- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2007

• Odd vote

The first meeting of the Virginia Commission on Immigration got off to an odd start.

Delegate Robert G. Marshall, Prince William Republican, and Sen. John C. Watkins, Chesterfield Republican, lobbied to be elected chairman by sharing — among other things — the number of years that they have been married and the number of children they have.

In the end, Mr. Watkins was elected Tuesday by 16-3 margin, winning support from all 10 members Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, appointed to the committee.

“If you do not want this, you are telling Virginia that outside influences are controlling this commission,” Mr. Marshall warned before the vote, adding that he should lead the commission because his legislation created it.

Mr. Kaine and several members of the bipartisan commission were concerned that Mr. Marshall was too conservative and too bullheaded about the issue to run the committee, which is to examine the pros and cons of illegal and legal immigration.

The meetings are part of the growing debate over how the Old Dominion should deal with the influx of illegal aliens — a battle that has practical, public safety, civil rights and political ramifications.

• Traveling man

Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest leaves Thursday for his third visit to Iraq, where he and other congressmen want to assess the security situation.

Mr. Gilchrest says there is no substitute for talking face to face with American troops in Iraq.

He also will meet with U.S. military commanders on the ground because the best information about the war comes directly from those involved.

The Republican from Maryland’s Eastern Shore previously visited Iraq in October 2003 and August 2004.

Seth McLaughlin contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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