Post Endorsement Praises Deeds' Willingness to Tax for Roads

McCain campaigns with McDonnell

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP / Getty Images
    Republican Bob McDonnell vs. Democrat Creigh Deeds

    Creigh Deeds has picked up a key endorsement in the race for governor of Virginia.

    The Washington Post is backing the Democratic candidate, claiming he has the good sense and political courage to deal with Virginia's transportation problems, lauding his willingness to raise taxes for improvements.

    Deeds "has the good sense and political courage to maintain the forward-looking policies of the past while addressing the looming challenge of fixing the state's dangerously inadequate roads," according to The Post.

    By contrast, the newspaper lashed Republican Bob McDonnell's transportation proposal as "a blizzard of bogus, unworkable, chimerical proposals that crumble on contact with reality."

    McDonnell campaign spokesman J. Tucker Martin called The Post and Deeds "birds of a feather."

    "Both Creigh Deeds and The Washington Post editorial board want to raise taxes on Virginians in the middle of a recession," Martin said.

    Transportation policy, along with a monstrous state budget shortfall and state tax collections that continue to decline, loom as major crises for the next governor.

    McDonnell has offered detailed transportation proposals. They include no new taxes but rely heavily on diverting cash from the general fund that pays for such services as public education, health care for the needy, social services and support for police and sheriff's departments.

    McDonnell also proposed using profits from privatizing Virginia's state-owned liquor stores, levying tolls on the northbound lanes of Interstates 95 and 85 at the North Carolina border and royalties from oil and natural gas drilling off Virginia's Atlantic Coast. Critics question the hundreds of millions McDonnell anticipates from the liquor store sales, and federal law now prohibits the Interstate tolling and offshore drilling ideas.

    While Deeds has said he would ask the General Assembly to reach a bipartisan agreement on transportation funding and sign a tax increase bill if it meets his requirements, but he has repeatedly refused to detail how he believes such a revenue package should be structured.

    The Post's editorial said, "... only Mr. Deeds offers hope for a solution. Following a road map used successfully in 1986, he would appoint a bipartisan commission to forge a consensus on transportation funding, with the full expectation that new taxes would be part of the mix.

    "Mr. McDonnell, by contrast, proposes to pay for road improvements mainly by cannibalizing essential state services such as education, health and public safety -- a political nonstarter."

    The editorial also notes McDonnell's 1989 graduate thesis critical of working women and gays. It says McDonnell "staked out the intolerant terrain on his party's right wing."

    The Post broke the thesis story on Aug. 30. Then 34, McDonnell wrote in the thesis that working women were a detriment to traditional families, but dismissed it as an ancient academic exercise and renounced the arguments he made in it.

    Deeds campaigned Saturday in northern Virginia with Gov. Tim Kaine. The two rallied for support from Hispanic voters in Falls Church and visited local businesses in the Seven Corners area.

    McDonnell was joined Saturday by Sen. John McCain in Virginia Beach, where they spoke to veterans.

    McDonnell served in the army for 21 years. He said he is a fiscal conservative who will work to balance the state's budget.

    In May, Deeds was running against two better-funded Democratic rivals when The Post's endorsement validated the moderate state senator from rural Bath County among northern Virginia voters. The endorsement helped him garner nearly 50 percent of the vote in the June primary over former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry R. McAuliffe and former House of Delegates Democratic Caucus Leader Brian J. Moran, both from Washington's suburbs.

    Recent polls show McDonnell with a big lead over Deeds.

    Newport News' Daily Press endorsed McDonnell, saying in a Sunday editorial that his shift toward moderate politics made him the choice in tough times. The editorial praised McDonnell's fiscal discipline, saying he's less likely than Deeds to increase spending.

    The newspaper also likes McDonnell's experience in business, the military and as attorney general. However, the editorial called McDonnell's transportation plan disappointing because of its reliance on speculative revenue including offshore energy drilling royalties.