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

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Plainspoken Potts; Editorial Page

Love him or loathe him, there’s no denying Russ Potts speaks his mind. Valley residents have known that for years, but residents of other regions of Virginia are getting perhaps their first earfuls of Potts’ plain talk as he plies the Old Dominion in his independent bid for governor.

The state senator from Winchester, who laments the rightward drift of his Republican Party, strode purposefully last week into the emotionally charged thicket of gay rights. While pointedly rejecting same-sex marriages, he supported letting gay couples adopt children, citing instances of gays being “very loving, caring parents.” “We're all God's children,” he told The Associated Press.

Such candor on a “hot-button” issue is both commendable and uncommon for a statewide candidate in Virginia, but then Potts is a long shot blissfully free of the political constraints on his rivals, Lt. Gov. Timothy Kaine, the Democrat, and Republican Jerry Kilgore, the former attorney general, as they try to divine the winning combination in November.

Their campaigns, so far, have been marked by an abundance of caution and especially by a reluctance to boldly confront major issues. Both Kilgore and Kaine have plans and they talk gamely about leadership, but their proposals are more electoral gambits than solid solutions.

Potts, by contrast, says half measures won’t work when “Rome is burning.” He wants to tackle an array of problems — taxes, education, the social safety net but especially transportation, with a special General Assembly session with “everything on the table.”

His straight talk enlivens a drab gubernatorial campaign by prodding the main candidates and furthering discussion of key issues. Despite Potts’ slim chances of success, he deserves a place in the campaign, including any gubernatorial debates.