- - Monday, October 20, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Virginians aren’t rightly represented in the U.S. Senate. Despite their proximity to the seat of federal government, Virginians cultivate a fundamentally conservative character. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, the Democratic incumbents, work hard to appear pro-gun, pro-business, pro-military or pro-whatever else needed to distract attention from their liberal voting records. Virginia has an opportunity to redress that Nov. 4.

Mr. Warner doesn’t make waves. He has a low-key style that gives voters back home no reason to think he’s not related to John Warner, the Republican ex-senator and one of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands. But name recognition, however convenient for incumbents, is not a qualification.

Now scandal pursues this incumbent. The FBI is investigating attempts by Virginia Democrats to keep Phillip P. Puckett from resigning his seat in the Virginia General Assembly, which gave Republicans a majority and doomed Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, a top White House priority. Mr. Warner concedes that he encouraged Mr. Puckett to stay in the state Senate.

“When I heard Phillip was considering resigning from the Senate,” Mr. Warner said last week, “I reached out to his son, Joseph, to find out what was going on. During that conversation, we brainstormed about possible opportunities for his sister.”

Mr. Warner’s “brainstorm” included the potential, if not necessarily the promise, of sponsoring Mr. Puckett’s daughter for a federal judgeship. This would have been a lifetime appointment, not because of her qualifications, but because doing so would advance Obamacare in Virginia. A U.S. senator’s recommendation is no mere suggestion. Senate tradition gives senators a powerful “blue slip” veto over the president’s choice for judgeships in their home states. A federal judgeship is the “something of value” that shouldn’t be exchanged for a vote.

The incident adds to Mr. Warner’s record of blind partisanship. In his final debate with Ed Gillespie, his Republican opponent, last week, Mr. Warner twisted Mr. Gillespie’s stance on the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to hold candidates to account if they promise not to raise taxes and then, after being safely elected, raise taxes, anyway. “The Grover Norquist pledge says,” said Mr. Warner, “in effect, it’s better to cut education, it’s better to cut our military, it’s better to cut support for seniors, than to close a single tax loophole.”

The pledge, taken by hundreds of candidates, says no such thing. Mr. Warner’s argument might be persuasive if, in the $3 trillion budget, there were no extravagances — no fat Amtrak appropriation, no goodies for the National Endowment for the Arts and no money for IRS agents to throw themselves a “Star Trek” theme party on the taxpayer’s dime. This is just the kind of waste that Mr. Gillespie will fight in the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Gillespie, the son of Irish immigrants, has had a successful career in politics. He was the chairman of the Republican National Committee and a top aide of President George W. Bush. He was a prime drafter of the Contract with America, the bold statement of conservative principles that helped Republicans win control of Congress in 1994.

Mr. Gillespie stands for those values today. He understands that runaway taxes and red tape stifle Virginia as well as the 49 sister states, and he would fix it by lowering taxes, providing relief from burdensome regulation, encouraging more domestic oil drilling and cutting wasteful spending. He says voters must hold him to account, and they should throw him out of office if he breaks his promises.

Virginians don’t want another rubber stamp for President Obama. They do want and deserve a senator who represents Virginia. We enthusiastically endorse Ed Gillespie for the U.S. Senate.

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