Anyone who thinks we need to let our governors stay in the governor’s mansion indefinitely probably misses the significance of this senate race. Here we have two former governors competing to represent us in the United States Senate. Both men have substantive records of public service. So both men are known quantities. Each has to sell his record of public service as well as his promises to the voters.
Without a term limit on the governor’s office, we would not have such a choice. Because term limits offer us a greater choice, not less, we should term limit every public office. Public offices belong to the citizenry, not to the officials who occupy those offices on our behalf.
So how is the above commentary relevant to the candidate websites? Mark Warner succeeded Jim Gilmore as governor. One legend has it that Gilmore’s tax cut, his campaign to end the car tax, left the state budget in disarray. The other story is that Warner lied and raised taxes for no good reason. Since both stories cannot be true, we have a direct conflict in credibility. The record of each of these two gentlemen as governor is important to their campaigns.
In spite of breaking his promise not to raise taxes, Warner succeeded in leaving office as a popular governor. On the other hand, when Gilmore left office the news media condemned him for the cutting the car tax and creating a budget crisis. So he remained popular principally with the Republican Party rank and file.
Because Gilmore remained popular with Republicans, he managed to win his party’s nomination. Now he now has the usual Republican challenge of overcoming news media opposition. Gilmore has to convince the voters that as governor he both kept his promises and left the state in good financial condition. Gilmore must convince the voters that the news media’s legend about Warner is more myth than fact. This is why Gilmore puts “Get the Facts” front and center on his website. Gilmore closes with the following:
This election is about trust. Mark Warner is a big spending, high tax opportunist, a say anything to get elected politician who broke his word repeatedly to the voters. Governor Gilmore kept his promises and is a straightforward and principled leader who has proven that he will do what he says he will do.
Does Warner keep his word, or does Gilmore? How does Warner respond? He puts “Restoring Fiscal Integrity” at the top of his “Virginia Record“. Warner begins his story with the legend.
When Mark Warner was elected governor, Virginia faced its most serious fiscal crisis in over two decades. Five years of unusually strong revenue growth, coupled with decisions by his predecessor and prior legislatures to cut taxes while also increasing spending commitments, placed the Commonwealth on a path to financial meltdown. That meltdown was made more serious by the post-9/11 recession, and the stock market and technology industry declines that followed. A state budget shortfall estimated at $700 million by the previous administration was discovered to be over $3.8 billion shortly after the inauguration, and ultimately totaled more than $6 billion.
Strong revenue growth contributed to budget meltdown. Mark Warner! Our savior! How lucky can we get? He would save us from strong revenue growth. As strange as it may seem, we did not need a tax increase. As Bacon’s Rebellion reported in more detail here (The Incredible Expanding Budget Surplus), the tax increases just resulted in a rediculous overflow of black ink. So much for the legend — except for the biased news media that wants us to believe it.
In addition to making the senate race a debate about Warner’s propensity for tax hikes, Gilmore is also seeking our votes based on two other issues: national defense and energy independence.
- Gilmore achieves credibility on national defense issues from two different directions. The first is that he is a veteran. He served at a counter-intelligence analyst in Germany. The second is his experience as Chairman of the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (i.e., the Gilmore Commission).
- Gilmore’s attacks the issue of energy independence beginning with this slogan: “To reduce the price of gas, drill here, drill now!“. Gilmore scorns Warners endorsement by the Sierra Club, and he points out Warner says he is against drilling in ANWR in Alaska and vetoed 2005 legislation that would have allowed offshore drilling.
Warner’s website counters Gilmore on the energy issue with a slick ad (just like too many others we have seen before). He blames Washington (Don’t we all? 😀 ) and says we need a plan (Another one?). Warner proposes “investments” in alternative energy sources, increased oil production, and cracking down on speculators. (Author’s note: Those speculators expecting higher oil prices are counting on Democrats like Warner being elected.).
Warner provides some details on his energy plan. He breaks his plan up into short term, intermediate, and long term solutions, and his plan consists of proposals that involve taxpayer giveaways to private industry and government manipulation of the market with tax gimmicks.
Warner, of course, enjoys the news media bias and plays up free campaign ads from NBC News and Washington Post.
This is the fifth post in a series on the 2008 election candidates (from the perspective of Gainesville, Virginia). Here are the earlier posts.
Vivian J. Paige provides information on the debate (here).
The 28th Amendment shows his bias (here) — which is OK with me. I don’t hide my bias.
Delmarva Dealing recommends a post on Bearing Drift (here).
Bloggers4JimGilmore say Gilmore won round one (here).
Below the Beltway says They’re Not Wild About Jim, Gilmore That Is.
The Shenandoah County GOP’s has a debate recap (here). This site includes an MP3 recording.
Spank That Donkey (here) and SWAC Girl (here) provides their debate commentary too.
Virginia Virtucon defends the car tax cut (here).
The Daily Kos (here) repeats a charge in the Washington Post (here) that Gilmore falsified campaign finance disclosure forms. Supposedly, Gilmore tried to cover up his connection to a company that conspired to defraud the government. Mud thrown and smeared by the Washington Post? On a Republican candidate? Nah, the Washington Post has a reputation to maintain.