David Reynolds | A man for Richmond

Next Tuesday’s election will cut down two men who have the same desire. One will live for another day, a day in November. The last man left standing will be Virginia’s next governor.

Let’s go back two weeks. We told all registered voters – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike — to circle June 9. That’s because we carry cards telling us where to vote in the Old Dominion – not when to vote. Unlike many states, Virginia has no political party registration. This is still a land where free people exercise their basic rights – and not have to wait until fall.

Then last week we offered our personal recollections about a man from Bath County. Therefore it should come as no surprise that this week we are endorsing Robert Ceigh Deeds, the man best suited to represent Virginians of all political stripes.

However, before we speak well of Mr. Deeds, we need to say a few words about two other gubernatorial candidates to be found on Tuesday’s ballot. We can do this individually or collectively. For example, we could say this of Terry McAuliffe: (1) he has no voting record; (2) believes he can buy the governor’s chair; and (3) may need a road map to find his way to Richmond. As for Del. Brian Moran, he can easily find his way to Richmond down I-95 from Alexandria, but Brian is just another Jim. Congressman Jim Moran is Brian’s big brother. Isn’t one Moran representing Virginia’s interests sufficient?

But let us not comment individually. Rather, let’s do it collectively with a single charge: Do not vote for a governor of a state who does not live in that state. Oh, sure, McAuliffe and Moran have residences in the northern part of Virginia, or NoVa. But what does NoVa have in common with the rest of Virginia, or ReVa? Very little, except for providing additional tax revenues for those of us who live south of the Rappahannock River. If you are not convinced that Northern Virginia is out of state, call me on 463-5350. I promise I will not keep you on the line for more than an hour reciting my previous NoVa life never knowing the real Virginia.

Space remains for a few closing words in support of Mr. Deeds whose roots are our roots. I’ll keep it short by dealing with the elephant in the room. Transportation keeps being ignored by the General Assembly, but not by Sen. Deeds. He is willing, if necessary, to raise the state’s gas tax (unchanged since 1986) as part of a package of solutions to get Virginia’s economy moving again. The way Deeds sees Virginia’s two biggest needs, transportation and education, is to work out a solution that would benefit all of Virginia. Our urban gridlock areas need better transportation and the poorer rural areas need better schools.

State Sen. Creigh Deeds was willing to say what few in the General Assembly were not, that since NoVa is paying for our schools, maybe we should help pay for their roads. As he told the Washington Post (prior to the paper’s endorsement), “Right now, the economic engine that has been driving Virginia has serious transportation woes. It’s in the interest of every single Virginian, no matter where he or she lives, to fix that problem.”

Of course there are other problems on our plate – protecting the environment, creating new energy sources, more democratic redistricting, to cite just three.

When a governor or president is elected for four years seldom are the issues during the campaign the same ones they confront while in office. Thus, how a new chief executive (whether of a private company or of a state) goes about solving problems is what separates success from failure.

Mark Warner did it the right way. And with the proper temperament. If you liked Mark as governor, my bet is that you will be pleased with Creigh. While their backgrounds have virtually nothing in common, they share the same firm approach to reaching a satisfactory consensus. It has three steps: (a) understand the problem from both sides; (b) exercise the political will that will bring about solutions; and (c) have all parties come together in a civil manner to get it done.

So, I’ll see you at the polls on Tuesday. Yes, Virginia, vote on June 9. Vote or complain. Vote for Deeds not words.

 

– Column by David Reynolds


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