- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 22, 2005

Voters in Virginia on June 14 will select a Republican and Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor from a field more crowded than any in recent history.

There are two Republicans and four Democrats vying for the No. 2 spot in state government. The lieutenant governor serves as president of the Senate and succeeds the governor in case of emergency or resignation.

The six candidates have collectively raised nearly $3.6 million and so far spent more than $1.8 million. The part-time position, which is largely ceremonial, pays $36,321 a year.

Political scientist Stephen J. Farnsworth said the lieutenant governor position provides one of the few opportunities for a local elected official or state lawmaker to run statewide.

“Because Virginia has a short ballot with only three statewide elected office holders, there is a great deal of pressure for those seats,” said Mr. Farnsworth, associate professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.

The three offices on Virginia’s ballot are governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Many other states elect a host of statewide positions, including secretary of state and comptroller.

A candidate who secures the lieutenant governor nomination can get name recognition for future bids, Mr. Farnsworth said.

“If you can win the nomination, then you become a statewide name win or lose,” he said. “The nominees will be in a better position four years from now.”

The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the Nov. 8 general election.

On the Republican side, Sen. William T. Bolling and Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Sean T. Connaughton are battling for the nomination.

Democrats vying for the nomination are Delegates J. Chapman Petersen and Viola O. Baskerville, state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett and former state senator and U.S. Rep. Leslie L. Byrne.

Those who serve as lieutenant governor tend to run for governor in Virginia, where chief executives are limited to one four-year term unless they sit out four years.

Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, is running for governor this year. He is unopposed for the Democratic nomination and will face the winner of the Republican primary.

Former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore is considered the front-runner over Warrenton Mayor George B. Fitch in the Republican primary. Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., Winchester Republican, is running as an independent.

In 2001, Lt. Gov. John H. Hager lost the Republican nomination for governor to Mark L. Earley. Mr. Earley lost the gubernatorial race to Mark Warner, who will leave office in January.

In 1997, Lt. Gov. Donald S. Beyer, a Democrat, lost to James S. Gilmore III, a Republican who was then attorney general.

The lieutenant governor spot also has been a stepping stone for L. Douglas Wilder and Charles S. Robb, both Democrats who went on to become governor.

The Republicans running for lieutenant governor have raised twice as much as the Democrats.

Mr. Connaughton raised $211,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31, according to campaign finance reports posted on the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) Web site, www.vpap.org. He has raised $1.2 million in his bid for the Republican nomination. He has spent $578,097 and has $637,259 on hand, according to VPAP.

Mr. Bolling, Mechanicsville Republican, has raised $157,000 this year and $1.18 million total in his Republican bid. He has spent $584,250 and has $600,000 on hand. Mr. Bolling considered a bid for the position in 2001, but withdrew from consideration for the nomination.

Mr. Petersen, Fairfax Democrat, is in the fundraising lead for those seeking his party’s nomination. He has raised $517,732, spent $285,739 and has $231,993 on hand, according to VPAP. Mr. Puckett, Tazewell Democrat, raised $228,244, spent $115,109 and has $113,135 cash on hand.

Mrs. Byrne, Fairfax Democrat, raised $228,010, spent $120,813 and has $106,997 on hand. Mrs. Baskerville, Richmond Democrat, raised $202,150 to date, has spent $133,282 and has $67,192 on hand.

Virginia law forbids candidates from fundraising while the legislature is in session. This year’s session ran from Jan. 12 to Feb. 27.

Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. of Augusta County and lawyer Gilbert K. Davis, of Fairfax, dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor after failing to produce enough petition signatures to get on the June 14 ballot.

Also on the Republican ballot are attorney general candidates Delegate Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia Beach and Richmond lawyer Steve Baril. Sen. Robert Creigh Deeds is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide