- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2005

Virginia gubernatorial candidates weighed in last week on the compromise reached by the U.S. Senate on the filibuster over judicial nominees.

The state’s two Republican Sens. George Allen and John W. Warner were on opposite sides, with Mr. Allen opposing the compromise and Mr. Warner being a key player in brokering the deal.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry W. Kilgore shares Mr. Allen’s point of view and disagreed with the compromise, spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

“Jerry Kilgore thinks that all of the nominees should get the same fair treatment, which is an up-or-down vote,” Mr. Murtaugh said, adding that Mr. Kilgore is glad some nominees will get such a vote. “They all should be afforded the same fairness.”

State Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., Winchester Republican running for governor as an independent, said he considers Mr. Warner a friend and a great political role model.

“They were staring down into a deep, deep canyon,” Mr. Potts said. “Thank goodness John Warner, a true statesman, saved and preserved the great institution of the U.S. Senate. Reason and common sense prevailed.”

Mr. Potts added that he thinks Mr. Warner speaks for “mainstream Virginia,” and that governance must come from the middle.

“What happened [with the compromise] is good news for America and bad news for Jerry Kilgore and the company he keeps.”

Democratic candidate Timothy M. Kaine praised the bipartisan compromise, and likened it to last year’s fight in Virginia over taxes. A budget standoff was averted when Republicans and Democrats teamed together to pass a $1.38 billion tax increase.

“As Virginia saw in the budget dispute in 2004, when you work in a bipartisan way, you get good results,” Mr. Kaine said. “Democracy is better served when elected officials approach difficult questions in the spirit of compromise, instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach.”

mFenty on the brink

As he leans toward his own run for mayor, D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty says it is “inconceivable” that Mayor Anthony A. Williams hasn’t announced whether he will seek re-election next year.

Mr. Fenty will announce his plans at a news conference on Wednesday. Speaking on WTOP Radio’s “The Politics Program” Friday, Mr. Fenty said it is “no secret” that he is leaning toward running. He said he was awaiting the results of a formal poll over the weekend to help him decide.

Mr. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, said he is “shocked” that Mr. Williams has not made his intentions known.

He said Mr. Williams deserves credit for many improvements in city life but added that much more needs to be done. He says the next mayoral election will be about the future of the District, not the past. To that end, Mr. Fenty said if he were mayor, he would fire police Chief Charles H. Ramsey if he didn’t do a better job in community policing.

Mr. Fenty seized on the fact that the mayor has questioned whether he has the energy for a third term.

Mr. Fenty spoke a day after the mayor, also a Democrat, questioned whether Mr. Fenty is the best person to run the city. The mayor told WTOP that one of the things that could get him to run was the prospect of publicly debating “someone like Councilman Fenty.”

mIdentity crisis

Steve Baril last week said that his opponent for the Republican nomination for Virginia attorney general is concealing the identity of one or more donors who funneled $220,000 through two organizations to pay for campaign ads.

The Richmond lawyer accused Delegate Robert F. McDonnell, Virginia Beach Republican, of violating the spirit of Virginia’s campaign-finance laws, which are built on the principle of full disclosure.

Mr. McDonnell responded that he has violated neither the letter nor the intent of the law, and said Mr. Baril is resorting to mudslinging to try to revive a fading campaign.

The primary is June 14.

“My opponent is a very desperate person,” Mr. McDonnell said. “With three weeks left, he’s spent almost a million dollars and has virtually no grass-roots support and no endorsements outside of a handful in Richmond.”

At issue is a $220,000 contribution from the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) to the Virginia Conservative Action PAC (VCAP), which has endorsed Mr. McDonnell.

Mr. Baril said he doubts it is a coincidence that a week after receiving the gift, VCAP introduced a radio and TV ad campaign on Mr. McDonnell’s behalf that he said would cost about the same amount as the donation.

“I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, and most people in Virginia didn’t either,” Mr. Baril said.

As a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, ATRA is not required to disclose its contributors.

Mr. Baril speculated that Mr. McDonnell orchestrated a major donation through ATRA and VCAP, knowing the source would not have to be revealed to the public.

“Bob McDonnell knows where this money is coming from,” Mr. Baril said in a telephone interview. “People don’t accept money through intermediaries except crooks, and I can’t imagine Bob McDonnell doing that.”

He backed off slightly when asked if he was implying that Mr. McDonnell is a crook. “I’m willing to give Bob the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Mr. McDonnell said he did not know the source of ATRA’s money and was not obligated, legally or ethically, to inquire. He said it would be ridiculous to expect a candidate to look not only at who gave money to a PAC, but also at who gave money to the donor.

“Perhaps Mr. Baril ought to go into murder-mystery novel writing,” Mr. McDonnell said. “I think he’s a conspiracy theorist, and he really ought to be focusing on the issues in the campaign.”

Cari O’Malley, public affairs director for ATRA, said the organization made the donation to VCAP with no strings attached because the conservative PAC “has been very supportive of civil justice reform.”

She said ATRA does not disclose its donors simply because it is not required.

Robin DeJarnette, executive director of VCAP, also said the contribution was not earmarked for Mr. McDonnell.

“There was absolutely an understanding that VCAP spends the money how VCAP sees fit to spend it,” she said.

Miss DeJarnette said VCAP’s ad campaign for Mr. McDonnell has cost $163,000.

mGOP taps Gibson

John Gibson, a graduate of Loyola College in Baltimore, is the new executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.

Mr. Gibson replaces Interim Director Chris Cathcart, who is leaving to attend business school.

Mr. Gibson most recently was political director for Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia.

mFull-term goals

Maryland Delegate Jeannie Haddaway, Talbot Republican, confirmed last week that she will run for a full term next year. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. selected Miss Haddaway two years ago to fill the unexpired term of Ken Schisler, who became the head of the Public Service Commission.

At the time, Miss Haddaway was a spokeswoman for the National Audubon Society.

Democrats Tim Quinn and Talbot County Council member Hilary Spence also have announced their candidacies for a seat in the House of Delegates.

mMoving up

Maryland Delegate George C. Edwards has officially announced his candidacy for the state Senate.

Mr. Edwards, 58, Garrett Republican, said he will seek the District 1 seat being vacated by fellow Republican Sen. John J. Hafer, who announced earlier this month that he would not seek a fifth term.

The district includes Garrett and Allegany counties and part of Washington County.

Mr. Edwards has been House minority leader for the past two years. He is in his sixth term as a state delegate.

The announcement came the same day that Mr. Edwards’ son, Paul Edwards, was inaugurated as the new mayor of Grantsville.

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

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