U.S. Sen. George Allen isn’t taking the political attacks being lobbed at his former secretary of public safety, Republican Party gubernatorial nominee Jerry Kilgore, lightly.
“I read with bemusement Tim Kaine’s reaction to Jerry Kilgore’s positive proposal to continue battling violent street gangs in Virginia, many of which are made up of young people who have moved to Virginia just recently,” Allen said in a statement released to the media Wednesday morning.
Kaine’s campaign staff responded to Kilgore’s announcement on Monday that he will work to intensify Virginia’s war on gangs by attacking Kilgore’s record as secretary of public safety under Allen.
A news release sent out by the Democrat’s campaign office cited a 1998 study that showed that the number of gangs and also gang activity increased sharply during Kilgore’s term as secretary of public safety.
Allen, a Republican, defended Kilgore’s work in the office.
“While I was governor, we increased the scrutiny and areas that were surveyed for gang activity,” said the senator, who served as governor of Virginia from 1994-1998.
“Naturally, when one heightens awareness of a certain type of crime, the initial figures grow rapidly,” Allen said. “Either Tim Kaine does not understand this fact, or he chooses to ignore it, preferring instead to take a cheap political shot at a life-long champion of law enforcement and victims’ rights.”
Kilgore said this week that he plans to continue efforts to fight gangs initiated in his term as Virginia’s attorney general by beefing up rehabilitation programs for first-time nonviolent gang offenders, placing a greater emphasis on community solutions through the promotion of Boys and Girls Clubs and other prevention programs and increasing penalties for gang-related crimes, including extending the death penalty to those who order gangland murders.
“Jerry Kilgore has been a proven, steady leader in fighting crime in our Commonwealth and rightly stands proudly at the forefront of anti-crime initiatives,” Allen said.
“Mr. Kaine has no discernable record of fighting gang activity in Virginia, and it is disingenuous of him to criticize one of the few people who have been leading on this front,” Allen said. “Until Mr. Kaine has a record or any proposals to point to, I would respectfully suggest that he keep his petty partisan shots to himself. Virginians expect unified actions and leadership rather than political sniping.”