January 26, 2005


Va. GOP Delegates Rev Up Car-Tax Relief Campaign (Michael D. Shear and Chris L. Jenkins, January 26, 2005, Washington Post)

House Republican leaders pledged Tuesday to push the car-tax relief program to completion, reviving the GOP's most potent political issue and breathing new life into Virginia's tax debate at the beginning of an election year. [...]

Tuesday's GOP announcement also positions the car tax as a preeminent issue in the 2005 campaign for governor between Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R), the leading candidates for their parties' nominations.

Ending the car tax was one of the most popular campaign issues in Virginia history. In 1997, it quickly caught fire in vote-rich Northern Virginia, where many families own several expensive cars, and swept Republican James S. Gilmore III into the governor's mansion.

On Tuesday, both Kilgore and Kaine sought to claim the mantle of car-tax relief.

Carrie Cantrell, a spokeswoman for Kilgore, said "this is a promise to voters that needs to be continued" when the state has enough money to do so. Kilgore was out of town and not available for comment, Cantrell said.

In an interview, Kaine said he supports fully phasing out the car tax but called the House proposal "an election-year thing." He said: "You have to come up with money to fund it. That's what they haven't done this year."

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said: "This is a good election-year stance for Republicans. It's what their folks like to see, and they remember a GOP landslide in 1997 [based] on three words: 'No car tax.'

Democrats, amazingly, still don't get that when they say "yes, but" we all hear "no."

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 26, 2005 8:51 AM
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