- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

RICHMOND | R. Creigh Deeds can expect the Democratic National Committee to put at least $5 million behind his campaign for governor and other Virginia Democratic races this fall, party officials said Wednesday.

The DNC plans at least to match the roughly $5 million it invested four years ago to help Tim Kaine - now DNC chairman - win Virginia’s governor race, party spokesman Brad Woodhouse said in an Associated Press interview.

“It’s a very important race, for obvious reasons, for the DNC chairman, [and] it’s a state the president’s obviously very interested in,” Mr. Woodhouse said.

The DNC’s cash commitment came after a statewide poll in mid-August showed Republican Robert F. McDonnell leading Mr. Deeds, and days after press reports about a graduate thesis Mr. McDonnell penned 20 years ago that criticized working women and feminists and argued for state discrimination against “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators.” Mr. McDonnell on Monday dismissed most of the positions as part of a long-ago academic exercise.

The disclosure comes as both parties and allied national partisan organizations enter the two-month stretch to an election that serves as an important national marker. National political money already has poured into the race between Mr. Deeds and Mr. McDonnell.

After a historic beating in last fall’s election that saw Barack Obama become the first Democrat to win Virginia in a presidential race in 44 years, Virginia Republicans consider 2009 a must-win turning point.

Mr. Obama has campaigned with Mr. Deeds, knowing that gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey will stand as an early referendum on him and Democrats heading into the 2010 congressional elections.

Last week, the Republican Governors Association put $2.5 million behind a state-chartered political action committee called Virginia Common Sense, and it is airing an ad on Mr. McDonnell’s behalf assailing his opponent as a big spender. That’s in addition to the $1 million the association gave Mr. McDonnell in March.

The name mimics its Democratic counterpart, Common Sense Virginia, which the Democratic Governors Association set up to hound Mr. McDonnell while Mr. Deeds and two other Democrats battled toward their June primary. DGA put about $3 million into Common Sense Virginia, which has been silent since June, and has given Mr. Deeds at least $500,000.

DNC officials said about 20 percent of the total the party expects to spend in Virginia - about $1 million - already has been routed into the race and will show up on state campaign-finance reports due the middle of this month.

“It’s no surprise at all that the national Democrats are trying to ride to Creigh Deeds’ rescue. After all, the full-time job of Tim Kaine is to be the head partisan, and if he can’t leave an actual legacy, he might as well try to buy one,” Virginia Republican Party spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

Mr. Deeds, a state senator with a moderate voting record, struggled through the summer to energize Democrats who are either languishing in last fall’s victory, still exhausted from it, or preoccupied with the nationwide partisan battle over health care reforms.

Larry Roberts, a senior adviser to Mr. Kaine at the DNC who held a similar role in the governor’s office under Mr. Kaine, said the story about Mr. McDonnell’s 1989 thesis, first reported by The Washington Post on Sunday, has galvanized Democratic activists and volunteers.

“There’s been a dramatic increase in volunteers going door-to-door, and that was starting even before the article came out,” Mr. Roberts said.

Mr. McDonnell on Monday told reporters that changing times, the achievements of his two grown daughters, and life experience changed the position he took in his thesis that working women were detrimental to the traditional family. He also said gays deserve equal standing in the workplace and before government.

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