By Kathryn Watson
ALEXANDRIA — As eyes turn toward November, young people pitch in to rev up the GOP fight, campaigns hone in on “battleground” counties and Republicans fault federal law for hampering the goal of clean elections.
Here’s the week in review.
Young voters may have helped Barack Obama sail to victory in 2008, but an energized and growing young Republican base is doing all it can to make sure things are different this time.
“It’s night and day compared with 2008,” John Scott, chairman of the Virginia Federation of Young Republicans, told Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau. His group governs the 14 Young Republican clubs statewide. “Folks who voted for Obama feel like they got scammed. ‘Hope and Change‘ brought chaos.”
Scott and other young GOP leaders will need all the help they can get. Virginia voters 18 to 34 gave presidential hopeful Mitt Romney an unfavorable rating of 46 percent, nearly double his 28 percent favorable rating, according to a Quinniac Poll released July 19.
Perhaps the vote in ‘crescent’ counties will be even more telling.
Political analysts and politicians say the “battleground” counties spanning Hampton Roads, the northern Richmond suburbs, and from Loudoun to Prince William, will likely determine if Virginia goes red or blue in the presidential election. One analyst whittled that list to one.
“If Romney wins Loudoun, he can win the state,” said Geoffrey Skelley of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
In 2008, Obama carried Loudoun County 54-45, along with neighboring areas.
One thing at least is fairly certain — rural Virginia regions won’t be calling the shots come November.
“How much more Republican can the rural areas get?” Skelley asked. “If anything, the state is getting more purple.”
Hold onto your TV remotes, Virginians, the negative political ads are coming fast and furious.
A new study of advertising in the presidential race shows 4,504 negative spots aired in the Richmond television market June 9-22.
Swing-state Virginia is a key target in the air war waged by President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Both campaigns will devote sizable percentages of their media war chests to win the Old Dominion’s 13 electoral votes.
While the verbiage can be cutting and the videos less-than-flattering, the blitzkrieg of negative ads is risky.
Neither has eclipsed $10,000 in donations to date this year. That leaves lots of room for catching up if organizers hope to reach their original goals of $2 million to $3 million for each candidate’s Super PAC. While Super PACs can’t give to campaigns directly, they can fund attack ads.
The candidates’ campaigns have a little more cash. Kaine has raised $10.4 million to date, compared with Allen’s $8.2 million.
But Bob Biersack, senior fellow at opensecrets.org, a Center for Responsive Politics website tracking money in politics, isn’t worried.
“It is one of the critical races in the country; it will get plenty of financial attention,” said Biersack.
As November draws near, one state senator — flanked by plenty of fellow Republicans — fears the National Voting Rights Act is getting in the way of Virginia’s effort to stamp out election fraud.
That’s a problem, says state Sen. Thomas Garrett, R-Louisa, who wrote vote-reform legislation last session.
“The state’s voter ID law is so broad it allows people to vote with a pinkie swear or a letter from your mother,” Garrett said.
The 1965 law was originally intended to keep states from disenfranchising black voters.
Garrett’s concerns were only amplified this week by allegations that a left-wing voter registration group mailed forms to underage residents, dead people and pets.
“Our process is legal and working,” Page Gardner, founder and president of the Voter Participation Center, said in a statement.
Officials at the State Board of Elections say they’re considering complaints made by the Mitt Romney campaign, but it doesn’t look like that will lead to immediate action.
Miller, the longest-serving state senator and first woman elected to both houses of the Legislature, died of stomach cancer July 3. She was 77.
Englin will not seek re-election.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling on Thursday accused President Barack Obama’s administration of proposing costly, business-crushing regulations.
Those more than 4,000 proposed federal regulations would cost the U.S. economy $515 billion, the state’s chief-job creation official estimated.
What’s that mean for Virginia?
The National Federation of Independent Businesses estimate Virginia’s gross state product could take a $62 billion hit.
“This administration views business as an adversary,” Bolling said.
Northern Virginia Community College — the largest in the state’s 23-community-college-system — needs to straighten out its purchasing problems.
The six-campus college was marked as a repeat offender for “inadequate control” over its credit card purchasing policy, an annual state audit of the Virginia Community College System revealed.
A lack of purchase logs and missing receipts were among the problems.
“We’re not taking it lightly,” said Guy Meruvia, compliance and risk management director for NVCC whose position was added as a result of the audit.
State auditor Walter Kucharski said his office found no actual instances of fraud, waste or abuse of public money.