Virginia's McDonnell enlisted to hit at Dem agenda

The Republican Party’s effort to use a swing-state governor’s race as a referendum on the Democratic agenda came to a head on Saturday when Virginia gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell delivered the weekly GOP address.

In 2008, President Barack Obama became the first Democrat to win in Virginia since 1964. Democrats have also held the commonwealth’s governorship since 2002; its current executive, Tim Kaine, now heads the Democratic National Committee.

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Republicans hope that McDonnell, until recently Virginia's attorney general, can lead their party’s comeback across the country by taking back the governor’s mansion this year.

Though yesterday’s employment report showed job losses moderated in July, McDonnell insisted that unemployment will again plunge if Congress passes climate-change, card-check, and health-insurance reform legislation.

“We must do everything we can to keep and grow jobs in Virginia, and every state in the Union. That’s why we strongly oppose cap-and-trade, a job-killing energy tax that would put American companies at a tremendous competitive disadvantage with employers in other countries,” McDonnell said

“That’s why we’ve fought against the job-killing card-check legislation being pushed by big national labor unions and Democrats in Congress,” he added.

The newest U.S. Labor Department jobs report showed that employers cut 247,000 jobs last month, the lowest number in over a year. Economists had expected 320,000 Americans to become unemployed. In June, jobs losses amounted to 443,000.

Still, McDonnell stressed the results were not good enough. “Yesterday’s jobs’ report is yet another reminder that families and small businesses are struggling as unemployment remains high,” he said.

The address also hit on the continuing battle over healthcare reform legislation, which has become extremely heated and emotional during the first week of the House’s recess.

Several House members who support current health reform proposals have faced hostile crowds at town hall meetings in their districts. McDonnell did not discuss the raucous crowds, instead choosing to criticize current versions of the bill for inflating the federal deficit while burdening small-business owners with overbearing healthcare costs that could force them to cut jobs.

“It’s why we are committed to helping more Americans get the healthcare and coverage they need; not through nationalizing the system with a costly government-run plan, but rather by supporting free-market incentives,” McDonnell said.

The Virginian instead challenged lawmakers to draft proposals in all policy areas that focus on “innovation” and “free-markets.”

McDonnell articulated his agenda for Virginia, which includes offshore oil drilling, selling state-run liquor stores to fund transportation projects, and expanding access to higher education.

“Together, we will use innovation and free-markets to bring new jobs and more opportunities to Virginians, and America,” he concluded.