"Mr. Moderate campaigns with Mike Huckabee?"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Excellent point by "stopbob": "Mr. Moderate campaigns with Mike Huckabee?"
The lone Republican in the race for the governor's job, McDonnell is counting on Huckabee to help him raise cash for the impending battle with the winner of the Democratic nomination. Three candidates are running for the Democratic nod: former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe of McLean, former Del. Brian J. Moran of Alexandria and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County.

Huckabee was scheduled to appear last night at a fundraising event for McDonnell in Bristol, where the former state attorney general hoped to raise $130,000. McDonnell and Huckabee plan to be in Virginia Beach today at an event expected to raise an additional $180,000, McDonnell spokesman J. Tucker Martin said.
Here are a few good Huckabee quotes:
*"Pro-life isn't just a political ideology, it goes to the very root and core of who we are and what we think about life, and the core is that we value it."

*"I'm for keeping marriage the only way it' ever been in history; and until Moses brings two stone tablets down from Brokeback Mountain that say we've changed the rules, we're going to keep it that way."

*"...I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."

*" know, if anybody wants to believe they’re the descendants of a primate, they’re welcome to do it."

*"I didn’t major in math. I majored in miracles, and I still believe in them, too."

Yeah, and it would take a "miracle" - and millions of dollars - to convince Virginians that Bob McDonnell has changed from a Pat Robertson, right-wing extremist into a "moderate."

Boilermakers: "Terry has spent years fighting for working families"

Another excellent labor endorsement for Terry McAuliffe, following yesterday's thumbs-up by AFSCME. Increasingly, Terry McAuliffe is being recognized by organized labor as the candidate to support if you care about "jobs, jobs, jobs" for Virginians. To quote the Boilermakers, "Terry has spent years fighting for working families...Terry is the best answer to Virginia's need for a leader who can take on some very tough challenges and build a stronger economy." Go Terry!
International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Endorses Terry McAuliffe for Governor

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, AFL-CIO, today offered its endorsement of Terry McAuliffe for governor, citing Terry's energetic, fresh, approach to create and protect jobs.

The Boilermakers are a diverse union representing over 2,500 workers throughout the Commonwealth. Boilermakers contribute to the security and comfort of all Virginians through their work in Power Generation, Refinery and Paper Industry Construction, Maintenance & Repair, Storage Tanks & Water Towers, Shipbuilding & Repair, and Cement, Lime & Gypsum Production.

Boilermakers International President Newton B. Jones released the following statement regarding their endorsement:

"Terry stands with those who are the heart and soul of this great Commonwealth - those who clock in early and often work late, those who build and maintain our energy infrastructure and repair our Naval vessels, those who make Virginia great through their simple daily contribution to our economy and our way of life, among them, Boilermaker members.

"Terry has spent years fighting for working families. Like millions of other Americans, Boilermakers are nervous about the economy and about their future, and their children's future. There is uncertainty and concern, but also hope. We believe our best days are ahead of us and Terry is the best answer to Virginia's need for a leader who can take on some very tough challenges and build a stronger economy."

By the way, in February 2008, the Boilermakers endorsed Barack Obama for President, saying that Obama "understands the needs and wants of American workers, and he’s deeply committed to the issues that will make a difference in our lives." The Boilermakers were right then, and they're right now.

UPDATE: Terry McAuliffe responds to the Boilermakers' endorsement with the following statement:
I am counting on Virginia's workers to be my number one partner in the governor's office. Hardworking men and women like those from the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers run our ports, maintain our infrastructure, and make Virginia a safer place for all residents. They are an incredible asset to the Commonwealth, and I will be honored to work with them as governor.

PPP Poll: Most Still Undecided, Moran and Wagner Lead Other Candidates

Public Policy Polling is out with a new Virginia Democratic poll. Here are the results (last poll's results in parentheses).

Undecided: 45% (46%)
Brian Moran: 22% (19%)
Terry McAuliffe: 18% (21%)
Creigh Deeds: 15% (14%)

According to PPP's blog, "A combination of possible voter fatigue following the 2008 election cycle and the fact that the candidates have not really started heavy spending on advertising yet has the outcome of this race still very much up in the air 10 weeks out from election day."

Lieutenant Governor
Undecided: 67% (73%)
Jody Wagner: 21% (9%)
Jon Bowerbank: 4% (3%)
Pat Edmonson: 4% (6%)
Mike Signer: 4% (5%)

According to PPP's blog, "There is a little more separation in the contest for Lieutenant Governor this month. Jody Wagner is now leading with 21% with all three of her opponents- Jon Bowerbank, Pat Edmonson, and Michael Signer- lagging at 4%." Jody Wagner surged from 9% to 21%, while the other candidates didn't really move. That seems significant to me, although with 67% undecided, maybe not so much really...

Eric Cantor: Obama Budget "Irresponsible," "Unfocused," "Out of the Mainstream"

That's right, this nonsense is from a leader in the party that just spent 8 years proving it was totally "irresponsible," "unfocused," and "out of the mainstream." Oh, and I just love Cantor's (supposed) newfound concern for the American family. Didn't the Republicans' presidential candidate in 2008 have a top economic advisor (Phil Gramm) who said America was a "nation of whiners" for not sucking it up sufficiently on the Bush economic meltdown? Apparently, Eric Cantor has forgotten all that, not to mention his own party turning budget surpluses under Bill Clinton into huge deficits under its "leadership" (using the term very loosely). I wonder what else Eric Cantor has conveniently forgotten?

Draft Levar Stoney for House of Delegates?

I like Levar Stoney a lot and would be very happy if this were true.
With the retirement last week of longtime Delegate Frank Hall, an prominent district has opened in the House of Delegates and already potential candidates are lining up. Among them is Democratic Party of Virginia Executive Director Levar Stoney. Stoney is a rising star in Democratic Party circles who rose to prominence in the state party ranks at a relativley young age. He also is the first African American to hold the post of Executive Director in the DPVA.

A pretty well organized effort is afoot to “draft” stoney to run for Hall’s open seat in Virginia’s 69th District which includes portions of Chesterfield and Richmond. A new blog has emerged ( and a companion twitter account. The two tout Stoney’s leadership at DPVA and encourages voters to support Stoney as the “real democrat” in Virginia’s 69th district.

I'm not sure what "real Democrat" means exactly, but Levar certainly is a strong Democrat and - as far as I know - a progressive. I'll try to get some comment directly from Levar...

In Case You Missed Him

In case you missed the show, Jim Webb was on the Diane Rehm Show yesterday talking about "U.S. drug policies and proposed changes to the criminal justice system." The recording is here, and Webb comes on at 13:30.

Brian Patton's Website

My good friend Brian Patton is running for Commonwealth's Attorney in Russell County and I'm strongly supporting him. Brian's website is now up and looking great, including endorsements from Phil Puckett, Bud Phillips, Dan Bowling, Jon Bowerbank and many others. Go Brian!

"If they could do it, they would"

There's an excellent quote this morning by GMU public policy professor Mark Rozell in Anita Kumar's Washington Post article, "McAuliffe's Fundraising: High-Dollar, High-Mileage." Talking about the huge amounts of money Terry McAuliffe has raised for the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates in the past, as well as his current fundraising efforts for his own Virginia gubernatorial campaign, Rozell says that "McAuliffe's money will allow him to spend more on outreach and advertising and will probably not hurt him in the primary." Here's the money quote, so to speak: :)
"All they can do is complain," Rozell said. "The reality is if they could do it, they would."
Exactly right. What politician would NOT raise tons of money if they COULD raise tons of money? For instance, in 2006, I remember George Allen criticizing the seriously cash-strapped Jim Webb for raising money from "Hollywood movie moguls." That criticism never stuck to Webb. If anything, it backfired, as it was so silly and not at all what people cared about. This time around, my guess is that Mark Rozell is correct, that all other candidates can do is "complain" about Terry McAuliffe's prodigious fundraising, but that in the end it "will probably not hurt him in the primary" since everyone knows that any candidate would do the same exact thing "if they could."

P.S. We'll find out by April 15 how much money the candidates raised from January 1 through March 31.

Republicans Are Energized; We'd Better Be Too

Courtesy of Too Conservative, the pro-Republican crowd's long, standing ovation for our friend Bob McDonnell (after the intro by his daughter) tells us what we're going to be up against this summer and fall. The fact is, Republicans are energized this year like Democrats were last year, 2 years ago, and 4 years ago. In contrast, I'm concerned that after two narrow special election victories (Charniele Herring and Sharon Bulova) which should have been much larger, and one special election loss (Moon) that should have been a win, Democrats are a bit passive right now, maybe still celebrating our victories this past November. That's fine to a point, but after June 9 -- if not sooner -- we will need to ramp up the energy level fast if we hope to beat Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and possibly Ken Cuccinelli this November.

McDonnell Should Call for a Real Special Prosecutor

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bob McDonnell offers his service as a prosecutor as a unique qualification. It fits nicely with his “Top Cop” persona. Unfortunately the integrity of the very Commonwealth's Attorney’s Office in which he served is called to question over the dismissal of a Harvey Bryant challenger by a fellow Commonwealth’s Attorney and crony.

Bryant backpedalled from investigating a flyer passed out at polling places with significant minority populations which featured the smiling countenance of Will Sessoms, a candidate for Virginia Beach Mayor associated with the Republican Party standing beside the Democratic candidate for President, Barack Obama. He passed that investigation off to pal Mobley's office like a hot potato and, like Pilate, washed his hands of the matter. Mobley dragged his feet on the investigation, probably hoping no one would call him on it. There is no reason to believe that Bryant was bothered by the lack of progress. Meanwhile, a young member of the Mobley's office, Mark Hardman, started exploring a run for office against Virginia Beach’s Commonwealth’s Attorney who was Mobley’s fellow Republican and close acquaintance. Suddenly, Mark Hardman’s services were suddenly no longer required in Portsmouth for reasons about which Mobley has not been forthright. His spokesman denied Hardman's claim that he was fired because Mobley and Bryant are friends. Unfortunately for Mobley, that was very much the reason Mobley gave Hardman and Hardman will show it. Ouch. Now what else should we believe?

To some extent, this is not surprising. As I discovered in the military, there is no certain imperative that prosecutors be superior jurists. There are many fine layers who are prosecutors but military lawyers assigned to the prosecution side are sometimes the lawyers waiting to take or pass the BAR, some who have already failed, and those who are less than competent or unwanted on the defense side of the courtroom. It is morally intolerable when an innocent defendant receives a poor defense. It's a miscarriage of justice when a guilty defendant goes free. If there is an imbalance, I'm willing to accept the error on the side of the defendant. But being a prosecutor fails as a proof source for competence.

At least there was no evidence of or reason for any among the military prosecutors I encountered to cut deals among themselves to protect their pals. The beauty of a closed system, I suppose. Well, our system in Virginia isn't closed and it is apparent that it lacks integrity. Maybe it is the politicization of the office of Commonwealth's Attorney or maybe it is the culture itself. Where is the oversight from the office of the Attorney General?

As an aside, I have old friends who cut their teeth as prosecutors in Hawaii. They taught me the politics of the office when on one visit I went with them to two political functions; one each for the Republican and Democratic candidates for the same state office. At each one, they dropped a check in the hat for each candidate in equal amounts. Those were the days before a service like the Virginia Public Access Project revealed such conflicts in support. The fact was that their names needed to be on the contributor's list of each candidate to ensure they could keep their positions no matter the outcome.

So, there is a balancing act in public service after all, and Hardman lost his balance through no fault of his own. He was faced with an uneven weight: the loyalty to a friend that outweighed a moral and ethical imperative. The truth will set you free and the truth set Mark Hardman free from his position in the Portsmouth Commonwealth's Attorney's office and in the end may set Mobley and Bryant free from their positions. When Mark Hardman chose to work at the pleasure of his employer, he did not know that that pleasure would include helping Harvey Bryant fend off a potential challenge.

There may be a bright side to this. Mobley didn't realize that he had drawn attention to himself and his office. He certainly will now. It is interesting that after the original story broke about the firing and a blog I posted mentioned the failure to pursue the Sessoms flyer investigation, that Mobley’s office directed more effort to the investigation for whatever reason. And maybe those social conservatives who support both Mobley and Bryant will look a little closer at the moral litmus test they like to apply for character when they choose to support them.

And maybe constituents will think twice before they accept Taliban Bob’s service in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office to show his veracity by inference. Not to mention his claim of working to enhance victim’s rights. Going forward we should look closely at the missed opportunities in that area while he served as Attorney General. But here’s a suggestion to persuade us that he means business about going after criminals: Bob McDonnell should demand that the investigation into the distribution of those flyers not end until person(s) responsible are indicted.

Video: Gov. Kaine Press Conference

There's a discussion of the "Choose Life" license plates at about 31:30. According to Gov. Kaine, once a state allows messages on license plates, they can't discriminate. So, if Planned Parenthood comes to the General Assembly and wants a license plate, Virginia has to grant them one.

Top Fundraisers on ActBlue

With the end-of-quarter fundraising deadline fast approaching, here are the top fundraisers on ActBlue, "The online clearinghouse for Democratic action," as of 7:24 pm Monday.

Terry McAuliffe: $16,708
Brian Moran: $8,534
Creigh Deeds: $7,715

Lieutenant Governor
Jody Wagner: $181,356
Jon Bowerbank: $85,640
Mike Signer: $15,639
Pat Edmonson: $1,038

UPDATE: From Matt in the comments section, "I spoke to some people at the Signer campaign today, and they are primarily using NGP for online donations. They have way more donors from there than have come from ActBlue." And, of course, this very well could be the case for other candidates as well. For this blog post, I just wanted to see how everyone was doing on ActBlue.

UPDATE #2: From a Signer for LG email, "Our insurgent campaign has managed to generate roughly the same level of online support as the presumed front-runner in just under two months - quite an accomplishment since our opponent has been running for the better part of a year." We'll find out in the next week or two what everyone raised in the first quarter. I'm very curious to find out, as I'm sure many people are.

NOW is Not Pleased

I received the following a few hours ago from Marj Signer of the Virginia National Organization for Women. To put it mildly, they are not pleased.
Friends - Let Governor Kaine know you are outraged that he is signing the "Choose Life" license plate bill by emailing him via his website.
We need to let him know that his decision is damaging to women's healthcare services and calls into question Virginia's claim to be progressive and trending "blue." If you're a Democrat, you might want to state that. Women are the majority of Democratic voters - and Democratic women are overwhelmingly pro-choice. Is this the way of the Democratic Party under DNC Chair Timothy Kaine?

Here's his website:

For equality,

Marj Signer
Virginia NOW
I presume that Tim Kaine's argument is that we can't say no to the "Choose Life" license plate when we allow dozens of other ones (e.g., "Home Education," "Sons of Confederate Veterans," "Support Our Troops," "Friend of the Chesapeake" and "Peace"). What next, is Dominion Power going to get its own special license plate? LOL. Seriously, perhaps it's time to rein this in a bit?

P.S. It looks like this bill passed by veto-proof margins in the House and Senate. In addition to "Choose Life," the bill authorized special plates for tourism and conservation on the Northern Neck and for supporters of the Shenandoah National Park Trust.

47th House of Delegates District Update

A few items of note from the 5-way, 47th House of Delegates district race between Miles Grant, Adam Parkhomenko, Alan Howze, Patrick Hope and Andres Tobar.

*The first candidates debate will be held this Thursday, April 2, at the Barcroft School and Civic League Meeting. According to the groundrules, each candidate will have up to 2 minutes to make an opening statement. "Following the opening statements, questions will come from the audience with BSCL dues-paying members allowed to go first." I presume all the candidates will be at this debate, which is the first of several in the race to succeed retiring Del. Al Eisenberg.

*Looking at the candidates' voting records since 2003 (from the VAN), a few things jump out at me. First, Andres Tobar "does not show up in the 47th district voter file." Second, all the other candidates except for Alan Howze voted in the 2006 Webb-Miller primary. Third, none of the candidates listed in the voter file are shown having voted in a Republican primary since 2003. Finally, Adam Parkhomenko has voted in the most Democratic primaries (7) since 2003. Patrick Hope has voted in 6 Democratic primaries, Miles Grant and Alan Howze in 3 each.

*Alan Howze's website header is a bit odd, as he's got two pictures from outside the 47th House of Delegates district, where he's running. One photo is of the Air Force Memorial, located in the 48th district [correction: the Memorial apparently is just over the line into the 48th; my bad!]. Another photo appears to be a ride-on bus from Montgomery County, Maryland - not exactly in Virginia's 48th district. (note: I emailed to the campaign a couple of days ago to alert them to this, but they haven't responded or changed the website header)

*To date, I have received responses to my questionnaire from Adam Parkhomenko, Miles Grant and Patrick Hope. I have not received responses from Andres Tobar or Alan Howze.

*Adam Parkhomenko picked up endorsements from the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association and the SEIU/NAGE Local R3-05. I'm also hearing that another union in Arlington County is set to endorse Parkhomenko this week.

UPDATE: I was just informed that Andres Tobar was endorsed by current and former members of the Arlington School Board, Libby Garvey and Frank Wilson.

UPDATE #2: Josh Reubner, who has run twice for the Arlington County Board as a Green Party candidate, is rumored to be thinking about running this year for House of Delegates in the 47th. Reubner would have until June 9 at 7 PM to file as a Green or as an independent, but the deadline for filing to run in the Democratic primary is April 10 at 5 PM).

UPDATE #3: Following this story, Alan Howze's campaign changed the Montgomery County, MD Ride-On bus image on its website to one of an Arlington "ART" bus.

Virginia Moving Backwards on Stem Cell Research?

This is not acceptable.
That no award from the Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund may be provided if the otherwise qualified business performs research in Virginia on human cells or tissue derived from induced abortions or from stem cells obtained from human embryos, nor shall any award from the Fund be used for such research. The foregoing provision shall not apply to research conducted using stem cells other than embryonic stem cells.
Fortunately, President Obama is moving the country in the right direction on this issue, but what's the deal with the Virginia General Assembly?

P.S. And how on earth did it pass 99-0 in the House and 38-2 in the Senate?

h/t NLS

UPDATE: 47th House of Delegates candidate Miles Grants tweets, "Add stem cells to climate, gay marriage & death penalty on list of issues on which Virginia needs to move into 21st century."

UPDATE #2: Terry McAuliffe weighs in at NLS.
Research conducted using stem cells of all types, including genetically matched embryonic stem cells, represents our best hope for curing diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes. Now that President Obama has lifted the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, we should do our part to encourage ethically responsible stem cell research at our public universities and state-funded research facilities. As Governor, I will give our scientists the tools they need to cure diseases that devastate our families.

Tom Perriello Meets With Veterans Advisory Board

AIAW on "The Survival of the Progressive Virginia Blogosphere"

As always, Karen at Anonymous is a Woman (AIAW) has a well-written, intelligent diary on her excellent blog. This time, it's about no less than the "survival of the progressive Virginia blogosphere." Here's an excerpt:
Like many others across the progressive blogosphere, I was stunned by the level of acrimony that we were descending into in the primaries. And when Blue Commonwealth finally decided to fold under the weight of it, I was distressed all day yesterday.

Without a solid community blog, there would be a huge vacuum in Virginia progressive politics. Despite the disagreements over which candidate to support in the primary, bloggers create value in the election process. That's why all of the major campaigns have put out time and money to woo bloggers. Each of the gubernatorial campaigns has hosted blogger dinners, teleconferences, and interviews with bloggers. They have embraced live blogging and sat down for interviews with bloggers. Even small fry like me have been offered exclusive interviews. I don't do interviews because to do them properly and respectfully of the candidate, I think it requires lots of work researching the interviewees background and composing intelligent and challenging questions for him to answer. In short, interviewing is a skill that requires more dedication, time, and work than I am willing to give to what is for me a hobby.

If you're interested - and I definitely recommend it - you can read the entire article here.

AFSCME Endorses Terry McAuliffe for Governor

A great labor endorsement, and no doubt one of many more to come, as people grow increasingly enthused about what they're seeing and hearing from Terry McAuliffe. The fact is, Terry McAuliffe is the true progressive in this race, all protestations, whining, screaming, and slime-slinging by one particular campaign (and a handful of its supporters) to the contrary.
Today, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest union in the AFL-CIO, endorsed Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia. AFSCME, which has more than 10,000 union and household members in Virginia, cited McAuliffe's leadership, business experience and bold vision for Virginia, calling him the candidate best equipped to get Virginia's economy back on track. McAuliffe has been a longtime supporter of AFSCME's and working family issues.

"In these tough economic times, it is more critical than ever that we work to grow the economy," said AFSCME International President Gerald W. McEntee. "AFSCME members are on the front-line delivering Virginia's public services, and we can see all too clearly that Virginians' needs are greater than ever. Terry McAuliffe understands those needs. He will work to address rising unemployment head-on by creating new jobs and new opportunities throughout the Commonwealth. Not only do we support his vision of a stronger Virginia, we will be proud to work with him to make it happen."

Last Monday, McAuliffe unveiled the second chapter of his Business Plan for Virginia, which focused on measures to create, attract, and keep good jobs with good benefits for every Virginian family. Throughout the chapter, McAuliffe emphasized Virginia's skilled and dedicated workers as one of the Commonwealth's greatest assets.

"I am proud to have earned AFSCME's endorsement," said McAuliffe. "Every day, their members are working to serve the people of Virginia, and I will be honored to have them at my side. Together, we will work to create quality jobs and establish Virginia as a leader in the new economy."

Del. Ken Plum Address "Results Not Roadblocks" Rally

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earlier today in Annandale, Del. Ken Plum addressed a crowd of about 100 Democrats at the "Results Not Roadblocks" rally. The rally took place 15 minutes following the conclusion of Republican gubernatorial Bob McDonnell's kickoff tour event down the road.

Dick Saslaw Addresses "Results Not Roadblocks" Rally

Earlier today in Annandale, Sen. Dick Saslaw addressed a crowd of about 100 Democrats at the "Results Not Roadblocks" rally. The rally took place 15 minutes following the conclusion of Republican gubernatorial Bob McDonnell's kickoff tour event down the road.

Lunch With Dick Cranwell

After the rally today in Annandale, I had lunch with DPVA Chairman Dick Cranwell (as well as "Kindler" from Blue Commonwealth and Jared Leopold from the state party). This was the first time I'd ever had a chance to sit down and talk with Cranwell since I started blogging about Virginia politics back in January 2005. Anyway, better late than never.

Some of the main points Cranwell made during lunch, which was "on the record," were:

*This is an election not so much about change as about furthering the progress we've made in Virginia the past few years under Democratic leadership.

*Democrats have fertile ground for House of Delegates pickups in Northern Virginia, but we also need to defend all the seats we have now and pick up a few outside of Northern Virginia.

*This will be an expensive race, maybe $40 million for the governor's race alone, but it's possible that the economy will tamp down donations and campaign spending.

*Getting out our vote is crucial, and that's going to require field organization, message, candidate strength, and figuring out a way to motivate Democrats. Right now, Republicans appear more motivated, as special elections in Alexandria and Fairfax the past few months demonstrated.

*Bob McDonnell will attempt to paint himself as a "moderate." Our job as Democrats is to let people know McDonnell's record, and certainly that he is NOT a moderate.

*There's no reason to think that we won't be unified after the governor's primary, despite how rough it seems right now.

I didn't take notes, so hopefully "Kindler" has more to add from his recollection of the meeting. Overall, it was great finally meeting Chairman Cranwell, especially since he just signed on for another tour of duty. I hope and expect that the DPVA will work closely with its netroots activists (and vice versa) in 2009 and beyond.

Mary Margaret Whipple Speaks to "Results Not Roadblocks" Rally

Earlier today in Annandale, Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple addressed a crowd of about 100 Democrats at the "Results Not Roadblocks" rally. The rally took place 15 minutes following the conclusion of Republican gubernatorial Bob McDonnell's kickoff tour event down the road.

Dick Cranwell Addresses "Results Not Roadblocks" Rally

Earlier today in Annandale, Democratic Party of Virginia Chair C. Richard "Dick" Cranwell addressed a crowd of about 100 Democrats at the "Results Not Roadblocks" rally. The rally took place 15 minutes following the conclusion of Republican gubernatorial Bob McDonnell's kickoff tour event down the road.

Chap Petersen Addresses "Results Not Roadblocks" Rally

Earlier today in Annandale, State Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) addresses a crowd of about 100 Democrats at the "Results Not Roadblocks" rally. The rally took place 15 minutes following the conclusion of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell's kickoff tour event down the road.

Video: Levar Stoney Warms Up Crowd for "Results Not Roadblocks" Rally

Earlier today in Annandale, DPVA Executive Director Levar Stoney warms up a crowd of about 100 Democrats prior to the "Results Not Roadblocks" rally. The rally itself took place about 15 minutes following the conclusion of Republican gubernatorial Bob McDonnell's kickoff tour event down the road.

Michael Steele: Rush Fiasco Was All Planned

As Charles Blow of the New York Times writes, "He’s either completely deluded or suffering from a mild stroke." Either that, or he's simply the head of a party that is completely lacking in any ideas, vision, leaders, or clue.

Oh, yeah, and if the Rush comment isn't funny enough, Steele says that he's also thinking about running for President in 2012. All I have to say to that is, YES! Steele-Jindal (or Palin) '12! Democratic victory forever! :)

Cantor Taking Cash From Firms Bailed Out by Taxpayers

Ah, Republican values in action once again:
Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, is receiving campaign contributions from political action committees controlled by companies receiving federal bailout money.

NBC News and Newsweek have reported that in January and February, Cantor campaign committees accepted $2,500 from Citigroup, $5,000 from Bank of America, $1,500 from Chrysler and $2,500 from American Express.

Citigroup received $25 billion in bailout money under the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Bank of America received $15 billion, American Express $3.4 billion and Chrysler $5.5 billion.

Cantor supported the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program last September...
I mean, it's one thing to have received money from these companies BEFORE they were bailed out by taxpayers (aka, all of us). But Cantor received money from Citigroup, Bank of America, Chrysler and American Express in January and February of THIS year. I believe that's known as "everything we hate about Washington in a nutshell." Good job, Congressman Cantor!

P.S. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has said he will NOT take money from companies receiving taxpayer bailout (TARP) money. Not sure about the other candidates...

Del. Frank Hall Retiring

From the Virginia House Democratic Caucus on the retirement of Del. Franklin Hall (D-Richmond, Chesterfield).
House Democratic Leadership Joint Statement on the Retirement of Delegate Frank Hall
Hall Served and Led for 34 Years in the House of Delegates

Richmond, VA - House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong and House Democratic Caucus Chair Ken Plum released the following joint statement today in response to the announced retirement of Delegate Frank Hall from the 69th House of Delegates district in Richmond:

"Delegate Hall served both his district and our Commonwealth with great distinction since his election to the House of Delegates in 1975. He was a leader on so many important issues, from health care for those who needed it, housing so more could afford it, and education so that more could move ahead in life. His accomplished business and legal background gave him a unique perspective integral to deliberations on many important issues over the last three decades. Frank also ably served the House Democratic Caucus in its greatest time of need after the 2001 redistricting as Democratic Leader. His leadership and vision have helped to revive the Democratic brand. Delegate Hall's insight and broad experience will be greatly missed in our Caucus, though we know he will continue to serve our Commonwealth honorably and with distinction for years to come."

Delegate Frank Hall was elected to represent the City of Richmond in the House of Delegates in 1975 and his district currently includes parts of the City of Richmond and Chesterfield County. He was Chairman of the Counties, Cities and Towns Committee and a senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee.

Good luck to Del. Hall!

Jim Webb in Parade Magazine: America's Prison System "a national disgrace"

Friday, March 27, 2009

For an advance copy of Jim Webb's Parade Magazine article, "What's Wrong With Our Prisons?", please click here or on the image above. The bottom line, according to Webb, is that "America’s criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace" and "We need to fix the system." I couldn't agree more, and I thank Senator Webb for having the "won't back down" attitude to take on this politically risky issue.

P.S. On Thursday, Senator Webb introduced the "National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009" - bipartisan legislation that will create a blue-ribbon commission to conduct an 18-month, top-to-bottom review of the entire u.S. criminal justice system and to offer concrete recommendations for reform.

Good Vetoes by Gov. Kaine

A little while ago, Gov. Kaine announced that he has vetoed several bills passed by the 2009 General Assembly. They all look good to me:
Death Penalty
SB 1069, HB 2358, SB 961, HB 2638, SB 1409
“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1069, House Bill 2358, Senate Bill 961, House Bill 2638 and Senate Bill 1409, which expand the capital murder statute to increase the number of offenders who would be eligible for capital punishment.

“Virginia is already second in the nation in the number of executions we carry out. While the nature of the offenses targeted by this legislation is very serious, I do not believe that further expansion of the death penalty is necessary to protect human life.”

Guns in Bars
SB 1035
“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1035, which would allow persons to carry concealed weapons into restaurants or clubs that serve alcoholic beverages.

“Allowing concealed weapons into restaurants and bars that serve alcohol puts the public, the employees, and our public safety officers at risk. I take seriously the objections of law enforcement to this measure.”

SB 877
“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 877, which would allow retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons into restaurants or clubs that serve alcoholic beverages.

“While it makes sense for current law enforcement officers to be permitted to carry their firearms when in such establishments, there is no compelling reason for retired law enforcement officers to have weapons in locations where alcohol is served.”

Lie Detectors
HB 1613, SB1374
“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1613 and Senate Bill 1374, which would allow unlicensed law enforcement officers to operate new, unregulated lie detection devices.

“I proposed an amendment to HB 1613 that would have allowed additional devices, but regulate them in a way similar to the existing rules for polygraph machines. Unfortunately, that amendment was defeated by the House.

“Untested, unregulated devices should not be used in police investigations. Law enforcement conceded as much when they added an amendment prohibiting the use of these machines in internal investigations.”

HB 1851
“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1851, which would create a new exemption to Virginia’s one handgun a month law.

“The new exemption would apply to active duty service members, whether Virginia residents or not. Because holders of valid Virginia concealed weapons permits are already able to purchase more than one handgun per month, House Bill 1851 only extends the ability to buy more than one handgun a month to nonresidents or those Virginians unable to obtain a concealed weapons permit.”

SB 1528
“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1528, which would allow the firearms training required to receive a concealed weapons permit to be completed online.

“The state requires an applicant for a concealed weapons permit to take a written safety test to demonstrate that the individual understands how to use a weapon in a safe manner. Allowing the testing to be done online would weaken the ability of the Commonwealth to determine who is actually taking the test and open up opportunities for individuals to receive a permit under fraudulent circumstances with no guarantee that they can use a weapon safely.”

HB 2528
“Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2528, which unnecessarily interferes with the operations of local governments. Specifically, the bill prohibits local law enforcement from choosing to conduct voluntary gun buyback programs and then destroying the weapons.

“Some localities have found this program to be effective in reducing the number of illegal firearms in their communities. It is not a mandatory program, and law enforcement in each locality have made the decision whether such a program is desirable in their own county or city. There is no compelling reason for the General Assembly to take this decision out of the hands of local law enforcement.”

Are They Really This Stupid?

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly tells us about an actual survey the Republican National Committee emailed to its supporters this morning. Believe it or not, these are real questions they asked:

*"A recent national poll reported that nearly 25% of Americans want the government to pass more socialism. Do you agree or disagree?"
Is this even English? "pass more socialism?" How does one "pass socialism" exactly? As someone at Washington Monthly wrote, "Is that like passing gas?"

*"Should we resist Barack Obama's proposal to spend billions of federal taxpayer dollars to pay 'volunteers' who perform his chosen tasks?"
Riiiight...national service corps members will be tasked with making Barack Obama's coffee every morning. Ha.

*"Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations' commanders?" Oh, and watch out for those scary black helicopters while you're at it!

And my favorite question of all:

*"What are the weaknesses of the Republican Party?"
That's easy: ignorance, stupidity, moral bankruptcy, paranoia, greed...

One thing's for sure, it's obvious after reading these questions why flat-earth know-nothings like Eric Cantor, Jeff Frederick, and Bob McDonnell are Republicans and not Democrats.

Bill Bolling Welcomes Newt Gingrich!

This looks a fun event, and I'm sure there will be great conversation flowing (along with the liquor). Just to warm up, here are a few classic Newt Gingrich quotes. Enjoy.

"The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument."

"I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don't encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words, which would be great around a campfire but a lousy"

"The greatest leaders in fighting for an integrated America in the twentieth century were in the Democratic Party. The fact is, it was the liberal wing of the Democratic Party that ended segregation. The fact is that it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who gave hope to a nation that was in despair and could have slid into dictatorship. And the fact is, every Republican has much to learn from studying what the Democrats did right."

"It's going to be a bummer if Mars turns out to be like us."

"She isn't young enough or pretty enough to be the President's wife."
(Newt on his first wife, who claimed he "discussed divorce terms with her while she was recuperating in the hospital from cancer surgery")

Ezra Klein Skewers Republican "Budget"

This is definitely worth reading.
If you're having a bad day, I highly encourage you to spend some quality time with the Republican budget proposal. It's reads like what would happen if The Onion put together a budget. "Area Man Releases Proposal for 2010 Federal Spending Priorities." (Though, to paraphrase William F. Buckley, it turns out that I'd prefer a federal budget written by an area man than the first six names on the House Republican Leadership roster.)

Bush, famously, described his first budget by saying, "It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it." Indeed it was, and did. This isn't. There are no numbers. Let me repeat that: The Republican budget proposal does not say how much money they would raise, or spend. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a "budget" as "an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time." This is not a budget...
That's right, Republicans have produced a "budget" with no numbers in it. As in, how much they propose spending, on what, and how they're going to pay for it. But what else would we expect from the party that, under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, ran up trillions of dollars in budget deficits as they pursued their supply side/trickle down/Laffer curve fantasies? Not much.

Anyway, read Ezra Klein's entire takedown here, and enjoy his diagram of the Republican "budget molecule." I can't wait to hear Eric Cantor try to explain that one, maybe how it relates to what he learned from Britney Spears? Heh.

McAuliffe: Ban Lobbyist Gifts to Lawmakers

This is something I've advocated for a long time.
McAuliffe, one of three candidates for the Democratic nomination, yesterday called for a prohibition on "all gifts and trips from lobbyists" to legislators and executive-branch officials, including the governor.

The proposal follows a report Sunday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch spotlighting widespread weaknesses in the state's mandatory disclosure rules under which entertainment and gifts go unreported.


McAuliffe, a McLean resident and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also proposed a state-run "sunshine Web site" -- similar to one operated by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project -- as a clearinghouse for data on political fundraising and related legislative activity.
It's about time somebody in Virginia proposed these measures. Right now, the amount of money and free goodies from the lobbyists who swarm over Richmond is completely out of control. How does a legislator, for instance, take "gifts and trips" from their friendly Dominion Power lobbyists, then vote to impose mandatory renewable portfolio standards or to stop that company's new coal-fired power plant? Personally, I'd go even further than Terry McAuliffe and raise our lawmaker's pay while eliminating ALL goodies by lobbyists. Then, just maybe, our elected representatives in Richmond would actually represent US for a change, not just powerful corporations like Dominion Power. Yeah, what a concept! :)

P.S. Although VPAP does a great job, it's simply not sufficient to deal with the scope of this problem.

Obama and Kaine Raise $3 Million in 1 Night for DNC

In his new part-time gig, Tim Kaine is off to an impressive start raising money for the Democratic National Committee.
The Democratic National Committee garnered more than $3 million at two Washington fundraisers featuring President Barack Obama, officials said.

Obama and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, the DNC chairman, attended one event Wednesday at the National Women in the Arts Museum, during which about 150 donors contributed $30,400 each -- the maximum allowed by law, The Hill reported Thursday. Obama then went to the Warner Theater where singer Tony Bennett performed and tickets ranged from $100 to $1,000.
Unfortunately, the Democrats have a wide gap to make up with the Republicans, who have $24 million in the bank with no debt -- compared to $8.6 million in the bank and $6.9 million in debt for the Dem's. As much as Howard Dean did a great job on the 50-state strategy and other aspects of running the DNC, fundraising wasn't necessarily his forte. In contrast, Tim Kaine is one of the best fundraisers (and "fighters" - lol) around. My guess is that it won't take Kaine (and his friend Barack Obama) long to close the money gap with the GOP.

Virginia Beach GOP Chair: Jeff Frederick is a "sideshow" (but come to my breakfast!)

You gotta love this: the Republican Party of Virginia's "embattled chairman," Jeff Frederick, is coming to speak at a Virginia Beach GOP breakfast meeting Saturday morning. But, before he even gets there, the city's GOP chairman, Kenny Golden, is already slamming him.
Golden said he is personally fond of Frederick, but signed the petition because he believes a leadership change is needed so Republicans can focus on electing former attorney general Bob McDonnell governor.

"When you become controversial and you've got a guy running for governor, that's not a good thing," Golden said. "The guy running for governor needs to be the star. He doesn't need a sideshow distraction, and that's what Jeff has become."
So, Mr. Golden, why do you want a "sideshow distraction" (one that you don't "need") speaking to your breakfast? Also, is this how you always welcome guests to your committee? Niiiice.

Eric Cantor: Britney Spears Concert Was "Quite a Show"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"There was a concert and I had a political event at that concert. Look, that is why I was there." - Eric Cantor

Mike Henry: I've Never Seen These Kind of "Smear Tactics"

It's good to see the McAuliffe campaign defending itself against the bizarre, "Karl Rove-style attack[s]" coming out of the Moran campaign. Read what Mike Henry has to say; this guy knows Virginia politics better than anyone - ran campaigns for Tim Kaine and Mark Warner - so when we he says he's never seen anything like the Moran campaign's "smear tactics" before, people should definitely listen up.
Today, one of our Democratic opponents took their attacks against Terry too far. Virginia Democrats have worked too long and too hard to stand by and watch the divisiveness that's plagued the Republicans start poisoning our Party just when we've had great success.

Everyone knows that Terry McAuliffe supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries. But the day after she got out of the race, he hit the road fighting for Barack Obama. Terry spent the last 30 years of his life volunteering to advance Democratic causes; he even built from scratch the voter file that that helped Barack Obama win in Virginia. And to insinuate that he is a traitor to our Party is beyond nonsense -- it is a Karl Rove-style attack.

I've always said that this primary was going to get rough, but in all the years I've worked in Virginia politics, I've never seen another Democrat use the kind of smear tactics that are being used against Terry for taking a bipartisan approach to politics - just like Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Jim Webb and Barack Obama.

Click Here to Get the Facts about the Attacks Against Terry.

Terry's the most positive person I've ever come across, and we've made it clear from day one that this campaign isn't going to attack other Democrats. Republican nominee Bob McDonnell is the one who's fought Governors Warner and Kaine's agenda to move Virginia forward over the last seven years, so we're saving our criticism for him.

But you better believe that we're going to set the record straight when our opponents start flinging mud Terry's way. That's why today, I want to share with you a portion of our website where you can get the information you need to fight back against misleading attacks and spread the truth. We're counting on you.

Click Here to Get the Facts about the Attacks Against Terry.

We cannot let these petty political games get in the way of the real issues facing our Commonwealth. That's why Terry's taken a different approach in this campaign.

Just yesterday the Richmond Times Dispatch wrote that "McAuliffe invites other contenders to focus on issues of genuine substance rather than petty personal attacks and cheap, zinger-of-the-day point-scoring." The newspaper said that "his substantive pitches have raised expectations and pointed the way toward a different, more high-toned campaign."

This campaign starts with you. And we're counting on your help to spread the truth so that we can focus on urgent economic problems staring us in the face.

Click Here to Get the Facts about the Attacks Against Terry.

The bottom line is that stakes are way too high for Democrats to be tearing each other down. Sustained job creation, health insurance for our families, and progress in public education all depend on continued forward-thinking Democratic leadership in the governor's office.


Mike Henry
Campaign Manager
P.S. The "Stand up for Barack Obama" letter from Brian Moran's campaign that prompted this is in the comments section.

Mike Signer Files With State Board of Elections

According to Mike Signer on Twitter:
We're official - signed, sealed, and delivered at the State Board! Special thanks to Christian, James, and Matt for their hard work.
Congratulations to Mike, who joins Jody Wagner as having filed with the State Board of Elections to run for lieutenant governor. That leaves Jon Bowerbank and Pat Edmonson, both running for LG, still to file. For governor, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran have already filed; still waiting for Creigh Deeds. Finally, I haven't heard any word about Steve Shannon filing, but I presume he'll have no trouble gathering enough signatures to get on the ballot for AG.

UPDATE: Check out Mike's "March Madness" Coffee Break video below. It's a good one.

Another Netroots Activist Switches from Brian to Terry

This is great to see; another young, Democratic netroots activist switches to Terry McAuliffe for Governor:
Many of you know, that I have been a supporter of the Brian Moran campaign for a year. Brian is a fighter and has served Virginia well in the General Assembly. As I look at all three candidates, Terry McAuliffe has started to stand out. He is opening offices all over the commonwealth (including one here in Roanoke). He is traveled to every corner of the commonweath (again, including Roanoke). Terry McAuliffe has shown every indication that he wants to be our Governor. At roundtables, he has asked for people to come and give him ideas instead of the entire campaign being about him. For these reasons, I have decided to support Terry McAuliffe to be the 71st Governor of the Commonwealth.
By the way, Aaron Lyles is President of the Roanoke Valley Young Democrats and a candidate for Teen Caucus Chair of the Virginia Young Democrats. From what I'm hearing, there are many more like Aaron Lyles who are thinking about switching from Brian Moran to Terry McAuliffe. My guess is we'll see an increasing number of "Aaron Lyles" in the weeks to come.

Cantor's Laugher of the Day: GOP is "Mainstream," Dem's are "Extreme"

Eric Cantor, one of the leaders of a party that's about as extreme as you can get, accuses Barack Obama and the Democrats of being "out of the mainstream." Riiiight. Cantor also claims that Republicans will offer plans for energy and health care. Let me guess, the energy plan will be written by oil/coal/fossil fuel interests, while the health care plan will be dictated by the Health-Care-for-Profit-NOT-for-People industry. Yeah, that's real "mainstream" - government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations. Or, as a friend of mine once said, the Republican Party is the "I've got mine so @#$% you" party.

P.S. Part of being "mainstream," apparently, is opposing wilderness protection for places like the Jefferon National Forest. Gotta love Republicans like Eric Cantor; they've got their priorities straight! *snark*

UPDATE: More idiocy from Eric Cantor begins at 8:40 of this video. Eric Cantor truly is the gift that keeps on giving. :)

Jim Webb Takes on Crime and Punishment

Today's Pilot Online talks about Senator Webb's introduction later today of bipartisan legislation, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009. According to the Pilot article, Webb's commission could amount to "the most ambitious attempt to re-examine and reform the criminal justice system since the 1960s." Given the fact that, as Webb says, "our incarceration rate has exploded.... But at the same time we aren't really solving the problems," it's high time we addressed this issue as a nation.

In his most recent book, "A Time to Fight," Senator Webb has a chapter entitled, "A Criminal Injustice." As I wrote when I reviewed the book on RK in May 2008, Webb discusses an America that "has gone completely jail-happy," one in which "African Americans, who make up about 12 percent of our society, comprise more than half of all our prison inmates" -- largely for drug offenses. On that last point, Webb says point blank that "the hugely expensive antidrug campaigns we are waging around the world are basically futile," that drug addiction "is a medical condition" that needs to be treated medically not criminally, and that "The time has come to stop locking up people for mere possession and use of marijuana." Of course, it's hard to say these things if you're a politician, and Webb is well aware that the phrase "soft on crime" can "ruin one's reelection chances."

Yet Webb speaks out anyway. And thank goodness he does, because conversations like these are sorely needed in this country, as are serious, fundamental changes in the way we do business in a wide variety of areas. As Webb writes, "[o]ur country is in the middle of a profound, many-headed crisis" which can be summarized as "Rome is slowly burning."

Unfortunately, "[t]hose who do not want significant reform enjoy the emotional arguments that occupy untold hours of political commentary while keeping our citizens distracted from the issues that truly threaten our future."

Fortunately, we have Jim Webb in the Senate, ready to "get past these artificialities and focus on the long-term good of our country." The question is, who will join him?

Top Moran Endorser Slams Deeds; Washington Post Fails to Mention Key Fact

The Washington Post story on Creigh Deeds provides us with yet another example of sloppy reporting and bad editing by the corporate media. Now, I'm not a Deeds supporter, but c'mon, this is lame:
A few weeks ago, appearing before several hundred Arlington County Democrats at the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association building in Ballston, Deeds led with a riff on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, saying the cooperatives it created brought electric power to rural homes like his grandparents' and modernized the South.

"It really is one of the great accomplishments of government, of our notion that government lifts people up," Deeds said.

But then his words ran together as he hastened to cram his legislative achievements into his five-minute speech. His hands began jabbing the air like six-shooters.

Barbara A. Favola, chairman of the Arlington County Board, was not impressed, saying Deeds failed to distinguish himself or even mention his endorsement from state Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington), whose name might have meant a lot to the crowd.

"There wasn't a message there," Favola said. "He left the stage, and I was thinking, 'What the hell?' He missed connecting with his audience."
I was at that meeting (video here), and I thought Creigh did a perfectly fine job in his speech. True, he didn't mention Mary Margaret Whipple, but then again, he only had a few minutes and he had a lot (maybe too much, but that's how Creigh is) to say.

Anyway, here's my beef with the Washington Post: the paper completely failed (intentionally? unintentionally?) to identify Barbara Favola, who harshly criticizes Creigh Deeds, as a strong supporter (and endorser) of Brian Moran, one of Creigh Deeds' two rivals for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The Post didn't think it was important to disclose that (highly relevant, in fact crucial) fact to its readers? That's what passes for "journalism" these days in the corporate media? And they wonder why they're going down the drain? Lame.

By the way, what IS with Barbara Favola's harsh attack on Creigh Deeds anyway? Does that reflect her own views, or is she "channeling" how Sen. Whipple felt about Creigh not mentioning her in his speech? I've emailed Sen. Whipple for comment and hope to hear back from her soon.

Meanwhile, a leading Arlington Democrat emailed me to say that he or she was "damn surprised that Barbara Favola would make such negative comments about Creigh Deeds on the record to the [Washington Post]." This individual added that Deeds might not have mentioned Mary Margaret Whipple because "Mary Margaret is the only Arlington elected official who has endorsed Creigh Deeds, and opening up that subject before an audience of Arlington Democratic activists might simply have emphasized a fact that doesn't help Deeds."

UPDATE: I emailed Mary Margaret Whipple and asked her if she felt "snubbed" by Creigh for not mentioning her at the ACDC meeting. Here's her response:
Not at all! I think most ACDC members know I'm supporting Creigh and I was standing next to him at the meeting. And most, if not all, Democrats agree with what Creigh was saying -- that we believe government can and should be a force in improving people's lives, opening the doors of opportunity for their children through quality public education, keeping communities safe and providing the social safety net for the most vulnerable among us. Creigh is committed to making Virginia an even better place for all of us and he also has the courage of his convictions; for example, he voted multiple times in the Senate to increase taxes for transportation even though that was not an easy or popular thing to do.

Creigh has a good heart and will be a great Governor!

Jon Bowerbank "Cut from the same cloth" as Mark Warner?

Jon Bowerbank's new ad, "Leadership," emphasizes Bowerbank's impressive business background, and prominently features a quote by New Dominion Magazine:

"Bowerbank is cut from the same cloth as the architect of the Dem revival, Mark Warner, with a background in business..."

I think this is a potentially strong message for Bowerbank, but it could have elements of risk as well. Comparing oneself to the super-popular Mark Warner might prove helpful to Bowerbank, but only if people believe he really IS like Mark Warner.

Along those lines, I'll be curious to hear specific examples of how Bowerbank is "in the true tradition of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine" ("business success, government experience, Virginia values"). Finally, can someone please tell me what "Virginia values" means, exactly? As Marc Fisher wrote in an October 2007 column ( "The Long, Corrosive Impact of 'Virginia Values'"):
Already in the 1820s, the seeds of today's anti-tax, anti-government attitudes were taking root. Virginia, confident birthplace of American liberty, had morphed into a conservative, nostalgic society clinging to its agricultural past, ruled by an aristocratic elite and deeply suspicious of the Yankees' investment in industry and city life.

Flash forward to last month in Richmond, where House Speaker William Howell, a Republican from Stafford County, told a group of business leaders at a $250-a-head reception that the people who've been moving to the state of late -- such as, say, immigrants -- might not be clued in on the "shared values we have in Virginia."

In this season of zesty competition to see which politician can propose the most onerous measures to take against illegal immigrants, what might those shared values be? When The Washington Post's Tim Craig called Howell to inquire, the speaker gallantly hung up on the reporter. Later, Howell's spokesman said his boss was talking about "Virginia values" -- the slogan Mr. Macaca, former senator George Allen, used in his campaigns -- such as "lower taxes, less burdensome regulations and a positive business environment."

Or is the ultimate Virginia value simply a matter of the political elite preserving its power?
Now, just to be crystal clear, I don't believe for one minute that Jon Bowerbank in the least bit agrees with Bill Howell's or George Allen's "Virginia Values" formulation. In fact, from my extensive conversations with Jon, I believe he is 180-degrees opposed to the Howell/Allen "Virginia Values" conception. Instead, I believe that Jon strongly shares my desire to see "Virginia Values" defined by a pragmatic progressivism that draws from the best of Virginia's past but ultimately looks to the future, embraces our Commonwealth's diversity, and addresses head-on the 21st-century challenges we face.

In that context, what I'd really love to hear is Jon Bowerbank -- who says on his website that he is a "progressive pragmatist" -- help us redefine a concept of "Virginia Values" that moves us diametrically away from the Bill Howell/George Allen perversion of the phrase and towards one that all Virginians - black, white, Latino; gay, straight; urban, rural; etc. - can embrace enthusiastically as we move to build a "more perfect" Commonwealth.

Cantor, Forbes, Goodlatte Vote Against Protecting Jefferson National Forest

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to protect wilderness areas around the country, including "54,000 acres in Virginia's Jefferson National Forest. According to Rep. Rick Boucher (D-9), the wilderness designation will "protect pristine woodlands 'while enhancing the tourism economy of the region by enticing travelers to visit and enjoy the superb natural landscape which Southwest Virginia offers.'"

The final House vote on this bill (HR 146) was 285-140, with Virginia's House delegation breaking 8-3 in favor. Even two Virginia Republicans - Frank Wolf and Rob Wittman - voted for this one, along with the six Virginia Democratic Representatives. Voting against the bill were Eric Cantor, Randy Forbes, and Bob Goodlatte. The question for those three guys is simple: why do you oppose protecting Virginia's Jefferson National Forest, and more broadly, what do you have against the environment?

Howard Dean on Eric Cantor's Embrace of "Fascism" Comment

Howard Dean explains why Eric Cantor made a big mistake embracing this caller's comment.
CALLER: But what really is scaring the rest of us, the other half of us, is the fascism. I mean the true fascism that is happening in this country today. […] The belligerent takeover of a one-party system. […]
According to Howard Dean, what Eric Cantor and the Republican leadership continue to do is "play to the hard right." The problem for them is that this strategy alienates moderates, who hear the Eric Cantors of the world and say, "what are these people talking about?" The bottom line, according to Dr. Dean, is that "you don't [win over moderates] by calling people fascists and all this other kind of business." So, keep up the good work, Congressman Cantor (and others), we Democrats appreciate it greatly! :)

Exclusive Interview: Mudcat Saunders on the Virginia Governor's Race

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I just interviewed Dave "Mudcat" Saunders - formerly senior strategist to Mark Warner, Jim Webb and John Edwards - about the Virginia governor's race. Here are the highlights of what Mudcat had to say, including some most definitely "quotable quotes!"

Regarding Brian Moran's "fighter not a fundraiser" speech at the Democratic Party of Virginia's Jefferson-Jackson dinner on February 7, Mudcat commented:
I’ve been to JJ [Jefferson-Jackson] dinners all over the country, and I’ve never seen a Democrat hit another Democrat at one of them. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen another Democrat body slam another Democrat at a Democratic unity dinner. I understand that Terry McAuliffe is like a moving train and you’ve got to slow down the train, but that was not the right political venue for Brian Moran to try to slow him down.
As to Brian Moran's campaign in general, Mudcat was apparently not impressed, remarking, "I can’t figure out what Brian Moran’s strategy is. It appears his strategy is just to slow down McAuliffe."

Mudcat had some interesting quotes about Terry McAuliffe, including:

*"Terry is a positive guy, and positive begets matter if its baseball or politics."

*"I’m not sure I’ve ever met anybody more positive thinking than Terry McAuliffe. That’s not just a positive attitude but a positive lifestyle as well."

*"Right now, the whole country – not just Virginia – needs a positive attitude."

*"This primary’s not about tearing down the party, it’s about lifting up the party."

On Creigh Deeds, who Mudcat obviously likes a great deal, Mudcat analyzed his campaign this way:
Creigh is not going to beat Terry and Brian in NOVA. If Creigh wins big in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th and doesn't get creamed in the 8th, 10th and 11th, he can win. Creigh’s a moderate and has a definite path to victory both in June and in November.
Finally, on the issue of connecting to rural Virginia culture, Mudcat - who, by the way, is currently writing what he calls "a Jesus book" - says:
Mark Warner got through to our culture, rural culture. He looked at our culture and said, "this is good, this is fun!" He liked us, so we liked him. It’s not that complicated. Mark did an outstanding job, he worked at it, he spent a lot of time over several years at it.

Terry McAuliffe can get through to the [rural] culture. Like I said, he’s got a positive attitude. Terry's also got high name recognition amongst Democrats who will vote in the primary. And McAuliffe is a good name to have out here where I live.

I don’t think that Brian’s been out here enough to make a connection with the rural culture in the primary. He’s not well known. He was House Caucus Chair but hardly anybody knows who that is. Brian’s also going up against a lot of money.
I also asked Mudcat about Bill Clinton possibly coming in and campaigning for Terry McAuliffe. In Mudcat's opinion, Clinton remains highly popular among Democrats in rural Virginia and would certainly be an asset to McAuliffe if he campaigns for him.

Other than his thoughts on the governor's race, Mudcat sounds good and is enjoying working on his "Jesus book." Mudcat read me several passages over the phone, including a few that had me "LOL," and I think he could have a big hit with this one. I'm certainly looking forward to reading it!

Gubernatorial Debate Schedule Released

Here's the schedule for gubernatorial debates and joint appearances.
The three campaigns agreed to the following debates:

* April 19th: Farm Team Debate in Williamsburg
* April 23rd: Virginia Education Association's Convention Debate in Hampton
* April 28th: Sorensen Institute/Danville Register & Bee Debate in Danville
* April 29th: Huffington Post/Not Larry Sabato/Fire Dog Lake/Collegiate Times Debate in Blacksburg
* May 19th: Washington Post/Northern Virginia Community College Debate in Annandale

Deeds, McAuliffe, and Moran have also agreed to make joint appearances at the following forums:

* April 3rd: Northern Virginia Technology Council/Microsoft Forum in Reston
* April 21st: Crusade for Voters Forum in Richmond
* TBD: Democratic Club of Greensprings Forum in Greensprings

Republicans Joking Us on Business and the Economy

Mantras and social conservative core values won't produce a single private sector job. Yet somehow the Republicans maintain the mantle of business acumen and get away with highway robbery by playing on their audience's naiveté. And those among us with no business background defer to them. Wrong answer!

So called conservatives also like to throw out all kinds of economics pablum picked up in some cutely illustrated paperback to justify their ruinous policies. I have said this before and it's always worth repeating: I do not want to pay taxes. But then there is reality. Take the Laffer curve or, as my old antitrust economics professor Dr. John M. Kuhlman has termed it: the "laugher" curve. Sum up the idea: lower taxes will produce more tax revenue. Actually, greater economic activity will produce more tax revenue even with lower taxes. More investment will produce greater economic activity and/or more skilled labor will increase productivity. Any combination of either of those will increase the tempo of economic activity. But lower taxes will not ensure greater investment any more than it will ensure better wages and better wages do not ensure a more skilled work force. Lower taxes might result in higher dividends or bonuses for executives, making it all an economic wash. Nothing is certain. But in microeconomics, the source of the simplistic models and which has nothing much to do with the macroeconomic behavior attributed, just about everything is held certain other than two variables. Then they march some career public servant, some unaccomplished heir, or talk radio host out as the spokesperson for capitalist theory. I'm not laffing.

Nor is it reassuring to know that many of us who need to be armed to defend ourselves against these half baked ideas and outright lies are unaware beyond the intuition that tells us we are being taken for a ride. You see, there are other ways to wring profits out of the model: lower labor costs. Lower labor costs can even overcome increased numbers of workers required to make up for the loss of skilled labor. Never believe for a moment that the power behind the Republican leadership believed a word of the message about controlling the borders. Never take at face value the assertions being made about the private sector just because the proof source is membership in the Got Ours Party.

Unions are the biggest threat to these lies. Unions are the biggest target of these interests. They offer a source of education and a defense against them. They offer the opportunity to ensure that the fire sale of American capital achievement is halted by stopping the devaluation of labor. I remember sitting around after lunch or during breaks and listening to the discussions between members and stewards in a union shop. They provided a countervailing perspective on the issues in the shop, the company, and in the world. And that is one reason why Taliban Bob wants a constitutional amendment to guaranty the "Right to Work." If you don't understand business or economics, you look to wring out the most obvious variable in the business: labor. McDonnell neither understands business, economics, nor labor. Or if he does, he is even the more nefarious a character.

I suppose "Right to Work" would be inserted right after "Right to Life."
"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."John W. Gardner, Secretary of HEW under JFK and author of "Excellence."
Cross posted at Blue Commonwealth

Scott Surovell Accuses John Cook of "Race Baiting"

Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chair Scott Surovell takes on newly elected Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member John Cook.
Race Baiting to Make His Point
At 16:00 in the video, Cook goes after boarding houses calling them a “moral outrage,” and says “I’m coming after you with everything I’ve got and we’re going to SHUT YOU DOWN.” He then says “I pledge to bring that same problem solving spirit to the countywide issues we face.” No question that boarding houses are bad and no one wants them in their neighborhood. However, demonizing them with law and order demagoguery was Corey Stewart’s favorite tactic until he destroyed Prince William County’s reputation with his race baiting bombast. Illegal boarding houses a problem when they happen, but they are not the biggest or even one of the biggest problems facing the County right now. Singling this specific issue out in a swearing in speech is anything but non-ideological and is Corey Stewart code language to the Republican base.

Speaking of race baiting… At 19:00 in the video, he said he was from Chicago and that he’d go to meetings around Braddock and that when affordable housing would come up, people would say “I’m from Chicago and I’d say Cabrini Green and they’d say yup.” He then goes on to say that this project was “a shooting gallery, drug infested, magnet for every ill that can come to a family, a horrible place to put people to live. . . and we do not need to bring that kind of blight to Fairfax County.”
In response, Cook says "There was absolutely nothing racist about it and I would take great offense to that suggestion." Hey, John, maybe you should have thought about that BEFORE you made the offensive comments about Fairfax County being like the South Side of Chicago?

Miles Grant on Green Jobs and the Employee Free Choice Act

Good job by Miles!

Meanwhile, in other news from the 47th House of Delegates district Democratic nomination contest:

*Alan Howze says "By midnight on March 31st I have to raise an additional $10,000." (or he self destructs? - lol) Howze adds that "even if we [knocked on doors] everyday, all day, from today until election day we still couldn't talk to every voter."

*Adam Parkhomenko receives the endorsements of the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association and the SEIU/NAGE.

*All five candidates turned in their petitions yesterday, and ballot order was determined by ACDC Chair Peter Rousellot as follows: 1) Miles Grant; 2) Andres Tobar; 3) Patrick Hope; 4) Alan Howze; and 5) Adam Parkhomenko.

*Three out of the five candidates - Adam Parkhomenko, Miles Grant, Patrick Hope - have answered my blog questionnaire. The other two - Andres Tobar and Alan Howze - have not. I hope to receive the last two candidates' responses before the first debate on April 2.

Eric Cantor and Caller Discuss America's Supposed Descent Into "Fascism"

THIS is the face of the Republican Party? And they wonder why they're losing elections? Duhhhhh.
CALLER: But what really is scaring the rest of us, the other half of us, is the fascism. I mean the true fascism that is happening in this country today. […] The belligerent takeover of a one-party system. […]

CANTOR: Now as far as a one-party government in here, I think what the public is doing they’re finally waking up and everybody is realizing that checks and balances are a part of the system and divided government is something that is beneficial to a balanced debate, and something that can produce a better outcome. Which is exactly why Republicans in the House have said, “Look, we want to work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. We want to try to bring this president back into the mainstream.”
Pushing for a solution to the climate crisis, for quality health care, for a strong economy, for top-notch education is out of the "mainstream?" Maybe in the "stream" Eric Cantor swims in, but not in the stream most Americans inhabit, that's for damn sure.

Former Member of Webb's "Ragtag Army" Featured in Washington Post

In 2006, the supporters of Jim Webb eventually coalesced into what Webb called his "ragtag army" of netroots activists. One of the best of those activists (and also a top-notch writer on RK) was a guy named Dave Murphy, now relocated back to his home state of Iowa and taking on corporate farming through his organization, Food Democracy Now!. According to FDN's website, Dave's group is "a grassroots movement initiated by farmers, writers, chefs, eaters and policy advocates who recognize the profound sense of urgency in creating a new food system that is capable of meeting the changing needs of American society as it relates to food, health, animal welfare and the environment." The goal is "to transform today’s system by advancing best practices in food production, animal husbandry, conservation of natural resources, renewable energy and soil preservation."

Anyway, I'm raising this now because my friend Dave is featured today in a Washington Post article ("Where Policy Grows: Iowan Dave Murphy Is Challenging the Corporate Farming Of America"). According to the Post:
...for Murphy, the fight for good food isn't about pleasure or aesthetics; it's about justice and survival.

Three years ago, he left a good job in Washington to return home to Iowa, where a Minnesota corporation was threatening to build a nearly 5,000-head hog farm near his sister's home. "This is not something abstract," he said. "This is about people I know. People I went to high school with. When you speak to people from Berkeley or Manhattan, people on the coasts, it's a really different ballgame."

What Dave's doing in Iowa epitomizes what the netroots are all about, "thinking globally, acting locally." It's also about utilizing modern communications and organizational tools in order to effect change ("Murphy uses grass-roots community organizing methods, such as petitions and action alerts."). And Dave definitely seems to be having an impact, having "collected nearly 90,000 signatures for his petition." Congratulations to Dave, and keep up the great work!