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Tim Kaine, Jerry Kilgore face off in Tysons Corner debate; then Russ Potts, Kaine do battle.
Democrat Tim Kaine points at Jerry Kilgore, his Republican rival
KEVIN WOLF/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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BY CHELYEN DAVIS
TYSONS CORNER--Taxes, transportation and abortion were the hot topics during a contentious debate between gubernatorial hopefuls Jerry Kilgore and Tim Kaine here yesterday.
Kaine, a Democrat, also discussed education issues in a later, second debate with independent candidate Russ Potts.
Sparring before a luncheon crowd of Northern Virginia businesspeople at the Tysons Corner Hilton, Kaine and Kilgore spent an hour sniping at each other's positions while lauding their own. Moderator Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," stepped in several times to push Republican Kilgore to answer questions during the event sponsored by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.
Kaine portrayed his candidacy as an opportunity to extend positive reforms of the past four years under Gov. Mark Warner, and said Kilgore is out of touch for not supporting those reforms, including a tax package passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2004.
"Do you want this state to go forward or do you want it to go backward?" Kaine asked. "Jerry Kilgore has fought against every reform Mark Warner and I have fought for If you don't know success when it's looking you in the face, you can't be a leader."
Kilgore said he is a more responsible reformer than Kaine or Warner, and portrayed Kaine as a candidate with no plan and no record other than raising taxes.
"Just admit it, Tim, you raised taxes," Kilgore said. "He broke ties in the Senate, folks. That was his only duty [as lieutenant governor]. I know Governor Warner would be surprised to hear you took credit for 'budget reform.'"
While Kilgore has said many times that he still thinks the state's tax package of 2004--which raised millions of dollars in taxes --was a bad idea, he said yesterday that he would not move to repeal it if elected.
"I'm not going to re-fight the battles of the past," Kilgore said, adding that he'd focus on cutting taxes like the estate tax, and offering new tax credits to encourage growth.
Asked how he'd pay for that, Kilgore said he plans to create a "watchdog commission" to look for government inefficiencies; use excess revenue growth; and set budget priorities.
Asked the same question about what he would cull from the state budget to pay for his priorities, Kaine said he'd shave slivers off many areas.