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A View from the Cheap Seats Blog post by Garren Shipley
Posted July 2, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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The Cheap Seats have been vacant recently, as we've spent a huge amount of time working on a series with the rest of the news department about the impact of the recession on the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

Now that we've cleared the decks of that effort, we can turn out attention to some of the political matters piling up on the desk.

Where's Gov. Kaine?

Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has been playing coy with his schedule lately. Not his gubernatorial schedule, but the political schedule he keeps for the Democratic National Committee as its chairman.

Both Republicans and members of the press corps have been beating on Kaine pretty hard for not being more forthcoming with the details of his travel. Kaine has said he's not going to release the schedule, but would answer if asked.

So last week, we asked.  Kaine's office politely told us that the governor was in New York, but in the future to direct questions to either the Democratic National Committee or Kaine's Moving Virginia Forward political action committee.

Why the ruckus? It's all about November. Republicans see a huge opportunity here.

Kaine has never had the god-like approval numbers of former governor-turned-U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner. Putting a dent in Kaine's image by casting him as a part-time governor who raised money for national Democrats while Virginia's economy burned would make Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, road to election in November that much harder.

McDonnell Debates

Speaking of November, Bob McDonnell's team has challenged Deeds to no fewer than 10 debates between now and November. That's a huge number compared to recent statewide campaigns.
 
Why the challenge? It would seem that Team McDonnell has read "The Art of War" -- and remembers Jerry the Duck.

In 2005, Democrats mocked Republican Attorney General Jerry Kilgore mercilessly for refusing to meet the Lt. Gov. Kaine's debate schedule, branding him as the aforementioned mallard.

McDonnell's team has enough Kilgore veterans on board to neutralize the issue as soon as possible -- by proposing an unrealistic schedule of debates to which the Deeds' campaign would be flatly nuts to assent. Kaine had a significant rhetorical advantage over Kaine, but Deeds and McDonnell are much more evenly matched.

Being first in the field gives McDonnell control of the issue, and the duck stays unemployed for the 2009 election cycle.



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