- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2005

Virginia state Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II is hosting a different sort of fundraiser in November.

Mr. Cuccinelli, a Fairfax County Republican who will be up for re-election in 2007, will raise money with a paintball game on Nov. 13 at Hogback Mountain in Leesburg. The cost, $100 per player, includes all of the equipment and some snacks.

“For a few more bucks, players will have the opportunity to engage Senator Cuccinelli in one-shot quick draw at 10 paces,” reads an ad on the state Republican Party Web site www.vagop.com.

No word yet on whether any of his political rivals will pony up the cash so they can take a few shots.

Decoder rings

Campaign volunteers for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore infiltrated a town hall meeting sponsored last week by the Democratic candidate, Timothy M. Kaine, using a child’s toy to get their message across.

Volunteers handed out “The Tim Kaine Decoder Ring” with a flier saying that when Mr. Kaine talks about “budget reform,” he means “tax increase.”

Mr. Kaine, the lieutenant governor, last year supported a $1.38 billion tax-reform package that increased the sales and cigarette taxes but decreased income tax for poor Virginians and eliminated the state portion of the sales tax on groceries.

Mr. Kilgore, the former attorney general, opposed the tax package. He says Mr. Kaine is dishonest when praising the package because he does not mention the tax increases.

On a flier attached to the ring, the Kilgore campaign says: “He has turned his work for the biggest tax increase in Virginia history, into, in his words, ‘budget reform’ and ‘investment.’”

“Tell your family and friends, the days of wondering what Tim Kaine means with his code words are all over,” it reads.

Kaine spokeswoman Delacey Skinner said Mr. Kaine “clearly” tells people that the package raised the sales tax by a half-cent and increased the cigarette tax, which was among the lowest in the nation.

“Budget reform means they reformed the tax code,” she said. “I don’t think anybody is trying to hide what the budget-reform deal was about. They just want to hide the fact that Jerry Kilgore opposed budget reform and the historic investment it made in education.”

Attention, shoppers

The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners have given conditional approval for a shopping center project on Kent Island, Md. It’s the first step of a process to allow more development within 1,000 feet of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of the petition that includes 15 conditions. Commissioner Mike Koval voted against it, citing an increase in traffic on Piney Creek Road.

The shopping center is planned for a 14-acre property in Chester bordered by Piney Creek Road and state Route 18, north of U.S. Route 50.

The concept plan for the shopping center includes a 63,000-square-foot Giant supermarket, stores in a 14,000-square-foot building, a restaurant and a gas station.

Something Wilder

Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder wants the three candidates for governor to devote more of their platforms to the problems that afflict Virginia’s cities, from truancy to violent crime.

Mr. Wilder, who served as governor from 1990 to 1994, will make his endorsement based on the response to his proposals from Democrat Timothy M. Kaine, Republican Jerry W. Kilgore and independent H. Russell Potts, Wilder senior policy adviser Paul Goldman said.

Though not critical of any of the candidates, Mr. Goldman said all three have courted swing voters in suburban and rural Virginia, perhaps at the expense of the cities. “It would be nice to get that in the mix,” he said.

Mr. Wilder, who is Richmond’s first popularly elected mayor in more than a half-century, plans to approach the campaigns to seek their support for up to 10 pieces of legislation that he defines as critical to the cities, Mr. Goldman said.

They include:

• Drug testing of any drug offenders for 18 months after their release from prison.

• Ending the practice of allowing public housing authorities to hire their own legal counsel, which costs Richmond $1 million in legal fees annually.

• Giving cities more power to deal with unruly students and to hold parents more accountable.

• Giving parents more freedom to remove their children from schools they deem dangerous.

Mr. Goldman said Mr. Wilder is in a unique position to discuss urban issues with the candidates as a former governor and because of Richmond’s “strong mayor” form of government, a change he helped to make.

“I think he can say these things, and he can say, ‘Look, I’m not one of your competitors,’” Mr. Goldman said. “Let’s not forget our cities.”

Though Mr. Wilder has not endorsed a candidate for governor, his name has emerged in recent days in the campaign. Last week, Mr. Kilgore suggested to reporters that Mr. Wilder criticized Mr. Kaine in a magazine article.

The reference was to an issue of the New Republic, in which Mr. Wilder railed against decades of public embarrassment over the capital city’s corruption and missteps. Mr. Wilder denied he was “slamming” anyone in particular, including Mr. Kaine, who served as mayor from 1998 to 2001.

Fighting disease

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams last week promised to get involved in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The mayor said he agrees with a recent report that concluded the city isn’t doing enough to fight the spread of a disease that infects an estimated one in 20 D.C. residents.

The study by the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice found that the city’s efforts were badly understaffed, poorly coordinated and lacking especially for young people and other at-risk groups.

Mr. Williams said he not only will comply with a recommendation to form an HIV/AIDS task force but also plans to lead it, but he dismissed a suggestion that the District create an outside commission to discuss AIDS efforts.

School board vote

A Queen Anne’s County education panel recommends that officials conduct a referendum on whether the county should have an elected school board. Members of the Queen Anne’s Education Task Force recently reviewed their draft report with the County Commission.

The county has a five-member appointed school board. If voters do want an elected school board, the task force suggests a seven-member board with one member from each election district.

Candidates must be Queen Anne’s County residents for at least three years and registered voters and live in the election district they want to represent.

The task force also suggests two nonvoting student members on the school board.

Down in the valley

Several Republican lawmakers traveled the highways and byways of Virginia together last week, reaching out to residents during a break on Capitol Hill.

A handful of politicians joined U.S. Sen. George Allen in the Shenandoah Valley for part of his annual “Listening Tour,” in which he travels the state in an recreational vehicle. He also was drumming up support for Republican candidates.

Among others on the trip were U.S. Sen. John W. Warner, who toured downtown Staunton, and U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who read to children at Blue Ridge Pediatrics in Staunton.

Mr. Warner joined Mr. Allen in Staunton as about 300 supporters paid at least $500 a plate to hear from the senators and meet lieutenant governor candidate state Sen. Bill Bolling and Delegates R. Steven Landes, Chris B. Saxman and Ben L. Cline.

A camera crew from NBC’s “Today” show followed Mr. Allen, as speculation has grown about a presidential bid in 2008, but Mr. Allen said his political focus is on his Senate re-election race next year.

Mr. Warner called the assembled Republican lawmakers “a marvelous team.”

Right-to-work blues

Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Leslie Byrne said that, though she supports repealing Virginia’s right-to-work law, it’s not on her agenda because the political obstacles are too great.

The law prohibits requiring union membership as a condition for employment. Mrs. Byrne said it allows “moochers” to enjoy the benefits negotiated by dues-paying union members.

However, her Republican opponent, state Sen. Bill Bolling, said the right-to-work law has broad bipartisan support because it makes Virginia an attractive state for business.

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

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