The Top Story by Chris Graham
A George Fitch for governor campaign wouldn’t necessarily surprise Republican Party insiders who have been talking for months about the Warrenton mayor’s interest in mounting a challenge to Attorney General Jerry Kilgore.
But a Fitch candidacy might shake up the 2005 gubernatorial race nonetheless.
Fitch, who said on Wednesday that he could be ready to make an announcement about his intentions as regards the Republican Party gubernatorial nomination as early as next week, has been exploring a possible campaign for the party nod for several months, he told The Augusta Free Press.
The mayor promises that were he to decide to run, he would offer GOP primary voters “a stark contrast to Jerry Kilgore.”
“I believe in solutions, not soundbites,” Fitch said. “I believe that to get the support of the voters, you have to tell it exactly like it is. You can’t get away with saying that you believe in limited government, holding the line on taxes and promoting family values.
“Maybe I’m too cynical, but I believe that I’m like most voters. I want candidates to tell me what they can do for me. I want them to tell me how they can fix the problems that are out there. It’s not enough to tell me that you can fix this problem or that problem by adhering to your beliefs in limited government, low taxes and family values. Tell me what you’re going to do,” Fitch said.
What Fitch the potential candidate for governor aims to do, first and foremost, is to return fiscal sanity to the administration of government in the Old Dominion.
“I ran for office in Warrenton for the same reasons that I’m considering running for governor. Government spending is out of control, and it needs to be reined in. Government can be and needs to be run like a business,” Fitch said.
Fitch said he spent time before running for local office in 1998 studying Warrenton’s budget to see if he could find areas where things could be done differently.
“The one problem I’ve had with my explorations for this race is that it’s taken me longer to get a handle on the state budget than I had expected at the outset. The state budget is hard to decipher in many places. It’s difficult to see exactly where money is coming from and where it’s going,” Fitch said.
Fitch and a team of budget-reform consultants that he has been working with have been able to identify $1.5 billion in what Fitch calls “unnecessary spending” that could be trimmed from the budget.
Another issue that Fitch would address as a gubernatorial candidate involves “fundamentally changing the way the state government and local governments deal with problems,” Fitch said.
“It’s a bedrock Republican principle that it is best to let local governments decide, because they know what is going to work best in their communities. It’s perverse that in a Republican-controlled state like Virginia that things would be as centralized as they are with the Dillon Rule,” Fitch said.
“Every time we want to do something here in Warrenton, it seems, we have to go to Richmond to ask for permission. Even the most mundane and petty things have to be taken down there. One estimate that I’ve heard is that 25 pecent of the legislature’s time in Richmond is spent dealing with these kinds of issues. That’s totally inefficient as well as being ineffective,” Fitch said.
“The Dillon Rule is a ball and chain on local governments,” Fitch said. “The relationship between state and local government is something that needs to be addressed, and hopefully corrected.”