A snarky letter sent by Republican Party of Virginia chair Pat Mullins to Democratic state legislators prompted a response in kind from Del. Ken Plum, D-Reston.
“Your party controls two of the three bodies necessary to pass legislation, the House of Delegates and the governor. The people expect you to lead. I do not think that your explanation in the next election cycle for your failure to lead that ‘Democrats did not give us any ideas’ will likely resonate favorably with voters,” Plum wrote in a letter of response to Mullins, who initiated the give-and-take in a Dec. 10 letter to members of the Democratic caucuses in the House and the Senate in which he sarcastically asked for ideas on transportation from Democratic leaders.
“I’m writing to you today to invite you to share your plan with us. Transportation is a big problem, and there’s no room for ‘inside the box’ thinking. If you have an idea, we want to hear it. Ideas are the engines that make our country and Commonwealth move. Governor McDonnell has repeatedly asked you and other Democrats for their ideas to fix transportation, but thus far there has been no response,” wrote Mullins, later inviting Democratic legislators to the RPV headquarters to share their ideas in a drop box in the HQ’s atrium.
“I’ll personally carry each and every idea that you and your colleagues bring to us over to Capitol Square and present them to the Governor. It’s that important. And we will give credit where credit is due. If you, or any other Democrat comes up with the blockbuster idea that solves the problem, I’ll personally announce it and introduce you at a press conference as ‘The Architect of Our Transportation Solution.’ I’m sure the applause will be long and loud. It will be well deserved,” Mullins wrote.
“But if the Democratic playbook is what I fear – no new ideas, no new roads, no new construction jobs, no nothing until the gas tax is increased – voters need to know that, too. They need to know which parties are out looking for ideas and trying to solve the problem, and which ones are just digging in their heels to raise taxes on hard working Virginia families in the middle of a recession,” Mullins wrote.
Democratic leaders have been critical of McDonnell’s transportation-funding plans, which include the controversial proposal to privatize the state’s ABC stores to raise monies for roads projects that actually has critics on both sides of the aisle, and his recent push for what Democrats have called a “borrow-and-spend” scheme that McDonnell says will pump $4 billion into the transportation budget.
“Your letter in a tone that I can only read as frantic pleads with us to give you some ideas,” wrote Plum in response to Mullins in a letter dated Dec. 15. “‘What we need are ideas,’ your letter says in the second paragraph. You mention ‘ideas’ a dozen times in your letter. I believe that you can see what the public has already been able to see. There is no Republican plan to fix our transportation problems. Now you plead with Democrats to give you ideas.”
Plum suggested that Mullins share their exchange of letters with McDonnell.
“May I suggest that you inform the Governor of the dialogue we have had with this exchange of letters. He will see that neither party, Republican or Democrat, supports his current plan of action. Tell him about your drop box in the atrium of Republican headquarters on Grace Street. Invite him to drop something in it.”
Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at [email protected].