|Today the Deeds campaign announced the formation of Virginians for Deeds, and you can read the campaign news releaseon this group.
A couple of highlights worth noting:
1. Every single one of these colleagues served with both McDonnell and Deeds. They picked Deeds
2. Two on the list endorsed McDonnell in 2005 for Attorney General, but are now supporting Deeds over McDonnell for Governor. They have switched sides as you can read here
3. The day after McDonnell announced a transport plan that raids school money, we have Republicans who chaired Education and Transport Committees endorsing Creigh.
Several of the endorsers are relatively big names. Former Senator John Chichester chaired the Senate Finance Committee, and was the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor in 1985 (against Doug Wilder). Russ Potts, who chaired the Senate Education and Health Committee, ran as an independent for Governor in 2005. Both men worked closely with then Democratic Governor Mark Warner to straighten out Virginia's disastrous governmental finances, a mess Warner inherited from the last Republican Governor, Jim Gilmore. It is worth noting that Gilmore was Warner's opponent for the US Senate seat last year. Apparently Virginians remember the difference between the two as Governor - Warner defeated Gilmore 65-34.
Former Rep. Jim Dillard, from Fairfax County, chaired the House Committee on Education. In examining the contest this fall, one should remember that McDonnell was born in Fairfax County, and hopes to do better there than recent statewide Republican candidates. Jim Dillard's support of Deeds will, if he is willing to be active in the campaign, serve as a validation for some moderate Republicans and independents who are concerned about the fiscal irresponsibility of the Republicans, particularly in the House of Delegates, and also those who do not like the emphasis on social issues that has been a part of many recent Republican campaigns, including in races for the General Assembly.
Bob McDonnell clearly hopes that the endorsement by Sheila Johnson will give him some credibility in the Black community, something that could be reinforced by the endorsement of Doug Wilder. But not of that will matter when - and it is when, not if - Barack Obama comes into the Old Dominion on behalf of Deeds. Remember that Obama picked Time Kaine to run the DNC, Kaine wants to leave a Democrat to replace him, and both men want to continue the trend of turning Virginia increasingly Blue. I think any small gain McDonnell might hope to gain, or even the hope of a loss of enthusiasm in the Black community, will be offset when Obama makes an appearance with Deeds and gives him a strong 'blessing'.
I am unaware at this time of any group of former Democratic elected officials preparing to endorse McDonnell. It is interesting that all 8 served with both gubernatorial candidates, and yet are jumping party lines to support Deeds. That will give Deeds the kind of imprimatur of being willing to work across party lines that makes a difference to the many independent voters in the state.
There is still a long way to go before Virginians vote in November. There are legitimate criticisms of the Deeds campaign and of the lack as of yet of an organized joint campaign. Those can and will be addressed.
In the mean time, in this round of dueling endorsements from the other side, I make it advantage Deeds.