- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 3, 2005

A Maryland delegate says a bill that would make English the official language of state government is dead for the year, but he vowed to push again for a vote on it next year.

Delegate Patrick L. McDonough had been trying to find a similar bill to which to attach his legislation after his bill died in committee in a tie vote last month.

“We haven’t seen anything we can attach it to,” said Mr. McDonough, Baltimore County Republican. “We have tried on two separate bills, but we were told by the attorneys it would not work.

“So we are going to pre-file the English bill for next year in an election year, and we are going to work to have more people involved in the process.”

Mr. McDonough had expected the House Health and Government Operations Committee to reject his bill Friday because he has only nine of the 13 votes needed for passage.

• Helping hand

A candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor sent out a sarcastic offer to help one of his opponents in the Republican primary.

Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Sean T. Connaughton on Friday sent out a statement offering to help state Sen. William T. Bolling collect enough signatures to get his name on the June 14 ballot.

“In the spirit of fairness, Sean Connaughton’s campaign is willing to help Bill Bolling circulate petitions anywhere in Virginia where he’s having difficulty gathering enough signatures,” the campaign e-mail said.

Mr. Connaughton already has turned in the needed signatures to be placed on the ballot. Candidates must submit 400 signatures for each of the state’s 11 congressional districts.

Mr. Bolling, of Mechanicsville, had not filed his signatures with the State Board of Elections as of noon Friday. The Bolling campaign said Mr. Connaughton was just trying to distract voters from his own tax record.

“We’re going to be fine with our petitions,” Bolling campaign manager Randy Marcus said. “We will have plenty.”

Candidates have until 5 p.m. April 15 to file the needed signatures.

Also running for the Republican nomination are Fairfax lawyer Gilbert K. Davis and state Sen. Emmett W. Hanger, Augusta County Republican. Neither candidate has filed the required signatures.

Running on the Democratic ticket are state Delegates J. Chapman Petersen of Fairfax, Viola O. Baskerville of Richmond, state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett of Tazewell and former state Sen. Leslie L. Byrne of Fairfax, a former congresswoman and state delegate. Mrs. Byrne is the only Democrat to have filed her signatures.

• Nonpolitical race

Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Jerry W. Kilgore yesterday was scheduled to serve as grand marshal at the Food City 500 car race in Bristol, Tenn.

Mr. Kilgore, a Republican and former state attorney general, was selected to start off the 43 NASCAR drivers by saying, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”

Describing himself as a “lifelong NASCAR fan,” he is a native of Gate City in Southwest Virginia, not far from Bristol.

The race is the fifth stop on the NASCAR schedule.

• Terse verse

Governor Warner, indulging his muse,

On Monday put his pen to use,

Signing a new law that

Makes a big-eared brown bat

The state’s official cave-dwelling recluse.

In four limerick verses, the poet-in-chief explained why he signed legislation that gives the Virginia big-eared bat the same standing as the brook trout (the official state fish) and Chesapecten jeffersonius (state fossil).

“We have a state dog and a fish and a bird,

“And of the fossil I’m sure that you’ve heard.

“So why not a bat?

“What’s wrong with that?

“The state beverage is no more absurd,” read one verse ascribed to Mark Warner in a press release.

The Virginia Cave Board proposed designating an official bat as a way to educate people about the state’s caves and the creatures that inhabit them. The legislation was introduced by Delegate Jackie T. Stump, Buchanan Democrat.

The bill won overwhelming passage in both houses this year in the General Assembly despite a tongue-in-cheek bid by a baseball fan in the state Senate to declare the Louisville Slugger the official state bat instead.

The flying mammal assumes the same rarefied status Virginia affords the northern cardinal (state bird), the Chesapeake Bay deadrise (state boat), the American fox hound (state dog) and the dogwood (state flower and tree).

As for the official state drink: Got milk?

• Hat in the ring

Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath County formally announced his candidacy for attorney general last week, pledging to protect Virginians from violence and what he called drug-company profiteering.

Mr. Deeds, a Democrat and former prosecutor, said his first responsibility would be to “keep us all safe and secure” from gangs, domestic violence and possible terrorist attacks.

But he also promised to champion consumer issues, including lower health care costs.

“The big pharmaceutical and health insurance companies don’t need another attorney general serving as their advocate,” Mr. Deeds said at a state Capitol press conference.

Sen. John S. Edwards of Roanoke announced earlier this month that he would not seek the Democratic nomination, leaving Mr. Deeds unopposed in the June 14 primary.

Delegate Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia Beach and Richmond lawyer Steve Baril are running in the Republican primary.

Mr. McDonnell, also a former prosecutor, has said protecting Virginia from terrorist threats would be his top priority. Mr. Baril has called for hiring more state troopers, reforming state sentencing guidelines and expanding drug courts.

• Target practice

Virginia Delegate L. Preston Bryant, the leader of 17 Republicans in the House who broke with their party’s anti-tax position to pass a $1.4 billion tax package last year, will face a primary opponent this year.

Robert Garber, a former Republican Party chairman from Lynchburg, announced his intent in Lynchburg last week to challenge Mr. Bryant for the nomination.

Mr. Bryant, 40, elected to the 23rd District seat in 1995, has been targeted by conservative, anti-tax groups since he and 16 other Republicans reached a compromise with Gov. Mark Warner on a tax package to end a bitter 115-day budget battle last year.

Besides being the local party chairman, Mr. Garber served two terms on the Lynchburg City Council.

• Welcome back

Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer received a warm welcome — and a little ribbing — Wednesday at his first Board of Public Works meeting since returning to work after a stay at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“We want to welcome back the Grand Poobah,” Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said to Mr. Schaefer, just before first lady Kendel Ehrlich carried in a coconut cake wrapped in plastic with a green bow on top.

The occasion marked at least the third time the first lady has presented Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat, with a cake or pie since Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, was elected and took over the job of running the Board of Public Works meetings.

“I missed you,” Mr. Schaefer said, facing Mrs. Ehrlich, “but I didn’t miss him,” he added, pointing a thumb at the governor.

Mr. Schaefer, 83, took two weeks off after a four-day stay at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was treated for an irregular heartbeat.

He returned to work March 21.

• Robert Redding Jr. and Christina Bellantoni contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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