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

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Poll: Kaine, Kilgore in dead heat; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Election Day could be a long day for Tim Kaine and Jerry Kilgore.

A very long day.

A new poll released Friday shows the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominees in a statistical dead heat with less than two weeks until the election.

“Kaine, the Democrat, now earns 46 percent of the vote while Kilgore attracts 44 percent,” said pollster Scott Rasmussen. Friday’s poll is the first by Rasmussen that shows a lead for the Democrat.

State Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, the independent candidate on the ballot, garners 4 percent.

An identical survey of 500 “likely” voters last week found Kilgore ahead by 2 points, 48 percent to 46 percent. Potts polled at only 2 percent in that survey. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.5 percent.

Friday’s results were the third by Rasmussen to include “leaners, those who initially do not express a preference for either major-party candidate but lean one way or the other when asked a follow-up question,” Rasmussen said.

Factoring out those who didn’t express an opinion on the first question, Kaine leads 42 percent to 41 percent.

The race remains a statistical dead heat, according to Jason Scott of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

“The polls have been back and forth, and the only thing they’ve been consistent on is that it’s going to be a close race,” he said. Taking the average of all recent surveys is a good look at the situation, which is “a tie pretty much at this point.”

"It looks like it will be “the closet election night we’ve had since 1989,” when Democrat L. Douglas Wilder beat Republican J. Marshall Coleman by a razor-thin margin following a recount.

“People assume that Virginia is a Republican-leaning state, which it is, but it’s very competitive,” Scott said.

There are some historical trends worth watching, Scott notes.

“Republicans have traditionally outdone Democrats in ‘get out the vote’ on Election Day,” he said. If Kilgore is more successful than Kaine at getting his voters to the polls, he would likely finish with a higher percentage than last-minute polls show.

Previous Democratic candidates have come up short from last-minute polls when all the votes are counted.

“If you think back to this time last year, [Democratic presidential nominee Sen.] John Kerry, [D-Mass.,] thought that he was going to out-perform what he did” in Virginia, Scott said.

Gov. Mark R. Warner also came in below his poll totals four years ago, Scott said, but had a big enough lead to win.

A breakdown of the latest regional numbers from Mason-Dixon also point to an avenue for Democratic victory, said Craig Brians, a professor of political science at Virginia Tech.

Kaine holds a significant lead in Northern Virginia, 46 percent to 38 percent, with all other areas — except for a tie in the Richmond metro area — in Kilgore’s column or close to the margin of error.

Solid turnout in Northern Virginia and sluggish turnout by the GOP in other areas of the state could give Kaine a close win.

“There’s a possibility that Kaine could pull this thing out,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate for attorney general stood before one of the toughest crowds a politician can face on Friday: high school seniors.

State Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, spoke to a government class at Handley High School in Winchester, fielding sometimes blunt questions from students.

Students asked about his plan to seek child support scofflaws through cell phone records, saying they were uncomfortable with government getting that kind of information.

“We’re already there with [other utility companies],” Deeds said. The state already gets information from some, but it would help get more children off welfare if the state had agreements with mobile phone companies to track deadbeat parents, he said.

Others asked how he’s paying for the campaign.

“It’s expensive,” Deeds said. But so is broadcast advertising, and that’s the only way to reach masses of people, he said.

“If I could sit down in the living room of every single voter, I’d get 70 percent of the vote,” he said. That impossibility brings about one of the major realities of political life.

“I spend the bulk of every day of my freaking life on the phone asking people for money,” he said with a broad grin.

Deeds is opposed for attorney general by Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Libby indictment could affect GOP as elections near; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

The indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff isn’t about anything other than alleged lying to a grand jury.

But some say it may add to a “headwind” for Republicans in Virginia as Election Day draws near.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald told reporters Friday that the indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was about one thing only: standing in the way of a criminal investigation.

Libby wasn’t honest with the grand jury or federal investigators, Fitzgerald said, and that “prevents us from making the very fine judgments that we want to make” about whether or not anyone intentionally blew the cover of undercover Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame.

Cries from the left that the investigation was about the validity of the Iraq war or from the right that it was a political witch hunt are simply wrong, Fitzgerald said.

“This indictment is not about the war,” Fitzgerald told reporters. “It does show the world that this is a country that takes its law seriously.”

Fitzgerald went out of his way to say that “Mr. Libby is presumed innocent,” and no one should assume that he is guilty unless he is convicted by a jury of his peers.

The local congressional delegation had mixed — and brief — reactions to the indictment.

“I am pleased to see that Mr. Libby has resigned his position as Chief of Staff to the Vice President,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, says in a statement released by his spokeswoman.

“This is now a matter for the courts to decide and if it is found that he broke the law, I believe he should be held accountable,” he says.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., also expressed faith in the judicial system.

“This is an unfortunate incident at a time when our President needs strong support, but I am confident in the ability of our judicial system to reach a just and fair resolution,” he said in an e-mail to reporters.

A spokesman for Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, said the congressman had no comment on the indictment, and calls to the office of Sen. George Allen, R-Va., weren’t immediately returned.

Having an indictment returned just 11 days before voters go the polls in what promises to be a squeaker of a gubernatorial election is not good timing at all for Virginia Republicans, said Joshua Scott of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

But, then again, it’s not known how closely voters associate the Old Dominion’s GOP with their political allies across the Potomac.

“Is it taking votes away from [Republican nominee] Jerry Kilgore? I don’t think it’s helping him at all,” he said.

“It depends on whether or not this really has sticking power with the Virginia electorate,” Scott said. “It makes both parties look bad” by reinforcing what people already think about politics — “It’s dirty, they’re crooks,” Scott said.

“It’s up to [Democratic gubernatorial nominee Lt. Gov. Tim] Kaine’s folks to try to make that point.

Problems in Washington have changed the nature of the race. A year ago, Scott said, it looked like President Bush would spend a lot of time in Virginia between Labor Day and Election Day.

But when Bush made a speech in Norfolk on Friday, Kilgore wasn’t there. The campaign said he wasn’t invited.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Friday, October 28, 2005

Goodlatte says U.S. should control Internet; A1

Congressman co-sponsors bill against U.N. group’s proposal regarding Web

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

A United Nations group wants an international body — not the U.S. government — to control a key function of the Internet.

But one local congressman thinks that’s a bad idea, and wants Congress to go on record as saying so.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, is one of three co-sponsors of a resolution stating that the United States, not the United Nations, should retain authority over the nuts and bolts of the network.

Goodlatte’s resolution is in response to documents produced by the Working Group on Internet Governance, a U.N. body studying the future of Internet.

In a report prepared for the World Summit on the Information Society in November, the group opined that an international body, not the United States, should be vested with control of so-called “top-level domains” and “root servers.”

Why does it matter? It helps to start with some history.

The Internet began in the late 1960s as a computer communications project backed by the Department of Defense.

ARPANET, as it was called, was made up of four computers at four western universities linked together via data-packet switching technology, the method of information transfer that makes modern electronic communication possible.

Over the course of the 1980s the National Science Foundation took over, and more universities and other groups were connected. Faster and faster links were laid across the country, and the private sector got into the act.

After the advent of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, the U.S. Department of Commerce took over administration of “top-level domains,” such as “.com,” “.org” and “.net,” as well as the root servers — the “master phone book” of the Internet that tells other servers where to look when a user types in an address made up of letters instead of a numeric Internet protocol address.

In 1998, the Commerce Department handed that function over to the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers in California, which has since signed agreements with private sector companies to manage some domains like “.com.”

Since then ICANN has been responsible for what comes after the last “dot” in addresses, including which domains are given to which countries — “.uk” for the United Kingdom, “.ca” for Canada, “.cn” for China.

Those domains give each country its own set of “.com” and other common domain addresses to use. For example: www.people.com takes a user to People Magazine, while www.people.com.cn takes users to “The People’s Daily,” the official newspaper of the Chinese government.

But Commerce retains veto power over ICANN, and that doesn’t sit well with a number of countries around the world, not just traditional U.S. adversaries such as Iran and Cuba.

Some 95 percent of all income tax returns in Brazil are filed over the Internet. That nation’s federal and state governments use the Internet for purchasing and other critical operations.

The European Union recently sided with a group of other nations at a U.N. conference, endorsing a shift of control from the United States to an international body of some kind.

The Bush administration has said flat-out that such an outcome is unacceptable, and Goodlatte’s resolution intends to back up that stand.

“The EU should realize that the United States protects the Internet through freedom,” Goodlatte said recently, speaking to EU officials.

“The U.S. is uniquely positioned in the world to protect the fundamental principles of free press and free speech, upon which the Internet has thrived,” added the congressman, whose district stretches from Shenandoah County to Roanoke.

ICANN is sufficiently international, according to the resolution introduced to the House of Representatives last week.

Giving governments like Iran and Cuba a say in how the Internet works puts free speech at risk for everyone, Goodlatte said.

“The U.S. Constitution guarantees these basic rights, and to turn more control of the Internet over to countries that have questionable records at best regarding these rights would not ensure the Internet’s continued success,” he said.

Why does it matter who runs the root servers? Think of it in terms of area codes and telephones.

If Virginia decided it wanted to use the “212” area code and New York didn’t agree, calls to a “212” number might ring a phone in Manhattan, or might ring a phone in Richmond. It might be impossible to call New York from a phone in Virginia.

Then again, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal for people who didn’t call outside the commonwealth.

That’s a good analogy for the current dispute, according to Jonathan Spencer, general counsel for Shentel, the Edinburg-based telecommunications company. Spencer was a vice president with the British firm Cable and Wireless before coming to the Shenandoah Valley.

“Whether this will ultimately be an issue for business, I kind of doubt it,” Spencer said. “I think its more of a global political issue.”

It is theoretically possible that the dispute could wind up creating two Internets — one in which the root servers answer to ICANN, another taking orders from an new international body, he said.

Such a bifurcation could make it more difficult or expensive for international transactions because someone would have to come up with a technology that would make the systems work together again.

“That would ultimately increase costs for business,” Spencer said. It could also slow down innovation, as things like telephone and television slowly shift from traditional technology.

A number of providers already offer home phone service via the Net.

The World Summit on the Information Society is scheduled for early November in Tunisia.


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Gilbert hits Blubaugh for stance on state gas tax; B3

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WOODSTOCK — The gas tax. It’s not just an issue for gubernatorial candidates anymore.

The campaign of the Republican candidate for the 15th District House of Delegates seat, Todd Gilbert, a former prosecutor for Shenandoah County, told reporters last week that his opponent, Democrat Jim Blubaugh of Rappahannock County, supports raising the state’s gas tax.

Campaign manager Wade Zirkle pointed to a survey conducted by the Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education, a nonpartisan business association, in which Blubaugh said he was supportive of an increase in the gas tax for a “long term, dedicated, sustainable” source of new revenue to deal with transportation issues.

Zirkle said Blubaugh misrepresented his views at a recent forum when he said he didn’t recall supporting higher gas taxes.

“It is clear that Mr. Blubaugh is out of touch with the voters of this district on issues like taxes, but he shouldn’t try to run from his true beliefs when facing the voters. It is one thing to be in favor of higher taxes,” Zirkle said.

“It is quite another to conveniently forget that you favor them in front of a large group of voters and the media.”

Blubaugh stood by his remarks in an interview with The Northern Virginia Daily last week.

The former federal official said he hasn’t supported a gas tax hike in the past, “unless if it was phrased in the terms, ‘If we needed additional roads, would you accept an increase in the gas tax to pay for it?’”

In other words, if the public decides that the commonwealth needs to build more roads, then the people who use roads should be the ones paying for them.

“I generally believe in user taxes and user fees, and to that extent, then yes: If you are going to be building roads, and the people of Virginia feel we need more roads, then it seems to me the proper user tax for that is the gas tax.”

Virginia’s legislators need to learn to keep their hands off the state’s transportation money and use it for that purpose alone, Blubaugh said, adding that he would support some kind of “lockbox” to keep legislators out of the transportation trust fund.

“Gas tax should be dedicated to transportation-related projects, and not used for other things in the state,” he said.

Gilbert said that “to even consider raising the tax on gasoline at a time when hardworking families in our district are struggling with gas prices is misguided. Our taxes are too high as it is and there is simply no room in family budgets to be able to afford more taxes, especially at the pump.”

Drivers in the Shenandoah Valley shouldn’t have to pay to fix projects in urban areas such as the Washington suburbs, Gilbert added.

“I don’t think the citizens of this district should have to dip further into their pockets in order to help pave over Northern Virginia,” he said.

Gas taxes have been a major issue at the top of the ticket, with Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore accusing Democrat Tim Kaine of wanting to raise the levy on fuel.

Kaine has said repeatedly that he does not support any new taxes for road building until the state takes action to protect road funds.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Kilgore cries foul on alleged Kaine ad; B1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

An unreleased ad allegedly produced by the Tim Kaine campaign is a violation of an agreement not to use excerpts from debates, and proof that the Democrat isn’t trustworthy, Republican Jerry Kilgore charged Wednesday.

Kilgore, the GOP candidate for governor, made the accusation on a conference call with reporters after The Washington Post ran a story stating that two Republican staffers said they were asked to participate in an online opinion study.

The two women said the Kaine campaign showed them an ad that used footage from the September debate in McLean, in which moderator Tim Russert pressed Kilgore for an answer on whether he’d sign a ban on abortion.

Kilgore demurred when Russert asked for a yes or no answer, saying he wouldn’t answer a hypothetical question.

Russert pressed Kilgore further.

“If the legislature passed a tax increase, would you sign it?” Russert asked.

“I would veto a tax increase,” Kilgore said.

“That’s a hypothetical question,” Russert snapped, drawing raucous applause and laughter from the crowd.

The survey had one purpose, according to Kilgore’s campaign — to see if voters would penalize Kaine for breaking the “no-use” pledge by releasing such an ad during the closing days of the campaign.

Doing so violates the traditions of Virginia politics, the candidate said. Both Gov. Mark R. Warner and former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder insisted on “no-use” rules in their debates.

“Tim Kaine can put this to rest immediately, and say that he won’t violate the ‘no-use’ agreement,” Kilgore challenged.

Kaine’s press secretary, Delacey Skinner, wouldn’t confirm or deny whether or not the campaign had such an ad, but said repeatedly that the campaign hadn’t violated any of the debate agreements.

She did say that Kilgore is making noise about the incident to draw attention away from his stand on abortion.

At this point in the campaign, “they are desperately trying to turn the issue of trust around,” she said. “They have been very clear in giving Virginians no good reason to trust them.

“He’s had three opportunities at three different debates and he hasn’t done it, many opportunities when the press has asked him,” Skinner said. “With the latest death penalty smear ads, he’s made it very clear that he just doesn’t have any regard for the truth at all.”

Kilgore said his opposition to the alleged commercial is about much more than having an embarrassing debate moment potentially replayed in the closing days of the campaign.

Virginians have had ample opportunity to see his exchange with Russert, Kilgore said.

“It’s been all over the airwaves,” he said. “C-SPAN’s shown it a dozen times. Clips of that debate were shown by every news outlet throughout the commonwealth. It’s already out there.”

“The most important issue about this episode is trust,” he said. “Where I’m from, when you give your word, you keep it.” The debate agreement is backed by a signed piece of paper.

Voters should find that of particular import, Kilgore said, considering that Kaine has “given his word” that he won’t interfere with death sentences despite his opposition to the death penalty.

“He hasn’t signed an agreement on the death penalty or on gun rights or on taxes,” Kilgore said.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Mason-Dixon: Republicans lead downticket, but name recognition is low; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Virginia voters are paying a little more attention to the races for attorney general and lieutenant governor with two weeks to go until Election Day.

But not much more, according to a poll released Monday by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research.

“All four candidates for Virginia’s down ballot statewide races have increased their name recognition significantly over the past month, and the Republican nominees continue to run slightly ahead in each respective race,” said J. Bradford Coker, the firm’s managing director.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, state Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, holds a lead over Democratic former Rep. Leslie Byrne equal to the poll’s margin of error, 41 percent to 37 percent. Some 22 percent remain undecided.

Further down the ballot, Republican Bob McDonnell holds the only statistically significant lead in any of the three statewide races. The Virginia Beach delegate leads state Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, 42 percent to 34 percent.

It’s still anybody’s ballgame, though, Coker said.

“With over 20 percent of voters still ‘undecided’ in each of these races, both remain competitive,” he said.

“Given Virginia’s conservative leanings, the current GOP leads may be an indication that they have a slight inside track,” Coker said.

All candidates have made progress boosting their name recognition, but they’re still nowhere near the almost universal recognition of the top two gubernatorial contenders.

Some 56 percent of voters don’t know who Deeds is, while 44 percent haven’t heard of McDonnell.

Lieutenant governor candidate Bolling is unknown to 36 percent, and 48 percent don’t recognize Byrne.

Kaine and Kilgore’s “don’t recognize” numbers are 2 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

All four campaigns were quick to put the same spin on the race — it’ll be close, but in the end, voters will side with us.

“I think this poll shows what we’ve known all along. This race is a statistical dead heat. It’s a tossup right now,” said Joe Shafer, Byrne’s campaign chief.

“We’re are pleased with today’s … numbers,” said Randy Marcus, Bolling’s campaign manager.

“Our opponent was on TV for five days pretty heavy with a baseless negative attack ad, and our numbers went up since the last poll.”

“I think the bottom line is the outcome of this race will be determined in the final days,” said Deeds spokesman Peter Jackson. “We’re expecting a photo finish.”

“Virginia voters are responding to Bob’s experience as a prosecutor and Army veteran and his proven record of helping abolish parole and crack down on child sex predators,” said Janet Polarek, McDonnell’s campaign manager.

“Voters also are rejecting Creigh Deeds’ dishonest negative attacks on Bob.”

All four conceded that Kaine and Kilgore are eating up almost all of the attention. Getting voters to think about down-ticket candidates — of either party — is a tough job.

“Most of the media coverage is centered on the gubernatorial race,” said John Phillippe, McDonnell’s communications director.

“It’s difficult to punch through,” he said. “It’s not like everybody out there is thinking about politics all the time. People have other important priorities.”

“There hasn’t been a lot of attention focused on the down-ticket races,” Jackson added. “And until there is, these races aren’t really going to take shape.”

“Everybody is focused on Kilgore-Kaine,” Marcus said.


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The State of the Races: Recent Polling Data

Governor
Rasmussen Research, Oct. 20
Without follow-up questions:
Kaine 42, Kilgore 44, Potts 4, undecided 4

With follow-up question:
Kaine 46, Kilgore 48, Potts 2, undecided 4

Mason Dixon poll, Oct. 18-20
No follow-up question:
Kaine 42, Kilgore 44, Potts 5, undecided 9

Lieutenant Governor
Mason-Dixon, Oct. 18-20
State Sen. Bill Bolling, R: 41 percent
Former Rep. Leslie Byrne, D: 37 percent
Undecided: 22 percent

By Region
Northern Virginia
Byrne 44, Bolling 33, undecided 23

Shenandoah/Piedmont
Bolling 49, Byrne 30, undecided 21

Richmond Metro
Bolling 46, Byrne 34, undecided 20

Hampton Roads
Byrne 44, Bolling 39, undecided 17

Lynchburg/Southside
Bolling 44, Byrne 31, undecided 25

Roanoke/Southwest
Bolling 43, Byrne 31, undecided 26

Attorney General
Mason-Dixon, Oct. 18-20
State Sen. Creigh Deeds, D: 34 percent
Del. Bob McDonnell, R: 42 percent
Undecided: 24 percent

By Region
Northern Virginia
Deeds 39, McDonnell 31, undecided 30

Shenandoah/Piedmont
McDonnell 44, Deeds 36, undecided 20

Richmond Metro
McDonnell 47, Deeds 32, undecided 21

Hampton Roads
McDonnell 54, Deeds 28, undecided 18

Lynchburg/Southside
McDonnell 42, Deeds 31, undecided 27

Roanoke/Southwest
Deeds 39, McDonnell 39, undecided 22

Sources: Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, Oct. 18-20. Sample of 625 “likely” voters, statewide margin of error plus or minus 4 percent, higher for subgroups.

Rasmussen Research, Oct. 20. Sample of 500 “likely” voters, margin of error plus or minus 4.5 percent.


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Monday, October 24, 2005

Governor’s race a virtual toss-up, latest poll suggests; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Election Day could very well be a nail-biter, according to a poll of Virginia voters released Monday.

A Thursday survey of 500 voters by Rasmussen Research found Republican Jerry Kilgore with a statistically insignificant lead over Democrat Tim Kaine, 44 percent to 42 percent.

Independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr., a Republican state senator from Winchester, garnered 4 percent.

When respondents were questioned further about whether they were likely to change their minds, the numbers shifted, but the margins didn’t.

Kilgore and Kaine both climb four points to 48 percent and 46 percent, respectively, while Potts drops two points to 2 percent.

“The race to succeed Mark Warner as governor of Virginia remains too close to call,” said pollster Scott Rasmussen in the abstract of the new survey.

Over at Camp Kaine, officials concede the numbers are tight, but other poll findings show they’re doing well.

“I think the Mason-Dixon numbers [released over the weekend], when you go into the breakdown, we’re doing really well with our base and really well with independents,” said Delacey Skinner, Kaine’s press secretary.

“Jerry is having some real serious problems with Republicans.”

Rasmussen polled a similar question, and found that liberals are slightly more supportive of the Democratic candidate than conservatives are of the Republican contender.

Some 70 percent of self-identified conservatives back Kilgore, while 75 percent of self-identified liberals back Kaine.

“We are doing very, very well with our base,” countered Kilgore spokesman Tucker Martin.

“We hear from our field staff that the Republican base in this state is fired up for Jerry Kilgore. If Tim Kaine wants to be proud that he has liberal base in line, we hope he shouts that to the heavens,” Martin said. “More power to him.”

Among other results in the Monday poll:

• Both candidates have higher “favorable” ratings than “unfavorable.” Kilgore’s numbers are 54 percent positive, 37 percent negative, while Kaine’s are 57 percent positive and 34 negative

• Voters said the economy was the foremost matter on their minds, at 24 percent, while health care was the next most important, at 12 percent.

Another 11 percent said taxes were most important, and 10 percent said immigration.

Those numbers vary significantly from Mason-Dixon’s results, released on Sunday, which found voters most concerned about education issues, at 21 percent, followed by state taxes and spending, 17 percent, and transportation issues, 15 percent.

• Virginia voters think Warner is doing a much better job than President Bush.

Warner has an approval number of 72 percent, while Bush’s number in Virginia is under water at 48 percent.

Still, Kilgore is bringing in some big Republican names, if not the biggest name, to stump for him in the closing days, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Kaine recently brought in President Clinton to conduct a pair of fundraisers for his campaign.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Mason-Dixon: Downticket races

Has the electorate noticed the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general yet? Is Byrne making headway in Northern Virginia? Is McDonnell pulling ahead in the urban crescent?

Find out here at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. All will be revealed...


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Mason-Dixon: By the numbers...

Statewide

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 46, Kilgore 38, Potts 5, undecided 11

Shenandoah/Piedmont
Kaine 33, Kilgore 56, Potts 4, undecided 7

Richmond Metro
Kaine 43, Kilgore 43, Potts 7, undecided 7

Hampton Roads
Kaine 45, Kilgore 42, Potts 7, undecided 6

Lynchburg/Southside
Kaine 41, Kilgore 44, Potts 4, undecided 11

Roanoke/Southwest
Kaine 37, Kilgore 47, Potts 4, undecided 12

Do you consider Governor Mark R. Warner’s budget reforms a tax increase or not?

(If “yes”) Do you feel this tax increase was: fiscally responsible and necessary to fix Virginia’s budget problems or unnecessary and too high, which is why there is now a state surplus?


• Not a tax increase: 38 percent
• Necessary tax increase: 12 percent
• Unnecessary tax increase: 21 percent
• Not sure: 29 percent

What state issue is most important to you in this year’s race for governor?
(Top five answers, not read to respondents)

• Education/public school funding: 21 percent
• State taxes/spending: 17 percent
• Roads/traffic/transportation: 15 percent
• Economic issues: 8 percent
• Crime/death penalty/justice: 7 percent


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Mason-Dixon: Voters split on abortion, 2004 budget; A1

Poll: 10 percent more likely to vote Kilgore because of ads, 25 percent less likely

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore's ads attacking Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine's stance on the death penalty are making some headway, but not much, according to a new poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research.

Some 78 percent of voters said they have seen the former attorney general's ads, in which family members of murder victims say they don’t trust Kaine to carry out a death sentence.

One ad features Kelly Timbrook, the widow of a Winchester police officer who was shot to death in the line of duty. Edward Bell, the man convicted of the murder, is on Virginia’s death row.

Voters support the death penalty by a margin of 66 to 20 percent, but only 10 percent of voters said the ads made them more likely to vote for Kilgore. Some 25 percent said they would be less likely to vote for the GOP nominee after seeing the ads.

Kaine’s negative rating, however, has doubled, from 11 percent to 22 percent.

Those who said they were undecided broke along a similar margin, with 4 percent saying they’d be more likely to vote for Kilgore, 18 percent saying they’d be less likely.

Kaine’s fence-riding position on both the death penalty and abortion — he opposes both but won’t interfere with or support changes to current law on either front — seems to be effective, according to Coker.

Among voters who support the death penalty, 54 support Kilgore, but 31 support Kaine.

On matters of abortion, 47 percent of voters said they were “pro-choice,” 40 percent said they were “pro-life.”

“This straddling [by Kaine] is working to some degree, as 24 percent of ‘pro-life’ voters are currently supporting Kaine,” Coker said. Conversely, 29 percent of “pro-choice” voters support Kilgore.

Undecided voters are evenly split.

“As an issue, abortion is clearly a double-edged sword,” Coker said.

One key issue for both campaigns, the budget deal of 2004 that increased funding for education and other programs and raised taxes by $1.6 billion, seems to be lost on voters.

Some 38 percent said the deal was not a tax increase, while 12 percent said it was a necessary tax increase. Another 21 percent said it was an unnecessary tax increase, while 29 percent aren’t sure if it was a tax increase or not.

That may be “an indication that many voters were not noticeably affected by it,” Coker said.

“While Kilgore’s attacks on the death penalty have paid some dividends — helping to double Kaine’s negative rating — they have not propelled him into a clear lead,” according to Coker.

Election Day is Nov. 8.

Editor's Note: Both this and the previous story on recent Mason-Dixon polling appear in Monday's Northern Virginia Daily as one story, due to conflicts among electronic and print edition deadlines and polling release schedules.


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Sunday, October 23, 2005

More Mason-Dixon at midnight...

Is the death penalty ad push working for Jerry Kilgore? Is abortion the issue that lets Tim Kaine push back? What do voters think about the 2004 budget deal -- unneeded tax hike or fiscally responsible?

Find out here at midnight. All will be revealed.


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Mason-Dixon: Kilgore 44, Kaine 42, Potts 5

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

The 2005 gubernatorial race is so tight it could all come down to one county.

That’s the gist of a new Mason-Dixon poll release over the weekend.

Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the Republican, leads Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine 44 percent to 42 percent, according to the survey conducted Oct. 18-20, which has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percent.

Independent candidate state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, trails with 5 percent.

Across the state, the race has started to break toward one candidate or the other, except for the Richmond metro area, which remains split at 43 percent each for Kaine and Kilgore, 7 percent for Potts and 7 percent undecided.

Given historic trends, that region and the race may turn on the outcome in Henrico County.

“It is likely that the city of Richmond will back Kaine and that Chesterfield County will favor Kilgore, making Henrico County [carried by Democrat Mark Warner in 2001] the bellwether county,” wrote J. Bradford Coker, Mason-Dixon’s managing director, in an analysis of the results.

Warner won Henrico by 3.5 percent. He won the entire state by more than 5 percent.

Closer to home, the Potts campaign is going nowhere fast.

More people now recognize Potts’ name, but “he has little to show for it,” Coker said.

“His favorable rating has not increased over the past three months, while his unfavorable rating jumped 11 points from 4 percent to 15 percent,” he said. “The three-month trend line indicates a steady decline in voter opinion of Potts, and suggest he is dead in the water.”

Now likely just a spoiler, it is unclear who will be hurt more by Potts, Coker added.

The candidate himself couldn’t disagree more.

“This race is far from over,” Potts said through a spokesman. “The polls said that [President Harry S.] Truman couldn’t win, and [independent Govs.] Jim Longley in Maine and Lowell Weicker in Connecticut couldn’t win.

“Citizens in Virginia will decide this election,” Potts said, criticizing Kaine and Kilgore’s massive spending on the campaign.

“The governor’s chair is not for sale at any price,” he said. “[I] will surprise a lot of people in this election.”
Over in Richmond, the Kaine campaign was pleased with the results.

“This is a good poll for Tim Kaine,” said campaign spokesman Jeff Kraus, pointing to the single-digit change since last month.

“We’ve said since the day we kicked off that this was going to be a close race. I genuinely think we have momentum, and we’re feeling it all over the state.”

That’s particularly significant, given that Kilgore’s campaign “threw everything and kitchen sink” at Kaine in recent weeks, Kraus said.

“This is really a margin of error race,” he said.

Kilgore spokesman Tucker Martin expressed similar sentiments.

“We feel very good about where we are,” he said. “Republican candidates close very well in Virginia elections.”

As for a recent series of ads critical of Kaine’s stand on the death penalty, the fact that Kaine’s negative ratings have doubled show that “voters are getting to know Tim Kaine” and “we will be discussing Tim Kaine’s liberal record,” Martin said.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mason Dixon at midnight

Who's winning? Who's losing? Has the Potts campapign found a second wind? Find out here at midnight...


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Bolling: Illegal immigration demands action; B3

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor says Virginia has to take action to deal with the large number of illegal immigrants coming into the commonwealth.

State Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, told reporters on a conference call Thursday that he would back a series of changes to state law that would, among other things, give the state and local governments power to arrest and hold illegal immigrants until they can be picked up by federal officials.

Bolling and the Democratic nominee, former Rep. Leslie Byrne, seek to succeed Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for governor.

While a low-dollar, quiet affair compared to the top of the ticket, the fight between Bolling and Byrne has been intense.

Both candidates have taken to the airwaves with attack ads — Bolling casting Byrne as “too liberal” to be the next person to preside over the Virginia Senate, Byrne portraying Bolling as too close to corporate interests to govern.

Bolling re-emphasized Thursday what has become a major theme of the race, illegal immigration.

Some have suggested that Virginia is becoming a new illegal immigration hot spot, not unlike California or Texas.

“If it’s true that Virginia has emerged as a new gateway for illegal immigration, then I think we need to be on the front end,” he said, “not the tail end of taking action to make sure that we do what we can do at the state level to take care of these problems.”

Bolling said he supports a law that would make it illegal to be present in Virginia while illegally inside the U.S. Law enforcement would have much more leeway in dealing with illegal immigrants if the matter were under the purview of state as well as federal law, he said.

That’s not to say the Virginia State Police are about to become a state Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Under his proposal, a law enforcement officer who finds an illegal immigrant on a traffic stop or other routine action can take the person into custody and hold them.

That way, “they have a chance to do something about it,” he said.

At present, Bolling said, state officials can only “make an appointment” for the arrested person to appear before federal officials to begin deportation proceedings, and are then released.

“What kind of a goofy policy is that? Who in their right mind is going to show up?” he asked. “That is to me a nonsensical policy.”

Other positions Bolling said he backs include prohibiting the use of any taxpayer funds, state or local, to provide government services to illegal immigrants, including welfare, Medicaid and in-state tuition.

He said he would support using the state’s power to require local governments to do likewise.

Bolling said he also supported requiring colleges and universities to verify that applicants are in the country legally before admitting them.

“No illegal immigrant should be occupying a position at a Virginia college or university that would otherwise go to a qualified Virginia student,” the campaign said in a written statement distributed during Bolling’s remarks.

“This is just another example of Bill Bolling trying to score political points by dividing Virginia,” said Joe Shafer, Byrne’s campaign manager.

Bolling’s proposals would cost millions and make life much more difficult for the commonwealth’s law enforcement officers, Shafer said.

Asking colleges to learn to handle the “143 different types of visas” before admitting a student “seems like that would put an awful big burden on the admissions office,” he said.


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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Group: State is porking up; B1

‘Virginia Piglet Book’ analyzes where, how money spent

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Don’t think of it as pork.

Think of it as Virginia ham. Lots of Virginia ham.

State government could save billions of dollars by taking a hard look at the way it spends money and acting more like a business, according to Citizens Against Government Waste, a government watchdog group in Washington.

The group, best known for its annual Pig Book catalog of pork barrel programs at the federal level, this week revealed its “Virginia Piglet Book,” a look at how and where the commonwealth is spending money.

Richmond is wasting about as much money each year as it raised with the tax hike of 2004, which brought some $1.6 billion in new money into the state’s treasury, according to the group.

From 1997 to 2006, the budget has packed on an average of 16 percent more money each biennium. The general fund alone has added 85 percent over the past decade.

“It took the state government in Virginia 386 years to reach a $30 billion annual budget,” they wrote. “It has taken only the last 10 years to add a second $30 billion to that budget.”

At the same time, transportation spending — one of the key issues in this year’s gubernatorial campaign — has remained virtually unchanged.

“The problem in Virginia is clearly not a lack of revenue, but a lack of priorities,” the group wrote.

Among the biggest findings in the book were:

• Getting out of the booze business would put another $700 million each year back into the state’s coffers.
Virginia is one of 18 states that doesn’t allow for the private retail sale of liquor.

Privatizing the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control stores would save all the money without surrendering the state’s enforcement powers for alcohol sales.

• Implementing the findings of the Wilder Commission, a study requested by Gov. Mark R. Warner and led by former Gov. Douglas Wilder, could save the state as much as $750 million each year.

Changing the state’s procurement system would save $500 million a year, while streamlining information technology would save $100 million more.

• Bidding out road maintenance done by the Virginia Department of Transportation could save $285 million each year.
“An added benefit may be that the quality of some of the commonwealth’s roads might improve,” the authors wrote.

• Virginia needs an inspector general, or something like the Government Accountability Office at the federal level to ride herd on the bureaucracy to prevent waste.

None of these things would be considered radical suggestions in the business world, said Thomas Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. But in government, they’re usually not the first choice when financial hard times appear.

“A lot of things that the government does are not necessarily best done by the government,” he said.

It’s not even that the government is incapable of doing a good job, he said. Rather, there’s no competition to force the enterprise to drive down its costs.

“We don’t necessarily care who gets the contracts or wins the bid, what we’re concerned about is the lack of competition,” Schatz said.

Said simply, when competition is involved, the taxpayer wins.

Rumblings in Richmond of a major new transportation spending initiative to appear in January — and tax hikes to pay for it — are illustrative of the mindset that leads to wasted money, he said.

“The solution is often let’s raise taxes to build more [schools, roads or other facilities] or teach more kids,” he said.

There’s some new ground covered in the Piglet book, but much of it relies on the Wilder Commission’s findings, which the Warner administration and the General Assembly have had since 2002.

Motivating government to tighten its belt is “up to people outside of Richmond, since [the government] ignored these recommendations for years,” Schatz said.


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Gilbert rebuffs Blubaugh debate request; B1

Democrat calling on GOP candidate to appear once before Election Day

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WOODSTOCK — The debate over debate in the gubernatorial race is over, but now there’s a similar dispute brewing in the 15th District House of Delegates contest.

Only smaller. And much more polite.

Democratic candidate Jim Blubaugh, a retired federal employee seeking to succeed retiring Del. Allen Louderback, R-Luray, is calling on his Republican opponent to appear with him at least once before Election Day.

But the campaign of Republican Todd Gilbert says it’s too late for Blubaugh to be asking for a debate now.

“We owe it to the voters and I am disappointed Todd doesn’t think it worth his time. Anyone running for this seat should never be ‘too busy’ to speak directly to the voters,” Blubaugh says in a written statement. “The people of the 15th district deserve better than this.”

Gilbert’s decision to leave his job as assistant Shenandoah County commonwealth’s attorney at the first of the month should have given him plenty of time to appear, the Democratic candidate said.

Blubaugh said Wednesday that WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg had offered the two candidates a half-hour, live forum, where the two would talk about issues and have a chance to engage each other.

His campaign made as many as 16 different dates available to the GOP campaign, but was turned down.

It’s a little late in the game to be talking about debates, said Wade Zirkle, Gilbert’s campaign manager.

“Mr. Blubaugh has had all summer to challenge us to a debate, and we would have been happy to discuss the difference between us,” he said. “The problem is, the time for debating came and went.”

“Now is the time to take the message to the voters,” he said.

It would have been nice to have been invited to a debate, too, Zirkle added.

Blublaugh “has never challenged us to a debate,” he said. “For him to play games with 20 days left is laughable.”

Any debate wouldn’t be a reflection of the knock-down, drag-out contests between Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine and Republican former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the Democratic candidate said.

“I think it’s more of a matter of the voters seeing what positions that we’re both taking,” he said. “A lot of people don’t pay a lot of attention to the race until late in the cycle, and then they start to look at the issues. I thought the TV [debate] would be [a] particularly good [chance to inform voters], because they could watch it at home.”

Gilbert and Blubaugh were expected to appear on the same stage Wednesday night in Luray at a Page County candidates forum, Zirkle said. But that’s not the kind of one-on-one forum voters need, Blubaugh argued.

“It is obviously amateur hour there in the Blubaugh camp, and they’re clearly getting desperate,” Zirkle said.

The fact that Zirkle’s last statement was one of the more harsh issued in the race to date speaks to the nature of the campaign.

Even with the dispute over debates, the campaign in the 15th District has been remarkably civil compared to some contested races across the state.

“Todd and I have kept it a real clean campaign,” Blubaugh said. “My hat’s off to Todd for that.”

“It has been a very civil race, to both candidates’ credit,” added Zirkle.


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Ex-Fed official slams agencies’ response to Katrina, Rita; B1

Former board member calls federal reaction ‘slow, confused, floundering’

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WINCHESTER — The federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has been nothing short of “slow, confused and floundering,” and all involved in the effort are in dire need of a single leader to coordinate federal reconstruction efforts.

That’s what Andrew Brimmer, former chairman of the Financial Control Board, the authority set up by Congress during the Clinton administration to repair the finances of Washington, D.C., and the first black member of Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, told a crowd at Shenandoah University on Wednesday.

Brimmer, who was researching the matter for the federal government, is set to deliver the report from which his remarks were drawn to the White House today.

A Cabinet-level commission, comprised of both state and federal officials, should be created immediately to serve both an oversight and steering function for all government efforts at all levels, he said.

Katrina and Rita “created a great deal of destruction, and above all its created a great deal of human dislocation and misery,” Brimmer said.

Agencies designed to provide help during disasters, both state and federal, took major hits during the storms, he said.

“Both of these two storms signaled their coming with ample warning time. Let me repeat that. There was ample warning,” he said. “Nevertheless, the status of preparation … by public officials varied greatly.”

The response to Rita was better, he said. “Perhaps the Texas officials did learn something from the Katrina failures.”

The federal government simply wasn’t ready, and the results showed on the ground, he said.

Public policy in response to the disasters has been “confused, wandering [and] politically motivated,” he said. “Above all, it is a scene of a clash between the policies of the federal government and the policies of the state.”

“As the Katrina disaster unfolded, it quickly became evident that [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] was completely overwhelmed,” he said.

“There was no planning at Homeland Security for emergencies other than terrorist type attacks,” he said. Planning functions normally done by FEMA were moved to the Department of Homeland Security upon its creation, and budgets for it were cut.

When the hurricanes hit, the “few plans that it had were completely out of date,” and the agency couldn’t implement them, Brimmer said. As a result, “hundreds of people died unattended.”

Both before and after the storm, emergency planning failed because it was treated as a political enterprise, at both the state and federal levels.

Levee boards in Louisiana charged with protecting the city from Lake Ponchatrain were “very corrupt,” he said. At the national level, FEMA violated federal procurement laws and routed no-bid contracts to political contributors.

Why? “Because no one is checking,” Brimmer said. “Because no one kept the pressure on. No one monitored.”

Someone has to ride herd on the effort, and force the federal and state governments to work together.

“There has to be cooperation,” Brimmer said, “because these states also have direct responsibility to protect their own citizens.”


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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Race for governor in new polls: Dead heat; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Too close to call. Within the margin of error. Neck and neck.

Two new polls released within hours of each other overnight Monday and the latest round of financial statements from the two leading gubernatorial candidates paint the race to Richmond as anybody’s game.

In a poll conducted by SurveyUSA for WSLS-TV in Roanoke and WUSA-TV in Washington, Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine leads Republican former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore by 2 points, 47 percent to 45 percent, with 2 percent undecided.

Independent candidate state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, polled at 4 percent, while 2 percent said they’d vote for “some other candidate.” Kaine, Kilgore and Potts are the only three candidates on the ballot.

That’s still within the poll’s margin of error, plus or minus 3.7 percent.

A second poll, conducted for the online political briefing “Hotline,” found an identical lead for Kaine, but with different numbers, 40 percent to 38 percent, with 5 percent for Potts and 18 percent undecided.

When the sample of 500 registered voters was sifted further to 435 likely voters, Kaine’s margin narrowed to 1 percent.

Further refined to 321 voters who said they were “extremely likely” to vote on Nov. 8, Kilgore comes out on top by 1 percent.

All three results, though, are well within the margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Camp Kaine wasted no time alerting supporters and the media to the results, sending out e-mails and issuing statements pointing to the polls as proof that Kilgore’s latest round of ads focusing on the death penalty weren’t having the intended effect.

“The [Hotline] poll, conducted October 13-16, is the second public poll in as many days to show that Jerry Kilgore’s slash-and-burn campaign ads have backfired on him,” Kaine Press Secretary Delacey Skinner wrote in an e-mail to reporters.

“More than anything, this poll confirms what we’ve known all along, that this is going to be an extremely close race,” she said.

Not so, says the Kilgore camp.

“We feel like in the past two weeks we’ve picked up some tremendous endorsements, the [National Rifle Association] and the Fairfax [County] Chamber of Commerce. We feel like the momentum in this campaign is on our side,” said Kilgore spokesman Tucker Martin.

“The only polls that we talk about are the ones that close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8,” he said.

On the money front, the race looks just as close.

Kaine finished the month with a tick less than $5.2 million in the bank on $14.5 million in donations. Kilgore’s numbers are almost identical, ending the cycle with just more than $5.2 million in the bank on $14.6 million in donations.

Potts, still a distant third, broke the $1 million mark, bringing in $241,000. Some $185,000 of that total came from just three donations: $100,000 from John T. Hazel of Manassas, $50,000 from William A. Hazel of Chantilly and $35,000 from a state-level transportation and construction political action committee.

Media buys were the most significant purchases for all three campaigns in September.

Potts and company paid Minnesota’s North Woods Advertising, the brains behind Jesse Ventura’s unconventional gubernatorial ad campaign and the “We Want Potts” ad series, a total of $217,489, the lion’s share of the $355,000 the campaign spent in September.

But that’s pocket change compared to the $1.9 million the Kaine campaign paid to Media Strategies and Research in September.

The Kilgore camp eclipsed all comers, though, writing more than $2.6 million in checks to Scott Howell and Company, the
campaign’s media firm.

The campaigns have to file another report covering the first two weeks of October by the end of the month.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Jewish leaders respond to TV ad; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

One of GOP gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore’s new ads amounts to “abuse and exploitation of the Holocaust” and should be pulled from the air immediately, two Virginia Jewish leaders said Friday.

Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria and Tommy Baer, a Richmond attorney and former president of the B’nai Brith International, told reporters on a conference call that the former attorney general’s “Stanley” ad goes too far when it refers to Adolf Hitler.

The ad features Stanley Rosenbluth, whose son and daughter-in-law were murdered by Mark Sheppard in 1993. Sheppard was later convicted and executed.

Rosenbluth takes issue with Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine’s legal representation of Sheppard during his post-conviction appeals and the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful’s opposition to the death penalty on principle.

“Tim Kaine says that Adolf Hitler doesn’t qualify for the death penalty,” Rosenbluth says in the ads now running on television and radio stations around the state. “This was the worst mass murderer in modern times.”

Moline, Baer and other Jews take exception to the Hitler reference, the two told reporters on the call arranged by the Kaine campaign.

“I was astonished and astounded,” said Moline, calling on Kilgore to pull the ads and apologize to Kaine and Jews living in the commonwealth.

The ads are “campaign hyperbole at its absolute worst,” Baer said. The one that mentions Hitler “simply doesn’t belong in the public discourse.”

“This was designed to shock, and shock it did,” Baer said. “Abuse and exploitation of the Holocaust for base political purposes ... is sacrilege.”

Editorials that have called the ad “loathsome” are “much too mild,” added Moline.

But Rep. Eric Cantor, R-7th, the highest-ranking Jewish member of Congress, said there’s a big difference between saying someone wouldn’t execute Hitler and saying someone is like Hitler.

“What is offensive to me is that Tim Kaine wouldn’t put Hitler to death,” Cantor said.

Rosenbluth wasn’t drawing a comparison between the Nazi dictator and anyone, the congressman added. Rather, he mentioned Hitler to show how extreme Kaine’s anti-death penalty position is, by saying that Kaine wouldn’t “put the ultimate killer to death.”

“In my opinion, [the Kaine campaign’s reaction] is nothing more than an attempt to distract from Tim Kaine’s record on the death penalty,” Cantor said.

Neither Baer nor Moline had any comment on the second death penalty ad, which features Kelly Timbrook, the widow of Winchester police Sgt. Ricky Timbrook. Both said they haven’t seen the ad.

Timbrook was shot and killed in 1999 by Edward Bell, who is now on death row.

Response ads by the Kaine campaign have criticized Kilgore for exploiting a widow’s grief, but Timbrook would have none of it.

“I’m surprised that Mr. Kaine would make such a claim,” Timbrook said. “I firmly stand by what I said.”

Kaine defended himself on Thursday, saying he spent a total of 48 minutes working on the Sheppard case, and would have signed the death warrant for the killer had he been governor at the time.

It’s unfair of Kilgore to attack Kaine for representing clients who have committed serious crimes, Baer said. Everyone deserves zealous representation. Strong advocates are what make justice possible.

“He has an absolute ethical obligation” to be an advocate for his clients, he said. “To be critical of Tim Kaine for that is demeaning to our profession.”

But Rosenbluth didn’t back down an inch from his statements in the ad.

“Mr. Kaine represented the man who murdered my son,” Rosenbluth said in an e-mail from Camp Kilgore to reporters. “I don’t care if he spent 30 minutes or 300 hours on the case.”

Jewish opposition to the ad has been slow to emerge, but not because of a lack of outrage, Moline said.

Wednesday evening and Thur-sday were Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It would have been difficult to find Jews anywhere to talk about politics.

“Everybody was in synagogue,” he said, adding that he thought the release of the ad during the Days of Awe was a “conscious decision on the part of the Kilgore campaign.”

The release date “had everything to do with the fact that it was the middle of October and people are starting to pay more attention to the campaign,” countered Kilgore spokesman Tucker Martin.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Friday, October 14, 2005

Kaine: Attack ad on death penalty is ‘patently false’; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

WINCHESTER — A television ad questioning Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine’s past opposition to Virginia’s death penalty and faulting him for representing condemned killers in appeals court are “patently false,” the gubernatorial candidate said Thursday.

But Kaine’s Republican opponent, former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, isn’t backing down an inch.

At issue is the Democratic nominee’s bona fides on the death penalty. Kaine acknowledges that he opposes the state’s maximum penalty on religious grounds, but says he won’t interfere with its administration.

Kilgore says that’s a position of convenience designed to hide Kaine’s past opposition to execution.

In one new ad from Camp Kilgore, Stanley Rosenbluth of Arlington talks about the murder of his son and daughter-in-law.

“Tim Kaine voluntarily represented the person who murdered my son,” Rosenbluth says. “He stood with murderers in trying to get them off death row. No matter how heinous the crime, he doesn’t believe that death is a punishment.”

In another ad, Kelly Timbrook, the widow of Winchester police Sgt. Ricky Timbrook, tells of her husband’s murder at the hands of Edward Bell, who is now on death row. She also says Kaine’s previous statements on the death penalty are “offensive.”

Kilgore’s use of victims’ families is what’s offensive, Kaine told reporters in a conference call.

“The ads are really reprehensible,” he said. “These guys don’t have any ethical boundaries that they won’t cross.”

Further, the Rosenbluth ad just isn’t true, Kaine said.

“I never met [convicted murderer] Mark Sheppard,” Kaine said. “I never visited with him, never spoke with him.”

The judge in the post-conviction federal appeals process appointed an attorney with Kaine’s firm to the case, not Kaine himself, he said.

“My involvement in this case was one occasion, spending point-8 of one hour, 48 minutes, giving advice” to a fellow lawyer.

“It is completely wrong to suggest that it was Tim Kaine who was representing Mark Sheppard,” he said.

But when Kaine put his name on the brief, he was indicating to the federal Fourth Judicial Circuit that he was ready to step in at a moment’s notice, Kilgore told reporters on a later call.

“Folks, each and every day he tries to wiggle out of these representations,” Kilgore said. “He certified to the court that he was representing Mark Sheppard.”

Kilgore came after Kaine for representing other death row inmates.

Kaine acknowledges he was appointed twice to similar federal appeals, but not out of anti-death penalty zeal.

“I was appointed, there is no law that says you have to accept an appointment,” he said. But “the code of legal ethics says lawyers should not turn down cases because they’re politically unpopular or they’re hard.”

“He’s misleading you again,” Kilgore said. “He could have said no to these cases. [Opposing the death penalty] was his cause.”

Kilgore named Richard Lee Whitley and Lem Tuggle, two of Kaine’s previous clients, before recounting the details of their crimes.

“I’m not distancing myself from those cases,” Kaine countered. “They haven’t done an ad on those cases.”

“I have said repeatedly, that anybody on death row in Virginia is going to have their death sentence carried out with Tim Kaine as governor, unless they can demonstrate their innocence,” Kaine said.

What matters is the bottom line, he added.

“I would have signed the death warrant in Mark Sheppard’s case if I was governor,” he said.

Kilgore didn’t budge.

“We stand by our ad today,” he said.

Kaine said he wasn’t bothered by Rosenbluth’s and Timbrook’s statements.

“I don’t know that Mr. Rosenbluth knows these facts,” he said. “I do know this: Jerry Kilgore and the attorney general’s office knew my role in this case. They have access to the applications for compensation in the federal courts.”

Closer to home, some Democrats are just as critical of the ads.

Jim Blubaugh, the Democratic candidate in the 15th District House of Delegates race, said Thursday that Kilgore’s ads are a “scare tactic.”

“It tries to play on the emotional issue of the death of a police officer,” he said.

Kaine’s position, “opposed but won’t interfere,” doesn’t cause him any heartburn at all, and it shouldn’t for the other people in the 15th District, Blubaugh said.

“I support the death penalty myself, as do most people in the 15th District,” he said. “But I think it’s been made to appear more than it is, since Kaine is expressing his moral belief” as opposed to what he’d do in office.

Stating his opposition and support for the law isn’t something to be attacked, he said.

“I think that shows responsibility,” Blubaugh said.


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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Potts support slumps to 1 percent; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

WINCHESTER — The gubernatorial race between Tim Kaine and Jerry Kilgore remains neck and neck, but a new poll by Rasmussen Research has independent candidate H. Russell Potts Jr. all but out of the race.

Kilgore, a Republican and former Virginia attorney general, leads the poll with 46 percent, compared to 44 percent for Kaine, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor.

Support for Potts, however, has fallen away to almost nothing at 1 percent. The Winchester native and Republican state senator had been polling at 5 percent in a Sept. 28 Rasmussen survey.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen said the drop was directly related to his poll’s efforts to further distill its pool of 500 “likely” voters.

“After we ask the initial question, we do a little bit more follow-up. ‘Are you certain you’re going to vote for that candidate? Could you change your mind?’” he said.

“That gives us a sense of maybe one candidate or the other has stronger core support and will do better in a low turnout or a high turnout,” he said.

Kaine and Kilgore’s numbers hardly moved when put through additional scrutiny, he said. The two were tied at 45 in the last Rasmussen survey.

But “when it comes to Russ Potts — this is not unusual for third party candidates — we find that a lot people say that they’ll vote for him, but then when you do any kind of a follow-up they’ll actually fall away to one of the major party candidates or indicate that they might not vote,” he said.

Calls to the Potts campaign for comment weren’t returned on Wednesday, but officials did issue a press release touting his “virtual debate” with Kaine and Kilgore, produced by WTVR-TV in Richmond.

The station kept Potts isolated from Sunday’s debate, and asked him the same questions posed to Kaine and Kilgore. It will run at 11 p.m. starting next week over a series of seven nights.

Potts needs to give serious consideration to packing it in, said Mark Rozell, a professor of political science at George Mason University.

“I think that time is about now, or that happened even earlier than now,” he said. “There’s no chance. It’s clear that the voters are going to support one or the other of the major party candidates.”

Polling at 1 percent, Potts isn’t a first choice anymore, but a “a protest vote for a very small portion of the electorate that are dissatisfied with the major party choices,” Rozell said.

Potts’ “campaign never caught traction,” he said. “There’s a real question now whether its time to step aside and endorse one of the [other] two candidates.”

Kilgore’s new push on the death penalty — and Kaine’s inevitable response — has raised the level of the campaign, and Potts can’t keep up, Rozell said.

Potts is “relegated to a sideshow at best” at this point, he said.

A successful third-party or no-party run, like Jesse Ventura in Minnesota, takes money coupled with serious dissatisfaction with the GOP and Democratic choices.

“People just weren’t dissatisfied with the two candidates,” Rozell said. People weren’t enthused, he added, but they weren’t upset enough to abandon the party, even if Kaine and Kilgore aren’t “George Allen or Mark Warner.”

But even with ample funding and dissatisfied voters, “I think it would have been a very long-shot campaign,” Rozell said. “It’s very hard to overcome the entrenched two-party system.”

Fundraising has simply been the Achilles’ heel of the Potts campaign, said Robert Holsworth, dean of the Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“In some ways he’s the most distinctive personality and has the most distinctive set of issues in the race,” he said. “But [Potts] doesn’t have the means of conveying either to the Virginia public right now, and that’s what’s harming him.”

With more money, Holsworth said, Potts could have been a factor.

“If he had had money to advertise and money to be on television and statewide name recognition, he’d be very formidable,” he said. “He’s fabulous on the stump, he’s compelling when he speaks about a lot of issues.”

“He just showed that if you don’t begin with a little bit of celebrity and you don’t have a lot of money, it’s very difficult for an independent candidate to catch hold,” Holsworth said.

Is it time for Potts to quit?

“I think that’s a personal choice that he has to make, based on the poll numbers, his feelings about the race and his capacity to raise money,” Holsworth said.

Then again, it may not be time to quit, depending on Potts’ future intentions, according to Virginia Tech political scientist Craig Brians.

Candidates should fold up shop “when you’re burning your own money,” he said. “As long as you’re burning other people’s money, you’re accomplishing something. The money is there, you might as well spend it.”

Winning in 2005 is out of the question, but if Potts is looking toward 2009, it may pay to hang in, Brians said.

“I don’t know if Potts is going to have very many fans left in the Republican Party after this,” he said. “But our governors can’t run again, so if Kilgore were to win, it might position Potts for next time.”

Above all, though, the Winchester senator must maintain his “statesman” credentials, according to Brians.

“This is the race for the next campaign at this point,” he said.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Death penalty fires up governor's race; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

Jerry Kilgore and Tim Kaine continued their fight over the death penalty on Wednesday, as Kilgore, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, continued to ride a wave of momentum from new television ads.

But Kaine’s campaign isn’t taking the attacks lying down.

Kilgore’s campaign released two new ads on Tuesday in which the families of two murder victims explain why they don’t trust Kaine, the state’s Democratic lieutenant governor, to carry out a death sentence.

Kaine has said that he opposes the death penalty because of his Roman Catholic faith, but, as governor, would sign death warrants when they reached his desk.

The two campaigns continued their sparring Wednesday, fielding opposing sets of prosecutors.

“I don’t believe there’s any [doubt] that the death penalty works to keep Virginian’s safe,” said Todd Gilbert, a newly minted assistant Warren County commonwealth’s attorney and candidate for the 15th District House of Delegates seat.

One of the ads, which takes Kaine to task for handling the appeals of a convicted murderer sentenced to death row, is out of bounds, according to some Kaine supporters. The future lieutenant governor, then an attorney in Richmond, was just doing his duty — zealously representing his client.

Nobody’s disputing the fact that death-row inmates deserve help, said Halifax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Kim White.

“Every single defendant in our courts deserves to have good representation, [but] I don’t think that’s what the [Kilgore] ad is commenting upon,” she said. Instead, it’s about Kaine trying to “clean up his death penalty message.”

“In a death penalty case, if you accept representation of someone, you know you’re going to have to take a stand that the death penalty is unconstitutional,” she said.

“For him to have [represented condemned inmates] voluntarily, not being court appointed … it cuts to his honesty. It gives us an insight into what he’s going to do when that death penalty case hits his desk.”

Camp Kaine responded with a list of Roman Catholic governors who have carried out executions.

“Yesterday, Jerry Kilgore said that people whose faith says the death penalty is wrong or those who have represented death penalty cases aren’t ‘entitled’ to serve as governor,” the campaign says in a press release.

At the top of the list is Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has made the same argument of duty versus faith as Kaine. North Carolina’s Mike Easley and California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger are also cited as Catholic governors who have signed death warrants.

The Kilgore ads have completely changed the tenor of the race, according to some political scientists.

“I think these are some of the most powerful ads that we’ve seen in recent Virginia political history,” said Robert Holsworth, dean of the Douglas L. Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. “They have changed the nature of the campaign. They have posed the most serious challenge to the Kaine campaign to date.”

“Up till now, he’s been running very well on Mark Warner’s coattails, you might say,” Holsworth said. “This commercial challenges him to explain to Virginia voters why they should vote for Tim Kaine.”

“He could stop the ads, he could stop the death penalty discussion by threatening to run one ad,” said Craig Brians, a political scientist at Virginia Tech.

Kaine could “produce an ad that says, ‘Going clear back to Thomas Jefferson, [Virginia] has a tradition of religious tolerance. I’m being attacked by Jerry Kilgore for being a person of faith. Let’s end this Christian persecution in Virginia right now,” Brians said.

“That would shut [Kilgore] up so fast,” he said. Such an attack “could be devastating to Kilgore.”

Kaine is in a tight spot, but calling Kilgore’s ads religious persecution might be a bridge too far, according to some observers.

“It’s a tough one, it really is. Right now the polls indicate that the election is statistically tied,” said Mark Rozell, a professor of political science at George Mason University.

Kaine has to “get off the defensive,” Rozell said. But claiming religious persecution could be “inflammatory.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be an effective way to mobilize a lot of voters for Kaine’s candidacy,” he said.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Kilgore gets negative with campaign ads; A1

One ad features the widow of slain Winchester police officer

Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

WINCHESTER — GOP gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore intensified his attacks on his Democratic opponent’s views on the death penalty Tuesday by rolling out two new television ads.

Kilgore’s opponent, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, has said he personally opposes the death penalty, but would follow the law and carry out the sentences if he is elected governor.

One of the ads from the Kilgore campaign features Kelly Timbrook, the widow of Winchester Police Sgt. Ricky Timbrook, who was murdered in 1999.

In the ad, Mrs. Timbrook faces the camera holding a picture of her husband.

“He was basically waiting for Rick underneath the stairs and shot him a few inches from his face,” she says of the night her husband was killed. “When they told me, I fell to my knees screaming.”

Also in the ad, Mrs. Timbrook faults Kaine for past calls for a moratorium on the death penalty.

“How could you not think the death penalty was appropriate? That’s not justice,” she says.

Edward Bell, the man convicted of killing Timbrook, is currently on death row. He was set to be executed in January, but federal courts stayed the sentence while Bell’s lawyers file his last substantive round of appeals.

At present, U.S. District Judge James P. Jones is considering whether to throw out Bell’s request for a competency hearing and allow the execution to proceed.

Bell’s attorneys have argued that there is no direct evidence that he committed the crime, and even if he did, he is mentally retarded and thus ineligible for the death penalty.

Kilgore represented the commonwealth during all of Bell’s appeals until stepping down as attorney general to run for governor.

Bell’s lawyer, James G. Connell of Fairfax, declined to comment on the ad.

Kilgore’s campaign also launched another ad, “Stanley,” in which the father of a murdered Virginia man takes Kaine to task for representing convicted murderers during his legal career.

Kaine’s campaign responded to the new ads in two ways — reiterating in a response ad their candidate’s pledge to follow the law, regardless of his Catholic faith, and mustering Democratic death penalty advocates to vouch for the lieutenant governor.

“My faith teaches life is sacred. That’s why I personally oppose the death penalty,” Kaine says. “But I take my oath of office seriously, and I’ll enforce the death penalty. As governor, I’ll carry out death sentences handed down by Virginia juries, because that’s the law.”

Kaine has called for a moratorium on executions in Virginia, but not by executive order.

Kaine told the Northern Virginia Daily recently that he is not interested in blanket clemency.

“The clemency powers are given for a very particular reason, I believe, to protect somebody who’s innocent,” he said.

That does come down to trust, he said, but “I’ve even given [voters] a clear yardstick to judge me against,” he said, pointing to his time in Richmond city government.

“When I was the mayor of Richmond, we had a prosecutor’s office that prosecuted cases capitally. I didn’t grandstand against them, I supported the prosecutor’s office … because that was the law.”

More specifically, Kaine Press Secretary Delacey Skinner said Tuesday that the lieutenant governor has looked at the Bell case, and unless the federal courts intervene, he would sign the death warrant.

“I asked him this morning [about the Bell case], ‘Would you carry out the death sentence?’ and he said he would,” Skinner said.

Some Democrats who back the death penalty get no heartburn from Kaine’s position.

Kaine’s campaign held a conference call with reporters and Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert.

“I’m an advocate of the death penalty,” Ebert said. But he said has no problem with trusting Kaine to carry out the state’s ultimate penalty.

“He’s assured me that he’s going to follow the law. He’s a man of his word,” Ebert said.

Ebert said he hasn’t always supported Democrats just because he is one himself.

“There’s times when I haven’t, and there’s times when I had to hold my nose when I did,” he said, but added that this isn’t one of those times.

“As long as he can follow the law, and I think he will, I’m in a position to support him,” Ebert said.

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Kaine, Kilgore square off in debate on TV; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

RICHMOND — The debate didn’t break much new ground, but it undoubtedly had the largest audience of any gubernatorial campaign event this year.

Republican nominee former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and Democratic nominee Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine squared of in Richmond Sunday night in the studios of WWBT-TV in a debate carried live around the state.

Neither candidate strayed far from their established, scripted themes of the campaign — often completely ignoring questions posed by moderator Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, and a media panel.

Kaine came out swinging, hitting on conservative themes such as law and order and fiscal responsibility, billing himself as the only candidate voters can trust “to lead this commonwealth forward.”

Along with Gov. Mark R. Warner, Kaine said he made the hard decision to raise taxes by $1.6 billion and put the state’s fiscal house in order.

Kilgore, on the other hand, is “always crying liberal when we try to move the state forward,” Kaine said.
Kilgore responded in kind, challenging his opponent’s as-sociation with Warner.

“What you’re going to find on the ballot is no Mark Warner,” Kilgore said. “It’s time for Tim Kaine to stand on his own record.”

The most memorable ex-change of the evening came on one of the most timeworn subjects of the campaign, the death penalty.

Sabato challenged Kaine on his opposition to the death penalty, even in the face of the apparent murder of Virginia Commonwealth University student Taylor Behl. Missing since Labor Day, Behl’s body was found in rural Virginia last week.

“I’m against the death penalty and abortion. That’s what my church teaches,” Kaine said. But “I’m not going to change my religion to just to get elected.” Kaine compared his relationship with the Catholic church to that of President Kennedy.

“Tim Kaine, you’re no John F. Kennedy,” Kilgore said.

Behl’s death was “a heinous crime that deserves our ultimate penalty,” Kilgore said. Meanwhile, Kaine was “busy calling for a moratorium,” he said.

Kilgore firmed up his position on abortion.

Kilgore has said he is a pro-life candidate, but has declined to say specifically if he would sign a ban on abortion if changes on the Supreme Court permitted it.

“I do not support the criminalization of women,” he said, but added that he would agree to legislation that would “hold doctors accountable,” specifically for performing “partial-birth abortion.”

Kaine renewed his attacks on Kilgore’s abortion position, saying that the right to choose would be a thing of the past in Virginia if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Kilgore is in office.

“He would outlaw all abortion,” Kaine said.

One place where the two men broke out of their talking points was on negative campaign ads. Sabato asked both men to pledge to run positive ads for just more than half of their remaining ad buys. Kaine agreed to the pledge, but Kilgore demurred.

The two candidates came together on Oceana Naval Air Station, the Virginia Beach naval station recently put on the chopping block by a federal base-closing panel.

Both men said they would do everything within their power to keep the base open, including using the state’s power of eminent domain to buy out homes and businesses near the base.


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Friday, October 07, 2005

Potts loses in federal court; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

CHARLOTTESVILLE — A federal judge on Friday turned back an effort by independent gubernatorial candidate state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. to get into Sunday’s scheduled debate.

Potts, R-Winchester, sued the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and its director, Larry Sabato, asking U.S. District Judge Norman Moon to stop this weekend’s debate if it doesn’t include the senator.

Potts and his supporters would suffer “irreparable harm” if Potts isn’t included in the debate, but the candidate was unlikely to win if the matter came to trial, Moon wrote, in an opinion issued late Friday.

“It is clear that a television appearance, side by side, with the candidates of the main political parties would boost plaintiff’s credibility and give him an opportunity to convey his message and publicly confront his opponents that he would not otherwise posses,” he wrote.

That could make the difference between winning and losing.

But “the court finds that [Potts] has essentially no likelihood of prevailing on the merits of his case,” he wrote.
In a statement issued late Friday, Potts characterized the ruling as a loss for Virginia voters rather than his candidacy.

“I am extremely disappointed that I will not be included in Sunday's debate. The real loser here is not Russ Potts, but all the citizens of Virginia who deserve the best from a governor — a candidate who will speak to the people from the heart and will answer forthrightly and directly all the tough questions,” Potts said in the statement.

“I entered this race on principle, and I filed this lawsuit on principle. I earned my way on that stage Sunday night.”

In arguments Friday afternoon, Potts was represented by Daniel A. Carrell, a Richmond attorney who has argued before the Virginia Supreme Court.

Virginia’s voters want Potts in the debate, he said, citing a July Mason-Dixon poll that found more than half of voters wanted Potts included.

Said simply, the First Amendment makes Potts “a constitutionally necessary party to [any debate] proceedings,” he said.

The case law surrounding the matter is complex and subject to interpretation, but in general, debates held by arms of the government — which includes Sabato and the center by virtue of General Assembly appropriations — have to include all candidates with “appreciable public support.”

Since the center is part of the state, the 15 percent standard set by Sabato is “a barrier raised by an organ of the state itself,” he said, and “unreasonable.”

Judge Moon pressed Carrell on what would be an appropriate standard for inclusion, asking several questions about how his court should define “appreciable support.”

Carrell hesitated briefly, before saying “5 percent, I think would pass constitutional muster.” Potts has repeatedly polled between 5 and 9 percent support.

The Potts campaign also argued that the center’s mission would be served by inclusion of Potts. Sabato’s center seeks to “inform the decisions of the body politic” through debates, he said, referring to a famous statement by U.Va.’s founder, Thomas Jefferson.

But “Mr. Jefferson wasn’t confronted with an hour of time on television,” said former Attorney General William G. Broaddus, arguing on behalf of Sabato.

The Supreme Court has held that debates, even those held in public facilities using taxpayer dollars, can exclude some candidates from the debate, provided that the standards used aren’t “narrowly tailored” to prevent one candidate from getting in and are “content neutral.”

Courts have gone over the issue time and again, and always come to the same conclusion, Broaddus argued.

“There is simply not one court ... that has held that a candidate has a right to squeeze in,” he said.

As to the matter of what constitutes “appreciable support,” Broaddus pointed to the fact that Potts was nowhere near the other two candidates in popularity.

His total of 24,000 signatures to get on the ballot may be impressive, but it reflects less than half of 1 percent of the electorate. Potts’ donors have given about 7 percent as much to him as second-place fundraiser Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine has raised.

But Judge Moon pressed Broaddus on the impact of including Potts.

“Maybe he would be at 23 or 24 percent if he was in this debate?” Moon asked, a question that Carrell seized on in his rebuttal.

“The best way to prevent Senator Potts from reaching 22 or 30 percent is to shut the door on him Sunday night,” he said.

In the end, Moon found that the debate was a public forum, but the 15 percent standard was reasonable.

“Although such selectivity may bar a large number of potential participants, it furthers First Amendment interests by encouraging the government to keep its property open ‘to some expressive activity in cases where, if faced with an all-or-nothing choice, it might no open the property at all,’” Moon wrote, citing a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court case.

Speaking afterward at the courthouse door, Sabato defended his choice of 15 percent and his decision to keep Potts out.

“This is the standard used around the country,” he said. The center has hosted two other debates, using the same standards of participation, including a gubernatorial debate in 2001.

Libertarian candidate William Redpath was excluded from that event on the same 15 percent standard, Sabato said.
For Potts, the polls made it an easy decision. “This is not a close call,” he said.

The entire episode was a “desperate publicity stunt by a desperate campaign,” said Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh.
At the same time, Sabato said he’s not angry.

“This is politics,” said Sabato, smiling. “I don’t blame them for doing it.”

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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Potts sues debate officials; A1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

WINCHESTER — Independent gubernatorial candidate H. Russell Potts Jr. filed a federal lawsuit Thursday in a last-minute bid to get into the final major debate of the campaign.

Potts sued the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and its director, Larry Sabato, in federal court in Charlottesville, asking the court to intervene and stop any debates the center might host and Sabato might moderate that don’t include the Republican state senator from Winchester.

Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine are scheduled to debate Sunday night at 7 p.m. on live television from Richmond. An emergency hearing on Potts’ motion is set for noon today in Charlottesville.

Thursday at 10 a.m. was the cutoff for Potts to be included in the debate. Organizers said they would include Potts if he had support from at least 15 percent of voters polled in two independent public opinion surveys. Potts never achieved that level of support, topping out at 9 percent in a July Mason-Dixon poll.

Potts’ campaign has continued to insist that the 15 percent standard is unfair, and that the only standard for inclusion should be whether a candidate is on the ballot.

“Has Sabato forgotten Virginians in the process of organizing this debate?” Tom D’Amore, Potts’ lead strategist, says in a statement posted on the campaign’s Web site.

“By keeping Russ Potts off the stage, the Center for Politics has established an arbitrary requirement of 15 percent in the polls, stemming from Jerry Kilgore’s constant refusal to debate Russ,” he says. “Why is keeping Jerry Kilgore happy more important than giving voters a chance to see the three candidates debate each other?

“Russ Potts has met Virginia’s standard for being on the ballot as a candidate for Governor by submitting over 24,000 signatures. The requirements set by Sabato and the Center of Politics for participating in the upcoming debate are arbitrary and should be rejected.”

The Kaine campaign has no problem including Potts in the debate — Kaine has been on stage with the independent candidate three times already. “We certainly welcome him to the stage,” said Kaine’s press secretary, Delacey Skinner.

At the same time, she said, the campaign “respects the prerogative” of debate organizers, adding that it was unfortunate that organizers of some events appeared to have been “pressured” by Kilgore’s camp into keeping Potts away.

Kilgore was dismissive of claims that he was afraid to debate Potts.

“You’ve got to be a serious candidate before you can get into the debates. I’ve agreed that he can be in if he can get 15 percent,” Kilgore said at a campaign stop in Winchester on Thursday.

“Now, folks, if I were just polling 15 percent there’s not a person in Virginia that would think I was a serious candidate,” Kilgore said. “He’s not even polling at 5 percent.”

The issue of pressure from Kilgore has come up with the center’s debate before. Sabato himself issued a letter to several Virginia publications asking for a correction when a rash of editorials criticized him for allegedly acquiescing to a Kilgore request for a 15 percent standard.

But it was Kilgore, not Sabato, who caved, according to the center. Kilgore was presented with the 15 percent standard long before August and “immediately balked.”

“When we consulted with legal experts before making our debate proposal this year, the one thing they insisted upon was that we should be consistent and not arbitrary, and therefore should maintain the same standard used for years and years in considering Mr. Potts’ independent candidacy,” Sabato says in the August missive.

The debate was apparently on shaky ground until Thursday morning, over a “no-use” rule regarding debate footage. Such a rule would ban using debate video and picture in campaign ads and materials.

Kilgore’s camp wanted an additional agreement outside of existing rules, while Kaine’s campaign held that “no-use” was a late addition to the debate agreement.

Kilgore said he was ready to debate, regardless of Kaine’s actions.

“Absolutely. There’s never been any question in our mind [that the debate would go forward]. We all signed the agreement back in August to agree to the rules of Channel 12 and the moderator,” Kilgore said.

The two sides came to an agreement later in the day, clearing the way for the debate to go forward.

“We are pleased that Tim Kaine abandoned his scheme to hold the final debate of the campaign hostage to his cynical desire to use debate footage in attack political ads,” said Ken Hutcheson, Kilgore’s campaign manager.

Kaine did sign, but only because Kilgore was going to duck another debate, Skinner said.

“When it became apparent that Jerry Kilgore really was going to risk the only opportunity Virginia voters were going to have” to see both candidates questioned on television, “we decided that we would go ahead and sign.”

Election Day is Nov. 8.


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NRA endorses Jerry Kilgore; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

WINCHESTER — Republican gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore came to Winchester on Thursday and attacked Democrat Tim Kaine with a fresh National Rifle Association endorsement in his pocket.

Before the day was out, he had an endorsement from the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce’s PAC to go with it.

Kilgore, the former Virginia attorney general, launched a daylong air tour of western Virginia with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne La-Pierre at Winchester Regional Airport, where the group’s endorsement was announced.

“Time and time again, the record has been clear. Jerry Kilgore has been on the side of the Second Amendment, on the side of law-abiding hunters and sportsmen in this state,” LaPierre said. “And Tim Kaine has been opposed.”

Later in the day, the Kilgore camp announced that they’d been tapped by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee.

“Mr. Kilgore earned the support of NOVABizPAC because of his overall stronger support for the Fairfax County Chamber’s priorities and policy agenda,” PAC Chairman Mi-chael Lewis says in a written statement. The group also endorsed Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, the GOP nominee for attorney general.

“It means a great deal to me to have earned the support of the business community in Fairfax,” Kilgore said. “Fairfax County is an economic engine powering Virginia’s economy, and this endorsement is proof that business leaders in that area recognize that I am the pro-business, pro-ownership candidate in the race.”

The reaction from the Kaine campaign was muted.
LaPierre’s announcement of the NRA’s second endorsement of Kilgore this year wasn’t a surprise to the Kaine campaign, press secretary Delacey Skinner said.

“Tim Kaine has very clearly stated his support for the Second Amendment,” Skinner said. Kaine’s efforts on behalf of the state’s hunting and fishing amendment to the Virginia Constitution bear that out, she added. Warner has kept a promise not to introduce new gun laws.

“Four years ago there were people saying ‘Tim Kaine and Mark Warner were going to take your guns away,’” she said. “That hasn’t happened.”

The NRA’s endorsement is largely about the state’s “one gun per month” rule, she said. Current law prohibits the purchase of more than one handgun per month in the state. Kilgore has said he’d look at a repeal. Kaine supports the law.

“That’s the primary difference between these two candidates,” Skinner said.


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