wesley p. hester

PPP poll shows Kaine leading Allen

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

A new survey of Virginia voters from Democratic polling form Public Policy Polling shows U.S. Senate candidate Timothy M. Kaine leading Republican candidate George Allen by five percentage points.

To this point in the race, the two front-runners have been dead even in almost every public poll. The PPP poll, however, conducted just days after last week’s first debate between the two former governors, shows Kaine up 47 percent to 42 percent.

Part of the difference is Kaine’s four-point advantage with voters who identified themselves as independents.

There’s plenty of potential for change, though, as 18 percent of those surveyed had no opinion of Kaine and 23 percent had no opinion of Allen.

If tea party Republican candidate Jamie Radtke were to beat out Allen for the nomination, she trails Kaine 49 percent to 33 percent.

The poll surveyed 600 Virginia voters from Dec. 10 to Dec. 12 with a 4 percent margin of error.

NRSC digging on Soering

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Even before Tim Kaine jumped in the U.S. Senate race, the National Republican Senatorial Committee made it clear that they’d be attacking him for his role as Democratic National Committee chairman.

Now the NRSC has made its next strategy known, filing several Freedom of Information Act requests related to Kaine’s decision as governor to transfer convicted double-murder Jens Soering to a German prison.

The FOIA requests – common in any campaign as a method of reseraching the opponent for vulnerabilities – were shared with the press this week, making it plain that the NRSC is trying to raise questions of impropriety.    

The decision to transfer Soering was one of Kaine’s last before leaving office in 2010, and has proven one of his most controversial. Soering, who is serving two life sentences for killing a Bedford County couple in 1985, might have been released after two years in Germany.

But the transfer never happened, having been revoked by Gov. Bob McDonnell shortly after taking office.

Kaine explained his decision earlier this month as primarily a fiscal consideration, telling reporters: “I basically decided, look, Virginia taxpayers have borne the cost of this German citizen’s incarceration for 20-plus years. I thought it was time for German citizens to bear the cost of his incarceration.”

The NRSC has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State, Buckingham Correctional Center, Brunswick Correctional Center and the Office of Governor Tim Kaine for a variety of records relating to Soering.

The requests seek correspondence between Kaine and those offices leading up to the decision in early 2010.

“Outwardly it’s difficult to understand why Tim Kaine would grant leniency to a convicted double-murderer and his explanation to date has rightfully confounded many Virginians,” said NRSC Communications Director Brian Walsh. “We’d simply like to know if there is more to this story, particularly given Kaine’s close, personal ties to the Obama Administration and Mr. Soering’s diplomatic connections.”

One wonders if a Willie Horton-style attack ad is in the making. Or will it be more like the one Jerry Kilgore ran when running against Kaine for governor, in which he alleged that Kaine said Hitler didn’t qualify for the death penalty? That one didn’t work out as well.

Allen would have grudgingly supported budget deal

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

What would George do?

That’s been the question in Virginia’s U.S. Senate race over the last few days, with candidates Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, and Jamie Radtke, a tea party activist, prodding George Allen to take a stand on the budget compromise reached last week.

Now they have their answer.

A spokeswoman for Allen told POLITICO Tuesday that Allen would have grudgingly supported the budget deal to avert a shutdown, largely due to the fact that military families might not have been paid on time.

“I can’t stress enough that he’s not happy with the levels of cuts and he would fight for more. He sees this as an urgent fiscal crisis,” Allen’s spokeswoman Katie Wright told POLITICO. 

Kaine, too, was supportive of the deal, but Radtke said the $38 billion in cuts were not nearly enough.

“Reluctant yes votes are the story of George Allen’s Senate career,” said a statement from Radtke’s camp, criticizing his votes as a senator on spending, No Child Left Behind, and past debt ceiling increases. 

“The federal government now has a $14 trillion debt – an amount nearly equal to our entire gross domestic product – thanks to the "reluctant yes” votes of career, establishment politicians like George Allen,“ Radtke’s statement said. 

Allen being tracked by Alan

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

George Allen has a new shadow, and his name is Alan. Alan Piracha.

Piracha, 23, is working as a tracker for the Democratic Party of Virginia, following Allen, a Republican U.S. senate candidate, around the state, videotaping his appearances.

Piracha also appears to be of foreign descent, with his surname a common one in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

This is only noteworthy given the infamous “macaca” moment of 2006, when Allen, on his way to losing his U.S. Senate seat to Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., singled out an Indian-American tracker working for Webb and twice called him “macaca,” regarded by many as a racial slur.

Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Brian Coy said Piracha’s extraction was absolutely not a consideration when he was chosen as Allen’s tracker.

“That couldn’t have been further from the thought process,” Coy said.

Coy added that Piracha has worked for the DPV for a year and was a natural choice, as he attended film school. He also noted that the DPV’s tracking efforts weren’t all Allen-focused.

“It’s not necessarily specific to George Allen,” he said. “Obviously, George Allen has a particularly fascinating history of making public gaffes, both tracked and untracked. But that doesn’t mean we won’t track other candidates at other events.”  

Radtke to sit on "Obamacare" panel

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

U.S. Senate candidate and former Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation leader Jamie Radtke will be among the panelists at a forum entitled “ObamaCare at Year One: The Real March Madness.”

The “pizza and policy forum” sponsored by a host of conservative groups will address the impacts of health care reform on the nation.

Radtke will be joined by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.; Tom Miller, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute; Heather Higgins, president and CEO of Independent Women’s Voice; and Jim Martin, chairman of 60 Plus Association, a seniors advocacy group.

“For decades, basketball fans have relished the month of March for the NCAA Championship Basketball Tournament, donned ‘March Madness,’” a release from Radtke said. “However, this March the tournament has a serious contender for the title: ObamaCare’s Anniversary Month.”

Radtke faces former U.S. Sen. George Allen and Hampton Roads attorney David McCormick for the Republican nomination. They may soon be joined by others like Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, and Cory Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.  

Allen signs "No Climate Tax Pledge"

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

U.S. Senate candidate George Allen has pledged to “oppose legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”

Allen, seeking to recapture his former Senate seat after losing it to Jim Webb in 2006, has joined the list of more than 500 lawmakers and candidates to signs Americans for Prosperity’s “No Climate Tax Pledge.”

“It is unacceptable to use climate change legislation as a poorly disguised attempt to raise taxes on hardworking Americans,” Allen said in a statement. “Disastrous legislation like the cap-and-trade scheme would artificially increase the costs of energy, and therefore harm employers, destroy jobs, increase costs on consumers and tighten already-shrinking family budgets.“

Other Virginians to sign the pledge include: U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor; U.S. Reps. Scott Rigell, Robert Hurt, and Morgan Griffith; Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling; and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Allen faces tea party activist Jamie Radtke and Hampton Roads attorney David McCormick for the Republican nomination. Other Republicans, including Prince William Board of County Supervisors Corey Stewart and state Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, have hinted that they may also enter the race. 

Democrats have no candidate thus far since Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., announced recently that he would not seek reelection. Much pressure has been placed on Democratic National Committee Chairman Timothy M. Kaine to run, though he has not yet decided.

GOP showdown heating up in light of Webb's announcement

Shortly after U.S. Sen Jim Webb announced that he would not seek reelection in 2012, a tea party candidate for the seat used the opportunity to pounce on George Allen.

Allen, a former Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator, recently announced his bid to reclaim the seat that Webb won from him in 2006. Also running is Jamie Radtke, a former Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation leader.

“Now with the open seat, Virginians can choose between a new generation of principled conservative leadership or a return to a thirty-year politician who helped put America in our current mess,” Radtke said in a release Wednesday.

Radtke blasted Allen for votes in the Senate to increase spending and add to the debt, also criticizing him for support of earmarks. 

“George Allen was part of the Washington establishment, and he still is,” she said.  

Meanwhile, to the north, another far right Republican was hinting at his potential candidacy.

Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, issues a release painting himself as the man for the job, though he stopped short of announcing a run.

“While traveling Virginia this past year, I have been urged by many in the grassroots base of the Republican party, and those patriots in the tea-party to consider running for the United States Senate. As Chairman of the second largest county in Virginia, I have the type of profile that is needed to win in November of 2012,” Stewart said. 

“In order for a Republican to be elected statewide in Virginia, they must do well in Northern Virginia, and this is something that I have already demonstrated that I am able to do,” he added.

Stewart is known for his successful efforts to crack down on illegal immigration in Prince William. The county has the strictest laws in the state, which he claims have reduced crime significantly.  

Warner asks company to cut cost of pregnancy drug

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., is calling on an Ohio pharmaceutical company to roll back its increase on the price of a drug to prevent premature labor for women in high-risk pregnancies.

The prenatal progesterone treatment Makena, which previously ranged between $10 and $20 per weekly injection, will now be sold for $1,500 per week.

Warner has sent a letter to the CEO of K-V Pharmaceutical urging the company to reconsider its pricing decision and has asked the administrator of the federal Medicaid program to determine the strain this 150-fold price increase will place on federal and state Medicaid budgets. 

“In addition to putting the shots out of reach for some women, the higher price will have a ripple effect on insurance companies and already overburdened Medicaid programs,” Warner said in a release. “And taxpayers are likely to end up helping to pay for the care of newborns who arrive prematurely because their moms didn’t get the shots.”

Virginia’s Medicaid program paid for about 600 doses of the drug last year at a total combined cost to Virginia taxpayers of $14,700, Warner said. Under K-V’s pricing for Makena, Virginia’s Medicaid costs for those same 600 doses would increase to $920,000 a year – a 6,000 percent increase. 

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George Allen’s announcement of candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

Radtke wants debate with Allen

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Tea party Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Radtke is ready to debate political heavyweight George Allen. And she’s ready now. 

“There’s a reason he pretends like there’s no one else in the race. It’s because people are looking for an alternative,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday.  

“He’s not the nominee,” she added. “On a race that’s going to have a profound impact not only on Virginia, but on the whole entire country, it’s important to start having debates and informing people as soon as possible.”

Radtke, former chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation, and other Republican candidates face an uphill battle against Allen leading up to next year’s Republican primary given the former governor’s name recognition and fundraising prowess.

But Radtke said debate would be the great equalizer.   

“When he has to be held accountable for his record in the senate, it will have a profound impact on the campaign,” Radtke said. “And I think that people will here that there are new ideas out there, and new solutions. That will be the game changer.”

Radtke said that her campaign had raised about $100,000 in the last quarter, nearly doubling her first quarter’s $55,000. Allen’s most recent fundraising figures are not yet available, but he brought in $1.5 million in the first quarter.

Democrat Timothy M. Kaine raised $2.25 million in the last quarter, his first since jumping into the race.  

Radtke: Abolish Fannie and Freddie

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Tea party Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Radtke on Monday called for the gradual abolition of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were propped up by the federal government in the midst of the recession.

“The federal government must get out of the mortgage business altogether,” Radtke said, pointing to continued losses.

“When politicians try to manipulate the markets, they fail miserably and ordinary Americans pay a severe price,” she said. “The cycle of irresponsible lending and taxpayer bailouts must end in Washington DC.”

If elected, Radtke – who faces George Allen and a host of others for the Republican nomination – pledged enact legislation that would “wind down” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, selling off taxpayer assets and transitioning the government out “in a responsible way.“

Virginia, Maryland senators file legislation to ensure pay for federal workers

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Virginia’s U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner have joined Maryland’s in filing legislation to ensure that federal workers receive retroactive pay in the event of a government shutdown. 

All four senators are Democrats.

Currently, federal pay is suspended in the event of a funding lapse or government shutdown, and retroactive payment for “non-essential” and “essential” employees must be specifically approved by Congress.

“Federal employees, including up to 90 percent of the civilian workforce at the Pentagon and thousands of other federal employees across Virginia, could be sent home without pay during any government shutdown,” Warner said.

Warner said those employees provide support for our ongoing military operations, including humanitarian relief in Japan, and “should not be penalized for Congress’ inability to resolve our political and policy differences with a short-term spending bill.”

Webb added: “Individuals who dedicate their lives to public service should not have their livelihoods threatened due to Congress’ failure to execute its core function of funding the government.” 

Allen gives props to Republican senators for balanced budget amendment

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

U.S. Senate candidate George Allen is offering praise to the 47 Republican Senators who co-sponsored a Constitutional amendment that would require a balanced federal budget, calling it a “good first step.”  

“The federal government’s exploding debt has become a national crisis, and it is urgent that Congress act now,” said Allen, who lost his own Senate seat to Jim Webb in 2006.

Allen has been touting a budget reform plan that includes the balanced budget amendment as well as presidential line-item veto authority and a “paycheck penalty” that would withhold salaries from members of Congress when they don’t pass a budget on time.

“If Congress didn’t get paid until they completed their appropriations work, I can guarantee we wouldn’t be more than halfway through the fiscal year with no budget in sight,” he said.  

Warner files Arlington National Cemetery legislation

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner has filed legislation to bring an end to reserved VIP gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery and calls for an audit into the past practice.

The bill, introduced Thursday, would direct the U.S. Army to investigate and report back to Congress within 180 days on the number of plots that may have been set aside in violation of a 1962 Army policy that plots must be provided to any qualified military veteran, regardless of rank or status.

“It is a disgrace that back room deals apparently were being made that allowed high-ranking officers and other VIPs to pre-select the gravesites where they wished to be buried,” Warner said. “It is offensive that this improper reservation system could allow some general to trump the Arlington burial rights of a fallen soldier from Iraq or Afghanistan.”

Numerous problems have emerged at Arlington National in the past year, including dozens of instances of misplaced or misidentified remains due to poor record-keeping practices.

Reserving plots at Arlington was allowed until 1962, when the cemetery began to approach capacity.

But although the Army officially changed the rules and regulations to end reservations in 1962, cemetery superintendents allowed selected senior officials to pick areas of the cemetery where they wished to be buried, according to Warner.

“The Army Inspector General identified this practice as a serious violation of Army policy in the early 1990’s, but nothing was done to stop the practice and the process continued,” Warner’s release said.

Radtke offers alternative Allen history

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

There are now two sources of George Allen history on display in Virginia's 2012 U.S. Senate race. 

Tea-party Republican candidate Jamie Radtke has launched a new website feature parodying Allen’s “This Day in George Allen History,” which offers moments from political career.

Radtke's “This Week in George Allen History” highlights “parts of George Allen’s record that his campaign is trying to not focus on,” a release from her campaign says.

This week’s installment focuses on two newspaper reports from 2006, when Allen was a U.S. Senator, highlighting comments he made in defense of congressional spending earmarks.

“Every single earmark I’ve gotten, I’m proud of,” Allen then told a town hall meeting in Chesterfield County then.

Allen’s “This Day in George Allen History” for March 24 notes him being named to the “Nanotech’s Power Elite” in 2004 by a panel of editors at the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report, a leading business publication on nanotechnology. 

Donner proposes Medicare reform plan

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tim Donner has his own plan for Medicare reform: moving to a system of retirement health savings accounts.

Donner, a Northern Virginia television production company owner, claims that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan “courageous” but ultimately “insufficient.”

“First, the gap between government subsidies and health care premiums will steadily widen as participants grow older. This leads to the second problem, the sense of insecurity generated by dependency on private insurance rather than government guarantees. This is based on the third problem, the unlikely prospect of a new, competitive market in private insurance for the elderly,” Donner wrote.

“And all of this adds up to the bottom line: the program is highly unlikely to draw enough popular support to be politically feasible,” he added.

Instead, Donner suggests giving citizens the choice to re-direct Medicare taxes to RHSAs where “they will start to build nest eggs that will grow into substantial amounts by retirement.”

“These accounts, (which should be supplemented by high deductible, catastrophic insurance policies) will re-invigorate the doctor-patient relationship, while providing consumers with greater choice, better quality of care and lower costs as it builds a genuine free market in health care,” Donner wrote.

He added that the program would wean Americans off government dependence while “solving the impending Medicare crisis and dramatically decreasing government obligations.”

Because the concept allows people to put money in their own accounts, like 401Ks, “it is likely to be not only politically feasible, but downright popular,” Donner said.

The plan would be instituted over 20 to 25 years allowing uninterrupted benefits to those at or approaching retirement age.

Steve Waters joins Allen's campaign

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Steve Waters, who previously served as a consultant to Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, has joined George Allen’s 2012 U.S. Senate campaign as an “advisor on family policy issues.”

Waters, a well-known social conservative with tea party ties, most recently worked as Vice President for the Virginia Christian Alliance. He led Marshall’s 2008 U.S. Senate bid, which was brought to a halt by former governor Jim Gilmore, who won the GOP nomination.

Marshall last week indicated that he is still interested in mounting a U.S. Senate campaign of his own, claiming the growing field of GOP candidates has been silent on social issues.

“The 2012 election is a turning point.  The outcome in Virginia could decide whether America continues down a path of fiscal ruin, moral decline and infringement on the Constitution and our liberties,” Watrers said in an email. "It will determine whether our children will be burdened with a mountain of debt or enjoy a future of prosperity, and whether we as a nation uphold our enduring values of life, family, freedom and faith.“ 

In a statement, Allen added:  

"Steve Waters is an outstanding addition to our energetic campaign team…Steve’s experience in organizing and educating grassroots activists will be valuable to our grassroots insurgency as we take our positive, motivating message to men and women throughout Virginia.”

 

Bolling endorses Allen for Senate

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling this weekend endorsed George Allen for the U.S. Senate calling it “a great chance here in Virginia to send a common sense conservative voice back [to Congress].”

Bolling’s remarks came at a Virginia Federation of Republican Women’s dinner attended by Allen and his wife, Susan.

Allen faces tea party candidate Jamie Radtke and a host of other conservatives for the Republican nomination.

Bolling said Allen was instrumental in helping him get elected to the state senate in 1995.

“I told him when he got into this race for the U.S. senate I’d be for him or against him, whichever helped him the most,” Bolling joked. “He said for him so I am proud to stand here tonight and tell that I’m a big supporter of George Allen.”

Added Bolling: “I just think the choice couldn’t be more clear now that Tim Kaine has announced that he’s going to run for the U.S. senate. And by the way, I think that’s great, I really do.”    

Radtke challenges Allen on budget compromise

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

U.S. Senate candidate and tea party activist Jamie Radtke is calling on her fellow GOP nominee hopeful George Allen to offer an opinion on last week’s budget deal.

Radtke, who has said that she would have voted against the compromise, arguing that $38 billion in cuts is not enough, pointed out that Allen has yet to make his feelings known. 

“The people of Virginia and America have a right to know: Would George Allen have voted for or against the $38 billion compromise?” Radtke said in a statement. “A one-word answer will suffice." 

Politico also noted that Allen was one of only a handful of Republican Senate candidates not to have voiced opposition to the compromise.

A spokesman for Allen could not immediately be reached.

Radtke blasts Reid for remarks on tea party

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

U.S. Senate candidate and tea party activist Jamie Radtke is taking umbrage with remarks from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, accusing him of “trying to use women to shield himself and his party from blame.”  

With the federal government headed for a shutdown with no solution in sight, Reid said on the Senate floor Friday that “the Tea Party is trying to sneak through its extreme social agenda – issues that have nothing to do with funding the government.”

He added: “They are willing to throw women under the bus, even if it means they’ll shut down the government.”

Radtke, a co-founder and chairwoman of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation, quickly responded with a statement condemning Reid’s remarks.

“Does Harry Reid think women are stupid? The Tea Party, which by the way counts women like me as the majority of its supporters, are Americans who refuse to sit quietly on the bus while Harry Reid drives us off a financial cliff,” she said.

"One look at the national debt will tell you that politicians have been throwing taxpayers under the bus for a very long time,” Radtke added. “Senator Reid, stop insulting women and patriotic Americans for your own failures and get out of the way so we can start saving our families and our country.”