Back in 2005, Democratic Sen. Creigh Deeds faced off against Republican Del. Bob McDonnell for Virginia’s Attorney General’s office. He lost by 323 out of nearly two million votes cast. This year, Deeds and McDonnell are back, competing for the governor’s chair about to be vacated by Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine.
The latest polls may show McDonnell ahead, but there’s no doubt in my mind: this year, it’s all about Deeds.
Deeds is from Bath County, a rural area in western Virginia traversed by the Appalachian Mountains, home to the Homestead Resort and some of the most breathtaking natural beauty in Virginia. After working his way through Concord College and Wake Forest School of Law, Deeds returned home to serve as Commonwealth’s Attorney in Bath. He was elected to the House of Delegates in 1991, the Virginia State Senate in 2001 and has served with distinction in both bodies. This year’s election, however, will be the most consequential — not just for the Deeds, but for Virginia and the nation.
For eight years, Virginia has had excellent leadership under Democratic governors Mark Warner and Kaine. Both believed, and rightly so, that you can be a democrat and pro-business. Since then, Virginia has won plaudits, being named “the best managed state” by Governing Magazine and “the best state to do business” by Forbes. We have one of the best public school systems in the country and the highest possible bond rating, an evaluation of a state’s financial and administrative stature. Virginia’s Democratic governors have shown themselves to be tough, effective leaders committed to moving Virginia forward.
Deeds has been there for it all. But looking beyond the success of the past eight years, Deeds has innovative and interesting ideas for the next four. He has proposed tax credits for businesses that create jobs, wants to invest more in alternative energy, favors expanding health care to all Virginians, and is committed to making sure tax dollars stretch as far as possible. So what have we got here?
A rural democrat committed to the policies and ideas of Warner and Kaine that have proven to be successful. Why on earth would we elect anybody else?
Well, some think Bob McDonnell is the way to go. After serving in the House of Delegates, McDonnell served three years as Virginia’s Attorney General, resigning this past February to run for governor full time. McDonnell is a conservative republican from Virginia Beach. He endorses more offshore oil drilling and big coal, supports vouchers for private schools, has repeatedly voted to constrain a woman’s right to choose and — when it comes to jobs — opposed accepting $125 million in federal funds to help unemployed Virginians. This is all on the record; there’s no equivocating. He’s proposed laudable schemes for creating jobs over the next four years, but his record doesn’t suggest that he’ll actually carry through with them.
This election also has national implications. Political pundits and commentators are following this race closely. Whichever way it goes, this election will be viewed as a referendum on President Barack Obama. Virginia went for Obama in the 2008 election — if the state elects a Republican, public opinion could swing against Obama and hamper his reform efforts.
Both candidates are good men with Virginia’s best interest at heart, but only Deeds has the vision and proven leadership to get the job done right.
E-mail Beau Wright at email@example.com.