Roanoke Times, Oct. 27, 2008
Editorial: Wagner for lt. governor
The Democratic candidate can bring a trove of useful knowledge and experience to the job.
Voters merely following the negative ad war in Virginia’s lieutenant governor’s race are missing the real picture: The lesser-known candidate, Democrat Jody Wagner, is by far the stronger choice.
We endorse her over Republican incumbent Bill Bolling, who, having spent his term waiting in line to run for governor, was outfoxed for this year’s top spot on the GOP ticket and is looking for another four-year place-holder.
Wagner, who herself talks more like a gubernatorial candidate, has more to recommend her for the job.
A former corporate lawyer, then a successful Tidewater small businesswoman, Wagner was state treasurer in the Mark Warner administration, where she turned her razor-sharp mind to getting Virginia’s fiscal house back in order. Warner had inherited a wildly popular, but disastrously conceived car-tax relief program that proved such a drain on state coffers it put the state’s triple-A bond rating at risk.
She brought the same nonpartisan fiscal discipline that was the hallmark of those years to the job of secretary of finance under Gov. Tim Kaine before resigning earlier this year to run for lieutenant governor.
The job is part time, its official duties limited to presiding over the state Senate, casting tie-breaking votes and serving on a few commissions. It also can be a stepping-stone, though, to the governor’s mansion, and for that reason, if no other, voters should give careful consideration to their choice.
Unfortunately, Wagner has been drawn into responding in kind to Bolling’s political attacks, in which he ridiculously lays blame at her door for Virginia’s revenue shortfalls — due entirely to the global recession, not any lack of foresight on her part.
Rather, Virginia’s relatively strong fiscal standing among the nation’s recession-wracked states is evidence of how prudently it has been managed during the Warner-Kaine years.
For her part, Wagner repeatedly hits the Republican for skipping almost all the meetings of various boards and commissions on which the lieutenant governor has a seat — criticism that at least has the virtue of being true, but contributes to a nasty tone this election season.
We can understand why Bolling, who declined to meet with our editorial board, went on the attack. We can think of nothing he has done since trading in his state Senate seat to suggest he should keep his current job.
Wagner, though, has positives to talk about.
Her role, for instance, in working with House and Senate conferees this year to get a deal on Kaine’s higher education bond package, which included money to build the Virginia Tech Carilion Medical School in Roanoke.
Wagner has a detailed knowledge of the state budget and a realistic grasp of Virginia’s needs for economic development, education and transportation. As lieutenant governor, she says, she’d put her energy into working with lawmakers to push forward on these fronts.
Put Wagner to work helping Virginia get through these bruising economic times. Vote for her on Nov. 3.