- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2006

RICHMOND — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said yesterday that Republicans should confirm his nominee for secretary of the commonwealth because he has made an effort to reach out to their party.

The General Assembly is expected to vote this week on the confirmation of Daniel G. LeBlanc, former president of the Virginia AFL-CIO, to the prominent Cabinet position.

House Republicans are uneasy about Mr. LeBlanc’s labor background, but Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, said he feels confident that the legislature will confirm the nominee.

“I have had a hand extended to these guys,” Mr. Kaine said. “I don’t think they are going to spurn that.”

Mr. Kaine noted that two former Republican delegates are serving in his Cabinet.

Last month, he appointed Mary H. Kilgore, the wife of Republican Jerry W. Kilgore, as executive director of the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation. Mr. Kaine defeated Mr. Kilgore in the gubernatorial election last year.

“That’s the way I want to do this,” he said.

Mr. Kaine said he does not have a “plan B” in case his appointment is rejected.

“I’m still feeling optimistic,” he said.

Mr. LeBlanc stepped down from his post at the labor organization when Mr. Kaine, a longtime friend, appointed him to the Cabinet.

Cabinet secretaries must receive an affirmative vote from both the House and the Senate to make their appointments permanent.

House Republicans, who questioned Mr. LeBlanc for more than an hour last week, worry that he would try to undermine the state’s “right to work” law.

Mr. LeBlanc, however, has said he would honor the law against compulsory union membership because Mr. Kaine supports it.

The secretary of the commonwealth researches candidates for appointments in the executive branch and makes recommendations to the governor. The office also receives requests for pardons, clemency and restoration of rights.

The legislature has not rejected a gubernatorial Cabinet nominee in modern history, and such a move would be “unfortunate,” Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall said.

Mr. Kaine met privately yesterday with House Speaker William J. Howell of Stafford, House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith of Salem, and Delegates M. Kirkland Cox of Colonial Heights and R. Steven Landes of Weyers Cave, all Republicans, and advised them not to kill Mr. LeBlanc’s appointment.

Mr. Griffith said yesterday that his caucus is not sure whether members will vote against Mr. LeBlanc.

“We haven’t made any decision,” Mr. Griffith said.

Delegates have said privately that they think Mr. LeBlanc will be rejected easily.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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