An ugly campaign #110; August 8, 2005

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

While most of his here in the Old Dominion have spent the summer trying to stay to cool, some have been turning up the heat.

I refer to the dudes running for governor n Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine.

With the election in November, it's normally after Labor Day when folks start to tune in a little to what's going on in the campaign, but according to a Washington Post article Sunday, these two have been at each other like it's the weekend before election Day.

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The article, in Sunday's style section, mentioned the Kaine campaign deploying a guy in a duck suit to follow Kilgore all around Wakefield during the Shad Planking, a reference to Kilgore's alleged penchant for ducking debates. Kaine radio ads have also mocked Kilgore's high-pitched twangy drawl. Kilgore loyalists have not been outdone in this department.

The article states, "Kilgore paints Kaine as a left-leaning liberal who favors gun control and higher taxes. Kaine portrays Kilgore as a fiscally irresponsible conservative who is against education funding and diversity. The truth, of course, is more complicated, but that doesn’t keep the candidates from taking potshots."

This is not normal Virginia politics. We've long prided ourselves on being more genteel, above this type of nonsense. And outside of the Robb-North Senate campaign and perhaps Gilmore-Beyer, it's held true.

University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato is quoted in the article as saying that these guys genuinely think the other is bad for the state. That Kilgore is as red as it gets and Kaine is as blue as it gets and they reflect the deep cultural divide in our nation.

Regardless, if this is only August, we could be in for a long and interesting campaign.

Fortunately, none of this was on display during Kilgore's stop Friday at Bennetts Creek Farm Market in north Suffolk. Several Kilgore supporters came out to meet the candidate. I spent some time talking with Gene Sankey, Kilgore loyalist and frequent News-Herald letter to the editor writer, and Alex Lynver, a transplated New Yorker who supports Kilgore because they share the same low-tax, pro-gun conservative values.

I also got to talk to Farm Market owner Jim Shirley, a delightful gentleman who found himself hosting the event, originally scheduled for Chris Jones' Bennetts Creek Pharmacy, but Jones was out of town. I also found Shirley and I were neighbors, which is neither here nor there.

Anyway, look for things to get ugly in this race. I'm hoping that their childish antics will turn off voters, who will then turn on to independent Russell Potts, who's trailing now with about 9 percent support compared to 40 percent for each of the two major party candidates.

To me, both Kaine and Kilgore are bad for Virginia. Their shrill, hate-filled, sound-bite-driven campaigns are a disservice to the voters. I don't know a lot about Potts, but he seems more in the tradition of Virginia politicians I've known and respected such as Norman Sisisky, Randy Forbes, C. Hardaway Marks, and what I imagine Mills Godwin was like, though I never had the pleasure of meeting him. But at this point in the campaign, he certainly has my attention.