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, November 29, 2005

AG race officially headed for recount; A1

McDonnell certified as winner, but Deeds requests second tabulation

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

It’s official. The race to be the next attorney general of Virginia is headed to a recount.

State election officials certified a 323-vote victory for Republican candidate Del. Bob McDonnell of Virginia Beach on Monday out of more than 1.9 million ballots cast, but Democratic candidate state Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath County immediately announced that he would seek a second tabulation.

The results are just too close to let go without a second look, Deeds said in an e-mail to the media after the board’s action.

“I will petition the Richmond City Circuit Court tomorrow morning for the first and final recount of the votes,” he said. “It is the right thing to do to make sure every vote is fairly and accurately counted, so the votes of the people of Virginia will ultimately decide the outcome of this election.”

Virginia law, unlike Florida’s now infamous recount statutes, doesn’t allow for a “hand recount.” Instead, a “recount court” made up of the chief judge of the Richmond Circuit Court and two other judges to be appointed by the state’s chief justice will set a date and procedures for the recount.

At the local level, each city and county will have two “recount coordinators,” a Republican and Democratic member of the local electoral board, who will oversee the recount, a new tally from scratch of each voting machine and absentee ballot cast in the election.

Both men have assembled teams of lawyers to argue on their behalf in front of the recount court. Gov.-elect Tim Kaine lent his name to Deeds’ legal effort, asking Democrats to donate to the recount effort in an e-mail sent Monday.

“For my good friend and running mate, Creigh Deeds, who ran for Attorney General, today is not the end but rather just the beginning,” Kaine said. “Since the night of November 8th it has been clear that the outcome of Creigh’s race would not be resolved easily. But the momentum is clearly in Creigh’s favor.”

McDonnell told reporters on a conference call that his transition efforts would continue unabated.

Members of the State Board of Elections certified the final results at a meeting in Richmond on Monday afternoon. As of now, the tally stands at 970,886 for McDonnell, 970,563 for Deeds, or 49.96 percent to 49.95 percent.

The difference of 323 votes represent a margin of fewer than three votes in each of Virginia’s 134 county-level jurisdictions.
Initial tallies saw McDonnell with a lead of about 2,500 votes, but Deeds netted some 2,267 votes as the state’s cities and counties completed their canvas, or final comprehensive check of their tabulation.

An additional 1,329 votes were found for McDonnell, while another 3,596 for Deeds were found.

That shift toward Deeds led some McDonnell supporters to suggest that tighter controls needed to be placed on the canvas efforts, although they stopped short of alleging any misdeeds.

Locally, some of those changes came from provisional ballots — those cast by voters who couldn’t be confirmed as eligible on Election Day, according to Shenandoah County registrar Lisa McDonald.

“I think it changed two or three [votes] based on provisional voters,” she said. Other changes made between Nov. 8 and Monday were the result of error correction as the canvas moved forward.

Nobody likes vote totals to change, but the counting process is an imperfect human endeavor, and one undertaken by tired humans on election night at that, according to registrars who spoke to the Daily.

Changes can come from a mistake made by a poll worker reading the precinct results over the phone to headquarters, or a mistake in typing in the numbers on the State Board of Election’s Web site.

Working the polls makes for a very long day by the time things wrap up at 7 p.m. and the counting begins, said Helen Brinkman, secretary of the Warren County Electoral Board.

“[Poll workers] have to be there at 5 in the morning, so you know they’ve gotten up by 3:30 or 3 a.m.,” she said. When the final canvas found that some numbers had been incorrectly reported to the state, “we had the [record] tapes, so we changed [the report to the state].”

Only one other statewide vote has ever been recounted in modern history — the 1989 gubernatorial race between Republican Marshall Coleman and Democrat L. Douglas Wilder, which was decided for Wilder by fewer than 6,000 votes.

Both sides will be in court in Richmond on Dec. 6 for an initial hearing.

Inauguration Day is Jan. 14.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Transportation ideas other than taxes on upcoming legislative plate; B1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Virginia legislators and candidates for office have been talking about transportation issues since the last gavel dropped on the General Assembly in February.

Much of the emphasis in the gubernatorial campaign was on the gas tax.

Gov.-elect Tim Kaine has promised to emphasize tying land use issues to transportation, and to create a “lock box” for transportation funds.

But there are other ideas coming forward that have nothing to do with taxes, including:

• Reworking the state’s road classifications.

At present, Virginia’s system of classifying roads — interstate, primary, secondary and urban — isn’t closely linked to how those roads are used, according to a study done in 2001 by the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission.

Roads that are classified as primary highways, like Va. 42, which runs through Woodstock and down the west side of the Shenandoah Valley, often don’t carry as much traffic as some roads that are classified as secondary roads, like Franconia Road in Fairfax County.

The JLARC study recommends reclassifying the state’s roads based on how much traffic they carry and making that a significant factor in how funding is handed out, with statewide projects of statewide significance competing for money against other statewide projects, regional against regional and local against local.

• Mandating more “cluster zoning.”

Legislators approved a law in 2002 to make it much easier for developers to pursue so-called “cluster housing” subdivisions.

Instead of spacing homes out on lots that take up an entire parcel of land, cluster developments put homes much closer together, leaving a common open space.

Such designs not only save open space, but also cut down on the amount of road that needs to be built and maintained by the state.

The 2002 law makes cluster developments a “by right” use in some instances, requiring only approval from county zoning staff, instead of an outright rezoning. Few localities are taking advantage of the law, according to the Home Builders Association of Virginia.

“Many localities have repealed their previous cluster housing ordinances and those very few that have … included building design criteria that are so onerous that very few, if any, cluster-housing applications have been submitted,” said Michael

Toalson, executive vice president of the organization, speaking to the Senate’s Statewide Transportation Analysis and Recommendation Task Force in October.

• Forcing local governments to keep needed improvements on their comprehensive plans.

Transportation problems are exacerbated when localities remove planned road projects from their comprehensive plans, Toalson said.

In Fairfax County, projects that would have made traffic much better have been pulled from the “big picture” planning document.

Officials should consider taking action to prod “localities to adequately fund the infrastructure components of their [capital improvement plans] and to discourage the elimination of needed transportation improvements from local comprehensive plans,” Toalson said.

That might take the form of reporting projects added or removed from local plans to the Commonwealth Transportation Board, as well as the funding set aside to meet them.

START meets again in December. The General Assembly reconvenes in January.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Reports: D.C. is driving NoVa growth; B3

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Virginia is in high fiscal cotton right now, with billions in budget surpluses, low unemployment and a booming housing market.

But the source of all those good times, particularly in Northern Virginia, is north of the Potomac.

Federal spending is one of the major drivers of the economy in the state’s top-right corner, according to a number of analysts.

A study of federal procurement by economists at George Mason University released in June found that federal spending in the greater Washington area has been on a record pace in the past few years.

One out of every three dollars spent in Northern Virginia, Washington and suburban Maryland comes from federal coffers, according the study’s author, Stephen Fuller, the head of the university’s Center for Regional Analysis.

Since 1980, federal spending in the region has grown from $4.2 billion to $50 billion, an increase of 1,100 percent, compared to an increase of slightly more than 100 percent across the country.

In 2004, the Washington area got 15.7 percent of all federal procurement. Of that, 32.2 percent went to Fairfax County, Falls Church and the city of Fairfax.

In Northern Virginia alone, federal procurement spending rose 19.1 percent, for some $4.2 billion, from fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2004. The vast majority of that spending came from the Department of Defense.

Since the end of the 2001 recession, Virginia has added back all of the jobs that were lost plus 90,000, according to information compiled by the state Senate Finance Committee’s staff.

Of those jobs added during the rebound, 65 percent were created in Northern Virginia. Of those, over half are related to federal spending.

Following the “dot com” bust of 2000 and 2001, the state ended fiscal 2002 with a general fund shortfall of $237 million.
But once the federal spending boom that took place after the Sept. 11 terror attacks began to work its way into the state’s economy, those numbers turned around.

In 2003, the state recorded a $55 million surplus, followed by a $323.8 million surplus in 2004. Fiscal 2005 ended with a $544.6 million bankroll. Senate budget officials estimate that fiscal 2006 will end with about $860 million in the bank over budget.

There’s pressure to clamp down of federal spending, said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, but don’t look for a reduction anytime soon.

“I don’t think there’s any danger that it’ll stop, but I certainly hope the pressure to tighten up the federal budget … continues,” he said.

The Defense and Homeland Security departments pour lots of money into Northern Virginia, but that growth will be clipped in the near future.

“I think those are going to be tightened up just like everything else will,” he said.

That has some lawmakers in Richmond concerned.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Chichester, R-Fredericksburg, warned his colleagues at a retreat last week that the state’s economy will cool off.

“There is uncertainty in this economy, and the booming revenues that flow from it,” he said. “Listen to that little voice in your head that says ‘go slow.’ Take it easy. Don’t overextend the way we did last time.”

Documents prepared for the retreat warn that Virginia’s economy could take a hit if the feds back off.

But pinning fiscal hopes on higher federal spending is a bad way to do business, according to Richard Cothren, a professor of economics at Virginia Tech.

Federal spending eventually is going to crowd out other spending,” he said. “If the feds are going to spend more, then eventually the rest of us are going to have to spend less.”

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Election winners appoint staff; B2

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

The winners (and possible winners) from Election Day are getting ready to take over in January, and are putting together the staffs they’ll need to do the job.

Gov.-elect Tim Kaine already has a transition team and some staff in place, but went further and announced a “Moving Virginia Forward” transition committee to serve as an informal panel of advisors as Inauguration Day gets closer.

The panel will “offer insight about issues of importance in their communities, and assist the Governor-Elect in his efforts to promote excellence, attention to regional perspectives, diversity and bipartisanship,” press secretary Delacey Skinner says in a statement.

Kaine’s panel will meet for the first time on Tuesday.

Lt. Gov.-elect Bill Bolling is also working on putting his office together, announcing some key staff appointments this week.

Campaign manager Randy Marcus will stay on board as chief of staff. Deputy campaign manager Kristi Way will become Bolling’s deputy chief of staff.

At the bottom of the ballot, both Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds are preparing to take over as attorney general.

As of Wednesday afternoon, McDonnell was still hanging on to a 323-vote lead over Deeds out of 1.9 million votes cast, pending certification of the vote on Nov. 28 and a recount promised after that.

Gov. Mark R. Warner offered both men office space to begin their transition earlier in the month.

Deeds announced his transition committee on Wednesday to “provide advice and guidance to Senator Deeds and his staff during the transition process on structuring of the Attorney General’s office and strategies to implement Senator Deeds’ legislative agenda,” the campaign says in a statement.

“I am honored to have such an experienced and diverse group of attorneys and thoughtful Virginians assisting me in preparing to be the next Attorney General of Virginia,” Deeds says.

John W. Daniel II, a former Virginia secretary of natural resources and assistant attorney general, now a partner in the Richmond office of Troutman Sanders, will chair the transition committee and direct the transition office.

Inauguration Day is Jan. 14.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Valley residents’ sewer bills will see effects of water quality rules; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

It’s about to get more expensive to flush the toilet in the Shenandoah Valley.

The last round of water quality regulations designed to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay won approval from the State Water Control Board on Monday, and were announced by Gov. Mark R. Warner from Richmond.

Under the new rules, wastewater treatment plants will be required to remove all but 3 milligrams of nitrogen compounds and 0.3 milligrams of phosphorus compounds from every liter of water that leaves the plant.

While this round of rule-making announced Monday covers only the James and York rivers and their tributaries, a set of rules that took effect last week applies the same standards to the Shenandoah and the Potomac.

It also rations the total amount of the nutrients that can be dumped from each plant, regardless of how much water flows through or how many new houses are added to an area.

At the end of the day, it’s going to cost valley residents a lot of money, according to sewage treatment plant operators.

“The day of the $15 a month sewer bill is soon ending, I’m afraid,” said Rodney McClain, general manager of the Toms Brook-Maurertown Sanitary District.

The district operates the 600,000 gallon per day Stony Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, one of five in Shenandoah County that will have to be upgraded in the coming years.

Warner made no bones about the new rules — they’re tough, but the burden of implementing them won’t be placed solely on localities.

“These new regulations are the most strict in the nation — and coupled with historic investments this year, and significant new funding I will announce in the coming weeks — establish Virginia as the national leader in the effort to restore the bay and improve overall water quality by the agreed-upon deadline of 2010,” Warner said.

Legislators put $80 million into the fund last year.

Plant operators said they hope there’s a lot more money where that came from.

“It’s going to be a quantum leap in the treatment capabilities and the requirements that wastewater plants are going to have to meet,” McClain said.

The rule of thumb used by some plants to estimate how much the upgrades — which have to be in place in about four years — will cost is about $10 for every gallon of capacity.

For Shenandoah’s Stony Creek plant, that’s about $6 million. Previous upgrades using other technology have cost anywhere from $3 to $5 per gallon of capacity.

There’s no doubt who will wind up paying the bill, according to Jesse Moffett, executive director of the Winchester Frederick Service Authority, which owns the Parkins Mill and Opequon wastewater plants.

“In my case, I’m a wholesaler, so I only bill two parties, the city [of Winchester] and the [Frederick County] Sanitation Authority,” he said.

But “if everybody is agreeable to expansions or upgrading the facilities — which is going to have to happen — the bill is going to be passed on to the customer that’s using the service,” he said.

Service Authority plants already use bacteria to remove nutrients from the water, and on average get all but 5 mg per liter, he said.

That changes depending on the weather, Moffett said. Colder weather makes the process much less efficient.

“The concern I think everybody is going to have is in the winter months is if we’re going to be able to accomplish those numbers,” he said. “So we’re just going to have to do better in the summer.”

Federal and state sources have helped pay for such projects in the past, but with so many projects requiring funds at one time, it may be impossible to throw enough money at the problem.

“There’s only so many contractors that can handle projects of this size,” Moffett said.

He said he hopes the plants will be able to get some help in meeting their numbers by pursuing “non-point source” nutrients, like urban and farm runoff.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has said plants can get credit for offsets like taking farmland out of production, which would be added to their total allocations.

Expensive as it will be, there is support for a cleaner bay.

“If you take a poll and say, ‘Hey, do you think it’s a good idea to save the Chesapeake Bay?’ you’re going to have 87 percent say ‘Yeah, by God, that’s a good idea. We like our steamed crabs,” McClain said.

“This is what it’s going to cost,” he said.

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Wolf announces funding OK’d for area FBI facility; B1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WINCHESTER — It’s a done deal. The FBI is coming to Frederick County.

Federal funding to relocate all FBI records to a new facility outside Winchester has cleared its last hurdle in Congress, paving the way for site selection to begin for the building, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, an-nounced Tuesday.

“The new facility is coming,” he said. “This is now a reality.”

The last round of preliminary funding for the project cleared the House of Representatives on Nov. 9 in a conference re-port that funds agencies such as NASA, as well as the Com-merce, Justice and State de-partments.

Wolf is the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the agencies funded by the bill.

It cleared the Senate last week, and President Bush signed the legislation late Tuesday afternoon.

Once that happens, the General Services Administration will select a site for the building, and appropriations for construction and operation of the project will be automatically included in future federal budgets, Wolf said.

Congress has already set aside some $29 million for the project over the past three years.

When completed, the project will join two other FBI facilities in Winchester and Frederick County. The agency will operate a recruitment site on North Braddock Street in Winchester and a training facility in an industrial park on Tasker Road later this year.

The Winchester area beat out a number of other regions for the new, 900,000-square-foot facility, including Harrisonburg and locations in Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“Easy access to I-81 and I-66, less than a two-hour drive from the bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.,” Wolf said. “Also, the potential work force you have in this region.”

At present, the bureau stores files at more than 250 facilities around the country.

“The volume of these paper files stacked up like dominoes would be roughly 148 miles long,” he said. The new site will put all files under one roof, under the care of archive specialists, who will also be charged with digitizing records.

Storage standards across the agency aren’t uniform at present, but federal law requires all records be handled in accordance with federal archive standards by the end of the decade.

It also frees up much needed and very expensive office space at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington.
“They really need that space,” Wolf said.

The new facility will employ about 1,000 people when it begins operations in 2010. It will be about half the size of the FBI’s Washington headquarters.

The need for so many trained employees is one reason the agency decided on Winchester, which offers a skilled work force, plus a student body at Shenandoah University from which to recruit.

“Many of the people that work downtown will relocate out here, but I suspect many of them will not, so it’s a win-win for everybody,” Wolf said.

“I think the people of Frederick County are really going to like them,” he said. “And the FBI is really going to like the Shenandoah Valley.”

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McDonnell raises recount questions; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

RICHMOND — It’s been two weeks and a day since Election Day, and the race to be Virginia’s next attorney general is still getting closer.

That doesn’t sit well with some supporters of the apparent winner, Republican Del. Bob McDonnell, who called on state officials to exercise more oversight of local efforts to come up with a final count.

About 1,500 votes separated McDonnell and the apparent loser, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, when Election Day turned into the day after Election Day.

The gap has been steadily decreasing ever since.

As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Mc-Donnell held a 322-vote lead over Deeds, or 0.01 percent — 49.96 percent to 49.95 percent out of 1.9 million votes cast.

It shouldn’t be so easy for vote totals to shift, two McDonnell supporters told reporters during a conference call Tuesday.

“I think what we’re seeing is somewhat unprecedented,” said former Attorney General Stephen Rosenthal, a Democrat working with the McDonnell transition team.

“Vote tallies are changing without any public view or knowledge of what’s going on,” he said. “And they are changing constantly and daily. That’s causing significant confusion.”

Former electoral board member and Republican Del. Jack Rust said the State Board of Elections needs to be exercising much more control over local electoral boards as they refine their counts.

“One of the things that I’ve always been very proud of is that there has been no hint of impropriety in Virginia elections, and I think that’s extraordinary,” he said.

Communication between the local boards and the state boards needs to be much more formal, Rust said, with the locals coming and asking for permission to go back and make changes.

Deeds’ surge of more than 1,000 votes is odd as well, he said.

“That’s not what ought to happen under a statistical analysis,” he said.

Neither Rosenthal nor Rust said they were alleging any sort of fraud, but they did say controls needed to be tightened a great deal.

“Anytime there’s a lack of oversight, there’s an opportunity for bad things to happen,” Rust said. “I don’t think bad things have happened. I don’t think that’s what Virginia is about.”

Over at the Deeds campaign/transition office, the reaction was strong and quick.

“We believe that the integrity of the election process remains intact and we look forward to working to ensure the results of this election are certified in a dignified, respectful manner,” Larry Framme, the head of Deeds’ recount team, said in an e-mail to reporters.

“If Bob McDonnell and his team has evidence of improprieties regarding the certification process, they should bring those forward, and not hide behind accusations,” he said.

It’s not uncommon for vote totals to shift significantly, he said, pointing to the 2001 race between Republican Mark Earley and now Democratic Gov. Mark Warner.

Earley picked up some 4,000 votes during that canvas.

“That vote total is more than what Creigh Deeds has gained on Bob McDonnell in this election,” Framme said.

The State Board of Elections is set to certify a final count on Monday.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

A housekeeping note

The Depot has been a bit light on publishing this week due to a number of factors, most notably a lack of time. This might continue through Thanksgiving due to the aforementioned time crunch and some incoming relatives.

Things should be back up to speed after the first wave of the Holidays has passed.

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Surplus doesn’t mean big spending; A1

Competition fierce for state funds

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Virginia’s financial health continues to be solid, but legislators shouldn’t think they’ve got a bottomless wallet when they reconvene in January, according to a senior state delegate.

The state’s general fund is likely to end the 2004-06 budget with a $1.6 billion surplus, but both senators and delegates were told at a retreat in Loudoun County this week that there are several priorities and “unmet needs” competing for those funds.

And Virginia isn’t in charge of its own economic fortunes — Washington, D.C., is, said Del. Vince Callahan, R-McLean, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Until fiscal 2004, the state was still in a slump brought on by the combination of spending increases during the late 1990s and 2000 and the implosion of the “dot com” bubble.

Revenues actually dropped from 2000 levels until 2004, which forced legislators to deal with a collective $6 billion budget shortfall.

“So what caused this remarkable turnaround? Simply put, the federal government,” Callahan said Tuesday at the committee’s retreat at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne.

Federal spending makes up about a third of the economy in the greater Washington area, and has been growing at a record clip since Sept. 11, 2001, due to homeland defense spending.

“To put this expansion into perspective, Northern Virginia has accounted for approximately 60 percent of the state’s overall job gains,” Callahan said.

Much like the defense spending boom of the 1980s, Virginia’s economy is “inextricably linked” to how Congress wields the public checkbook.

“Should growth in federal spending be reduced, the fortunes of Virginia may change,” he told fellow delegates.

For now, the state’s finances look to be in very good shape.

A new report from Secretary of Finance John Bennett released Monday found that October general fund revenue was running 12.8 percent above October 2004 levels.

That’s an increase of about $500 million. General fund revenue could have declined by about 3 percent and still have met revenue targets.

When the books are closed on the 2004-06 budget, the state will likely have $1.6 billion over and above budgeted expenditures on hand. It ended the previous fiscal year with a $323 million surplus.

Lawmakers raised taxes by some $1.5 billion after a contentious session in 2004, shortly before the surplus was announced.

A number of obligations are already in line for any surplus funds, including the state’s “rainy day” fund, the water quality improvement fund and new prisons now under construction.

One of the largest financial commitments coming in 2006 is the “re-benchmarking” Virginia’s Standards of Quality.

The Virginia Board of Education sets the standards, subject to revision by the General Assembly. They are one way the state parcels out tax revenue to local school districts.

The standards, better known as the SOQs, set out the minimum requirements for school systems in the state. Bi-annual adjustments to the standards will require the state to add more than $1.18 billion to the 2006-08 budget over the 2004-06 budget.

Gov. Mark R. Warner is slated to present his final budget to the General Assembly next month, shortly before Gov.-elect Tim Kaine takes office.

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Ex-spy: U.S. didn’t get clear picture of prewar intelligence; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WINCHESTER — The Bush administration didn’t fabricate intelligence to make the case for war with Iraq, but the nation didn’t get a clear picture of what the CIA knew in 2003, a former spy told a capacity crowd at Shenandoah University on Wednesday.

Lindsay Moran was a case officer with the CIA for five years until 2003, when she resigned out of frustration over the agency’s intelligence gathering efforts.

She is the author of “Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy.”

Moran said joining the nation’s intelligence community was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, but the dream started to sour not long after she began the job.

Stationed in Macedonia, in what was once part of Yugoslavia, Moran’s opinion of her employer began to shift dramatically after Sept. 11, 2001.

“This day was devastating to me personally … even more when I considered that I was working for the very agency that was to prevent something like this,” she said.

At first, it renewed her resolve to do her job well, she said.

She had started to develop a relationship with a source who had friends in militant Islam who may have had useful information for the fight against terrorism.

But “about halfway through the development,” she got orders to stop, she said.

“He may have at one time had terrorist ties,” orders from headquarters in Langley said. “They just wanted to wash their hands of him,” Moran said.

That reflects one of the agency’s major problems, according to Moran: It is still reacting to public outcry of the 1970s and ’80s over U.S. involvement with less than desirable groups.

Not long after, she was recalled to Langley, where she was pressed into service on Iraqi matters in the lead-up to what became Operation Iraqi Freedom.

At the lower levels, the prewar consensus was clear.

“To a person, they all told me that ‘We don’t have any evidence of [weapons of mass destruction],’” she said. But that didn’t square with what news reports said was coming out of the CIA.

Prewar Washington made much of the WMD justification for invading Iraq, she said, but “I don’t think I could make the case that the president or anyone on his administration invented intelligence.”

It may have happened at the lower levels, however.

Not long before the war started, Moran said, she overheard a “middle manager and bunch of his underlings” in a meeting talking about WMD.

“Let’s face it, the president wants to go to war and it’s our job to give him a reason to do so,” Moran said, quoting the “middle manager.”

“That was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back for me,” she said.

At higher levels, it may have been an instance of cherry-picking bits and pieces of information that supported the case for war, she said.

“It’s shockingly easy to do,” Moran said. “The CIA was relying on one source code named ‘Curveball’ who wound up being completely unreliable.”

“From my level, working in Iraqi operations, there was nobody there who was really gunning for this war,” she said.

Moran said frustration with the agency’s reluctance to change from a Cold War model of espionage is one of the reasons she left.

“In today’s climate … it doesn’t make sense to be training CIA agents to troll around the cocktail circuit” posing as a diplomat, she said. “You’re never going to find Osama bin Laden or any of his cohorts there.”

Meanwhile, John Walker Lindh, a teenager from California, “was able to infiltrate al-Qaida and wind up at a training camp,” Moran said. “The CIA hasn’t been able to do that.

“The situation has pretty much remained same old, same old at the CIA.”

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Resolved: U.S. keeps control of Internet; A1

House approves bill co-sponsored by Rep. Goodlatte

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives agrees with one local congressman: Internet governance should remain a function of the United States.

And now the international community would seem to agree.

A concurrent resolution co-sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, was approved by the entire House late Wednesday, not long after a United Nations summit in Africa backed off demands that the United States surrender control of the system to an international body.

“This appears to be a big victory for the Internet, for free market principles and for the free flow of information,” Goodlatte said early Thursday.

At its core, the fight was over who would control the issuance of so-called “top-level domains,” like .com, .net and .org, and root servers, which serve as a “master phone book” for the net.

Root servers allow Web users to use addresses made up of letters and numbers, rather than forcing them to use more esoteric number-only Internet protocol addresses.

Four of the 13 root servers are in Northern Virginia. Two more are in Maryland.

At present, the system is managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers in California, better known by its acronym ICANN, which operates under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Officials at Commerce, and by extension the Bush administration, hold a veto over any decisions ICANN might make. That doesn’t sit well with many other nations, including some U.S. friends like Brazil and the European Union.

Both were part of a group calling for the United States to surrender control of ICANN or its function to an international body, like the International Telecommunications Union, which helps work out international standards for telephone and radio transmissions.

Bush administration officials said the idea was a non-starter.

Back in Washington, Goodlatte, along with Reps. Rick Boucher, D-Va., and John Doolittle, R-Calif., introduced a bill last month backing up the administration.

It passed the House late Wednesday 428-0. The Senate is considering a similar version.

Internet development has been largely a private-sector affair since U.S. government got the ball rolling, Goodlatte said. It should stay that way.

“The more governments that become involved in this process, the more red tape and overly burdensome regulations that huge bureaucratic agencies bring will increase,” Goodlatte said Wednesday.

On the international front, the matter came to a head in the run-up to this week’s World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

U.S. negotiators agreed to the creation of a new advisory panel, the Internet Governance Forum, that will meet with ICANN, various national governments and business entities and serve as a clearinghouse for concerns about how the network operates.

But it wouldn’t replace any existing structures.

“The IGF would have no oversight function and would not replace existing arrangements, mechanisms, institutions or organizations, but would involve them and take advantage of their expertise,” states the final agreement, which the United States has signed off on.

“It would be constituted as a neutral, non-duplicative and nonbinding process. It would have no involvement in day-to-day or technical operations of the Internet.”

Had the divide been pushed far enough, it could have led to a split in the management of root servers, eventually creating two geographically defined networks.

Instead of an address being specific to one Internet location the world over, addresses could have been duplicated as one set of international root servers used one set of top level domains and U.S.-based root servers used another.

The Tunisia summit is slated to wrap up today.

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From the D.C. notebook...

Winchester armory funds pass House

Funding for a new National Guard Armory in Winchester is now all but a done deal.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, announced Friday that the full House of Representatives has approved the fiscal 2006 Military Quality of Life-Veterans Affairs Appropriations conference report, which includes $7.619 million for the building.
Winchester’s current armory, located on Millwood Avenue next to Shenandoah University, is the oldest in Virginia. It was dedicated and opened for use a full year before the United States entered World War II when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation, including Wolf and Sen. John Warner, have been working for some time to get the federal share of the $10.1 million project included in federal defense bills.

State government will pick up about 25 percent of the cost. Frederick County has been offered a site to place the building as part of a new subdivision being constructed near Winchester Regional Airport.

“I know how important having a modern facility is to all the brave men and women from the area who have sacrificed so much over the last two years,” Wolf said.

“I don’t want to say it is a ‘reward,’ because this is something we have been working on for a number of years, but the timing couldn’t be better.”

Senate approval of the conference report, which cannot be amended, is expected soon.
— Daily Staff Report

Wolf to Bush: Appoint independent panel to report on Iraq

One local member of Congress wants the Bush administration to take a new look at the way things are going in Iraq.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, is circulating a letter that calls on the administration to put together an independent panel to examine how nation-building efforts in the former dictatorship are going.

Six other Republicans have signed the letter to date.

The group would be charged with “communicating to the American public what it would mean to the country if the mission in Iraq failed,” according to Wolf, who has been to Iraq three times since the United States invaded in 2003.

Bush has come under increasing criticism as of late for his handling of the war. The GOP-led Senate approved a resolution this week asking Iraqi forces preparing to take over security operations for the country to pick up the pace.

“More and more Americans are questioning our role in Iraq,” the letter states.

“While foreign policy must not fall prey to the latest public opinion polls when America’s sons and daughters are in harm’s way, bold leadership is required to assure the nation that every effort is being made to protect our troops and realize our goal of a secure and peaceful Iraq.”

“The [new] panel would do just that — reporting not just to the administration or even Congress, but to the American people,” the letter states.

“It is a commonsense approach which will ultimately serve our country well, better equipping us to be successful in Iraq and in the war on terrorism — a war we cannot afford to lose.”
— Daily Staff Report

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

State GOP ponders gubernatorial defeat; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Pending a recount in the race for attorney general, they’re two for three in statewide offices and in solid control of the General Assembly.

But the loss of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Kilgore at the top of the ticket last Tuesday has opened the door to some serious second-guessing and back-bench carping for the GOP.

That’s symptomatic of a fight brewing for control of the state’s majority party, according to some observers.

Republicans have been trying to figure out how Kilgore went from a 10-point lead in some polls last year to a 5-point defeat on Election Day.

Virginia Club for Growth President Phil Rodokanakis opined in an online column released Monday that it was a lack of principled stands, mainly against taxes, that did in Camp Kilgore.

He took dead aim at Kilgore’s campaign manager, Ken Hutcheson.

“To political insiders and pundits, one of the greatest mysteries of 2005 is Kilgore’s blind allegiance to his campaign manager,” he wrote, before calling Hutcheson a “RINO” or Republican in name only and an “anathema” to conservatives for his work with candidates who have supported higher taxes.

“We repeatedly warned the Kilgore campaign that they should take principled positions against taxes and government spending,” Rodokanakis wrote. “Unfortunately, we were shunned like everyone else who dared to admit publicly that the emperor wore no clothes.”

Hutcheson said in an e-mail to Rodokanakis that he couldn’t disagree more, and that his and other Republicans’ Monday morning quarterbacking wasn’t welcome.

“Simply put, you are a spineless, gutless coward who is as stupid as he is petty,” wrote Hutcheson.
It’s easy to throw stones when it’s someone else’s name on the ballot, he added.

“You have all the answers,” Hutcheson wrote. “Surely you could win any race you ran for based upon your principles and then certainly do a better job than the guys who have the guts to put their name on the ballots and stand for election.

The implication that Kilgore didn’t take principled stands also chafed, Hutcheson wrote.

A number of other candidates, including at least one incumbent member of the House of Delegates, took stands that were “principled to a fault,” but also went down in flames, he said.

Reached for comment, Hutcheson confirmed that he did pen the missive, but was “speaking for me and for me only,” he said. “Though I am sure there are multitudes of people who share my opinions.”

Back at the Club for Growth, the response — other than forwarding Hutcheson’s initial message to the media — was one paragraph from Chairman Paul Jost.

“This type of work product by Jerry Kilgore’s campaign manager may explain why Jerry Kilgore came in 6th last week,” he wrote. “Even [Democratic lieutenant governor hopeful] Leslie Byrne did better than Jerry Kilgore.”

Other than independent H. Russell Potts Jr., Kilgore got the smallest number of votes of any of the seven statewide candidates, a position he retains even if all of Potts’ 43,000 or so votes had gone to the GOP.

“Fortunately, Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell had campaign managers that were stable,” Jost wrote.

There’s a fight brewing for leadership of the GOP in Virginia, according to two political scientists interviewed before the e-mail exchange became public.

“I think there is a schism within the Republican Party that is surfacing at the state and local level,” said Bill Shendow, director of Shenandoah University’s Marsh Institute for Government and Public Policy.

One side is social conservatives who want to see leaders focus on issues like homosexual marriage, gun control and school prayer.

“Then you have the more traditional Republicans, conservative business people who don’t have a social agenda,” Shendow said. “I think those two sides will compete to see what will be the prime values in the party.”

There’s some history for bloodletting in party leadership after an electoral defeat, according to Ken Stroupe, chief of staff at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“It’s still very early, so I’d have to say that there are some who believe there should be some sort of retribution,” he said.

Efforts to reach Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Kate Obenshain-Griffin of Winchester for this story were unsuccessful.

But the GOP should keep things in perspective, according to Stroupe.

“It’s a party that’s not by any means on the ropes,” he said. If attorney general candidate Bob McDonnell’s win holds up after a recount, “they’ve actually picked up a statewide office.”

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Kaine says he'd veto gas tax hike; A1

By Garren Shipley (Daily Staff Writer)

Gov.-elect Tim Kaine will veto any effort to raise the gas tax that doesn’t come with a funding “lockbox,” a spokeswoman said Monday.

Kaine announced a series of “town hall” meetings on transportation around the state to try to build bipartisan support for his efforts to fix the state’s transportation problems, which include a budget quickly shifting from construction to maintenance.

The plan that comes from the governor’s mansion won’t contain a tax hike, according to the nascent administration.

“The governor-elect’s position has not changed,” said press secretary Delacey Skinner. “He is going to veto any new source” of funding unless the General Assembly puts it off limits for anything but transit, she said.

Instead, Kaine will focus his efforts on linking transportation and land-use policies and other non-tax ways to improve the flow of traffic.

“He’s not planning on bringing any kind of gas tax increase to the table,” she said.

Back in Richmond, one group is already working on a package of legislation to deal with the situation.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. John Chichester, R-Fredericksburg, assembled a committee, the Statewide Transportation Analysis and Recommendation Task Force, which has been meeting for months to come up with recommendations.

The panel has been receiving input from around the state all summer and meets again in Hampton on Friday, in anticipation of a recommendation to be announced in December.

While there hasn’t been a proposal from the panel yet, some documents and submissions to the body either make an outright call for an increase in gasoline taxes or suggest it strongly.

Ray D. Pethtel, a former chairman of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, made a presentation to the group in September that drew many parallels between 2006 and 1986 — the last time the state raised the gas tax, then by 2.5 cents.

An identical hike today would raise about $110 million per year, according to Pethtel. Other tax methods, such as applying a sales tax to gasoline sales, could bring in much more money.

Cost savings, not new taxes, are the best place to find new money for things like transportation, according to Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg.

“We’ve got a lot of people in Virginia who don’t feel like they’re under-taxed. They feel just the opposite, they’re overtaxed,” he said.

With a $2 billion surplus likely to be in hand at the end of the fiscal year, it’s the best time to look at wasteful spending, Obenshain said.

“There are a lot of competing demands for money, including road building and education,” he said. And “I’ve never known the governmental agencies of Virginia to say, ‘We have enough, no matter what.’”

Making state government more efficient will “free up more money to spend on transportation, health care, law enforcement and education,” Obenshain said. “We’re not going to be able to do it through our surplus alone.”

Privatizing the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control stores would likely save the commonwealth some $700 million per year, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, the Washington-based activist group best known for its annual “Pig Book,” which details pork barrel spending by Congress.

Kaine has said the concept bears examination, but he wouldn’t support it if it increased the cost of alcohol enforcement.

In transportation-specific measures, the state could outsource the maintenance of state roads, an idea that has the backing of former Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Phil Shucet.

Bidding out road maintenance done by VDOT could save $285 million each year, according to the “Virginia Piglet Book,” the state’s version of the “Pig Book.”

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Shucet wrote in a letter to Chichester’s commission in October. “I believe we can improve the delivery of maintenance services over the long term by outsourcing it to the private sector.”

Some major changes to how the state does business are already under way.

Gov. Mark R. Warner announced Monday that his administration had signed a deal with Northrop-Grumman to outsource more than 1,000 information technology jobs with the Virginia Information Technology Agency to locations in Chesterfield and Russell counties.

Virginia does need to take a hard look at how it spends money, according to Del. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal, but it won’t be easy to make changes.

“I tend to agree with just about everything that’s in [the ‘Virginia Piglet’] book,” he said.

The GOP-controlled Senate played hardball in 2004 over taxes, and eventually won enough support in the more conservative GOP-controlled House to get a $1.6 billion tax hike through.

Cutting isn’t easy, either. Athey said he and other delegates have tried it on numerous occasions.

As a rule, the Senate “thinks every program is needed, every program is being run efficiently,” he said.

But “I think the last thing that we need to be doing right now is raising taxes when we’ve got a $2 billion surplus,” Athey said.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Students elect Kilgore for governor; B1

Statewide, computerized election shows strong support for Republicans

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

The results are in, and it’s Republican Jerry Kilgore by a nose — at least for the under 18 set.

As the dust settles in Richmond and Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine prepares to take the reins of power, results are starting to come in from student elections held in the immediate area and across the commonwealth.

Apparently, students have different views than their parents.

In a statewide, computerized election, some 64,000 students in Virginia and New Jersey cast ballots online in the days leading up to the election.

And in Virginia, the results would have been welcome news for the Republican Party on Nov. 8 — the GOP took the top and bottom of the ticket, losing the lieutenant governor’s race by a handful of votes.

Among students, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore bested Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, 44 percent to 42 percent. State Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, came in third in his independent bid for governor with about 12 percent of the vote.

At the real ballot box, Kaine knocked off Kilgore by some 5 points.

It’s not about predicting the results of an election, according to Ken Stroupe, chief of staff at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, which helped conduct the mock election.

Voter participation has fallen off over the years, due in some part to the decline of civics education, Stroupe said.

That’s what U.Va.’s Youth Leadership Initiative is trying to correct by augmenting civics education and giving students some experience with voting and government.

“There’s not a lot of exposure to the participatory side of politics,” he said. The idea of civic duty is fading away.

Getting students involved with politics and government early is one way to reverse that trend, he said.

U.Va.’s effort wasn’t the only poll of students, though.

Shenandoah University’ Marsh Institute polled children at actual polling places on Election Day, with the goal of introducing those who can’t yet participate to the idea of voting.

“The most important thing is to get students to the polls at an early age, and they will come back to going to the polls at a later date,” said Bill Shendow, a professor of political science and director of the institute. “That’s the whole crux of our program.

“There have been studies, most notably Stanford University, that [show that] youngsters who participate in this program will become lifelong voters,” he said.

Students also tend to bring their parents to the polls when they’re engaged in the process.

With only Shenandoah County’s results yet to be tabulated Thursday, the results were striking.

Other notes of interest in the local Kids Voting results include:

• Student voters trended Republican much more strongly than their adult counterparts.

The ticket of Kilgore, state Sen. Bill Bolling and Del. Bob McDonnell won each county reported as of Thursday, in some cases by 2-to-1 margins.

Adults in Winchester went for now Gov.-elect Tim Kaine, and Kilgore won Clarke County by the narrowest of margins.

• State Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. did much better among students than he did in the actual election, both statewide and locally.

Potts took home 25 percent of the student vote in Winchester, compared to just under 13 percent in the actual election. He also captured 17 percent in Clarke County among students, compared with just 7 percent among adults.

• Clarke County’s students are much more supportive of the proposed $55 million high school construction bond than their parents.

Students approved the measure 67 percent to 32 percent, while adults voted it down by almost the opposite margin, 69 percent to 31 percent.

• Clarke’s student electorate had a much easier time making up its mind about the treasurer’s race as well. Adults chose Sharon Keeler over Beth Shenk by five votes, but Shenk won the student poll 64 percent to 35 percent.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Parties weigh in on election’s meaning; A1

Kaine’s win means two different things to GOP, Democrats

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Is Democrat Tim Kaine’s win and the GOP’s loss of two seats in the House of Delegates a mandate for moderation or a reaction to candidates?

One day after Election Day, the answer depended on who responded to the question.

Virginians like the “sensible center” they have with Gov. Mark R. Warner and want it to continue, as evidenced by the election of Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine to succeed him, Democratic leaders in the House of Delegates said Wednesday.

The center, particularly the Democratic center, is making progress in “areas that were once believed to be solid Republican strongholds, seats that were considered safe,” said House Minority Leader Del. Frank Hall, D-Richmond, on a conference call with reporters.

“We think that’s an indication that there is movement in Virginia,” he said. “That movement is toward people who are willing to reach out, to reach across [and] cooperate with each other and find some common ground.”

Vote totals seem to bear out reports of movement. Republican areas like Loudoun and Prince William counties went for Kaine in 2005 after going for Republican Mark Earley in 2001.

Cities like Harrisonburg and Virginia Beach followed suit.

“The right wing of the House Republican caucus has to take a step back and recognize that extremists and extremist policies don’t work,” said Del. Brian Moran, D-Alexandria, the chairman of the House Democratic caucus.
Warner’s 2004 budget, which contained $1.6 billion in new taxes, shows that people are more concerned about fiscal issues than social ones.

“We were able to run on that issue successfully,” Moran said, adding that he hopes GOP moderates “will work with us and help Tim Kaine become another successful governor and improve the lives of Virginians.”

At least one moderate Republican group, the Republican Majority for Choice, said Kilgore’s fate should be instructive to the GOP.

“This critical bloc will no longer be blinded by party loyalty and will demand candidates that represent the mainstream and common sense, not the social extreme,” said Jennifer Blei Stockman, national co-chairwoman of the group.

But Republican officials said voters were reacting to individual candidates, not making a broad move toward the center.

“It wasn’t a particularly good day for us, I won’t deny that,” said House of Delegates Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, R-Salem.

The GOP lost four seats but picked up two — not a good day, but not a total loss.

On the whole, “we had a lot of guys out there running and a few of them made mistakes,” he said.

Other losses, like that of Del. Dick Black, R-Sterling, to Democratic challenger David Poisson in Loudoun County were the result of incumbents not paying attention to the voters.

“Dick himself was no longer in touch with his constituency,” Griffith said.

One silver lining for the GOP is the fact that one of its seats was “won by an independent who claims to be a Republican,” he said, referring to Del.-elect Katherine Waddell, who knocked off incumbent Republican Brad Marrs in the 68th district, which takes in parts of Chesterfield County and the city of Richmond.

Waddell has been active in Republican politics before, Griffith said.

“I can’t say that she doesn’t at least have some claim to [the independent Republican] title,” he said.

The top-of-the-ticket outcome wasn’t so much a pining for Warner as a reaction to Kilgore, Griffith said — “too negative, too long.”

At both the state level and in precincts all around the commonwealth, the bottom two-thirds of the Republican ticket won, but Kilgore lost.

“You can’t say it’s a turnout factor when Republicans are winning,” he said.

A large part could be the Kilgore death penalty ads, which pre-election polls showed as backfiring.

“People were able to feel comfortable with Tim, and the ads by Jerry just backfired,” Moran said.

Politically, 2006 should look a lot like 2005, Griffith said

“I don’t think it changes it much,” he said. “I don’t know that there’s been a whole lot of [political] shift one way or the other.”

People on both sides say it’s too soon to say what the central issues of the new session will be, but even Democrats said Kaine shouldn’t expect a love affair with the General Assembly come 2006.

“As Governor Warner used to say, ‘the governor proposes and the legislature disposes,’” Moran said.

The General Assembly convenes in January.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Valley votes GOP with few exceptions; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine may have won the entire state by a little more than 5 percentage points in his bid for governor, but it was a Republican rout in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

With a few significant exceptions in Tuesday’s election, the Republican ticket of former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, state Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, and Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, swept the region by wide margins.

The biggest exception to the rule was in Winchester, where what was reliable Republican territory for President Bush in 2000 and 2004 went for the Democrats, just like it did in 2001.

Kaine took home some 45 percent of the vote inside the city limits on a total of just under 2,700 votes. Kilgore came in with about 42 percent, while native son H. Russell Potts Jr. posted a tick under 13 percent.

Factor out voters who went to Potts, and the margin looks very similar to the margin now-Gov. Mark R. Warner brought home in the state’s northernmost city in 2001, when he defeated Mark L. Earley 52 percent to 43 percent.

Further down the ticket, though, the Democratic margin disappeared, with Bolling de-feating former Rep. Leslie Byrne for lieutenant governor by about 200 votes. McDonnell came in some 322 votes ahead of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, for attorney general.

But like the rest of the valley and the commonwealth of Virginia, voters in Winchester seemed to have better things to do than vote on Tuesday.

About 43 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls, close to the state average, which was approaching 42 percent at press time with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

In 2001, Winchester turnout was 48 percent, compared to state turnout of 46 percent.

Turnout aside, Winchester is the only locality in the immediate area that turned for the Democrats in a big way.

Clarke County, an often-watched electoral bellwether, went slightly to Kilgore with about 48 percent. Kaine received 45 percent, and Potts raked in 7 percent — his best showing in the area outside of Winchester.

Potts brought home more than 8 percent of absentee ballots, while Kaine won the Berryville and Millwood precincts outright by more than 5 percent each.

Clarke also had the highest turnout of any locality in the immediate area, with about 58 percent of voters casting a ballot for governor, some 6 points higher than in 2001.

In Warren County, the Republican wave wasn’t quite as strong, but still swamped the statewide Democrats, with the exception of the North River District, which went to Kaine by five votes.

Byrne and Deeds also won by a handful of votes in the North River District.

Turnout was the story of the day, as well. In 2001, 46 percent of Warren’s eligible voters showed up, while only 41 percent voted this year.

Meanwhile, in Shenandoah County, the straight Republican ticket was apparently the way to vote.

Kilgore, Bolling and McDonnell swept every precinct, in some cases by 4-to-1 margins.

With complete but unofficial results in just before 10 p.m., the top of the ticket in Shenandoah went to Kilgore, 64 percent to 31 percent.

Turnout was down in 2005 compared to 2001. Tuesday’s tally in Shenandoah County was 52.5 percent, compared to some 55.8 percent in 2001, when Warner won by roughly the same margin as Kaine.

In the region’s only county with a contested House of Delegates race, 15th District voters in Shenandoah County chose Republican Todd Gilbert over Democrat Jim Blubaugh by a large margin — 71 percent to 29 percent.

Frederick County was just as reliable for the GOP, with the elephant ticket taking every precinct by margins close to 2-to-1.

Potts had one of his better showings in the area, with 6.3 percent, or some 1,125 votes. Kilgore received 10,696 votes, or about 60 percent, while Kaine posted some 6,027, or 34 percent.

A total of 44.5 percent of those eligible to cast a ballot did so, compared with 49 percent in the Warner-Earley contest four years before.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Sen. Potts rallies support at Strasburg campaign stop

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

STRASBURG — As the sun set over the Shenandoah Valley on Monday evening, H. Russell Potts Jr. made one of the last stops in his run for Richmond.

The independent gubernatorial candidate and Republican state senator from Winchester visited Strasburg High School’s practice field, where he gave a brief pep talk to the football team.

Coach Glenn Proctor met Potts as he walked onto the field and pulled him into a strong embrace.

The two have known each other since they first came to Strasburg in the 1960s — Potts as sports editor of The Northern Virginia Daily, Proctor as a coach fresh out of college.

The Rams play their final regular-season game against George Mason on Friday.

“You’ve got this game coming up on Friday night and I want to wish you all the luck in the world,” Potts told the team, gathered around to hear the stump speech turned pep talk.

“It’s not the size of the man in the play, it’s the size of the play in the man,” he said.

Proctor has built what was one of the worst football programs in the region into a perennial contender and sometime powerhouse, Potts said. That’s something the players should keep in mind.

“Purple pride means something,” Potts told the team.

The candidate kept the politics to a bare minimum.

“Pull for me tomorrow, I’ve got a big challenge. I’m running for governor,” he said, before looking briefly back toward Proctor.

“Someday you’re going to tell your grandchildren that you played for a legend,” he said.

The team starts its drills again, and Potts shakes a few hands. Proctor hugs his friend again, and Potts heads toward the car.

It’s been a long road from Richmond in February to Strasburg, 16 hours before the polls open.

“I’m a huge underdog, but I tell you, we’ve fought this thing like we were either 10 points ahead or one point behind,” he said.

In hindsight, the campaign would have had more punch with more time.

“I would have gotten in earlier,” he said. “I knew it would be tough to raise money. But it’s an obscene amount of money for $25 million to be spent by both candidates.”

“I sincerely believe if we’d have been able to raise $5 [million] to $7 million dollars, you’d have been shocked,” he said. “We’ve absolutely got the right message. I’m convinced of it.”

And today may bring its own surprises, despite indications that Potts will bring in 2 to 4 percent of the vote, while Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine are in a virtual tie.

“We’re going to do much better than these polls,” he said.

Potts said he has no regrets.

“I don’t regret it for a minute,” he said. “I got into this race on principle, I’ll finish on principle.”

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Mailers get fines for both parties; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Both the Republican and Democratic campaigns for governor have been caught trying the same pre-election direct mail shenanigans and have been fined by the State Board of Elections.

The campaigns of the Republican, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine were both caught and fined $100, the state’s maximum penalty, for failing to conspicuously claim two pieces of direct mail sent to voters in the past week.

Kaine’s campaign was fined for its mailer that looked for all the world like it was from the Virginia Club for Growth, a conservative pro-business group that has taken Kilgore to task for not pledging to sign a “taxpayer bill of rights” that would limit the state’s ability to increase spending.

The mailer, “An Important Message for Virginia Republicans,” used the traditional three-star, stylized Republican elephant, and quoted the Club’s press release, coupled with a photo of Kilgore.

“By trying to play both sides of the issue, Kilgore has been telling fiscal conservatives that he’s against taxes, while winking at the tax-and-spend interests in our Commonwealth, implying that he’s also on their side,” the mailer quotes Club for Growth President Phil Rodokanakis as saying.

“This mailing was authorized and paid for by Kaine for Governor” can be found in tiny type beside a picture of Kilgore.

The Club for Growth immediately cried foul.

“This sleazy and misleading mailing is a prime example of what we can expect under a Kaine administration.” Rodokanakis said in follow-up release. “It goes to show that Tim Kaine cannot be trusted to run an honest campaign and he certainly cannot be trusted on the issue of taxes.”

The Republican Governors Association filed a complaint, and the State Board of Elections met in special session Friday and levied the $100 fine.

But the latest instance of toeing up to — and slightly over — the line comes from the Kilgore campaign, which was fined $100 by the State Board of Elections Monday for failing to prominently disclose that it was behind a direct mail piece singing the praises of Russ Potts, a Republican state senator from Winchester running an independent campaign for governor.

The “2005 Official Democrat and Progressive Voter Guide” features a bucking donkey logo and sings the praises of Potts’ more liberal positions.

“Russ Potts is the only candidate who will stand up for progressive principles,” the mailer says, citing seven policy differences between Potts and Kaine.

“Tim Kaine has turned his back on the issues you believe in,” it says, giving the Kaine campaign’s Richmond phone number, and encouraging voters to call and tell “him just how disappointed you are.”

“Paid for and authorized by Virginians for Jerry Kilgore” can be found in tiny type beside a picture of Kaine.

The fact that the Kilgore mailer was likely printed and ready to go before the Republicans filed their complaint didn’t sit well with the Board of Elections.

“It is my opinion after 25 years of campaign work, this mailer probably left the mail house on Wednesday, and had to have been ‘as everyone in the business knows,’ designed and in the can and at the printers the week before, because any mailer that uses blue ink takes longer to dry. It must be dry before it is folded,” said Secretary Jean Jensen before the vote.

“My anger is based on the fact that by amazing coincidence, during the time [a Republican representative] was addressing the board regarding dishonesty and deception, the mailer before us was being delivered to the mail boxes of Virginia voters,” she said.

Today is Election Day. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

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Governor stands behind Kaine; B1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WINCHESTER — He’s not on the ballot, but a lot of people in the crowd sure wish he was.

Democratic Gov. Mark R. Warner visited Winchester on Sunday to stump for Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, who is hoping to succeed Warner as governor.

About 100 people gathered on the Loudoun Street pedestrian mall for the event. The odd call of “four more years” from the group is reflective of voters’ opinion of the current administration as a whole.

A recent poll by Rasmussen research found 72 percent of likely voters approve of the way the term-limited governor is doing his job.

“You only get one term” as governor, Warner told the cheering crowd, standing on the edge of the fountain facing the old Frederick County Courthouse.

“But the good news is that the official title of the governor of Virginia is ‘his excellency,’” he joked. “There are times when being called ‘your excellency’ is the high point of the day.”

Warner ignored, but smiled, at calls of “Mr. President,” which drew applause. He is often mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential nominee for 2008.

Warner stuck to the soft sell, talking about the accomplishments of his administration — and how he’d like to see Kaine take over in January.

“We’ve gone from a deficit to a surplus. Virginia was named the best- managed state in America. We’ve made record investments in education,” Warner told reporters.

“I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made. But I also know that we’ve only got a one-term governor in Virginia, and somebody else has to take over that job now,” he said. “I hope it’ll be Tim Kaine.”

Warner defended the 2004 state budget he signed off on, which raised taxes by more than $1.5 billion. The state is now running a $2 billion surplus.

Even now, the budget was “absolutely” a good idea, he said. “I can assure you that we’ve got more budget requests than any surplus we have.”

“The challenge will be that we don’t go and create a lot of new spending programs that are going to drive us back into the fiscal ditch, or promise something that we can’t deliver,” he said.

Warner also made a point not to mention the Republican contender for governor, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, by name. Kilgore has been a vocal critic of the budget increase since its introduction.

Legislators and the Warner administration should have seen that the state’s economy was growing fast enough to deal with any shortfall, making the tax hike a needless drag on the economy, according to Kilgore.

Warner said he’s “been very concerned that some of the candidates, Mr. Kaine’s opponent, there’s not a spending program that he’s ever talked about that he wouldn’t support, not a tax cut that he wouldn’t endorse.”

Kilgore has said repeatedly that the state can afford to pay for his spending proposals by prioritizing the budget — cutting out programs that duplicate efforts, doing away with programs that don’t work and making sure others work efficiently.

The GOP candidate has also made a point of saying he won’t seek to roll back the 2004 tax hikes, despite his opposition.

“I’m not going to re-battle the battles of the past,” he told the Daily in a recent interview.

Election Day is Tuesday.

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Mason-Dixon Downticket: By the numbers...

Lieutenant Governor

By Region

Northern Virginia
Bolling 35, Byrne 49, undecided 16
Bolling 51, Byrne 30, undecided 19
Richmond Metro
Bolling 54, Byrne 36, undecided 10
Hampton Roads
Bolling 42, Byrne 43, undecided 15
Bolling 51, Byrne 31, undecided 18
Bolling 48, Byrne 31, undecided 21

Attorney General

By Region
Northern Virginia
Deeds 47, McDonnell 38, undecided 15
Deeds 37, McDonnell 44, undecided 19
Richmond Metro
Deeds 34, McDonnell 49, undecided 17
Hampton Roads
Deeds 38, McDonnell 47, undecided 15
Deeds 31, McDonnell 44, undecided 25
Deeds 43, McDonnell 37, undecided 20

Source: Mason-Dixon

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Polls show ‘downticket’ races close, too; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

With three days left until voters go to the polls, the picture beyond the governor’s race remains as muddled as ever.

Republican Bill Bolling holds a slight statistical lead over Democrat Leslie Byrne in the race to be the next lieutenant governor, 45 percent to 39 percent, according to the latest poll conducted for The Northern Virginia Daily and other newspapers.

A survey of 625 likely voters by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research found that the state senator from Mechanicsville has built a small but statistically significant lead over his Democratic rival, a former member of Congress and the General Assembly.

On a regional basis, Byrne has a decided edge in her home base of Northern Virginia, where she is up by 14 points. She also leads by 1 point in Hampton Roads.

Elsewhere, Bolling has sizable advantages. He leads by 21 points in the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont regions, 18 points in metropolitan Richmond, 20 points in Lynchburg and Southside and 17 points in Roanoke and Southwest Virginia.

If there’s a trend to be seen, it is a slight edge for Bolling, according to J. Bradford Coker, Mason-Dixon’s managing director.

The results “would suggest that he’s carrying the areas that Republicans need to carry” to win, he said. But there’s a lot of other things that can come into play over the weekend and into Election Day.

Both sides are doing all they can to pump up their get-out-the-vote drives.

Byrne will be making a swing through Southwest Virginia over the weekend with the rest of the Democratic ticket, while Bolling and the Republicans have been flying around the state.

“With the governor’s race right and a high number of still ‘undecided’ voters, potential coattails and/or split ticket voting simply adds to the intrigue,” he said.

Bolling’s lead is slightly outside the margin of error — a 6-point lead with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent — and his name recognition is a bit higher than Byrne’s, 72 percent compared to 64 percent.

Still, a significant Republican lead all but evaporated in the last two weeks.

State Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, has closed within 3 points of Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach.

McDonnell now leads 43 percent to 40 percent, but that’s a major change from the October Mason-Dixon survey.

At that time, McDonnell held the only statistically significant statewide lead, besting Deeds 42 percent to 34 percent.

Those numbers were largely reflective of major advertising by the McDonnell camp, Coker said. Since then, Deeds has hit the airwaves almost as strongly.

“If you look at the last poll, [McDonnell] had opened a name recognition lead on Deeds,” he said. “I think that helped him move the lead out.”

Once the air war was joined, the lead all but vanished.

“The playing field is just a little more level this time,” Coker said.

Both men have similar name recognition and favorable numbers. That makes “this race very tough to handicap,” Coker said.

“Bolling appears to be a nominal favorite in the lieutenant governor’s race, while the attorney general contest is a pure tossup,” he said.

Election Day is Tuesday.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Rasmussen: By the numbers...

Statewide Results
Without Leaners
• Kaine 46, Kilgore 45, Potts 5, undecided 2
With Leaners
• Kaine 49, Kilgore 46, Potts 2, undecided 3

Both campaigns are calling out their heavy hitters to get their base to the polls on Tuesday. The Kilgore campaign has lined up a visit from President Bush on Monday, while Gov. Mark R. Warner will hit the trail for Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine.

Even with his approval numbers well down nationwide, President Bush gets high marks from likely Republican voters. Warner scores even higher among Democrats.

President Bush Job Approval

All Likely Voters
Strongly Approve: 37 percent
• Somewhat Approve: 16 percent
• Somewhat Disapprove: 11 percent
• Strongly Disapprove: 36 percent
• Not Sure: 1 percent

• Strongly Approve: 66 percent
• Somewhat Approve: 22 percent
• Somewhat Disapprove: 4 percent
• Strongly Disapprove: 8 percent
• Not Sure: 0 percent

Governor Warner Job Approval

All Likely Voters
• Strongly Approve: 36 percent
• Somewhat Approve: 36 percent
• Somewhat Disapprove: 15 percent
• Strongly Disapprove: 11 percent
• Not Sure: 2 percent

• Strongly Approve: 56 percent
• Somewhat Approve: 30 percent
• Somewhat Disapprove: 7 percent
• Strongly Disapprove: 5 percent
• Not Sure: 1 percent

— Source: Nov. 2 Rasmussen Reports Poll, 1,000 likely voters. Margin of error plus or minus 3 percent.

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Rasmussen poll shows Kaine leads; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Three days to go. Still too close to call.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine holds a slim lead over Republican former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore in the latest gubernatorial election poll by Rasmussen Research released Friday — another statistical dead heat.

One of the largest surveys to date, the poll of 1,000 likely Virginia voters found 46 percent supporting Kaine, 45 percent favoring Kilgore and 5 percent supporting state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr.

Some 4 percent were undecided.

When asked a follow-up question, 49 percent of voters said they’d support Kaine, while Kilgore climbed to 46 percent. Potts fell to 2 percent, while 3 percent remained undecided.

“Kaine has clearly benefited from his relationship with current governor, Mark Warner,” pollster Scott Rasmussen says in the survey’s abstract.

Some 72 percent of voters polled say they approve of how the incumbent is doing his job.

Warner will be all over the commonwealth — including Winchester — in the final days of the campaign stumping for Kaine and the rest of the Democratic ticket.

On the other side, the GOP has called in their own heavy hitter. President Bush will rally for Kilgore in Richmond on Monday night.

Sen. George Allen will also be on the stump with Kilgore over the weekend.

Now is the time to rally the base for both sides, according to Craig Brians, professor of political science at Virginia Tech.

This late in the game, “you don’t want to activate that ‘you don’t know for sure what they’re going to do,’” he said.

With all polls showing the race within the margin of error, get-out-the-vote efforts will likely be the difference between winning and losing, he said. Because if the base doesn’t show up “you’re in bad, bad shape.”

Bush’s popularity may be down nationwide, but among the Republican faithful in Virginia, he still scores very well.

Rasmussen’s survey found the president with an 88 percent approval rating among self-identified Republicans.

Warner’s no slouch for the Democrats, raking in 86 percent approval.

Among other findings of the poll:

• Kaine and Kilgore both netted 45 percent when voters were asked whom they trusted more with the state’s economy.

• On matters of taxation, Kilgore wins, but just barely, 46 percent to 43 percent.

• Some 51 percent of voters say Kilgore is closer to their views on the death penalty, while 33 percent agree with Kaine.

• Kilgore’s explosive death penalty ads may have backfired. Of all likely voters, 82 percent said they’d seen the ads, Rasmussen said.

“Of those who did, 26 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Kilgore, while 36 percent said they were more likely to vote for Kaine because of the ad,” Rasmussen said.

Meanwhile, out on the campaign trail, the two campaigns spared no effort bashing each other.

Kaine’s press secretary, Delacey Skinner, e-mailed reporters a copy of a letter from the National Taxpayers Union that appeared in the Washington Times, chiding Kilgore for not being more outspoken on fiscal issues.

“Regardless of whether conservatives choose to stay home or go fishing on Nov. 8, it is clear that any Republican who ignores fiscal issues sets himself up for failure,” wrote Paul J. Gessing, the group’s director of government affairs.

Not to be outdone, the Republican Governor’s Association was quick to alert reporters that the Kaine campaign had been fined $100 for not having a large enough “paid for and authorized by” notice on a piece of direct mail.

“Virginia voters need to evaluate whether they can trust Tim Kaine and his consistently dishonest campaign,” Mike Pieper, executive director of the association, says in a statement.

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Hash browns and handshakes; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

NEW MARKET — Campaign stickers, handshakes and the sweet smell of southern fried cooking.

Democratic lieutenant governor hopeful Leslie Byrne was here at the Southern Kitchen on Friday morning along with 15th District House of Delegates candidate Jim Blubaugh, shaking hands and talking to supporters.

Byrne, a former state senator and member of Congress, was making one last swing through the Shenandoah Valley before joining up with the rest of the Democratic ticket and Gov. Mark R. Warner and heading for Southwest Virginia. She plans to be in the state’s major urban areas Monday and Tuesday.

She is opposed by state Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville.

The Democratic nominee said voters in the Northern Shenandoah Valley have the same concerns as most other parts of the state: education, health care and the environment.

“I believe folks in the valley want what we all want ... a good education for our kids, affordable health care and a transportation system that works,” she said.

Given the tight nature of races all across the ballot, a unified message and get-out-the-vote efforts will be a key to success, she said.

“We’ve got a great organization,” Byrne said. “We know the votes are there, because all of us are leading in the polls right now.”

“The trick is to get that lead actually to the polls on Election Day,” she said. Part of that effort is a major push in Southwest Virginia by the entire ticket.

“I believe this the first time all of the Democratic candidates have been together” for a major swing since 1989, she said.

Blubaugh said his race for the House of Delegates against former Shenandoah County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Todd Gilbert will go down to the wire.

“It’s coming down to the final few days, which are the hectic moments,” he said. “But I’m kind of encouraged by what I’m seeing in Rappahannock and Page counties especially, and in the area of Strasburg.”

Democrats probably aren’t as organized as the GOP on the ground, he said, but they will make their presence known.

“There’s really only one organized party, the Republicans. Then there’s everybody who’s not a Republican, and we’re all Democrats,” Blubaugh said. “We’re not really organized together, but we have enough money and volunteers to keep going right through the last moment.”

Blubaugh, of Rappahannock County, and Gilbert, of Shenandoah County, seek to succeed the retiring Del. Allen Louderback, R-Luray.

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Gilbert, Blubaugh differ on hot issues; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

The campaign has been sedate, even friendly by state standards.

But the race to be the next delegate from the 15th District is one of significant contrasts.

With incumbent Del. Allen Louderback, R-Luray, not seeking a third term, Democrat Jim Blubaugh, 58, of Rappahannock County, and Republican Todd Gilbert, 35, of Shenandoah County, are facing off in the area’s only contested race for the lower house this year.

Del. Clay Athey, R-Front Royal, Del. Beverly Sherwood, R-Winchester, and Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg, are all unopposed in their bids for re-election.

Blubaugh is a retired federal worker who has done stints at the U.S. Department of Commerce, State Department and the CIA.

Gilbert was an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Shenandoah County until last month, when he took a part-time job with the Warren County prosecutor’s office to devote more time to the campaign.

The candidates sat down for separate interviews with The Northern Virginia Daily to talk about their views.

Blubaugh and Gilbert are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the 2004 state budget agreement.

“I think [the agreement] was a very good thing,” Blubaugh said of the deal, which raised $1.6 billion in new taxes, while reducing the food tax and some income taxes.

It is true that the state is now running a surplus, but “hindsight is wonderful,” he said. “Maybe had we known everything that was going to happen in the economy, we would have voted a little bit differently.”

At the time, though, it wasn’t clear that the state’s economy would produce the money needed to cover a massive budget shortfall, Blubaugh said, and Virginia’s bond rating was in trouble.

“We had deputies who were on food stamps. That’s something we should be ashamed of,” he said. “I think it did a lot of things that were important and necessary.”

Gilbert said he disagrees wholeheartedly.

“There’s always that knee-jerk reaction to dig into the taxpayers’ pockets every time the going gets tough,” he said. Instead of looking at evidence that the economy was growing, the General Assembly decided to take more money.

The surplus bears out his argument, Gilbert said.

“Everything that was put in that budget could have been paid for and then some,” he said. “There is ample tax money coming into the system.”

The projected $2 billion or more surplus now piling up in state coffers is a good thing, but it doesn’t mean that taxes were too high, Blubaugh argues.

“It means that the budget that was proposed last year had a whole lot of things still missing from it,” he said. “Things were cut out that we normally finance in good years,” such as the fund that helps finance school construction.

State government is “mired in its own self-importance,” Gilbert said. The state should set a few priorities and do them well, rather than “trying to be all things to all people.”

Another place where the two men differ significantly is on the Dillon Rule, the legal precept that local governments have only the power given them expressly by the General Assembly.

The concept is a major point of conflict between state and local officials.

Blubaugh said he supports rolling back the Dillon Rule in some matters of taxation and land use.

The principle that all power is vested in the state legislature and local government can only exercise the power given them by the General Assembly “flies in the face of most other U.S. law,” Blubaugh said.

Town councils and boards of supervisors, not the Senate and House of Delegates, know what’s best for locals, he said.

“Counties have a vested interest and know … what is best for their county in terms of what kind of zoning restrictions they should have, what kind of land-use plan” they should have, Blubaugh said.

Counties should have the ability to levy a real estate transfer tax and charge impact fees to keep up with the demand for services such as schools, “so it’s not always upon the property owner to pay for an increase in services,” he said.

But there’s a danger in handing out power, Gilbert said. It can be abused.

“There may be areas where local governments need more flexibility,” he said. “That’s a two-edged sword.”

“One of the reasons we have the Dillon rule observed in Virginia is so that localities do not have unfettered power that can go unchecked by the state government,” he said.

“That same government that has that same kind of power can abuse it,” Gilbert said. Instead of giving local governments getting more power, they should use the power they have more effectively.

“They just need to act responsibly within the framework [of zoning laws] that’s already been built for them,” he said.

There are areas of agreement between the two, though.

Both men say they support the death penalty, and agree that it should be used judiciously and cautiously.

But they differ as to the best way to prevent crime in larger, philosophical terms.

Virginia may be selling itself short by devoting funds to punishment instead of things like education, according to Blubaugh.

A large majority of people in the commonwealth’s prisons are functionally illiterate, he said. That’s no coincidence.

Government “has to be looking at the causal factors, which 10 to 15 years before the crimes, is the schools,” he said.

Legislators should also take a hard look at the “three strikes” law, which triggers a life term for a third violent felony conviction, according to Blubaugh.

“I’m not saying that these aren’t crimes and people shouldn’t be punished,” he said. “[But] I am saying that we should look at it from a little different point of view. What’s the smartest thing to do? These are individuals who will never contribute taxes, who will always be on the taxpayer dole, so to speak.”

“We could be putting the money into other areas, reducing the crime rate, bringing more people on board with jobs, making the state more solvent, making the state a safer place to be,” he said.

The root of crime is even more fundamental than education, said Gilbert. It’s broken homes.

“Prisons are full of people from broken homes. Certainly education is part of the recipe for success, but even educational success starts at home,” he said.

“Most of the folks that come through [the criminal justice] system didn’t start off bad,” he said. “They just didn’t have a fair shake.”

“If our society was more focused on families … as the fundamental institution of society, rather than government being the fundamental institution in society, we’d be a lot healthier as a society, that crime would dissipate,” he said.

Election Day is Tuesday.

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One last Mason-Dixon midnight...

Watch this space at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday for the latest (and last) results from Mason-Dixon on the race for Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor.

Will Leslie Byrne's campaign push past Bill Bolling? Has Creigh Deeds finally overcome Bob McDonnell's money advantage.

Be here at midnight. All will be revealed...

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Mason-Dixon: By the numbers


November 2005
Kaine 45, Kilgore 44, Potts 4, undecided 7
October 2005
Kaine 42, Kilgore 44, Potts 5, undecided 9
September 2005
Kaine 40, Kilgore, 41, Potts 6, undecided 13
July 2005
Kaine 38, Kilgore 37, Potts 9, undecided 16

By Region

Northern Virginia
Kaine 53, Kilgore 37, Potts 4, undecided 6
Kaine 39, Kilgore 52, Potts 3, undecided 6
Richmond Metro
Kaine 42, Kilgore 44, Potts 7, undecided 7
Hampton Roads
Kaine 48, Kilgore 42, Potts 5, undecided 5
Kaine 40, Kilgore 51, Potts 1, undecided 8
Kaine 39, Kilgore 51, Potts 3, undecided 8

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Kilgore woos valley voters; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

WINCHESTER — Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore stopped by to rally the troops in Winchester on Thursday, preparing for a final push to Election Day.

“If every area of Virginia were just like the valley,” Kilgore said, drawing a few chuckles from a small but enthusiastic crowd at Winchester Regional Airport.

Kilgore appeared with attorney general candidate Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, and state Republican Party Chairwoman Kate Obenshain-Griffin during a daylong fly-around.

The former attorney general exhorted supporters to keep working through Election Day, and for good reason. Both campaigns agree that the winning campaign will be the one that has the strongest “get out the vote” drive on Tuesday.

“We are exactly where we expected to be,” Kilgore said after the rally. “We’ll win this race in places like the valley, Southwest Virginia and Southside. No Democrat has ever been elected governor in Virginia without carrying … [some parts] of southern or western Virginia.”

That’s one reason Kilgore painted Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine as a liberal as often as possible Thursday.

“On each and every issue, this race is clear. The decision is so plain,” Kilgore said. “I am the conservative running for governor this year in Virginia.”

Both campaigns have staked out their strategies for the final few days: rally the troops in safe areas to pump up turnout and build a margin to wipe out the other guy’s success in his strong areas.

Kilgore spent Thursday in the Shenandoah Valley, where the latest Mason-Dixon poll shows him beating Kaine, 52 percent to 39 percent.

Kaine also spent the day on friendly turf, making the rounds in Hampton Roads, where the poll shows him with a 6-point lead.

He is scheduled to be in Northern Virginia today, where Mason-Dixon shows him winning over Kilgore, 53 percent to 37 percent.

But Kaine’s campaign isn’t done with rural Virginia.

Camp Kaine was quick to point out a pack of endorsements from weekly newspapers around the state, sending copies of the editorials backing their candidate to the state’s political reporters.

The candidate will also swing through Southwest Virginia’s “Fightin’ Ninth” congressional district over the weekend, with stops in Washington, Russell, Buchanan and Tazewell counties before hitting the major urban centers one more time before the polls open Tuesday.

Back in Winchester, independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr.’s campaign trumpeted a quasi-endorsement from three construction groups.

The Northern Virginia Builders Industry Association, Heavy Construction Contractors Association of Northern Virginia and the Richmond Area Municipal Contractors Association issued a joint statement endorsing Potts’ plan to fix the state’s transportation system.

“In the interest of preserving, protecting and restoring the already damaged transportation system in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the following groups, having reviewed the transportation proposals offered by all three candidates for governor, have concluded that H. Russ Potts offers the only viable transportation program,” the statement says.

“As transportation advocates, we urge Virginians to consider the Russ Potts transportation plan as the only program being proposed that realistically addresses the people of Virginia’s critical transportation needs,” the groups say.

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Mason-Dixon: Kaine 45, Kilgore 44, Potts 4; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

With four days to go, the 2005 race for governor is shaping up to be among the closest ever.

A Mason-Dixon poll conducted for The Northern Virginia Daily and other newspapers this week found Democrat Tim Kaine with a 1-point lead over Republican Jerry Kilgore — still a statistical dead heat and well within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.

Some 45 percent of voters support Kaine while 44 percent say they back Kilgore, according to the poll. Independent candidate state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, finishes a distant third with 4 percent.

Potts’ support has eroded to a point where even his potential to be a spoiler is all but gone, said J. Bradford Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research.

“He’s taking a few more Republicans than Democrats, but not enough in my opinion to be that much of a spoiler,” Coker said.

Kaine holds significant leads in Northern Virginia, 53 percent to 37 percent, and in Hampton Roads, 48 percent to 42 percent.

But Kilgore is far and away the choice outside of those two urban centers, with one exception. Traditional GOP stronghold Richmond — Kaine’s home turf — remains almost evenly divided at 44 percent for Kilgore, 42 percent for Kaine. Potts also pulls in his largest share here with 7 percent.

The Republican leads in Southwest Virginia, 51 percent to 39 percent; Lynchburg and Southside, 51 percent to 40 percent; and in the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont, 52 percent to 39 percent.

“In terms of polling, I think this is the closest [gubernatorial race] we’ve had going into the final weekend,” Coker said.

Camp Kaine can take comfort in the fact that they’re up by 1 point, but late surges in Virginia often favor the GOP.

If there’s a late surge, that is.

“It hasn’t happened yet, which is probably a good sign for Kaine, because typically when they’ve blown out at the end, they’ve typically blown out for Republicans,” Coker said.

The only race that compares in terms of closeness is the 1989 contest between Democrat L. Douglas Wilder and Republican J. Marshall Coleman. That contest was decided in Wilder’s favor by less than 1 percent.

Republicans tend to finish strongly in Virginia, Coker said. The last Mason-Dixon poll in 1989 found Wilder up by 4 percent.

Two Republicans, Jim Gilmore and George Allen, both surged late in their run to the Governor’s Mansion.

“Those races were kind of tight,” Coker said. “Gilmore and Allen had narrow leads, and then about 10 days out it started going their way. You could see the change in the last poll where Allen went from maybe a 3- or 4-point lead to about an 8- or 9-point lead, and they end up winning by 14 or 15.”

But that’s not a guarantee. Just ask former Attorney General Mark Earley, who didn’t get the late surge and was defeated by incumbent Gov. Mark R. Warner by some 5 percentage points.

So far, 2005 has been a unique electoral creature.

“This is a strange race,” Coker said. “You’ve still got 7 percent that don’t know which way they’re going. [That’s] a little on the high side.”

Warner’s high approval numbers may have something to do with it.

“There’s obviously some torn loyalties out there,” he said. “I think you’ve got conservative independent, maybe even Republican-leaning voters who like what Warner is doing and want to vote for Kaine or have a problem with Kilgore and can’t quite figure out which way they want to go.”

Both campaigns took the news in stride.

“I think what you’re seeing is a race that’s neck and neck,” said Delacey Skinner, Kaine’s press secretary. “Most of the public polls that have come out it here recently show that it’s going to be too close to call.”

Meanwhile at Camp Kilgore, staffers said it was close, but that the campaign would be won on the ground.

“We have everything in position on the ground to make the final push so that Virginians will wake up on Nov. 9 to a Governor-elect Jerry Kilgore,” said spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

“We firmly believe and see no reason to doubt it that we have the superior ground game.”

Election Day is Tuesday.

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