- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2005

The Virginia gubernatorial race has kicked off like many others, with the two candidates squabbling over when they will debate.

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, challenged former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, to debate him once a month until the November election as part of a “Trust the People” tour of the state.

“Politicians always talk about trusting the people — let’s show the people of Virginia that we mean it by giving them the opportunity to see us up close and personal,” Mr. Kaine wrote in a letter to Mr. Kilgore.

Mr. Kilgore has not formally responded, but his spokesman criticized the Kaine campaign for making debates an issue.

“There will be plenty of time for debates,” said Kilgore campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

Mr. Murtaugh said he thinks calling for debates this early shows the Kaine campaign is in trouble. He also noted that for foreseeable future, Mr. Kilgore will be focusing on his “Ten Weeks of Honest Reform” campaign, announcing a new promise each week.

mKaine running again

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat gubernatorial candidate, is one of 16,000 runners in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K race, an annual event that gives its proceeds to support children with cancer.

Mr. Kaine also was scheduled to serve as the official starter for the First Market Mile Kids Run for those younger than 12.

Also on Saturday, Mr. Kaine was expected to speak at the 2005 Pin and Diploma Ceremony in the District, where ironworkers union members were expected to be given awards for service.

Last week, former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican who also is running for governor, was the grand marshal at the Food City 500, a NASCAR race in Bristol, Tenn.

mNo investigation

The Maryland General Assembly’s ethics committee won’t investigate claims that Sen. Richard F. Colburn required a former aide to write college papers for him.

Mr. Colburn’s attorney said Wednesday that the Eastern Shore Republican received a letter from the committee saying the complaint was being dismissed.

The former aide, Gregory Dukes, asked for an investigation in a letter to the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

In his complaint, Mr. Dukes said he wrote papers and performed other mundane tasks for Mr. Colburn while on state time.

The story was first reported by the Baltimore Sun, which said Mr. Colburn withdrew from classes at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore this year after Mr. Dukes wrote to university officials that he had written five papers for Mr. Colburn for two sociology courses.

Mr. Colburn told the Sun he gave the papers to Mr. Dukes to type.

m’Give him a wedgie’

When Virginia Delegate Rob B. Bell III launched into a long question on the floor about a bill’s amendment last week, Delegate John S. Reid quickly grew bored.

“Give him a wedgie and tell him to sit down,” Mr. Reid, Henrico County Republican, said loudly enough for several colleagues to look up from their desks.

Mr. Reid presumably was making a reference to the “bully bill,” a measure Mr. Bell, Albermarle Republican, sponsored that requires schools to develop lesson plans to help prevent bullying.

Lawmakers returned to Richmond last week for a one-day session.

mAllen’s challenge?

Sen. George Allen is warning his supporters that Virginia Gov. Mark Warner might challenge him in his run for a second term.

The Republican senator from Virginia said in a mail fundraising solicitation that he needs to start preparing now for his 2006 re-election effort. Mr. Warner, a Democrat, hasn’t signaled whether he plans to run.

Mr. Allen said his first election to the Senate cost nearly $10 million — and he estimates that he would need twice that amount to beat Mr. Warner, who can use his personal fortune to bankroll a candidacy.

mCapitol makeover

The Virginia General Assembly’s one-day veto session last week was the last time lawmakers will convene in the building until January 2007 because of a foundation-to-roof makeover.

The state Capitol has been the seat to Virginia government since 1788, but walls are bare of portraits and marble busts of the commonwealth’s presidents were missing from the Capitol rotunda.

By early May, legislative staff, the governor’s office, the in-house cafe and reporters who work out of the building full time will operate out of an interim Capitol set up in a nearby building that once housed the state library and the Virginia Supreme Court.

The Capitol building, designed by Thomas Jefferson, is scheduled to reopen in time for the 2007 General Assembly after a $103 million renovation and construction of an underground extension beneath the South Lawn.

mWinds of change

The vote counting is over and the challengers have narrowly defeated the incumbents in City Council elections in Salisbury.

After absentee ballots were counted, Eugenie “Shanie Shields defeated District 1 incumbent Lavonzella Siggers by four votes. In District 2, Debbie Campbell defeated Michael Day by 25 votes.

Miss Shields and Miss Campbell will take the oath of office on April 18.

Miss Siggers was out of town and not available for comment. Mr. Day said he feels like a winner because he was able to serve the city for three years.

Meanwhile, Mayor Barrie Tilghman said her winning margin in the election was an affirmation of what she has been trying to do for the city.

She received 60 percent of the vote and defeated challenger Donald Long to win a third term as mayor.

Turnout on Tuesday was nearly 18 percent.

mBlack business

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has agreed to a plan to put more of the state’s business in black hands by year’s end, his administration announced last week. The plan includes giving black-owned businesses 5 percent of the $5 billion the state spends annually on services and goods. It adds teeth to the Democrat’s three-year-old commitment to see more state business awarded to minority- and women-owned firms.

The segment currently receives less than a half-percent of the state’s contracts, according to a coalition of the Virginia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and state black business owners. Coalition members estimate that a quarter of 1 percent goes to black businesses.

• Christina Bellantoni contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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