- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2005

Jerry W. Kilgore’s running two races this fall — one as a Republican for governor and another as sponsor of an entry in a NASCAR race in Martinsville.

Last week, Mr. Kilgore showed off the new No. 92 Jerry Kilgore for Governor Chevrolet to be entered in the Nextel Cup Subway 500 race Oct. 23 at the Martinsville Speedway.

The car has on its hood an oval orange and blue “Kilgore” insignia, smaller campaign banners on its rear quarter panels and the campaign Web address on the bumper.

It will be part of Hermie Sadler’s Virginia-based racing team. Campaign officials say that about half of the approximate cost of the $200,000 of running the car would be picked up by the campaign, and Mr. Sadler would pick up the rest as an in-kind contribution to Mr. Kilgore.

Horse-racing blues

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch and members of the House of Delegates are looking at ways to prop up the state’s horse-racing industry without approving slot machines.

Legislation now being drafted would subsidize purses with state tax money. But Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said subsidies are a “Band-Aid,” and he continues to push for slots.

Magna Entertainment, the company that owns Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, has announced plans to sharply reduce the number of racing days at the tracks to cut costs and make the remaining purses more attractive.

Mr. Busch hopes subsidies and other legislative remedies will ensure that the number of racing days aren’t cut as drastically as Magna has proposed.

Mr. Ehrlich said previous subsidies didn’t save the industry, and new ones won’t either.

Cardin backers

Some key Democrats in Montgomery County say they are supporting Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin’s bid for the Senate.

The Cardin campaign said it has received endorsements from all eight of the county’s Democratic state senators, 13 delegates, four members of the County Council and state Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.

Mr. Cardin is one of four Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. The others include former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, Montgomery County psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren and community activist A. Robert Kaufman.

A Kilgore critic

A state Board of Education member joined Timothy M. Kaine Wednesday to tout the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s efforts to improve public schools and to highlight Republican Jerry W. Kilgore’s opposition to a tax package that boosted education funding.

Board vice president Mark Emblidge appeared with Mr. Kaine in front of the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies in Richmond, a former city high school that fell into disrepair after desegregation. It was renovated and opened as a regional high school for gifted students in 2001.

In continuing efforts to counter Mr. Kilgore’s accusations that Mr. Kaine was an ineffective Richmond mayor, Mr. Emblidge said Mr. Kaine was integral to improving the city’s public schools in the mid-1990s, when Mr. Kaine was on the City Council and Mr. Emblidge was a member of the School Board.

Mr. Kaine was willing to take on the tough fights “that everybody told us were no-win situations,” said Mr. Emblidge, who was appointed to the state board by Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat.

One example was his backing a plan to house the Governor’s School at Maggie Walker, which opened in 1938 as a high school for black students. Faced with declining enrollment, the school closed in 1989 and became a blighted site that was vandalized and even set on fire.

When he became mayor in 1998, Mr. Kaine worked with regional school boards, businesses and lenders on the project, “and in the end he pulled together the support, and this is a tangible, visible example of what Tim was able to accomplish against all the odds,” Mr. Emblidge said.

Mr. Kaine said that he has worked with Mr. Warner and the General Assembly to reverse the trend, and that Mr. Kilgore would erode that progress because of his hostility toward the $1.4 billion tax increase passed by the 2004 General Assembly, which allowed the state to give $1.5 billion to public education.

Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh said that Virginia’s $2.2 billion surplus “proves that Jerry Kilgore was right” and the tax increase was unnecessary. The $2.2 billion figure is based on an outdated revenue estimate for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Revisions since then reflecting a brightened economy lowered the surplus to $544 million, and even large portions of that were obligated by state law to the state’s “rainy day” reserves and to its Water Quality Improvement Fund.

Gas-price hearings

A state Senate committee, acting at the request of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., will hold hearings to determine if Maryland should pass a law that would protect consumers from surging gasoline prices in times of emergency.

Neither Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., nor House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Anne Arundel Democrat, was inclined to take any similar action Wednesday.

Mr. Ehrlich said he does not anticipate taking any quick steps to deal with gasoline prices that spiked after Hurricane Katrina and are now over $3 a gallon.

And Mr. Busch said his first priority is to talk to the state comptroller’s office to make sure it has the resources needed to enforce existing gasoline-pricing laws

In a letter requesting an inquiry by the Senate Finance Committee, Mr. Miller said Hawaii and Puerto Rico have passed laws setting maximum prices for gasoline.

Mr. Ehrlich said the state Attorney General’s Office is checking to ensure that illegal price gouging is not taking place, and he is not convinced that anything more needs to be done now.

Refugees or guests?

D.C. Council member David A. Catania figured he would be the last person to refer to the more than 200 survivors of Hurricane Katrina as “refugees” when they arrived at the D.C. Armory last week.

Mr. Catania, at-large independent, had said he asked all government officials to refer to the survivors as “guests.”

But in his excitement with his successful coordination of their arrival, he slipped.

“I am proud that we finally have refugees, let me scratch that, guests here in the District of Columbia,” he said at a press conference.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, have assailed the usage of the term “refugees,” saying that the term is not appropriate. Most media outlets and several lawmakers have adhered to their request.

Mr. Catania said it was a “slip of the tongue.”

No strip bars

The Caroline County Commissioners are getting an earful from residents opposed to strip clubs.

A recent public hearing attracted a standing-room-only crowd. And a Denton resident presented commissioners with what she said were 2,000 signatures from people who opposed so-called “adult entertainment.”

The commissioners imposed a moratorium on adult businesses earlier this year after a Baltimore strip-club owner announced plans to open a club near Denton.

Since then, new regulations governing the businesses have been drafted and could come up for a vote next week.

An attorney for the businessman says the critics are a vocal minority and criticized the regulations, saying they would move adult businesses closer to residential areas.

No tax at pump?

Virginia should suspend its 17.5-cent gasoline tax for two months to help motorists cope with the drastic increase in fuel prices after Hurricane Katrina, two legislators said Thursday.

“We want to give Virginians a chance to catch their breath in regards to their family finances,” Delegate Benjamin L. Cline, Amherst Republican, said at a convenience store, where he was joined by state Sen. Stephen D. Newman, Lynchburg Republican.

The proposal would require a special session of the General Assembly.

Mr. Newman said the state’s $544 million end-of-year surplus could be tapped to replace the approximately $150 million in revenue that would be lost to the state’s highway construction fund. However, most of the surplus already has been assigned for other purposes.

“There is not $150 million laying on the table,” said Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Gov. Mark Warner. He also said the proposal could do more harm than good in the long run.

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

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