State Leaders United in Opposing Defense Plan; McDonnell as Fund Raiser
Analyst Jeff Schapiro reviews the week in Virginia politics.
Farrar: Jeff Schapiro joins us now from the Richmond Times Dispatch for his regular Friday morning analysis of Virginia political news. Good morning, Jeff.
Schapiro: Good morning, Wayne.
Farrar: Well, Secretary of Defense Gates this week announced his plan to close the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, which would result in the loss of military and civilian jobs, and not suprisingly, Virginia's Republican Governor, two Democratic senators and House members of both parties are united in opposing that idea.
Schapiro: Yes, as Dale Bumpers, the Arkansas senator once said, 'they're squealing like stuck pigs.' It's interesting that Virginia politicians are always talking about how the federal government needs to collect fewer dollars, spend less money and this is all driving the Gates announcement; this is a lingering recession, the Pentagon's gonna have to make do with less, even while fighting two wars, but Virginia's elective class has a convenient way of kind of turning tail, and it will talk about cutting federal spending until their share is cut.
Now clearly, this going to have an impact on economic recovery; 6000 jobs could be eliminated, the agency spends about 700 million dollars a year, so there is a clear downside, but there doesn't seem to be any recognition on the part of the senators, the governor and the members of the House that everyone needs to sacrifice, including Virginia.
Farrar: Governor McDonnell's still going around the state, selling his plan to privatize the state-owned liquor stores; not much public outcry one way or the other.
Schapiro: Well, maybe it's, you know, the summer doldrums, but maybe as well it's an indication that, despite all the talk out of Richmond about getting the state out of the booze business, that the public is just not up in arms over the status quo. This is a touchy issue because the governor is looking for money for things such as transportation, and he has linked to the sale of the ABC network to a possible windfall for transportation. But there seem to be a lot of underwhelmed people, I mean, just consider the silence of the transportation lobby; it's not gonna turn away these dollars if they're available, but the transportation lobby is looking for something more substantial and sustained.
Farrar: The governor is also known as a very successful fundraiser for fellow GOP members.
Schapiro: Yes, and of course, this is a consequence of having won big last year, a 17 percentage point landslide over Creigh Deeds and coming a year after the state fell to Barack Obama; so Bob McDonnell remains one of the big talking points of the Republican party, and he's making himself and his good name available to other Republicans around the country for fundraising purposes.
My colleague, Olympia Maola, spotlights that this morning on the front page of the Times Dispatch, fifteen events so far and there'll be more, including the governor of Texas, Rick Perry, mentioned for the Presidency, possibly the Vice-Presidency, looking to Bob McDonnell to raise some cash for his re-election effort in Texas.
Farrar: Not to be outdone by others, including other fellow Virginia Republicans, the governor has a new wrinkle on immigration proposals; he wants to deputize, wants the federal government to deputize Virginia state troopers as immigration agents.
Schapiro: Yes, he's asked the Department of Homeland Security, the Obama administration, more to the point, for authority to use state troopers as immigration and customs agents. This is a touchy issue for Republicans; it's perhaps even touchier for Bob McDonnell, who wants desperately to be loved by right, those on the right, the left and the center. But immigration is one of those issues, you're either for 'em or agin 'em, and one wonders if the next step the governor will take is announcing that he's closing Virginia's border with Mexico.
Farrar: The National Governors' Association is going to hold its annual convention in Williamsburg in 2012; that happens to be an election year for presidential and vice-presidential wanna-bes. Could it be that some of those governors could turn out to be on the ballot?
Schapiro: Yes, very much a cattle call for prospective national candidates. The Republicans are looking to the governors, their governors, to perhaps build a ticket in 2012 and that this meeting, this cattle call, if you will, or this cattle show, would be held in Virginia, is of course an opportunity for Bob McDonnell, having won this big gubernatorial election in 2009, to perhaps play the master of ceremonies for this unfolding political drama.
Farrar: And finally, Carl Rove, who is known mainly as the brains behind George W. Bush's political apparatus, apparently he's also a stamp collector and made a talk in town about stamps.
Schapiro: Philatelist, please. Who knew that Bush's brain was a collector? He was in town last night for the American Philatelic Society convention, its dinner, and he offered an overview of presidential politics since the mid-1800's, showing off his collection of stamps and covers; covers being those envelopes, in this case, that bear likenesses of candidates. One from 1868 of Ulysses S. Grant, not a name one often mentions in Richmond, included a line attributed to Grant from his years as head of the Union forces, "I will fight it out on this line if it takes all summer."
Farrar: Thanks to Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times Dispatch.