Posts Tagged ‘Kirk Cox’
The most important things happening in the 2012 presidential campaign are no doubt coming from Iowa, with their first in the nation caucus just a few days away. But while the candidates make their closing arguments, the Virginia ballot squabble continues to hang over the discussion.
In the most interesting development from today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich put the blame for missing the ballot on a single member of his campaign team that collected signatures on his behalf. During an event today, Gingrich explained his failure to make the ballot as the result of his staff member committing fraud.
“We hired somebody who turned in false signatures,” said Gingrich. ”We turned in 11,100 – we needed 10,000 – 1,500 of them were by one guy who frankly committed fraud.” (h/t CNN)
Sources that were inside the room while the ballots were being counted say tell me that the Gingrich’s account “closely mirrors” what they saw that night.
The conservative website Bearing Drift, reported the night of the counting that the rumor from the inside was that about 2,000 signatures were going to be tossed.
This unlikely scenario was actually predicted by a satirical twitter page, designed to make fun of NBC12. I have more on that on my facebook page.
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Rick Perry‘s campaign continues its legal challenge to get access to the Virginia ballot. Today they requested an emergency order in federal court to require Virginia’s Board of Elections to place his name on the ballot.
His campaign contends that the voters are the ones whose rights are being violated by leaving them fewer options for Super Tuesday.
In an interview on NBC12 First at 4, Perry Communications director Ray Sullivan told me from Iowa that despite his commitment to state’s rights, the Texas governor, believes the federal courts have every right to intervene.
“He (Perry) believes the Constitution gives both the voters and citizens of Virginia as well as the candidates the reasonable rights to the political process that we believe are being are infringed by onerous and restrictive ballot access rules,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan claims that Virginia’s requirement of 10,000 signatures, including 400 from each congressional district is particularly restrictive.
“The 10,000 requirement when you have 7 candidates seeking a pool of 119,000 republican voters is an unreasonable and onerous burden to put on the candidates,” said Sullivan. “That in effect, denies people the right to participate in the political process.”
But what Sullivan couldn’t explain, was how the campaign told the Virginia Board of Elections that they had collected more than 11,000 signatures when in reality, only 6,000 were handed in.
“I don’t have an explanation for you,” said Sullivan. ”The petitions were turned in.”
You can see our entire interview with Sullivan below:
While the campaigns made moves of their own to re-establish themselves on the Virginia ballot, former Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Paul Goldman called for state lawmakers to enact “emergency legislation” to allow more people to get on the ballot. A path that House Majority Leader Kirk Cox told us yesterday was unlikely.
Andy Jenks has that part of the story on NBC12.com.
And while all these different groups continued to make excuses and attack the Republican Party of Virginia, today the party struck back. They released a passionate defense of their petition certification process and reminded reporters of their intial assessment that Perry and Gingrich fell well short of the 10,000 mark.
“The failure of these two candidates to meet the state requirements does not call into question the accuracy of the Party’s certification of the two candidates who are duly qualified to appear on the ballot,” wrote party spokesman Garren Shipley.
Their full statement can be found after the jump:
Virginia House Majority Leader Kirk Cox doesn’t like the odds of the General Assembly altering the rules to allow more candidates onto the GOP presidential primary ballot in March. In an interview with NBC12′s Andy Jenks, Cox said the chances of that happening are “zero to none”.
Cox sympathizes with Texas Governor Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who were kicked off the ballot after not getting enough qualified signatures, but said they knew the rules ahead of time. According to Cox, their poor planning should not lead the state legislature to rush in to changing the standards.
“I think the biggest mistake you can make though is to jump into it and say, Oh yeah because one candidate was affected let us go back and completely change the law,” he said. “I think that makes bad policy.”
Cox is open to changing the law in the future, but doubts that there will be an appetite for rushing through legislation before March. His opinion is different that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who assailed the process in a e-newsletter to his supporters. While Cuccinelli’s opinion matters, Cox is among a small group of lawmakers with the power to actually change the law. The fact that he appears unwilling to do so speaks volumes.
His perspective seems to be in line with Governor Bob McDonnell, who in the wake of the ballot controversy told us that the rules are the rules.
“If somebody doesn’t like the rules, maybe the legislature can change it next time,” said McDonnell. ”But everybody knew this was the rules to compete with.” Extended clips from McDonnell’s remarks can be found below.
But the legislature may be one of several paths that supporters of the candidates left out may be able to take. Former Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Paul Goldman is exploring some of those options with the conservative “Citizens for the Republic’. Today on First at 4, Goldman told me it’s not about Gingrich or Romney it is about the voters who will have fewer options to choose from.
UPDATE: It appears Goldman is not the only looking into a non-leglislative solution to the ballot access problem. Late today the campaign for Rick Perry announced that they have filed a Federal Court Challenge to the RPV’s decision to deny him access to the ballot.
His challenge can be found here.
Goldman hopes to reveal his plan to help get more candidates on the ballot as soon as tomorrow. My conversation with him from First at 4 can be found below:
Governor McDonnell’s comments on the subject can be seen below:
It could be one of the most important battles in the upcoming Virginia General Assembly legislative session. The Commonwealth has held onto a 3 decade old moratorium on uranium mining. Could 2012 be the year the moratorium is lifted? I examine the efforts being made on both sides in this debate and how Tuesday’s election could play a big role in the ultimate outcome.
CHATHAM, VA (WWBT) - It has been illegal in Virginia for more than three decades, but now a powerful push is on to lift the ban on uranium mining.
This Tuesday’s election could play a crucial role in deciding the future of that ban. Virginia Uranium has donated more than $100,000 to candidates across Virginia.
Their goal is to take a 35 hundred acre site in Chatham and turn it into a $10 billion mine.
Pittsylvania County is the next frontier in uranium. The element is the principle building block of nuclear energy and an incredibly valuable commodity.
“As a world we already operating at a deficit,” said Patrick Wales, a Danville native and the project manager for Virginia Uranium’s potential mine.
The company is stepping up their efforts to get that expensive material out of the ground and into the global economy.
“Creating energy independence, for this commonwealth, for this country,” said Wales. “And we can do it all by putting 325 people to work.”
Chatham native Walter Coles, the owner of Virginia Uranium has invested heavily in the idea that Virginia is up to opening up this mine.
Over the last three years his company has employed 15 different lobbyists from 4 different firms and has directly donated more than $116,000 to candidates in the General Assembly.
Chesterfield Senator John Watkins is one of them.
“I don’t stand to profit from Virginia Uranium,” said Watkins
…read the rest of the story on NBC12.com.
I caught up with Rep. Eric Cantor on Friday. He was touring the brand new Patrick Henry School of Arts and Sciences. The facility is the first charter school in Richmond and Cantor, along with his fellow Republican Governor Bob McDonnell are big supporters of the project.
During our conversation, I asked the Congressman what he thought about the news that Virginia’s budget ended the fiscal year with a surplus of more than $400 million. Governor McDonnell explained on Thursday how the Commonwealth went from billions of dollars in the red to almost half a billion dollars to the good. He attributed the turnaround to a number of factors, including new efficiencies at state agencies, an increase in tax collections and of course, the Federal Stimulus plan. It was a point that national Democrats were happy to pounce on.
While McDonnell presented the good fiscal news as a positive development, he warned that the worst is not over. He said there is still a possibility of a double-dip recession and he and his budget team are forecasting conservatively as a result.
One of the Governor’s chief allies in the House of Delegates went even further. Del. Kirk Cox, the Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations Committee told me during a live interview on First at 4 that we was “worried” about what the budget situation could be like next spring. Cox said he doesn’t expect any more money to come from Washington and Virginia should hold on to what they’ve got.
“Before we go spending the surplus, we need to know what the growth rates are going to be,” said Cox. ”Currently we projecting about a 3.8% growth rate and that’s pretty slow coming out of recession. If it’s less than that, we probably have to bank some of that money for basically a reserve.”
During our conversation Congressman Cantor said that stimulus money isn’t something Virginia should be using at all. “The stimulus was meant to create jobs,” he said. “From that perspective it has been a complete failure.”
Cantor said that even though Virginia was able to get through this budget storm, the worst may still be to come, in part because the stimulus hasn’t lived up to its promise. The Republican is concerned that next year Virginia could get hit with a double whammy. An economy still struggling to recover, coupled with no guaranteed money from Washington.
“That cash is no longer there, the jobs aren’t there and the people of this Commonwealth and the country in a much larger sense, are stuck with the bill.”
It seems like everyone is worried about what is to come.
You can see my entire interview with Del. Kirk Cox by clicking here.
An extended clip from my interview with Congressman Cantor is below:
The Associated Press’ Bob Lewis broke the news that Governor Bob McDonnell will announce on Thursday that the state has a surplus of more than $400 million. A surplus of almost a half a billion dollars after a difficult budget process that resulted in cuts of around $4 billion.
At this point McDonnell is staying mum on the issue, allowing the leak to do the talking and vested stakeholders to fill the void. NBC12′s Andy Jenks reported today about how some already making plans to spend the cash. You can see and read Andy’s report on NBC12.com.
It is shaping up to be a busy week for McDonnell. In addition to his address to the General Assembly money committees where he is expected to outline the surplus, the Governor will hold his third town hall to pitch his ABC privatization plan. Both events happen on Thursday. The town hall will be held in Chester and will be the first in Richmond area.
Today (Tuesday), McDonnell made his opposition to the Pentagon plan to close Joint Forces Command Norfolk official, by sending letters to President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. McDonnell emphasized his belief that going outside the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process was inappropriate. You can see my report on that issue on NBC12.com.
Finally, McDonnell reached out to the minority community by gathering together his Supplier Diversity Advisory Board. It is a commission designed to provide better access to government contracts for women and minority owned companies. (The above photo is from that meeting provided by the Governor’s office) You can learn more about the board on the Governor’s web site.
We have a number of interesting things planned to cover some of these issues this week on NBC12. Here is what you can expect:
*Complete coverage of the Governor’s address to the money committees, including what his administration’s plans are for the extra cash. We’ll have reports at 5 &6.
*On First at 4- We’ll have our second “hot-topic” round table discussion. The topic will be ABC privatization. We’ll have two experts discuss the issue with perspectives for and against. (A full preview of that segment tomorrow)
*Complete coverage of the “Virginia Speaks” Town Hall from Chester, where McDonnell meets with constituents to pitch his plan. We’ll have a report on 12 News at 11.
*On First at 4- Del. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), the Chairman of the House Appropriations committee and a key player in the State’s finances will be my live guest to discuss how the legislature will react to the Commonwealth’s new-found surplus.
Multiple reporters stationed at the Capitol, including NBC12′s Andy Jenks and The Washington Post’s Anita Kumar are hearing that a budget deal could come down sometime tonight. According to interview by WRVA radio‘s Matt Demline with Chesterfield Del. Kirk Cox, the deal could happen around 6pm tonight (Saturday). Cox said the two sides are only about $5 million apart. That is a remarkably small divide, considering the full budget is about $70 billion and the gap they needed to fill was $2 billion plus.
Andy will have a live report tonight on NBC12 news at 6. He is also tweeting updates as he gets them.
More, when we hear more.