Monday, August 9, 2004

Virginia Gov. Mark Warner yesterday said he wants House Republicans who this year voted for the largest tax increase in the state’s history to keep partnering with Democrats to secure financial investments in Virginia’s future.

Mr. Warner, a Democrat, stopped short of saying the maverick Republicans should be re-elected, adding that he is supporting all Democratic candidates next year.

But the governor did say many of his supporters likely would back the re-election efforts of those Republican delegates, adding that those efforts are independent of his own.

“There are clearly a lot of people who support [the maverick Republicans],” Mr. Warner said. “A lot of people did the right thing, and I was very grateful for their effort.”

Mr. Warner praised the bipartisan coalition that passed a plan to raise the state’s sales, cigarette and real-estate taxes by $1.38 billion and lower other taxes. He said he doesn’t want that partnership to be a “one-time event.”

Business leaders statewide are considering the formation of a political action committee to support the Republicans, sources familiar with the effort said yesterday.

The Washington Post first reported Sunday that the planned fund-raising campaign seeks to raise between $1 million and $2 million to re-elect the maverick Republicans and defeat some incumbents next year.

The Post reported that W. Heywood Fralin, who owns a chain of nursing homes and is the father of Delegate William H. Fralin, a Roanoke Republican who voted for the tax increase, and John O. “Dubby” Wynne are involved in organizing the political action committee.

Mr. Wynne is a former chief executive of Landmark Communications, which owns the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk and the Weather Channel in Atlanta.

Mr. Warner, meanwhile, said he will support Democratic candidates “who understand the importance of investing in Virginia’s infrastructure and long-term future” and “mainstream” Democratic candidates and incumbents who are fiscally responsible.

Anti-tax groups have promised to donate to candidates who challenge the maverick Republicans.

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