The Potts-Kaine Debate

From the Culpeper Star Exponent…

Sen. Russ Potts mocked fellow gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore as “Casper the Ghost” Tuesday when the former attorney general was a no-show at a debate on education.

“I’m deeply disappointed at Mr. Kilgore’s refusal to participate in today’s proceedings,” the Republican senator from Winchester said in his opening remarks.

On Tuesday, Potts sparred with Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee for governor, in an hour-long debate hosted by the Virginia Education Forum.

He had been shut out of another debate earlier Tuesday between Kaine and Kilgore - Kilgore, the Republican nominee, refuses to share a stage with Potts, who’s running as an Independent.

That didn’t prevent Potts from taking a few shots, though, calling Kilgore’s professed support for public education a “shameful display.”

“The fact of the matter is Jerry Kilgore traveled all across this state and campaigned against (pro-education measures),” Potts said. “Shame on him. He’s anti-public education and anti-higher education.”

For his part, Kaine used the rift between his two opponents to paint himself as the one candidate who can bridge partisan gaps.

“Russ’s candidacy is evidence of a deep, fundamental divide within the Republican Party,” Kaine said. The people of Virginia have to ask themselves, do they “want a management team that can reach out and pull people together or do they want people who are engaged in internal party battles and can’t get along with their own?”

In Potts’ camp, “leadership” was the buzzword of the day, with the senator trying to position himself as the man with more pull in the General Assembly.

“I hear you saying Mark and me, and Mark and I, and Warner II,” Potts said to his opponent, referring to Kaine’s emphasis on his legacy as Gov. Warner’s lieutenant governor. “But I don’t see any mouse in your pocket.”

“I’d still like to hear one single measure you’re responsible for in your leadership role as lieutenant governor.”

The disaffected state senator proclaimed himself the “go-to-guy” of the Warner administration, saying he pushed 14 bills through the senate.

“If you’re looking for Warner II, you’re more likely to find it in Russ Potts than Tim Kaine,” Potts said.

“It’s about leadership. I talk the talk and walk the walk.”
Kaine again turned to his record as lieutenant governor.
“Leadership is about results, not words,” he said.

“I may not be able to have as many committee meetings as (Russ would) like, but I’ve been part of a management team that’s got Virginia ranked as one of the best managed states in the country.”

One of the biggest splits between the two politicians was the issue of the state budget.

Potts criticized ideas like eliminating the car tax, which he called “sound byte legislation” that appeals to voters but isn’t in the state’s best interest.

He also said Kaine’s budget plans were “immoral” because they suggested too many new programs at the expense of the state’s existing commitments, like public education and safety.

“I would love to add those new programs,” Potts said, “but we can’t afford them.”

“Again, I say to my opponent, show me the money.”
“Look,” Kaine responded, “sometimes you can do things better than you’re doing them. In that case, new programs are a good idea.”

The former Richmond mayor then tried to turn the tables on Potts and his sharply worded barbs.

“When you hurl a charge like (immoral or untruthful at people), what kind of ability will you have to work with those people later? If you’re so quick to hurl out charges and not listen to what people say.

“I would be a leader who’ll bring people together,” Kaine said.
According to the Virginia Education Forum, Tuesday’s debate was the first event in this race that invited all three candidates to attend, and also allowed members of the public to question them directly.

The Education Forum is a non-partisan coalition whose members include the Virginia PTA, the Virginia Counselors Association and the Virginia Middle School Association.

The Source

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