Bob McDonnell

“Never take an anti-tax pledge, but never increase taxes…

…and don’t vote for anyone who has.”

That seems to be the message of Wyatt Durrette over at Virginia Tomorrow.  He may be doing nothing more than giving cover to Bob McDonnell, who has recently said he won’t take an anti-tax pledge.

McDonnell has been tacking left so fast he’s likely to tip his boat over any day.  Others may be impressed, but this seems just another ploy by McDonnell to mask his true positions and intentions.

Durrette has a confusing post saying pledges are a bad idea.  But…

The simple fact is that transportation needs must be met.  Maybe it can be done without a tax increase at the state level.  I hope so.  And there are options.

…Clearly taxes should not be raised now or in the near term due to the cratered economy.  In fact, some taxes might be reduced to spur job creation.

Gee, does anyone remember anyone in the Repugnant Party (save a few state senators who were nearly run out of the party) voting for a tax increase back a few years ago when we were flush?   With the GOP, there is a never a good time to raise taxes.

But pledges are a bad idea, Durrette says.  Instead voters should look at a candidate’s record.

A record of supporting tax increases is one signal.  One of opposition is another.  Voters need to make judgments on records, not on promises made under circumstances where the unpredictability of the future may require a reversal.

I guess I’m old fashioned.  I want candidates to tell me what vision they have for the county, state or country.  What programs do they want to initiate, expand, contract or cut?  If necessary, what taxes will they raise and which ones might they cut to fulfill their vision?  Leading with a commitment to raise or cut taxes is bassackwards.

That may be what Durrette is saying, but as I wrote in the comments section of his post, given his inferences, “It seems all you are doing here is saying that a candidate should never promise not to raise taxes, but elected officials should never raise them nonetheless. And voters should never vote for one who has.”

Got that?  It’s precisely what McDonnell is trying to say.

Republicans Can’t Help Themselves

Creigh Deeds is handed a little gift.

[Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob] McDonnell … said Deeds would be a poor steward to guide the state through a recession. "My philosophy is to keep taxes, regulation and litigation low," he said.

Sounds like a Bush policy to me.  Keep regulation low?  I’d never let Bob McDonnell forget that he favors less regulation of financial markets.  Look where that got us.

Dems Decide to Win

Creigh Deeds victory in the Virginia gubernatorial primary has been described as “stunning.”  An afterthought to the battle between better known names in Democratic circles, Deeds is still being dissed by The Washington Post’s Roz Helderman:

Deeds lives in a sparsely populated county on the West Virginia border, a heritage that brings with it a stammering, unpolished earnestness. His adversaries have been poking fun at recent TV commercials featuring him staring silently into the camera — suggesting that Northern Virginians might be turned off merely by his heavy drawl.

A drawl and roots in rural America didn’t exactly make Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter or LBJ unelectable.  And remember that the opposite of unpolished is slick, rarely spoken as an attribute by voters.

The breath of Deeds victory is astonishing.  A quick review of the results show that he won all but five counties and six cities.  His margin of victory in northern Virginia must give the Democratic establishment pause.  Conventional wisdom is that only hardest core Democrats vote in primaries and vote for the most liberal of candidates.

Northern Virginia wasn’t “turned off merely by his heavy drawl.”  ANd he had an advantage in a three-way race as the two front-runenrs attacked each other, a strategy the country bumpkin had already previewed to Waldo Jaquith.  Patience, as Bob Holsworth noted, worked.  Voters didn’t like what they heard about the two other guys.  As since when is “earnestness” a character flaw?

But importantly, even the most liberal Virginia Dems decided, to their credit, to vote with their head, not their heart.  In short, they decided that more than anything, they want to win the governor’s mansion one more time.  Neither McAuliffe, who frequently came off as a used car salesman, or Moran, who mistakenly went even farther left during the campaign, had much chance of winning in November.  Deeds does.

One challenge Deeds will have is to overcome his “conservative” label that the media will inevitably tag him with, as if the man still supports Jim Crow laws.  He was fearless in advocating for transportation soplutions, including a gas tax, that probably weren’t paramount in his neck of the owods.  People in  Bath County don’t have hour long commutes generally.  Constantly calling him a conservative might surpress Democratic voter turnout.  They need enthusiasm.

Another challenge will be to redefine Bob McDonnell.  It’s not hard to do, but is Deeds up for negative campaigning?  CAn he redifine McDonnell as teh right-wing zealot that he is, and will that be enough to energize Democrats and pull in a number of independents and moderate Republicans.  If he can, it will be a huge advantage.  People who attend Regent University, Pat Robertson’s law school, are surely among the nicest, but you don’t want them running your government.  I remain hopeful that Deeds, in his “stammering” style, will be able to cut MCDonnell down to size, with a smile.

And it’s apparent that the gun issue has lost its attraction to liberals.  Many may feel as I do.  I don’t want guns in bars, or AK-47s sold in bulk to anyone with cash.  But the bigger problem is keeping out of the hands of criminals, and I no longer think stricter gun laws can achieve that.

I’m not sure that after so much of the Democratic Party establishment ignored Deeds, he will do well to ignore them in crafting his general election campaign.  All the slick brochures in the world won’t overcome major flaws.  And maybe he has a more sophisticated way of getting to voters than leaders of the party, who still save all their pennies for direct mail, and can’t think strategically.