Archive for May 2009
No one would argue that former Richmond Mayor and Virginia Governor Doug Wilder is unpredictable. But is he unpredictable enough to cross party lines to endorse Bob McDonnell for governor?
The elusive Wilder has made himself almost impossible to reach for those of us who used to cover him every day in Richmond, but from time to time he makes himself available to a well-placed national journalist. This time around it was Politico’s Jonathan Martin and the topic was Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. Wilder told Martin that McAuliffe is trouble for the Democrats and if he wins the nomination, “there will be a formation of Virginians For McDonnell,”
Wilder’s disdain for McAuliffe – who most believe is the odds-on favorite come June 9th – coupled with a well-publicized lunch meeting between the two, have many wondering if Wilder would take the risky step of getting behind the Republican nominee.
If Wilder does decide to get involved, don’t expect it to happen until much closer to the election. The savvy politician has a flare for the dramatic and is known to wait until the right moment before offering his support. Despite the connection the former governor had with Barack Obama, Wilder waited until after Obama had handily won the Iowa caucus to get behind the future president. He even went as far to clear the record a month before, when a magazine incorrectly stated that he had already endorsed Obama.
One thing is for sure, according to people close to Wilder, he will not provide an 11th hour endorsement in the Democratic primary.
As for Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee told me he is very close with Wilder and the two had an excellent working relationship when he was the attorney general and Wilder was in the Mayor’s office. He said he can’t handicap the odds of a Wilder endorsement, but if it comes, he will be happy to accept.
Hear what McDonnell had to say about Wilder after the jump..
Former Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell is now the official nominee of the Republican Party. McDonnell accepted the nomination this morning in front of an estimated 10,000 Republicans at the party’s state convention at the Richmond Coliseum. (Thanks to WDBJ senior reporter Joe Dashiell for the use of his photo)
Moments after McDonnell spoke, I had the chance to sit down with him, one on one, to discuss the race for the governor’s mansion and how he plans to respond to whichever candidate emerges from the Democratic side.
As McDonnell was giving his speech, Virginia Democrats were sending out responses to some of his claims. In particular, they criticized a section of the speech where McDonnell defined the Republican party as the party of “yes” and his Democratic counterparts as the party of “NO”. The Democrats pointed to the candidate’s stance on extending unemployment benefits, the smoking ban and President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. Here is how McDonnell responded to that charge:
“For 18 years I have been in the General Assembly and I have seen the incredible success we have made with things like welfare reform and the abolition of parole, drunk driving reform, higher standards of accountability and education and funding key priorities and I have led the way on any of number of them. I mean 92 out of my 105 legislative proposals in the General Assembly actually passed when I was attorney general, bipartisan support because they were good ideas.”
(more from my interview with McDonnell ((including VIDEO)) and what his opponents had to say after the jump..)
Day two of the Republican Party of Virginia is ready to get underway Saturday, with fights for the lieutenant governor, attorney general and party chairman expected.
On Friday, I took an in-depth look at how the Republicans are hoping to take advantage of social media and the internet to help their candidates. I spoke to Midlothian’s Mickey White, the writer of the conservative blog withbias.net. She had a seat along the special “bloggers row” set up by party officials.
I also got an assessment on the Republican’s efforts from a Democratic political internet veteran, Ben Tribbett, from the popular Not Larry Sabato blog. Tribbett is actually in Richmond for the Republican event and had some terrific insight as to the progress the opposite party is making.
You can find my story from Friday night after the jump. Check back often today for updates on the progress of the RPV Convention and I will have a complete wrap up tonight on NBC12 News at 6.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was in Richmond, Friday night to help kickoff the Republican Party of Virginia’s convention and raise some cash for the state organization.
Romney is widely believed to be considering a run for President in 2012 and making a trip to Virginia, a battleground state, only helps to add fuel to that speculation. Romney said that 2012, is too far down the road to begin talk about candidates for president, but did say he will be back to Virginia, to help elect Republicans at all levels, any way he can.
As someone who has already run for president, and may be considering it again, Romney has a vested interest in the Republican party improving its prospects at the ballot box. He said that current Democratic policies are not the direction that he believes most Americans want to go down. Romney pointed to the governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia as opportunities for Republicans and the voting public to prove that.
Romney is the third potential Republican candidate for president in 2012 to visit the commonwealth after Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
After the jump, I have an extended clip from Romney’s remarks including him being pressed a bit about his intentions for 2012.
**UPDATE** see the Democrat response to the Romney visit after the jump.
The elephants have arrived in Richmond. Over the next two days Republicans from across Virginia will be here to formally nominate Bob McDonnell as their candidate for governor. In addition to McDonnell’s symbolic victory, there are a few down-ballot squabbles that threaten to overshadow his acceptance of the nomination.
I will be at the Richmond Convention Center Coliseum starting this afternoon as the festivities gavel in and will have complete coverage on NBC12 tonight and tomorrow. In addition I will be regularly updating Decision Virginia with the latest news and of course, will have plenty of updates on my Twitter page. (BTW- If you are following the action on Twitter check out these three hash tags, which event organizers are using for people attending the convention: #rpvc09 #rpvfun #rpvadmin)
Here are some of the things I will be looking for:
*How much national attention will Mitt Romney’s visit bring? It is no secret that Romney plans on running for President in 2012, so a high profile visit to a battleground like Virginia will only enhance his credentials. Romney is the third potential candidate for president that has come to the commonwealth on Bob McDonnell’s behalf. (Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee)
*Who will Republicans pick as their attorney general candidate? Democrats are itching to steal this seat, after 20 years of electoral disappointments. They are very high on Steve Shannon who is already off and running. The decision Republicans make this weekend will be crucial. Will it be the odds-on favorite Ken Cuccinelli? Both Dave Foster and John Brownlee have run competitive campaigns and are probably hoping their supporters coalesce after the first or second ballot. (If it makes it that far)
*Is Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling really in trouble? I asked this question a few days ago. Many people believe Bolling has nothing to worry about, however the portion of the vote Patrick Muldoon receives could speak to the rift the RPV has with its conservative wing and the party’s old guard.
*Who will be the new party chairman? Speaking of a rift…this is perhaps the biggest decision the delegates will make on Saturday. Will they put the Jeff Frederick era behind them and support Pat Mullins, the man virtually every elected official and party leader has put their support behind? Or will the conservative wing organize an insurgency that puts Frederick supporter Bill Stanley in charge and, in turn, present at least the appearance of instability leading into the general election?
So, just few things…plus speeches from Sean Hannity, George Allen, Jim Gilmore and Eric Cantor that could deliver a few prize nuggets.
I will try and stay on top of it all, so check back often!
It is something that Terry McAuliffe often says on the campaign trail: “I will not say a negative word about a fellow Democrat.” His repeated claim to stay above the fray puts him at risk for greater scrutiny when he says anything that could be interpreted as being negative of a fellow Democrat. A new mail piece sent to potential Democratic voters has made the candidate’s critics wonder if he has broken that pledge.
The mail piece shows four columns with facts about the candidates for governor and then a scratch-off box at the bottom that reveals which candidate is connected to which claims. Among other things, the piece accuses Creigh Deeds of voting to “legitimize pay-day lending” and accepting gifts from lobbyists. It accuses Brian Moran of taking a trip to the Bahamas on a lobbyist’s dime and taking tens of thousands of dollars from Dominion Power’s PAC.
McAuliffe campaign press secretary Lis Smith said that the piece is not negative. She said that the candidate has always said that “there are differences between the candidates on issues and experience, and that’s legitimate to discuss. But Terry’s not attacking other Democrats, and believes any of the three would be better than McDonnell.” She went on to say that all the mail piece does is “compare everyone’s records.”
Creigh Deeds’ campaign, as you might imagine, doesn’t agree. Deeds spokesperson, Brooke Borkenhagen, said that the mail piece is evidence that “Terry is running scared. That’s why Terry is trying to hustle Virginia voters with this deceptive mail piece.” Borkenhagen also reminded me that while McAuliffe did not take money from Dominion’s PAC specifically, he has taken more than $12,000 from former Dominion executives.
Meanwhile, Brian Moran’s campaign manager, Andrew Roos, called the mail piece a “false, negative attack.” He also said “Brian Moran will take no lectures on ethics from the booking agent of the Lincoln bedroom and the architect of the Business Leadership Forum. The last place we would go for a public service lesson is a Wall Street insider.”
How will voters and supporters of McAuliffe – many of whom often site his efforts to stay positive – react to this attempt to “compare the records of the candidates”?
After the jump, I re-posted our video from the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond where McAuliffe first made the pledge to not attack his fellow Democrats.
There are few political observers who believe that Patrick Muldoon‘s challenge of Lt. Governor Bill Bolling for the Republican nomination is a serious one. Bolling is the incumbent, has already won a statewide election and has the support of the party’s nominee for governor and all three candidates for attorney general.
However, leading up to this weekend’s Republican party convention there are signs that Mr. Bolling is a bit more concerned about his opposition than one might think.
“I have run opposed and unopposed,” Bolling told me during a conference call last week. “It is certainly easier to run unopposed.”
Bolling said that he is taking his opponent very seriously and is running his campaign as if Muldoon had the same credentials he has and posed a greater threat than it may appear. Evidence of the serious approach the Bolling campaign is taking can be found in a series of glossy mail pieces sent to delegates to the upcoming convention. The pieces answer claims that Muldoon makes about Bolling’s record as a conservative and describe Muldoon as a perpetual campaign loser who is merely causing strife to the Republican party during a time when unification is a necessity.
One of the mailers has a picture of a man looking down and a caption that reads, ‘Patrick Muldoon should be ashamed.’
“He’s done a great job of getting my name out there,” Muldoon told me on Tuesday. “It is making people wonder, ‘What should Patrick Muldoon be afraid of?’ and then when they learn the facts, they see there is nothing I should be ashamed of.”
Muldoon points to three specific votes that Bolling has cast during his legislative career that, he claims, show he is not a strong enough conservative. The votes involved funding for the morning-after pill, the expansion of the HPV vaccine in public schools and the lieutenant governor’s support for regional tax authorities and abusive driver fees to fund transportation upgrades in Northern Virginia.
((Read more and see an extended clip of my interview with Lt. Governor Bolling after the jump…))
Virginia’s junior senator, Mark Warner, will be right in the middle of the confirmation of President Barack Obama‘s first nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The senator just released a statement on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. In typical Warner fashion, he is cautious in his praise of Judge Sotomayor. He complimented her legal record, but did not go far enough to say that he is ready to support her confirmation.
His full statement is below:
STATEMENT OF SENATOR MARK WARNER
~ On the President’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court ~
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner issued the following statement on President Obama’s nomination today of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the United States Supreme Court:
“In nominating Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the seat that Justice Souter is vacating, President Obama has selected a woman with an extraordinary personal story and very impressive legal credentials. I now look forward to the Senate Judiciary Committee undertaking its confirmation responsibilities, and I anticipate that the Senate will conduct its constitutional responsibility to advise and consent with thoroughness and without delay.”
Democratic candidate for governor, Creigh Deeds, started Friday morning with the news that he had earned the endorsement of the Washington Post. He finished the marathon day after events across the commonwealth at NBC12, where we had a wide ranging interview about the state of the race and what it will take for him to win.
Deeds, as you might imagine, was very happy with the Post endorsement for many reasons, but most importantly because of the opportunity it provides him to reach out to Northern Virginia voters. Voters whom he can’t afford to reach with television. Deeds said that for the price of one day’s worth of television advertising in Washington, D.C., he can run ads for seven days in every other part of the state.
He seemed energetic and did everything he could to convince me that despite the fact that time was running out, he will be able to close the gap that polls show are between him and Terry McAuliffe. He also reiterated his claim that his past performance against Bob McDonnell makes him the candidate most prepared to take the Republican in November.
I pushed the candidate a bit on the negativity of the campaign. He claims his campaign is not being negative and he does not have a negative thing to say about either of the other candidates, but he felt it was important to set the record straight as to what McAuliffe was saying about pay-day lending in Virginia. He claims setting the record straight was a necessity and not an example of a negative turn his campaign might be taking.
It is no secret that Deeds’ biggest problem is his lack of resources in the closing days of the campaign. He basically agreed that if money is the deciding factor, he won’t be able to win. Here is his quote:
“There is another candidate out there that has the ability to buy the election, and if Virginia is for sale and if this nomination is for sale, he will make that purchase. There is no doubt about that.”
Extended clips from my interview with Senator Deeds can be found after the jump.
Despite having two different candidates from their paper’s base of Northern Virginia to choose from, the Washington Post editorial board is encouraging its readers to vote for Creigh Deeds in the democratic primary for Governor. In the paper’s explanation of its decision, they went as far to call Deeds (who hails from rural Bath County) as the candidate who ”has demonstrated an understanding of the problems that matter most, the commitment to solve them and the capacity to get things done.”
You can read the entire endorsement here.
The article hails Deeds’ efforts to find solutions to important Virginia problems such as transportation, and tempers his stance on social issues which may make NoVa liberal voters a bit squeamish. The endorsement is not wavering in its support, it emphatically and undeniably states its belief that Deeds is the candidate best apt to handle the job.
The question is, will it matter? There is no doubt that the endorsement of a newspaper, even a paper as important as the Washington Post, does not carry the same weight that it once did. However, a endorsement like this, particularly one that comes as a relative shock, could be enough to get the attention of uncommitted voters, still waiting to make up their mind.
Over the past several days a whole hosts of polls have emerged that seem to indicate that Terry McAuliffe is starting to break away from the pack. Deeds and Brian Moran for that matter, needed a diversion to change the conversation.
Northern Virginia is just one of several pivitol battlegrounds set for primary day, but in a region he is not expected to do well in, Creigh Deeds just picked up an important win.