Wednesday, July 8, 2009

LG Candidates Squabble Over Past Instead of Focusing on Solutions

One of the biggest challenges for the Lt. Governor candidates is trying to get their message out to the general public. I’ve always found that one of the best ways to get out your message is to hold events which help to directly illustrate the type of initiatives you would promote as Lt. Governor. For instance, you could visit a community college that has a unique program which you would work to improve once elected. This not only gives people a better idea of what a candidate hopes to accomplish, but as far as political strategy goes it also gives the press a positive reason to cover the campaign.

With all that being said, it appears as though both LG campaigns have insisted on playing the blame game recently when attempting to get press coverage. While this might get an article or two published, it really doesn’t do much good and ends up making both campaigns look bad. The latest example of this can be found in an article published by the Richmond Times-Dispatch which focuses on how Bill Bolling is blaming Jody Wagner for the financial crisis that Virginia is currently facing.
In a newspaper column and a fundraising appeal, Bolling links departing Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's former finance chief to the continuing cash crunch, faulting her for flawed revenue projections.

Firing back, Wagner criticizes Bolling for opposing bipartisan measures, including new taxes in 2004, that won Virginia accolades for fiscal discipline from Wall Street.
Ok, so let’s actually look at what’s being said. Bill Bolling is essentially saying that Jody Wagner’s budget numbers are a major reason that Virginia is now having to make so many cuts and is facing a poor economic forecast. Anyone who has even remotely paid attention to what’s going on in our country would know that the economy across our country isn’t doing too hot right now. Just look at California having to issue IOU’s because it’s struggling so much and or the national unemployment rate which is rapidly closing in on 10%. To ignore these factors and claim that a state Secretary of Finance is responsible for Virginia’s problems just goes to show that Bill Bolling doesn’t seem to understand how things work.

Jody Wagner’s campaign, however, also doesn’t come out looking very good in the article. Instead of focusing on some specific examples of what Jody’s done to help the economy, the campaign launches attacks against Bolling for actions he took during 2004. Helping to prove that going negative wasn’t the best option, the actions Wagner’s campaign attacked Bolling for didn’t even do much because a bipartisan group of elected officials stood up against his point of view and with the Warner administration. In other words, instead of focusing on the good that Wagner could do as Lt. Governor went negative and brought up an old issue that didn’t provide an example of the harm Bolling would do if reelected.

I think the big lesson here is that particularly in a race where people don’t know much about either candidate, it is not a good idea to being launching attacks instead of focusing on what positive action could be taken in the future. I, for one, would like to hear what the Commonwealth’s former treasurer and Secretary of Finance would do to help Virginia. Or what our current Lt. Governor would like to do during his second term. So far we haven’t really heard either option, which does a great disservice to the residents of Virginia.


  1. Clairese LippincottJuly 8, 2009 at 9:18 AM

    " is not a good idea to being launching attacks instead of focusing on what positive action could be taken in the future."

    Ones past performance should be a reasonable indicator of future performance, so a comparison of the records of each candidate is prudent.

    We should also expect anyone who is running for office to discuss their ideas regarding solutions for the problems that we currently face.

    In the case of Bolling, he represents a political philosophy where government is used to do things TO our people, rather than for them. Foster... so far, she represents popcorn and nothing else.

    Not much of a choice in this race.

  2. Clairese, I think you meant to write Wagner instead of Foster as Wagner is the Democratic candidate.

    I wasn't saying that you shouldn't talk about past performance. I was merely saying that you should use your past to help show people what you'll do in office. Launching attacks about your opponents past doesn't help identify how your past will help you once elected.

    Neither candidate has done a great job of actually letting people know what they would hope to accomplish if elected.

  3. This exchange leads me to think that our state should think about revising its constitution to allow the lieutenant governor and governor candidates to run on the same ticket.

    To prevent further fragmentation of interest in state elections (especially since we elect governors the year after a presidential election), I think the gubernatorial candidates would be better served if the LGs were to campaign on their behalf. The LGs should not distract from the main race with their own agendas.

    That's not to say that the legislative/administrative/civic record of the LGs should not be debated. But for the LGs to pretend that they are campaigning for a job that will seriously affect the direction of the state is a waste of time and money -- especially since it is extremely unlikely that a governor with only four years to do his job will relinquish power at any point.