McDonnell, the best man for the job

Published 9:23 pm Saturday, October 31, 2009

When it comes to elections, voters hardly ever have a choice who represents everything they believe in. Elections, like life, often are exercises in choosing the best from a series of flawed alternatives.

So it is in Virginia this year, as voters prepare to head to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new governor. Both men running for the office — Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat Creigh Deeds — have their faults. But one of them will be governor in January.

From a Suffolk-centric perspective, McDonnell is the best man for the job. His connection to the Hampton Roads community — he has served as a prosecutor in Virginia Beach and represented the Beach in the General Assembly — mean that he has a special understanding of the challenges area residents face.

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His ideas for solving the state’s transportation problems, for instance, are rooted in his experience with Hampton Roads traffic. Some voters may disagree with his proposed solutions — his support of offshore drilling as a potential source of revenue for transportation improvements has lukewarm support, for instance — but they should appreciate the fact that he considers the problem important enough to actually develop a plan of attack. His opponent has been coy about what he’d do to fix Virginia transportation and how he’d pay for it.

McDonnell also has a plan to address Virginia’s soft economy and has promised to put a major emphasis on improving the atmosphere for small business development. “Jobs for Virginia” has been a continuing motif in his campaign, and he has promised that if fellow Republican Bill Bolling is elected lieutenant governor, Bolling would serve as Virginia’s “chief jobs creation officer.” Both men have campaigned against tax and regulatory policies that stand in the way of jobs and economic growth.

Especially in light of the imminent closing of International Paper Co. in Franklin and the attendant massive loss of jobs in Western Tidewater, state solutions to transportation and economic issues are vitally important to area voters. A candidate from the area is more likely to understand and appreciate the special needs of Suffolk and the Greater Hampton Roads area than one whose home and political connections are in Southwest Virginia.

He’s not exactly the hometown boy, but Bob McDonnell has a connection to Hampton Roads that Creigh Deeds can’t begin to touch. If he is elected governor of Virginia, McDonnell’s local connections could pay important dividends to the area in the form of desperately needed transportation and economic solutions. Those just happen to be the most important issues facing the commonwealth as a whole, too, so the solutions would benefit all of Virginia in the long run. And that’s what voters should consider when they step into voting booths on Tuesday.