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McDonnell aiming at top job


Story by Chris Graham
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Bill Bolling wanted to talk around the issue of whether or not he plans to run for governor in 2009.

Bob McDonnell took the question head on.

“I’ve told people for some time now that I’m planning to run, that I’m doing some of the things that need to be done to put me in a position to be a candidate, obviously generating statewide political and financial support,” McDonnell told me in an interview for today’s “New Dominion Show.”

McDonnell is the sitting Virginia attorney general. The Republican has long been expected to be a top contender for the 2009 Republican Party gubernatorial nomination, along with Bolling, the sitting lieutenant governor.

Bolling said in an interview for yesterday’s “New Dominion Show” that he has been asked repeatedly about his plans regarding the ’09 gubernatorial nomination, and that “that may cause us to make some decisions quicker than we had really planned on making them.”

McDonnell said today that he will not make a formal announcement about his candidacy until after the November elections, “but at the same time, you have to embark on a multiyear effort if you’re going to be able to be governor. So we’re doing some things now.”

“Most importantly is trying to demonstrate to people that I know how to lead, that I know how to bring people together, and most importantly, that I know how to solve problems that Virginians care about, whether it’s property rights for sexual predators or electricity regulation or transportation. I’ve been able to help bring people together to solve problems. And that’s what government should be doing,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell said he was pleased with the efforts of the Virginia General Assembly this year, and that most of his major reform proposals were able to win passage from both houses, including his initiatives on criminal illegal aliens, animal fighting and mental-health system restructuring.

He gave a mixed assessment of how legislators fared in crafting the two-year, $77 billion spending plan that took them into overtime to get to the governor’s desk.

“I think they funded the core priorities of government the best they could, which is always what they should do,” McDonnell said. “I don’t think they should start any new programs, and at the same time tap into the Rainy Day Fund, which means by definition that you’ve got a fiscal problem that is significant, and that’s absolutely the wrong time to start any new program. So I would not have done the pre-K program or any new initiatives at all.

“Spending in Virginia has grown faster than it should. The budget has doubled in the last 10 years – grown 30 percent faster than the rate of growth in inflation and population. And that’s not a particularly healthy sign overall for budgeting,” McDonnell said.

“Given the fact that you have Democrats and Republicans now with essentially equal weight and equal vote in how that budget is put together, it’s not surprising that there have to be compromises to get the budget done,” McDonnell said.



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