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McDonnell pays visit to Volunteer Farm of Shenandoah

By Garren Shipley -- gshipley@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Bob McDonnell's visit to the Volunteer Farm of Shenandoah on Tuesday might have been low-key, but the surrounding political environment was anything but.

McDonnell toured the farm and met with volunteers who grow tons of fresh food every year for area food banks.

The Republican gubernatorial nominee made the stop the day before his campaign went on the air with a new television ad in every market except Northern Virginia promoting his plan to bring new jobs to the commonwealth via energy projects.

"New energy means new jobs," McDonnell says in the ad. "We need it all: wind, oil, natural gas, clean coal, nuclear."

"I will lead a bipartisan effort to make Virginia the Energy Capital of the East Coast," he adds.

Virginia Democrats wasted no time in dismissing the push.

"McDonnell's 'new' plan is really more of the same. He promises energy jobs now, but he's already dismissed alternative energy and hasn't shown how he can expand traditional oil drilling anytime during the next four years," the state Democratic Party says in a press release.

Other political storms were also churning on Tuesday.

McDonnell's visit to the valley came just a day after he called on a fellow Republican touched by an alleged ethics scandal to resign.

Del. Phil Hamilton, R-Newport News, allegedly lobbied Old Dominion University for a job with a new program to be created with money Hamilton secured during state budget negotiations.

Both McDonnell and his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, have called on Hamilton to resign.

But the allegations against Hamilton don't point to any immediate need to change ethics rules or laws governing how legislators deal with conflicts of interest, McDonnell said.

"I think the ethics rules are all pretty clear on what's acceptable and not acceptable," he said.

"The Speaker [of the House of Delegates, William Howell, R-Fredericksburg] has indicated that he's going to have an [ethics] hearing convened shortly," McDonnell said. "In the aftermath of that, if there are things that need to be changed, they'll be changed."

Virginia has a reputation for good, honest government for good reason, the former attorney general said.

"During the 18 years I've been associated with the General Assembly, I think for the most part we've had very clean and ethical government on both sides of the aisle," he said.

Election Day is Nov. 3.

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