The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Delegate: Most State Laws Find Moderate Middle Ground; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Courts will have to take religious displays on public property that fall into a gray area on a case-by-case basis, according to Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCreary County, Ky., v. the American Civil Liberties Union.

“There is no simple answer, for more than one reason,” wrote Justice David Souter, delivering the opinion of the court.

The ruling found that an outdoor monument in Texas was acceptable under the First Amendment’s “Establishment Clause,” which proscribes any action which would create an official state religion, while two indoor displays in Kentucky were not acceptable.

In Virginia, questions about faith in the public square have been muted at the General Assembly for the past 10 years, according Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg.

The legislature’s last brush with the Decalogue was in 2002, when Del. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, proposed legislation ordering the Board of Education to work with the attorney general to draft guidelines for the optional posting of the commandments in public schools.

Delegates narrowly passed the bill, but it was killed in the Senate.

That’s reflective of a sensibility that seems to operate throughout the legislature, according to May, whose district includes Clarke County. Virginia has a long history of balance between the protection of religious expression and prohibition of an established religion.

“Virginia as a state has seen that there’s a good balance between church and state,” he said. “I’m very comfortable with Virginia and her policies.”

Proposals that tend too far one way or the other are most often moderated before they become law, he said.

Also in 2002, the General Assembly approved laws that require the posting of the national motto “In God We Trust” in all public schools in the state and in all courtrooms as soon as the state provides funding for the posting.

Del. Bob Marshall, R-Manassas, one of the key figures behind Virginia’s law that forbids the recognition of civil unions, was the chief patron for both bills, as well as another that gives localities the authority to post the motto in their administration buildings.

The initial version of all three bills would have required the posting in local government buildings, as well.

The most recent vote on matters of faith was a constitutional amendment that won approval in the House of Delegates but failed in the Senate.

Put forward by Del. Charles Carrico, R-Independence, House Joint Resolution 537 would have put a constitutional amendment before voters that would change the state’s bill of rights.

“Neither the commonwealth nor its political subdivisions shall establish any official religion, but the people’s right to pray and to recognize their religious beliefs, heritage, and traditions on public property, including public schools, shall not be infringed,” would have been added to Section 16, which guarantees free exercise of religion and forbids the state from establishing a religion.

Other patrons included local Dels. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal, and Beverly Sherwood, R-Winchester.

Legislators also took up the issue of school prayer in 1994, when they approved legislation instructing the Board of Education and attorney general to come up with guidelines governing student prayer, and a law designed to preserve student-initiated prayer.

In 2000, the General Assembly passed a resolution urging Congress to amend the constitution to permit school prayer, and made changes to the “moment of silence” rule that governs the start of school days.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bill would cut public TV funds by 25 percent; 1A

Move could sink one of the area’s three stations

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Bert and Ernie haven’t been evicted from Sesame Street yet, but they might be picking up some real estate guides.

A bill likely to come before the full House of Representatives today would cut 25 percent of federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting next year, and would end funding for a grant program that helps pay for shows like “Sesame Street” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

The cuts could spell the end for one of the region’s three local television stations.

“I can’t guarantee that we’d continue to exist,” said Bert Schmidt, president and general manager of WVPT-TV in Harrisonburg, which serves the valley and a large portion of Central Virginia.

CPB provides some funding for local stations, who then in turn pay entities like the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio for programming.

If the region loses WVPT, it will lose the only station where public input is the major driver behind programming choices, Schmidt said. Take the controversy over “Postcards from Buster,” a PBS cartoon that had the title character meet a lesbian couple on a trip to Vermont.

“We didn’t air the program here locally, because the community didn’t want that program on the air,” he said. National broadcasters don’t take local values into consideration.

“PBS has no control over us. We answer to our viewers,” he said.

Broadcasters feel the pinch in another way, in the termination of the “Ready To Learn” grants funded through the Department of Education. A number of children’s shows — and the heart of WVPT’s weekday lineup — are produced using the grants.

On the radio side, it’s bad, but it’s not fatal, according to Tom DuVal, the general manger of WMRA, a public radio station based in Harrisonburg with translators as far as Farmville, Winchester and Lexington.

“It’s going to hurt us, but it’s not going to devastate us the way it will public television,” he said.

The funding being discussed isn’t chump change. For WMRA, the 2006 cut would be about $90,000, while WVPT would take a $200,000 hit. If all funding for the CPB goes away, it’ll be a $190,000 loss for the radio station, but a $700,000 hit for the television station, according to DuVal.

State funding was reduced a few years back, Schmidt said. The station is also in the middle of a $9 million, federally mandated conversion to digital broadcasting. WVPT operates on a $3 million annual budget.

The reason for the cut is the massive amount of red ink piling up in Washington, according to the subcommittee that authored the legislation.

“We had to make tough choices by reconciling competing priorities with the resources available,” said Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio.

“Support of programs including the No Child Left Behind Act, health research at the National Institutes of Health, expansion of Community Health Centers and dislocated worker assistance necessitated that we reduce and terminate many programs,” he said.

It’s not really about the money, though, Schmidt said. Rather, it’s about “a fringe group that’s very upset because of some very small issues.”

A small number of Republicans have decided that PBS carries a liberal bias and want to kill it, he said.

“I don’t think anyone truly believes this is a budgeting issue,” Schmidt said.

Locally, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, said through a spokes-man Wednesday that he supports restoring the $100 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. A spokes-man for Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, said he had yet to offer a formal comment on the bill.

An amendment to restore funding without adding to the federal deficit is also due to be considered, according to Schmidt.
If the amendment is successful, the pressure is off.

If not, “I’m hoping for us that we’ll be able to turn to our listeners [and say,] ‘We just lost $90,000 in federal funding, Please help us out,’” DuVal said.

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Kaine floats road-funding proposals; 1A

Transportation trust ‘lockbox’ promise derided by Kilgore

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Next year would be a “transportation year” if he’s elected as governor in November, Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine said Thursday.

But Kaine’s ideas are at best old, and at worst more flip-flops, according to his Republican opponent, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.

Kaine told reporters on a conference call that he’d anchor his efforts to cut gridlock around creating a transportation trust fund “lockbox” that would be immune to raids by the General Assembly.

Taxes levied for road projects, like the gas tax, would be off limits. Kaine would propose a constitutional amendment to that end, and would threaten to veto any new money earmarked for transportation until the fund was secure in some fashion.

It would take longer than his term to put the amendment in place, but when pressed by reporters, Kaine wouldn’t make an ironclad commitment to veto transportation tax hikes.

“I’m not going to talk about new revenues” until the transportation funds is off limits, he said, contrasting his approach to that of state Sen. H. Russell Potts, Jr., R-Winchester. Potts is mounting an independent campaign for the governor’s office.

Potts has said he’d call a special session immediately to talk about how to provide more funding for transportation, and would have highway crews working on the problem within six months.

“I think Potts has the order wrong,” said Kaine. “You don’t pour more money into a bucket that has a leak in it.”

It didn’t take the Kilgore campaign long to find opposition to Kaine’s proposal. Del. Vince Callahan, R-Fairfax, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said Kaine’s plan was a flip-flop by the lieutenant governor.

“He attacked Jerry Kilgore for proposing the use of future surplus general funds for transportation needs,” Callahan says in an e-mail statement to reporters. “Next thing you know, he proposes the very same thing in a so-called plan.”

The campaign also said Kaine had changed his mind on gas taxes, citing support for an increase in the levy in 2004.

But Kaine also had some ammunition chambered for Kilgore, who has proposed regional transportation authorities, which would have the power to make transportation decisions for large sections of the state.

“We don’t need to take our limited dollars and create a new level of government. If a region wants to engage in self-help,” his administration would support it, Kaine said. But a “regional approach doesn’t do it. This is more than a regional problem, it’s a statewide problem.”

Kaine also took a swipe at Kilgore’s stand on taxes.

Officials who spoke out against the 2004 tax increase, which levied more than $1.5 billion in new taxes, were wrong, Kaine said.

“Those of us who stood for budget reform in 2004 produced an economy and a revenue stream that produced a surplus in 2005,” he said. “That transportation funding would have been impossible if budget reform had failed.”

Calls to roll back the hike are misguided, he said, because the $500 million surplus projected this year can also be used for major transportation projects.

At the local level, Kaine said his administration would “get local officials much more deeply involved in the transportation planning process” by extending to rural areas of the state the concept of federal metropolitan planning organizations, which require governments in urban areas to work together.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Candidate forced to pony up to have petitions circulated

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

He’s building his campaign organization as he goes, and riding a wave of good press.

But state Sen. H. Russell Potts, Jr., R-Winchester, ack-nowledges that being the only candidate for governor without a party establishment behind him makes his job more difficult.

Potts, who is running as an independent against Republican former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, said Tuesday that his campaign is tapping into voter frustration to build momentum.

“Is it nice to have a party structure? Sure,” he said. “[But] you have to realize that the two organized parties aren’t nearly what they were 20 years ago.”

Party support is “definitely overrated,” he said. “If that vaunted Republican machine is so powerful, how come they could only turn out 4 percent” for the primary?

Still, Potts and other candidates had to have some paid help to get on the ballot that their opponents didn’t.

According to information from the Virginia Public Access Project, Potts was one of three statewide candidates who paid people to circulate nominating petitions for either the June 14 or Nov. 8 ballot.

Consultants and workers were paid some $16,000 to gather signatures — Potts turned in almost 25,000, and said Tuesday that the minimum of 10,000 have been found valid.

Steve Baril, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for attorney general last week, and state Sen. Phil Puckett, D-Tazewell, who failed to win the Democratic nod for lieutenant governor, spent some $26,000 and $5,000, respectively.

The other 10 candidates reported no such expenditures.

“All the candidates find that necessary to [pay circulators] because Virginia is such a large state,” Potts said.

But “the overwhelming majority of my petitions were collected by all these constituencies like high school athletic directors, … Moose, Elks and Eagles clubs members.”

The people who circulated his petitions for free are the same people responsible for a wave of support — including support from columnists and editorial writers around the state.

“It isn’t about me, it’s about Virginia [and] the direction of politics” in the commonwealth, Potts said.
Potts is right that party backing isn’t what it used to be, according to Paul Achter, a professor of political science at the University of Richmond.

Now, one of the first jobs is to build name recognition and a bit of campaign buzz. “Party support comes later,” he said. But the importance of having an “R” or a “D” after a candidate’s name hasn’t gone away completely.

“Party support is extremely important to the success of a candidate. Most people run for office … as a member of a political party,” said Bill Shendow, director of the Marsh Institute for Government and Public Policy at Shenandoah University.

Voters tend to identify with parties, so running one way or the other brings instant voter affiliation, no matter how few voters know the candidate, he said.

That being said, statewide office in Virginia can be won without having the Virginia Republican or Democratic parties behind a candidate, he said, pointing to former Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr., who won as an independent.

A quick groundswell of support from nowhere might be the novelty of an independent run in the minds of voters, Achter said.

“Voters vote against establishment politicians, sometimes, as a matter of style,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said for that kind of appeal. That appeal is refreshing to voters … and anyone else who makes politics a part of their daily life.

“The question becomes, ‘Are people thinking about an independent running for governor, or are they thinking about Potts specifically?’”

While he declined to comment on the treatment Potts has received to date, Achter did say that “outsiders” sometimes do get a honeymoon.

“Sometimes lesser-known candidates get free rides simply because voters have more to go on when thinking about established candidates,” he said.

But once today’s novelty has become tomorrow’s known quantity, the honeymoon can end quickly.

“Once the cycle catches up to you, once good investigative reporting is done on you, once the oppositional research has been done on you, things change,” Achter said.

But there’s also a good chance that Potts is more than the flavor of the month, according to Shendow.

“I know Senator Potts personally. His is a unique phenomenon,” Shendow said. “He’s just saying what he believes outright. I think that’s having an effect.”

The question is, “how large will that effect be?” he said.

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As Kaine, Kilgore spar, Potts seeks spot on dais; A1

Debate over gubernatorial debates heating up

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Yes, Virginia, there will be gubernatorial debates. How many, when and where they’ll be, however, remains a matter of, well, debate.

The fight over who, when and where escalated on Monday, as two of the three hopefuls on the Nov. 8 ballot took shots at former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the Republican nominee, over his decision to be in two debates without state Sen. H. Russell Potts, Jr., R-Winchester, who is running for governor as an independent.

Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democratic contender for the governor’s mansion, chastised Kilgore for not agreeing to a debate that would have been televised statewide.

WSLS-10 in Roanoke had been trying to put together a debate that would be televised across the commonwealth by NBC affiliates.

But the station confirmed Monday that Kilgore and company had declined the offer, leading the Democratic camp to criticize its Republican opponent for “ducking” a second televised debate. The campaign maintains a separate Web site called “Jerry the Duck” that lists instances where the Kaine camp says Kilgore avoided debate.

“It’s hard to say what Jerry Kilgore is hiding from,” Kaine says in press release.

“But this pattern of avoiding debates should raise a red flag with the voters,” he says. “Virginia has a strong tradition of leadership and when a candidate running for the state’s highest office flinches again and again from the chance to stand on a stage with his opponents and share his vision for Virginia, he shows he is unworthy of carrying on that tradition.”

Meanwhile, back in Winchester, the Potts camp issued an appeal to supporters to pressure the Virginia Bar Association to let their man on the stage in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., for the debate the VBA is sponsoring in July.

The campaign sent an e-mail to supporters with the phone numbers and e-mail addresses of VBA President James Meath and Executive Vice President Breck Arrington, asking recipients to contact the two and “tell them to include all of the candidates in their debate.”

Newspapers around the state from Bristol to Northern Virginia have been editorializing in favor of Potts’ inclusion — a fact the candidate and his campaign aren’t reticent to point out.

Potts hasn’t been invited to either of the two sessions that Kilgore says he’ll attend, but says he will take part in eight others hosted by groups like WTOP radio in Washington, George Mason University in Fairfax and WVPT-51, the valley’s public television station.

Potts also signed on for a debate to be hosted by Liberty University, but, according to his campaign, it was canceled when Kilgore declined to participate. The cancellation couldn’t be independently confirmed Monday.

Kaine’s campaign has said in the past that it wouldn’t necessarily stay away from a debate just because Kilgore wouldn’t show.

For its part, the Kilgore camp again shrugged off the debate over debates as a sign that the other two campaigns are running scared.

“The first sign of a campaign in trouble is when it starts yapping endlessly about debates,” said Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

Kilgore will participate in two debates — the Virginia Bar Association Debate in July and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce in September. And while the candidate might accept another invitation down the road, it’s simply not that big of a deal, Murtaugh said.

“There are two debates on the books right now, there may be others. Tim Kaine should come up with some ideas and stop making an issue where there isn’t one,” Murtaugh said.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Gunbattles will rage in Va. races; A1

Debate over laws becoming loaded campaign issue

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine and former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore disagree on guns. Or at least on each other’s record on guns.

Kaine, a Democrat, says Republican Kilgore, his opponent in the November gubernatorial election, is lying about Kaine’s record on guns, casting him as anti-gun when he’s actually a Second Amendment supporter. Kilgore says Kaine is nothing of the sort, and has criticized his opponent for allegedly improperly implying an endorsement by former National Rifle Association President Charleton Heston.

Why are the two campaigns beating each other up over guns?

Even with its conservative, “red state” image, Virginia does have a history with gun control, and advocates on both sides of the gun issue say it’s far from settled.

It’s a long history, but one of the watershed events took place in the early 1990s when the General Assembly approved the “one gun per month” rule in response to charges that firearms trafficking in Virginia was contributing to crime in New York.

Even after a background check, buyers can only purchase one handgun every 30 days, with some exceptions. That’s a good thing, according to Casey Anderson, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a Washington-based lobby group that’s also active in Richmond.

“It’s hard to see whose interest would be served by allowing people to buy large numbers of guns all at the same time,” he said. “Most people are not in the market for buying 10 or 20 guns at a time … it’s too expensive.”
But the law infringes on a constitutional right, and makes some law-abiding citizens such as collectors into criminals, according to Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a group that represents some 3,000 gun owners.
“We hope to get rid of it eventually, ” he said. “South Carolina already has.”

And it could just be a matter of time. In recent years “the tide has really turned” in favor of gun rights, Van Cleave said.
Anderson and Van Cleave say they expect the gun rule to be an issue in the 2006 General Assembly, which could put Virginia’s new governor on the spot.

Another big issue for both sides is the “gun show loophole,” or a section of state law that doesn’t require non-federally licensed gun dealers to do background checks.

“Criminals are able to buy firearms in gun shows from unlicensed dealers,” Anderson said. “That makes it easy for people who can’t pass a background check to get guns.”

“It failed [last year] by one vote in the Senate,” he said. “Each year it’s picked up more support.”

But there is no loophole, according to Van Cleave.

Gun shows don’t convey any special rights to transactions, he said. Rather, those who don’t require a federal license are just doing what other private citizens can do — sell a gun without a background check.

Both disputes are typical of what’s on the fight card in Virginia.

Last year, the General Assembly pre-empted all but a handful of local gun laws, essentially making it legal to carry a loaded gun openly almost anywhere in the commonwealth with no permit.

There are so many gun-specific bills before the General Assembly each year that the House of Delegates has a subcommittee to deal with them.

Last year alone, legislators dealt with bills that would:
• Ban weapons inside libraries.
• Give those who can legally own a gun the right to carry concealed weapons without a permit.
• Revoke liquor licenses for restaurants that don’t ban weapons on their premises.
• Repeal the ban on carrying concealed weapons in places that serve alcohol.
• Ban the open carrying of weapons in places that serve alcohol.
• Ban .50-caliber rifles.
• Require the arrest of anyone found carrying a concealed weapon illegally. Current law calls for the issuance of a citation, much like a speeding ticket.

It’s about “both sides trying to frame the issue in a way that favors them,” Anderson said. With enough bills, one side can force their political opponents into voting controversial bills up or down.

That makes for campaign issues.
And it’s very helpful to have the governor on your side when a bill comes through the General Assembly, Van Cleave said. Not only for the veto power, but for the clout the office carries with members of the governor’s party.

Both Van Cleave and Anderson said their groups are watching the gubernatorial election closely — and that guns will be a hot topic here for some time to come.

“By no means” is the issue settled, Van Cleave said.

“I doubt we’re ever going to come to complete resolution,” Anderson said.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Kilgore running out front; A1

Republican wants Potts kept out of upcoming debates

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WINCHESTER — Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore is still the front-runner in the three-way race to be the next governor of Virginia, according to a poll conducted this week.

A survey of 500 likely voters taken Wednesday by pollster Scott Rasmussen found that Republican nominee Kilgore led Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine 46 percent to 40 percent. Some 2 percent supported unspecified third party candidates.

State Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, is on the November ballot as an independent.

Both major-party nominees have picked up ground from the last survey in April at the expense of independents. At that time,

Kilgore led with 44 percent to Kaine’s 36, with 5 percent for third-party hopefuls.
The polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Kilgore has held the top spot in polls since the earliest surveys were taken this year.

A May poll taken by Survey USA for WSLS-TV in Roanoke found Kilgore leading Kaine 44 percent to 40 percent, with Potts polling at 5 percent. Some 11 percent were undecided.

A similar poll taken in early March split the three 46 percent, 36 percent and 6 percent respectively, with 12 percent undecided. The polls had margins of error of plus or minus 4.5 and 4.2 percent.

“We feel very good about where we are, but we don’t live or die by polls,” Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Friday. “It’s better to be ahead than not, but it’s early yet.”

Murtaugh said Wednesday’s survey results reinforce the GOP candidate’s contention that any debates — two have been agreed to by both camps at present — will be two-man affairs.

“Debates should be left to those candidates who actually have a chance of winning,” he said.

Similar comments by Kilgore this week thoroughly riled Potts, who appealed to supporters in an e-mail this week for help getting into any debates.

“I want to respond to Kilgore’s quotation,” Potts told the Daily on Thursday. “The last time I looked, the people of Virginia decide who can win an election.”

The comment was typical of the “smug, arrogant fashion in which the Kilgore campaign” has been operating, Potts said.

There’s a great tradition of multi-candidate debates in American politics, he said, pointing to the 1992 presidential contest and numerous national primary elections.

By refusing to go on stage with all three contenders, the Kilgore campaign has the look of “a deer in the headlights” of an oncoming car, the senator said.

“Jerry Kilgore can run but he can’t hide,” Potts said. “What are you afraid of?”

Kilgore’s camp declined to respond to Potts directly, but did say that the Kaine campaign’s long list of proposed debates — 11 in total, ranging in location from Southwest Virginia to the Eastern Shore — is a sign of desperation.

Kaine’s press secretary, Delacey Skinner, said the campaign doesn’t put much stock in any poll except the one on Nov. 8, but the Democrat has gained ground and is “well within striking distance.”

As for debating, the Kaine camp has accepted invitations to appear with Potts. And if the organizers want to go ahead without Kilgore, “we don’t have any intentions of withdrawing.”

The Kaine campaign’s official Web log pointed supporters toward an editorial in the Staunton News Leader on Friday that excoriated Kilgore for the candidate’s position on debates and wanting to remain in a “carefully controlled campaign bubble.”

Being unwilling to face Kaine and Potts at the same time shows how the candidate can be caught flat-footed on the issues, the article states.

“The campaign that starts jumping up and down and starts hollering about debates is the campaign that knows it’s in trouble,” Murtaugh said.

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Friday, June 17, 2005

Wal-Mart scraps plan; A1

Replacement of bridge factored into decision

By William C. Flook
(Daily Staff Writer)

FRONT ROYAL — After a battle that spanned several years, Wal-Mart has given up on its plans to build a store on the banks of the Shenandoah River at Front Royal’s northern entrance.

The retail giant confirmed the decision Thursday, ending a bitter and emotionally charged controversy. Many call the decision not to build a Supercenter on the Va. 55 site a mutually beneficial outcome for both the town and the corporation.

Wal-Mart still plans to open a store in the area, though the timeline and location are not firm at this point, according to Rhoda Washington, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.

“We’re just so happy we can give the community exactly what they’re looking for,” she said. “We think this is a win-win situation.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation said in January that a project to replace the U.S. 340-522 bridge over the North Fork of the river would not be completed until Sept. 1, 2009. Wal-Mart could not make road improvements until the bridge’s completion, which was previously set for 2007 or 2008.

Washington said the delay was a factor in Wal-Mart’s decision.

“It’s about providing our services in a timely manner, as expeditiously as possible,” she said.

Wal-Mart representatives met with a number of local officials Wednesday to announce the plans not to build at the site. They included Front Royal Mayor James M. Eastham, Del. Clifford L. “Clay” Athey Jr., R-Front Royal, and state Sen. H. Russell Potts, Jr., R-Winchester, who is also a Virginia gubernatorial candidate.

“I am pleased that Wal-Mart has reconsidered its position and decided to locate its Supercenter to another site,” Eastham wrote in an e-mail Thursday. “I was especially pleased when the Wal-Mart representatives I met with yesterday assured me that they are committed to coming to Front Royal and serving the shopping needs of the community.”

The saga began in April 2002, when Wal-Mart Community Affairs Manager Keith Morris declared the corporation was interested in a 45-acre tract across from A.S. Rhodes Elementary School. Two months later, more than 100 concerned residents met with company officials at Riverton United Methodist Church.

On Aug. 19 of that year, Wal-Mart submitted a request to rezone 121 acres from residential to commercial for a 184,000-square-foot Supercenter, about 900 feet west of the Va. 55 intersection with U.S. 340-522.

Opposition rose over the proposed site, which is marked by two bridges, each spanning a fork of the Shenandoah River.
Save Our Gateway, a grass-roots group wanting to preserve the site, announced its founding that October.

On Thursday, Craig Laird, president of the group, wrote by e-mail that the organization is “delighted with the news that Wal-Mart will be coming to Warren County, and hopefully be settling in the 522 commercial corridor.”
Save Our Gateway and others suggested locating in the corridor, north of Interstate 66, which is served by town water and sewer.

“Our community looks forward to new and varied shopping north of Front Royal,” he wrote. “And this truly provides a win-win scenario for the entire community and Wal-Mart.”

He then thanked Eastham and Potts.

On June 10, 2003, despite a negative recommendation from the Front Royal Planning Commission, the Town Council voted 3-0 to approve the first reading of the rezoning request. Vice Mayor Daniel J. Pond III and Councilman Eugene R. Tewalt recused themselves because of conflicts of interest. Councilman Fred P. Foster recused himself in an attempt to prevent a quorum.

Foster managed to temporarily forestall a final vote by simply not attending meetings, or by leaving before the vote could take place. But Tewalt decided not to leave a meeting on July 28, 2003, and abstained from voting. As a result, Councilmen E.D. “Dusty” McIntosh Jr., Hollis L. Tharpe and Joseph T. McDaniel were able to pass the rezoning.

On Thursday, Foster lauded Wal-Mart’s decision not to build at the proposed site.

“It’s been a long three and a half years, and I want to take my hat off to Wal-Mart for stepping to the plate,” Foster said. “I wish them well and much success in their business.”

On Aug. 21, 2003, Save Our Gateway filed suit against the town of Front Royal and Wal-Mart, challenging the vote on four counts, including that the council had an improper quorum when it made the decision.

A judge ruled in December of that year against two counts in Save Our Gateway’s suit, finding that the council did have a proper quorum. The group later filed a non-suit, withdrawing two of the other counts, and appealed the remainder to the state Supreme Court. That court has not decided whether to hear the matter.

In May 2004, Tewalt, Tharpe, and McIntosh were voted out of office, as was Mayor Robert L. Tennett Jr.

The new council members and mayor reversed the town’s stance on the Wal-Mart rezoning, and eventually joined with Save Our Gateway in the group’s suit.

Other efforts were also pursued to oppose the construction of the Supercenter at the site. Potts said he helped mobilize a number of groups, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, and the
Friends of the Shenandoah River, to weigh in on the matter.

“I always wanted to do this, not in an adversarial fashion, but to convince the Wal-Mart people, who very graciously agreed, that we could create a win-win for them,” he said Thursday.

Potts praised the work of Save Our Gateway, Eastham, and Councilman Stan W. Brooks Jr.

Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R- Harrisonburg, whose district includes Warren County, issued a press release saying that he is “delighted” by Wal-Mart’s decision.

“I appreciate this opportunity to work side by side with Del. Clay Athey, and I appreciate all of his hard work to bring the many parties involved together on this issue,” he wrote in the release.

Laird said the status of the group’s suit will be examined in the next few days.

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Democratic hopefuls lay out their agenda; B1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Two members of Virginia’s 2005 Democratic ticket laid out part of their visions for port security and economic development on Thursday.

State Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, the party’s nominee for attorney general, told reporters on a conference call that security for Virginia’s ports would be a top priority during his tenure in office.

In particular, Deeds said he would set up a “Port Security Working Group” to lobby Congress for Virginia’s “fair share” of homeland security funding, to help pay for such things as advanced X-ray equipment to screen incoming cargo.

“Hampton Roads is home to the largest intermodal port facility on the East Coast, as well as strategic U.S. military installations,” Deeds said.

Billions of dollars worth of products move through the port each year, but the ports don’t have the kind of equipment they need to ensure that terrorists cannot attack the sites. A “dirty bomb” or other attack that puts the ports out of business even temporarily would be disastrous.

“Yet we don’t have the state-of-the-art, mobile X-ray container equipment other ports do and we don’t receive enough federal funds to meet the federal security mandates,” he said.

Port security is an area of federal responsibility, he said, and Virginia has to work harder to get more money from the government to protect its intermodal transit facilities.

And if the federal government doesn’t come through, taxpayers in the commonwealth may be asked to pick up the tab, he said.

“I’m not certain how much money we’re looking at,” Deeds said. “But I can tell you this, that public safety and security will be my top priority.”

The Virginia Port Authority, which owns ports in Hampton Roads and the Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal, has “done a good job” with the federal money they’ve received, and 2 to 3 percent of cargo coming in is screened, Deeds said.

But “it strikes me that the maritime industry is the only industry in Virginia and the country that’s been forced to subsidize [their own] homeland security,” he said. “It’s not being passed on to the railroad companies, it’s not being passed on to the trucking companies.”

Deeds’ opponent in November, Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, has said he’d support turning the Secure Virginia Panel, created by former Gov. Jim Gilmore in response to Sept. 11, 2001, into a permanent body backed by legislation.

The Republican has also said he’d hand out federal homeland security money in the commonwealth based on the threat faced by potential targets, not their vulnerability, as much as would be allowed by Virginia law.

Meanwhile, the man on the top of the Democratic ticket, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, was busy laying out his plans for supporting economic growth through tourism.

Virginia’s state parks and Civil War battlefields should be promoted as destinations for those visiting Virginia, along with destinations for the arts, Kaine said on a separate conference call.

Kaine said he supports funding for artistic attractions like the Richmond’s Performing Arts Center, the Wolf Trap Center in Northern Virginia, Roanoke’s Center in the Square and the Shenandoah Shakespeare Company in Staunton.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

State revenue up substantially; A1

Va. may have $600 million surplus after tax increase

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

RICHMOND — All but one of the six “maverick” House Republicans who backed a $1.6 billion tax increase in 2004 survived primary challenges Tuesday — the same day the state quietly announced a potential $600 million surplus.

Secretary of Finance John Bennett submitted the May revenue report to Gov. Mark R. Warner earlier this week, and the news was excellent.

Total collections for the state’s General Fund, which pays for a laundry list of government services, were up 23 percent in May over the same period last year.

Factoring out the tax increases that took effect in September, revenue was up more than 19 percent.

“Through May, revenues have grown 15.2 percent above the same period last year — substantially ahead of the mid-session forecast of 10.3 percent,” Bennett wrote. “This extra-ordinary growth continues to be fueled largely by the three most volatile revenue sources — individual non-withholding, corporate income and recordation taxes.”

To break even for the year, the state needs to take in $1.1 billion in June. Last June, it collected $1.5 billion.

“That $600 million may not be the only surplus we have,” said Del. Allan Louderback, R-Luray. If the current trend continues, it could push the surplus significantly higher.

“I told you so” is the wrong position to take for those who opposed the 2004 tax hike, said Del. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal, who did vote against the budget deal.

Those who said Virginia’s economy would grow its way out of the budget gap have been vindicated for two years in a row, Athey said.

By the end of this year, the economy will have produced nearly $2 billion in tax surpluses — $1.2 billion last year, $600 million this year. The tax hike generated much of that.

“Our economy is continuing to grow, as we predicated,” Athey said. But “I think those that believe that the tax increase was necessary believe that in good faith.”

Some 17 Republicans crossed the aisle and voted with Democrats and the majority in the state Senate to approve the deal.
Of those, six, including Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg, faced primary challenges. Only one, Del. Gary Reese, R-Oak Hill, lost his seat.

The Virginia Education Association’s Political Action Committee touted its success defending the six to reporters on Wednesday.

“In these six races, where VEA-PAC provided direct mail, member to member phone calls, monetary contributions, [get out the vote] calls and the hard work of VEA members, we had a success rate of 83 percent,” the PAC says in a statement.

“Our party-blind, issue-driven approach is protecting advocates of public education regardless of party affiliation,” VEA President Princess Moss said.

May’s challenger, Chris Oprison, lost by 20 points, but said Wednesday that his challenge was never about May as a person, but about tax policy.

“Joe May is a nice man, and indeed a brilliant inventor,” the Leesburg attorney says in a statement to supporters.

“My concern was simple: that families today — yours and mine — are overtaxed, and we deserve to keep more of our own money, not send more and more of it to fund unchecked government spending.”

It all goes to show that one vote won’t “determine someone’s future in the House of Delegates,” Athey said.

Running that far into the black should be a red flag for legislators, Louderback said.

“I think we ought to seriously look at what we need in the way of revenues,” he said. Tax relief of some kind, like completing the car-tax rollback should be on the table come January, he added.

The General Assembly should also look at major needs, namely transportation issues, Athey said.

“If we don’t give the money back to the people who paid it … it would be a really good idea to try to move that funding over into transportation,” he said, “which goes along with reforming transportation, I might add.”

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Kilgore handily defeats Fitch as most voters shun polls; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

The Northern Shenandoah Valley looked a lot like the rest of the commonwealth on primary day.

Turnout was low across the state and locally Tuesday — less than 10 percent statewide, peaking at 9.87 percent in Clarke County. And there were no serious variations from the rest of the commonwealth here.

GOP voters in the region went along with the rest of the state in selecting former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore to run for governor, state Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, for lieutenant governor and Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, for attorney general.

The trio swept all of the Northern Shenandoah Valley’s jurisdictions, except for Bolling, who narrowly lost to Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton in Winchester. Connaughton had received the endorsement of state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, who is mounting an independent bid for governor.

On the Democratic side, former Rep. Leslie Byrne won her bid for the lieutenant governor nomination around the area with margins that reflected her statewide win.

She’ll be the second chair on a ticket that will also include Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, who is seeking the governor’s office, and attorney general hopeful state Sen. Creigh Deeds, R-Bath County.

More than twice as many valley residents voted in the Republican primary than the Democratic one.

In Shenandoah County, 5.02 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Some 884 people voted in the Republican primary while 272 cast ballots in the Democratic vote.

The Kilgore camp declared victory early, talking to reporters on a conference call just 30 minutes after the polls closed.

Kilgore compared his win Tuesday to “a round in the NCAA basketball tournament.”

“It’s not about the margin of victory, it’s about advancing to the next round,” he said.

But, for those keeping score, the margin of victory wasn’t shabby. Statewide, Kilgore took the lead 10 minutes after the close of the polls and never looked back, finishing with some 82 percent of the vote, according to unofficial tallies from the State Board of Elections.

“Obviously we’re disappointed,” said Joe David, a spokesman for Warrenton Mayor George Fitch, whose campaign held out hope for an upset over Kilgore until the very end.

Looking past the primary to November was a gamble for Kilgore, according to Craig Brians, a professor of political science at Virginia Tech.

“It [didn’t] sound like Kilgore’s running against anyone [in Tuesday’s primary],” he said. Instead, he’s running against Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine.”

The plan harkens back to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s plan in 2000. Bush ran his entire primary campaign as if he were already the nominee in a race against Vice President Al Gore.

Kilgore’s “presidential strategy” had the potential to backfire, according to Brians.

“The risk is you might not mobilize your base,” he said. And if your base doesn’t show up, “you’ve got a problem.”

For all the talk about taxes during the House of Delegates primary, the results indicated that the average person wasn’t that upset, according to two key Democratic leaders in the House of Delegates.

Del. Brian Moran, D-Alexandria, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and House Minority Leader Del. Frank Hall, D-Richmond, both said the results in the Republican primary proved voters were happy with the 2004 budget deal.

Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg, and five other Republicans who crossed the aisle to approve the $1.6 billion tax increase were challenged Tuesday.

May, who represents Clarke County and part of Loudoun County, defeated Leesburg attorney Chris Oprison, 60 percent to 40 percent.

“It’s a vindication of our work of last year,” said Moran, and a vindication of Gov. Mark R. Warner’s legacy. “[Voters] have supported the Republicans that voted for that compromise. And that’s reflected in the election results.”

Late endorsements of the compromise Republicans by Potts, who will run against Kaine and Kilgore in November, were never a cause for alarm.

“He’s giving Jerry Kilgore more heartburn than he’s giving us,” Hall said.

Both primaries passed quietly in the northern valley — with all 57 actual precincts reporting their complete results within two hours of the close of polls.

But the day before did see some fireworks at one area polling place.

Lightning struck the steeple of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Toms Brook on Monday, as a line of strong thunderstorms moved through the area, according to church treasurer and member Phil Fauber.

Toms Brook and Strasburg fire departments responded to the scene, but they found no fire, he said.

“It sounded like a large cannon going off,” said Fauber, who lives across the street from the church. Voting went on normally.

Election Day is Nov. 8.

Staff writer Laura Davis contributed to this story.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ballots for state races set today; A1

Experts predict low turnout in primaries

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

It’s primary day, and by tonight the Republican and Democratic tickets for statewide races in November will be set.

But registrars and party officials both locally and across the commonwealth forecast a low turnout.

Turnout for primaries in Virginia is difficult to compare year to year because of differences in the ballot and races, but just more than 160,000 turned out for the Democratic contest in 2001.

There are about 104,000 registered voters in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties and the city of Winchester combined.

At this point in an election year, it’s surprising “how many people show up and don’t really know what’s on the ballot,”
Frederick County Democratic Committee Chairman Walter Eyles said.

At the end of the day, voters will fill in the middle blank of the Democratic ticket — lieutenant governor. The current lieutenant governor, Tim Kaine, is unopposed on the primary ballot for governor, along with attorney general candidate state Sen. Creigh Deeds, D- Bath County.

Del. Viola Baskerville, D-Richmond; former Rep. Leslie Byrne, of Fairfax; Del. Chap Peterson, D-Fairfax; and state Sen. Phil Puckett, D-Tazewell, are running for lieutenant governor.

On the Republican side, voters have two choices for each of the three statewide elected offices.
For governor, the ballot features Warrenton Mayor George Fitch and former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore. The lieutenant governor hopefuls are state Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sean Connaughton. Richmond Attorney Steve Baril and Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, are the two GOP contenders for attorney general.

But the front-runner of the Republican ticket isn’t worried about his opponent today.

“We’ve known for a very long time that Jerry Kilgore will be the nominee [Tuesday] night, and we’ve been focused with all of our energies on Tim Kaine,” Kilgore press secretary Tim Murtaugh said.

“The amount of unity the Republican Party is showing behind Jerry’s candidacy is unprecedented,” he said.

Kilgore’s campaign didn’t even mention their primary opponent in their media releases the day before the primary, instead attacking Kaine for statements on a radio show on gun control.

In fact, the Republican money leader has already announced some post-primary plans — a tour with the winners of the lieutenant governor and attorney general nominations to kick off the November campaign.

His campaign is also testing its November “get out the vote” operation in 100 precincts around the commonwealth in key areas.

But the other man on the ballot said he thinks he can still pull it out today.

“I honestly believe I still have a good chance to win in the end,” Warrenton Mayor George Fitch says in a statement to media. “Ideas and experience, not party endorsements and large financial support, are going to determine who becomes the Republican candidate for governor.”

Fitch decried the early endorsement of Kilgore’s campaign by the Republican National Committee and support from state party officials as contrary to party principals.

Fitch’s camp, which sought in vain to debate Kilgore throughout the primary season, took shots at what they said was the Kilgore record on sex offenders — some 250 offenders that should be registered but couldn’t be located.

“George Fitch believes Jerry Kilgore should worry less about his accent and worry more about his work,” the campaign says in a statement.

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Attorney general candidate Baril makes visit; A33

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

WINCHESTER — Virginia’s biggest crime problem is drug related, and one of the two GOP candidates for attorney general presented his plan to stop it on Friday.

Republican candidate for attorney general Steve Baril made a brief appearance at Winchester Regional Airport, laying out his plan to make the commonwealth safer and to ask for votes.

Baril is running against Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, for the GOP spot on the November ballot. The winner will face state Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Drugs and the gang violence that comes along with them will be the major challenges for the next attorney general, Baril said, speaking to a small crowd of media and supporters.

“This is one of the biggest challenges facing the commonwealth,” he said. The approach to date has been conferences, grants and other administrative approaches.

When it’s all over, “everybody sings ‘Kumbaya’ but not a single arrest has been made,” he said.

The only real solution, he said, is to put trained professionals on the street. Just what role the new state troopers he is seeking would play remains to be seen — “I’m not in the business of micro-managing law enforcement,” he said.

Regardless, the troopers will augment the manpower available to local law enforcement and make more arrests.

Baril also said he wants to put more teeth into the state’s criminal sentencing guidelines.

“Commonwealth’s attorneys across the state … agree that in cases of [breaking and entering], grand larceny, repeat drug offenders and some sex offenses, the sentencing guidelines have been systematically ‘dumbed down,’” he said.

Instead of being used to sentence criminals, they are used to manage prison and jail populations.

“Why bother [making arrests], when [those convicted] walk out the front door with the officers that arrested them?” he said.

Tougher guidelines could be coupled with drug courts — specialized courts in places like Chesterfield County, Richmond,

Roanoke and some counties Southwest Virginia that focus on rehabilitating non-violent offenders.

Expansion of the courts across the commonwealth would be one of Baril’s top priorities, the candidate said.

“Why? Because they work,” he said. “Every pilot program has produced a dramatic drop in the recidivism rate and an equally dramatic savings to the taxpayers. And they’ve helped people turn their lives around.”

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Targeting Pollution on Kaine Agenda; B1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Virginia’s economic future depends on sound environmental planning and regulation, according to one of the four men who want to be Virginia’s next governor.

“We have got to protect the Virginia environment because it’s the right thing to do,” Democratic contender Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine told reporters on a conference call Friday.

But “we have a very compelling economic need to protect the environment,” said Kaine, who will face the winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary — either Warrenton Mayor George Fitch or former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore — and state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. in the November election.

Kaine recounted the tale of a lumber mill in Surry County that folded during the 1930s to make his point.

“The reason they closed wasn’t the Depression,” he said. “They never planted a seed, and one day after they had just clear cut their entire acreage, there just wasn’t anything more to cut. You’ve got to be planting seeds along the way.”

“Planting seeds” in a Kaine administration would mean watching the federal government very closely on a number of measures.

Virginia generates millions of dollars per year through tourism and agriculture — both industries depend on an environment that hasn’t been polluted beyond use.

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving through a regulatory process under the federal clean air act which could lead to “pollution credit” trading for Virginia power plants. Under such a plan, Virginia plants could buy “credits” from plants elsewhere that were producing less than their allotment of gasses and particulate matter.

His administration would watch the regulatory process closely, Kaine said. If it could have an adverse effect on Virginia’s air quality, he would then pursue legislation at the state level, the candidate said.

Kaine also said he would lobby Congress for the authority to regulate interstate garbage transfers. Virginia is one of the top importers of garbage in the nation.

“Until Congress gives us the authority to regulate it,” there’s not much the state can do. At present “we import more than a ton of waste per year per person.”

Kaine was noncommittal on new money to fund clean up of the Chesapeake Bay. The 2004 budget had $80 million, but restoring the bay will take more money from the commonwealth over a long period of time.

The candidate said he wouldn’t earmark a source, like a “flush tax” on sewer service or other revenues, for bay cleanup.

But “I’m not ruling it out either,” he said. “It is critically important that we maintain [the commonwealth’s efforts to clean up the bay].”

Virginia’s program of conservation easements — where a land owner signs over the right to develop a property in exchange for a tax break — also needs more support, he said.

“I believe that Virginia has one of the best” easement programs in the nation, he said. A bill last year would have capped the value of easements for tax purposes.

“We need to do more [rather than less for conservation easements],” he said. He’d also work to provide more administrative support for the program.

“[Conservation easements] really helps … water quality initiatives,” he said.

“We all agree that a clean environment is a priority, we just don’t think higher taxes are necessary to get there,” said Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

“We’ve been working closely with a variety of groups on point-source pollution,” he said. “We want to see market-based incentives to address non-point sources,” like run-off from farms.

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Potts on the Ballot; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)


State Sen. H. Russell Potts, Jr., R-Winchester, filed some 24,000 signatures with the Virginia State Board of Elections on Friday, more doubling the amount needed to qualify him for the gubernatorial ballot as an independent candidate in November.

Provided 10,000 are valid and 400 are from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts, Potts will appear on the ballot beside Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and the winner of Tuesday’s GOP primary between Warrenton Mayor George Fitch and former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.

“We’re in the ballgame now,” Potts said in an interview with the Daily on Thursday. While he’s both “exhilarated and jubilant” to be on the ballot, he said it’s humbling that so many people have stepped up to the plate to help him.

“In America, all things are possible,” he said.

Just being on the ballot is a message of hope for young people in the commonwealth and the rest of the country, he said.

“America is based on the magic of belief,” he said. “As sure as God is in his heaven, Russ Potts can be the next governor.”

Friday’s filing represents the fulfillment of a journey that began before he was born — and a father’s dream.

Not long before his birth in 1939, his father packed up the Potts family and moved to Richmond. People asked his father why.

“He said, ‘Because my son is going to be the governor of Virginia some day, and I want him to be born in the state capital,’” Potts said.

“Now we launch ‘Operation Upset,’ and pull off the biggest political upset in Virginia history,” he said.

It’s going to be an uphill fight. Potts comes into the contest with lower name recognition than Kaine and Kilgore, his two most likely opponents, no major party apparatus to help with things like fundraising and “get out the vote” efforts, and a war chest that hasn’t even broken the $500,000 mark.

Kaine has raised more than $9 million and Kilgore more than $6 million.

It’s not all about money and organization, Potts said. It’s about honesty — something both Republicans and Democrats in Virginia haven’t been getting enough of lately.

Voters of both parties are “fed up with the domination” of the debate by both the far right and far left, he said.

Most Virginia residents are “moderate, independent-thinking voters” who will be very attracted to someone who’s willing to lay out the painful truths of the commonwealth’s current situation.

Both Kaine and Kilgore are telling people what they want to hear, not what they need to hear, he said. In particular, both candidates’ suggestions to put some limits on real estate taxes are “horrible suggestions” and nothing more than campaign “gimmicks.”

If elected, Potts said he’d call a special session of the General Assembly and put “everything on the table” for making traffic flow better in the state.

And he said he can have a plan in place and start working on roads by July 2006.

“Transportation is by far the most important issue,” he said.

He also says the state needs a major overhaul of its tax code, but he won’t promise anyone they will be paying lower taxes when it’s over.

“Virginia is one of the lowest tax states in the union,” he said. “If you’re looking for the ‘free lunch bunch,’ I’m not your guy.”

People will always say they pay too much in taxes, he said, but they are not willing to sacrifice things like education and roads to reduce their burden.

“I’ve never heard one constituent say, ‘You’re putting too much money into education,’” he said.

Control of local issues needs to go back to local governments, he said. And while he wouldn’t seek to completely do away with the Dillon Rule — the legal precept that forbids local governments from doing anything not expressly allowed by the

General Assembly — he would work to give much more flexibility in the areas of transportation and taxation.

Part of that might be to revisit the Byrd Road Law, the Depression-era statute that saw Richmond take over all of the commonwealth’s county road systems.

Party primaries are set for Tuesday. Election Day is Nov. 8.

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