
Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
Richmond Times Dispatch
Lynchburg News-Advance
Norfolk Pilot
Roanoke Times
Augusta Free Press

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

George Fitch's Report Missing Schedule E

George Fitch is the Warrenton mayor who has been making noises about challenging Jerry Kilgore for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

His campaign is reporting $128,517 on hand as of December 31st. $100,000 of that is reported as coming from a loan. The problem? Fitch didn't provide his Schedule E form. The Schedule E tells us who made the loan and on what terms.

As a result, we don't know who or what provided 2/3 of Fitch's funding.



House Republicans to go for full car tax phaseout

The House Republican leadership got behind a full phase out of the car tax today. Democrats John Chichester and Mark Warner gave it a cold reception.

"It took us 115 days to accomplish what we accomplished last year. I think to roll that back and to undo what we did would send a very negative message to stakeholders in Virginia and I don't think that's something we would have an appetite to do," said Senate Finance Committee chairman John H. Chichester, R-Stafford.

"To keep it at 70 percent is far more than it was 10 years ago and keeping it at 70 percent still maintains our core obligations. Everybody comes out a winner," he said.

Warner said the House GOP plan would imperil the state's commitments to fund education, health care, public safety and other core services.

"It would almost certainly condemn us to repeat the same mistakes we've spent three years trying to fix. In one stroke, it would create an entitlement that would quickly grow to be larger than everything we now spend on all our state colleges and universities combined, and larger than everything we spend on law-enforcement and prisons combined," Warner said in a four-paragraph statement his office issued.
On the other hand, House Democrats were much more cautious. The reason is obvious. House Dems are up for re-election, and they need to be, gasp, responsive to the wishes of their voters. Check out this quote from minority leader Brian Moran.
"It's a very popular tax cut. The determination is can we balance that with the other needs of the commonwealth...If we can accomplish that first, I see no reason we can't do it."
As for the state-wide races, there are two ways to break it down. Having another disagreement between Chichester and the House doesn't do Jerry Kilgore any good. On the other hand, Kilgore and Kaine are going to come down on opposite sides of this issue. Kaine's opposition to a popular tax cut is sure to benefit Jerry Kilgore.

Senate P & E kills two terms and advances gay marriage ban

In committee votes today, the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee advanced a constitutional ban on gay marriage and rejected an amendment to allow two term governors.

Goode Endorses Bolling

Goode has now officially endorsed Bolling. Go ahead and tally that one up as well. That's 5 of the 8 current Republican Congressman in Virginia supporting Bolling. Only one supporting Connaughton. That's a pretty huge lead.

America's new veteran crisis

NBC News is doing an interesting series this week on the difficulties many veterans are encountering in receiving appropriate care after they return from Iraq and Afghanistan. This issue is particularly pressing here in Virginia due to the large number of veterans that reside in the Commonwealth. Since the United States had recently been in such a long period of relative peace, the Veterans Administration's financial needs were relatively constant. However, with the recent wave of troops returning home from combat, the VA finds itself with inadequate resources to meet the needs of America's soldiers.

In the General Assembly, Delegate Kirk Cox and Sen Frank Ruff have introduced legislation to aid these veterans, including increasing the number of claims agents to obtain benefits. The RTD has that story here.

At the federal level, Senator George Allen recently called for Congress to increase the "death gratuity" to fallen soldiers' families from $12,000 to $100,000. I'm not sure that such a drastic increase is necessary, given the additional life insurance benefit that most soldiers' families receive in the event of their death. Still, Allen's proposal is a step in the right direction and will hopefully urge others to examine more closely whether we are fulfilling our commitment to the troops once they return home. The obligations of the men and women in America's Armed Services don't end when they leave the combat zone. Our nation's obligation to them shouldn't either.

fourth GOP Congressman in VA endorses Bolling

Today, the Bolling campaign announced the endorsement of their campaign by new Congresswoman Thelma Drake. She is the fourth of the eight Republican Congressman in Virginia to commit to the Bolling campaign. Former Congressman Tom Bliley also has endorsed Bolling.
Check it all out here. Last night, the Bolling campaign got a warm reception in Prince William County in the enemy's camp. Interesting.

We hear there is another endorsement on the way.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sign Jerry's ePetition

One of the ways the Kilgore campaign is trying to develop grass roots support is through their "E-Petition." From an email today:

This is a novel experiment to harness the power of the Internet and drive people to the Kilgore for Governor website who might otherwise not see it. It is very simple--just sign the ePetition and forward it to people in your address book. This is not a legally binding petition, but given the revolution of email in
political campaigns, this is a terrific way for supporters like yourself to help us reach out to more Virginians via the Internet. Please take 1 minute to sign the ePetition yourself and then forward it to other individuals in your address book. Our goal is to collect at least 25,000 ePetition signatures by April 1, so your help with this effort would be greatly appreciated.

Correction to 41st District Demographics

I received an email asking me not to write off the 41st District, as I did in this post.

I did some background research, and confirmed that the email was correct. I hereby declare that if the the 41st District comes down to Michael Golden (R) vs. David Marsden (D), then Golden has extremely good chances.

Check out some recent election results from the 41st:
  • George W. Bush - 2004
  • George W. Bush - 2000
  • In the 10 precincts that the 37th Senate District and the 41st House District have in common, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli won both in 2002 and 2003
  • The sales tax referendum was defeated in 2002
  • George Allen - 2000
Further, check out the 41st's neighbors
Tim Hugo - R
David Albo -R
Vivian Watts - D
Chap Petersen -D

The Rs are to the south and west, and the Ds are towards DC, as you would expect.

This District is anyone's ballgame if it's an open seat, and it's a shame that it has been held for so long by a liberal like Jim Dillard.

Who were the two biggest donors to the Speaker's PAC?

I'm continuing to plow through the donor reports.

The Speaker's PAC, Dominion Leadership Trust, raised $469,103 in 2004 and has $336,415 on hand.

Guess who the two biggest donors (excluding Dominion Power) were?

None other than Renegade 17 members Harvey Morgan and Harry Parrish! Half-Renegade Vince Callahan only kicked in $7500. Maybe that's because he voted against it after he voted for it.

In case you were wondering, these three senior lawmakers retained their committee chairmanships for the 2005 session. I'm sure there's no connection.

UPDATE
I realized that this sounded cynical, so let me explain. I wish that there was actually a little more party discipline. But if the punishment is going to be largely financial, I'm glad that conservative candidates will be the beneficiaries.


Barbara Boxer's mixed up and confused world

In Boxerland, Condoleezza Rice attacked Senator Boxer at last week's confirmation hearing.
"She turned and attacked me," the California Democrat told CNN's "Late Edition" in describing the confrontation during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

"When you really don't know what to say about a specific, you just attack the person who is asking the questions," Mrs. Boxer told CNN.



Sunday, January 23, 2005

Out of the wilderness

I'm not sure if the VT ride is going to continue, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts. Just how big was VT's win at Georgia Tech on Saturday? From Techsideline.com:

"It was Virginia Tech's first road victory over a ranked team since the Hokies knocked off #17 Louisville on Jan. 17, 1982."
Virginia Tech is in sole possession of fourth place in the ACC:
Duke (5-0)
North Carolina (5-1)
Wake Forest (4-1)
Virginia Tech (3-2)
Miami (3-3)
Georgia Tech (2-3)
Maryland (2-3)
NC State (2-3)
Florida State (2-4)
Virginia (1-5)
Clemson (1-5)

Next up is a big game against UVA at the Cassell. It should be fun.

The Primary Challengers

Okay, so VPAP has posted fundraising statements for the House of Delegates, and there are no surprises. Some of the announced candidates may not have raised any money, so if you know of anyone else who is definitely in, please let me know. I am not going to discuss any of the general election races, because they are so far away.

Republican Primary Challengers
  • Jim Dillard (R-41) challenged by Michael Golden. This is a generally Democratic district and Dillard has only has $3000 on cash. He may surrender the nomination to Golden, which more than likely would mean that Democrat David Marsden would be elected. Golden has signed Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge.
  • Joe May (R-33) challenged by Chris Oprison. Oprison was probably hoping that May would not refile for his House seat (since he's also campaigning for Lt. Gov) but it looks like May will run for both. Oprison has signed Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge.
  • Harry Parrish (R-50) challenged by Steve Chapman. Chapman did not file a fundraising report, but his candidacy was announced in the Gainesville Times. He also apparently doesn't have a webpage - what's up?
  • Gary Reese (R-67) challenged by Chris Craddock. Craddock has signed Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge. Craddock doesn't have a webpage, so you'll have settle for his bio at the church where he works.
  • Bob Purkey (R-82) challenged by Peter W. Schmidt. This is unusual because it is a primary challenge from the left.
Democratic Primary Challenger
  • Del. Paul Councill, Jr. (D-75) challenged by John B. Nicholson III. I posted about this last month.

Tim Kaine's bus trip to Washington

Norm over at One Man's Trash reminds us that Tim Kaine tried to pay for a bus trip to the Anti-Gun Million Mom March. The post mentions that the money came from "council's nearly $1 million discretionary account."

You can read more about these patronage slush funds, called Paygo, here. Some of the other expenditures included $40K for catering, $500K to a fake landscaping company, etc.

Tim Kaine used this money when he was on council:
$10,000: Help revitalize Scuffletown Park
$5,000: Elegba Folklore Society, Down Home Family Reunion
$2,000: Strive to Stay Alive program
$2,500: Hope in the City (Ceremony of Racial Healing and Reconciliation)
$2,000: Contribution for the citywide back to school rally
$2,000: To support the central RCAP center; to provide services for TANF consumers, assist persons in the 2nd District with food, utilities and rent; and to assist with the summer camp program
$2700: Pay for council rockstar Sa'ad El-Amin and Del. Dwight Jones to support Uijongbu, Korea, delegation's trade mission
$4000: Pay the Retail Merchants Association for barricades for Christmas Parade

To Charter or not to Charter

The R T-D strikes a cautious tone on Charter status for Virginia's big schools, while the Daily Press offers a stronger endorsement.

I've not had much to say about this issue, in part because I am so conflicted on it. Some things are definitely good, like not having to send research dollars to Richmond so the GA can take a cut for the general fund.

Other things, like tuition increases, greatly concern me. Will baby Addison be able to cover the bulk of her tuition out of summer job earnings, like I was? Or will she (or I) be saddled with substantial debt that forecloses career choices that would benefit the Commonwealth?

Baby steps are best when dealing with such a monumental issue.

Closing the Gun Show "Loophole"

The Richmond Times-Dispatch covers a wide variety of issues related to Gun Shows and background checks.

1) A study was commissioned by Richmond Renaissance and the Greater Richmond Partnership Inc. and conducted by the Southeastern Institute for Research. None of these organizations have posted the study on their website, so the findings come from the article.

  • 90% of those surveyed would support a proposed law that would close the so-called "gun-show loophole."
  • Roughly two out of five households in the Richmond area own a gun.
  • One in six respondents has either used a gun in self-defense or knows someone who has used a gun in self-defense.
  • Nearly six of every 10 respondents favor the right to carry a gun.
  • 58 percent in the Richmond area believe increased control of gun sales would help reduce crime.
  • 79 percent said support of such legislation would be a factor considered in voting for candidates on Election Day.
  • 45 percent don't think gun-control legislation will have any impact on their quality of life.
  • One-third think it will have no impact at all on reducing crime.
There's this interesting quote: "It was my outrage at reading in the newspaper almost every morning that another one of our fellow citizens have been shot," said investment banker and civic leader S. Buford Scott, a member of Richmond Renaissance who advocated the study.

No indication of how many of those citizens were shot with guns purchased from private sellers at gun shows. It shouldn't be that hard to figure out. Out the 100 or so homicides in Richmond each year, I would be SHOCKED if more than five of them were committed using guns purchased from private dealers at gun shows. And of course, there's absolutely no evidence that a person would have decided not to commit the crime if they were thwarted in their initial purchasing attempt.

2) Sen. Henry Marsh has proposed SB807, which would add "firearms show vendor" as a class of firearm dealer required to perform background checks at gun shows. SB807 passed out of committee on an 8-7 vote, and will be debated on the Senate floor tomorrow (Monday). You can watch it here. (Note: Tomorrow is actually the second reading, which is the time when the bill can be amended on the floor. Final passage or defeat will occur on Tuesday.) The Richmond Times-Dispatch writer was apparently unable to get in contact with any of the seven Senators who voted against the bill in committee.

3) On a related note, The Nation's Gunshow will be held in Dulles, Virginia on February 11,12 &13, 2005. I've told Mrs. Addison that it would be a terrific way to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Drinking down

Alcohol abuse is is down at UVA. It's hard to imagine how it could be up from the scenes I witnessed in the mid 1990s.

Still, good job to UVA students and administration.

Who will the challengers be?

The Virginia Public Access Project will reveal all primary challengers who have filed papers as of December 31st. The information will be posted today. We'll keep and eye out and break it down as soon as we get it.

By my count, I know of 4 Republican challengers from the right, and one from the right. I know of one Democratic challenger.

New to that list is Republican Steve Chapman, who plans to challenge Del. Harry Parrish in the 50th District. Del. Parrish was the House leader of poor health until Del. Wardup upstaged him over Christmas. Still, it sounds like Parrish relishes the thought of one more battle before he heads out to pasture.

Follow-up to #2 Below

I started stewing as I was dissecting Del. Oder's bill, and being the free-market guy I am, I decided that some pressure needed to be applied by the private sector. Here are my first two cheers and jeers for Virginia Tech. If you have others (at other schools) feel free to post a comment.

Cheers to Virginia Tech chemistry professor William Ducker, who as an Australian, recognized textbooks for the racket they are. He would allow students to purchase older versions of chemistry textbooks, on the theory that cutting edge developments don't need to be included in entry level courses.

Jeers to Virginia Tech professor Glenn Kraige. He rolled out a new version of his Statics and Dynamics textbooks every few years. I flipped through my dad's statics book, and couldn't identify one new principle developed in the last 40 years. Still, by adding a few new examples, Kraige can offer a new edition, and get an entire new wave of students to pay royalties.

Virginia21 proposes feel-good legislation

Virginia21, the state's pro-tax lobbying group of college students, has turned its focus to other issues. They want colleges to post their book lists further in advance. Del. Glen Oder is carrying the legislation.

I've spent about $6K on books in the last few years, and I'm completely sympathetic to students' rising education costs. However, I'm completely opposed to worthless legislation that clogs the legislative process.

Take a look at HB1726:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 23-4.3:1 as follows:

§23-4.3:1. Policies addressing textbook sales and bookstores.
A. The State Council shall adopt guidelines regarding the designation andsale of textbooks required for coursework at the various public institutions. Such guidelines shall include, among other things, provisions that (i) prohibit agreements whereby textbook publishers provide financial incentives to faculty for requiring students to purchase such publisher's version of a specific textbook required for coursework or instruction and (ii) create exceptions for instructors receiving royalties or other compensation from sales of textbooks that include such instructor's own writing or work.

The governing boards of the public institutions of higher education shall adopt policies, consistent with such guidelines, to address agreements made or renewed on and after December 1, 2005.

B. The governing boards shall implement procedures, consistent with guidelines established by the State Council, for posting on the relevant institutional website listings of textbooks required or assigned for particular courses at the institution.
The Council's guidelines shall, among other things, (i) be designed to ensure that institutions maintaining a bookstore supported by auxiliary services or operated by a private contractor post the listing of such textbooks when the relevant instructor or academic department identifies the required textbooks for order and subsequent student purchase and (ii) provide for a standardized format that shall include the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) on the relevant institutional website.

A few thoughts:
  1. The law would prohibit kickbacks. Oder admits he knows of no cases in Virginia where this has occured.
  2. Any textbooks where the professor receives royalties for their own work are excluded. This is a good loophole, but one big enough to drive a truck through. As most college students can tell you, what kills them are new versions of textbooks. Professors only receive royalties from first sales, and get nothing if a book is re-sold. That gives them a perverse incentive to create new versions ever two or three years. This limits the size of the used book market, and allows professors to extract monopoly rents from students.
  3. Textbook requirements have to be posted on school's websites once they are known. Again, this is worthless because there is no forcing mechanism to require professors to identify textbooks, say four weeks in advance. Also, this provision only addresses the monopolies held by the schools themselves. In my opinion, this doesn't add too much to the cost. At both VT and UVA, there are private bookstores that keep the university bookstore from gouging. Perhaps the difference is more extreme at smaller schools, but it's still unlikely that students will save enough to offset the benefits of a tangible marketplace.

Like many groups founded with a single purpose, Virginia21 is struggling to find their way. I hope that they will try to find issues that resonate with ALL college students, but that their "solutions" won't be just to generate press buzz.

Preston Bryant may not get a primary challenger

One of the more interesting rumors floating around Capitol Square has to do with Preston Bryant's removal from House Appropriations committee. The Lynchburg News & Advance
airs this rumor, noting that:
A rumor has floated around Capitol Square that Bryant’s removal from the committee goes beyond the so-called retribution exacted for the leadership role he played in support of a tax-reform legislation.

Both Bryant’s office and the speaker’s dismissed any talk that Bryant’s departure from the committee was part of a deal struck with the speaker’s office to preempt a possible primary challenge this June.

It isn't clear to me how such a deal would be brokered. I've met someone who has considered running against Del. Bryant, and this person isn't reasonable enough to listen to the Speaker. If there's any truth to this rumor, then kudos to Del. Bryant and the Speaker for working it out, and thanks for keeping it behind closed doors like big boys.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

When PR gets in the way of a mission

Soldiers for the Truth has an interesting perspective on what it's like for the Navy to run a humanitarian mission with dozens of NGO figureheads milling around. I especially liked this bit:
As a result of having to host these people, our severely over-tasked SH-60 Seahawk helos, which were carrying tons of food and water every day to the most inaccessible places in and around Banda Aceh, are now used in great part to ferry these “relief workers” from place to place every day and bring them back to their guest bedrooms on the Lincoln at night. Despite their avowed dedication to helping the victims, these relief workers will not spend the night in-country, and have made us their guardians by default.

When our wardroom treasurer approached the leader of the relief group and asked him who was paying the mess bill for all the meals they ate, the fellow replied, “We aren’t paying, you can try to bill the U.N. if you want to.”

Friday, January 21, 2005

Four More Years, Thank Goodness

"We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died wave upon wave for union based in liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty."
- George W. Bush, January 20, 2005

Thursday, January 20, 2005

More fundraising goodness

The Winchester Star has this article about Russ Potts' fundraising efforts in his potential bid for Governor. As we all know by now, Russ Potts is going to do whatever Russ Potts wants to do, no matter who it hurts. Still, the longer he waits, the less likely it is that his candidacy, whether for the GOP nomination or as an Independent, will have any real effect. It is also possible that some Republicans may tire of waiting for him and choose instead to contribute to the all-but-certain Republican candidate, Jerry Kilgore. Here's hoping that the unlikely happens, and Russ Potts actually comes to his senses.

From the "Be Careful What You Wish For" File

Immediately following the Virginia Tech football team's ACC Championship clinching win over Virginia, I began to hear sentiments to the effect of "Wait until basketball season starts."

Well, ACC basketball is in full swing so let me just fill y'all in on how things are going. Last night, Virginia Tech defeated NC State, a team ranked as high as #9 in the Coaches poll earlier this year, to pull to 2-2 in ACC play and 9-6 overall. Virginia, a team ranked as high as #19 in the Coaches poll this year, lost to Maryland and fell to 0-5 in conference play and 9-6 overall.

As you can see, Virginia Tech and Virginia have the exact same overall record, yet VT is tied with Georgia Tech and Maryland for 5th place in the ACC, while UVA sits in sole possession of last place.

I agree with my colleague Lighthouse Harry that Pete Gillen has worn out his welcome in Hooville. Unfortunately, I doubt Craig Littlepaige will have the stones to can Gillen soon enough to salvage any semblance of respectability for Virginia this season. The Hokies, on the other hand, have found a diamond in the rough in the form of Head Coach Seth Greenberg. Watching the two games last night, it was clear that one team refused to give up, even when down by 11 points late in the 2nd half, while the other seemed to be just waiting for the hammer to drop. That, my friends, just comes down to coaching.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Dean's not Done

The Washington Post has this piece about former Democratic Presidential candidate Howard Dean's bid to chair the DNC. All I can say about this is PLEASE GOD, LET HIM WIN!

Dean chairing the DNC would be the best possible thing that could possibly happen to the Republican Party, especially for the '06 midterms, when a number of Republicans may be facing tough re-election battles. Dean is a time bomb just waiting to go off. Unfortunately, Iowa Democrats realized this last year, came to their senses, and sent John Kerry on his way to the party nomination. Had Dean been nominated, I doubt the election would have been nearly as close. Let's just hope the Democrats don't come to their senses a second time.

As many noted after the election, Democrats basically had two options in the wake of Kerry's disappointing showing: 1) Move to the center and look for a party leader in the mold of Bill Clinton, or 2) Go off the left bank into the deep end with the Michael Moore's of the world. Howard Dean as DNC Chair would represent the latter course of action, which can only be good for Republicans.

Kilgore Website up

You can check out http://www.jerrykilgore.com for press releases, campaign issues, and biographical information.

If I can add a personal recommendation, it's to watch "Meet Jerry Kilgore" on the biography page.

Mrs. Addison is from Gate City, and the video nails exactly what it is that makes Southwest Virginia a terrific place.

We've added a Kilgore for Governor button to the sidebar.

Kilgore for Governor

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Mohammed Elleithee - partisan hack and spinmeister extraordinaire

From the category of "How do you sleep at night?"

Tim Kaine spokesperson Mohammed Elleithee has developed quite the resume in just a few years as an attack dog. Here's the last few campaigns:

1999: Press Secrerary for Rep. Tom Udall (D - NM)
1999-early 2000: New Hampshire Press Secretary for Bill Bradley
late 2000: Press Secretary for Chuck Robb
2001: Campaign Manager for Mark Warner
2002: Campaign Manager for Janet Reno
late 2002: Deputy Campaign Manager for Bill McBride
2003: Press Secretary for Bill Graham
early 2004: New Hampshire Press Secretary for Wesley Clark
2004-present: Tim Kaine campaign

Elleithee knows what he has to do to move up the the operative world - Attack, Attack, Attack. Here's what he had to say about Jerry Kilgore's resignation:

Kaine spokesman Mo Elleithee issued a statement late Monday night criticizing Kilgore's decision to resign. He said the decision to quit means Kilgore "broke a promise" he made to Virginians three years ago. "Maybe he's spooked. On the same day that he learned Tim Kaine was matching him dollar for dollar in fundraising, he bails from the job in order to cheat Virginia's campaign finance laws," Elleithee said. "That's a heck of a lot to betray just to be able to raise a few campaign dollars. That's not leadership. That's just pathetic."

So far so good, right? No one begrudges Kaine and his spin machine the right to take a shot. Except Elleithee and the Democrat attack machine slammed Mark Earley in 2001 for, you guessed it, NOT resigning.

Check out this Tyler Whitley article from the R-TD, February 21, 2001.
The general chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia said yesterday that Attorney General Mark L. Earley should resign because he is blurring the lines between his official duties and campaign activities.

"He owes it to the public to put to rest - now - concerns that he is misusing the attorney general's office and his official, taxpayer- funded office staff to further his political career," said state Sen. Emily Couric, D-Charlottesville.

Anne Kincaid, a consultant to Earley's campaign for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said he would not resign.

Historically, candidates have waited until the nomination before stepping down, she said. Gov. Jim Gilmore did not resign as attorney general to run for governor four years ago until June, after the GOP primary. He was not opposed for the nomination. Attorney General Mary Sue Terry, also unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, resigned in January 1993, after Republican demands that she step down.

Democratic Attorney General Gerald L. Baliles did not resign to run for governor until mid-June 1985, after the party's nominating contest. His opponent for the Democratic nomination, then-Lt. Gov. Richard J. Davis Jr., had dropped out before then.

Earley is opposing Lt. Gov. John H. Hager for the GOP nomination. The nominee will be chosen at a state convention June 1-2.

Couric said she is not calling on Hager to resign because his job is part time.

"Mark Earley officially announced for governor on Nov. 28 of last year," Couric said. "He should have resigned then."

A spokesman for Mark R. Warner, the likely Democratic candidate for governor, stopped short of calling on Earley to step down but said, "He is in a tough nominating battle."

"He hasn't shown the ability to campaign and do his job as attorney general sufficiently," Mo Elleithee, Warner's press aide, said.

Like Couric, Elleithee criticized Earley for having three press aides on his staff and for posting news releases issued by his office on his campaign Web site. He also said Earley has campaigned during state hours. Earley was in a Presidents Day parade in Northern Virginia Monday, he said.

Kincaid called on Warner to "stop hiding behind surrogates."

"Obviously, Mark Earley is the GOP candidate Mark Warner fears the most," she added.

Warner, who is scheduled to announce his official bid for the Democratic nomination March 8, said that representatives of the party's liberal and conservative wings will head his campaign. Former 5th District Rep. L. F. Payne will be Warner 2001 campaign chairman and Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-3rd, will be chairman of the Virginia coordinated campaign.

So Which It?

AG Kilgore to join major Richmond firm

Jerry Kilgore will be joining the Richmond law firm of Williams Mullen.
"Attorney General Kilgore is an outstanding attorney and a proven leader," said Julious P. Smith, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Williams Mullen. "His accomplishments in public office, in the community and in private practice align with Williams Mullen's strategic values and core mission to provide the highest quality legal services to our clients."

Williams Mullen has come on strong in the last few years, particularly in the field of government relations. It is the home of uber-lobbyist Bill Axselle. Republican Attorney General candidate Steve Baril is also a partner at Williams Mullen.

Previous Attorney Generals have also hung their hats at Richmond firms while campaigning.
In 2001, Attorney General Mark Earley joined Troutman Sanders.
In 1997, Attorney General Jim Gilmore joined LeClair Ryan.
In 1993, Attorney General Mary Sue Terry did not join a major firm. However, she was fighting serious charges of patronage legal fees paid to law firms who later became major contributors to her campaign.

Monster Surplus Confirmed

Virginia Finance Secretary confirmed in a letter to Gov. Warner that the state's tax revenue grew at 13% in the last six months of 2004. This is almost 5 percentage points more than estimated by the Warner budget.

Republicans have a number of ideas on how to rightfully return that surplus to taxpayers.
1) Cut the sales tax on groceries from 4% to 2.5% beginning 7/1/05 (ahead of schedule)
2) End the accelerated sales tax payments that Virginia businesses were required to pay in 2002 and subsequent years ($180 million one time payment)

Less likely to succeed
1) Remove the $950 million cap on car tax reimbursements the General Assembly enacted in 2004.
2) Repeal Virginia’s death tax.
3) Del. Ben Cline's innovative proposal to require the state to refund any revenues in excess of the amount appropriated for the fiscal year.

How does this race stack up?

I thought it would be worthwhile to see how the 2005 race is stacking up to its predecessors in fundraising.

According to the January 13, 2001 and January 17th, 2001 Richmond Times-Dispatch, Mark Warner had raised $4 million at this point in the 2001 race. He raised $2 million in the July-December period, and had $3 million on hand. This is almost identical to Tim Kaine's performance over the last six months of 2004.

No direct comparisons can be made between the Kilgore campaign and the 2001 race. In 2001, Mark Earley and John Hager were waging a convention nomination battle. Hager later determined that he did not have the delegates to win, and withdrew from the nominating contest.

In 2001, Hager raised $537,624 in the last six months of 2002, but had only $99,000 in available cash. Hager boosted his coffers with a $274,000 fundraiser in the first week in January. Earley raised $744,860 in the last six months of 2000 and had $508,169 on hand. For all of 2000, Earley raised $1.5 million and Hager raised $1.1 million. This number combined, $2.6 million, is less than the $3.2 million that Kilgore raised in 2004.

It doesn't seem self-evident that this year will be a "record-breaking" fund-raising year. There are two big differences from 2001:
1) Kilgore doesn't have to wage a costly nomination battle. He can horde cash and direct every attack at Tim Kaine.
2) Kilgore isn't facing Mark Warner and his corporate-giveaway funded personal fortune.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Kaine and Kilgore in fundraising dead heat

Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine and AG Jerry Kilgore are in a virtual tie when it comes to fundraising for the Nov. 2005 governor's race.

Kaine raised slightly more in the last period, while Kilgore has raised more total. The two candidates also have roughly the same cash ($3.2 vs. $3.3 million) on hand.

Kaine also has his $1.5 million pledge from the DNC. Kilgore's campaign will almost assuredly receive a similar donation from national Republican groups.

Kilgore pinpoints resignation date

Attorney General Jerry Kilgore will resign on February 1st in order to devote all of his time to campaigning for the Governorship.

This move was expected, and resigning during the General Assembly session allows the GA to appoint an interim AG, rather than the governor. Resigning early also frees Kilgore from the statutory prohibition on raising money during the GA session.

Kilgore is the fourth straight AG to seek the Governorship, and the three previous AGs also resigned at some point prior to the election.

UPDATE

The Washington Post is reporting that Deputy Attorney General Judith Jagdmann is the leading candidate to replace Kilgore. Jadgmann is the daughter of Senior Federal Judge (WDVA) Glen Williams. She would be leapfrogging Chief Deputy AG Joseph Carico. Jadgmann may have the inside track because she also worked in the Earley AG's office, and has relationships with a number of Republican legislators. Carico has only been in Richmond for two years.

Gillen Is Gone

My Virginia Tech colleagues here on the blog, Zach and Addison, have not been too charitable about the fact that the only ACC school in Virginia that has won a conference game is Virginia Tech and not Virginia. They disregard the fact that Virginia has been banged up and missed their leading scorer for two of the top ten teams they have played, and Tech has played a much weaker schedule thus far, UVA playing three top ten teams (Duke, Wake Forest, and Georgia Tech) including two on the road.

Nonetheless, I believe Gillen is done. At best, he will make a run at the tourney later in the ACC schedule and will come up short like he did last year. If that comes to pass, he will be gone regardless of the fact that everyone loves his personality. His luck hasn't changed as far as injuries and he has proven unable to coach a team with lots of potential but very raw talent in the ACC.

Happy National Religious Freedom Day

We forgot to mention it yesterday, but January 16th was the 219th anniversary of the signing of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.

The enactment clause reads:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.


Lipper speaks the truth

From today's Richmond Times-Dispatch

The Pete Gillen era lurches, wheezes, stumbles (pick a verb) along. Players and bench aides come and go, but the flawed product retains the stamp of the man in charge. The outlook is grim, the boosters are restless, the athletic director is presumably on the case. It is not a pretty picture. It might not brighten anytime soon.

Virginia Pilot profiles Grover Norquist

Fascinating Profile.

Several interesting excerpts:

Morton Blackwell, a Virginia Republican who has known Norquist since the early 1980s, asked the activist’s parents how they had managed to raise such a steadfast conservative.

Carol Norquist recounted how the family visited an ice cream shop on Sunday afternoons. Her husband, Warren, used the excursion to teach his four children a lesson about government.

“He would take a bite out of each cone and say, 'That’s income tax.’ And he’d take another bite and say, 'That’s sales tax.’”


Even some of Norquist’s closest allies, however, are uncomfortable with his oft-stated goal to slash the size of government in half by 2025. He once told The Nation he wanted to see government reduced “down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub,” a comment that makes even hard-core conservatives such as Ferrara cringe.



Sunday, January 16, 2005

Gibson handicaps the AG's race - and Mark Cole?

Bob Gibson handicaps the AG's race in today's Daily Progess. He annoints Creigh Deeds (D) and Bob McDonnell (R) as the two front runners. This I have no problem with.

He profiles the Deeds campaign and notes Deeds plan to go for the Democratic vote, but to supplement it with his rural base.




“I would not say that I’m a liberal. I wouldn’t fit easily under that classification. I still understand that in order to get elected in Virginia, you need to get Democratic votes and Republican votes and independent votes,” Deeds said.

Deeds also is the first AG candidate to release his financial information, announcing that he has raised $400K and had $304K on hand as of December 31st.

Gibson then turns to Del. Bob McDonnell and notes that McDonnell was given the honor of delivering the Republican response to the State of the Commonwealth Address.

It's here that the article takes a baffling turn.




He may have to vote, however, on a number of somewhat wacky or divisive bills, including some that could be very appealing to Republican primary voters and just as unappealing to a large majority of general election voters and the population at large.


One of those explosive little bills is Del. Mark L. Cole’s bill defining exactly when life begins and giving constitutional rights to fertilized eggs, even those that have not achieved implantation.


Through his research and his beliefs, Cole, a Spotsylvania Republican, has decided that life begins at fertilization and has introduced a bill stating that as a fact and asserting “the right to enjoyment of life guaranteed by … the Constitution of Virginia is vested in each born and preborn human being from the moment of fertilization.”


No matter that many religions do not teach that. No matter that the most popular and effective forms of birth control could be outlawed by Cole’s handiwork.


Some Republicans, including perhaps a majority of Virginia GOP primary voters, believe in undoing abortion law by such extreme means that Cole’s little pill could be hard not to swallow for a delegate facing such an electorate in five months.


The Republican-majority Senate would have little trouble killing Cole’s measure, but it could pop out on the floor of the House before that death-defining moment and cause loads of gastric distress to Republicans dying to appear pure on a GOP campaign’s right-to-life litmus test kit.


WHAT???

242 words of a 801 word article talking about a bill that amounts to a resolution? 30% of the article trying to create a catch-22 where none exists? And managing to provide NO insight into how Del. McDonnell himself feels about the bill?

Gibson offers some of the weakest logical analysis I have ever seen from a reporter. It's pretty clear that the right to abortion is protected by Roe v. Wade. If a court were to ever construe Cole's resolution as limiting Roe-protected abortion, then such a construction would almost certainly be overturned.

Plus, hasn't Gibson ever heard of taking a walk? (The subtle and time-honored GA practice of disappearing when a roll vote is called) If this resolution makes it to the floor, and if Del. McDonnell's people deem it to be politically damaging, then I guarantee a walk could be taken, with ZERO fall-out in the Republican primary. Only a small portion of pro-life Republicans believe that birth control pills represent a form of abortion. And of those, only a small portion would view a non-vote as a reason to support Steve Baril. This is especially true since Baril has given NO indication that he would favor Cole's resolution.

Gibson is imagining problems where none exist. Or maybe he slept in on Saturday morning.

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Full text of Cole's HB1918 .

Craigslist comes to Richmond

craigslist is internet crack, and they've just started a Richmond page.

Here are a few articles about the craigslist phenomenon:

For Craigslist, city was just the ticket
A Talk with craigslist's Keeper
Craig's To-Do List: Leave Millions on the Table




Is GMU getting it done for Northern Virginia?

Apropos of our discussion of Southside U is the current sniping going on between Virginia Sec. of Technology Eugene Huang and GMU president Alan Merten.

Huang notes that when it comes to providing the Northern Virginia tech corridor with the support it needs, "[i]t would require some significant and sustained investment for GMU to get to where we want to be 10 to 20 years from now. You put aside the politics and infighting and ask, 'What is in the realm of the possible?' "

Merten, meanwhile, is trying to drum up support for GMU and arguing that Mason can meet the need if it is given additional resources.

There were four choices outlined in a Virginia Research and Technology Advisory Commission paper (page 7).

(1) Build a new research university from scratch.
(2) Expand George Mason University.
(3) Establish new satellite campuses for Virginia Commonwealth University, the University of Virginia and/or Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
(4) Create a single research campus that would house facilities for several of the state's institutions.

Merten obviously favors #2, while Huang favors #1, 3 or 4. Some tech players are threatening to go out of state, which would be bad for Virginia. I hope that they are bluffing, but VT and UVA need to step up their Northern Virginia presence.

Couple's vigilance uncovers African safari

The Roanoke Times profiles the Albright family, whose investigative work uncovered the recent African safari taken by Game and Inland Fisheries officials (discussed here and here).

I love this story for a number of reasons. As the old political adage goes, half of the game is just showing up, and the Albrights were not satisfied until they got answers.

The other great thing is that many of the problems date to the appointment of Daniel A. Hoffler as Board of Directors chairman. He was appointed by Governor Warner in 2002.

Hoffler has cultivated somewhat of a boys club mentality within DGIF, and ended up shelling out his own money to end the stink.

DGIF is slightly different from other agencies, because it funds operations out of fishing and hunting licenses, but it's interesting that all of the questionable spending occured at the same time that Warner was crying poverty and budget cuts.

Roanoke Times says take a step back from Southside U

Even the liberal Roanoke Times editorial page says we may need to take a step back from Southside U.

They try to mute the effect on Tim Kaine by saying that the effort was "touted" by Jerry Kilgore as well. That is incorrect. There's a difference between saying you support a proposal, and stumping all over Southside on it.

Also, the Martinsville Bulletin is reporting that Southside U will be vetted by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education Monday. We'll see if the reception is any different than the one Southside U received in the Senate subcommittee.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Let's get it on

The Virginia Supreme Court just issued a ruling in Martin v. Ziherl . The case strikes down Virginia's anti-fornication statute, which prohibited sex between unmarried folk.

The key holding of the case reads

We find no principled way to conclude that the specific act of intercourse is not an element of a personal relationship between two unmarried persons or that the Virginia statute criminalizing intercourse between unmarried persons does not improperly abridge a personal relationship that is within the liberty interest of persons to choose. Because Code § 18.2-344, like the Texas statute at issue in Lawrence, is an attempt by the state to control the liberty interest which is exercised in making these personal decisions, it violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

I think the Lawrence decision, even if correct from a policy perspective, was horribly wrong as a matter of Constitutional jurisprudence. The Supreme Court said that they were applying rational basis review, and then said that Texas could provide NO rational basis for their law, even when the record gave all sorts of reasons for it. Rational basis is supposed to be a deferential standard of review.

If a democratically elected body can not decide that a practice is immoral and unacceptable, and choose to outlaw it, then what grounds can there be for outlawing bigamy, adult incest, bestiality or obscenity? (According to a speech I heard ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero give at the most recent Federalist Society conference, not much.)


Godspeed, Hunter Andrews

Former Senate Finance Chair Hunter Andrews died last night at his home in Hampton.

The story is pretty good. Sen. Andrews was before my time, but I've heard stories about him and he sounded like a terrific, larger than life character who loved Virginia.

The only thing that I'll add is this profile from Barnie Day.


Homosexual Marriage Amendment

The Homosexual Lobbing Group in Virginia (Equality Virginia) is learning to play the game, and learning to play it very well.

Yesterday they held a press conference to announce their strategy for combatting a proposed constitutional ban on homosexual marriage (HJ584 or HJ586) and it was covered by the AP,
Washington Times, Free Lance-Star, and Washington Post.

As a special interest group, gays have a number of advantages in lobbying. First and foremost, they have significantly higher per capita income than the general population, and often have more disposable income because they are less likely to have children. This translates into something that every politician understands - donations.

On the other hand, because they are such a small fraction of the population, they depend on building alliances with other groups. The gay lobby has faced some difficulty in making a civil rights analogy to the African-American community in particular. Check out this quote from African-American Del. Lionel Spruill:

"I do believe that couples of the same sex that live together, take care of each other - I think they have a right to have a life like everybody else," Spruill said. "I think they should have the right to have the same thing that other people have like Medicare, Medicaid, contracts together. But marriage? No way."


At first glance, that sounds like a civil union compromise. However, I'm not sure that John Q. Sixpack will understand why their legislator voted against the proposed amendments when there wasn't a compromise measure on the table. Look for Spruill to vote for the amendment when it comes before him

We'll have several opportunities to discuss this issue over the next two years. The amendment must first be agreed to in two successive sessions of the GA and then sent to voters for final approval. The earliest it could appear on the ballot would be Nov. 2006.




Southside U - the saga continues

On Wednesday, I noted that the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) had declined to endorse a proposed university for Southside.

This is one of Tim Kaine's key legislative goals, and he was fighting for its survival yesterday. (here and here).

The first interesting thing is the different ways that the Danville Register & Bee (Deep in Southside) and the Richmond Times-Dispatch perceived the subcommittee meeting.

Register & Bee

The Senate Finance Committee’s subcommittee on education heard repeated support Thursday from government officials to create a state-sponsored higher education facility in Southside Virginia.

However, the only thing left up for debate was what form that higher education facility would take.


Times Dispatch

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine pressed his case yesterday for a new university in the Martinsville area, telling a Senate subcommittee that it would help revive the lagging economy in Southside Virginia.

In the wake of a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia report Monday which said the new college might not be needed, the higher education subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee summoned proponents and opponents to a meeting in the General Assembly Building.


Also this
Register & Bee

Kaine then compared Carrier’s proposal to Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia at Wise campus as ways that a higher education institution can transform its surrounding community.


Times Dispatch

Among the cautions voiced by SCHEV was the experience of the University of Virginia's College at Wise in Southwest Virginia's Wise County. The institution has been in existence for 50 years and the economy in Southwest Virginia continues to lag, the report said.

But Kaine said "the economy of Southwest Virginia would be in much worse shape were it not for the college."

Kaine suggested the proposed college could do for the Martinsville area what Virginia Commonwealth University has done for Richmond.


The Register and Bee has been an adovocate of Southside U since it was first proposed, and I'm sure their readership is firmly behind it. As such, I don't really mind their cheerleading.

I do think that the Lt. Governor is being a bit disingenuous when he claims that UVA-Wise has changed in some major way the economy of Southwest Virginia. Don't get me wrong, it's definitely an asset, and provides a chance for people who otherwise (Ha, Ha) may not get an opportunity to go to college. But as their home page indicates, they will be adding their first computer science major in fall of 2005. While UVA-Wise CAN be a catalyst for economic development in SWVA, such catalysis is a long way off.

The same goes for Southside U. If the goal is to provide a college closer to home, then maybe Southside U is what we want. But if the goal is to develop innovative and collaborative research efforts with businesses on the condition that they relocate to Southside, then I would argue that such a goal is to etherial to waste money on.

On the other hand, if the goal is to give the Lt. Governor a signature piece of legislation on which to campaign in Blue Virginia, then he should keep on advocating.