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Democratic Committee Meeting

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

30 GOP Senators Defend Gang Rape

30 GOP Senators Defend Gang Rape

Here in Virginia we worry about a thesis that disrespects women that was authored by the republican candidate for governor. Its much bigger than that, The GOP disrespects women across the board. Read on, this is unbleivable.

It is stunning that 30 Republican members of the United States Senate would vote to protect a corporation, in this case Halliburton/KBR, over a woman who was gang raped. The details:

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and "warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job." (Jones was not an isolated case.) Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.

Offering Ms. Jones legal relief was Senator Al Franken of Minnesota who offered an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR "if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court."

Seems simple enough.    And yet, to GOP Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama allowing victims of sexual assault a day in court is tantamount to a "political attack" at Halliburton.     That 29 others, all men, chose to join him in opposing the Franken amendment is simply mind-boggling.

Here are those who vote to protect a corporation over a victim of rape:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

In the debate, Senator Sessions maintained that Franken's amendment overreached into the private sector and suggested that it violated the due process clause of the Constitution.

To which, Senator Franken fired back quoting the Constitution. "Article 1 Section 8 of our Constitution gives Congress the right to spend money for the welfare of our citizens.    Because of this, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, 'Congress may attach conditions on the receipt of federal funds and has repeatedly employed that power to further broad policy objectives,'" Franken said. "That is why Congress could pass laws cutting off highway funds to states that didn't raise their drinking age to 21. That's why this whole bill [the Defense Appropriations bill] is full of limitations on contractors -- what bonuses they can give and what kind of health care they can offer. The spending power is a broad power and my amendment is well within it."

If you are female or a brother, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, husband to someone who is a female or just someone who believes in justice and you vote republican drop us a comment about the GOP mindset.
Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Election Day in Virginia By President Obama

Virginia, it's time to get fired up.

I've just announced that I'll be visiting next Tuesday to rally you and your neighbors in support of Creigh Deeds and our movement for change. Creigh Deeds has offered real solutions to address Virginia's challenges in transportation and the economy, and it's up to us now to build the support that will make those solutions a reality.

We made history here in Virginia last year. Together with your neighbors, you built a movement in order to move this commonwealth and our country forward.

But from day one, we knew we were working toward something far greater than simply one election. It was about changing the way politics in our country works -- from the bottom up, face to face, one conversation at a time. And it was about getting beyond the divisiveness and petty politics that have kept too many out of the process.

That promise is now ours to keep.

Election Day in Virginia is less than two weeks away, and you have an important choice to make -- not just in how you vote, but in what you make of this important opportunity to create change. We can take a giant step together toward keeping that promise of a better future for Virginia by doing all that we can to elect Creigh Deeds as the next governor.

Join fellow Virginians in keeping the promise of change alive by volunteering for Creigh Deeds.

We've worked too hard and come too far to let Virginia slip back. Creigh Deeds has embraced the movement you started by speaking directly and honestly to Virginians about the challenges ahead and the ideas that will move us forward.

His record of bringing people together to create solutions to difficult challenges is exactly the kind of change we built this movement to achieve -- and it's exactly what Virginia needs now.

But it's up to you to make sure that your friends and neighbors know the stark choice they face in this election by making calls and knocking on doors. And it's up to you to make sure that those we helped to vote and get involved for the first time in Virginia last year do so again now.

We know firsthand that we can win elections in Virginia the right way -- one real, thoughtful conversation at a time. But we also know the only way it can happen is when people who believe in our cause step up and get involved. That means this year, right now, it all comes down to you.

Help keep the promise of change alive by getting involved and building support for Creigh Deeds in these final two weeks:

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bill Clinton Speaks to Virginians


"Don't Let 'Fear Factor' Determine Deeds-McDonnell Victor"

McLEAN, Va. -- Ah, what might have been. Terry McAuliffe and Bill Clinton brought their buddy act to a pep rally Tuesday and gave Virginia Democrats a taste of what they passed up by nominating Creigh Deeds for governor, instead of McAuliffe.

Never mind that Deeds trails Republican Bob McDonnell by 7 to 8 percentage points in most polls. "November 3 is going to be the greatest comeback in the history of American politics!" McAuliffe exclaimed, adding another instant classic to his hit parade of sweeping pronouncements.

Then the former national party chairman moved on to chicken waste as energy (a staple of his own short-lived gubernatorial campaign) and said he felt like a Little Leaguer talking baseball next to Babe Ruth when he talked about the economy standing next to Clinton.

Clinton, playing his part, looked bemused. "You gotta love this guy," he said.

The pair, recently back from Africa, had teamed up earlier in the year to try to launch McAuliffe in electoral politics. Now they're back as part of an all-hands-on-deck effort to shore up Deeds.

For Clinton, it was a day of gubernatorial duties. He was due in New Jersey on Tuesday night to campaign for Gov. Jon Corzine. For Deeds, it's the week of presidents. In seven days, President Obama will make his second campaign visit for Deeds in a state he won comfortably last year.

But will the late Democratic push here be enough to help Deeds catch up to McDonnell? McAuliffe, who had led a field of three in most primary season polls, said he was speaking from personal experience -- "don't pay any attention to the polls."

Clinton offered his own lesson from the primary outcome: "Never underestimate this man." He said Deeds has the best record and best plans for jobs, education, health care and transportation -- "I have reviewed this ... This is not a close question."

More than 300 Deeds supporters and volunteers gathered for Tuesday's feel-good event in a campaign office in an industrial park in the Washington suburbs. They responded with whoops and cheers to Clinton's mild partisan swipes ("Denial is not just a river in Egypt. It apparently is the political platform of the Virginia Republican Party") and exhortations to "step into the breach" and make sure people vote.

The former president said a central issue of the election is "not being in denial" about serious problems such as state transportation woes that are choking off economic growth. He said voters shouldn't give in to "the fear factor" and stay home -- and it's up to Deeds workers to make sure they don't.

"Don't you let this election be determined by the denial strategy of people who only trigger the fear factor because the others are too busy to go vote," Clinton declared. He did not say what there was to fear, but Deeds' openness to higher taxes for transportation has been a central theme of McDonnell's campaign.

Deeds shot to a surprise primary victory after The Washington Post endorsed him in a strong editorial praising his record and style. The newspaper has now run another endorsement editorial that is, if anything, even stronger. Deeds cited the editorial Tuesday ("I was so proud") and also cited a New York Times article that deemed employer tax credits for every job created -- a Deeds proposal -- the most cost-effective way to create jobs.

The Post editorial and the prodding by Democratic heavyweights could deliver some less-than-fired-up voters to the polls. But if current opinion polls are accurate, even "heroic turnout" in Northern Virginia wouldn't make the difference for Deeds, demographer Robert Lang, co-director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech, said in an interview.

Lang says Northern Virginia, five counties within about an hour of Washington, D.C., accounted for 28 percent of the vote in the last gubernatorial election. Democrats typically have to win big among liberals and moderates in the area to pull off a statewide win. But Deeds doesn't have a natural base here -- he's from the rural southwest part of the state -- while McDonnell grew up in the area.

And Deeds won't be able to match the huge turnouts of young people and black people that helped Obama become the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry Virginia in 44 years. Nor does it help that in the Richmond area, where blacks turned out in force for Obama, Doug Wilder -- the state's first black governor and the former mayor of Richmond -- hasn't endorsed Deeds.

Meanwhile, McDonnell is getting his own high-wattage help from people like Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, and Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television.

Turnout is always relatively low in Virginia's way-off-year election, a deliberate strategy to keep the race focused on local rather than national issues. Of course, that's made it and New Jersey -- the only two gubernatorial races in the years following presidential elections -- even more closely examined for clues to national trends. But Virginia hasn't proven predictive in the past. For decades the state has simply elected governors who are from the opposite party as the president who won the year before.

Jeff Price for Delegate

Here we are. Exactly 14 days to election day.

A little over a year ago my wife and I sat down and we decided that I might be able to be of service to the community that has given so much to us and our family. We knew that the journey we were preparing to embark was not going to be easy, but it was a journey we decided we were willing to travel.

This chapter in our life will soon be coming to a close. With your help the next chapter to be written will involve me bringing a little common sense to Richmond as the 24th District's next Delegate. As we are making our final push we need to raise $10,000 to get our message out. We are already making great in-roads to that number, but we need your help.

Every little bit helps. $25, $50, $100. Anything you might be willing to contribute will be appreciated at this vital time. Click here to make a contribution.

Our last pre-election filing is tonight. If you've been waiting to make your contribution, now is the time!

While you're online, check out a little video on youtube that we put together.

And on Saturday join me, Shannon Valentine, Creigh Deeds, and Sen. Mark Warner at Virginia University of Lynchburg at 9:00 in Humbles Hall for an exciting get out the vote rally! RSVP here!

Best regards,


Former Gov. Holton Endorses Deeds

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

"straight-talking, honest, clean leader."

Former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton, who in the 1960s became the first Republican elected to statewide office since Reconstruction, endorsed Democrat Creigh Deeds this morning.

Holton lives in Richmond, but the campaign chose the Clarendon Metro stop as the location for a press conference on the announcement -- all the better to get on D.C. area television to talk about, what else, transportation.

The D.C. media turned out to hear Holton praise Deeds's everything-is-on-the-table (including a possible tax increase) plan as the "most realistic" approach to boosting transportation funding.

By contrast, Holton said Republican Bob McDonnell's transportation proposals rely on "false promises": a promise to use oil revenue that is not currently legally available under federal law, a proposal to shift general funding money now used to support other state needs, a pledge to privatize state-run ABC liquor stores.

"There will be no sale of the ABC system system in Virginia as long as the General Assembly exists," Holton said.

Holton called Deeds a "straight-talking, honest, clean leader."

Deeds said he'd spent the past couple of days in Northern Virginia, observing traffic and talking to commuters on the Metro, and the experience had reinforced for him the importance of improving transportation. He assured the small crowd of reporters and supporters twice that this was not his first time riding Metro.

"I learned a long time ago when you want to do something in D.C., it's smarter when you're coming from Bath County, park at Vienna," Deeds joked.

Abner Linwood Holton, Jr. (born September 21, 1923) was the first Republican Governor of Virginia since Reconstruction. He was governor from 1970 to 1974.
After his retirement, Holton had supported moderate Republicans, including John Warner. As the Virginia Republican Party became more conservative, however, he found himself more in line with the state Democratic Party.

As Governor, he increased employment of blacks and women in state government, created the Virginia Governor's Schools Program in 1973, and provided the first state funds for community mental health centers, and supported environmental

Following his term as Governor, he currently practices law as a shareholder at McCandlish Holton, P.C., and later served as President of the Center for Innovative Technology.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Washington Post Endorses Deeds

Washington Post Endorses Deeds

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"His transportation realism and Mr. McDonnell's bogus roads plan present Virginians with a stark choice on Nov. 3."

The Better Choice, Mr. Deeds for Governor

A LEGACY of sound policies, coupled with the proximity of the federal government, has partially protected Virginia from the harsh retrenchments that the recession has forced on many states. Yet the commonwealth faces a daunting crisis in the form of a drastic shortfall in transportation funding, measured in the tens of billions of dollars, that threatens future prosperity. If the current campaign for governor has clarified anything, it is that state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee, has the good sense and political courage to maintain the forward-looking policies of the past while addressing the looming challenge of fixing the state's dangerously inadequate roads. The Republican candidate, former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, offers something different: a blizzard of bogus, unworkable, chimerical proposals, repackaged as new ideas, that crumble on contact with reality. They would do little if anything to build a better transportation system.

There are plenty of reasons why Mr. Deeds is the better choice for governor in the Nov. 3 election. He has stood with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the incumbent, and his predecessor, now-Sen. Mark R. Warner, in support of the sane fiscal and budgetary choices that have made the state one of the best-governed and most business-friendly in the nation. Mr. McDonnell has generally spurned those policies, most notably by opposing Mr. Warner's landmark tax package in 2004, which attracted bipartisan support as it boosted public safety and education and protected the state's finances. Mr. Deeds has compiled a moderate record on divisive social issues that reflects Virginia's status as a centrist swing state. Mr. McDonnell has staked out the intolerant terrain on his party's right wing, fighting a culture war that seized his imagination as a law student in the Reagan era.

But the central challenge facing Virginia and its next governor is the deficit in transportation funding projected at $100 billion over the next two decades -- and only Mr. Deeds offers hope for a solution. Following a road map used successfully in 1986, he would appoint a bipartisan commission to forge a consensus on transportation funding, with the full expectation that new taxes would be part of the mix. Mr. McDonnell, by contrast, proposes to pay for road improvements mainly by cannibalizing essential state services such as education, health and public safety -- a political non-starter. And rather than leveling with Virginians about the cost of his approach, as Mr. Deeds has done, Mr. McDonnell lacks the political spine to say what programs he would attempt to gut, or even reshape, in order to deal with transportation needs.

Mr. Deeds has run an enormous and possibly fatal political risk by saying bluntly that he would support legislation to raise new taxes dedicated to transportation. It is a risk that neither Mr. Kaine nor Mr. Warner felt they could take. But given that the state has raised no significant new cash for roads, rails and bridges in 23 years, Mr. Deeds's position is nothing more than common sense. It is fantasy to think that the transportation funding problem, a generation in the making, will be addressed without a tax increase. A recent manifesto from 17 major business groups in Northern Virginia, calling for new taxes dedicated to transportation, attests to that reality.

Yet Mr. McDonnell, champion of a revenue-starved status quo, remains in denial. He professes to feel the pain of Virginians struggling with financial hard times. In fact his transportation policy, a blueprint for stagnation and continuing deterioration, would subvert the state's prospects for economic recovery and long-term growth. And it would only deepen the misery of Northern Virginia commuters who already pay a terrible price -- economic, personal and psychological -- because of the state's long neglect of its roads.

Gleeful Republicans, convinced that Mr. Deeds has dealt his own candidacy a lethal blow by his stance on taxes, have seized on it as evidence that Mr. Deeds is heedless of the financial strains on ordinary Virginians. A recession is no time to raise taxes, they say; never mind that any solution is unlikely to be in place until recovery is underway. Of course, these same Republicans, Mr. McDonnell included, screeched about the Warner tax increase, first calling it unneeded (during a short-lived budget surplus) and then -- when it began to look inadequate -- preferring not to talk about it. In Mr. McDonnell's view, there is never a good time to invest adequately in the state's critical infrastructure.

Mr. Deeds has been broadly criticized, not least by stalwarts of his own party, for putting too heavy an emphasis on negative ads about Mr. McDonnell and failing to make an affirmative case for himself. If so, it reflects a failure of campaign strategy and tactics, not a lack of raw material. In fact Mr. Deeds -- a decent, unusually self-effacing man who calls himself "a nobody from nowhere" -- has a compelling life story and an admirable record of achievement as a legislator from rural Bath County.

As we noted in endorsing Mr. Deeds in June's Democratic primary, his record in the legislature ably blended the conservative interests of his constituents with an agenda reflecting the prosperous, politically moderate face of modern-day Virginia. He has been a longtime champion of a more enlightened, bipartisan system of drawing voting districts, a stance to which Mr. McDonnell only recently gravitated. He has played a constructive role in economic development by shaping the Governor's Economic Opportunity Fund, which provides incentives for investors in Virginia,
and he has stood for responsible environmental policies, including green jobs and alternative energy research. Despite his rural roots, Mr. Deeds has been ideologically flexible enough to support abortion rights; press for background checks on firearms buyers at gun shows; oppose displaying the Confederate flag on state license plates; and warm to equal rights for homosexuals.

As for Mr. McDonnell, he deserves credit for having run a disciplined, focused, policy-oriented campaign. As a candidate, a statewide official and a lawmaker, he has maintained a civil, personable manner. His intellectual agility, even temper and facility with the grit of policy have inspired the respect of colleagues, staffers and
rivals. He is a dexterous politician.

Our differences with him are on questions of policy. The clamor surrounding his graduate dissertation from 1989, in which he disparaged working women, homosexuals, "fornicators" and others of whom he disapproved, has tended to
obscure rather than illuminate fair questions about the sort of governor he would make. Based on his 14-year record as a lawmaker -- a record dominated by his focus on incendiary wedge issues -- we worry that Mr. McDonnell's Virginia would be one where abortion rights would be curtailed; where homosexuals would be treated as second-class citizens; where information about birth control would be hidden; and where the line between church and state could get awfully porous. That is a prescription for yesterday's Virginia, not tomorrow's.

Mr. McDonnell has inspired a worthwhile debate over privatizing liquor sales in Virginia, one of 18 states that control the wholesale and retail trade in spirits. But by suggesting the state could use the proceeds of privatization as an ongoing funding source for road improvements, he has played fast and loose with the facts -- first by plucking projected revenue figures from thin air and second by glossing over the question of what state services he would cut if the $100 million currently gleaned from annual liquor sales could be diverted for transportation.

Mr. McDonnell has sought to corner Mr. Deeds by focusing on debates inWashington over energy policy, labor union membership and other contentious federal issues. But a governor of Virginia can do little to influence the ideologically charged debates raging on Capitol Hill. Mr. McDonnell also has claimed he would be more effective at creating jobs. Yet while Mr. McDonnell has been an activist public servant, he has no significant record, either as a lawmaker or as attorney general, of promoting policies to encourage job growth.

Mr. Deeds, lagging in the polls, lacks Mr. McDonnell's knack for crisp articulation. But if he has not always been the most adroit advocate for astute policies, that is preferable to Mr. McDonnell's silver-tongued embrace of ideas that would mire Virginia in a traffic-clogged, backward-looking past. Virginians should not confuse Mr. McDonnell's adept oratory for wisdom, nor Mr. Deeds's plain speech for indirection. In fact, it is Mr. Deeds whose ideas hold the promise of a prosperous future.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meet The Candidates for Supervisor

Plan to attend and meet the candidates at a public forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Amherst County High School auditorium.

Claudia Tucker and Bonnie Limbrick are running for the District 2 seat to be vacated by Vernon Wood.

Current board Chairman Leon Parrish and Frank Campbell are competing for the District 5 seat, which includes Old Town Madison Heights.

Tucker and Limbrick have served on the county’s planning commission and Tucker is a current member. Parrish, who has the longest tenure of any supervisor on the board, is running for his fifth term.

Bob Wimer, retired editorial page editor of The News & Advance, has agreed to serve as moderator for the event.

At the forum, the public can familiarize themselves with the candidates and find out their intentions, plans and goals for the county.

Claudia Tucker who set up the meet and greet also encouraged incumbent supervisors to attend the forum.

7 p.m. Oct. 19 at Amherst County High School auditorium
Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deeds: Two Things Are Certain

With less than three weeks left until the Virginia governor's election, two things are certain:

First, the more voters know about the very different records of the two candidates, the more they support Creigh Deeds.

Second, the best way to spread the facts is the same way we won last year's election -- face-to-face conversations between voters and volunteers.

That's why Creigh Deeds' campaign is launching an ambitious plan to reach out to Virginia voters and spread the word. They've done the math, and to reach a critical mass of voters they need 5,000 volunteer hours between now and October 24th.

So this weekend, Organizing for America is doing all we can to help them reach that goal -- including organizing supporters across the Commonwealth to go door to door to talk with Virginia voters.

Organizing for America volunteers are gathering this weekend to go door to door talking with voters. Can you join us?

To See Opportunity Click

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Deeds: From Patching Fence to Straddling It

By Michael Leahy, Washington Post Staff Writer

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Deeds: From Patching Fence to Straddling It

Creigh Deeds was stammering, as is often his way when trying to explain a change in one of his political positions. He indicated that he felt conflicted over a stance, not the first time during his campaign for Virginia governor. "I'm not certain I would do that again," he said.

He was referring to a vote he cast three years earlier to place a state constitutional amendment on the ballot prohibiting gay people from marrying or entering into civil unions. Within weeks, seemingly in an about-face, Deeds said he would not support the amendment. Now, a tentative Deeds sat in a Washington conference room, still not quite sure where he stood. "My thoughts have evolved in a lot of respects," he said, noting that his evolution had carried him to the point where he had doubts that "government ought to be involved" in same-sex marriage.

At 51, Deeds frequently describes himself as a "work in progress" -- the product of growing up on a farm, on the hard side of a mountain where the unexpected was the norm and where anyone who couldn't compromise was inviting failure.

To supporters, his capacity for change suggests the promise of his leadership: that, never having been wed to ideology, he is capable of responding even-handedly to the array of economic and social challenges facing Virginia. To his skeptics, the trait merely evinces Deeds's habit of trying to appeal to different constituencies by saying "yes" and "no" to the same question.

Deeds's climb up the ladder of the House of Delegates, the state Senate and a successful Democratic primary run represents the triumph of political malleability over ideology. He has spent a career trimming and finessing positions to win votes in the General Assembly and expand his coalition by building a statewide profile as a somewhat conservative and unpredictable Democrat. By contrast, the career of Robert F. McDonnell has soared on a reputation of steadfast conviction that has especially captivated Republicans and social conservatives.

Not surprisingly, their critics view their defining political characteristics as failings: McDonnell's strong compass perceived as permanently stuck on true Right since the publication of his graduate school thesis rendered him a fierce ideologue in the minds of some voters; Deeds dismissed as an opportunist without any compass or proven leadership abilities at all. In an odd twist, each candidate finds himself in the position of having to prove that he has the political quality most associated with his opponent -- in McDonnell's case, that he has some of Deeds's non-ideological flexibility; in Deeds's case, that he has a measure of McDonnell's conviction to lead.

"I will be able to bring people together and get it done -- nothing is off the table," Deeds has said when asked how he would propose to finance needed transportation improvements in Virginia, although he refuses to present a plan with many specifics. Indeed, specifics to Deeds often look like road mines. "I could be specifically wrong," he said in the conference room, a tad irritably.

Blazing a trail has always seemed like an ego trip to him. "I don't believe a lot gets done by screaming from the mountaintop about something," he said. Perhaps no issue has more exposed the nimbleness of his style -- and its risks -- as his sometimes confusing and ever-evolving position on the issue of same-sex marriage.

His 2006 support of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as between "one man and one woman" triggered an immediate backlash from many Democrats key to his hopes of winning his party's nomination this year. It was not his first dust-up on an issue involving gay rights. In 1999, after Republicans had criticized a Deeds vote against a 1994 budget amendment that would have prohibited the extension of state insurance benefits to same-sex partners of faculty members at state colleges, the Staunton Daily News Leader reported that a Deeds spokesperson said, "But that was a meaningless vote. . . . Mr. Deeds does not support gay rights." Before long, after carefully reiterating his commitment to equality for gay people, Deeds emphasized in a paid newspaper ad that he was against "special rights"
for gay people.

Faced with mounting criticism for his support of the amendment, Deeds offered a new statement shortly after the controversy erupted: He declared he had come to be troubled by the possible consequences of the measure. But the question of why he voted to put it on the ballot to begin with was still plaguing him years later when he sat down in the conference room.

What is your own view on same-sex marriages and civil unions? he was asked.

He stammered a little. He looked down at the conference table. He said that, for himself, marriage was between a man and a woman, then went on: "I, I, I support . . . making sure everybody has equal rights. Down the road, in the big picture, and this is an area where my thought has evolved a lot, I'm not as convinced as I used to be that government should even be in the marriage business. . . . But the reality is that Virginia law does define marriage. And I'm not on a crusade to -- "

Suddenly, in mid-sentence, he stopped talking.

He lifted his head. He looked sideways at an aide. It was quiet in the conference room. "I'm not so certain that government ought to be involved in defining that sort of relationship for people," he finally said.

His words sounded tantamount to saying that same-sex marriage should not be barred by government. Was that a fair interpretation?

"It's not an issue. I don't know . . . ," he responded. He swayed in his chair, leaned forward and ran his palms along his temples. "I'm focused on the issues I have to deal with. This is not one that is, I -- my thought has evolved on this subject over the years, through the process of being married 28 years. . . . My thoughts have evolved, and I'm in a different place than I was just a few years ago. . . . It's a subject I've been thinking about a long time, and it's not one I'm prepared to make an issue of in this campaign."

It was hard, as always, to read him. He ruminated over the amendment a little longer and reiterated why he'd voted to put it on the ballot: "I didn't think it broke new law." Finally, he shrugged. He shuffled his feet beneath his chair. He evolved a little more. "I could well have come to a different decision had I to do it again."

'I Was All Hat and No Cattle'

Deeds's conciliatory approach is a strain in his temperament that dates to his boyhood, say childhood friends and acquaintances, who remember a shy boy quietly skilled at getting along with others, a boy who learned to manage stress from the time his parents' marriage had fallen apart.

In the next instant, he straightens in his chair. "The divorce was equally unpleasant," he remembers. At birth, he had been named Robert Creigh Deeds, but never would he remember his mother or anyone else close to him calling him Robert. His father -- the Robert who left -- had become a remote figure in his children's lives, eventually moving to the Charlottesville area. In school, the boy answered only to Creigh.

When he was 7, his mother, Emma, picked up him and his younger brother, Greg, from an eight-week stint at their uncle's summer camp with some news: They weren't going home, and they wouldn't be living with their father any longer. For an instant, Deeds's voice quavers as he remembers his desolation. "It had an effect, no question," he said. "It was pretty traumatic."

The young Deeds took refuge in the company of the man he revered, his maternal grandfather Creigh, as everybody knew him -- Austin Creigh Tyree, a longtime Democratic Party honcho in their native Bath County, a rural hamlet without a stoplight where longtime residents tended to know everyone who mattered and most who didn't. Creigh Tyree mattered.

While serving as chairman of the Bath County Democrats, during the Depression, Tyree's house was the first private home in the county to receive electricity from the federal Rural Electrification Act, proof of the power of government, he told his grandson. Watching the elderly man work the circuit of county shops and farms, the boy saw the power of political maneuvering, the influence it brought a man, the way it enabled the well-connected to pick up a phone and get something previously ungettable. Young Deeds started telling elementary school teachers that he wanted to be, would be, governor someday, and then president.

His mother remarried and, not far from where Deeds's ancestors had put down stakes in the 18th century, the blended family lived in a trailer on his grandfather's farm, which had belonged to the Tyree family since the early 1800s. His mother had another son, and the family settled into lives whose rhythms were foretold by a nearby mountain. "We lived on its east side," Deeds said. East meant the less-affluent side of the Warm Springs Mountain, the hardscrabble end. Those on the west side could boast of the Homestead resort and big-spending visitors who had flocked there for the past century. The west stood for money and influence. The east-siders had a mountain to negotiate.

After his grandfather died, Deeds and his family moved into the main house. While his stepfather did his carpentry work and his mother drove long routes as a mail carrier. Deeds came home from school and helped care for the family's hogs and cattle, some of which had to be occasionally retrieved when they wandered though holes in the farm's fencing. "Most of the work we did was patch fence," he recalls. "You always were patching fence."

Suburbia's amenities -- malls, fast-food restaurants, bowling alleys -- were nonexistent, and even the nearest markets were a good 40-minute drive to Millboro. "Millboro and the rest of the east side wasn't the kind of place where you could just run out and grab something quick if you needed it," recalls Gene "Bugs" Phillips, who lived on the west side and attended high school with Deeds. "The closest store for them was a long, long drive. Maybe they'd make that drive once a week. . . . People had to improvise and work with each other over there. . . . I think that shaped Creigh. He learned pretty early how to get along with people."

For all his dreams, Deeds seemed unable to follow through on the schoolwork that might have set him on the path to a big-name college. "I was all hat and no cattle," he remembers.

Not long afterward, he was off to Concord College in West Virginia, where he met his future wife, Pam, with whom he has four children. For the first time in his educational career, he applied himself, his grades good enough to gain admission to Wake Forest Law School, from where he returned to Bath County between his second and third years for a summer internship in a local law office. Several political activists, fond of his late grandfather and keen on encouraging him, made a point of showing him off. A local woman named Sadie Hepler took him to a meeting of Bath County Democrats and introduced him to members as a future president. Hepler had come to see the young man's entrance into public life as destiny, a vision not discouraged by Deeds.

During his internship in the nearby town of Covington, the hub of the area, Deeds had frequent dealings and conversations with Mike Collins, one of the lawyers in the office. "He fidgeted a little, was kind of shy," Collins remembers. "He seemed very different from a lot of other people aspiring to things in law and politics. You couldn't help but like him."

In 1987, three years out of law school, Deeds decided to run for commonwealth's attorney. Cast as the hometown boy taking on an incumbent who had grown up out of state, Deeds won by about 2 to 1. Four years later, with the state having gone through political redistricting, a local Republican incumbent in the House of Delegates suddenly looked vulnerable. The state's Democratic establishment had a challenger in mind: Mike Collins.

But before he could announce, Deeds beat him to the starting line. "Creigh always was shy," Collins remembers, "but he wasn't shy about jumping into that race. When he went after something, he went hard."

Deeds saw no upside in deferring to anyone. "I heard Mike was thinking of running," Deeds recalls. "But nobody told me I had to wait for Mike or wait for anybody. . . . I didn't call around asking for permission to run."

Just as in his commonwealth attorney's race, no real issue separated Deeds from his chief rival. But Collins's Covington base presented a worry. Deeds spent seven days a week walking remote roads, determined to knock on more doors and shake more hands than his opponent. "Creigh had fire in the belly," Collins remembers, acknowledging that he was largely outworked by the victorious underdog. "He didn't make mistakes. He was a conservative on most things, and even later you couldn't ever paint him with a blue brush, which was smart because this has always been a pretty conservative area."

That positioning helped Deeds in the general election, in which he beat the Republican incumbent by 16 points. His success did not stem from his abilities on a stage. Local Democratic Party leaders at the time recall Deeds exhibiting the same weaknesses and strengths as a campaigner then as now. "He was not the most dynamic speaker," recalls Joe Wood, the Bath County Democratic chairman. "He was never great with larger crowds. But he did a good job getting his point across when the crowd was small. . . . He could really make a connection."

In the General Assembly, Deeds reflected his constituents' deeply held values, notably on issues of gun rights, eventually serving as the Democratic co-chair of the Sportsmen's Caucus in the state Senate, where he led the drive to pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing rights to hunters and fishermen, a move viewed by local admirers as proof of his loyalty and by detractors as blatant pandering.

As a delegate, he pushed to close a privately-owned industrial landfill in Allegheny County, which helped build him a base with environmentalists and other activists while offending no powerful groups. Quietly pro-choice, he steered clear of contentious disputes over social issues, his most touted legislative efforts largely marked by bipartisan support, including Virginia's Megan's Law, which mandated the establishment of a registry of the state's sex offenders.

After the 2000 death of Charlottesville's Democratic star Emily Couric, he pondered a run for her vacant state Senate seat. A small group of influential Couric supporters, many of whom had never met Deeds, requested a meeting with him. Unabashed liberals who were outspoken on gun control and an array of social issues, the group seemed an unlikely fit.

"There were about 12 to 15 of us there, and all we'd been told is that he was somebody we at least ought to meet before doing anything," remembers Rhoda Dreyfus, who hosted the gathering with her husband in their Charlottesville home. "He said, 'I've been around guns all my life' and that he wouldn't be able to go along with the majority sentiment in the room on [gun control measures]. . . . Most people in the room were anti-death penalty, and he said he was not opposed to the death penalty."

"It was a tough conversation," Deeds recalls. But the small group liked that he was pro-choice, appreciated what they heard about his environmental efforts and decided he was more electable than two untested Charlottesville Democrats. He left the meeting with the support of the room and soon had won the special election.

In the Senate, his legislative style fused his characteristic caution with an effort at projecting an aptitude for conciliatory leadership. He was most noticeable in advocating on behalf of the imperiled 2004 budget of then-Gov. Mark Warner, helping arm-twist and cajole behind the scenes to unite a disparate band that included John Chichester and other renegade Republican legislators. The drive culminated in the budget's passage and, in the aftermath, Deeds won fulsome praise from several of the Republican mutineers, including Chichester, who crossed party lines this year to support his bid.

'I Felt the Need to Respond'

Shortly before his victory in June's Democratic primary, Deeds and a young man named Omar Samaha briefly crossed paths in a Northern Virginia parking lot. Samaha's sister, Reena, had been among those killed in the shootings at Virginia Tech, and he had just come from watching Deeds debate his two rivals for the Democratic nomination, an event that had done nothing to assuage his worry about Deeds's commitment to any of the gun control issues that mattered to him. The candidate spoke briefly about his agenda. Before parting, Deeds suggested that his political style could best deliver what Samaha wanted. "I'm a middle of the roader," Deeds said. "I can get things done."

In the aftermath of the shootings, Deeds had done an about-face on an issue close to the heart of Samaha and other gun control activists, saying that, after years of opposition, he had come to favor closing a loophole in the law that exempted sellers at gun shows from requiring background checks on buyers.

Characteristically, Deeds managed to sound somewhat conflicted about his change of heart. He told passionate gun rights proponents that, fundamentally, he didn't like gun control legislation. He noted that killer Seung-Hui Cho had not bought his gun at a private show. He simply wanted to convey sensitivity to the grieving, he indicated.

"I'm still not convinced it's a . . . dramatic number of weapons that are sold without a background check," he said. "But these people, these family members, channeled their grief into that legislation. . . . As a human being, I felt the need to respond."

Knowing about Deeds's longstanding opposition to gun control measures made Samaha leery. But he remained open to voting for him if he heard what he wanted. He conveyed appreciation to Deeds for the candidate's skill at crafting compromise amendments in the legislature that had enabled the gun show loophole bill to win approval in a Senate committee before it went down to defeat on the Senate floor.

Several weeks after the primary, Deeds and Samaha spoke again, this time when Deeds called the young activist. They talked about the effort to close the gun show loophole, with Deeds making a political observation: His changed position would likely cost him the NRA's endorsement (it did). Samaha raised a new concern: He hoped that the legislature would outlaw guns in bars. Deeds, who opposes such an idea, responded that there is no such thing as a bar in Virginia. The statement left Samaha bewildered. Deeds elaborated: Any establishment in Virginia that serves alcohol has to make at least half its income on food; thus, technically, no bars.

Their talk left Samaha puzzled and slightly disappointed. Samaha's lingering doubts reflect those who say they have struggled to understand the basics of Deeds's philosophy on an array of social and economic issues. Questions have grown over his style, with critics seeing him as quick to halt discussion whenever he senses peril at defining his positions more precisely. While McDonnell has had to contend with the blistering scrutiny of his graduate school thesis, it is Deeds who has betrayed more stress on the campaign trail.

After a recent debate with McDonnell, a scrum of reporters and spectators encircled him, asking yet again for financing details of his evolving transportation plan. He had said during the debate that he would not raise taxes. But suddenly he suggested that he might raise them -- although not "general fund taxes," he said. The term was opaque. Confusion momentarily reigned. At last, getting to the heart of the matter, someone asked whether a gas tax was a general fund tax. A weary-looking Deeds said no. So gas taxes could be raised? he was pressed.

The question asked Deeds to go further than he wanted to go. He wheeled on the questioner and flashed irritation. "I think I've made myself clear, young lady," he snapped.

The friction in that instant -- featured in a television commercial by the McDonnell campaign -- crystallized the greatest challenge facing Austin Creigh Tyree's grandson. Raised to believe in the power of compromise, he tends to see pledges and specifics as just so many holes in a frayed fence that will require patching anyway. Long ago, he learned the lessons of wily Bath County politicians, and it has shaped his style since, its strengths and vulnerabilities. He doesn't see the point in pontificating from the mountaintop. His career reflects the belief that it works best simply to drive around the mountain and hammer something out with somebody -- that results count more than white papers.

But at some point, even people on the mountain want to know where you are taking them, want to see your map. For Deeds, the task is to convince voters during the campaign's final 30 days that he has one.

By Michael Leahy, Washington Post Staff Writer


Anne Holton, 1st Lady of Virginia


Monday night I watched the debate from my perspective as Virginia's First Lady, as a working mom, and as a voter. Like many of you, I was struck by the differences between the two men on stage. I am now more sure than ever that Creigh Deeds is the right candidate to lead Virginia.

As I watched, it was apparent to me that this election comes down to where we want Virginia to go over the next for years. We can move forward with Creigh's pragmatic, business-friendly approach that will make sure Virginia remains the best place to start a business and raise a child, or we can allow Bob McDonnell to take us back with policies that will jeopardize the progress working women and families have made over the years. Creigh's long-standing commitment to values we share, his hard work, and his vision for Virginia are what we need.

I will be on the phone tomorrow night, talking to other women about why Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner, Steve Shannon and our Democratic legislative candidates are the right choice for Virginia.

There are only 20 days left until Election Day, and there is too much at stake to stay on the sidelines.


Anne Holton

First Lady of Virginia

Anne Bright Holton was born in 1958 in Roanoke, Virginia. She is the daughter of A. Linwood Holton, Jr. and Jinx Holton. Her father was Governor of Virginia from 1970 until 1974.

Holton graduated magna cum laude with a degree in economics from Princeton University. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School. She worked for Legal Aid for ten years. She was the lead attorney representing public housing tenants throughout the country challenging the federal government on plans to evict families without notice if someone in the household was suspected of drug crimes.

She served as a Judge on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for the City of Richmond, Virginia from 1998 to 2005. She resigned her position on the bench in December 2005, when her husband was elected Governor. She has continued to focus her energies on children in care of the State since becoming First Lady of Virginia. She heads up ‘For Keeps’, a nonprofit organization that promotes helping older foster children obtain and maintain placements.

Anne met Timothy Michael Kaine while they were both students at Harvard Law School. They married on November 24, 1984 and settled in Richmond, Virginia. They have three children, Nat, Woody, and Annella.

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Election 2009, 3 Weeks Out

McDonnell 50%, Deeds 43%

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Released at 1pm

Republican Robert F. McDonnell still holds a seven-point lead over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in the race for Virginia governor.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state shows McDonnell ahead of Deeds 50% to 43%. Six percent (6%) of Virginia voters remain undecided. The survey was taken Monday night as the two candidates clashed in their next-to-last debate of the contest.

McDonnell’s lead is roughly the same as two weeks ago when he was ahead of Deeds 51% to 42%. After closing to essentially a toss-up in mid-September, the previous survey found the contest back to where it was in early September, when the GOP hopeful held a nine-point advantage. In August, McDonnell was up by eight.

All of those figures include “leaners.” Leaners are those who initially indicate no preference for either of the candidates but answer a follow-up question and say they are leaning towards a particular candidate.

McDonnell holds a seven-point lead whether “leaners” are included or not. A poll in The Washington Post last week showed McDonnell ahead by nine points.

McDonnell leads Deeds by 15 points among men but runs even among women voters. Both candidates are heavily supported by voters in their own parties, but the GOP candidate has a two-to-one lead among voters not affiliated with either party.

McDonnell was on the defensive early last month after news stories detailed the conservative social views in a college thesis paper he wrote in 1989. The disclosure of those views seemed to hurt him in polls at that time, but he rebounded after Deeds stumbled over a debate question, opening the door to charges that he intended to raise taxes to cover the state’s transportation needs. McDonnell’s campaign has been pounding on the tax issue since late September.

Concern about the thesis has risen again, however. Fifty-five percent (55%) of voters now say it is at least somewhat important in determining how they will vote. That’s up five points from the two previous surveys on the race.

Voters continue to trust McDonnell more on taxes – by a 52% to 35% margin. But that is little changed from earlier surveys. He also leads Deeds 52% to 27% when it comes to whom voters trust more to cut government spending.

The Republican also is trusted more to confront the state’s transportation problems, but the gap between the candidates has narrowed to six points – 43% to 37%. Two weeks ago, voters trusted McDonnell more than Deeds on the issue of transportation by 13 points – 45% to 32%. Previous surveys had found voters evenly divided on the topic.

McDonnell also has been trying to link Deeds’ fortunes to those of President Obama. Deeds last month seemed to distance himself somewhat from the president but now says he hopes Obama will come to the state to campaign for him.

Fifty-five percent (55%) of Virginia voters say Obama’s performance is at least somewhat important in determining how they will vote, with 36% who say it is very important.

The bad news for Deeds is that just 23% say they are more likely to vote for the Democrat if Obama campaigns for him in Virginia. Forty-three percent (43%) say it would make them less likely to vote for Deeds, while 32% say it would have no impact on their vote.

Fifty-three percent (53%) now approve of Obama’s performance as president, with 37% who strongly approve. This marks no change from the previous survey.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of voters in the state have a favorable view of McDonnell, up six points from two weeks ago. Virtually unchanged are the 47% who view Deeds favorably.

Voters feel more strongly about McDonnell, with 32% holding a very favorable opinion and 16% with a very unfavorable one. Both findings are up three points from the previous survey.

Again, there is virtually no change in Deeds’ numbers over the past two weeks: 20% view him very favorably, while 22% see him very unfavorably.

Fifty-four percent (54%) approve of the job the current Democratic governor, Tim Kaine, is doing. Forty-three percent (43%) disapprove.

The Rasmussen Reports Election Edge™ Premium Service offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage available anywhere.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cleaning Up The Supervisors Mess

Amherst County Won’t Adopt Code of Ethics

October 9, 2009


After months of debate, the Amherst County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted against adopting an ethics code at a work session Monday.

Lets look at the history involved with rejecting this Code of Ethics.

July 22, 2009

The Amherst County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to let taxpayers have a say on a proposed code of ethics policy. Also same date, Chairman Leon Parrish said in a recent phone interview that the code would be a model to guide the supervisors and “keep us in line.” Supervisor Ray Vandall also said during Tuesday’s meeting the document“is directing us to act as a board.”

July 8, 2009

Parrish Seeking Fifth Term as Amherst Supervisor

Leon Parrish is running for his fifth term on the Amherst County Board of Supervisors, while three other residents are also running in two upcoming races.

Parrish, a Democrat, is the board chairman and represents District 5, which includes Old Town Madison Heights. He was first elected in 1993 after several years of serving on the Amherst County School Board, and has the longest tenure among current supervisors.

Frank Campbell, a county native who has lived all his life in Madison Heights, is challenging Parrish for the seat. Campbell, a neighbor of Parrish, was the only resident to ever oppose the supervisor in his previous four terms and came up short in 2005 when Parrish garnered nearly 57 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, Claudia Tucker and Bonnie Limbrick are running for the District 2 seat on the board that will be vacated at the end of this year by Vernon Wood. Each has served on the county planning commission and Tucker is currently a member.

The candidates are running at a time when the board is dealing with controversy that ensued after the recent resignation of Rodney Taylor as county administrator.

Taylor quit after conflicts with several supervisors, which unfolded in closed meetings and were recently made public. Residents angry over perceived secrecy of the matters have voiced concerns to the board in recent meetings as it searches for a new county administrator.

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Here's an update on the conflict that seperated the Supervisors from Mr. Taylor.

A judge on Wednesday certified to a grand jury the case of a former Amherst County official accused of inappropriate contact with a young girl.
John Mulvey, 48, formerly of Amherst and the county’s former economic development director, has been charged with attempted aggravated sexual battery stemming from a March 29 incident near the girl’s home in Amherst.

Wednesday’s hearing, in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, included testimony from the child, who is in elementary school. Judge Michael Garrett closed the courtroom during her testimony, which lasted about 45 minutes.

The girl alleged that Mulvey had touched her and made her feel uncomfortable on a Sunday afternoon after she had attended church, according to her mother’s testimony and details that emerged later in the proceeding as attorneys made their arguments.

“This has really upset her,” the girl’s mother testified, fighting off tears.

The family has since moved out of state.

Mulvey, wearing a dark suit, took notes and sometimes slightly shook his head during the proceeding. He was suspended without pay on April 15 from his $60,000-per-year position with the county; he re-signed after he was arrested June 18.

The mother testified that her daughter confided that Mulvey had touched her four times behind a shed, hidden from view from her home. They had gone behind the shed to retrieve their dogs, she said.

The girl, whom Payne characterized as “stellar,” became uncomfortable with his actions and told Mul-vey that her mother and grandmother needed her and that she wanted to go home.

“Only because of the wisdom of this little girl did she get away from it,” Deputy Commonwealth’s Attor-ney Cary Payne told Garrett.

The girl ran home, and confided to her mother about the encounter, the mother said. The family contacted Amherst police the next day.

Mulvey remains free on bond. Garrett amended the bond conditions Wednesday to stipulate that Mulvey could live with a relative in the area of Greensboro, N.C. Mulvey’s attorney, Craig Tiller, declined comment afterward. The grand jury meets Oct. 13.

Here are some quotes from Mr. Parrish

“We have to get the trust of the constituency back to where it should be with open government,” Parrish said. “I feel like this situation has divided the board (of supervisors). It gives people opportunity to really question the board.”

Parrish said he favors hiring a “seasoned” administrator to lead the county in a new direction. “When you see something going wrong, you nip it in the bud. It’s going to have to be a strong administrator.”

Parrish also said he favors the board holding fewer closed meetings and not becoming “sucked in on personal agendas.”

His opponent Mr. Campbell, who described himself as “a conservative open to change,” said the Taylor situation probably wouldn’t have gone as far as it did if handled in regular meetings. “I feel the government should be more open,” he said.

Campbell said he would strive to keep businesses in Amherst and the county has potential to “flourish and be a model county.”

Here's the background on the two candidates.

Leon Parrish (District 5)Parrish seeking fifth term- Age: 68

Experience: Four terms as a county supervisor and the current Board of Supervisors chairman, serves as the liaison to the planning commission and has served on the school board, attends Old Town Community Action Group meetings.

- Profession: Retired
- Thoughts on District 5: Projects and issues such as revitalization of Old Town Madison Heights, the Amherst Adult
Detention Center and a park along the James River need to come to fruition.
- Quotable: “I believe in honesty and integrity.”

Frank Campbell (District 5)- Age: 39

- Experience: Served on a board of assessors that dealt with public concerns during the last county reassessment, is involved in Old Town Community Action Group.

- Profession: Sole proprietor of American Customized Exteriors in Madison Heights.
- Thoughts on District 5: Would like to see a new high school and new hospital rather than a new jail, favors more economic development opportunities and the revitalization of Old Town Madison Heights.
- Quotable: “I represent the average hardworking taxpayer and I feel I bring a lot of common sense.”

Also contesting for the seat in District 2.

Bonnie Limbrick (District 2)- Age: 57

- Experience: Has served on the planning commission and held the chairperson seat, currently serves on the board of zoning appeals.

- Profession: Co-owner of Amcar Rental in Madison Heights, Realtor with Coldwell Banker Forehand & Company in Lynchburg.
- Thoughts on District 2: As with the rest of the county, it needs more business expansion, lower taxes, environmental stewardship and “smart growth.”
- Quotable: “My mother, a former Cub Scout den mother, always said ‘be prepared.’ If elected, I plan on being prepared.”

Claudia Tucker (District 2)- Age: 52

- Experience: Currently serving on the planning commission.

- Profession: Senior director of government affairs for Medco Health Solutions.
- Thoughts on District 2: Multiple constituencies like the town of Amherst and Sweet Briar need to be balanced and its agricultural nature requires a supervisor “very in tune” with issues affecting farmers.
- Quotable: “I really think we need to bring an era of professionalism to the county.”

Voter dissatisfaction with the board may produce unexpected election results. The Taylor matter was a disaster for trust and confidence and still clouds the voters minds. To mishandle such a matter required the supervisors to plumb the depths of their incompetence and they approached that task with zest. The rejection of a Code of Ethics will further erode the relationship of the citizens and the board. What group of officials representing the public says No To Ethics?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cut The Negativity and Campaign

McDonnell Widens Lead in Virginia Governor's Race

Republican Robert F. McDonnell has taken a commanding lead over R. Creigh Deeds in the race for governor of Virginia, as momentum the Democrat had built with an attack on his opponent's conservative social views has dissipated, according to a new Washington Post poll.

McDonnell leads 53 to 44 percent among likely voters, expanding on the four-point lead he held in mid-September. Deeds's advantage with female voters has all but disappeared and McDonnell has grown his already wide margin among

independents. Deeds, a state senator from western Virginia, is widely seen by voters as running a negative campaign, a finding that might indicate his aggressive efforts to exploit McDonnell's 20-year-old graduate thesis are turning voters away.

Much of the movement since last month, when a Post poll showed Deeds closing in on McDonnell, has come in Northern Virginia. A 17-point Deeds lead there has been whittled significantly, with his support waning substantially in Northern Virginia's left-leaning inner suburbs.

Republicans are also well positioned to sweep the other two statewide races, with Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli each holding identical 49 to 40 percent leads over Democrats Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The new poll comes at a particularly critical moment for Deeds, whose campaign has stumbled in recent weeks. Deeds has struggled in several appearances in Northern Virginia, including a debate last month in Fairfax County that he followed by bungling questions from reporters about whether he supports a tax increase. That scene has been turned into a campaign commercial by Republicans and is airing across the state.

Prominent party members have also been openly criticizing the focus and tone of Deeds's campaign. He also failed to win the endorsement of fellow Democrat L. Douglas Wilder, likely dampening his support among African Americans, and President Obama has not committed to campaigning for him in the final weeks of the race.

If national Democrats begin to view the race as unwinnable and focus their resources on New Jersey, the nation's only other gubernatorial election this year, Deeds could be further hamstrung. Democrats are not eager to lose both races, which are considered early indicators of Obama's leadership and a harbinger of next year's midterm congressional elections. Polls in New Jersey show an increasingly competitive race between incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine and Republican Chris Christie.

With a little more than three weeks before Election Day, the poll shows McDonnell in a powerful position. By double-digit margins voters believe he would better handle virtually every major issue facing Virginians, including transportation, taxes, education, the state budget and the economy. Only on issues of special concern to women does Deeds hold a tepid 47 to 41 point advantage.

McDonnell's supporters are also more enthusiastic than Deeds's and more voters say they believe he has advanced new ideas for the state. Deeds now trails among independent voters by a striking 21 percentage point margin -- 59 to 38 percent.

Despite a concerted advertising campaign by Deeds about controversial views McDonnell expressed about working women in his thesis -- the one area where the Republican had appeared vulnerable -- the erosion of support among women and Northern Virginians suggests that the line of attack might have run its course.

For the first time, a majority of voters, 51 percent, say McDonnell is "about right" ideologically, despite Democratic efforts to characterize the GOP candidate as out-of-touch with mainstream Virginia voters. More now see Deeds as "too liberal" than see McDonnell as "too conservative" (44 to 37 percent). Moreover, just 15 percent of voters see the thesis as "very important" in deciding how to vote, putting it well behind jobs, health care, education, taxes and transportation as a top concern.

Deeds has also failed to appeal to core Democratic constituencies -- a finding that might provide his effort a measure of hope. Only half of the voters who backed Obama a year ago said they are certain to vote in November, compared with the two-thirds of voters who backed Republican John McCain. That leaves a large pool of voters open to voting for a Democrat, if Deeds can win them over.

Compared with other regions, Northern Virginia's inner suburbs has the highest percentage of voters who are either undecided or open to shifting their support between now and Nov. 3. Overall, Northern Virginia voters break 51 percent for Deeds to 46 percent for McDonnell, well below the 60 percent that Democrats view as necessary to win statewide races.

A major push by Obama, whose approval rating in Virginia remains at a healthy 58 percent among all registered voters, could still provide significant help for Deeds, particularly among blacks and young people. If the election were held today, African-Americans would make up only 12 percent of the electorate, the lowest percentage in available data going back to 1994. Voters under age 30, who made up a fifth of the electorate during last year's presidential election, would make up only 8 percent today. Both groups are enthusiastic supporters of Obama.

But it is not clear how much help will be forthcoming from the White House, where officials have been frustrated by the way Deeds has run his campaign, and are pessimistic about his chances of winning. Obama has not committed to campaigning for Deeds again, although many Democrats expect that he will make a stop before the election. One administration official described the race as "winnable, but challenging." Two officials said they expected Obama to continue to help. But they made no secret of the fact that they view the race as one Deeds must win largely on his own.

Deeds does have a history of thriving when he has been discounted. In 2005, he was far behind McDonnell when the two competed to become attorney general before closing strong to lose by 360 votes, the closest finish in state history. This spring, polls showed him in third place among three Democratic challengers for the gubernatorial nomination for months before he pulled ahead and won resoundingly.

But there is now a widespread perception that Deeds' campaign has taken on a decidedly negative tone -- 56 percent of voters say he has been running a negative campaign. Six in 10 voters say McDonnell's effort has been mainly positive. A new ad released by Deeds's campaign on Thursday begins with an assault on McDonnell's transportation plan before turning to Deeds's vision.

The finding is a reversal from the last two elections, when Democratic candidates Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine were perceived by voters to be running more positive campaigns than their Republican opponents.

"With Deeds, I don't feel like I know much about him," said Irene Murphy, 28, of Springfield, who voted for Obama last year and Kaine in 2005 but is leaning to McDonnell this year. "I don't feel like he's run a campaign that gives me a good idea of where he stands on certain issues. I feel like he's been so focused on making McDonnell look bad that he's made himself look bad."

Even some Deeds supporters said they are not clear on his positions.

"I don't honestly know that much about him," said Deeds backer Kim Scott, 39, of Vienna. "I would rather hear more about what he's about than hear from him what Bob McDonnell is about." "But," Scott added, "I can't vote for Bob McDonnell. It would be unthinkable given my personal ideology to vote for someone like him, who put out that thesis."

On an issue where Deeds has made his position clear -- his support for providing new money for transportation improvements even if it requires raising taxes -- he appears to have parted ways with Virginia voters. Most voters statewide, 55 percent, say they oppose paying more in taxes for new roads and transit. Among independents, 60 percent are opposed, and even in Northern Virginia a slim majority of voters oppose new taxes for transportation.

"I think McDonnell has some solutions on how to pay for much needed improvements on Northern Virginia's transportation issues like selling liquor stores rather than focusing on raising taxes. This tells me that he has thought through some of the issues without the tax and spend view-point to solve problems," said Manassas voter Jane Kolar, 47, who has been unemployed for most of the past two years and said she would have trouble paying more in taxes.

The poll, conducted by conventional phone and cellphone Sunday through Wednesday, included interviews with 2,091 adult Virginians, 1,001 of whom said they were "absolutely certain" to vote in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

The results for the sample of likely voters have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Error margins for subgroups are larger.

Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta and staff writers Anne Kornblut and Anita Kumar contributed to this report.

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