January 23, 2005

1 IN '05:

Conservative vs. liberal in Virginia (Washington Times, 1/23/05)

With Jerry Kilgore's announcement last week of his resignation as Virginia attorney general, the stage has been set for a classic conservative vs. liberal showdown in the race to become Virginia's next governor, pitting Mr. Kilgore against Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine.

Since winning a 20-point landslide election in 2001, Mr. Kilgore has been an activist attorney general in the best sense -- at times overshadowing Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, who won with 52 percent of the vote in 2001, and Mr. Kaine, a Warner loyalist who was elected with 50.5 percent of the vote. This was particularly true during the year following the November 2002 landslide defeats of two referendums pushed by Mr. Warner that would have increased taxes to pay for transportation projects.

Mr. Kilgore has pushed the General Assembly to enact legislation making it easier to prosecute violent street gangs, in particular the Salvadoran gang known as the MS-13, which is active in Northern Virginia. He opposed Mr. Warner's efforts to permit illegal immigrants to pay lower in-state tuition rates. Mr. Kilgore worked with members of the General Assembly to enact legislation (over Mr. Warner's objections) banning driver's licenses for illegals. He has questioned efforts by state colleges and universities to institute racial preferences. The attorney general opposed the efforts by the governor and Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Chichester to pass a $1.38 billion tax-increase package last year. Mr. Kilgore has also been extraordinarily active in prosecuting serial sexual predators.

In the early stages of his campaign for governor, Mr. Kilgore has sought to focus attention on the differences between himself and Mr. Kaine over capital punishment. Mr. Kilgore favors the death penalty, while Mr. Kaine opposes it.

For all the talk of VA being a target of opportunity for Democrats, President Bush ended up beating John Kerry by 9% points and the GOP enjoyed a 4% advantage in party identification at the polls.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 23, 2005 8:45 PM
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