In an article on gubernatorial candidate George Fitch in today's Daily Press, my friend, Paul Jost (himself once a candidate for Congress and again for the state Senate), was quoted at length, offering some insights on Fitch's chances and abilities:
Jost, a wealthy businessman from Williamsburg, supports conservative candidates through his own efforts and through the Virginia Club for Growth, where he is a leader.For those who exclaim "Warrenton!?" the way Jerry Orbach snarled "Allentown?!" in 42nd Street, Paul has an answer:
Kilgore has strayed from the anti-tax conservative agenda, Jost says, and that gives Fitch an opening. Kilgore calls himself a tax-cutting conservative. He wants to limit skyrocketing property assessments through a constitutional amendment.
But he also wants to create regional transportation authorities that could propose a tax-raising referendum similar to one that Hampton Roads voters rejected in 2002.
"Jerry is speaking to everybody," Jost said, "but he's telling them all what they want to hear."
Fitch's approach does not vary from table to table.
"George has a consistent message wherever he goes," Jost said.
Policy issues aside, some have questioned whether Fitch can make the jump from small-town mayor to chief executive of the state.Fitch has apparently been making his way around the state. The Daily Press article showed him shaking hands and engaging voters in Hampton Roads; a Washington Times article on Saturday reported on his appearance on D.C.-area radio station WTOP, in which Fitch took issue with the Dillon Rule.
Jost says voters should look to the current governor, who was a businessman before taking office in 2002.
"Mark Warner didn't have any experience in public office at all," Jost said. "It's a different level of skill you bring to managing the public sector as opposed to the private sector."
Virginia gubernatorial candidate George B. Fitch yesterday said the doctrine that gives the state authority over local governments "should be put in a museum."Ever since my first run for office some 14 years ago, I have had a divided mind on the Dillon Rule. On the one hand, forcing local governments to come to Richmond for permission to do certain things -- like raising taxes or abridging the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms -- adds a layer of deliberation and puts the brake on unwise acts. On the other hand, it does circumscribe local governments' capacity to do certain things that really are local in nature and scope: Fitch gives the example of changing Warrenton's dog-leash ordinance.
Mr. Fitch, who is mayor of Warrenton in Fauquier County, said the so-called Dillon Rule should be amended to give Virginia cities and counties authority to raise some taxes and address their local issues.
"Philosophically, I am strongly opposed to the Dillon Rule," said Mr. Fitch, a Republican. "It's rather perverse. We're in a Republican state, and a bedrock Republican principle and credo is self-rule, local rule. ... We basically ball-and-chain and handcuff local governments."
I'm not sure I'd go whole-hog with Fitch and toss the Dillon Rule out with the bathwater. Some reform may be useful, and I would certainly appreciate a debate on the topic. Does Jerry Kilgore have an opinion? Would he care to discuss it at a public forum with George Fitch?