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Is Virginia turning blue? It's possible page 2
So, is Virginia really turning blue?

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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 12/16/2007

By Richard Amrhine

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Virginia's familiar stair-steps-to-the-governor's-mansion routine would put both Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Bob McDonnell in the hunt for the GOP nomination in 2009.

But Bolling's name has scarcely been mentioned since his 2005 election victory, and when it is it's a knee-jerk reaction against raising taxes--something more and more Virginians understand is necessary once in a while.

Let's face it, taxes help the rest of Virginia tap the economic vigor of the state's "urban crescent." Those devil-incarnate Democrats with their tax plans understand that when traffic congestion inhibits commerce in the population centers, economically challenged regions of the state suffer as well.

A.G. McDonnell's voice was most recently heard criticizing Gov. Tim Kaine for cutting abstinence-only sex-ed program funding. McDonnell refuses to accept that abstinence-only doesn't work, but does fail to provide students with information on contraception and life-saving disease prevention. Is McDonnell setting the stage for a platform that panders to the extreme right? Bad plan.

There are other reasons for the GOP's downward spiral in Virginia and the rise of a more progressive agenda.

Voters haven't forgotten the Nixonian behavior of Edmund Matricardi III, the former director of the state Republican Party who pleaded guilty to a federal felony count of wiretapping in 2003.

His eavesdropping on private Democratic conference calls in 2002, also subsequently besmirched the names of former House Speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr. and former state GOP Chairman Gary Thomson.

The Virginia GOP may not recover as long as political anachronisms like Del. Robert G. Marshall litter the political landscape. Prince William voters keep returning him to office despite his retro-conservative agenda. For the outspoken Marshall, the only good bill is one that intrudes on people's private lives in the name of God.

Marshall, whose name has been floated as a dark-horse gubernatorial candidate, recently suggested Gilmore is not conservative enough. Yikes, again. He ought to hire some earthbound advisors.

Virginia became bluer in an instant with the death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell earlier this year. With Falwell pontificating from Lynchburg, and Pat Robertson salivating for the Second Coming in Hampton Roads, it was as if they were rocking the cradle of political evangelism across Southside Virginia. Their views, and the politicians and constituencies they would attract, only deepen the GOP's reputation for intolerance and spread it unjustly to the party's moderate contingent.

Short of realizing that religion has no place in public policy, Virginia Republicans' best bet is to build on former Sen. John Chichester's legacy of fiscal reason and social common sense, and keep Virginia on an progressive path. The adventure would no doubt take a step back along the way, but taking two steps forward would matter more.

Richard Amrhine is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star. Reach him at ramrhine@freelance star.com.


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