Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Little Straight Talk

I have posted before about Russ Potts, the state senator from Virginia who is running as an "independent Republican" in this year's Virginia gubernatorial election. Potts is back in the news today, the subject of a Washington Post profile by Rosalind Helderman.

Potts spoke yesterday to the Greater Washington Board of Trade, a group of northern Virginia business leaders who have previously heard from Potts' two main opponents, Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Timothy Kaine. The Post reports that Potts used the opportunity to

"rail against what he called the 'free lunch bunch' and 'flat-earth crowd' in the Republican Party that he said have not acknowledged how much it will cost to improve the state's transportation network. 'All of Virginia has to pay for this. Every single man, woman and child will have to pay for this. And it won't be free.' ...

In a version of his stump speech, at turns fiery and folksy, Potts promised to put together a blue-ribbon panel to consider ways to improve transportation, with all ideas on the table, including a gas tax increase. As governor, he said, he would hold a special session of the General Assembly to pass a transportation plan and travel the state to sell it. ...

Potts has vowed to let local governments reinstate the car tax to pump more money into state services. Yesterday, he excoriated conservatives for what he called their 'obsession' with social issues. And he blasted a Kilgore proposal for a constitutional amendment that would require a voter referendum before raising state taxes, calling it a way to avoid leading.

'Let me spell referendum for you,' he said. 'It's spelled C-O-W-A-R-D.'"

The Post reports that after the speech, Peggy Trossen, described as the "former president of a GOP women's club and a campaign worker for Republican candidates,"

lifted her purse onto the table, pulled out her checkbook and wrote out a donation to Potts's campaign.

'I think he's a straight shooter,' said Trossen, who has known Potts for more than a decade but said his speech yesterday sealed her support. 'Most Republicans will say they're going to lower taxes. There's the example of the [rollback of] the car tax - it was very gimmicky. He's not saying anything like that. He's saying it costs money.'"

Potts said that beyond Trossen's support, he also received "pledges of support" from others in the audidence. Said real estate exec John Lesinski, who had been leaning toward the Democrat Kaine, "I'm still keeping my mind open, but I'm very impressed with [Potts'] openness and honesty on issues that Democratic-leaning voters care about."

If you're keeping track, that's both Democrats and Republicans saying they identify with what Potts is saying.

A spokesman for Jerry Kilgore, the Republican candidate, said Wednesday "If you consider Russ Potts and Tim Kaine together, at least you can say about Russ Potts he's telling the truth. He'll flat-out tell you that he's raising taxes."

You know what? That might be exactly what we need. It is well past time for Republicans nationally and in the states to face the fact that we cannot continue indefinitely down the deficit expressway - it's going to take leadership like that shown by Bob Riley in Alabama and Russ Potts in Virginia and the twenty-one Republicans (and one Democrat) who voted against the budget-busting highway bill in the Senate yesterday to bring the GOP back to the safe route of fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets. And it's going to come one step at a time.

A Russ Potts victory would be a good first step.

4 Comments:

At 11:19 AM, Blogger SherAn said...

How do you spell winner? P-O-T-T-S! If I lived in Virginia, I would vote for the man. A strong dose of reality and a keen respect for honesty should be prerequisites for public office. Voting a straight-party ticket out of a misguided sense of loyalty to a particular party is the ultimate in voter folly.

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger EG said...

Because of his honesty, Potts knew the deck was stacked against him in the Republican party and decided to run an independent campaign. I live next door (Maryland) and wish the best of luck to him.

 
At 4:15 PM, Blogger Baron Violent said...

The problem is there's an easy sword to wield against Potts: Virginia is running a surplus right now, not a deficit, and he plans to raise taxes. It's a pretty suicidal position.

 
At 8:54 PM, Blogger JBD said...

mrp - surplus now, yes; I think what Potts is saying is, if you want infrastructure reform, it's going to cost money, and so on. Surpluses don't last forever (I recall a presidential campaign not too long ago where both candidates were mulling a massive surplus ...). Better to be honest and prepare for a rainy day than put down the convertible top and ride off into the sunset, no? :-)

 

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