By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA — The Old Dominion stayed front and center on the political stage this week, celebrating the 225th birthday of the James Madison-inspired Constitution, capturing the attention of pundits nationwide with new swing state poll numbers, and witnessing the first televised debate between U.S. Senate candidates George Allen and Tim Kaine.
This is your week in review.
From the beginning, Virginia was at the forefront of a national discussion about the future of the country. Today, more than two centuries after the signing of the United States Constitution, the Commonwealth could once again prominently shape the nation’s politics.
“Many of the stars aligned in order to ensure that Virginia had a large and justifiably important voice in governance,” said Doug Smith, executive director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange. “It shouldn’t surprise us that Virginia continues to play an important role on the scape of American politics. Virginia has a long, long history of being a leader and setting the governance direction.”
But one polling expert in the state says it’s hard to gauge the accuracy of that data.
Never before has Virginia been such a target for spending and political ads, Mayer said. So unlike most perpetual swing states, it’s hard identify and model ads for the “likely” voter.
The poll, conducted in conjunction with the New York Times and CBS News and released Wednesday, surveyed 1,474 likely Virginia voters over the phone from Sept. 11 through 17, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.
Virginia Republicans blasted Tim Kaine for saying during Thursday’s U.S. Senate debate that he was open to setting a “minimum tax for everyone.”
“Tim Kaine just can’t help himself. Anytime he has the opportunity to even talk about raising taxes, he does it,” Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said after Kaine sparred with GOP candidate George Allen at the Fairfax debate.
But Kaine’s suggestion actually echoes what tea party darling Michele Bachmann said when she was seeking the GOP presidential nomination. Back then, the Minnesota congresswoman and tax attorney declared, “Everyone should pay something.”
Bachmann’s tax-’em-all plan might not be as bold and “progressive” as Kaine’s, of course, yet the fact remains: Republicans at the national level are at least complicit in creating a situation where nearly half of Americans pay nothing … as Mitt Romney bemoans.
In local news, several vintners and a farmer are challenging a land-use ordinance that they call an assault on economic freedom and a clear violation of state law in Fauquier County.
Farmer Martha Boneta filed a lawsuit Aug. 31, seeking $2 million in damages related to fines she faces for selling agricultural products on her property and for hosting a children’s birthday party there.
One of the plaintiffs alleges that officials in Fauquier — which ranks as the eighth most affluent county in the nation, with a median household income of $93,762 — are controlled by wealthy landholders determined to “maintain their bucolic lifestyle.”
Watson can be reached at Katie@olddominionwatchdog.org.