Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
In the race for Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, incumbent Bill Bolling (R) is challenged by former Virginia Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner (D). Lieutenant Governors serve four year terms, act as president of the Virginia Senate, and are first in the line of succession if the governor leaves office or is incapacitated.
Bolling’s campaign in 2005 merited only a tepid endorsement from Off on a Tangent, and because of the relatively limited authority granted to the lieutenant governor it is very difficult to judge his four year term. Serving with Governor Tim Kaine (D), a member of the opposing party, Bolling has been limited to presiding over the state Senate in a largely ceremonial role.
Wagner has spent much of the last eight years serving under Governor Mark Warner (D) and Governor Tim Kaine (D) so, once again, it is very difficult to judge her record as an individual. Her responsibilities were primarily to support the policies of Warner and Kaine, not to pursue her own initiatives.
In reviewing Wagner’s policy positions, one finds a fairly standard litany for these 2009 campaigns: we must create jobs, pursue clean energy initiatives, invest in public schools, expand health care coverage, resolve transportation problems, and ensure fiscal responsibility. Putting aside Wagner’s misguided belief that ‘investing’ more in our well-funded-yet-failing public schools will help anything, and her opposition to protecting unborn human life, there is little to disagree with here.
Bolling presents a similar litany, with a few nuances. His education plan is essentially identical to Wagner’s, but goes further with a plan for higher education. It’s not a particularly great plan for higher education, but I suppose it’s better than Wagner’s silence.
Bolling also presents a detailed, workable transportation plan he developed with gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell (R), which—frankly—leaves Wagner’s vague plan in the dust. While I disagree with Bolling’s support of ill-advised ‘HOT’ toll lanes on our major urban and suburban thoroughfares, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Bolling would privatize our state-owned liquor stores to raise short-term transportation revenue, require that at least 1 percent of future state revenue growth be dedicated to transportation, focus on certain ‘immediate need’ priority projects, raise interstate highway speed limits, and much more.
On other issues, Bolling presents a standard, conservative respect for individual liberties—including the right to life, right to keep and bear arms, and property rights. Wagner, on the other hand, has been strangely quiet about where she stands on these ‘hot button’ civil liberty issues. It is a good bet that she stands on the wrong side of many of them.
Transportation remains the most critical issue affecting the Commonwealth. The protection of our liberties in the face of burgeoning federal and state governments is a close second. Repairing our failed educational system is third. While Bolling’s education plan is nothing to write home about, his plan for transportation and proven respect for Virginian liberty more than makes up the difference. I endorse the reelection of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling as Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia
In the open race for Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Del.(D-35th) is up against Virginia Senator (R-37th). Attorneys General serve four year terms and have responsibility for law enforcement and public safety in the state. Because Attorneys General in the Commonwealth often go on to seek higher office, candidates for this office usually run a ‘general purpose’ political campaign despite the specific nature of the office. My focus in evaluating these candidates is on law enforcement and public safety issues germane to the role of the attorney general.
Both Shannon and Cuccinelli come to the table with strong records on public safety issues. Cuccinelli has worked in the House of Delegates to reform Virginia’s sex crime laws and limit costly frivolous appeals in capital cases. Shannon, meanwhile, has worked in the Virginia Senate to establish the state’s AMBER Alert system and worked to convict violent criminals and corrupt officials as a Fairfax County prosecutor. If elected, Shannon intends to crack down on drunk driving and Cuccinelli aims to crack down on law-breaking illegal immigrants.
On these issues, either candidate would serve us well as Attorney General. On others, however, the choice is much clearer.
Cuccinelli has a solid record of defending citizens’ human rights as enumerated in the U.S. and Virginia constitutions—the right to life, the right to free speech, the right to free assembly, the freedom of religion, and the right to keep and bear arms, among others. Additionally, Cuccinelli has been instrumental in reforming the eminent domain process in Virginia to better protect citizens’ fundamental property rights.
It is absolutely imperative that the chief law enforcement officer in the Commonwealth defend our enumerated human rights and liberties. I have little confidence that Shannon, who has skirted these key issues entirely, will do so. It is more important than ever that we elect officials—especially those with responsibility for law enforcement and public safety—who deeply respect and protect our rights as citizens of the Commonwealth and of the United States. For this reason, I endorse the election of Senator Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia.