The Washington Post has endorsed Democratic State Sen. Creigh Deeds as its choice for Governor of Virginia. The Post’s editorial highlights Sen. Deeds’s biggest strength in his campaign against right wing Republican Bob McDonnell: only Deeds has a workable plan to fix Virginia’s transportation problem.
The Post writes that Deeds, “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,” while 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.”
I couldn’t agree more.
As a Northern Virginian, every election I see candidates claim they will do something to fix our clogged roads, yet once they get elected, whether they are Republican or Democrat, they generally do nothing as our traffic gets worse. Creigh Deeds understands that Northern Virginia’s traffic problem isn’t Northern Virginia’s problem alone — it’s Virginia’s problem. As The Post noted in its endorsement of Deeds’s candidacy during the Democratic primary, Deeds once heard a constituent from rural Lunenberg County complain to him about spending tax money in Northern Virginia for roads. Deeds quickly responded, “Who do you think is paying for your schools?” The Post went on to quote Deeds as saying, “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.”
Deeds is right of course. Currently, Fairfax County, where I live and work, keeps 20 cents of every dollar in tax receipts it sends to Richmond. If we don’t fix the traffic problem in Fairfax and the rest of Northern Virginia, the public schools in the rest of Virginia will suffer. Transportation problems aren’t limited to Northern Virginia however. Hampton Roads, Richmond and rural areas of the Shenandoah Valley face transportation woes, too. Some estimate that Virginia faces over $100 billions in unfunded, but needed transportation projects. Others report that if new funding isn’t found, the state’s transportation budget will have to be cut by $2.6 billion over the next six years.
McDonnell, for his part, has run a campaign critical of Deeds for entertaining the idea of new taxes to fix the problem. Yet look at McDonnell’s solution: environmentally risky off shore drilling which won’t produce any revenue during the term of the next governor, or perhaps never; toll roads on I-95 which may never gain Federal approval; the privatization of state liquor stores which may not earn the revenue projected and would definitely cut $103 million out of the state’s human services budget; and worst of all $5.4 billion in cuts to the public schools, health care and public safety budgets in Virginia.
We can’t afford that risky, dishonest Gilmore-esque choice.
I will note that The Post endorsement comes on the first anniversary of what I call, “Fake Virginia Day“, the day last year when McCain-Palin campaign spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer tried to cynically divide Virginia into two parts — “real Virginia”, which supported her candidate, Sen. John McCain, and everybody else, who apparently weren’t real and weren’t “Southern” enough.
To me, Bob McDonnell is just as cynical as Nancy Pfotenhauer, but he’s been more adept at getting Virginians to buy into his gimmicks and ignoring his 18 year record in the legislature. He’s also run a campaign in keeping with the political strategy he advised in his much criticized graduate school thesis he wrote for Rev. Pat Robertson’s law school. In it, he wrote, “Republicans must produce creative marketing to reach the average citizen…” (p. 67).
I will give McDonnell that — his campaign has been filled with “creative marketing.” The problem is that’s all he offers. Almost everything he says isn’t politically feasible, practical or intellectually honest. As The Post writes in Sunday’s editorial, McDonnell offers a, “prescription for yesterday’s Virginia, not tomorrow’s.” The Post goes on to say that, “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.”
What I want to know is, will Virginians heed the advice offered by the paper with offices across the Potomac River from where I live? They did in the Democratic Primary and some say the paper’s endorsement gave Sen. Deeds the push he needed for his come from behind primary victory. Will it have the same effect a second time?