- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2005

When Virginians go to the polls today to select the commonwealth’s next governor, they will cast one of their most important votes in recent memory — one that could determine the direction of their state for many years to come.

The race between Republican Jerry Kilgore, a former attorney general and public safety secretary, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine gives voters a clear choice between a liberal and a conservative — although one would hardly know it from Mr. Kaine’s remarkably successful efforts to blur the differences between the candidates.

Mr. Kilgore is a conservative who combines many of the positive qualities that enabled Sen. George Allen, Gov. Jim Gilmore and the late Ronald Reagan to win one Virginia statewide election after another during the past 25 years. Mr. Kilgore opposes the tax increases pushed by governor Mark Warner, and he understands that simply throwing more money at social problems isn’t the way to solve them. He is pro-life, and he opposes racial preferences.

But the most important reason to vote for Mr. Kilgore is his record of public service — indeed, ever since he graduated from law school in the mid-1980s, he has labored tirelessly to make Virginia a safer place for law-abiding citizens. Time and again, we have seen politicians in other states talk tough on the campaign trail, only to adopt 1960s-style therapeutic, let-‘em loose approaches to corrections and “victimless” crimes like narcotics offenses once elected. We have zero worries about Jerry Kilgore, whose career has been defined by a serious, commonsense approach to public safety and law enforcement.

He served as a federal prosecutor for five years until 1993, when Mr. Allen, then Virginia governor-elect, named him secretary of public safety at the age of 32. As secretary, Mr. Kilgore oversaw the Virginia state police, and other departments, including the parole board, corrections, the state’s juvenile-justice system, and emergency services. Mr. Kilgore played a leading role in helping Mr. Allen enact and implement the highly successful abolition of parole — a reform which resulted in longer prison sentences for the most dangerous offenders. Mr. Kilgore also opened the state’s first “supermax” prisons, Wallens Ridge and Red Onion.

As attorney general, he fought to impose stricter sentences in domestic-violence cases, to crack down on identity theft and child pornography. He persuaded the General Assembly to impose tougher sentences on persons convicted of gang-related criminal activities. He has been exceptionally vigorous in ensuring that sexually violent predators remain behind bars. Mr. Kilgore was successful in defending before the U.S. Supreme Court the Virginia law banning cross-burnings, a form of intimidation used by the Ku Klux Klan. His office successfully defended the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s policies keeping undesirables off of public-housing property.

All over the United States, there are politicians who talk tough about illegal immigration, but always find an excuse not to actually do anything about it. We have zero worries about Jerry Kilgore; indeed, we are hardpressed to come up with the name of any elected official in any state in the union who has done more to try to address the problem than Mr. Kilgore has since becoming attorney general three years ago. When Gov. Warner was pushing for in-state tuition and driver’s licenses for illegals (with Tim Kaine’s apparent assent), Mr. Kilgore fought him. His anti-gang efforts have focused on working with the federal government to prosecute MS-13, a gang largely comprised of illegals. And he has been tireless in pressing for close federal/state cooperation in apprehending illegals in Virginia.

As for Mr. Kaine, the former mayor of Richmond is a triangulating Southern “progressive” in the mold of a Mark Warner, Bill Clinton or a Jimmy Carter. He’s a politician who equates tax increases with fiscal responsibility. He has spent most of his adult life opposing capital punishment, but now he promises to enforce Virginia’s death-penalty law. Mr. Kaine says he is pro-life, but supports gaping loopholes that would render abortion curbs largely meaningless. He says he is against illegal immigration, but responds disdainfully whenever Mr. Kilgore proposes to do something about it. Mr. Kaine sounds like he is content to do nothing about the problem until the federal government is roused from its lethargy.

The choice is clear. We urge a vote for Jerry Kilgore.

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