Friday, February 25, 2005

Potts to Throw Hat in Gubernatorial Ring; Joins Fitch, Kaine, Kilgore

Friday's Winchester Star reports that:

Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. is primed to make arguably the most flamboyant splash of his political life today.

The Winchester Republican will announce his run for governor at a 10 a.m. press conference in the Old Senate Chambers in Richmond. Sources say he will run as an independent.

Potts, who has served in the upper chamber of the Virginia General Assembly as a Republican, seems to be modeling his bid on that of former Connecticut Governor Lowell Weicker, who was a Republican U.S. Senator from that state before running for the state chief executive's post as an independent.

In fact, Potts has hired one of Weicker's campaign consultants, Tom D'Amore.

On the Democratic side, Lieutenant Govenor Tim Kaine faces no opposition for his party's nomination. Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, who has been the presumptive Republican nominee since November 2001, may face Warrenton Mayor George Fitch in the June primary, if Fitch can collect a sufficient number of petition signatures to get his name on the ballot. (Potts faces that same hurdle as an independent, although he has until June 14 at 7:00 p.m. to turn his petitions in.)

Provided all these candidates remain in the race, the November election may not be as boring as we expected it to be.

Were it not that the Republican Party, in Virginia as across the country, is so hierarchical, George Fitch could prove a formidable opponent to Kilgore in the party primary. As noted in a Virginia News Source editorial,
Prior to his taking office, Warrenton was one of the highest taxed towns in the state of Virginia. Due to Mayor Fitch’s determination to put the breaks on reckless spending and ensure taxpayer money was well spent, Warrenton now has the lowest property taxes of any community in Virginia.

Through his initiatives, real estate taxes were slashed 77%, personal property taxes cut by 55%, and business taxes are down 22%. George accomplished all this while eliminating the town’s debt, doubling Warrenton’s reserves, and improving local government services.

Al Aitken, chairman of the grass-roots property-tax reform group, VOTORS (Virginians Over-Taxed on Residences) notes on the group's web site that Fitch is the "one gubernatorial candidate who supports the VOTORS proposal for a constitutional amendment to reform our Commonwealth’s property tax system."

Even the Libertarian Party of Virginia (which apparently is running no statewide candidates this year) has noticed Fitch. An article on the LPVA web site by Robert Dean (who, as a Libertarian candidate for Mayor in Virginia Beach last year, earned 43 percent of the vote) explains:
Fitch believes that the $800 million in savings found by the Wilder Commission Report should be fully implemented instead of collecting dust on a General Assembly shelf. He proposes that a portion of the savings be applied to the protection of the Chesapeake Bay program.

Asked about the small businessman and the Business, Professional, Occupational, License tax, George Fitch believes it should be eliminated. The tax was levied to help pay for the War of 1812 and is collected on a business whether or not they even make a profit.

In “Miracle on 34th Street”, when a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing. Unlike Santa Claus, George Fitch doesn’t have a long white beard, a red velvet suit or the potbelly usually associated with the jolly man bringing gifts.

Unlike the lawyer also vying for the Republican nomination, Fitch has a success story of government reform without pain; its been called “The Warrenton Miracle.” It’s a story that should ring well with voters of Virginia who are on the verge of tar and feathering politicians who have an insatiable appetite for more of their hard-earned money.

Potts and Fitch are two Republican mavericks with quite different views of how the taxpayers' pockets should be picked. It will be interesting to see what contributions to the gubernatorial campaign debate these two candidates will make.

Competition, in politics as in commerce, is healthy. More candidates with varied (but strongly held and well-expressed) views can only be beneficial for the voters. Voters without an authentic choice on election day are powerless and effectively disenfranchised. Voters with a real choice control their own destiny.


Anonymous said...

The Chap Petersen campaign is doing some damage control on the recent revelation that his campaign manager was a key figure in the Wisconsin tire slashing scandal. The campaign released the following BS statement:

"Opel Simmons has not been charged with or convicted of anything. In fact, he is assisting the prosecution in their quest to bring the perpetrators to justice regarding the matter in question. We are saddened that there are people who want to talk about rumors and half-truths instead of what is best for Virginia.

Chap Petersen is an honorable, truthful man. He would not have put his faith in Mr. Simmons if he did not think Opel was capable, qualified and had the best interests of Virginia at heart.

Rather than focusing on negatives that are not based in truth, our campaign would much rather focus on what is really important to people in Virginia, i.e. the Virginia we all want; a Virginia that creates and fosters opportunities for all."

Lets analyze this bit of PR spin:

Chap's campaign manager was initially arrested and put in jail in connection with this incident. He was the direct supervisor of the individuals that traveled to a GOP office and destroyed property. He knew of their intention to vandalize the opposition property before they departed. He even provided them with a VEHICLE! Opel Simmons was criminally negligent and obviously mismanaged the Kerry operation in Wisconsin.

This guy is not just negligent, he's a snitch. His testimony will put the son of Democratic congressman and mayor in jail. These individuals were acting on behalf of the Kerry campaign, in a vehicle rented by a manager in the Kerry campaign, with the blessing of a manager of the Kerry campaign to destroy opposition property. He exercised his authority to allow the activity to occur, but he takes no responsibility for the tire slashing. He only tells on everyone else involved. Yah Petersen hired a real class act.

Chap is clearly concerned about opportunity for all Virginians. If his campaign strategy mirrors that of the Kerry Wisconsin operation then tire repairmen everywhere will have plenty of opportunity.

My advice to Chap's opponents: PARK YOUR CAR IN A GARAGE BEFORE THE PRIMARY!!!

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