To drill or not to drill ?
Does anyone remember the debate held last summer at The Homestead in Hot Springs between Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner? That debate was less than a year ago, but the issues that the two sparred about on that day could not be more different than the top issues concerning Virginians today. At the time, Warner and Gilmore found a way to weave the answer to every single question back to their commitment to find a way to make America energy independent. In Gilmore’s case that solution kept back to his belief that we need to drill right way away.
It seemed like only a few months later the price of oil fell dramatically and the credit crisis began. All of the sudden as the price of gas dropped below $2 a gallon the idea of “drill baby drill” became less and less urgent.
While that issue may have been relegated to the background, the problems connected to it have not gone away. I would imagine that very few Virginians have confidence that this low price honeymoon with the gas pump is here to stay. The answers to this problem offer us the opportunity to draw clear distinctions in the race for Governor in a year where all of the candidates are doing their best to hide their partisan prerogatives.
Read more about how the Democrats responded after the jump…
On Friday, Bob McDonnell drew the first sword. He sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar asking him to reject a request by Gov. Tim Kaine to delay the sale of a lease for exploration of exploration and development of energy resources off the Virginia coast. But asking for the delay itself, wasn’t enough for Mr. McDonnell, who wrote the letter and left spaces for the three Democratic gubernatorial candidates to sign in an effort to get them on the record as to where they stand on the issue of drilling.
The move, while ceremonial, could end up playing a bigger role in the Democratic primary than it does the General Election. McDonnell must feel comfortable that the majority of Virginians are on board with drilling offshore. However, I am sure very few people believe that the majority of Democrats are in favor of the idea. This puts the three Democrats (particularly the ones trying to run more to the middle) in a tough position. Do they stake out their position this early in the game in an effort to draw more Democrats into the fold or do they ambiguously approach the topic in a way that could alienate potential moderate supporters come election day?
The Democrats did not take the bait. All three candidates (Terry McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran) released strong statements in opposition to letter, and stated their commitment to developing “green forms of energy”. It shows that when it comes to this issue voters will have a clear choice come November regardless of who the Democrats choose.
To drill- Republicans, not to drill- Democrats.