Archive for the ‘VA 2012 Senate Race’ Category
In what will be part of an explosive issue in the 2012 U.S. Senate race from Virginia, a Richmond Circuit Court Judge ruled Thursday that Jens Soering, a German man convicted of killing his girlfriend’s parents in a gruesome 1985 murder, can stay in a Virginia prison.
In late 2009, then Governor Tim Kaine issued a transfer of Soering into German custody. Kaine was in the last months of his gubernatorial term and Bob McDonnell had already been elected as Virginia’s next governor.
Shortly after McDonnell’s inauguration, he and the newly elected Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, went to work to revoke the Kaine transfer of Soering, concerned that he would serve only a small part of his double life sentence in his native country.
Thursday, a Richmond Circuit Court ruled that McDonnell had the legal right to revoke that transfer. Back in 2010, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder informed Virginia authorities that they would not challenge the transfer revocation.
Soering’s legal options are not exhausted quite yet. He still has the option of appealing this decision to the Virginia Supreme Court. However, with the Circuit Court’s clear statement on the issue and the Federal Government’s desire to not intervene his options are running out.
That leaves the impact it will have on Tim Kaine. Kaine has repeatedly tried to explain his decision to allow Soering to return to Germany. His main argument has centered around a desire to relieve Virginia taxpayers of the expense of detaining Soering for the rest of his life. It is an argument Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli doesn’t buy.
“I don’t think Tim Kaine has ever adequately explained what on earth he was thinking,” Cuccinelli said in a phone interview Friday evening.
According to Cuccinelli, Soering would’ve had the opportunity to be released from prison in Germany in 2 and half years. If things had gone in that direction, Soering could have been in a position to petition for his release right now.
Cuccinelli said that he believes that this issue should be front and center in the race for Senate from Virginia.
“This is a terribly unexplained exercise of the authority that he (Kaine) had at the time,” Cuccinelli said.
The Attorney General told me that he believes that the General Assembly should consider legislation that would limit the ability of the Executive Branch to use their broad powers after the final election before their term ends.
Governor McDonnell, who is responsible for revoking the Soering transfer, was gratified by the court’s decision.
“Jens Soering committed a heinous and gruesome crime when he killed two innocent Virginians,” said McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin. “The Governor believes he must serve his full sentence in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
The question now is how big this issue plays in November for Kaine. There are reports that behind the scenes republican media experts are preparing a significant ad campaign centered around the attempted Soering transfer. Already the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee is working to draw focus to the issue.
“Now that a judge has ruled on this matter, it’s even more important for Tim Kaine to finally step forward and be honest with the citizens of Virginia about his decision to help a convicted double-murderer in the final hours of his Administration,” said Brian Walsh a NRSC spokesman.
Cuccinelli told me he isn’t sure what documents could even be produced that could explain Kaine’s thought process. He also called on Kaine to provide a more thorough explanation.
“There is no reasonable motive,” said Cuccinelli. “What could you possibly be trying to accomplish?’
I have a request into the Kaine campaign on the court’s decision and a response to Cuccinelli’s critisim. I will update you when I have more.
Speaking of Kaine.. Cuccinelli did not mince words when attacking the former governor’s role in this process and his explanation as to why he offered the transfer in the first place. Below is audio from our conversation, leading off with his strongest attack line.
“That was as close to B.S. as you could get out of a government official”
– Ken Cuccinelli on Tim Kaine’s explanation regarding the Soering transfer.
Former Governor Tim Kaine (D) is touting an impressive fundraising haul for the second quarter of 2012 in his race for the U.S. Senate. The democrat pulled in his best quarter so far raising $3 million dollars since April 1st. His campaign has $2.7 million cash hand.
“Thousands of new donors have gotten involved this quarter because they are tired of the partisan gridlock in Washington,” said Communications Director Brandi Hoffine.
It was also the best quarter of the campaign for former Senator George Allen (R), but Allen fell far short of Kaine’s mark bringing in $2 million. Allen heads into the fall with $3.34 million cash on hand.
“Our positive message for freedom and opportunity is resonating throughout Virginia,” Allen said of his fundraising report.
But these numbers only tell a small part of the fundraising story.
Allen appears to have significantly more money available heading into the final stretch of the campaign, but Kaine has already reserved and spent $3.5 million in television advertising time for the fall.
That is in addition to the $2.7 million they have in the bank and whatever else they raise from here on out.
Allen has also reserved a similar TV buy, $3.4 million, but that money they haven’t paid for it yet. That means it must come out of his existing cash on hand budget or whatever they raise in the future. Allen has already purchased a significant TV ad buy, that is currently running across the Commonwealth.
So there are two ways to look at this report based on the all important TV spending in the fall. Either Kaine has $6.2 million left to spend compared to Allen’s $3.34 million excluding TV ad buys, or if you include them, Kaine has $2.7 million left to spend and Allen is actually running a deficit.
But don’t cry for Team Allen quite yet. The campaign spending on TV ad buys is only one component of a broad based TV ad blitz that has and will continue to fill up your commercial space. Third party groups from outside of Virginia will be spending of millions of dollars that will not be directly connected to either campaign.
Allen has already benefited from ads paid for by groups like American Crossroads and The U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Several of these groups have pledged to be even more involved this fall. While Kaine has SuperPAC help as well, Allen has more allies who got involved much earlier and are heavily financed for the titanic struggle ahead.
How does this impact you? Well it means you can expect virtually every commercial to be filled with shadowy ominous ads from now until election day. So if you are sick of it already, you may want to consider heavily utilizing your DVR.
No big surprises on primary night 2012 in Virginia.
If you took the “under” in my 9% voter turnout prediction for voter turnout, you were safe when it comes to the Virginia Senate Race. Turnout came in right around 5%.
You would’ve lost if you took the “under” of 9% in the 7th Congressional District. Eric Cantor brought out a tad bit more than 9% in his primary battle with Tea Party candidate Floyd Bayne.
A couple of tid-bits from the night..
*Check out my twitter feed for a few of the stand out comments from the Cantor/Allen victory rally.
*Allen asked for all his primary opponents to come together after their “inter-squad” scrimmage. Jamie Radtke, who was far and away his closest challenger put out a facebook message to her supporters, but makes no mention of Allen.
*Tim Kaine took the opportunity to hammer Allen’s record during his time in the Senate. His campaign hosted a rally of their own tonight in Richmond as well.
*You can check out my full wrap on primary night on NBC12.com
Decision Virginia is coming to you this morning from James Madison’s Montpelier. My family and I are guests of the Center for the Constitution, where I am helping produce a series of educational videos on the Constitution. While I am moderating the panel discussions on the Bill of Rights, which will later be part of an online video course through the Close Up Foundation, Karey and the kids are exploring the incredibly beautiful grounds. Including the gardens which are right behind President Madison’s home.
Montpelier is a terrific, perhaps hidden secret in the Commonwealth. It is an easy jaunt from Richmond and there is quite a bit for the kids to do. Our kids are little and my wife has been able to find plenty of places for them to run around and have fun. Their favorite part has to be when the fireflies seem to erupt from the lawn in a fantastic show each evening. Plus the bugs are easy to catch.. even for my 1 and half year old. (Don’t worry we let them all go. No fireflies were hurt in the making of this blog post.)
Unfortunately our little retreat from reality must come to an end this afternoon as we shuffle back down I-64 so I can be home in time to cover today’s Virginia Senate/Congressional Primary. It is a primary that has been largely ignored by the general public, but features two of Virginia’s most prominent politicians, former senator and governor George Allen and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Despite the incredibly important impact this primary could have on the Virginia political scene, there is little evidence that many people will participate. Virgina hasn’t had a Senate primary in recent memory and the last few congressional primaries in other districts have offered minimal interest from the voting public. The expected low turnout would appear to be a to the advantage of the Cantor and Allen, who have built-in name recognition and get out the vote mechanisms that would be successful in a little watched primary. Astute political observer Beau Cribbs points out that voter turnout in the 2006 Virginia Democratic Primary was only 3.45%.
However their opponents would argue that low turnout may be to their advantage, because while their supporters may be a smaller portion of the electorate, are more passionate and willing to brave a rainy day to get out to the polls.
Regardless, Cantor and Allen have not taken anything for granted. Both conducted a voting blitz in the closing days of the primary and have been filling up mailboxes and the emails of their identified supporters. While a win is a win, not winning by a large margin could be perceived by their detractors as a sign of vulnerability heading into November.
Cantor and Allen will be together to celebrate the election results in downtown Richmond tonight.
If you are planning to vote today, the State Board of Elections has put out this handy guide with information on what you need to know to make sure your vote counts.
The questions right now is turnout. How many people will pay attention to today’s vote? I am going to put the voter turnout over/under at 9%. Will it be better than that? (My guess is a little over statewide, a little less in Cantor’s district).
We will have complete coverage of the returns tonight on NBC12.
It is now less than a week before voters go to the polls in Virginia primaries and the most marquee match up of them all has turned out to be anything but exciting. One time senator and governor George Allen will be on the ballot next Tuesday in a primary that his campaign has for the most part publically ignored. Despite a relentless attack from three conservative opponents, there is nothing that indicates that the primary vote will be anything but an easy day for Allen.
It is not from a lack of trying. Each of the candidates has the make up to mimic the kind of uprising that politicians like Allen have faced in other states. Establishment republican candidates like Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Texas and Sen. Orrin Hatch in Utah have either lost primaries or been faced into difficult runoff elections or primary votes they were not expecting. Their difficult times are all the result of conservative/tea party support that has coalesced at the right time to push the establishment candidates in to a difficult position.
Despite having all the ingredients for the same type of scenario in Virginia, Allen has survived and arguably thrived as he coasts to the nomination, setting the stage for a one on one titanic showdown with fellow former Gov. Tim Kaine in November.
Why? I’ve come up with five reasons:
1- Divide and Conquer
The fatal mistake the conservative/tea party made came early in this primary campaign. They couldn’t come up with one candidate. By facing three other candidates, Allen has successfully split the loyalty of a small, but active group of voters that would have to be together in order to be successful. Del. Bob Marshall is a hero with social conservatives. Former Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke is popular with the libertarian, fiscally conservative wing (although she is socially conservative herself). Bishop E.W. Jackson is a talented speaker and is able to excite a crowd, but by battling two other challengers, he has been unable to gain any traction.
The lack of outsider unity in challenging the establishment is what drove businessman Tim Donner out of the race. It was something he told me last summer was a necessity in overcoming Allen’s immense natural advantages.
“It is clear that a single challenger to the establishment candidate George Allen will emerge in this race,” he said. He went on to say that if was not him he’d get out-of-the-way. “I will not do anything to impede the conservative movement, and impede the movement of grass-roots conservatives.”
Donner got out, but the other three candidates never came together, and he ended up endorsing Allen.
2- Securing the base
One thing George Allen never forgot about was his base. The base helped him get elected governor and senator and despite losing in 2006, they were still there for him in a losing effort. Allen knew that it was the base that would guarantee him the nomination in 2012.
While his opponents spent a lot of time reaching out to “non-traditional” political groups, like the tea party, Allen appeared at every traditional GOP event that would have him. Women Republican Club Teas, Golf outings for legislators seeking re-election, Congressional Committee meetings. If grassroots republicans were meeting, Allen was there. There was no meeting he was above and many of those still volunteering at these events were raised on his campaigns for governor and senator. They were all too happy to have him and continue to support him.
Allen’s rock solid support from the base was most evident when the influential righty blog Bearing Drift offered their formal endorsement Monday night.
3- Raising money
No matter how hard these candidates tried, there was just no possible way for them to overcome the ability of a former governor and senator to raise money. Money not just from Virginia but from across the country. The massive cash advantage allowed Allen to hire a great deal of full-time staff. It allowed him to travel the state with ease, build a state infrastructure and take away any type of advantage his opponents could hope to muster.
Granted, in the toppling of establishment candidates, the momentum of the movement overwhelmed significant cash advantages. But in Virginia that momentum never materialized and Allen was able to stifle any appearance of it with spending.
4- No high-profile endorsements
Or perhaps this should say.. “no high-profile endorsements of anyone but Allen”. Allen quickly gobbled up the endorsement of Gov. Bob McDonnell, Rep. Eric Cantor and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. He successfully (at least for now) kept the unpredictable Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli out of the race and even earned the support of high-profile tea party favorites like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Meanwhile, his opponents stumbled over opportunities to get national voices to endorse their campaign and bring with it the attention that could lead to money and momentum. Former Alaska governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has offered her support in a few of these races, has seem disinterested in joining the fray, despite her similarities with Radtke. South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint has been noticeably absent. Radtke thought she had the endorsement of influential republican blogger Erik Erickson, only to have it taken away after an embarrassing conflict at Erickson’s annual Red State event.
This category is in flux because one of these endorsements could still come in with less than a week to go. But the chances of it having a game changing impact at this point are slim.
5- Hard work
This category might be best illustrated through a personal anecdote. It was December of 2010, a cold night in South Richmond. Former Senator George Allen was scheduled to appear at a forum on education with former DPVA chair Paul Goldman. I had received a press advisory so I thought it would be worth it to check it out. Allen had not announced his plans to run, but everyone assumed he was going to. Keep in mind this was just a little less than two years before the 2012 election.
I got to a small community center on the south side and there was no one there. Literally. The doors were locked. We had to be let in by a night janitor. We thought we were in the wrong place. He told us no, there was something happening, but we were just a little early.
About 20 minutes later, a few people trickled in. By the time it was time for the event to start, there may have been 20 people in attendance. Allen was among them. A one time governor, senator and even potential candidate for president came in ready to wax poetic on his thoughts on school choice and private/public education partnerships to a group about the size of a small church choir. We talked for a bit about his potential campaign, and then we left. He stayed. The event was scheduled to go for two hours, on a weeknight, three weeks before Christmas.
I said to my photographer Jerry Brown as we were leaving “there is NO way this guy is not running.”
Of course he was, and of course he knew what it was going to take to win. This is not to suggest that any of Allen’s opponents have not been working just as hard. I believe they actually are. But the difference between Allen and his contemporaries in other states is that they assumed that being who they were was enough to win. 2006 was clearly a wake up call for a man who did not really know what it was like to fail and its clear he doesn’t want something like that to happen again.
Now, I firmly believe that we truly have no idea what could happen on Tuesday and I am confident to leave the outcome to the voters. The point of this post was to illustrate why I believe Allen is in a strong position to win. The hardest part for this Virginia political heavyweight is that the hard work hasn’t really begun. If he is fortunate to get past this initial test, he has the biggest fight of his political life ahead of him.
Just one of the many reasons it will be the most watched race in the country.
The name Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) probably doesn’t mean much to the average voter in Virginia. But U.S. Senate candidate George Allen (R) wasn’t necessarily looking to impress the “average” voter when he announced Johnson’s support of his campaign and then brought him on the stump with him Friday in Richmond.
Johnson is a wealthy businessman who ran a largely self-financed campaign to sweep long time liberal Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) from office. Johnson received a great deal of support from the Tea Party and is happy to be associated with the movement. A fiscal deficit hawk, Johnson supports deep spending cuts and is strongly opposed to the health care reform act and the federal stimulus.
Allen has a lukewarm connection with tea partiers in Virginia. One of the most prominent tea party leaders in the Commonwealth, Chesterfield’s Jamie Radtke decided to run against him in the upcoming republican primary. He has had a mixed success appealing to local tea party groups as he looks to seal up the nomination. Allen rarely appeals directly to the tea party but once said he was an “original member” of the tea party.
Allen’s biggest problem with the Tea Party comes from his last time in the Senate. Six years of supporting largely Republican led proposals that bumped up the federal debt and is a period of time that hard-core Tea Party members are very critical of. Johnson’s visit to Virginia it allowed his critics to remind voters about that time in office. Both Radtke on the right and the democrats on the left were all to eager to dredge up the past.
Radtke released a very critical web video that called Allen out for his support for “40,000 earmarks”. Web videos rarely have widespread appeal, but Radkte got a big bump when PolitiFact Virginia chose to rate the claim. Their “mostly true” rating pushed the video to a much wider audience. (It was in our PolitiFact Virginia report this week on NBC12). Democrats meanwhile had a field day pointing out the mixed message Allen has had with earmarks, saying he was “proud” of the ones he had brought back to Virginia and said they were ok, as long as they were accompanied by detailed information as to who proposed them.
Johnson worked to rein in the criticism of Allen in event today at Bill’s BBQ in Richmond. He strongly supported the former governor and senator’s leadership skills. Johnson argued that while progress is being made in Washington, real change hasn’t occurred because the Congress needs more people with Allen’s experience and ability to bring people together. He also said that Allen’s first go around in Washington was much different than things are now.
“Last time George Allen was in the senate we had manageable deficits,” said Johnson. “Nobody liked them at all, but at least they were manageable.”
Despite the lack of rousing support from the Tea Party, there is simply no evidence that Allen is suffering. The few polls taken on the GOP primary show him with very large leads and he is neck and neck with his democratic opponent Tim Kaine in just about every poll. It is clear that Allen’s effort to reach out to that wing of the party is subtle. When we asked him about what role they will play in his election, he said they were important but went out of his way not to single them out.
“We are getting good support from a lot of folks,” Allen said, he went on to say, “We are welcoming every one to the A- Team.”
This won’t be the end of Allen’s effort and it will likely continue beyond the primary. The Republican nominee, no matter who they may be, will want the passionate support of the Tea Party to help push them over the hump come November in what is destined to be a razor thin election.
See clips from our interview with Johnson and Allen below:
The full release from today’s Allen event with Johnson can be found after the jump:
In a race that is expected to be a titanic struggle between two of Virginia’s most prominent politicians, Kaine appears willing to do whatever it takes to give himself the advantage. One of those advantages is his old running mate, Senator Mark Warner. Warner consistently polls as one of Virginia’s most popular elected officials and seems ready and willing to help keep both U.S. Senate seats in the hands of democrats.
But while, Warner helps Kaine draw crowds, and potentially TV cameras that might not be their otherwise, it was the candidate that had to sell the message. Kaine focused his remarks at various stops in Virginia on his plan for the economy. A broad plan, based on three basic tenants of job growth, strengthening the talent pool and building a balanced budget while bringing civil discourse to Washington.
Kaine’s most prominent Republican opponent George Allen wondered what took the former governor so long to release his plan.
“It took a year, but Chairman Tim Kaine has finally put on paper what Virginia families already knew,” said Allen campaign manager Mike Thomas. “He (Kaine) wants to raise taxes on families and small businesses.”
The Allen campaign once again hammered home Kaine’s connection to President Barack Obama and specifically his support of the stimulus plan and health care reform.
For his part, Kaine countered that attacks like those are exactly what Washington, D.C. needs less of.
“It’s all about balance, civility and working together,” he said during an interview at an event at Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond. “You know restoring the traditions of let’s find ways to work together.”
It was a sentiment that Warner echoed. Warner who has tried, with little success, to find bi-partisan partners in Washington said Kaine has the type of personality that will bring people together.
“People are pretty frustrated with congress at this point,” said Warner. “They want us to get stuff done. Tim Kaine will get up there and get stuff done.”
An extended clip from Kaine and Warner at Maggie Walker Governor’s School can be found below:
Allen’s campaign released his economic plan “A Blueprint for America’s Future” last year.
More on Kaine’s plan can be found after the jump:
President Barack Obama has made Virginia an important focus and it is paying off. A new poll from Quinnipiac shows Obama opening up his largest lead in the 2012 campaign. He is up 8 points. The poll also revealed that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell would have a negligible impact on the ultimate outcome of the race.
It is early, but the Obama campaign has to be thankful that their work leading to success. Team Obama already has a great deal of paid staff on the ground and the president has made many visits to the commonwealth. Democrats also believe that their work drawing attention to controversial bills in the General Assembly on abortion and gun rights are having an impact. According to this poll, Obama leads Mitt Romney among women 52%-39%.
Of course it is very early and Romney paid no attention to Virginia during the GOP primary because of the lack of competition. He has almost no organized staff on the ground here and his only visits have been private fundraisers. And it is also worth mentioning that he is not the official nominee quite yet.
I have more on what this poll means in the context of the 2012 race on NBC12.com.
RICHMOND (WWBT)- The topsy-turvy Virginia political picture took another turn today, with a new poll that is filled with good news for President Obama. It is just one poll, but democrats are very satisfied with what it says in many key areas that will be vital to the November election.
It is still a very close race, but it appears that President Obama’s intense focus on the commonwealth is starting to pay off. A new poll conducted by Quinnipiac shows the Obama- Biden ticket with their largest lead in Virginia, 8 points over Mitt Romney.
Democrats credit the intense focus on social issues in the recent general assembly session as part of their success. They have coordinated on all levels to bring a bright focus to bills, sponsored by republicans impacting abortion and guns.
That may have pushed Obama to a 52%- 39% lead with women.
But republicans have yet to pick a candidate. While Romney is in the lead, The GOP nomination isn’t sealed. On CNN Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the long primary is not a problem.
“He’s getting more and more endorsements from key people, conservatives, independents, moderates,” said McDonnell, Romney supporter. “I think he’ll be the nominee and I think it will be by June.”
read and see the whole story on NBC12.com.