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Commentary :: Elections & Legislation

Kaine's suburban strategy paid off

"Though Kilgore largely carried rural Virginia, he lost the 5th Congressional District, a bedrock of Virginia conservatism."

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Commentary :: Elections & Legislation

A Triumph For Warner, And a Guide For His Party

By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 9, 2005; A01

Virginia's quadrennial search for a governor featured neither charismatic personalities nor dominant policy initiatives. But Democrat Timothy M. Kaine's resounding victory over Republican Jerry W. Kilgore nonetheless provided important political lessons for the commonwealth, and maybe the country.

The outcome marked what feels like a dramatic strengthening of Democratic appeal in Northern Virginia, the state's richest and most populous region. It showed that Republicans can no longer depend simply on the power of their party to win statewide and demonstrated the dangers of a negative campaign. It presented an intriguing campaign model for Democrats, in which religious faith plays an important role. And most of all it demonstrated the appeal of Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), for whom this could become the first stop of a presidential campaign.

"The real asset that Kaine had was this rather astonishing popularity of Warner," said Merle Black, a professor who studies Southern politics at Emory University.

George Mason University professor Mark J. Rozell agreed. "I think to a large extent [the story] is the Warner influence," said Rozell, who has closely followed the race. "He created the circumstances for a Democrat to win in a Republican-leaning state in the South."

Those circumstances included a soaring approval rating that was steady across party lines and an electorate that was happy with the way the state was being governed and upset with the national trends. Virginia just one year ago awarded President Bush a large margin in his reelection campaign, but like the rest of the country, it has soured on his performance.

Although Warner has been careful not to criticize Bush directly -- for that matter, his instinctual nods to bipartisanship meant he made a point of not mentioning Kilgore by name -- he made the case all the same. "If we want to make it a comparison between how things are going in Virginia and how they are going in Washington, that's a comparison I will take any day of the week," he said while campaigning for Kaine this weekend.

Bush invited the judgment by scheduling an eleventh-hour campaign event with Kilgore at a Richmond airplane hangar. The final images of the campaign were Warner and Kaine rallying their troops, and Bush and Kilgore linking arms. "People were willing to accept Mark Warner's recommendation and not willing to accept George Bush's recommendation," said University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato.

Black said the election could hardly have gone better for Warner as he begins to put together a national campaign. "You can imagine him on the ticket, either as the presidential candidate or the vice president, and Virginia automatically becomes a competitive state," he said. The commonwealth has not supported a Democrat for president since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

Kaine, the lieutenant governor, relied so heavily on Warner's support -- he constantly referred to the "Warner-Kaine administration" even though the two were elected separately four years ago -- that his own accomplishments in the race might tend to be overlooked.

But Kaine, who slipped into office four years ago with the scantest of margins, skillfully blunted Kilgore's attempts to portray him as too liberal for conservative Virginia. Kaine becomes the first candidate since the reinstatement of the death penalty to win the governorship of a Southern state despite his personal opposition, although he has said he will carry out executions.

Kaine defended himself against Kilgore's attack on the subject by saying that it is his beliefs as a deeply religious Catholic that lead him to oppose the death penalty and abortion. But he also said he would follow the law on capital punishment and advocate laws that protect the right to abortion.

"The elite never really got that argument," said David Eichenbaum, one of Kaine's media advisers, referring to columnists and others who wondered how Kaine could be, in his words, "morally" opposed and yet pledge not to try to change the law. "But people who heard him got it."

"I think this is an interesting test case for Democrats to see if you can run a faith-based campaign focused on values and do so as a progressive candidate in a Southern state," Rozell said.

It worked, Rozell said, because of Kaine's frequent reference to his service as a missionary in Honduras while in law school and his familiarity with the language of religion. "It did not come off as calculated," he said.

In his victory speech last night, Kaine told the crowd, "We proved that faith in God is a value we all can share regardless of party."

That connection with voters helped Kaine when Kilgore unleashed a set of visually stunning ads that became the talk of the campaign: family members of murder victims criticizing Kaine for his opposition to the death penalty and his legal work on behalf of death row inmates. Many Democrats worried that the attacks would sink the campaign; instead, they led to a backlash and established Kilgore as the more negative campaigner in voters' minds.

That partly is because Kilgore gave voters little else. Unlike successful Republican candidates such as George Allen in 1993 and James S. Gilmore III four years later, Kilgore had no signature issue to offer; his campaign was aimed at establishing his conservative credentials and trying to paint Kaine as too liberal, and it did little to attract independents and Democrats.

For all the talk of political trends and outside forces, elections come down to a comparison of candidates, and Kilgore rarely seemed a confident campaigner. He avoided joint appearances with Kaine and stumbled badly in one memorable confrontation with television journalist Tim Russert as he avoided clearly stating his anti-abortion stance.

Kilgore was swamped in Northern Virginia, where Kaine exceeded Warner's margins from four years ago, even in the outer suburbs.

The Kilgore campaign never believed that Kaine could do as well in Northern Virginia as Warner, the businessman from Alexandria. But the Democrat got more than 70 percent of the vote in Alexandria, Arlington and Falls Church, and he got more than 60 percent in Fairfax County, home to one in seven Virginia voters. Kilgore had counted on Republicans in the outer suburbs to offset the Democratic advantage inside the Capital Beltway, but Kaine won there, too.

"The old days of places like Prince William and Loudoun being automatically Republican are over," Sabato said. "Republicans are finding that you need to nominate candidates who can communicate with the suburbs."
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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News :: Elections & Legislation

Bolling defeats Byrne in Va Lt. Gov race

RICHMOND, Va. -- Republican Bill Bolling, a state senator from Hanover, narrowly defeated Democrat Leslie Byrne on Tuesday in the race for lieutenant governor.

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News :: Elections & Legislation

Dem. Kaine wins Va race for governor

Nov 8, 9:16 PM EST

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Democrat Tim Kaine was elected governor Tuesday, defeating Republican Jerry Kilgore in the most expensive election in Virginia history.

With 82 percent of the vote reported, the lieutenant governor had 51 percent of the vote to 47 percent for Kilgore, a former attorney general. Independent Russ Potts had 2 percent.

Races for lieutenant governor and attorney general were too close to call.

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Labor & Class : Protest Activity

living wage coalition efforts at umw

Ad Hoc committee recommendations to increase salaries and compensation for the university's lowest paid classified employees (housekeepers and groundskeepers) stands before the university president. The proposals, which already have the support of workers, students, faculty, staff, and community, only await approval from President Anderson.

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Commentary :: Elections & Legislation

The Virginia GOP's Dirty Money

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore has made illegal immigration a centerpiece of his campaign, promising an aggressive crackdown on day laborers and undocumented immigrants attending state universities. "Will we reward illegal behavior with hard-earned dollars from law-abiding citizens?" he asked a campaign rally crowd this August. "I say the answer to this question should be an easy one: no!" While Kilgore accepts the financial support of an anti-immigrant group with racist ties, he also has taken massive contributions from companies notorious for exploiting undocumented immigrant labor.

Continued...

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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

Explosion in the Frech Suburbs

here's an article by French-Algerian
journalist and Radical Activist Network member Naima
Bouteldja that was published in today's Guardian...

Explosion in the suburbs

The riots now sweeping France are the product of years
of racism, poverty and police brutality

Naima Bouteldja
Monday November 7, 2005
The Guardian

In late 1991, after violent riots between youths and
police scarred the suburbs of Lyon, Alain Touraine,
the French sociologist, predicted: "It will only be a
few years before we face the kind of massive urban
explosion the Americans have experienced." The 11
nights of consecutive violence following the deaths of
two young Muslim men of African descent in a Paris
suburb show that Touraine's dark vision of a
ghettoised, post-colonial France is now upon us.

Clichy-sous-Bois, the impoverished and segregated
north-eastern suburb of Paris where the two men lived
and where the violent reaction to their deaths began,
was a ticking bomb for the kind of dramatic social
upheaval we are currently witnessing. Half its
inhabitants are under 20, unemployment is above 40%
and identity checks and police harassment are a daily
experience.

In this sense, the riots are merely a fresh wave of
the violence that has become common in suburban France
over the past two decades. Led mainly by young French
citizens born into first and second generation
immigrant communities from France's former colonies in
north Africa, these cycles of violence are almost
always sparked by the deaths of young black men at the
hands of the police, and then inflamed by a
contemptuous government response.

Four days after the deaths in Clichy-sous-Bois, just
as community leaders were beginning to calm the
situation, the security forces reignited the fire by
emptying teargas canisters inside a mosque. The
official reason for the police action: a badly parked
car in front of it. The government refuses to offer
any apology to the Muslim community.

But the spread of civil unrest to other poor suburbs
across France is unprecedented. For Laurent Levy, an
anti-racist campaigner, the explosion is no surprise.
"When large sections of the population are denied any
kind of respect, the right to work, the right to
decent accommodation, what is surprising is not that
the cars are burning but that there are so few
uprisings," he argues.

Police violence and racism are major factors. In
April, an Amnesty International report criticised the
"generalised impunity" with which the French police
operated when it came to violent treatment of young
men from African backgrounds during identity checks.

But the reason for the extent and intensity of the
current riots is the provocative behaviour of the
interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy. He called rioters
"vermin", blamed "agents provocateurs" for
manipulating "scum" and said the suburbs needed "to be
cleaned out with Karsher" (a brand of industrial
cleaner used to clean the mud off tractors). Sarkozy's
grandstanding on law and order is a deliberate
strategy designed to flatter the French far right
electorate in the context of his rivalry with the
prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, for the 2007
presidency.

How can France get out of this political race to the
bottom? It would obviously help for ministers to stop
talking about the suburbs as dens of "scum" and for
Sarkozy to be removed: the falsehoods he spread about
the events surrounding the two deaths and his
deployment of a massively disproportionate police
presence in the first days of the riots have again
shown his unfitness for office.

A simple gesture of regret could go a long way towards
defusing the tensions for now. The morning after the
gassing of the mosque, a young Muslim woman summed up
a widespread feeling: "We just want them to stop
lying, to admit they've done it and to apologise." It
might not seem much, but in today's France it would
require a deep political transformation and the
recognition of these eternal "immigrants" as full and
equal citizens of the republic.

· Naima Bouteldja is a French journalist and
researcher for the Transnational Institute

naima.bouteldja@gmail.com

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News :: Elections & Legislation : Labor & Class

Potts meets with McQuay union members

Russ Potts said he, more than rivals Tim Kaine or Jerry Kilgore, will be the governor for the common man, as he shook hands with workers during a shift change at a Verona manufacturing plant Friday.

"I know what it's like to be hungry," Potts said, following a tour of McQuay International. "I know what it's like to have people make fun of me because of the holes in my sweater when I go to school.

"I'm the poor boy in this race who came from the most humble roots. If there's anybody that understands what it's like to work to get three square meals a day, it's me."

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