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Responding to Critics, Kaine Becomes Less of a Rambling Man

By Virginia Notebook
Thursday, September 3, 2009

This week's Notebook is a compilation of items from The Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog. To get your fix throughout the week, check out http://blog.washingtonpost.com/virginiapolitics or http://www.washingtonpost.com/vablog.

Kaine Cuts Back on Travel

Facing another budget shortfall and continued criticism for his trips on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine significantly limited his out-of-state travel last month.

Kaine's office released his August travels in keeping with his pledge to do so at the end of each month, which was made after pressure by the media and others to disclose his whereabouts.

His out-of-state travel included trips to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket (Aug. 1 and 2), New Jersey (Aug. 20) and Louisville, Nashville and Birmingham (Aug. 27 to 29). He reported spending part of one day in Washington.

By comparison, Kaine traveled for the DNC half of the days in June. He reported traveling to eight other states in July while spending part of four days in Washington that month.

Much of last month's out-of-state travel was probably for DNC business but might have been in his role as governor, or for both jobs. The travel log does not indicate the purpose of the trips.

-- ANITA KUMAR

Speaker Pushes for Drilling

In certain Virginia districts in Southside, Southwest and along the Interstate 81 corridor, Republicans are hoping the hot-button issue of offshore drilling might work to their advantage in this year's House of Delegates races.

So House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) is trying to push the issue to the forefront by sending a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking for the federal government to allow for the exploration of oil and gas off Virginia's coast.

"Developing these resources would create thousands of new jobs in our Commonwealth, arriving at the right time to assist in lifting our workers, families and communities out of this economic recession,'' Howell wrote.

His letter comes after Gov. Timothy M. Kaine sent his own letter to Salazar earlier in the year asking for a delay in drilling off the Virginia coast.

The 25-year-old federal moratorium on energy exploration and development off the coast of Virginia expired last year.

Late last year, the Minerals Management Service, part of the Interior Department, included Virginia in its five-year plan and began soliciting companies to drill off the coast in 2011. But Salazar halted the process early this year to review the plan and get input from the public.

-- ANITA KUMAR

Reaction to McDonnell's Thesis

Virginia's statewide candidates responded swiftly when news broke this week that Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell wrote a graduate thesis outlining a deeply conservative action plan to promote the traditional family in government.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), who is running for reelection, dismissed the thesis as a 20-year-old academic paper. "A candidate with 18 years of public service in the House of Delegates and as attorney general should be judged by his record in office, not by a term paper he wrote as a college student,'' Bolling said.

State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II of Fairfax, the Republican nominee for attorney general, said that he had not read the thesis and that his initial reaction was that the media it had taken quotes from the thesis out of context.

Their Democratic challengers, lieutenant governor candidate Jody Wagner and attorney general candidate Stephen Shannon, questioned whether Bolling and Cuccinelli shared McDonnell's views.

"Virginians deserve to know that Ken Cuccinelli shares the startling political agenda that is outlined in Bob McDonnell's thesis," Shannon spokesman Brian Coy said.

-- ROSALIND S. HELDERMAN and ANITA KUMAR

Deeds Flies to California

Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds traveled to California this week to raise money. He spent Monday in Los Angeles and Tuesday in San Francisco.

Deeds is rarely out of state (unlike former Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe, who was always jet-setting around the nation).

Robert F. McDonnell has been out of town raising money once this month. He went to Wyoming the first week of August, along with New Jersey Republican gubernatorial hopeful Chris Christie, to meet with top Republican National Committee donors.

-- ANITA KUMAR

More Inter-Campaign Trickery

The McDonnell campaign received a call from a woman who called herself "Jennifer" and claimed to be a freelance reporter from the Connection newspapers in Northern Virginia. She asked for information about McDonnell's schedule.

The problem? She isn't a reporter. She actually works for Creigh Deeds's campaign.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin, who took her call, said the caller ID showed Deeds's campaign headquarters phone number and the words "Deeds for Va."

Deeds campaign manager Joe Abbey questioned his staff after hearing about the call from a reporter and discovered the caller was one of his staff members.

"An overzealous campaign worker was trying to figure out where Bob McDonnell was today,'' Abbey said. "We have made it clear to all staff and volunteers that this behavior is not acceptable and should not happen again."

-- ANITA KUMAR

Law Firm Snags Brownlee

John Brownlee, who lost his bid for the Republican nomination for attorney general in May, has landed a job at mega law firm Holland & Knight.

Brownlee, the former U.S. attorney in the western district of Virginia, was named a partner in the firm's white-collar defense and government contract practices. He will split his time between Northern Virginia and the District.

Brownlee and David Foster, former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, lost to Ken Cuccinelli II at the May GOP convention. Cuccinelli will face Stephen Shannon in November.

-- ANITA KUMAR

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