Sunday, May 31, 2009

Brian Moran vs. Candidate Moran

Blue Virginia has a post up about Brian Moran's interview with Mark Plotkin on Friday. Plotkin's a tough interview, so kudos to Moran for even taking it on. Creigh, too, who tangled with Plotkin on May 22 and did not come away unscathed..

And those guys are going back for more later this week. (I believe McAuliffe has refused several invitations to Plotkin's show, but the two have had a dialogue, of sorts, through the media.)

Anyway, I agree with Lowell about Moran's dismal performance on this interview. At times, it was tough to listen to, and I say that as an advocate for a rival candidate, and as a humble blogger who holds the opinion that Brian Moran is not going to win this primary (with the proviso that predictions and opinions like mine count for nothing -- that's why they actually hold elections). And while I have written critically about Moran and the campaign he has run, I'm also aware that many people whose opinion I respect (and some whose I don't) are unalterably in his corner.

I'll take no joy in Moran's defeat, if it comes to pass, and sincerely hope that he will remain in public life, perhaps come back to run again for office.

But back to the election before us now.

To me, this debacle of an interview speaks to the fact that Brian Moran has been way too handled in this election, rather than just being himself. He seems so focused on staking out positions to simply win the primary that he has proven incapable of communicating who he is as a person, which I suspect, based on the ardor of his supporters, is much more attractive than he proved to be as a candidate. The end result has been a series of gaffes.

* How could Moran have made such a big deal of opposing the coal plant in Surry after voting for the one in Wise, without also being able to explain away, in 30 seconds, the inconsistency in those positions?

* How could Moran have criticized Terry McAuliffe for out of state fundraising when he had done so much of it himself?

* How could Moran say Creigh should be held accountable for his Marshall-Newman votes while he, himself, had voted against gay marriage in 2002?

And it continues in the Plotkin interview. The most painful part for me was Moran getting the procedure wrong wrong for amending the State Constitution -- he said it required votes in two consecutive sessions, when in fact the Virginia Constitution specifically requires an intervening House of Delegates election -- a very important requirement. Again, this just seems so much worse in light of Moran's snarky comment to McAuliffe at the Annandale debate about not having time to teach him the legislative process in Virginia.

Sigh. Live by the snark, die by the snark.

Similarly, when you make gay marriage rights the centerpiece of your campaign, when you grandstand about it and get sanctimonious about it, how can you go half-way on the issue? Oh, I understand the tactical rationale at play, how the definition of marriage is a wedge issue that ignites passions among and possibly favor the right wing of American politics, while civil unions is more easily presented as a more benign anti-discrimination issue, but when you make gay rights an issue of right or wrong, or good vs. evil, then you can't hedge on your commitment to that without seeming like your position is simply designed to pander to an interest group.

But that is, unfortunately, what Brian Moran appears to be doing in this interview. Here is the salient part:
MORAN: My opposition to the Marshall-Newman Amendment has been criticized by my opponents. Hey, Jim Webb opposed that, Mark Warner campaigned against it, Tim Kaine opposed it.

PLOTKIN: Tell people what the Marshall-Newman Amendment is.

MORAN: That placed discriminatory language in our Constitution. It banned civil unions and contracts between same sex individuals.

PLOTKIN: So, are you for civil unions or are you for same-sex marriage?

MORAN: Not for same sex marriage.

Huh? Not for same sex marriage?

Wait a sec. Didn't Moran call the passage of Marshall-Newman "one of the darker days in my 13 years of service in the legislature." Didn't he say, I don't believe anyone should be discriminated against[,]"

And shouldn't gay people have the same exact rights -- including the right to marry the person they love -- as heterosexual people? And isn't the denial of that right a form of discrimination, even if it replaced by a measure like civil unions? Yes and yes.

Perhaps realizing his untenable position, Brian quickly fell back on a talking point he introduced at the Annandale debate, namely, it is premature to have a discussion about these issues:
MORAN: I believe in equality. We can’t even have a discussion in Virginia right now regarding civil unions or contracts between same sex individuals. I think they should have contracts to allow them hospital visitation, domestic partner benefits, insurance. There’s a whole number of rights we can provide…

PLOTKIN: And as long as the Marshall-Newman amendment is in, you can’t have that conversation?

MORAN: You can’t even have that conversation, Mark.

PLOTKIN: So what would you do as Governor?

MORAN: I would work to repeal it so we can have that conversation

PLOTKIN: How do you repeal a Constitutional amendment?

MORAN: You use the bully pulpit to gain support in the legislature.
Not have a discussion? That left me utterly confused. This is exactly the time to talk about it.

Even though I think Brian Moran's pledge to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment is unrealistic, I praised his position and his willingness to discuss the subject precisely because these issues need to be discussed. Changing the votes on this issue in the General Assembly is not simply a matter of electing more Democrats; it is a matter of our leaders showing a willingness to discuss the subject and educate people about it. As I have said about this in the past:
Moran is ... right that if Virginia is to make progress on this critical issue, the next Governor needs to be willing to make it a priority to at least discuss it and begin the process of gathering public support behind the repeal of the Amendment. Moran’s admonition to McAuliffe that it won’t happen if you say “you don’t have the time,” even if that slightly distorts what McAuliffe actually said, is absolutely correct.

I'm not going to call on Moran to explain his position. And this is in no way meant to diminish the support he has shown to the GBLT community over the years. That community supports him, and it's not my place to question that. And the crazy thing is, my sense is that in his heart, citizen Moran thinks marriage ought to be available to all equally, even if Candidate Moran won't say it.

“Equality is a fundamental value that makes us Democrats,” Moran said in response to an endorsement from a gay rights interest group recently. “I’m proud that the Virginia Partisans recognizes my career-long fight to break down barriers and ensure equality. Virginians know where I will stand on this issue because they know where I have stood. Leadership isn’t easy.”

Next Week's PPP Poll Looks To Hold Good News For Creigh

From the PPP Blog:
-Our second to last Virginia primary poll. That one's a surprise so far too although we'll be in the field a couple more days. Looks like the WaPo endorsement could really make a difference.

(h/t Chris Guy at Fred2Blue)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Deeds' Statement on McDonnnell Nomination

May 30, 2009

CONTACT: Brooke Borkenhagen


CHARLOTTESVILLE – Today, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds released the following statement after Bob McDonnell formally accepted the Republican gubernatorial nomination at the Virginia Republican State Convention in Richmond:

"Middle-class families don’t stand a chance with Bob McDonnell in the Governor’s mansion.  Bob said no to helping laid-off Virginians get back on their feet.  He said no to benefits for laid-off textile workers in Southside Virginia.  And for the last eight years, Bob has said no to the progress we have made under Mark Warner and Tim Kaine."

"And now, Bob McDonnell is trying to use energy politics to paint himself as a moderate.  But Virginia needs a leader who will do more than just pay lip service to new sources of energy.  I’m proud to have partnered with Tim Kaine earlier this year to create green jobs and make Virginia the leader in alternative and renewable energy.  As Governor, I will make important investments in new sources of energy to create new jobs and build Virginia's next economy."

"We need a nominee who can go toe-to-toe with Bob McDonnell in every corner of Virginia.  I’m the only Democrat in this race who can build the coalition of Democrats, Independents, and even some Republicans that helped Mark Warner and Barack Obama win statewide.  Larry Sabato said that I would make it 'nearly impossible' for Bob McDonnell to win in November and The Washington Post said that I 'would make the best Governor in the Warner-Kaine tradition.'  No Democrat is better prepared to lead Virginia forward."

The Virginia Democrat issues press release on Gubernatorial primary

I have watched with a mixture of amusement, awe and jealousy in recent weeks as bloggers in the Commonwealth have dramatically announced their endorsements and choices for Governor among Creigh, Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe.

I already support Creigh, so a similar kind of endorsement would be pointless, unless, of course, it was for one of the other candidates. I toyed with the idea of doing this for a while just to make some news, until I realized that no one really cares what I do at this blog, and such a move would be unlikely to create any news.

With that in mind, I have nonetheless decided to issue the following press release:


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA/May 30 -- The Virginia Democrat announced today that Creigh Deeds has unanimously won the Jonah Straw Poll.

This is the first year the poll was conducted. The final vote was:

Deeds – 1
McAuliffe – 0
Moran – 0

“The low numbers should in no way affect the validity or significance of this victory for Creigh,” said Alan Zimmerman, a/k/a “aznew,” the proprietor of the recently launched blog, The Virginia Democrat, and official sponsor of the poll. “After all, the very nature of the straw poll itself is that it has one participant, my son Jonah, so turnout was actually 100%.”

Jonah spoke with both Terry McAuliffe and Deeds personally before casting his vote, Zimmerman said.

In explaining his choice of Deeds, Jonah said, “Well, he’s the more handsomest, even though he’s a boy and I’m a boy, so that might sound funny.”

This latest victory is the most recent piece of good news for the State Senator, who last week scored two other important endorsements in the Northern Virginia area, those of The Washington Post and former Congresswoman Leslie Byrne.

Deeds may have been able to talk freely about those endorsements, but its not everyday you win the Jonah Straw Poll, and the magnitude of it left Deeds virtually speechless.

Told about his victory in the poll and the reason for it, Deeds looked a little embarrassed and said, “Aw.”

Deeds’ campaign manager Joe Abbey could not be reached for comment, but if he had been reached and asked to analyze the political importance of the victory, he would have said, “The importance of this straw poll win cannot be under-estimated. As far as I know, Jonah has never picked wrong.

"Other candidates can make endorsement videos with bloggers all they want, but I’ll take this any day of the week."

CONTACT: The Virginia Democrat,

Editor’s note: Jonah photograph follows

# # #

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The McAuliffe Mailer: Facts Stomp All Over The Truth

Terry McAuliffe’s recent scratch-off mailer has raised, yet again, the issue of “negative attacks.”

The McAuliffe campaign and its supporters assert that as long as “attacks” are “factual,” they are somehow not negative attacks at all. I’m not quite sure I get this logic, so I assume it represents some higher level of reasoning of which I am not capable.

Fortunately, debunking this pathetic mailer does not require superior analytical abilities. The fact is that the McAuliffe mailer might be “factual” in the sense that it doesn’t print anything untrue – I won’t argue that point -- but they are not truthful in any commonly understood and accepted sense of the term.

And therein lies the problem. “Factual” is not the same thing as “truthful.”

For example, with respect to payday lending, the McAuliffe mailer lists contributions to Creigh, Moran and McDonnell from “lending and consumer credit companies since 1996.” As for McAuliffe, well, it doesn’t list any, but states, “Pledged not to take contributions from payday lending companies.”

See that rhetorical slight of hand at work? Given its clumsiness, it’s pretty apparent.

The criteria used for counting the universe of contributions to his opponents – lending and consumer companies – is much broader than the contributing universe McAuliffe applies to himself – he promises only not to take money from payday lending companies.

Well, why the difference? Simple. If McAuliffe actually applied the same criteria to himself as he did to his opponents, he would have to admit to taking $25K from a single consumer lender – EduCap, that has been accused of predatory practices, not to mention another $25K from the husband of EduCap’s founder and CEO.

That’s right, in the first quarter of 2009 alone, McAuliffe has taken $50K from a company that some have said is a predatory lender victimizing college students!

So, on an annualized basis, Creigh has accepted $779 per year from consumer lending companies, while McAuliffe has taken $200,000 per year.

Hmmm. $779 versus $100,000? Who owes whom, indeed?

As McAuliffe senior advisor Mo Elleithee might say, “Not negative. Just a fact.”

More seriously, if you believe this mailer is designed to honestly inform voters about the respective candidates records on accepting donations from the consumer lending industry, so they can compare the candidates, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. These “facts” are cherry picked and these definitions are wordsmithed and parsed, to reach a particular result that says, “My opponents have been bought and paid for by predatory lenders. I, Terrence McAuliffe, have not. This is all factual.”

This is simply dishonest, and it is crap like this, IMHO, that turns people off of politics. It is mail pieces like this that cause people to conclude, “All politicians are liars,” because it is just too much time and work for most people to separate the truth from the bull. Heck, it took me a good amount of time to wade through this stuff. The casually interested voter doesn’t have a chance at reading this and divining the truth of the matter, so they just give up, not knowing what to believe.

Similarly, take McAuliffe’s assertion that he has “Pledged not to take contributions from Dominion Power Corporation or its PAC.” Well, okay, but again, this is too cute by half. For one thing, McAuliffe has received roughly $12K in contributions from Dominion executives.

Also, it’s not as if McAuliffe has always eschewed Dominion; as head of the DNC, he accepted some $60K in donations from Dominion for the DNC Building fund. “Not negative. Just a fact.”

I have heard McAuliffe defend the distinction he draws between contributions from Dominion and its PAC, and contributions he has received from Dominion executives. I, personally, don’t buy it, but if Terrence McAuliffe believes it, why not come clean with voters in his mailer so voters can have the full record set before them when doing their comparisons? That was a rhetorical question.

Look, I don’t mind negative campaigning, but I like it better when it is upfront. I don’t like distortions that amount to negative attacks that are cleverly hidden behind a veneer of “factual accuracy” that lets campaigns say, “Nothing negative. Just facts,” because it is untrue.

But the main reason I hate this garbage is that it offends me, personally, and then I feel compelled to spend time researching and writing to debunk crap like this that should never have been created in the first place, and it annoys me.

I hope, therefore, that this pathetic mailer was a single, uncharacteristic one-off out of the McAuliffe campaign, and doesn’t signal a lurch in tactics toward using distortions and half-truths to attack Creigh, if only so the next two weeks of my life don’t suck. I fear, however, that McAuliffe’s polling is showing a more uncertain race than they would like, and so this nonsense will continue.

Still, I make the following plea to the McAuliffe campaign: If you must put out dreck like this, at least direct it at Brian Moran, so I don’t feel a need to respond. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Governor's Race: Comparing the Candidates

With only 14 days remaining until the primary, I thought I would try to hone down and prioritize the key issues as they have emerged in the primary battle, and evaluate the candidates with respect to these key issues.

Notwithstanding the mantra of “jobs, jobs, jobs” repeated by the candidates, the fact is that there are not wide policy differences between our candidates. Given that, the three key issues that should be of concern to the Democratic primary voter are as follows:
1. Electability. Which candidate has the best shot of beating McDonnell?
2. Vision. Which candidate has articulated a positive and pragmatic vision for the Commonwealth’s future?
3. Capability. Which candidate will make the best, most effective Governor, able to begin work from day one and make the most of his four years?

Here is the rank of each candidate in these respective areas, with a very brief analysis


First Place: Creigh Deeds. He is a Democrat that hails from a rural part of the state, allowing him to benefit from the strong Democratic organization in NoVA while also appealing to large numbers of voters in other parts of the state. In 2005, he fought McDonnell to a draw, despite being outspent two-to-one. That won’t happen this time – both sides will have plenty of money.

Second Place: Brian Moran. As a NoVA liberal, Moran will have trouble gaining the support he will need in the rest of Virginia to win the election, even with strong support in NoVA. He differs from Mark Warner in this regard, as Warner ran specifically as a businessman and a moderate who sought to directly appeal to rural voters. But Moran has campaigned across the Commonwealth for many years and has contacts throughout the state.

Last Place: Terrence McAuliffe. He brings fundraising ability, but we probably won’t need that in the general. Otherwise, he brings a lifetime history of wheeling and dealing in sketchy deals, and the fact that while he has lived here for 17 years, apparently, he has spent 16 of them not spending any time thinking about Virginia.


First Place: Creigh Deeds. With respect to the three most critical issues facing Virginia, transportation, energy and education, Creigh has articulated a clear vision. With respect to transportation, Creigh has told voters across the states that it is a statewide problem in which rural areas need to support the efforts of NoVA and Hampton Roads in building more roads and mass transit systems. With respect to energy, Creigh takes the common-sense proposition that we ought not to take anything off the table until science takes it off the table, while also communicating a strong affirmative vision of developing alternative energy sources and continuing research across the state, using it to power not only our cars and homes, but also Virginia’s economic engine. On education, Creigh speaks of a network of community colleges across the Commonwealth, so every resident is within an hour’s drive, and utilizing the capabilities of the Commonwealth’s many great universities to drive economic development through energy research and development of new technologies. Lastly, his promise to enforce redistricting one way or another will return the General Assembly to its rightful owners: the citizens of Virginia.

Second Place: Brian Moran. His campaign theme of a “fighter, not a fundraiser” flopped badly for a variety of reasons, but as this contest wore on Moran’s campaign failed to articulate a clear message of any kind beyond “Defeat Terry McAuliffe.” What was worse, even those attacks backfired, as criticism leveled on McAuliffe on such subjects as fundraising invariably boomeranged back on Moran. Still, Moran has a strong reputation in Virginia as a fighter for Progressive causes, and despite, IMHO, having run a poor campaign, he had and has plenty of good will in the bank.

Last Place: Terrence McAuliffe. The vision McAuliffe brings to the race is encapsulated in his line, “Not all great ideas come from Richmond.” This outsider meme worked great for Barack Obama after eight years of Bush-Cheney. As I have said, I don’t think the outsider meme will work in a state where the Governor is (a) a Democrat, fer cryin’ out loud; and (b) enjoys a favorability rating above 50%. But whatever.

Ability to be an Effective Governor

First Place: Creigh Deeds. Creigh has 20+ years experience in the House of Delegates and the State Senate. He has run a statewide campaign. Creigh has crafted legislation that has gathered the support from both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate, most recently his compromise for closing the gun show loophole and his legislation for non-partisan redistricting. Republicans and Democrats alike respect him throughout the Commonwealth. He hails from a rural area, but clearly understands and appreciates the needs of Virginia’s urban areas, particularly when it comes to transportation. Creigh is, by far, the best-prepared candidate to be governor and to put his credentials up against Bob McDonnell in a general election.

Second Place: Brian Moran. Brian Moran has significant legislative experience, but he has never been a member of a majority party in the HoD, and has not really crafted coalitions to pass controversial legislation. He did pass Alicia’s Law, but a subject like that is not controversial and does not test legislative skills. That said, Moran fought tough for Progressive principles in his 20 years in the House of Delegates, and he deserves our praise and thanks for that, but he has not shown the ability to govern or to build coalitions that are the hallmark of an effective Governor.

Last Place: Terrence McAuliffe: Lived in Virginia for 17 years. Paid attention to Virginia issues for one year. Do the math.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Creigh's Progressive Cred

Now that Creigh has gained the endorsement of the Washington Post, and now that several recent polls are showing a clear trend in his direction, enough such that purveyors of the conventional wisdom believe that Creigh now has a legitimate shot at this thing, he can expect more criticism from the other campaigns -- what the McAuliffe campaign might refer to as “negative attacks.”

One meme that has already seen the light of day is the myth that Creigh is not a strong Progressive.

It is a charge that is utterly without merit. The fact is that Creigh has a strong Progressive record, one that is all the more impressive given that the district he represents is more conservative than many. As the Washington Post wrote in its endorsement last week:
Some progressive voters may look past Mr. Deeds, assuming he's too far to the right on social issues. They should look again. … Yes, he describes himself as a supporter of the Second Amendment. He's willing, however, to put limits on gun ownership when the stakes are highest, brokering a compromise in an effort to close the state's notorious gun show loophole. His support for abortion rights and for an amendment to prohibit the Confederate flag emblem from being displayed on state license plates are all the more impressive considering the weight of conservative voters in his district.

Still, it was an article last week in the very same Washington Post by Anita Kumar that signaled the emergence of this particular “negative attack.” Entitled “Conservatism Could Hurt Deeds in the Democratic Race,” the article lacked any specificity or context whatsoever – it was heavy on general allegations and sweeping conclusions, but short on actual facts and convincing reasoning – and to me it had the smell of an oppo research foundation dump that, from time-to-time, the MSM inadvisably repeats uncritically and convinces itself constitutes original reporting.

For example, here are some of the key “facts” Kumar offers to support her thesis that Creigh’s “votes on several politically charged issues could put him out of step with voters in next month's Democratic primary:”
Those [Conservative] votes have included support for a family life program in schools that would define abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage as "moral obligations and not matters of personal opinion or personal choice," a mandate that the words "In God We Trust" be displayed prominently in every school and a bill to increase the penalty for killing a fetus.

First, in addressing this, a point of personal privilege. These positions are not “Conservative” or “Non-Progressive” in any classical, or even common sense understanding of those terms, IMHO. As a political approach toward governing, Progressive philosophy reflects a view that government can be an active catalyst for and implementer of specific policies designed to advance society and the well-being of people in general, with a safety net of minimum standards in place to protect all from the worst human nature has to offer, namely, the moral tyranny of the majority and the competitive excesses of the free market. In this sense, Progressive ideology is the opposite of Conservatism, which advocates the removal of government from most societal intercourse in the belief that natural forces and instincts, mainly selfishness, whether in an organized market or in the day-to-day interaction within a community, will ultimately benefit the society the most by stimulating innovation and incenting risk-taking that propels humanity forward, albeit with a small minority benefiting greatly at the expense of many.

That said, these votes by Creigh are neither Progressive nor Conservative. Rather, they reflect certain traditional values that are typically, but incorrectly in my view, associated with Conservative ideology. However, the point of this post is not to debate the meaning of Progressivism in contemporary American political life and society. While that is certainly an important issue, we can possibly and probably debate it forever without ever reaching a resolution, and we’ve got an election in 16 days.

The question really is whether there is any validity to the charge that Creigh is not a Progressive.

For example, Lowell at Blue Virginia responded to Kumar’s article with a post of his own, explaining that while he liked and respected Creigh, “as a progressive, I disagree with him on a wide variety of issues. Strongly, in some cases (e.g., mountaintop removal mining). Today's Washington Post story by Anita Kumar pretty much sums it up.”

So, it is back to Kumar’s article (although to be fair to Lowell, he has felt this way with respect to Creigh, certainly on environmental issues, for the duration of the campaign).

Still, the fact of the matter is that Lowell cites several items from Kumar’s article. But Kumar left a great deal of context out of her story that may surprise you.

For example, she makes these votes on these social issues sound like very Conservative votes demanded by Creigh’s rural constituency.

Would it surprise you to learn that Brian Moran, touted as the “most Progressive” candidate in the race, supported each of these laws, as well? Don’t take my word for it: Look it up yourself – here are the bill numbers:
SB 1047 (1999 Sess.) – Abstinence Education
HB 1 (2004 Sess.) – Increased Penalty for Feticide
HB 108 (2002 Sess.) – Posting “In God We Trust” in All Schools

Here is some other context Kumar left out. Each of these bills received overwhelming, nearly unanimous support in the General Assembly. While Kumar’s article suggests some divide over these issues between Creigh and NoVA, you wouldn’t know it by how legislators from Northern Virginia voted. There was no dispute over these measures reflecting ideology, political party or region of the Commonwealth.

Third, Kumar asserts that Creigh “voted to void contracts between members of the same sex that would have provided rights associated with marriage, such as hospital visits.” I am not sure what law Kumar is referencing here, but if it is the notorious HB 751, Creigh did vote for an early iteration of that noxious bill, but later re-evaluated and voted against it because he deemed it mean-spirited. In no sense of the word can he be said to support that legislation.

Fourth, Kumar of course brings up Creigh’s votes on Marshall-Newman, but Creigh has made his position on this clear. First, he personally voted against the Amendment when it was on the ballot, but even more importantly, he has evolved in his thinking about his own vote.

How refreshing: A candidate who admits to intellectual growth and explains how he has learned from past actions.

More meaningful than cherry-picking a couple of votes out of 50,000 cast to create conflict where there is none, a more salient guide for the Progressive voter are Creigh’s interest group ratings, which in my mind clearly establish his Progressive bona fides. Here is a sampling from recent years:
Reproductive Rights
NARAL- 100% (2006)
Planned Parenthood- 100% (2002)
Virginia Education Association- 100% (2006)
Virginia Education Association- 100% (2002)
Virginia League of Conservation Voters- 88% (2006)
Virginia League of Conservation Voters- 100% (2004)
Virginia AFL-CIO- 100% (2006)

As with any candidate, it is fair to examine their record and decide whether you agree with them or not. That is what democracy is all about. But in describing the records of each candidate with the use of familiar shorthand terms, we ought to be fair, IMHO, and any fair reading of Creigh’s record as a whole makes clear he is a strong Progressive.

I suppose there are plenty of reasons not to vote for Creigh, although I can’t think of any off-hand. His commitment to principles of Progressive governance, however, is not one of them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

WaPo Endorsement: Creigh!

By now, the news has started to circulate that the Washington Post has endorsed Creigh.

Not only has the Post endorsed him, it has done so for the right reasons. The Post said:
However, delve a bit deeper, and the answer might surprise you. In 18 years in the General Assembly, Mr. Deeds has time and again supported measures that might be unpopular with his rural constituency but that are the right thing to do, for Northern Virginia and the state as a whole. He has demonstrated an understanding of the problems that matter most, the commitment to solve them and the capacity to get things done. Mr. Deeds may not be the obvious choice in the June 9 primary, but he's the right one.

This is a critical point: Creigh is the best candidate for NoVA, in part because he is not from there. As the Post states:
As he once told The Post, "A gentleman from Lunenburg County called me up to say, 'I don't want my taxes to go up so they can build roads in Northern Virginia.' I said, 'Who do you think is paying for your schools?' Right now, the economic engine that has been driving Virginia has serious transportation woes. It's in the interest of every single Virginian, no matter where he or she lives, to fix that problem."

This is not a new insight. It is an issue the Virginia Democrat touched on in this Post, Creigh's Unifying Vision, a while back.

I would just add the importance of Creigh's vision for redistricting reform as an engine for enduring Progressive reform in the Commonwealth. The Post touches on this, but doesn't give a lot of attention. Virginia is becoming more Progressive every day, which is why it is becoming "bluer." A governor committed to redistricting that is not seeking an advantage for either political party, but which seeks to more accurately reflect the desires of the voters, regardless of where those desires lead, naturally favors Progressive causes. The alternative, to do business as we have been doing it, will leave entrenched forces of Conservatism in key legislative posts not because it reflects the will of voters, but because it reflects the will of a political class consisting of both Democrats and Republicans who benefit from current gridlock.

Creigh just doesn't talk about redistricting reform -- he has a specific plan on how to accomplish it, whether the General Assembly cooperates with him or not, so the success of this critical part of his platform is not dependent on the long-shot of a Democratic House of Delegates. Furthermore, given McDonnell's recent flip-flop on the redistricting issue, Creigh is the Democrat best-positioned to make hay out of this critical issue in the Fall. It is the kind of issue that can take hold in a campaign, because it is about returning power to the people.

See Creigh and Redistricting: Changing the Calculus of Virginia Politics for more on Creigh and redistricting.

Last point: Quite apart from the substance of this editorial is obviously the mere fact of this editorial. It is difficult to over-estimate the value of a Washington Post editorial in NoVA in terms of free media and generating name recognition. Just yesterday, I got an email from a mostly non-political friend of mine, following the election mainly because of my interest in it, that read (in advance, what can I say, he's not a Moran fan):
The informal J--- L--- “eyeball poll” (lawn/roadside signs while driving around) is roughly McAuliffe 500, Moron 500, Deeds 0. I haven’t seen a single one.

Almost two years ago, I was interviewing Creigh for a story and he spoke about the difficulty of breaking through the noise in NoVA to reach voters. There was so much happening up there, he said, and people tended to focus their political energies North to Washington DC rather than South to Richmond, that it was just hard to be heard.

For today, at least, the best candidate for governor can be heard loud and clear up there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Some interesting comments from PPP on turnout and the Democratic primary

Tom Jenson at the PPP blog offers this preview of their next poll:
Because we don't want to poll over Memorial Day weekend we put our second to last Virginia primary poll in the field last night, and we'll release it Friday or Saturday.

We decided to look at the race this week in a new way: how are the folks who pretty much always vote in primaries leaning versus the preferences of people who turned out last year for the Presidential primary but did not vote in one of the primaries between 2005 and 2007?

A pretty clear divide is emerging. Among the frequent primary voters Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran, and Creigh Deeds are basically in a three way statistical tie based on the interviews conducted so far. But among the more casual primary voters who did not find Webb-Miller compelling enough to head to the polls but who are intending to come out this time McAuliffe has a substantial lead.

PPP's polling, at least, confirms the intuition of political observers here in the Commonwealth.

I can't help but wonder, however, whether that lead simply reflects McAuliffe's relatively large ad buys and the greater name recognition that flows from it. If these are the voters on which he is relying for a victory, good luck.

Another factor that has been on my mind lately is not only the overall turnout, but the distribution of the turnout. One factor here would be the presence of a local primary that attracts voters -- cvillelaw discusses this in an interesting comment over at Blue Commonwealth.

But it is also true that in a number of special and local elections up in NoVA, lately, it seems as if Democratic turnout, in particular, has been weak -- it is just a sense I get from the anecdotal reporting of unexpected electoral disasters and near-disasters that seem to have been occurring up there.

On the other hand, a recent firehouse Democratic primary in Charlottesville to elect candidates for the city council and sherrif drew nearly 1,700 people, a unexpectedly large throng for this small, albeit World class, city. And in those areas of the Commonwealth where unemployment runs high and the economy is in serious trouble, like Southside and areas of Southwest Virginia, where there is greater economic insecurity and uncertainty, in general, and where state government will have a greater direct impact on peoples' lives, if not their survival, voters may naturally turn out in greater numbers.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Unprecedented Result, McAuliffe Both Wins and Loses Final Debate

The final Gubernatorial debate was tough to get a handle on, mostly because it was too short, poorly moderated and failed to permit the candidates to make cases for themselves or offer up thoughtful critiques of their opponents.

For the best coverage of what went on, and some pretty spot-on commentary of what it all meant, check out this post and this post at Blue Virginia.

For some awesome contemporaneous commentary, go check out Ben Tribbet’s tweets of the debate. I sat behind Ben at the debate, and his commentary – especially read in real-time, was devastating, illuminating and hilarious all at the same time. And, what can I say; the guy is a sharp dresser.

My first impression at the debate was that Terry McAuliffe won. In the hall, at least, Creigh seemed a little flat and Moran seemed, well, lost in the sense that with three weeks left to go in a campaign that he has been waging for three years, he still hasn’t seemed to find a consistent voice or message.

On a tactical level, Lowell’s analysis at Blue Virginia is spot on: “Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran needed a game changer in the last debate with just 3 weeks left to go, and they didn't get one. Thus, trailing in the polls, they lost.” And if Creigh and Moran lost, then McAuliffe won.

But during my drive home, I had some time to mull over the debate and the discreet moments and exchanges of which it consisted, and I came to a different conclusion: While I still thought McAuliffe won, he also lost. He got his hat handed to him by two experienced Virginia pols, he just didn’t know it.

First, let me cite the one winning McAuliffe moment that stood out as the debate’s highlight.

When it came time for his question, Creigh asked McAuliffe how he could promise so much to so many – building a gym, paying teachers mortgages, etc., when he knows budgets will be tight. The question was intended to put McAuliffe on the spot for pandering and over-promising. Before he was halfway done asking it, however, it was clear to everyone – even Creigh, I think -- that he’d made a mistake. McAuliffe thanked Creigh for the question, and took the opportunity to talk about his big ideas, about reaching for the stars. “Do you want me to get out of bed and say I’m gonna be 50th?” he said. “NO. You shoot for the moon. John Kennedy didn’t say we’re taking the rocket halfway to the moon, It goes all the way to the moon.”

Creigh is a baseball fan, so I’ll use a baseball analogy here: Creigh, you threw the guy a change-up, but he was just sitting back, waiting on it. The ensuing home run was a mere formality.

But the fact is that there were many more losing moments for McAuliffe in this debate, such as:

* Deeds’ zinger to McAuliffe on the disingenuousness of making a big deal of refusing contributions from Dominion while at the same time holding an event at the home of retired Dominion president and CEO Thomas Capps. The idea that Capps was simply an individual who happened to be a Dominion employee supporting him is ludicrous. And McAuliffe’s attempt at self-mocking humor to explain it away by saying “He didn’t even write a check” was crass.

* Moran’s comments about overturning the Marshall-Newman Amendment hurt McAuliffe in two ways. First, while Moran is obviously grandstanding the issue, he is right that if Virginia is to make progress on this critical issue, the next Governor needs to be willing to make it a priority to at least discuss it and begin the process of gathering public support behind the repeal of the Amendment. Moran’s admonition to McAuliffe that it won’t happen if you say “you don’t have the time,” even if that slightly distorts what McAuliffe actually said, is absolutely correct. McAuliffe seemed to argue that is was sufficient that he, himself, opposed discrimination. “I’m not for discrimination at all,” McAuliffe said, as if there are candidates out there running on a pro-discrimination platform.

Second, Moran’s answer came in response to a question about gay adoption, and for once, he seemed to be positive on an issue, analyzing with a forward-looking attitude rather than simply searching around for someone to hit. Not bad.

* The exchange between Moran and McAuliffe on payday lending, in my view, really hurt McAuliffe as well. I’m aware the McAuliffe camp seems to think this skirmish was a big victory for them, but they are wrong. First, the fact is that all three candidates agree that we should get rid of payday lending.

McAuliffe tries to lay the blame for payday lending at the feet of Creigh and Moran, somehow without scuffing up Mark Warner’s shoes. That’s not possible. The fact is that the 2002 legislation that brought this scourge upon our state happened despite the best intentions of people like Moran, Warner and Creigh. Call the three of them (and some of the other good legislators who voted in favor of allowing these miscreants into Virginia) na├»ve, or just plain dumb, but there is simply no way they were corrupt or wanted this to happen.

Yet, McAuliffe pretty much accused Moran of being in the pocket of the predatory lending industry when he makes a point of mentioning that Moran has received “tens of thousands of dollars” in donations from predatory lenders. It is true that Moran had received about $30K in donations, but given the timing of these donations and various other circumstances, the idea that they had any effect whatsoever on Moran’s legislative record with respect to payday lending is an absurd allegation.

To return to baseball, payday lending is a spitball, a disgusting, nasty pitch that doesn’t make anybody look good. McAuliffe would have been better off taking.

McAuliffe and his campaign have complained bitterly about the attacks from Moran in this campaign, incidentally using one of my favorite phrases straight out of the Department of Redundancy Department – “Negative Attacks.” A key component of this counter-attack by McAuliffe has been his contention that he promised he never would, and he never has, said a bad word about either of his opponents. Previously, that was a debatable proposition. Now that he has accused Moran of standing in the way of payday lending reform for $30K in donations over a 13-year period, it no longer is.

Terry McAuliffe is a negative attacker!

* The last reason McAuliffe lost this debate? His victory calculation still depends upon him soundly defeating Brian Moran in NoVA and Hampton Roads. If they split that vote, it allows Creigh to sneak in.

So, Moran’s lowlight in this debate that stuck the final dagger in his candidacy? Actually, he didn’t have one. The format, which barely gave the candidates time to speak, much less advance coherent arguments, and constant interrupting by the moderators kept Moran safe from his worst enemy, namely, himself.

And those are the reasons why Terry McAuliffe lost today’s debate.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Creigh's Smarter Energy Plan

See it here:

Smarter Energy
Better Jobs
Greener Virginia

Probably wont satisfy many, what with a determination to pursue clean coal technologies and engage in off-shore exploration if certain conditions are met, but to my eyes, it seems like a common sense plan that balances the competitng demands of today's economy with tomorrow's environmental realities. The plan promotes efficiency, which has immediate benefits, and dovetails with the state's economic development and transportation needs in terms of alternative energy development and research.

This plan leads us to the right place -- an economically secure and enviomentally clean future -- in a sensible and responsible manner that can draw the support of many people from different regions, different backgrounds and different economic cicumstances, that is needed if it is to work, so it has the virtue of not only being well thought-out, but also capable of being enacted and successfully implemented.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

McAuliffe record on predatory lending deserves more scrutiny

I don’t usually write about the hypocrisy of politicians because, to one extent or another, they are all hypocrites at times. It comes with the territory.

Sometimes, however, a politician himself will invite scrutiny, either by direct invitation or, more often, indirectly through the unwarranted criticism of an opponent that calls that opponent's ethics into question. Then, hypocrisy is not only fair game, it becomes an arguably relevant factor in evaluating a candidate. Brian Moran is a serial offender in this regard – for example, vaguely criticizing, without any proof of wrongdoing whatsoever, that Terry McAuliffe’s fund raising was somehow tainted, thus begging for the same standard to be applied to his own fundraising. The results have not been pretty for Moran.

This past week, however, it is Terry McAuliffe who invited the scrutiny of his own donors.

The contretemps are over what began as a minor shoving match between Deeds and McAuliffe on payday lending, but which has now had a few punches thrown. In brief, McAuliffe asserted that he is the only candidate who wants to ban payday lending in the Commonwealth. This is demonstrably false – Deeds has the same position -- and the Deeds camp understandably took umbrage. McAuliffe has also criticized both Deeds and Moran for their votes authorizing payday lending in the Commonwealth, and subsequent ineffectual attempts to repeal or restrict it. That’s fair. Creigh and Moran are big boys, and they have records they have to defend.

Creigh put out a radio spot gently chiding McAuliffe on the issue, including asserting that, among other things, he was “attacking Mark Warner and Tim Kaine’s records” on the issue of payday lending. It is a fair argument – it is impossible to attack Deeds and Moran for their votes over the years on payday lending without also criticizing Warner and Kaine, who supported the very same policies.

McAuliffe’s campaign responded with the following statement (h/t Blue Virginia):
Statement from the McAuliffe Campaign on Creigh Deeds's Negative Attack Ad

In response to the release of Creigh Deeds's negative attack ad yesterday, McAuliffe campaign spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith released the following statement:

"It's strange that Creigh Deeds is attacking Terry on this issue. The fact is that as members of the General Assembly all three of Terry's opponents allowed predatory lending to explode in Virginia and took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the industry.

"It's an honest difference between the candidates. Terry wants to ban all predatory loans, and he's the only candidate who has pledged not to accept money from predatory lenders. He has also proposed a plan to replace predatory loans with a responsible alternative."

(The statement then included a “fact check” section not repeated here, but available at Blue Virginia.)

First, this is a complete overreaction to the gentle critique Deeds’ ad lays on McAuliffe. In any event, two statements drew my attention:

1. That Deeds “took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the industry.”
2. McAuliffe is “the only candidate who has pledged not to accept money from predatory lenders.”

Here is the problem with those statements: both are technically true, but both are gross distortions of the records of each candidate when it comes to donations from the consumer lending industry such that, taken together, they constitute, at best, a unfair misrepresentation of the true situation, and at worst, a lie.

Here is what VPAP shows:

Deeds received two contributions from a single payday lender – Check ‘n Go – totaling $2,000.

That is it since 2002, when payday lending was authorized in Virginia..

In his current Gubernatorial run, Creigh has not received one red cent from consumer lending companies of any stripe.

To put it in context, over that time frame the consumer lending industry has donated nearly $2 million to Virginia candidates, PACs, etc.

So, I guess you can truthfully say that Creigh has “taken thousands” from the industry, but to what purpose, other than to distort the truth of the matter.

Consider the placement of the sentence regarding the ominous “thousands” in donations [at $2,000, just barely] from the “industry” [a single company actually. Six years ago] immediately following an assertion that Deeds, among others legislators, allowed the industry to explode, inferring a connection between the two. This is absurd on its face with respect to Deeds, given the timing and the amounts involved.

Then the kicker: McAuliffe would never do such a thing. He’s the only candidate that pledged to accept no money from payday lenders.

If you’re going to play this game, if you’re going to disingenuously suggest sleazy activity by an opponent, and if you’re going to contrast yourself to this false allegation by self-righteously offering up yourself as the exemplar of ethical behavior, then you had better be, as the saying goes, as pure as the driven snow.

Unfortunately for McAuliffe, that is not the case. It is not even close.

McAuliffe’s most recent finance report lists a $25,000 donation from the “industry.” It is from Catherine Reynolds, CEO of EduCap. In fact, Ms. Reynolds husband donated $25,000 to McAuliffe, as well, although that donation is not counted as coming from the company. Still, that is a $50K donation from EduCap.

EduCap is not a payday lender, but a private, non-profit student loan company. So, again, we can see McAuliffe’s assertion is technically true. He has not accepted money from a payday lender.

Still, EduCap’s record as a lender is not a good one. Indeed, the company has been accused of some of the classic sleazy business practices that are the mainstay of the repulsive payday lending industry.

According to CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson, “The problem [with EduCap’s business] is, according to investigators who have looked at this, too often high interest charged, onerous terms are put upon the kids who, through aggressive marketing tactics, have been convinced to get these loans when they might be able to get better terms through other courses. Aggressive collection tactics are used, according to some of the students, if they miss a single payment.”

In addition, CBS has reported, “Watchdog Stephen Burd … says EduCap charges up to 18 percent interest - triple the government rates and as much or more than for-profit companies. He's heard from dozens student borrowers who complain about costs and aggressive collection tactics, who advise to avoid this company because it is predatory lending.”

Lastly, according to the Washington Post, in 2006 “the United States Student Association, the country's largest student organization, complained to the Federal Trade Commission, urging the agency to ‘take action to stop false and deceptive advertising practices’ by EduCap.” The FTC did not act, claiming it lacked jurisdiction.

I would also note here that EduCap has been the subject of or tangentially related to several other controversies, including an IRS investigation into its tax-exempt status, but the idea here is not to tar Terry McAuliffe with all the possible bad acts of his contributors, which is why I stuck to EduCap’s record as a lender – the issue at hand.

Catherine Reynolds is known around D.C. for, among other things, her large charitable and political donations. Does she do it from a charitable heart, or does she expect something in return, or both? Well, here's a quote to help you decide whether you're comfortable with Ms. Reynolds putting fifty large into our Governor’s race:
“Well, and we also believe that the people that give the largest donations should sit in the front row.”
-Catherine Reynolds

But the question really is, given the standard the McAuliffe campaign itself deems approrpiate, if $2,000 of donations to Creigh six years ago from a payday lender is worthy of note, what about $50,000 of donations six weeks ago from a consumer lender that has, at best, a spotty record?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finally, the MSM does some real digging and gets it right!


Click on the main video (interview with Creigh) on the right side of the screen. You can watch the interview (always edifying listening to Creigh) or just forward to about the 3:15 mark for a good laugh.

Just awesome.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Creigh Decisively Wins 10th CD Straw Poll

I'm tellin' you, Creigh is going to win this thing.

From the Deeds campaign:

Deeds beats McAuliffe and Moran in fast-growing outer suburbs in Northern Virginia, Deeds get more votes than his two opponents combined

LEESBURG – Earlier today, Creigh Deeds pulled off a major upset at Northern Virginia’s 10th Congressional District Democratic Convention in Leesburg, receiving more votes than his two opponents combined.  The straw poll took place at the meeting of the 10th District Democrats, which includes the fast-growing outer suburbs in the Northern Virginia counties of Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, Fauquier, Clarke, Warren, and Frederick, and the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester.

“With just 31 days to go, our grassroots campaign continues to gain momentum heading into the June 9th primary," said Joe Abbey, Campaign Manager for the Deeds campaign. "It’s clear that all across the Commonwealth, Virginians are responding to Creigh’s positive message of creating opportunity, prosperity, and hope in every corner of Virginia.  This grassroots straw poll shows what we’ve known all along: Creigh Deeds will put us in the strongest position to beat Bob McDonnell in November.  Northern Virginia leaders like Dick Saslaw, Mary Margaret Whipple, Janet Howell, and Chap Petersen have lined up behind Creigh, because they know that he can bring people together from every part of Virginia to invest in a statewide system of transportation.  No one is more prepared to be Governor.”

The results of the 10th Congressional District Straw Poll were as follows:

Creigh Deeds – 49 Votes
Terry McAuliffe – 24 votes
Brian Moran – 23 votes

Last week, The Washington Post called Creigh Deeds, "a legislator of substance and former prosecutor with a keen understanding of issues important to Northern Virginia."  The Virginian-Pilot recently said that Deeds is the Democratic candidate who "most naturally fits into the moderate mold shaped by Mark Warner and Tim Kaine" and this came after The Lynchburg News and Advance said that Deeds "appeals to many of the same centrist Democrats and independents who supported Mark Warner in his gubernatorial campaign in 2001." 

Governor's Race Campaign Contribution Report Card - Predatory Lenders

Most people of reasonable intelligence and minimal ethical standards can agree that payday lending and its cousin, car title lending, are immoral, unethical, destructive and unfair. Interest rates that can be 350% or higher (once all fees are calculated) are the norm, and while a small minority of people can use this type of expensive credit responsibly, the vast majority of people who enter this system -- by definition among the weakest of our community financially -- find themselves trapped in a situation from which there is no exit.

So, how can any responsible legislator or public servant support predatory lending? On the surface, they accept the arguments of the industry that they are providing a needed service at a fair price -- one of those arguments that can sound logical and is maybe 5% true, perhaps just enough to make it with a straight face, but which actual experience shows is 95% hooey.

Nor is this a partisan issue. Much to my disappointment, many Democrats, such as Dick Saslaw, have been good friends to this despicable industry over the years. On a macro level, of course, the answer is simple: Money. It's not a case of illegal quids chasing willing quos. Rather, since 2002, when predatory lending was first permitted in Virginia in a misguided attempt to regulate and control the industry, consumer lenders have dumped nearly $2 million into Virginia's political coffers. That's about $286,000 per year -- not exactly chump change.

All the Democratic candidates for Governor have called for the banning of predatory lending in the state. Bob McDonnell has been a supporter of it, and although as attorney general he did pursue individual predatory lenders who did not follow the rules, he did not aggressively try to ferret them out. Even so, the issue is not predatory lenders who flunked out of scam school and can't follow the law; the issue is the law itself that, not to put too fine a point on it, legalizes loansharking.

This industry does not so much want to be coddled as it just wants to be left alone while it screws the working poor, and it is willing to pay our leaders to do nothing.

So, I thought I see how all four candidates fare with respect to taking money from the predatory lending industry ("lending companies" or "consumer credit" in the anodyne language of VPAP) , both in connection with their Gubernatorial campaigns and over the course of their political careers since 2002, and what if anything it says about the candidates.

Creigh Deeds:
Total contributions since 2002: $6,750
Contributions accepted as candidate for Governor: $0
Contributions accepted as candidate for AG: $3,000
GRADE: A-. As AG, you have to prosecute predatory lenders, and you just should not take a cent from them -- no ifs, ands or buts. That said, these are pretty paltry amounts, and it is clear the industry has never seen you as a friend of theirs, but still, no "A" for you, Creigh.

Bob McDonnell:
Total contributions since 2002: $76,014
Contributions accepted as a candidate for Governor: $16,700
Contributions received in connection with run for AG: $55,664
GRADE: D. I'm only mildly bothered by the $16,700, since it will be a drop in the bucket when all is said and done in this election. But $56K was a lot to take in the run for AG (See discussion on Deeds above). That said, in my heart I do not think Bob McDonnell is corrupt, so he doesn't get an "F". Nor do I think the contributions to him are even designed to earn his favor -- they are way too small. Rather, these contributions reflect the fact that predatory lenders already know McDonnell has their back and they think it would be better for their businesses to see him elected. These contributions, therefore, are not only appropriate, I encourage them. This is what our political system is all about -- supporting the candidate you like best.

That makes Bob McDonnell honest, but morally impaired. To tell the truth, I'd feel better if he were simply corrupt.

Brian Moran:
Total contributions since 2002: $29,750
Contributions accepted as a candidate for Governor: $250
GRADE: B-. Moran has taken only $250 in his run for Governor, and $30K over 7 or 8 years of fundraising -- not a huge amount. That said, of that $29,750 raised over his career from this industry, $25,000 of it has been donated over the past 3 years, and $15,000 of that from a single company -- LoanMax, of Alpharetta, GA. While that money was donated to Moran for Delegate or to Moran's leadership PAC, it obviously was to help with the Gubernatorial run. (In comparison, Creigh took in one $500 donation from American General Corp. for his Senate campaign over the same period). As with McDonnell, I don't believe Moran is being corrupted here, but the amounts are worthy of notice, and knock a few notches off his grade.

Terry McAuliffe:
VPAP records show a $25,000 contribution from Catherine Reynolds classified as coming from the consumer lending industry (her husband separately donated $25,000 to McAuliffe's campaign). Reynolds runs EduCap. While these donations might carry other baggage with them, they don't count as contributions from predatory lenders.
GRADE: INCOMPLETE. He has taken no money from predatory lenders, so McAuliffe avoids a bad grade, but given the fact that he has only been raising money for six months and has no history in Virgina politics, he is tough to evaluate.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The NYT Magazine Article on McAuliffe Is Out

I provide a link here without comment.


Governor Clintonism?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Moran says McAuliffe was "slow" in supporting Obama

Here is a line of attack against Terry McAuliffe I have seen before -- that Terry did not support Barack Obama fast enough or enthusiastically enough. But since I have only seen this attack advanced on some blogs who have been, in my view, a bit too quick to find fault with him, I thought it a bit silly. Would any voter really care?

But, apprently, Brian Moran hits McAuliffe on the topic in Adam Nagourney's upcoming article in the New York Times Magazine, which states:
..[T]here are whispers of lingering resentment among some Obama supporters that he didn't stop fighting when the battle was obviously over; Moran told me that he has heard such complaints from "numerous people" and has no doubt it will hurt McAuliffe in the primary. "There was a time when Democrats needed to come together behind our candidate, and he was very slow in doing that," Moran says.

H/T - HuffPo

Further, according to HuffPo, Nagourney reports that aides to Obama were skeptical enough of McAuliffe's Virginia appeal that they polled how he stood among Commonwealth voters before sending him out as a surrogate during the election.

I'm not sure what to make of this. I don't know who Brian Moran supported during the primary -- I supported Hillary Clinton -- but I utterly reject this idea that how quickly Hillarly supporters came around to Obama has any meaning whatsoever in the Gubernatorial election, except to the extent that someone became a PUMA and actively opposed Obama.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Three polls, two facts, one truth

The three recent polls – SUSA, PPP, and LIM (Leaked Internal Moran) all show variations of two indisputable facts:

First, Terry McAuliffe leads the primary. And second, Creigh is a distant third.

It’s a good thing I don’t believe a f*cking single thing these polls say, or I would have to begin doubting myself. When push comes to shove, Creigh Deeds is by far the Democrat most able to beat Bob McDonnell and, of all four candidates, the one with the right experience, temperament and worldview to be the best Governor for our state. I also believe in the genius of Democracy and the wisdom of voters.

As a result of all of these factors, I am certain Creigh will win this primary.

This is my story, and I'm sticking to it, at least until June 9.

Monday, May 4, 2009

PPP Poll Preview: Many still undecided, but a front-runner emerging

PPP Virgina Governor's poll will be out tomorrow. Meanwhile, up on their blog, they offer the following tease:
36% of respondents said they were undecided. And among the 64% who have a candidate right now 41% say they could still change their minds between now and the primary.

That leaves 62% of the electorate undecided or malleable.

But there's definitely a front runner emerging- and he also has the most solid support.

Based on a blog post they put out a few days ago in response to the SUSA poll, I'd have to guess that is Terry McAuliffe emerging as the frontrunner. This is what they said on May 1:
The thing that surprised me most in the SUSA numbers was only 18% of the electorate being undecided. We've already started our poll and continue to find it more around 40%.


We do join them in seeing movement toward Terry McAuliffe so far although I don't know if we're seeing quite the magnitude of that they did.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

McAuliffe's Problem Is Not What He Has Done, But What He Hasn't

For me, today’s debate on various blogs over Terry McAuliffe and the Washington Post article about his business background (which was pretty good except for the fact that it reported no new information and failed to provide any insight into McAuliffe or the election whatsoever -- how on Earth did this article get on the front page above the fold?) utterly misses the point of why McAuliffe is not the best candidate to represent the Democrats in November.

The problem with Terry McAuliffe is not what he has done in the past, but what he hasn’t done.

McAuliffe lacks the lifetime of professional involvement with Virginia issues and Virginia politics that Creigh Deeds has, that Democrats will need in November to beat Bob McDonnell, and that Virginians will need the next four years.

The issue is not whether McAuliffe is a “carpetbagger.” He is not. He did not come here to run for Governor, but he has lived in the Commonwealth for 20 years. Furthermore, as McAuliffe argues, Brian Moran is not from here, and besides the occasional silly comment about his accent, no one calls him a carpetbagger. More importantly, McAuliffe argues, the fact that neither Tim Kaine nor Mark Warner were from here did not prevent them from becoming Governor. I’ve heard McAuliffe point most directly to Mark Warner, for whom Governor was his first elective office.

But the comparisons to Kaine and Warner, and even to a lesser degree to Moran, are instructive, although not in a way that helps McAuliffe. The issue is not how long McAuliffe has lived here, but what he has done in connection with local and state political issues during that time.

Before either Warner or Kaine was elected governor, each had a great deal of experience in Virginia political life.

Governor may have been Warner’s first elective office, but before that he managed Doug Wilder’s campaign, and served as Chairman of the DPVA. And before winning the Governorship in 2001, he ran a prior statewide campaign for Senator against John Warner.

Tim Kaine, meanwhile, was elected to the city council of Richmond in 1994 and selected Mayor in 1998. And he was, of course, elected Lt. Governor in 2001.

On his website, a McAuliffe fact sheet asks the question, “Has Terry been involved in Virginia politics?” Here is the complete answer:
As Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry invested unprecedented resources in Virginia Democrats’ grassroots political infrastructure. In 2001, when Mark Warner ran for Governor, the DNC gave $1.5 million to support Virginia Democrats up and down the ticket. In 2005, when Tim Kaine ran for governor, the DNC gave $5 million to Virginia Democrats – which, at the time, was the single largest donation from the national party of its kind.

In other words, “No, he has not.” Cutting a few checks to spend someone else's money is not "involvement."

Compare this record to Creigh’s, who was elected Commonwealth’s Attorney from Bath County, served in the House of Delegates from 1991 to 2001, and in the Senate from 2001 to present. And Creigh has run a statewide race, in 2005, when he fought Bob McDonnell to a tie despite being outspent two to one.

These record simply do not compare.

For that matter, nor does McAuliffe’s record in this sense compare with that of Brian Moran, who has been in the House of Delegates for twenty years, and was a prosecutor in Arlington before that.

This experience differential has two very important consequences for Democrats and Virginians. First, Creigh’s wealth of experience in Richmond will simply make him a better, more effective Governor. Second, McAuliffe’s lack of experience runs the risk of becoming an insurmountable issue in the campaign against McDonnell.

McAuliffe real response to the lack of experience argument is that not all great ideas come from Richmond, but that is misdirection. As much as Obama was able to ride the need for change that was in the air in 2008, I don’t sense an equivalent “throw the rascals out” sentiment in Virginia in 2009 for McAuliffe to tap into. Take a look at Kaine’s approval ratings. Folks seem more happy than not with their state government. Sure, while the House of Delegates can be comically inept and obstructionist, it operates out of most citizens' sights. For the "we need an outsider to shake things up" argument to work, people have to be fundamentally unhappy with their chief executive heading into the election, and here in virginia, that is not the case.

Terry McAuliffe is a very intelligent guy and a quick study. He seems to intellectually grasp the key issues. He seems like an able campaigner. He is obviously a good fundraiser. Should he be the nominee, I’ll be behind him 100%.

But I sincerely hope he is not the nominee. There is nothing he can do about his lack of Virginia experience between now and November, and Democrats who are supporting him and who claim this is not a problem are kidding themselves.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Brian Moran's Political Malpractice

I'll stipulate that, for a politician, navigating certain issues can be challenging, and gay marriage is one of those issues.

I don't think it is a difficult moral or ethical issue -- laws banning gay marriage are a form of discrimination and bigotry, pure and simple. But the fact is that many well-meaning and decent people feel differently for a variety of reasons I need not go into here, and therein lies the minefield for politicians. Often, they can be out in front of their constituents on social issues, but not quite ready to challenge the attitudes of their constituents with their votes.

A Progressive, populist Democrat representing wide swaths of rural Virginia, this navigation has been as tough for Creigh as for any politician in the state. His votes in favor of putting the Marshall-Newmann amendment on the ballot in 2005 and 2006, but his campaigning and voting against that very same amendment once it was placed on the ballot, encapsulates this inner conflict. He has taken his lumps over it, and come out a better, more tolerant person. I've come around to a better understanding of this issue, Creigh said during the debate at VT the other night, perhaps "more slowly that others."

Yet, bizarrely, hoping to gain political advantage, Brian Moran attacked Creigh Deeds about this issue at Wednesday night's debate, saying that notwithstanding his growth on the issue, Creigh would have to be "held accountable" for his vote on the Marshall-Newmann amendment. Creigh responded by intimating that Brian's voting record on gay marriage may not be so pristine, either.

Then tonight, Rosalind Helderman at the Washington Post (who by the way has been doing an outstanding job since joining the Virginia desk a few weeks ago) looked back at Moran's votes on an anti-gay marriage bill from 2004. she found Moran skipped one vote on the bill (rather than voting against it), voted in favor of it one time, and voted against it one time. Jesse Ferguson, Brian Moran's communications director, lamely explained that his man's vote must have been recorded incorrectly, since it does not reflect the way he felt at the time.

Except at the time, Brian Moran explained the missed vote to a reporter at the Washington Times, saying, "Those of us that are uncomfortable with the state recognizing a gay marriage would have difficulty not supporting the resolution. But the fact is it's premature. It was a loaded resolution, and we really need to spend more time on the issues that are before us."

"Those of us that are uncomfortable with the state recognizing a gay marriage..."

As my friend Drew at DemBones says every so often, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

What was Brian Moran thinking when he attacked Creigh on this issue?

In fact, that is the wrong question to ask at this point. There are many things like this in the Moran record, such as: Moran's vote for an unconstitutional restriction on abortion in 2003, even though his website claims he has never supported an unconstitutional restriction on choice; His advocacy of clean coal technology during an interview in Southwest Virginia; His vote in favor of the Wise coal plant even as he asserted a moral superiority ground in his opposition to the Surry one; his early criticism of Terry McAuliffe's out-of-state fundraisisng, even though Moran had done the same thing; and now, a checkered record on gay marriage (not to mention the bullshit excuse tossed by his communications director to try to bamboozle a reporter) even as he has the gall to tell another candidate he will be "held accountable" for his record.

In each of these cases, Moran supporters have either attacked the messenger seeking to bring his record to light or sought to minimize the damage through excuse-making -- it was only one vote, it was a long time ago, nobody cares anymore, blah, blah, blah.

At what point are there enough of these incidents that a pattern emerges, one that tells us that Brian Moran is simply not ready and not qualified to be the Democratic Party nominee for Governor?