Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Andrews 2, Phillips 0

Tonight’s Virginia Senate District 33 Republican debate at Stonebridge High School in Ashburn Farm revealed two candidates: one a clear and well-prepared challenger to Mark Herring (an eager freshman Democrat with the strong taste of recent victory in his mouth) this November, representing both businesses and taxpayers; the other a “thoughtful and careful” representative of the common people. Both are pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, and pro-refuse benefits such as driving, in-state tuition and gun ownership to illegal aliens and the more comprehensively identified mentally unstable.

So what are the electorate priorities? For Republicans, it must simply be to re-take the seat vacated last year by William Mims, now the state’s chief deputy attorney general. For the Centrists or simply non-partisan, now that the Transportation crisis is fully vetted, the next big issues to tackle probably revolve around Education (with 40% of the state budget devoted to it) and Residential/Commercial development balance. For the bloggers, we want a good, hard fight with lots of facts and statistics to look up and debate. For all these groups, Andrews appears to be the most prepared, and most experienced at this time.

The debate itself was woefully under-attended (about 75 from the Dulles South and North areas); we suggest an online debate next time, with some live blogging, Q&A and YouTube mashups for background entertainment to pull in couch potatoes of all ages. Lori Waters and Jey Jeyanathan were present, campaigning for their local Loudoun County BOS district races.

Following are brief notes on the major Q&A, and who won with respect to the priorities above;

Transportation (Tie): Phillips thought Richmond should fulfill their responsibilities; Andrews, the package that recently passed is a good start.

VA Tech and School Security (Win=Andrews): Andrews, Virginia will have some of the safest schools in the Nation after this year; Phillips, we need to balance personal privacy with more involuntary commitments of the mentally unstable.

Illegal Immigrants (Tie): Both Phillips and Andrews want to make Virginia more unattractive to aliens, removing driving privileges (Phillips) and in-state tuition (Andrews).

Balance of Residential and Commercial Development (W=A): Andrews, need to correct balance and provide more economic incentive to attract more businesses, plus leverage impact fees for residential developments; Phillips, also supports impact fees.

And so it went, with ties occurring on issues well-covered by the past 6 months of media, and Andrews winning the debate on any other issue having education, tax, development or political ramifications, contributing many statistics and references to legislation underway or recently passed (thereby supporting the broad Republican agenda). He hit full stride on a Charter/Magnet schools question, stating the problem wasn’t really the State, but the Federal Government in its pressures to “teach to the test”. Additionally, much more investment should be made in the Governor’s schools (like Thomas Jefferson), and other local efforts that didn’t require State-level Constitutional amendments. Phillips had excellent points to make on the Pro-life platform support (and Andrews readily conceded to her long list of activism in this area).

Andrews’ finish with “it’s a sobering time for Virginians, and for Republicans” closed the window hard on the Phillips campaign, cleanly summarizing the priorities for the local electorate. With his campaign investments in paper advertisements in full gear, that’s the additional point in what looks now to be a 2-0 lead. But people still need to get out and vote on May 19th, and if this debate attendance is any indicator, the vote will likely come down to just a few.

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