It didn’t take long for Richmond’s Senate redistricting drama to become fodder for a political ad.
Pete Snyder, a Republican running for lieutenant governor, has a new radio spot criticizing Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) for saying that transportation legislation was “dead” in the wake of Republicans’ surprise Senate redistricting bill.
Titled “The Stakes,” the ad will air on conservative radio across Virginia, Snyder’s campaign said Wednesday. Snyder launched the first ad of the campaign last week with a spot touting his business record and backing from Iran-Contra figure Oliver North.
“Higher debt ceilings. Higher taxes. More government spending. And even more traffic on our roads. The stakes are getting higher for us,” a male voiceover begins. “But the politics in Washington and Richmond are getting smaller and more petty.
“Did you hear the latest? Liberal career politician Dick Saslaw — the Virginia Senate Democrat Leader — says any hope of solving Virginia’s transportation problems is dead on arrival.
“He won’t even try. Why?
“Because Dick Saslaw puts insider politics over solving our transportation problems.
“That’s not just wrong — it’s pathetic. Saslaw and the Democrats should be ashamed. No wonder people are sick and tired of career politicians and politics-as-usual. It’s time for a change. And outsider, technology entrepreneur Pete Snyder is just the guy to get the job done.”
In a move that caught even Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) off guard, Senate Republicans pushed through legislation Monday to redraw all 40 Senate districts. The changes were passed, without public notice or hearing, as a floor amendment to a bill to make minor “technical adjustments” to House districts.
Saslaw and other Democrats reacted angrily, saying that the move would kill any prospects for bipartisan cooperation on legislation, including McDonnell’s proposed transportation funding overhaul. Without an infusion of cash, the state’s road construction fund will be out of money by 2017.
“Transportation is no longer alive,” Saslaw was quoted in some news reports. “It is gone … dead.”
Snyder, a businessman and former Fox commentator, does not support McDonnell’s plan, which scraps the gas tax but raises the sales tax and certain fees. He also agrees with Republicans, including McDonnell, who say that redistricting shouldn’t be the General Assembly’s top priority this year.
But Snyder says that Saslaw and other Democrats are out of line if they hold up work on transportation as payback for redistricting.
Saslaw said he is unfazed by the ad.
“You think I’m actually concerned about some nut job whose knowledge about this state could be put in a one-ounce shot glass and still have plenty of room left over?” Saslaw said.
Snyder, responding to Saslaw’s comment, said via email: “I clearly know enough about Virginia to know that Virginia voters don’t want career politicians hijacking progress on transportation over petty politics. Dick Saslaw is out of touch and dead wrong on this issue.”
Saslaw, however, said he stood by his threat to hold up transportation and other GOP-backed legislation.
“Absolutely,” he said. “If they’re gonna play these kinds of games with us, they should not expect our cooperation.”