- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 18, 2005

In Tuesday’s primaries, where Virginians selected their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, voters have set the stage for a number of classic liberal-conservative political battles. The political highlight of 2005 will certainly be the gubernatorial race between former state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, who won the Republican nomination with 82 percent of the vote, and current Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Conservatives and Republicans have plenty of reason to feel confident. Mr. Kilgore, a strong campaigner who was elected in a 20-point landslide four years ago, provides an excellent record of accomplishment as attorney general. He has been tireless in pushing the General Assembly and Congress to make it easier to prosecute criminal street gangs, in particular the violent Salvadoran MS-13 gang, a group comprised largely of illegal aliens who have terrorized Northern Virginia. He has fought Gov. Mark Warner’s efforts to permit illegal aliens to pay lower in-state tuition rates, has opposed efforts by state colleges and universities to institute racial preferences and has worked harder than just about any prosecutor we have ever seen to lock up violent sexual predators.

Mr. Kilgore has energetically worked to prosecute abusive spammers who prey on consumers. He has opposed the efforts by Mr. Warner, aided by Senate Republicans (aside from public-employee unions, perhaps the most energetic high-tax advocates in the state) to increase taxes. He supports the death penalty. Mr. Kilgore has provided solid, steady leadership. This is in sharp contrast to Mr. Warner, who has shown a disconcerting tendency to disappear from public view and let aides snipe at Republicans when faced with difficult issues like taxes and immigration — matters on which sound public policy was directly at odds with the political interests of Democratic constituencies.

Unfortunately, just like his political mentor, Mr. Warner, Tim Kaine seems very much like a left-of-center red-state politician pretending to be a moderate. With Mr. Kaine’s record of trying to be all things to all people, he is a very inviting political target for Mr. Kilgore and the Republicans. For example, Mr. Kilgore favors the death penalty. Mr. Kaine counters that he personally opposes it, but will enforce the law. Given the fact that Mr. Kaine has suggested that capital punishment is analogous to practices in the Soviet Gulag, there’s legitimate reason to question whether he is emotionally prepared to enforce the law. On abortion, Mr. Kilgore is pro-life. Mr. Kaine claims he is pro-life, while denouncing General Assembly Republicans for refusing to include an exception for the “health” of the mother in a partial-birth abortion bill — a loophole that would in essence permit abortion on demand. He is in favor of amending the Virginia Constitution to ban homosexual “marriage,” but opposes a federal constitutional amendment banning it — in effect permitting the federal courts to impose it at any time.

Mr. Kaine claims to be a friend of the Second Amendment, but he’s understandably having a difficult time squaring this with the proposal he made as mayor of Richmond to spend taxpayer money to bus city residents to Washington to lobby for gun control. Don’t be surprised if the third candidate, renegade Republican Sen. Russ Potts, who lags in the single digits in the polls and spends most of his time attacking Mr. Kilgore, drops out of the race and endorses Mr. Kaine.


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