McDonnell, Deeds Hit Ground Running

By Anita Kumar and Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, June 14, 2009

WILLIAMSBURG, June 13 -- Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the newly minted Democratic nominee for governor, stood with his party's elite, Mark Warner and Timothy M. Kaine, Saturday at an outdoor rally as he pledged to follow in their footsteps if he wins in November.

Across the state, Deeds's Republican rival, former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, spent the morning knocking on doors in a small suburban neighborhood in Manassas as he begins a push to win back Northern Virginia.

Deeds and McDonnell kicked off the first weekend after Tuesday's primary by searching for votes and rallying the party faithful at the start of a six-month race to the Nov. 3 election.

At the Williamsburg event, Deeds gave a brief but energetic speech promising to turn Virginia into a leader in renewable energy, make college more affordable and accessible, and fix the state's transportation problems.

"Both Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are popular, successful governors,'' Deeds said. "We're going to build on what [they] have already done."

Deeds was joined for the first time by the rest of November's Democratic ticket -- lieutenant governor nominee Jody Wagner and attorney general nominee Stephen C. Shannon -- and Sen. James Webb, Rep. Robert C. Scott and members of the General Assembly.

Democrats from across the state munched barbecue sandwiches and baked beans and waved blue Deeds signs on a lawn on the College of William and Mary campus. But the sunshine gave way to rain, and the speeches were cut short as the 250 supporters ran for cover.

Kaine criticized McDonnell and his running mates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Republican attorney general nominee Ken Cuccinelli II, for opposing his initiatives -- transportation funding, pre-kindergarten programs and a smoking ban in restaurants.

"These guys know what they are against," Kaine said. "They've never seen anything they are for."

Back in Manassas, McDonnell was joined by local Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R) as he walked through the Stonewall voting precinct -- ground zero for what McDonnell hopes will be the resurgence of Republican voting in Virginia. It went heavily for McDonnell over Deeds in the attorney general's race in 2005, giving him 57 percent of votes. But last year, the precinct backed President Obama.

McDonnell said he believed that election was fought on federal issues, including the Iraq war. He said November will be about local issues: schools, state energy policy, taxes and roads.

He reminded voters of his childhood in Fairfax County, a contrast from Deeds, who is from one of the most rural parts of the state. But, in a neighborhood that has undergone dramatic demographic shifts in recent years, many of the voters he greeted were not Northern Virginia natives.

"I came by to say hi to you!" he said to Ana Santos, 50, who moved to the United States in 1971 from El Salvador. "I'm working to help improve your roads, make your schools better, reduce government spending, get more kids going to school. I'd love the opportunity to get your vote."

McDonnell said he had little fear about the Democrats' unity event.

"You need to be able to run on your own record," he said.

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