Focused on ’05: Virginia Beach Republican stumps for AG job

Story by Chris Graham

Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, is unopposed this year – technically speaking.

But then, McDonnell, a former prosecutor who has represented the Tidewater area in the Virginia General Assembly for the past 12 years, is more focused on an election two years down the road than he is on the one scheduled for four weeks from today.

McDonnell has been traveling the state for the better part of 17 months to get the word out about his candidacy for the state attorney-general job.

His itinerary included a stop in Waynesboro over the weekend.

McDonnell told The Augusta Free Press at the campaign stop that he has been getting positive reviews from GOP leaders statewide since beginning his campaign for the state’s top law-enforcement job in February 2002.

“The receptions I’ve been getting have been wonderful,” said McDonnell, who played a major role in crafting the legislation introduced by former Gov. George Allen in the mid-1990s that reformed the Commonwealth’s criminal-justice system.

“I look forward to being able to have the chance to continue in the great tradition of 12 years of Republican attorney generals in Virginia. They have left quite a legacy for the next attorney general to follow,” McDonnell told the AFP.

McDonnell said he would continue the work begun by former attorney generals Jim Gilmore and Mark Earley – and current Attorney General Jerry Kilgore – in the areas of parole reform, juvenile-justice reforms and other get-tough-on-crime programs.

As a practicing civil lawyer – McDonnell made the transition from the ranks of prosecuting when he was elected to the legislature in 1993 – he also sees a need for tort-system reforms to reduce the costs of litigation.

McDonnell said he would work as well to improve the efficiency of the attorney general’s office so that the office would be able to deliver legal opinions in a more timely manner.

In the meantime, McDonnell is getting an education in the great diversity that marks life in the Old Dominion.

“I was born and raised in Northern Virginia, and have lived for a number of years in the Tidewater area, so I was pretty familiar with the way people there see the world. But coming out here to the Shenandoah Valley, and then down toward Southwest Virginia, there are issues with agriculture and land preservation that we don’t have to deal with,” McDonnell said.

At the most basic level, though, McDonnell said there are a number of commonalities across the board.

“What I hear the most on the campaign trail is from people who are concerned with public safety, public education, the economy … those issues are constants no matter where you go,” McDonnell said.

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