Archive for November 2010
A tradition unique to Virginia:
Governor and Mrs. McDonnell joined the Chiefs and members of the Pamunkey and Mattoponi Tribes for the annual Tax Tribute Ceremony at the Executive Mansion today. The Ceremony dates back to the Treaty of Middle Plantation in 1677, and is an annual Thanksgiving event. Chief Carl Custalow of the Mattaponi Tribe and Chief Robert Gray of the Pamunkey Tribe presented Virginia’s First Family with gifts including 2 buck deer and a turkey. The deer and turkey will be served at the Mansion.
Pictured here (L-R): Gary Miles, Pamunkey Tribal Council Member; Chief Robert Gray of the Pamunkey Tribe; Governor Bob McDonnell; First Lady Maureen McDonnell; Jeff Brown, Pamunkey Tribal Council Member
(Photo Courtesy of Michaele White, Governor’s Photographer)
Happy Thanksgiving from NBC12 and Decision Virginia!
It is a typical argument waged by the opposite party directed at whomever inhabits the Governor’s mansion. As soon as Governor Tim Kaine became the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Republicans regularly hammered his travel plans. They accused him of being more concerned about national politics than local governance.
Now it’s Bob McDonnell‘s turn. The Republican has slowly crept into the national picture as a potential candidate for national office. He recently was elected Vice-Chair of the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) and made a number of campaign/fund-raising stops for GOP candidates across the country. The speculation about McDonnell’s ambition only heated up with a story from The Hill that detailed his efforts to build a national political network.
With McDonnell’s star rising, Virginia Democrats have found an opportunity to criticize his motives. In a statement, outgoing party chairman Dickie Cranwell demanded that the Governor reveal if he does indeed plan to run for national office and as a result, not finish his term as Virginia’s chief executive.
“If Bob McDonnell intends on serving his full-term, he should categorically declare today that he will not accept any nomination or consideration for any office that would require him to resign as Governor before his term expires in 2014,” said Cranwell.
For his part, McDonnell has pledged many, many times that he intends to serve his entire term. Going back to the campaign for Governor, the then candidate told me in a live interview that he was only interested in the office he was seeking.
“I love this state we have great opportunities ahead for the state to create more opportunity and prosperity for our citizens,” said McDonnell in October of 2009. “In so many ways, I am fully committed to four years as Virginia’s governor.”
Of course pledges like these are often looked at by political watchers with a degree of skepticism. As McDonnell’s national profile grows, so does the speculation that a spot on the 2012 ticket will be too tough to turn down. Running as Vice-President would be much easier than running for President for the Governor. VP candidates only really run for office for about 2 months and he could easily bat down calls for him to resign for that short of a national campaign. If he wins, he is the Vice-President. The idea that he pledged to serve for a full four years would be long forgotten. If he loses, he is still Governor for another year.
The idea accepting an offer to run for Vice-President is something McDonnell himself won’t completely rule out. In an interview on WTOP radio he said, “I don’t have any plans for higher office at this point,” he said. ” So, my plan is to serve four years in Virginia and be governor.”
Today his spokesman Tucker Martin did the job for him, basically guaranteeing that McDonnell will be Governor until 2014.
“Yawn,” he wrote me in an e-mail response to the DPVA press release. “There are two things that you can count on from now until January 2014: Bob McDonnell serving as Governor and the Democratic Party of Virginia wasting everyone’s time with press releases like this one.”
We shall see if that does enough bat down the speculation.
From the first day of his campaign for Governor, Bob McDonnell has been touting a record focused on creating jobs in the Commonwealth. The Republican used the slogan “Bobs 4 Jobs” right from the beginning. McDonnell, who recently described himself to Time as “results oriented“, believes he has delivered on that promise.
During an appearance on MSNBC’S “Morning Joe” on the day of the election McDonnell claimed that Virginia has added 60,000 net jobs since he took office.
That claim put the writers of PolitiFact Virginia to work. They determined that McDonnell’s claim was “mostly true”. He didn’t get full credit for two reasons. 1- His number was a bit inflated. (Only 55,400 jobs have been added according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and 2- It is difficult give the McDonnell administration all of the credit for that job creation.
You can see the complete report on PolitiFactVirginia.com. You can watch our full report below:
Former Governor and Senator George Allen has been seen quite a bit over the past few months. It is widely believed that Allen will make a run for his old seat in the U.S. Senate. A scenario he admitted he was something he was considering during an interview on NBC12 First at 4.
The possibility of an Allen taking on the man the beat him for re-election, Jim Webb may not happen though. Webb has not decided if he will run again.
As Allen continues to re-ignite his political career he is often called upon as a someone to give an opinion on the current state of political affairs. Not surprisingly, that opinion is generally in opposition to the current administration.
Allen penned an editorial for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on November 5th, just a few days after the election where he opined on what the new congress needs to focus on. One of the things that concerned him was the skyrocketing national debt.
He wrote: “People are rightfully riled by bailouts of failed automobile manufacturers, health care dictates, energy restrictions, and the unprecedented expansion of government spending and dangerous debt — nearly $6 trillion more than when President Obama was sworn into office.”
It was that $6 trillion figure that the reporters from the Times-Dispatch focused on.
According to their research, the Office of Management and Budget has recorded the debt going up $3 trillion since President Obama took office. You can read their entire report at PolitiFactVirginia.com.
Our report from NBC12 First at 4 can be seen below:
Senator Mark Warner always chooses his words very carefully, but in an interview today on NBC12, the Democrat qualified comments he made comparing the Tea Party movement to the followers of the liberal web site Moveon.org.
Warner, who often describes himself as a “radical moderate”, was making the case that extreme elements on both sides of the political spectrum are dominating the discussion. In an effort to show that both conservatives and liberals are to blame Warner told reporters that “A new sense of cooperation will have to take place in the political center, between Tea Party “extremists” on the right and the “moveon.org” activists on the extreme left.”
At face value, the comments didn’t seem all that controversial, unless of course you identify with one of those groups. Warner who claimed that he was done “biting his tongue“, quickly faced a storm of criticism from the operators of Moveon.org and liberal Virginia bloggers who took offense to be group in the same category as the Tea Party.
In a fiery response to Huffington Post, the group’s Executive Director Justin Ruben called the comparison unfair and described the Tea Party as “the racist and xenophobic far-right wing of the Republican Party.”
Wednesday on First at 4, Warner said said his comments were “in-artful”.
“If we’re going to get things done in the United States Senate where I work,” said Warner. “We’re going to need to form kind of the, let’s get stuff done caucus, and that’s going to be willingness on both democrats and republicans to step up and find common solutions to our deficit.”
Warner also said that there are big differences between the Tea Party and Moveon.org and conceded that they both have positive aspects.
“I think they’re different organizations,” he said. “I think in both organizations who are activists who care deeply and are passionate and my personal belief is neither political party has all the answers.”
The Senator said that with the problems facing Washington, now is not the time for name calling. In his mind consensus must be built or nothing will get done.
“I think the only way we make those choices is if we can find Democrats and Republicans who are willing to put aside partisanship and find that common ground,” Warner said.
The full interview with Senator Mark Warner can be seen below. The full transcript can be found on NBC12.com.
Virginia Senator Jim Webb is less than two years away from a re-election bid, a contest that by all measures will be difficult. But while many Democrats are huddling in strategy sessions preparing to reverse the current Republican tide, Webb doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to decide if he is even going to run.
In a fascinating profile on the Commonwealth’s senior Senator posted on RealClearPolitics.com, Webb won’t commit to a run in 2012. “Still sorting that out,” he said before adding. “I’m not saying I’m not.”
Webb’s ambivalence is alarming to Democrats because the man he beat, former Senator George Allen, appears to already be running for his old seat. Allen has written a book and has become a regular at GOP events large and small across Virginia. In addition to his traditional stumping, Allen often appears on local TV and radio stations, while Webb rarely grants interviews to local reporters. (Contrasted by his always available colleague Sen. Mark Warner, who will appear live on NBC12 First at 4 Wednesday)
While Webb has always done things his way, his resistance to state his plans has caught the attention of major media players like the Washington Post, which now ranks Virginia’s senate seat as the 5th most likely to change party hands.
Their ranking is in part, attributed to Webb’s lackluster fund raising. He raised only $16,000 in the third quarter of 2010 and has $471,000 on hand. The Post has list of other incumbent Senators and how much they have raised by comparison.
While Webb is not ready to make a decision, don’t expect Democrats interested in running for the post to say a word until he is officially out. The Post speculated, wisely that former Governor Tim Kaine would be a front runner for the slot. However (and this is all speculation) don’t rule out Terry McAuliffe who is almost certain to run for Governor, but might be tempted to throw his statewide infrastructure into the mix early if the opportunity presented itself. Another long shot possibility, Rep. Tom Perriello. While Perriello just suffered a tough defeat, he drew the admiration of many for the fight he waged. Congressman rarely become statewide names, but the attention Perriello’s race drew and his visit from President Obama have made him very well known across Virginia. Perriello also is able to tap into a wide-ranging liberal fund-raising base that could help a potential statewide campaign. While Perriello has not given many details into his future plans, he has been tossed around in some circles as a potential statewide candidate.
Of course this all idle speculation until Webb makes his final decision. Webb spokesman Will Jenkins confirmed for me that the Senator has not made up his mind if he will run again, but he couldn’t offer a time line for when the decision might be made.
I also have some ideas as to who may be willing to challenge Allen for the Republican nod, especially if Webb is out of the mix. I’ll share them at a later date.
This week it is Rep. Bobby Scott who is put under the microscope by Politifact Virginia. On numerous occassions, Rep. Scott made the claim that allowing the Bush era tax cuts to expire would come close to eliminating the federal budget deficit in 4 years.
In the Richmond Times- Dispatch voter guide, Scott wrote: “Extending the Bush tax cuts will add $3.6 trillion to the national debt. If all of the tax cuts expire on schedule, the budget will be close to being balanced in 4 years.”
He made a similar statement on NBC12 First at 4 during our “Meet the Candidates” interviews.
“Let the tax cuts expire. While we’re in a recession, use the money to create jobs. You can be in balance and close to balance in 4 years,” he said.
According to the Times-Dispatch PolitiFact team, that statement is FALSE.
Our PolitiFact Virginia Report from NBC12 can be seen below. The full story can be found at PolitiFactVirginia.com.
It is a good day for Republicans in Virginia. In fact it has been a good two years. But while the GOP is still reveling in a series of victories that have delivered all three statewide elected seats and now eight of the Commonwealth’s 11 Congressional districts, don’t expect this to usher in dominant Republican rule.
It may actually point to evidence that the Virginia voter is fickle and willing to change its mind in a very short turn of events. Remember the Old Dominion’s two senate seats still belong to Democrats and Virginia went Blue for Barack Obama in 2008.
2012 is still two years away and much can change. I broke down the changing map last night during NBC12′s Decision Virginia coverage. Our political analyst Dr. Dan Palazzolo helped to put things into perspective and predict what it could mean for the future.
The results are still coming in, but local Congressman Eric Cantor has posted an expected victory over two opponents in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. With 70% of the votes counted, Cantor leads Rick Waugh and Floyd Bayne 59-43-7 respectively.
The early returns look good for Republicans taking control of the house and that could mean Cantor will be the next Majority Leader in the House of Representatives.
Cantor’s address to supports from the Hilton in Short Pump, was broadcast live to NBC affiliates across the country. Perhaps an indication of how powerful he is about to become.
We just received word from the Governor’s office that Governor Bob McDonnell‘s father, John F. ‘Jack’ McDonnell lost his battle his Alzheimer’s Disease this morning. He was 94 years old.
Here is the official statement from his office and the obituary on the Governor’s father that they provided.
Official Release from the Office of the Governor
John F. ‘Jack’ McDonnell, father of Governor Robert F. McDonnell, passed away this morning in Fairfax County. He was 94. Biographical information about Mr. McDonnell can be found below. Further details on services will be made available at the appropriate time. The governor’s public events for this week and next will be amended to attend to his family.
Lt. Col. John F. ‘Jack’ McDonnell (USAF-RET)
April 15, 1916 – November 2, 2010
John F. ‘Jack’ McDonnell, father of Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, passed away this morning at a nursing center in Fairfax County following a lengthy illness. He was 94.
Jack was born in Peabody, Massachusetts on April 15, 1916, the oldest of four children and the son of Irish immigrants. A member of “The Greatest Generation,” he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor. During World War II, he served in Thurleigh, England with the 306th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. Jack would serve 23 years on active duty in the Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1964. He went on to a second career with the U.S. Naval Investigative Service.
Jack married Emma Meiller of Bryan, Texas on April 8, 1951 at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. Together they had five children, the Governor being the eldest. In 1955 the McDonnell family moved to Fairfax County. Four years later, Jack was assigned to Wiesbaden Air Force Base in West Germany. After a three year tour overseas, the McDonnell family moved back to Fairfax, where they would remain. The family lived in a house on Wagon Wheel Road in the Mount Vernon area of the county, where the Governor grew up. Mr. McDonnell still owned the home at the time of his passing.
A strong believer in education, he completed his Masters Degree in Education from the University of Maryland after leaving the military. He stressed to his children the importance of obtaining a good education, and all his children graduated from college.
Mr. McDonnell participated in many activities throughout his life as a Sunday School teacher, a little league baseball coach, a regular member of his local Catholic church, a substitute teacher, and a member of the Governor’s Board of Visitors of Mt. Vernon.
Jack McDonnell was a lifelong Notre Dame and Boston Red Sox fan. He had 15 grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife in 1994. He will be buried alongside her at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, friends may honor Mr. McDonnell by contributing to the Emma and Jack McDonnell Memorial Scholarship Fund at Mount Vernon.
Emma and Jack McDonnell Memorial Scholarship Fund
PO Box 110
Mount Vernon, VA 22121