Posts Tagged ‘John O’Bannon’
It is not something that blogger Norman Leahy enjoyed doing, but in his mind it had to be done. The conservative blogger at Tertium Quids had long been annoyed at the way Virginia’s government routinely provided funding for non-profits and charities, despite the practice being unconstitutional.
Leahy blogged about the problem shortly after Governor Bob McDonnell announced plans to provide $1 million dollars to two different Virginia charities.
Here is an excerpt of what he wrote:
Individual and corporate giving to charity is a perfectly fine and laudable activity and these two organizations provide essential services to their clients. However, the state is specifically barred from supporting them with taxpayer dollars. And just to refresh our memories, here’s the section of the constitution in question:
“Nor shall the General Assembly make any like appropriation to any charitable institution which is not owned or controlled by the Commonwealth; the General Assembly may, however, make appropriations to nonsectarian institutions for the reform of youthful criminals and may also authorize counties, cities, or towns to make such appropriations to any charitable institution or association.” (Va. Constitution Va. Con. Art. 4 § 16 (1971))
Leahy asked Del. John O’Bannon to seek an opinion from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as to the practice and it turns out Cuccinelli agreed with Leahy.
“Because that’s what the constitution says,” Leahy told me during an interview on NBC12 First at 4. ” It’s rather unambiguous about it. The state can’t give money to nonprofits it doesn’t own or control.”
Leahy’s quest has forced Governor McDonnell to step back from plans to donate $500 thousand to the Virginia Food Bank and another $500 thousand to Operation Smile. In a statement to the Washington Post, the Governor’s office said the Governor “requests the General Assembly join him to ensure that all appropriations and pending budget amendments conform to the Constitution.”
To be fair, Governor McDonnell is not the first government official to attempt to wrangle state money for charitable projects. Every other year the effort has been met with success, until now. Leahy believes someone finally took the time to read the document that guides the government’s work.
“It raises an uncomfortable question is that probably because no one has really read it,” he said. “I’ve gone around with reporters, too. Has nobody read this section? It’s right there.”
In fact Leahy and Cuccinelli’s view was backed up by the man the originally crafted that section of the Virginia constitution, Dick Howard.
“He said Cuccinelli got it right. It’s right there,” said Leahy. “It’s of essentially it’s the saving the legislature from itself clause. Otherwise, everybody beats on the door, ‘we want some money’. Who in the legislature does not want to play Santa Claus?”
You can see my full interview with Norm Leahy below. A complete transcript from our conversation can be found on NBC12.com.
The race for the House of Delegates seat in the 73rd district, which encompasses parts of the City of Richmond and Henrico has become emblematic of the larger war being fought over control of the chamber.
Tom Shields is a new face, carrying a democratic moniker of change and fresh leadership that he is hoping still resonates in the wake of Barack Obama‘s powerful win. Shields is getting quite a bit of support from state Democratic party leaders and if successful, would represent a major pickup for the left.
Incumbent, John O’Bannon, a republican, refuses to accept that his 30 years in the community can be swept away with just a little bit of effort in one election cycle. He reminded me last night that he beat a field of 6 candidates to capture the seat originally and he is more than capable of beating back this opponent as well.
I spoke briefly with both candidates prior to their debate last night at the University of Richmond, but had to leave before the debate really got going.
Here is an excerpt of the report filed by the UR college paper the Collegian on the debate followed by a link to their entire story. I hope to post my complete uncut interviews with both candidates at a later date.
House of Delegate candidates debate on campus
By: Reilly Moore
The Virginia House of Delegates election made a stop at the University of Richmond earlier tonight during a 73rd district debate in the Alice Haynes Room.
Republican incumbent Del. John M. O’Bannon, who has held the 73rd district seat in the House of Delegates for the past eight years, joined his opponent, University of Richmond professor Tom Shields, during a 90-minute debate. About 150 students, faculty and community members attended.
The candidates fielded questions from moderator Dan Palazzolo, a University of Richmond political science professor, about health care, transportation, education and the economy. Eight questions were written by Palazzolo before the debate and an additional eight were submitted by audience members. The candidates also both delivered opening and closing statements.
Read the full article by clicking here.
(h/t to Jimmy Young the online managing editor for The Collegian for the use of the article)
As promised, the entire uncut interviews with both candidates from the night of the debate are below:
Del. John O’Bannon (R)
Tom Shields (D)
Incumbent Del. John O’Bannon (R) will face off against his challenger Tom Shields (D) in a debate tonight (Thursday) at the University of Richmond. Both candidates have deep connections to the West End campus. Shields is currently a professor at the institution and Del. O’Bannon is an alum. The college is also in the heart of the district and its interest are front and center for any person representing that area.
Shields is part of a crop of new democratic candidates hoping to knock off long time republicans with the goal of shrinking or even perhaps swinging control of the House of Delegates. O’Bannon, a physician, is not taking Shields for granted in any way. He has a full-time campaign staff that keep the press regularly updated on his activity and the candidate himself has been pressing the flesh like a freshman on his first re-election bid.
It is also worth noting that our political analyst and my good friend Dr. Dan Palazzolo will be moderating the debate.
I hope to get over there for some of the debate and hope to have an update later tonight.
Details on the event can be found after the jump…
He has already spent many hours cris-crossing the 73rd district of Virginia, but today University of Richmond Professor Tom Shields officially kicked off his challenge to Republican incumbent John O’Bannon.
Shields is part of a group of serious challengers to Republican House members across the state, as the Democrats attempt to take control of the lower house of the General Assembly. It’s a position they have not been in since reconstruction.
While Shields has attempted to run a relatively upbeat campaign, he has not been afraid to go on the attack of his opponent. Shields has characterized O’Bannon, a neurologist from Henrico, as “out of touch”. He has also taken advantage of a coordinated attack, hatched by the Democratic Party of Virginia, to slap incumbent Republicans that prevented the Commonwealth from taking advantage of stimulus funds connected to unemployment insurance.
Shields struck a tone of independent leadership in his announcement before about 75 supporters at Tuckahoe Elementary School. He laid out a vision he claims goes above party labels to improve the economy, education and health care. Not surprisingly, his opponent didn’t agree. O’Bannon said the Shields roll-out was nothing more than a negative attack.
“Usually some time lapses between a candidate’s announcement and the initiating of negative campaigning,” O’Bannon said in a statement today. “Judging from his comments today, Mr. Shields is content to misrepresent and – in some instances – falsify my record before explaining to voters his own plans.”
And Shields was not afraid to draw differences between his campaign and how he views O’Bannon. “Time and again, O’Bannon has put his party leaders and the special interests above families in his own district,” said Shields. “I believe that the 73rd district deserves a new generation of independent leadership, and I look forward to a serious debate about the major issues facing Virginia.”
O’Bannon’s district is as reliably red as any in Virginia. However, the district did vote for Barack Obama last fall, as well as supporting Tim Kaine as well. It looks as though both of these candidates will not go down without a fight. There is a good chance though, that the overall mood of the state could have more to do with who wins in Henrico than the personalities of either of these candidates.
The Shields release and the O’Bannon response can be found after the jump..
It has been more than a week since my last post and looking back at what took place, I thought I would pick out a few key things that I thought were important.
*Bob McDonnell is very encouraged by poll numbers that show him at least 10 points up on any potential Democratic opponent. He also feels pretty good about his fund raising haul. His $3.5 million cash on hand is second only to Terry McAuliffe and McDonnell will not have to spend any money on an expensive primary.
*While McDonnell is riding high, Democrats are hoping to bruise him by making him target number one in their fight over the GOP’s block of changes to the state’s unemployment benefits package. The vote prevented Virginia from being eligible for $125 million dollars in stimulus money and McDonnell supported their efforts. All three democratic candidates for Governor signed a petition condemning his support of the plan.
*Democrats are not containing their displeasure over the unemployment vote to just the gubernatorial race. Party members will spend this weekend going door to door in GOP House districts to inform constituents about how their members voted. Del. John O’Bannon who is facing a fiesty challenge from Tom Shields in the 73rd district, is one of their targets.
*Brian Moran (who officially kicked off his campaign today in Northern Virginia) is dodging criticism over a Washington Post story that connects his brother Rep. Jim Moran‘s earmarks to his campaign donations. Moran’s campaign manager says there can be no influence because the former House Democratic leader is “entirely uninvolved” with his brother’s work in Washington.
*Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s Mayor who is hoping to be re-elected for a second time, despite the Big Apple’s two term limit, came to Virginia to meet with family members of the VA Tech tragedy. Bloomberg is specifically going after Bob McDonnell, who did not back down.
*Rep. Eric Cantor will be featured in a lengthy profile in tomorrow’s CBS Sunday Morning. A crew from the long form, feature news program followed the congressman through his local district. His segment is scheduled to air around 9:45am.
*The three Democratic candidates for Governor will meet in their first officially debate of the primary season. Brian Moran, Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds will meet in the Farm Team Debate at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. I will be there and am planning to liveblog the affair on nbc12.com.
What did I miss? Let me know if something else signifcant happened that did not make my recap.
Today will be a relatively quiet day, before the Richmond area braces for a full on assault by both campaigns for President. Tomorrow, President Clinton comes to VCU for an event in support of Barack Obama and then Monday VP candidate Sarah Palin will headline a rally at RIR. In preparation for these events are a few developments worth noting.
Rep. Jan Schkowksy will be in Richmond all day tomorrow leading up to the Clinton appearance that night. The Illinois Congresswoman serves in the state’s congressional delegation with Barack Obama and will be meeting with supporters and will participate in a forum at Temple Beth-El in Richmond which I will be moderating. The McCain campaign will be represented at the same forum by local Delegate Dr. John O’Bannon. Here are the details of the event, if you are interested. Stop by and say hello. It will be a good chance to see what both campaigns have to say.
Temple Beth-El Sisterhood Forum
When: 2 p.m.
Location: Temple Beth-El, 3330 Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Del. Dr. John O’Bannon (R-VA)
Gail Parker (Independent Greens for VA)
Moderated by Ryan Nobles, NBC12
Also breaking today is news that Sarah Palin’s visit to Richmond is going to have some pretty big country music star power attached to it. The campaign announced today that Hank Williams Jr. and John Rich will be performing at the event in Richmond on Monday. Williams Jr. is also going to be with McCain and Palin in Virginia Beach. Rich is one half of the massive duo Big and Rich which is best known for their hit Save A Horse (Ride a Cowboy). Jerry Kilgore, the McCain campaign’s Virginia Co-Chair told me last night that they have received over 20 thousand RSVPs already for the event. I can only imagine how this latest injection of star power could bring even more people in.