Wednesday, May 18, 2005

"Renegade Realist": More on Russ Potts

Lee Hockstader of the Washington Post editorial staff devotes a column in Wednesday's edition to Russ Potts, the "independent Republican" candidate for Virginia governor [for previous posts on Potts, see here and here]. While Hockstader - short-sightedly, I suspect - downplays Potts' chances for ultimate victory in the race, he goes on to remark

"What's seldom discussed is that his quixotic, shoestring campaign is also striking a clear, common-sense chord in a race that badly needs it. Whatever you think of the messenger, right now his message is the clearest-headed in the field." In an interview, Hockstader writes, he "found [Potts] plain-spoken, gracious and strikingly modest as politicians go. What was most refreshing was his grip on reality."

In contrast to the presumptive Democratic and Republican candidates, Hockstader writes, Potts "talks sense" about issues facing Virginia:

"Take the reality of Virginia's transportation mess, and how to find money to fix it. Kilgore -when he isn't talking airily about spending more of the state's budget on roads while cutting, um, nothing - would let regions of the state vote on the option to tax themselves, a device that lets him off the hook of formulating his own plan. Kaine's proposal, to the extent you can call it that, appears to do next to nothing to raise new revenue. Think where that would leave traffic-choked Northern Virginia, whose unfunded transportation needs are estimated at almost $1 billion annually for the next 20 years.

Potts, by contrast, talks sense. He notes that the $848 million earmarked by the General Assembly this year for transportation barely covers the cost of the Mixing Bowl project at the Springfield interchange. He would convene state lawmakers for a special session on transportation, as Gov. Gerald Baliles did a generation ago. And he'd press them until they devised a long-term financing package to address a problem that cannot be wished away by tricks. 'I'm gonna keep those guys there till the cows come home,' Potts told me."

Hockstader sees Potts' campaign as a "last hurrah," and the candidate as "a spoiler." He ends his piece by saying "Let's just hope his ideas outlast his candidacy." I certainly agree that Potts' ideas have to be able to outlast the candidate (see my review of Independent Nation), but I do not share Hockstader's pessimism that Potts' campaign is hopelessly quixotic.

The column quotes Potts as saying "I see the Republican Party of my great-great grandfather, my grandfather and my father just torn apart by my-way-or-the-highway [thinking] and no public investment, torn apart by Grover Norquist and this anti-everything, anti-investment policy, and by these social conservatives obsessed with the abortion issue and mixing religion and politics."

Keep talking sense, Senator Potts. Prove to Lee Hockstader that talking sense makes more than a spoiler.


At 10:21 AM, Blogger EG said...

Virginians basically hate the car tax. They were promised the repeal of it years ago and it hasn't happened. Potts realizes that the car tax money is important for Virginia's roads and infrastructure (as do most politicians).

Potts has publically argued against the repeal whereas the Democratic and Republican candidates promise its repeal. Because of his truthfulness, many Virginians will not vote for him.

That's why Hockstader has a pessimistic view of his campaign.


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