- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2006

The newest portrait of a Virginia governor depicts Mark Warner in a pose familiar to those who know him: blue suit, red tie, arms akimbo, restraining his toothsome smile just long enough to get in the last word.

The oil painting of the former governor, a Democrat, was unveiled last week before a crowd that jammed the cavernous lobby of the interim Capitol that Mr. Warner left four months ago to assess his presidential prospects.

Mr. Warner stood about 20 feet away as his wife, Lisa Collis, and Virginia artist Bradley Stevens pulled a royal-blue drape off the 3-by-4-foot gold-framed portrait.

“Great job,” Mr. Warner said he clasped the hand and elbow of Mr. Stevens, his friend since they were classmates at George Washington University in the mid-1970s.

The portrait will hang in the Library of Virginia until it and those of many of Mr. Warner’s predecessors return to the third floor of the Rotunda in the 200-year-old Capitol after wholesale renovations are completed late this year.

• Buck of the Irish

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s Irish heritage is paying dividends in his campaign treasury.

His candidacy in the Democratic primary for governor of Maryland is attracting thousands of dollars in donations from Irish Americans around the country.

One political action committee, the Irish-American Democrats, expects to give him $5,000 this year.

Lawyers at a New York firm have started a group called New York Irish for Martin O’Malley.

And a former ambassador with an Irish heritage, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, hosted a $60,000 fundraiser in December.

• Heir apparent?

When Mayor Anthony A. Williams endorsed D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp in the race to succeed him, he said she is best qualified to continue the city’s economic resurgence.

“This progress is still at a fragile state. This progress still requires hands-on know-how and management,” Mr. Williams told dozens of people Tuesday in front of the renovated Tivoli Theatre in Columbia Heights, which is booming with development.

Mr. Williams said he and Mrs. Cropp, both Democrats, have worked closely to encourage the redevelopment of dilapidated and crime-ridden neighborhoods.

In Columbia Heights, a Giant supermarket recently opened and a Target department store is planned.

“These businesses create jobs for residents in this neighborhood and provide badly needed services,” said Mrs. Cropp, who eagerly accepted the mayor’s endorsement.

• Unhappy loser

Denied the Democratic nomination to run for Congress, a Virginia psychotherapist who conducts nude group sessions told party leaders in an e-mail to kiss his rump.

Democrats on May 13 chose no nominee rather than select Brad Blanton of Page County to challenge Republican Rep. Eric I. Cantor for his 7th District seat.

Mr. Blanton’s e-mail, sent the next night, used a three-letter barnyard term, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “If that is not clear enough for you, call me and I’ll tell you in person,” the newspaper quoted from the e-mail.

Henrico County Democratic Chairman Tim Mitchell said Mr. Blanton’s retort “proves that the Democratic Party and the process we use works well.”

Two years ago, Mr. Cantor won three-fourths of the vote over Mr. Blanton, who ran as an independent. And Mr. Blanton wrote in his e-mail that he might run as an independent again this fall, attacking Democrats and Republicans alike if he does.

• World traveler

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams is defending a privately funded 11-day trip to Africa, saying it will produce future benefits for the city.

The trade mission to Ghana and Senegal cost $155,000, and about two-thirds of the cost was for business people who accompanied the mayor. It ended last Monday.

Mr. Williams said there are potential benefits for the tourism industry and other capital investments from forging relationships with African nations. Critics have said the trip was a junket for private corporations to gain access to the mayor.

ACS State and Local Solutions, which operates the city’s red-light and speed-control cameras, donated the largest share of funds for the trip. Additional donations came from the Carmen Group, a lobbying firm, as well as the Washington Performing Arts Center, the Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation and hospital operator MedStar Health.

• Big business

Members of Maryland’s business community got a chance to compare the styles and personalities of the two leading Democratic candidates for governor at a forum featuring Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan in back-to-back appearances last week in Linthicum.

Speaking Tuesday before the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and Technology Council of Maryland, the two men criticized Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for not doing enough to bolster the state’s technology industry, for trying to foster an adversarial relationship between business and Democrats, and for focusing too much energy on issues such as slot machines.

Mr. Duncan called for the creation of a “research diamond,” to better take advantage of assets such as the National Institutes of Health, the biotechnology corridor along Interstate 270, Fort Meade, the University of Maryland College Park and Johns Hopkins University.

“I don’t want to live in a state that’s in the bottom 10 in technology and the top 10 in gambling,” Mr. Duncan said.

Mr. O’Malley said Mr. Ehrlich has spent too much of his first term “bad-mouthing” the state’s business climate and not enough improving the overall quality of life.

“I do not believe that the governor of Maryland should incessantly bad-mouth the business climate of a very strong state that is growing and creating jobs because of your investment and talent,” Mr. O’Malley said.

• Help up north

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has help on the ground in New Hampshire, the first presidential primary state.

The New Hampshire Senate Democratic Caucus has hired Audra Tafoya, a former Virginia political operative, with money donated by Mr. Warner’s political committee. Miss Tafoya is a former legislative aide to Delegate Brian J. Moran of Alexandria and also helped run the campaign of Delegate Stephen C. Shannon of Fairfax County.

Mr. Warner’s spokeswoman, Ellen Qualls, said Miss Tafoya will do research and communications for the New Hampshire Democrats.

Mr. Warner plans to visit New Hampshire on June 3 to address the New Hampshire Democratic Party. That would be his third trip to the state in the past six months.

• Seeking a way out

Attorneys for former Lynchburg, Va., Mayor Carl Hutcherson are asking for a new trial or to have the charges on which he was convicted dropped.

In court documents, attorneys contend that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to convict Hutcherson beyond a reasonable doubt.

A jury earlier this month convicted Mr. Hutcherson of mail fraud, bank fraud, Social Security fraud, lying to investigators and obstructing justice. Prosecutors said he raided a church charity to pay back taxes and other debt. He also was convicted of taking money from two disabled Social Security recipients.

• Your honor

Virginia Sens. John Warner and George Allen plan to recommend one or more candidates to President Bush for a newly vacant seat on the Richmond-based federal appeals court.

The two Republicans said they want to see a Virginian in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seat vacated last week by the resignation of J. Michael Luttig, who is leaving to become a Boeing executive.

Senators traditionally have less say in recommending candidates for the appeals bench than for U.S. district courts. However, Mr. Allen and Mr. Warner both supported Judge Roger Gregory of Richmond for the appeals court in 2001, and Mr. Bush nominated him successfully.

The 4th Circuit is authorized to have 15 full-time judges. It currently has three from Virginia. It considers appeals from Virginia, the Carolinas, Maryland and West Virginia.

• Life’s lessons

At Hampton University’s graduation ceremony, the keynote speaker was a politician, and he discussed the importance of humility.

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, told the audience gathered on Mother’s Day about his experiences more than two decades ago in Honduras. He was a missionary there, and traveled to remote areas with a priest who taught him a valuable lesson in humility.

The governor said he and the priest went to a home where children were malnourished, and he was upset when a man at the house offered the priest fruit and vegetables.

The priest told him, “You have to be really humble to accept a gift of food from a poor person.”

And a former Virginia governor urged this year’s Wake Forest University graduates to help make the world a less-divided place.

Mark Warner, touted as a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, spoke the same day at the university’s commencement in Winston-Salem, N.C.

While the 15-minute address avoided political specifics, Mr. Warner outlined a position as a compromiser, saying Americans “should be able to disagree … without impugning each other’s patriotism.”

He said no one in politics has a monopoly on truth, virtue and patriotism.

And in a line that drew wide applause and laughter, the former cell-phone executive told graduates his most important advice was “Call your mother.”

Mr. Warner left office earlier this year with one of the highest approval ratings ever for an outgoing Virginia governor.

• Jackpot job

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Wednesday appointed a veteran Richmond city agency chief to head the Virginia Lottery.

Sheila Hill-Christian will take over the state agency that grossed sales of $1.3 billion in fiscal 2005 and yielded a record $423 million for state public schools.

The two have worked together before. When Mr. Kaine was mayor of Richmond, Mrs. Hill-Christian served as Richmond’s assistant city manager and chief of staff to the city manager as well as the city’s parks and recreation director. She has had big jobs with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the Greater Richmond Transit System and Richmond’s Juvenile Justice Services director. Gov. George Allen appointed her to head the state Department of Juvenile Justice in 1997.

She succeeds Donna VanCleave, who became the lottery’s interim director in June after Penelope Kyle, the agency director since 1994, was appointed president of Radford University.

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

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