RICHMOND -- Former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore will formally begin his campaign for governor today by pledging to cap rising home assessments, create a statewide merit pay system for good teachers and use Virginia's operating fund to pay for new transportation projects.
Senior campaign aides who have seen Kilgore's speech said he would promise to hold down real estate taxes by seeking a constitutional amendment that limits how much a home's value can increase in any year. A cap on residential assessments will be a centerpiece of Kilgore's "honest reform" campaign, aides said.
Jerry W. Kilgore says he was raised in an intensely political family with deep Republican roots. He could face the likely Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who formally announced his candidacy last week.
(Robert A. Reeder -- The Washington Post)
Facts About Jerry W. Kilgore|
Favorite book: "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Last book read: "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don't," a business management book by Jim Collins.
Favorite sport to play: Basketball.
Favorite sport to watch: College basketball.
Favorite team: University of Virginia.
First time you knew you wanted to run for public office: 1996.
Most admired person: Ronald Reagan.
Favorite video game: "NCAA Football," Xbox.
How many hours of sleep do you need? Five to six hours.
Does your wife pick out your ties? Absolutely not. I pick out my own ties.
Campaign officials would not reveal details of the plan but said Kilgore is determined to respond to anger over spiraling real estate taxes in a responsible way.
"Suffice it to say it's going to be a mechanism that is going to control the outrageous increases we have been seeing," said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Kilgore. "The past six weeks, it's pretty much all he hears about from people."
Kilgore -- a lawyer whose political life began at age 11, when he passed out literature during former governor Mills E. Godwin Jr.'s 1973 campaign -- is scheduled to unveil his assault on homeowner taxes at a rally tonight in Gate City, the southwest Virginia town where he was born 43 years ago. He will be introduced by the state's two Republican senators, George Allen and John W. Warner, and will fly across the state tomorrow.
Last week, the likely Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, formally announced his candidacy during a daylong fly-around of the state. Kaine also promised real estate tax relief by calling for a state constitutional amendment that would allow local governments to make the first 20 percent of value on any home tax free.
Both candidates are trying to succeed Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), who is barred by the state's constitution from running for a second consecutive term.
In an interview last week, Kilgore said he was raised in an intensely political family whose Republican roots reach back generations.
Kilgore's father, who retired from the Eastman Chemical plant six miles from his Gate City home across the Tennessee border, has been chairman of the Scott County Republican Party since 1980. His mother, a longtime party activist, is the registrar of voters. Kilgore said his grandparents on both sides were lifetime members of the GOP, even though "it wasn't cool to be a Republican" at that time.
In grade school, Kilgore said, he worked the polls at the Manville precinct, the "only real Republican precinct" in southwest Virginia. Later, in high school, he campaigned eagerly for John Warner for the Senate.
"I remember when he first came to Gate City," Kilgore said. "He had dark hair. None of this gray stuff going on. Liz Taylor actually came with him to town."
Kilgore moved to neighboring Wise County to attend school at the University of Virginia's campus there, where he and his twin brother, Terry, launched a chapter of the College Republicans. He attended law school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.
Initially, Kilgore said, it seemed Terry would be the lifelong politician. At age 26, Terry ran for commonwealth's attorney and won. He later was elected to the House of Delegates, with his brother's help.
"I've always considered myself the planner, the organizer, the idea person, if you will, the consultant," Jerry Kilgore said during the interview. "I was the consultant campaign manager. I did it all in his race in 1993 when he ran for the House of Delegates."