augusta free press news

Updates from the Campaign Trail

Friday, July 10
– AG Race: Cuccinelli calls for special session
– 20th House: Saxman statement on anti-gang committee

Thursday, July 9
– Dems respond to McDonnell-Bolling jobs agenda

Wednesday, July 8
– LG Race: Wagner calls Bolling out on Palin visit
– Governor’s Race: Statement from Creigh Deeds on expansion of stem-cell research


Friday, July 10
AG Race: Cuccinelli calls for special session

Today, State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, (R-Fairfax), and Republican Candidate for attorney general, called on Governor Tim Kaine to bring the Legislature back to Richmond immediately to address the problems created by the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.

This decision has begun forcing prosecutors to suspend drug and drunk driver prosecutions, “which is a situation that is bad and will likely get worse if we don’t act quickly,” said Cuccinelli.

“The first priority of Government is public safety. It is with this in mind that I call on Governor Kaine to convene the General Assembly as soon as possible to fix the problem with our notice waiver statute in the Virginia Code. While Virginia’s law was ruled constitutional by our Virginia Supreme Court, that ruling was a close 4-3 decision, and it is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. While I share our Attorney General’s opinion that Virginia should prevail under the current statute, the U.S. Supreme Court will not reconvene to hear this case until at least October, and the case is clearly a close call at best,” said Cuccinelli.

“Commonwealth’s attorneys are on the front lines in the war on crime, they need to be secure in knowing that all Virginia’s statutes are constitutional and that their prosecutions will not be undone because of Melendez. And of course the state has an obligation to the defense, to ensure protection under the 6th Amendment. I believe the only way to ensure constitutionality is to conform Virginia’s notice waiver statute to Georgia’s, which the U.S. Supreme Court said is constitutional in the Melendez case. Anything less I believe would be a disservice to Virginia’s Commonwealth’s Attorneys and its law enforcement community,” concluded Cuccinelli.

Until the ruling in Melendez-Diaz, the Virginia state forensic lab was able to submit a certificate of analysis of their findings for use in court in drug and D.U.I. cases. Virginia law allows the certificate of analysis as proof of the drugs involved in the case or blood alcohol content. “With the volume of cases analyzed, requiring court appearances by the scientist in every case has the potential to cripple the criminal justice system,” noted Cuccinelli.

Local prosecutors across the Commonwealth are also asking for a special session to fix the problem. Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Garrett said, “Across the Commonwealth drunk drivers and drug dealers are going free in cases that would have been certain convictions two weeks ago.”

Sen. Cuccinelli said, “A legislative fix would be much better than hiring 100-200 new scientists, which we couldn’t do now even if we tried.”

Sen. Cuccinelli noted that under the Virginia Constitution, if the Governor does not act, the legislature can call itself into session if 2/3 of the Senators and 2/3 of the Delegates write to the Governor making such a request. “We can call the special session now, before too much damage has been done, or we’ll end up doing it later, after hundreds or thousands of drug defendants and drunk drivers have gotten off spot-free. I think we should act right now.”


20th House: Saxman statement on anti-gang committee

Del. Chris Saxman (R-Staunton) issued the following statement regarding joining the newly-formed Comprehensive Gang Model Steering Committee.

This model has been implemented in several localities across the country and is targeted towards smaller communities. As a comprehensive approach to the problem of gangs, the model involves a multidisciplinary response, targeting prevention, intervention and suppression to successfully reduce gang-related crimes and threats.

Last night at a meeting in Staunton, Del. Saxman joined other local elected officials along with law enforcement officers, school officials and other community leaders to learn more about the program and establish a new Steering committee, on which Delegate Saxman agreed to serve.

“I am honored to be asked to participate in the Comprehensive Gang Model Steering Committee, and I am looking forward to working with others in our community on this important effort. We have a serious problem in this area, and I am thrilled that people are coming together to solve this one.

“Locally we have seen too many cases of gang violence, drug offences and attacks on people and property,” said Del. Saxman. “Diane Kellogg and the Office on Youth have been instrumental in establishing this program to combat gangs and reaching out to the community for greater participation, and I applaud them for their work.”

“With the implementation of the Comprehensive Gang model we will compile a picture of the problem which is specific to our community,” added Ms. Kellogg. “We will have data which will justify taking action and guide us to the most successful actions to take. This will ensure the best allocation of our resources and a bottom line for measuring impact therefore creating long-lasting solutions. In the end we will have a safer community.”

Del. Saxman noted, “In the legislature, we have passed new laws to give communities and law enforcement additional tools to crack-down on gangs: adding to the list of crimes making individuals eligible for prosecution under Virginia’s gang participation laws, ensuring judges have the ability to impose restrictions on gang members on probation regarding their associations with other gang members, creating stiffer penalties for drug dealers.

“But what is equally important is our communities working together to address the problems locally. This model has been shown to be an effective approach to addressing gang problems by involving the community and focusing on all aspects from prevention to suppression of gang activities.

“For the safety of our children and our community, it is critical that we take every step we can to prevent and supress the threats from gangs. While there are many challenges we face, I am looking forward to working with this broad coalition from our community to tackle these challenges together.”


Thursday, July 9
Dems respond to McDonnell-Bolling jobs agenda

Republicans Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling are trying to recast themselves as economic developers. Democrats responded to the rollout of a McDonnell-Bolling jobs plan by pointing out the obvious.

“My opponent has a long record of supporting Jim Gilmore’s fiscal gimmicks and opposing Mark Warner’s bipartisan economic recovery plan. So, it’s no wonder my opponent wants to appoint somebody else to be in charge of job creation,” Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds said.

Another part to the jobs plan features the expansion of the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. Democrats didn’t hesitate to point out that McDonnell voted to cut funding for the Opportunity Fund three times while in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Deeds, for his part, patroned legislation in the 1990s that revamped the Fund. “As governor, I will work across party lines to create jobs and opportunities in all corners of the Commonwealth. I will bring jobs to Virginia by rebuilding our transportation system and investing in our educational institutions to ensure that we build the smartest workforce in the world,” Deeds said.

The campaign of Democratic Party lieutenant-governor nominee Jody Wagner, meanwhile, took umbrage with Lt. Gov. Bolling’s suggestions that the GOP ticket will move Virginia forward economically.

“Unlike Bill Bolling, Jody Wagner doesn’t just offer a plan to create new jobs-she has a seven year record of success to back it up,” Wagner campaign manager Elisabeth Pearson said. “While Jody fought alongside Mark Warner to create the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, and has been an outspoken advocate of increasing the fund, Bill Bolling once again stood on the sidelines. Jody has traveled throughout the Commonwealth talking about her detailed plans to create new jobs and grow Virginia’s economy, and specifically, to position Virginia as a leader in the industries of the future like renewable energy production and biotechnology. Jody’s background as a small business owner, and her role in turning Virginia into the nation’s best state for business leave her uniquely qualified to help Virginia recover from the global economic crisis.”


Wednesday, July 8
LG Race: Wagner calls Bolling out on Palin visit

Today, the Wagner campaign called on Bill Bolling to clarify remarks made yesterday regarding his willingness to welcome Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to Virginia.

Elisabeth Pearson, the campaign manager for Virginians for Wagner said: “If Bill Bolling wants to continue aligning himself with failed economic policies-first Jim Gilmore, then George Bush, and now Sarah Palin-he should simply say so. Those policies, which have resulted in economic downturns, job losses, and budget deficits, are the opposite of what Virginia needs. Commonwealth voters have made clear that the way forward for Virginia is to carry on the Warner-Kaine record of fiscal management and economic growth, which started by cleaning up the Gilmore-Bolling mess, and resulted in preserving the state’s AAA credit rating, being named the “Best Managed State” twice, and being named the “Best State for Business” six times during the Kaine administration alone. Jody Wagner has helped create nearly 200,000 new jobs in Virginia over the last seven years. After three and a half years of inaction as Lt. Governor, it’s a little late for Bill Bolling to be joining the conversation.”

In response to questions from the Associated Press on Tuesday, neither Bob McDonnell nor Bill Bolling-both of whom have welcomed Palin’s support in past months-would commit to campaigning alongside Palin in Virginia [Associated Press, 7/8/09].


Governor’s Race: Statement from Creigh Deeds on expansion of stem-cell research

State Sen. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee for governor, released the following statement Wednesday about the Obama Administration’s recent announcement of new guidelines on stem cell research, and the role of Virginia’s next governor in promoting innovative, life-saving scientific research in the Commonwealth:

“I am encouraged by the Obama Administration’s move to lift restrictions on the use of ethically created lines of embryonic stem cells in scientific research. Stem cell research offers a promise of improving the quality of life of thousands of Virginians suffering from many diseases.

“Since Virginia has some of the premier research and technological institutions in the country, the ethical expansion of research offers the promise of jobs and economic growth. I am proud to have worked to encourage the growth of scientific and medical research in the Commonwealth and will continue to do so as Governor.

“My opponent’s policies would take us back. He has opposed funding for research and voted for restrictions that would place Virginia behind other states in our ability to lead the country in scientific discovery. This week’s decision by the National Institutes of Health to allow research on lines of stem cells that were created ethically is sound science, good for patients and good for Virginia.”