Archive for April 2009
Governor Tim Kaine just responded to a letter former Attorney General and Republican Candidate for Governor Bob McDonnell sent to members of Congress. In his letter McDonnell asks the federal representatives to “remove the strings” connected to the release of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds for unemployment benefits. McDonnell has taken quite a bit of heat over his support of the Republican controlled House of Delegates efforts to prevent the expansion of unemployment benefits in order allow the commonwealth to be eligible for the federal funding.
In his original letter McDonnell instructs the members of congress that forcing permanent changes to the unemployment benefits structure would cost too much over the long term, to make it worth it to take advantage of two years of federal stimulus dollars. He suggests that if congress really wants to help the states, they should remove the language that requires any changes to be permanent.
While the letter was not directed to Governor Kaine, McDonnell mentions the Governor in the letter and wrote that he hopes to “work together to ensure Virginians get the help they need now.”
Governor Kaine took McDonnell up on his offer by following a similar pattern. he wrote a letter and then released it to the media.
Kaine outright rejects the basic claim in McDonnell’s proposal. He states emphatically that states are welcome to revert back to prior standards once stimulus funds are depleted. He goes on to say that now that McDonnell is aware that his concerns have already been addressed by the administration, that he should agree that it will benefit all Virginians for the General Assembly to reconvene to make the necessary changes and therefore have access to the federal funds.
Governor Kaine has been very careful to not wade into the race for his current job, despite his role as the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In fact, overall he and McDonnell have had a very cordial relationship and have gone out of their way to not be critical of one another.
This however appears to be an opportunity too good for Kaine to turn down. The unemployment benefits squabble has been very near and dear to his heart and it gives him the chance to rap the guy who he wants to see lose, while at the same time acting as Governor. It also helps that it was McDonnell drew his sword first by mentioning Kaine in his intial letter.
Everyone is watching Kaine closely to see how he handles this race for Governor. As the DNC chair, he cannot sit on the sidelines. However, he risks losing his stature as a respected statesman if he gets too involved and his action gets in the way of his efforts to govern.
It has the potential to be the most interesting debate of democratic primary. Tonight on the campus of Virginia Tech, some of my favorite Virginia bloggers will be firing questions at the candidates for the party’s nomination.
While some of these bloggers have leanings in favor of one candidate or another, by in large their allegiances are to their readers. Unlike some of us in the MSM, they probably aren’t as interested in decorum and won’t be afraid to lob tough questions and force these candidates on the record.
Many of these bloggers have already used their online forums, which are all heavily read, to ask questions about sensitive issues, like energy, gay marriage, job creation and the backgrounds and associations of the candidates. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the moderators force the candidates to answer the questions and not dance around some of the topics.
The Huffington Post, one of the debate sponsors, will stream the debate live. Its not too late to contribute to the event. Check out their twitter page and the YouTube channel. Tonight here on Decision Virgina we will take a look back at the best moments from what promises to be an interesting evening.
Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe both rolled out endorsements this morning that perhaps more than anything demonstrate the types of campaigns they are running. Moran, for the past several months, has been serving up a steady diet of local Democratic officials, who for the most part, are only known in their communities. McAuliffe has been using high profile national party rock stars (Bill Clinton) to demonstrate that he is the candidate most prepared to keep the Governor’s mansion in Democratic hands.
Today was perhaps the best example of this phenomenon.
Brian Moran released a statement announcing the support of two relatively prominent Richmond area officials. Richmond City Clerk of the Court Bevill Dean and Chesterfield Supervisor Jim Holland. The release points out that Dean is a city-wide elected official and Holland is the only Democrat on the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. Not big names by any stretch of the imagination, but endorsements that demonstrate Moran’s connections with local leaders and perhaps relationships that will lead to solid cooperation when he is Governor. Nice- but not really exciting.
On the other side, Terry McAuliffe today sent out a fund raising e-mail from none other than the Ragin’ Cajun himself James Carville. Carville is a political superstar, with mass market appeal from his time as a television analyst on CNN. In addition to his close connections to the Clinton family (which no doubt played an important role in his support of the Macker), he is certainly well known, even by people outside of the polticial arena.
But Carville has little to no connection to Virginia politics. While he has spent quite a bit of time in D.C. and by extension Norther Virginia, he has never been a serious player here. In fact one might make the case that Carville’s connections to Virginia politics are similar to Terry McAuliffe’s connections to Virginia politics. They may have been “around” it by the nature of their living situation, but few would argue that they were really “involved” with the process.
Depending on the voter, these two announcements could have very different results. If you are a local Virginian, tied into your local officials and a long time supporter of local Democrats (which many primary voters are) then the Moran announcement meant a lot more to you. If you are big on high profile movers and shakers, who have had success on the national stage and you want to see that success brought here, McAuliffe is your guy.
Either way, you have two distinct choices. And that doesn’t even include Creigh Deeds.
After the jump, find the Moran endorsement release and the McAuliffe fundraising e-mail featuring these aforementioned supporters..
Former President Bill Clinton comes to Richmond in support of Terry McAuliffe‘s campaign for Governor. Below are the details if you are interested in checking it out:
MCAULIFFE TO APPEAR WITH PRESIDENT CLINTON IN RICHMOND, ROANOKE
This Monday, gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe will appear with President Bill Clinton at events in Richmond and Roanoke.
Monday, April 27
9:30 am- Terry McAuliffe and President Clinton speak in Richmond
Richmond Farmer’s Market
17th and Franklin Streets
Richmond, VA 23219
12:15 pm- Terry McAuliffe and President Clinton speak in Roanoke Fire Station #1
13 East Church Avenue, SE
Roanoke, VA 24011
We will have complete coverage of the former President’s visit on NBC12 starting at Noon and then again at 5 and 6pm.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell spent Saturday night in Petersburg being feted by the people connected to St. Joseph’s Catholic School. McDonnell played an important role in keeping the school afloat. Less then a year ago it was on the verge of shutting down facing massive debt and mounting costs.
In a move, that at the time probably seemed simple but could play electoral dividends, McDonnell used his campaign database to send out a fundraising e-mail on behalf of the poor Catholic school. In order to stay in business, school leaders needed to raise $1 million in only three weeks. Fueled by a prominent story in the Washington Post and the e-mail solicitation by McDonnell, the school raised the necessary funds and is now still open.
It may seem like a small event at a tiny school in only one section of Virginia, but the story resonated across the commonwealth. McDonnell’s decision to help out probably created die-hard supporters that will fight for him until election day.
But the situation also raises questions about McDonnell’s stance on education in general. This of course is a private school struggling to stay afloat, but the Republican has received criticism over his stance on public education. Last week in Hampton he delivered brief remarks before the Virginia Education Association’s democratic debate. When McDonnell talks education he usually doesn’t say the things that people who focus on public education want to hear. He often references his commitment to school choice and the extension of charter schools.
Democrats hammered McDonnell’s education stance following the forum last week accusing him of voting against increases to K-12 education funding during his time in the House of Delegates.
It will be interesting to see where McDonnell goes on education in the next few months. His campaign promises that he will release a comprehensive education plan in the weeks ahead. In a time where funding is scarce and options are few, will he propose expanding education or scaling it back? Democrats have never been afraid to pump more cash into education regardless of what the costs may be.
Education can be a dicey issue. It is extremely important to people with children or careers connected to schools. For people without those connections arguing for expansion, especially in tough economic times is a hard sell. The democrats, for the most part, already have their position clearly set. That leaves McDonnell with an opportunity to offer up a plan that may bridge a wide gap.
It has been brewing under the surface for weeks. From blog posts by surrogates to twitter posts by high level staff members, the Democratic primary has officially gone negative and at this point it may be too late to turn back.
After several weeks of public sniping by supporters from both sides, today both Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran were forced to release official statements addressing the negative attacks being hurled from both sides.
The negativity is not a surprise, in fact many observers wondered just how long it would take. Terry McAuliffe had pledged from the start of the race that he would “never say a negative word” about any of the Democrats in the race. To his credit, the candidate himself has not. Instead, his supporters (both “official” and “not official”) have used the internet to criticize Brian Moran for being negative. In some cases, baiting Moran officials in written quarrels on twitter and through the blogs of independent supporters.
Moran’s camp is by no means innocent in this fight. They lobbed the first bomb when they publicly attacked McAuliffe’s connection to GOP lobbyist Ed Rogers. From there they have used blogs, surrogates and high profile supporters to attack McAuliffe’s position on energy policy, offshore drilling and social justice issues like gay marriage.
Creigh Deeds has not necessarily been involved this particular back and forth, but he has not been afraid to criticize his opponents and bring up issues on the campaign trial and in debates that put them in difficult positions.
The public’s reaction to negative campaigning is often not nearly as great as the reaction from political insiders, but in this case that could be important. There is an incredible about of left-leaning talent that is dispersed amongst the three candidates for Governor. The Republican staff support is currently all working for one man.
How difficult will it be for staff members of Brian Moran or Creigh Deeds to loyally follow Terry McAuliffe for the “greater good” after the all the bad blood that has been spilled? Will McAuliffe staff members, many of which have connections to his national work with the DNC, lose interest in what happens at the state level if their guy is out of the race? Will Moran and McAuliffe staffers be able to work hard for Creigh Deeds after they didn’t take him seriously enough during the primary and he came from behind to upset them?
One thing is for sure, regardless of who wins, the nominee will need the help of everyone to defeat a Bob McDonnell machine that will be performing at mid-season form come the middle of June, when the Democratic nominee emerges.
After the jump is the full text from both camps is after the jump. Decide for yourself which side is being more negative.. and if you care.
In the moments after the Republicans in the House of Delegates blocked a plan to extend unemployment benefits, a move that would have allowed the state to tap into $125 million in federal stimulus funds, an angry Governor Tim Kaine vowed to find a way to revisit the issue before he left office.
Tonight, one of his top deputies told me that she believes that Democrats won’t be able to revisit the issue until January.
Del. Jennifer McClellan, a rising star in the Democratic ranks and a close ally of Governor Kaine said that Democrats, particularly in the House of Delegates, will need a “change in leadership” before they have any hope of passing the changes to the system, that despite the intense criticism Republicans continue to face.
The issue has become a rallying cry for Democrats as they gear up for the fall elections when every seat in the House of Delegates and the Governor’s mansion will up for grabs. McClellan believes that voters will respond to their message and in turn send packing Republican members who voted against the plan and replace them with Democrats.
That of course is a big “if”. While the Democrats have had success reaching out to economically distressed voters, they still have a long way to go to get control of the House and they would also have to retain the Governor’s mansion which is a 50-50 proposition at best.
It would also mean that Governor Kaine, who is very passionate about this particular issue, won’t be able to keep his promise to find a way to get it done before he leaves town.
The Terry McAuliffe campaign just released the details of former President Bill Clinton‘s visit to Richmond and Roanoke on behalf of his campaign for Governor of Virginia.
McAuliffe’s campaign released the news of Clinton’s visit earlier in the week but the details were just finalized.
The former president will appear on Monday at 9:30 am at an event at the 17th Street Farmer’s Market in Richmond.
He will then travel with McAuliffe to another event in Roanoke that will be held 12:15pm Fire Station #1 on East Church Avenue SE.
The former DNC chair describes President Clinton as his “best friend”. Clinton has already held a fundraiser for McAuliffe and a visit to Virginia in support of the Macker’s campaign was widely anticipated.
This will mark Clinton’s third visit to Richmond in less than a year. He stumped for Barack Obama at VCU in October right before the election and was the keynote speaker at the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner this winter.
Clinton’s visits to both Richmond and Roanoke are free and open to the public.
While Democrats continue to make the argument that Virginians are up in arms over the Republicans refusal to expand unemployment benefits, the Republicans are not backing down. Today the GOP held a press conference where they outlined specific points that they claim show, they had Virginia workers best interests in mind when the turned back the expansion and the $125 million in stimulus funds that came with it.
Democrats feel they have made progress with voters by harping on the issue. All three candidates for Governor are among more than 9,000 Virginians that have signed an online petition attacking the Republican’s move and calling for a change in leadership.
In addition to the GOP press event (which I will have more on later), the Republican Governor’s Association put out a press release today, calling the Democratic “Common Sense Tour” a failure. The Common Sense Tour followed Bob McDonnell around the commonwealth hoping to find Virginians angry over McDonnell’s decision to support the Republicans in the House and their opposition to the unemployment expansion. The release points to two different independent press accounts they reported a minimal response to the Common Sense effort.
**UPDATE** Common Sense Virginia sent me a response to the RGA’s release. They claim that “Bob McDonnell either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the challenges Virginians face in these tough economic times.” Their entire statement can be found after the jump as well.
Whether or not this is indicative of the success Democrats are having in gaining support over the issue is up for debate, but it does show that Republicans are attempting to stop the bleeding.
Tonight on NBC12 news and here on Decision Virginia, I will take a closer look at the issue and the marked change in the ultimate goals by Democrats when it comes to the battle over the unemployment benefits expansion.
Just a few days after their lively debate in Williamsburg, all three Democratic candidates for Governor will be in Richmond today to take a part in an open forum.
The event will not be a debate, but three separate appearances by the candidates for Governor and the candidates for Lt. Governor. Democratic Attorney General candidate Steve Shannon will be there as well. It is being hosted by the “Richmond Crusade for Voters”.
The event starts at 6:30pm with the LG candidates, the Gubernatorial candidates will start at approximately 7:30pm.
Full details below:
Richmond Crusade for Voters Forum
Southside Community Services Building
4111 Hull Street
Richmond, VA 23224
Event begins at 6:30pm