What about Bob? McDonnell kicks off campaign
Standing in a room designed by the Commonwealth's second governor, former attorney general Bob McDonnell (R) made his first stop in Charlottesville on his campaign to become Virginia's 71st governor on Tuesday, March 31–- part of McDonnell's statewide kickoff tour.
"My top priority as governor," McDonnell told a group of about 50 supporters, "is to expand opportunity and create jobs all over the Commonwealth of Virginia."
At a rally at Jefferson Hall in Hotel C near the University of Virginia's Lawn, McDonnell touted his economic policy centered on lower taxes, deregulation, and job creation, a point he hit home by handing out "Bob 4 Jobs" bumper stickers.
"Virginia is already a great place to do business," said McDonnell, "but when you're running for governor, you ought to have what James Collins called 'big, hairy, audacious goals,' and I want to make Virginia the #1 place in America for small business."
McDonnell's appearance was part of his campaign's 15-city kickoff tour, gearing up for a campaign in which he is the presumptive Republican nominee.
"I've been all over this Commonwealth in the last couple days," says McDonnell. "The thing is that I was born in northern Virginia, lived in Hampton Roads for 21 years, and I live in Richmond now, so I'm the local candidate just about everywhere. I may be buying a house in Albemarle to make it complete."
McDonnell hopes to win the Governor's Mansion at a time when Virginia faces 6.6 percent unemployment, up from 3.5 percent this time last year. Several already-sitting Republican governors like Alaska's Sarah Palin and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal recently turned down hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money for unemployment insurance that would have provided relief to out-of-work constituents. While McDonnell wouldn't go so far as to call on Governor Tim Kaine (D) to do the same, he told the Hook that he understood why his party-mates rejected the funding and that he would have "significant concerns" about taking such money were he governor today.
"What Congress passed was essentially an unfunded mandate to expand coverage to laid off part-time and seasonal workers," says McDonnell, "that only extended those benefits for a year, and would have left small businesses to pay for it after that. In the long run, it keeps small businesses from creating jobs in the future."
The rally also served as recruiting grounds for volunteers and donors. In the middle of his remarks, McDonnell requested all assembled to send a text message and get signed up for alerts from his campaign, which he says will be "the most technologically savvy Virginia has ever seen." And to those apprehensive about giving to a political campaign at a time when budgets are tight, McDonnell told supporters such a donation may ultimately be a money saver.
"A donation to my campaign is cheaper than having to pay my opponent's higher taxes," he said.
That opponent has yet to be determined. Presently, State Senator Creigh Deeds, former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe, and former delegate Brian Moran are all vying for the Democratic nomination prior to a statewide primary vote on Tuesday, June 9.