By Carten Cordell | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-District 10, introduced a bill Tuesday that would reduce the troubled airport authority’s board of directors from 13 members to nine, giving Virginia a majority of seats with six. Maryland, the District of Columbia and the federal government would claim the remaining three.
Allen, a Republican, and Kaine, a Democrat, want off this train, supporting the measure in an attempt to distance themselves from continued charges of malfeasance and cronyism plaguing MWAA.
Allen appeared Tuesday at a campaign rally in Loudoun County. Wolf was there, as well. On his website, Allen posted a news release, blaming Kaine for MWAA’s continued problems.
Kaine’s appointment of Dennis Martire is Allen’s favorite target.
Martire is an organized labor official ousted from the board by Gov. Bob McDonnell, who cited expensive business trips and Martire’s advocacy of union-backed labor agreements for the $6 billion Silver Line Metro project.
“It was Tim Kaine’s appointees to MWAA who advanced Project Labor Agreements that ‘stack the deck’ in favor of union bosses and discriminate against 96 percent of Virginia workers who have chosen not to join a union,” Allen’s release said.
Martire is suing to remain on the board, which Allen called a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The former senator and governor is critical of Kaine’s decision to turn control of the Dulles Toll Road over to MWAA, a decision Kaine and Wolf supported.
Kaine said in a statement that Wolf’s plan “makes good sense” and promised, if elected, to clean up the MWAA mess.
“”It’s been disappointing to read stories about MWAA board activities,” he said. “These sideshows make it more difficult for the professional staff to do the job of operating the airports and completing the critical extension of the Silver Line to Dulles and Loudoun.”
Quentin Kidd, director of the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, said that with the poll numbers so tight, the candidates are jumping on any issue they think will give them a bump, regardless if it contradicts their previous positions.
“Both guys have dirty hands in this issue,” he said. “It’s like one is saying, ‘Your hands are dirtier than mine, so you are guiltier than I am.’ I don’t think that is going to get Allen the advantage that he wants.”
Trying to make MWAA a campaign issue is difficult because it is largely seen as a problem for Northern Virginia, not for the rest of the state. Allen wants to amplify its significance for Northern Virginia.
“It would get him some traction in what I call the ‘vote engine’ of the state, Northern Virginia,” Kidd said. “It’s where a third or a fourth of all votes in Virginia come from. If you can get some traction up there, you can do yourself some good, but I don’t think this is the issue that is going to get him any traction up there. People aren’t paying attention to it.“
Geoff Skelley, spokesman for the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics in Charlottesville, said the issue is another example of the finger-pointing that has dogged much of the campaign, but it’s unlikely to have much of a shelf life.
“The big issue is the economy,” he said. “Obviously they can try and tie this into that to some extent, in terms of it being a major transportation project, but I don’t see this being a decisive issue for many voters.”
Contact Carten Cordell at firstname.lastname@example.org.