- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

The top two likely party nominees for the 2005 gubernatorial race in Virginia are getting ready for a busy summer of fund raising and campaigning for candidates vying for the 140 General Assembly seats open in the fall.
Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, and Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, have not formally announced their intentions to run for governor in two years, but political observers widely expect both men to seek their respective nominations with little trouble.
The money already is piling up in both camps. As of Feb. 21, Mr. Kilgore raised $980,000 for his political action committee, Virginians for Jerry Kilgore, and Mr. Kaine raised $600,000 for his PAC, TimPAC, according to the latest figures compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that monitors campaign fund raising of state candidates.
Both figures are expected to change today, when state law requires PACs to file updated campaign-finance reports.
For now, both men are deciding which candidates to support in the November elections. The party leaders have major fund-raisers scheduled later this year for candidates and for their own prospective statewide races.
Mr. Kilgore welcomes former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at a May 14 luncheon in Richmond, an event he is billing as a meeting with community business leaders.
"I am really excited that he agreed to come to the luncheon here in Richmond, where [we] will try to reach out to business leaders," Mr. Kilgore said in a telephone interview with The Washington Times.
Ken Hutcheson, executive director of Virginians for Jerry Kilgore, said he expects the fund-raiser to net about $500,000.
Mr. Kilgore said the money would be used to help him travel throughout the state to help "further our agenda."
Mr. Kaine will attend an invitation fund-raiser at the Charlottesville-area home of musician Bruce Hornsby and his wife, Cathy, this spring. Dawn Farrar, director of TimPAC, said Mr. Kaine and Mrs. Hornsby are friends and Mrs. Hornsby is the one who helped coordinate the event.
Ms. Farrar declined to say how much they hoped to raise at the event but expected that donations would range from $100 to $1,000.
As the highest-ranking elected Republican in a statewide office, Mr. Kilgore is widely viewed as an asset to Republican candidates seeking attention. This attention could translate to support for Mr. Kilgore in 2005.
"I expect Jerry to be very active this year. We'll see him a lot. And it goes without saying that in politics people remember when you've been around a lot and what you've done for them," said Gary R. Thomson, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. "It bodes well for him" in 2005.
Mr. Kilgore said he expects to decide by the middle of next year whether he will run for governor.
This year, Mr. Kilgore has committed himself to helping with the re-election campaigns of several Republicans who are facing challenges from within the party.
Among those incumbents are state Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., Williamsburg Republican, and Senate President Pro Tempore John H. Chichester, Fredericksburg Republican.
Mr. Kilgore also is helping lawyer Mark Obenshain, who is running for a seat left open by state Sen. Kevin G. Miller, Harrisonburg Republican, who retired earlier this year.
The attorney general warned that just because a candidate can bring in a statewide leader to campaign on his or her behalf does not guarantee success at the polls.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't come down to the governor or the attorney general to win an election," he said. "You could have a very popular governor or other statewide official come in, but the candidate has to have the vision" himself.
All 100 seats in the House and all 40 seats in the Senate are open in the November election.
Mr. Kaine has a vested interest in seeing changes in the General Assembly.
Republicans, who control the House and the Senate, cut funding for Mr. Kaine and his office this year while they increased funding for Mr. Kilgore. Also, much of Mr. Kaine's legislative package was rejected, including a proposal to allow covenant marriages in Virginia. Covenant marriages make it harder to divorce than typical marriages. Much of Mr. Kilgore's agenda passed with minimal difficulty.
Laura Bland, communications director for the Virginia Democratic Party, said the party was focused on the upcoming elections and would not speculate on Mr. Kaine's specific recruitment activities this year or what a Kaine-vs.-Kilgore race might look like.
"The bottom line is the lieutenant governor has been working hard to recruit candidates to give voters a real choice," Miss Bland said. But "our sole focus is to recruit candidates for this fall and this election."
Numerous messages left for Mr. Kaine over a four-day period this week to discuss the prospective race and his campaign schedule this summer were not returned.
However, Mr. Kaine said through a spokesman that his campaign activities would be geared toward helping Democrats regain power in the legislature.
"Gerrymandering during the redistricting process has created an imbalance in Virginia's legislature. This fall's elections will be about returning balance to Virginia," Mr. Kaine said. Gov. Mark Warner "and I are working to recruit candidates to return meaningful choice for Virginians at the ballot box."

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