In May, 2004, I had the opportunity to hear Virginia governor Mark Warner (D) speak at a college graduation ceremony. I wasn't sure what to expect - politics had taken a particularly nasty turn as the presidential election loomed large on the horizon. I watched the governor greet people and talk before the graduation began. He seemed at ease with people and honestly glad to meet those being introduced to him.
I remember thinking he looked taller in person than he did on television.
As he took the podium and spoke to the class of 2004, I was immediately impressed. It was clear he was there to honor those graduates. There were no jabs at the Republican party. No partisan rhetoric. No political jokes although I think the crowd would have given him some latitude. He was just a man (albeit a prominent one) sharing some words of wisdom with some kids about to get their sheepskins. Truly, a class act.
I will be sad to see Governor Warner go. I hope will continue in politics and would be proud to campaign for him as a presidential candidate some day. (There are some folks who think he should be a candidate in 2008.)
Now Virginians are faced with a choice: Tim Kaine(D), Warner's Lieutenant Governor during his tenure or Jerry Kilgore(R). Personally, I don't think it is much of a choice. Virginia has been named the Best Managed State in the Nation and frankly, I can't think of a better person to mentor a future governor than Mark Warner. But, here's a few thoughts for those of you from the Commonwealth who may be riding the fence:
- Car tax. Come on folks, it wasn't that long ago that former governor Jim Gilmore deadlocked the government over this issue. Who benefited from these cuts? I can tell you it wasn't me, driving my 10+ year old Pontiac with 150K miles on it. A vast majority of the cuts benefited seven localities in the northern part of the state. I think that Kilgore has made it plain that he intends to pick up Gilmore's hatred of taxes (for the wealthy) and run with it even though we know it was disastrous. (See below!)
- State deficit. Now, if you listen to Jerry Kilgore, there was no deficit. While answering a question at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce on September 8, 2005, Kilgore stated that the administration was "not meeting revenue expectations." Yeah. To the tune of $1.5 billion.
You can check it out for yourself.
And what did we experience last year, folks? What... a surplus? Under a Democrat??? Stop. Surely we're in some weird turnaround universe where you have to look to Democrats for fiscal responsibility!
- Republican Kool-Aid. Seriously, Kilgore takes every play out of the how to confuse and frighten your voters and fuck with your opponent playbook by Karl Rove. There was no deficit. Pay no attention to the published reports of such. My opponent favors RAISING TAXES. You're paying over $3 a gallon and the evil Tim Kaine suggests raising the GAS TAX! We're going to have the HIGHEST GAS TAX in the nation! Tell him to go to hell and vote for me!
Uhm... Mr. Kilgore? Really. That was a Republican initiative to raise the gas tax. Now, Mr. Kaine isn't saying he won't raise the tax on gas (the lowest in the nation, btw) but he never supported this plan.
When you can't dazzle 'em with substance, make shit up. Scare people. It's a hell of a tactic.
I remember the Gilmore years. I remember lay-offs and hiring freezes and rumors of forced unpaid time off for state workers. I remember the state workers didn't get any pay raises but kept working their butts off regardless with hopes of "better days." Well, the better days came with Mark Warner.
So, Mr. Kilgore, aka Gilmore Light? I'm still driving a piece of shit and I think I'll stick with Mr. Kaine, thanks.