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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Tender of Goats

In one of the two big off-year political contests that will eventually transfix political junkies everywhere, GOP Attorney General Jerry Kilgore has formally launched his candidacy for governorship of the Commonwealth of Virginia, stumping around the state with an unlikely ally in tow: United States Senator John Warner, who has pretty much parted company with the gubernatorial candidate on the major issues facing Virginia in recent years.The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Jeff Schapiro referred to the Warner-Kilgore road show as a “Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis act,” a cultural reference that’s funny and apposite to us old folks who remember, however dimly, the 1950s show-biz partnership between the debonair Martin and the clownish Lewis (not then known, even in France, as a genius).”That Warner and Kilgore are coming together is evidence that the Republican Party is still coming apart, divided between the fading moderate bloc embodied by Warner and the dominant right wing that birthed Kilgore,” Schapiro wrote.The GOP unity signs in Virginia are very deceptive. Schapirto put it well:”How does [Kilgore] simultaneously satisfy the anti-taxers who control the GOP and also the Main Street-type Republicans, like Senator Warner, who will support a tax increase as an investment in essential services?”The no-new-tax forces, notably the Grover G. Norquist-led Americans for Tax Reform, are furious that Kilgore has pledged to support for renomination House and Senate Republicans who backed additional taxes for education, human services and public safety.”And moderate Republicans worry that the state’s finances will bleed again if Kilgore has his way on transportation. He wants to divert sales and income tax revenue that finances schools, police and programs for the poor to roads, rather than rely on higher fuel taxes and other fees on motorists.”So far as I know, Virginia Democrats are completely united behind the candidacy of Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine. But Kilgore, aside from the challenge of uniting his own partisans, is having to deal with an independent candidacy from Republican state senator Russell Potts of Winchester.Everything I know about Jerry Kilgore suggests to me that he’s not exactly the kind of deft politician who can herd sheep, much less cats. And indeed, the most common definition of the original Scotch-Irish meaning of the surname I share with him is: “Tender of goats.” That’s a pretty good description of the Attorney General’s leadership position in the Virginia GOP.

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