- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 3, 2001

When Virginians go to the polls on Tuesday, they will select a new attorney general to replace Mark Earley, the Republican candidate for governor. Both the Democratic candidate, Delegate Donald McEachin, and the Republican candidate, Jerry Kilgore, have extensive experience in practicing law and public service. But Mr. Kilgore, a conservative who played a leading role in implementing then-Gov. George Allen's key criminal justice reforms as Virginia's public-safety secretary, is far preferable to Mr. McEachin, a moderate liberal and Richmond-area personal injury lawyer.

Mr. Kilgore, a native of southwestern Virginia, began his career as a prosecutor, first working in a U.S. attorney's office, where he specialized in drug cases, and later as an assistant commonwealth's attorney in Scott County in southwestern Virginia. In 1994, Mr. Allen appointed him as secretary of public safety. Mr. Kilgore, who was 33 years old at the time, found himself in charge of a sprawling agency that included the State Police, the Corrections Department, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the National Guard and the Department of Emergency Services. In this position, Mr. Kilgore played a major role in helping the governor implement two of his top priorities in reforming the criminal justice system: the abolition of parole and truth-in-sentencing legislation.

Mr. Kilgore helped plan the added prison construction that was essential to implementing these changes, including the building of a super-maximum security prison to house the most violent inmates in the state. As a result of the Allen-Kilgore policies, crime rates in the Old Dominion have plummeted. Mr. Kilgore, a solid conservative, also supports Second Amendment rights and capital punishment. He is strongly pro-life.

Mr. McEachin, a respected member of the General Assembly, is hardly the doctrinaire liberal some of his critics have portrayed him as. In truth, his political career has been a remarkable ideological odyssey. After being elected to the General Assembly in 1995, he supported parental notification when minors have abortions, and backed a ban on partial-birth abortions. Now, he campaigns as the candidate for attorney general who will man the ramparts on behalf of abortion rights. He also is a fervent supporter of "gun safety" (i.e., gun control) legislation, and, while he has voted for the death penalty in the past, he supported legislation this year calling for a moratorium on executions.

Clearly, Jerry Kilgore's combination of experience and a clear, common sense conservative philosophy make him the better candidate. The Washington Times is pleased to endorse Jerry Kilgore for attorney general of Virginia.

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