Archive for June 2011
Four “alternatives” to George Allen equals Allen sailing to victory in the Virginia republican primary for U.S. Senate.
“No question, the mathematics are such that one of us must emerge,” Donner said during a lengthy interview on Wednesday in Richmond.
Donner, who much like his other non-Allen GOP primary opponents, found hope in other states that sent non- establishment picks into the Republican primaries of 2010. Much of the success of candidates like Rand Paul in Kentucky and Ron Johnson in Wisconsin came through grass-roots activism and the presence of one clear alternative to the front-runner.
If the same scenario is to repeat itself in Virginia, the field will have to thin out.
“It is clear that a single challenger will to the establishment candidate George Allen will emerge in this race,” Donner said.
One year away from the primary vote, Donner feels confident that he will be that candidate. But as the vote gets close and if the field remains full, Donner is prepared to do what he has to so that the movement can coalesce around one candidate.
“I would hope that is the case, because that is the way I feel.” Donner said. “I will not do anything to impede the conservative movement, and impede the movement of grass-roots conservatives.”
But Donner was quick to point out that before a ballot is cast, it might not be clear just who had the best shot at winning. He believes that in a primary, which traditionally draws a very low but engaged turnout, handicapping the field is difficult.
“It is a state of 8 million, but it is likely that 150 thousand or 200 thousand people will vote in this primary,” Donner said. “And funny things happen in primaries.”
You can see an extended clip of my interview with Tim Donner below.
It may be the most coveted endorsement in the Republican Primary for U.S. Senate. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, while controversial overall, is beloved by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. In a race with one clear front runner and several long shots, a well placed nod from the right wing rock star could mean the difference between an expected outcome and a shocking upset.
For the record, Cuccinelli may not play a role in the primary at all, but in typical fashion he is not ruling anything out. His political spokesman Noah Wall made it clear that in the short term, the Attorney General is not getting involved.
“We have not endorsed in the 2012 Senate race,” Wall said “And have no plans to make any endorsement this year.”
But 2011 will be over soon and come January, Cuccinelli may receive a full court press from those hoping for an upset.
Among them? Tim Donner, the wealthy Northern Virginia businessman with virtually zero name recognition. Donner recently posted photos of him with Cuccinelli at the Fairfax City Republican Committee meeting.
Donner and Cuccinelli seem to have quite a bit in common and the candidate said he would welcome the support of the Attorney General.
“I would be honored to have Ken Cuccinelli’s endorsement,” Donner said “He and I agree on most important matters.”
But Donner and every other candidate in the GOP primary will have to wait.
“We’ve been clear with all candidates about our position on that race,” said Wall.
That includes Jamie Radtke, the former Tea Party leader from Chesterfield and a longtime supporter of Cuccinelli. Much like Donner, Radtke and Cuccinelli are in agreement on most fiscal and social issues. Unlike Donner, Radtke doesn’t have an incredible amount of money to fall back on and a well placed Cuccinelli endorsement could give her campaign the type of late momentum that could surprise the field.
For now, Team Radtke isn’t concerning themselves with that potential scenario.
“Jamie respects Attorney General Cuccinelli’s desire to not endorse a candidate in the Senate primary until next year.” said Chuck Hansen, Radtke’s spokesman.
And then there is George Allen, the candidate that stands to lose the most if Cuccinelli decides to get involved. While Radtke, Donner and the others appear to be willing to fight the good fight, there is little indication that their campaigns have had much resonance. Allen rarely refers to his primary opponents and has drawn all of his distinctions with the likely democratic nominee, Tim Kaine.
Allen has more money, more name recognition and a longer resume that the rest of the field combined. His only drawback could be a potential fatigue and desire for something new. However those alternatives may never get a voice without a serious boost. A boost that someone like Cuccinelli can bring.
Allen meanwhile continues to run as if the primary is nothing more than a minor stumbling block. Most political insiders agree. Bearing Drift, the leading conservative voice on the internet, said last week that Kaine is Allen’s only “meaningful opponent“.
When asked if he is seeking Cuccinelli’s endorsement his spokesperson Katie Wright told me “Governor Allen is actively seeking the support of all Republican activists, leaders and elected officials, as well as Independents and conservative Democrats.”
That sounds a lot more like a campaign concerned about the general election, not a primary.
Until the field of primary opponents can shock the landscape with a boost similar to the endorsement of someone like Cuccinelli, expect it to remain that way.
**Decision Virginia Note: Ryan Nobles is scheduled to sit down for an interview with Republican Primary candidate Tim Donner Wednesday afternoon. It is their first interview of the primary campaign. Look for more on that interview Wednesday evening.
McDonnell, who has based a great deal of his governorship on turning around the Virginia economy, accepted the recognition on behalf of the Commonwealth during an interview at Mount Vernon.
This is not a new honor for Virginia, in fact the Old Dominion fell from the top spot in 2010, losing the ranking to Texas. The two states (both governed by Republicans) flipped honors in 2011.
Virginia has held the title 4 out of the last 6 years, including many under former democratic governor and current candidate for U.S. Senate, Tim Kaine.
With the economy being the dominant issue of the day, the politics of an honor like this can not be understated. CNBC, a popular business network has done a series of roll-out reports on their survey all which led to today’s big announcement.
During the build up, I filed a report for CNBC about Virginia’s business climate. (It was obviously before Virginia was named #1 in 2011)
You can see the full CNBC report here.
The entire statement from the Governor’s office can be found after the jump:
The still unsettled field of republican presidential candidates could be on the verge of adding yet another contender. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton is making the rounds, seriously considering a run for the GOP nomination.
Today, Bolton was in Richmond and met for 30 minutes, one on one, with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
According to McDonnell’s Director of Communications Tucker Martin, Bolton and McDonnell discussed the Governor’s record in Virginia, national public policy and other issues.
Martin said the two have spoken before and he described their visit as “friendly”.
McDonnell has ruled out any possibility of running for president himself, but is widely considered to be a front runner as a candidate for Vice President. A position he told me in February that he is open to.
A interesting change to a website popped up on today, causing a faint ripple in the clam that is the summer before the 2012 election. Rep. Bobby Scott, who is still mulling a run for the U.S. Senate, made a few changes to his campaign web site. Those changes doesn’t exactly say what office he plans to run for next year.
The site: http://www.bobbyscottforcongress.com/ would indicate that he is running for re-election. But the content on the page doesn’t say a thing about his plans to run for re-election to his seat in the Third District or for that matter any intention to seek the democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
Now, before we get to far ahead of ourselves, the Third District as it currently exists, could change depending on the outcome of redistricting legislation in Virginia’s General Assembly. Senate Democrats are pushing for a second majority-minority district like the one Scott currently represents. That alone could be enough to prevent Scott’s campaign staff from going full board on getting his web site ready for a re-election campaign.
That didn’t stop an anonymous group encouraging Scott to get in the race for Senate to alert members of the media to the new development. Which amounts to a new banner that simply says “Bobby Scott 2012, Together Let’s build a Better Future for America”
Scott told me back in April that he would make a final decision on his plans for 2012 in early July. Today his staff told me his plans have not changed.
“Early July is when the Congressman will announce his plans regarding the Senate,” said David Dailey the interim Press Secretary for Rep. Scott.
Dailey said Scott could reveal his intentions as soon as July 1st.
Few insiders believe Scott will actually take the leap of challenging the former governor and D.N.C Chairman Tim Kaine in a democratic primary. However, Scott seems willing to keep the potential of him running out there.
Kaine already has one announced candidate, Courtney Jones, a leadership consultant from Fairfax County has announced her intention to run.
If there is a contested race, the primary will take place June 12, 2012. The Republican primary will also be held that day. Currently there are four announced candidates on the GOP side.
George Allen is running for the U.S. Senate in Virginia and isn’t interested in wading in to the GOP primary for president. But he does have a pretty strong opinion about who the nominee for vice president should be: Governor Bob McD0nnell.
Here is what he told me about McDonnell as a candidate for VP:
Yes.. he did find away to highlight McDonnell’s accomplishment as a way to bring down his potential opponent Tim Kaine.
“If the folks want to send up a rubber stamp for Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, they can vote for my opponent.”
It is the first major battle of the 2012 campaign and George Allen is smack dab in the middle of it. The fallout from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan‘s budget plan, that includes an overhaul to Medicare, was considered at least a part of what destroyed the campaign of an Upstate NY candidate in a special congressional election.
In the wake of its impact on the NY-26 campaign, both sides are using the passionate feelings about the delicate issue as a tool to prop up and beat down candidates running in 2012.
For most it is a simple question: Would you support the Ryan plan if elected? For Republicans, the answer is usually “yes”, for Democrats a definite “no”. Few though are in the difficult position that George Allen is. While he is running as a Republican he faces a fierce challenge on the right from several candidates who subscribe to the Tea Party mantra. His primary opponents have no problem supporting Ryan, because their niche bases are fully on board.
For instance: Jaime Radtke, a former Tea Party leader, she is a “yes” and even sent Allen a letter asking for clarification on his stance.
And Tim Donner, he too is a “yes“.
But Allen, rarely mentions his primary opponents by name and talks more like he is running a general election. While hard-core republicans are supportive of the Ryan plan the public at large is a little less enthusiastic. That soft support puts Allen in a position where he clearly doesn’t feel comfortable saying “yes” or “no”, primarily because it puts him in a no-win situation. A “no” vote could incite the ire of the Tea Party wing of the party, a “yes” vote could be a tool used against him in a general election.
So instead, Allen puts up with questions about the Ryan plan, but won’t tell any reporter, specifically, how he would cast his vote.
Believed me, I tried.
“I’m not going to tell you,” Allen said stopping short before re-grouping, and responding “I’m going to tell you what I am for.”
As soon as I began a lengthy exchange on the Ryan plan, Allen made sure I knew what he thought about the line of questioning.
“You can ask for the Democrats, they like playing politics,” he said.
Allen contends that marginalizing his stance on just “yes” or “no” doesn’t really tell the whole story.
“For the democrats to carry on about this though is so disingenuous,” he said. “If they don’t like Ryan’s plan, if they don’t like my plan or anybody else’s plan of action come up with something. They have not even passed a budget for two years. This is the height of hypocrisy.”
Like many republicans in a tough spot with the controversial plan, Allen likes parts of Ryan’s proposal, but believes he can approve upon it. When I asked if that meant a “no” vote, he told me it was not that simple.
“I think you ought to be open to a variety of ideas that are coming forward and discuss them with the American people,” he said. ” Most people aren’t familiar with any of these proposals right now.”
And even though he could be hit with the question many times between now and election day, the man who has dealt with the parsing of his words for political benefit for almost 20 years seems content to not get trapped this time.
“I am not a U.S. Senator,” he reminded me. “If I were a U.S. Senator I would have to vote yes or no.”
The entire discussion on the Ryan proposal can been seen below:
Seven new laws are on the books, all passed in bi-partisan fashion during this past legislative session.
McDonnell told a group of youngsters at JB Watkins Elementary School that their parents should not have to worry about them once they send them off for the school day.
“No parent should have to worry when they drop their child off at the bus stop about whether that young person is going to get to school safely and be able to have a great day learning from great teachers,” McDonnell said.
The full release including details about the new laws can be found below:
Governor Bob McDonnell Signs Legislation to Make School Campuses and Transportation Safer
– New Laws Provide Safeguards Restricting Sex Offenders’ Access to School Buses, Deter Bullying, Allow Video-monitoring on Buses, and Study Risks Faced by Students –
RICHMOND – Flanked by students, parents, educators, school administrators and members of the General Assembly, Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law today seven pieces of legislation passed during the 2011 General Assembly session that offer additional protections to students in Virginia’s public and private schools. The new legislation focuses on reducing risks for Virginia students by making it illegal for sex offenders to operate or ride on school buses, increases penalties for drivers who pass stopped school buses, makes certain drugs and bath salts controlled substances, expands existing laws making obscene language sent by electronic means a crime, and provides localities the ability to install video cameras on buses to protect students. Additional legislation requires a survey of students to be conducted by the Department of Health to identify other risk factors faced by students and improve substance abuse programs.
“The foremost obligation of government is public safety, and protecting our youngest citizens so that they may focus on their education is a moral obligation for all Virginians,” said Governor McDonnell. “We are charged with protecting more than 1.3 million students in Virginia’s schools, so it is vital that law enforcement has additional tools available to combat the potential violence and crimes that can make our institutions of learning scary places for students.”
Delegate Rob Bell, sponsor of legislation to restrict sex offenders’ access to school buses and to expand laws making obscene language sent by electronic means a crime, said, “Students should not only be protected when they are in the school building, but when they are traveling to and from their school and when interacting with other students. We must create an atmosphere conducive to learning and ensure that each child has the opportunity to safely thrive in their school environment.”
Delegate Scott Garrett added, “Children are faced with many choices and temptations when attending schools. The bills signed today include provisions restricting access to certain drugs and products that students have used to get high. These statutory changes will help keep students from getting in trouble, or worse, from harming themselves or their peers. We must strive to make the school environment a safe haven for our children.”
The new laws will go into effect July 1, 2011 (HB1434 & SB745 are effective as of March 23, 2011).
School Safety Legislation Signed Today:
HB2043 (Anderson)/SB769 (Marsden) – Reckless driving for failing to stop at a school bus
- Provides that a person driving a motor vehicle shall stop his vehicle when approaching, from any direction, any school bus that is stopped on any highway, private road, or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, etc., and remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road, or school driveway and the bus is put in motion
- Failure to do so is reckless driving
HB1911 (J. Miller)/SB946 (Howell) – Video-monitoring on school buses
- Authorizes localities to adopt ordinances to allow local school divisions to install and operate video-monitoring systems on school buses in order to detect drivers passing stopped school buses
HB2066 (R. Bell)/SB1185 (Norment) – Prohibiting sex offenders on school buses
- Expands the prohibition on entry onto school grounds by any adult convicted of a sexually violent offense to include any school bus as defined in § 46.2-100 and any property, public or private, during hours when such property is being used solely by a public or private elementary or secondary school for a school-related or school-sponsored activity
- A violation is punishable as a Class 6 felony
HB2059 (R. Bell) – Extends existing prohibition on use of obscene language
- Clarifies that the current statutory provision prohibiting the use of obscene, vulgar, or indecent language over the telephone applies to electronic communications, including visual or electronic messages, received or transmitted by a cellular phone or other wireless telecommunications device
HB2026 (May) – Prohibits sex offenders from operating school buses
- Prohibits persons for whom registration with the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry is required from driving school buses and from being issued commercial driver’s licenses and instruction permits to drive school buses
HB1434 (Garrett)/SB745 (Herring) – Banning synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts
- The legislation lists those chemicals that comprise synthetic cannabinoids and makes possession a Class 1 misdemeanor and possession with intent to distribute and manufacturing a felony
- The bill adds chemicals known as “bath salts” to Schedule I of the Drug Control Act
- This legislation became effective upon approval on March 23, 2011
SB1094 (Hanger) – Youth health risk survey
- Requires the Department of Health to develop and administer a random survey of students in public middle and high schools to facilitate planning and implementation of effective programs for substance abuse prevention through collection of information identifying trends in alcohol, tobacco and other drug use and the assessment of risk and protective factors among youth of the Commonwealth
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L. Douglas Wilder, the former Governor of Virginia and a man never afraid to give his opinion, expressed his concerns about the state of the democratic party and the level of enthusiasm for President Barack Obama leading into the 2012 elections.
Wilder, said that former Senator George Allen and “whoever the republican nominee for president may be” both have realistic shots of winning in 2012. He said democrats must be prepared for a fight this time next year.
“What is taking place at the national level will play such tremendous role in it (the election) that the Obama administration is going to deal a lot with money, money, money”.
According to Wilder, virtually every issue can be tracked back to money and the general public’s feelings about the economy. With lagging unemployment numbers and an economy still struggling to recover, Wilder believes no candidate should feel comfortable with their prospects for next year.
“How money is handled and how money is to be handled is going to be key and uppermost in this election,” he said.
Wilder believes that while Allen’s infamous “macaca” incident (which he apologized again for this week) will still be talked about, but the republican will be able to put that behind him. For Allen and former Governor Tim Kaine, the focus will be their records pertaining to the dominant issue of the economy. Records that are both lengthy and will be judged comparatively for the first time.
“People will be running on their records…and that is where things get sticky,” he said.
But distinguishing those records will be the responsibility of the local party organizations. A strength of the democratic party in 2008, in part because of unprecedented enthusiasm for the Obama campaign. It is a factor Wilder believes democrats cannot guarantee will be there next year.
“The question is will the excitement still be there? With the seniors, with the young people?.. That excitement is not there now,” he said. “Is the Democratic Party organized in Virginia? Is it structured to bring in additional organizational strength that the Obama campaign brought before? That is why I am saying Virginia is going to be pivotal… and it is going to be exciting.”
Extended clips from our interview with Gov. Wilder can be seen below. It includes his belief that Bobby Scott won’t end up challenging Tim Kaine in a primary and the chances that the eventual GOP nominee for the president may not “even be in the race yet”.
Henrico Congressman Eric Cantor, the second most powerful member of the House of Representatives called for New York Congressman Anthony Weiner to resign. Weiner is facing pressure to step down from many places after admitting that he had conducting several inappropriate internet relationships with women who were not his wife.
Cantor said that Weiner and his constituents will decide his ultimate future, but in his mind the best way for Congress to move past the mess is for Weiner to go away.
“We have a lot of really important issues that we’re trying to solve in this country and up in congress. And, you know, this really isn’t one of them,” said Cantor in a live interview on NBC12 First at 4. “I don’t condone his activity and I think he should resign.”
Weiner has said that he plans to stay in office. Cantor believes sticking to that plan will just prolong the agony.
“I just think he should spare us,” Cantor said. “Listen, we’ve all now seen for days this go on and there’s too many other things really that I think the people of this country are expecting congress to do and we’ve got a lot of work and I just hope we can focus on what’s important.
And for Cantor that means focusing on job creation. The recent unemployment numbers has many Americans discouraged. Even though polls show little faith in both the White House and Congressional Republicans, Cantor believes he has a plan that can work.
“Washington has got a spending problem, it doesn’t have a revenue problem-we have to make sure we’re creating an environment for entrepreneurs to jump back in the game and there shouldn’t be any talk of raising taxes,” he said.
You can see the details behind the Cantor job growth plan by clicking here.
The full interview can be seen below. A transcript is available on NBC12.com.