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Veteran versus outsider
Two running hard for GOP attorney general nomination

Date published: 5/29/2005

Bob McDonnell and Steve Baril are both lawyers, both Republicans, both 50, and both running for attorney general.

But there, they say, the similarities stop.

McDonnell is a veteran politician and public servant, having first won his House of Delegates seat 13 years ago. In this campaign he's touting his experience as evidence that he's the best Republican for the job, and accuses Baril of being a "career trial lawyer."

Baril is the political outsider, a Chesterfield County attorney with a long history of political activism but no elected experience. His campaign is built on the notion of electing a non-insider who will bring change. He scoffs that McDonnell is a "career politician."

McDonnell says his experience has helped him build a statewide network of support that will propel him to victory in the June 14 primary.

"I feel very comfortable with the progress of our campaign," he said. "We've got extremely broad political and financial support around the state, pretty evenly spread. That's why we're going to win this campaign pretty convincingly."

McDonnell says Baril has "virtually no grass-roots political support outside of Richmond," a charge Baril refutes. He points out that he raised more money than McDonnell in the first quarter of this year--which includes the legislative session, when McDonnell was prohibited from fundraising.

Baril also takes it as a good sign that McDonnell, who seemed to be the party establishment's chosen one, is no longer referred to in the press as the "front-runner."

"McDonnell is a career politician. He has built his campaign on a claim of entitlement and a list of endorsements," Baril said. "I don't think there's any comparison as to who is the best-qualified lawyer."

Baril has had a long legal career, and was once nominated by Sens. George Allen and John Warner to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District.

McDonnell's legal career, however, has also been lengthy and busy. And he says his political career, which has included major work on legislation such as welfare reform, parole abolition and other Republican flagship reforms, is an advantage over Baril.

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