Virginia’s Choice: Being Someone or Doing Something

In less than 48 hours, Election Day 2009 will be in the books and either Democrat Creigh Deeds or Republican Bob McDonnell will be elected the 71st Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. While many Virginians have already made up their minds about which candidate will receive their vote, invariably there are still some Virginians sitting at home tonight who have not. For these voters, I have a simple question.

Do you want a Governor who simply wants to be someone? Or do you want a Governor who actually wants to do something?

As we sit here tonight, every poll is showing Bob McDonnell with a double-digit lead over his opponent, Creigh Deeds. In the past week, Deeds has been criticized for the negative tone of his campaign, for failing to embrace the constituency created by Barack Obama’s historic victory here last year, and for running a lackluster campaign. However, when the story of this race is written, I believe that it will show Creigh Deeds’ major flaw was the fact that he ultimately failed to give Virginians a reason to vote for him.

Deeds’ campaign attempted to model him as a middle-of-the-road Democrat in the mold of previous Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. However, beyond this rough sketch, it often seemed as though Deeds could not identify anything to recommend him for the job of Governor other than the fact that he wanted it. Deeds’ failure to engage on any specific matters of policy or distinguish himself as a candidate in any significant way are perhaps the best evidence that his campaign truly never got beyond the initial stage of planning.

On the other hand, Bob McDonnell spent virtually every single day of the campaign addressing the specific issues that matter most to Virginia’s voters. Regardless of whether or not these ideas and proposals were popular with the Washington Post, the fact that he proposed them has signified to Virginians that McDonnell desires to be an active Governor who tackles problems head-on. McDonnell’s positive and wonkish campaign indicates that he does not just intend to sit around in Richmond collecting a paycheck, but that he will be the Commonwealth’s leading advocate as we seek to discover solutions to issues from the economy to transportation to education and jobs.

In the end, I believe that Bob McDonnell will emerge victorious on Tuesday night because Virginians decided he was the candidate who showed more enthusiasm for addressing the problems Virginians are dealing with on a daily basis. Meanwhile, Creigh Deeds hemmed and hawed and tied himself in knots attempting to avoid direct questions about the consequences of his proposals.

The message Virginians received from Creigh Deeds was: I want to be Governor. The message they received from Bob McDonnell was: I want to be Governor because I want to solve problems.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which of those messages people would rather vote for.

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