Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Kilgore Proposes Killer Bill

I've said it before and I'll say it again. In fact, I'll keep saying it: Kilgore is gonna hammer Kaine on the death penalty. For those of you not in the know on this one, Lt. Gov. Kaine opposes the death penalty.

Republican Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore yesterday labeled Democratic Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, his likely opponent for governor in 2005, as "John Kerry with a Richmond address."
Outlining what may be a major attack theme of his campaign for governor, Kilgore said Kaine, like Kerry, is opposed to the death penalty.

When asked about the issue, Kaine admirably cites his Catholic faith and he repeatedly states that he intends to enforce VA law, which, as you know, allows for the death penalty. But neither of those things will make the issue go away. In fact, Kilgore recently proposed a bill that would drop the requirement that the death penalty be applied only to the triggerman in a killing.

The message also is intended to help draw a distinction between Kilgore, who is running for governor, and his likely opponent, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). Kilgore has said repeatedly that Kaine's personal opposition to the death penalty will be one of the key issues in the 2005 campaign.

In a debate with Kaine this month, Kilgore promised to remind voters that his opponent "actually represented death row inmates, those who escaped from prison."

This bill is obviously an attempt to create publicity around the issue. The WaPo has the story, but this kind of thing isn't aimed at the Post's Northern VA readership. Kilgore wins if this story gets picked up by local TV/newspapers in rural areas. We'll have to keep our eyes open over the next few days.

That being said, this issue is a real loser for Kaine. He needs to do two things.

  1. Avoid the issue by changing the subject. Campaigns are about getting YOUR message out. If YOUR message is in the news, there is no/less room for the OTHER GUY's message. Kilgore won the first of many battles to dictate the news. Let's hope Kaine wins the next...and the next...and the next.
  2. Emphasize this point ad nausuem: I FULLY INTEND to enforce the death penalty...just as Gov. Warner has. Warner broke with liberal tradition on this issue and benefitted from it. Kaine needs to identify himself with that.

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