- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

When Virginians choose a new lieutenant governor next week, they'll decide between two individuals with dramatically different ideas about the future of the state: the moderately liberal former Richmond mayor, Tim Kaine, on the Democratic side; and Fauquier County Delegate Jay Katzen, a staunch conservative, as the Republican standard-bearer. Although the position is ceremonial, it includes substantive responsibilities, which include presiding over the Senate and breaking tie votes in that chamber. Perhaps more important is the fact that the post is widely seen as a stepping stone to a run for governor. Mr. Katzen is by far the better choice for Virginia.
A 24-year veteran of the Foreign Service, Mr. Katzen has spent the last eight years in the Virginia General Assembly, where he has fought hard for lower taxes and spending, welfare reform, a tougher stance on crime coupled with respect for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners and parental notification when minors seek abortions. He is a supporter of capital punishment. Mr. Kaine, by contrast, is opposed to the death penalty and a supporter of abortion rights. He blames Gov. Jim Gilmore's insistence on eliminating the car tax by next year (as scheduled) for this year's budget impasse. Mr. Katzen, by contrast, understands that the root cause of the problem isn't Mr. Gilmore's effort to eliminate this oppressive tax; it's the bipartisan insistence of many lawmakers on continuing their profligate ways.
Perhaps the most striking contrast, however, between Messrs. Katzen and Kaine is on education. Mr. Katzen is perhaps the General Assembly's most dogged and persistent champion of school choice in particular, tuition tax credits. Mr. Katzen last year introduced a bill that would have awarded $500 tax credits to businesses or individuals who donate money to charitable groups that award scholarships to private school students. The measure died in the General Assembly, but Mr. Katzen wants it to pass next year. Mr. Kaine (who is endorsed by the Virginia Education Association, a bitter foe of school choice) heaps scorn on the idea. When Mr. Katzen criticized Mr. Kaine by noting that he presided over one of the worst school systems in the state, the former Richmond mayor suggested that the preponderance of poor children in city schools was in large part to blame for the problem. "Don't insult poor kids by saying, because they live in poverty, they will produce poor test scores," Mr. Katzen quite properly countered.
To his credit, Mr. Kaine, as mayor of Richmond, has done superb job of implementing Project Exile, which imposes mandatory sentences on criminals who use guns. Unfortunately, Mr. Kaine aided and abetted by strident supporters like The Washington Post's editorial page has been less than candid about his support for "civil unions" for homosexuals. Mr. Kaine denies having backed such a policy, but his web site contained a Sept. 1 Associated Press article quoting him as stating that "civil benefits that are accorded to homosexual married couples should be accorded to gay and lesbian couples in long-term relationships." Mr. Kaine would be well-served to stop the semantic sophistry and come clean with the voters on this issue. To be sure, Virginia deserves better. The Washington Times endorses Jay Katzen for lieutenant governor of Virginia.

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