Blogs can serve as a method for candidates to speak directly to the public, and leave those answers on the record as long as the blog stays in action. Virginia blogs have been quite adept at the “live blog” format, where questions are posted prior to and during a blog session, and the candidate answers the questions. RK pioneered the form, and a search of their site shows at least 30 live blogs over the past two years. NLS had on Judy Feder, Phil Forgit, and on the GOP side Too Conservative live blogged with Jim Gilmore last week.
Having read through the transcripts of each event, I noticed distinct differences in the way the candidates handled the questions.
Feder and Forgit handled the questions as coming from voters, and answered questions as posed with a minimum of evasion although answers did have their unique campaign spin. Gilmore answered questions as if they were coming from media reps, and too often danced and evaded.
Question: When Mark Warner took office he never spent a dime on transportation. As Governor, how much did you spend on transportation?
Gilmore: We increased transportation expenditures without raising taxes. I supported public-private partnerships to get work done on roads. I went to work to reform VDOT, placing an Inspector General in that office. I reformed environmental procedures for road projects. When I became Governor there was no money, any where, to build the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I went to Senator Warner and the Democratic Governor of Maryland. We obtained the money to build the bridge. We also placed the Mixing Bowl on a priority basis and did extensive road projects across the state. Former Governor Warner raised taxes, after promising not to do so, but none of that money went to transportation despite the Democratic Party’s complaints.
Note the question…and note the dearth of even an approximation of how much money was spent on transportation during his term.
Governor Gilmore had several questions on the Car Tax, which he decided to answer with one general answer. I will note that I posted the following for him:
Two questions, please:
Your original car tax reduction focus was based on car value. The final format was based on the amount of car tax the owner paid.
I have heard over the years that the Western part of the state considers the ultimate form of the reduction a giveaway to NoVA, where presumably there is wider ownership of more expensive cars. This charge was recently revoiced by Brandon Bell on his blog.
Do you think this a fair criticism? Why did you change your focus?
You ran for governor touting elimination of the car tax. Ultimately there was a sizeable, but not complete, car tax rollback.
As a practical matter, how do you plan to deal with the very simple campaign attack that you promised to get rid of the car tax, but didn’t?
No response. Now remember, you have a former G.O.P. member of the state senate blogging that western Virginia feels that Gilmore campaigned on one car tax idea, installed another, and in doing so boondoggled Northern Virginia. Gilmore responded generally by saying no region was shortchanged…but this is not the the question asked. The question was “how do you fight a perception?”, and this was ignored. The second question was not even approached
I do not live in Va 1 or Va 10, and if I did I would not be voting for either of the F’s…but I found their live blog answers to be much more informative and responsive than did Mr. Gilmore’s…and therein is the conundrum I see coming my way in 2008.
I don’t like the likely choices for Senator from Virginia in 2008. Mr. Gilmore’s analysis of his term in office suggest he has his own reality, and the prevarications of Mark Warner both on budgetary matters and in dealing with Democratic candidates mark him as someone who has little regard for the truth. Hopefully both will change their way and measure up to what we need from our representatives.
How will we know? Keep an eye on they answer on live blogs…that may be the best place to start!