Friday, January 9, 2009

McAuliffe Advocates Repealing Dillon Rule

Terry McAuliffe held a town hall meeting this morning at the Dutch Inn in Collinsville. The event started at 8:15 and his campaign was kind enough to provide a breakfast buffet. This is the second time in the last four months or so that McAuliffe has come to the Martinsville area--last time he was stumping for Obama. The room was filled with Democratic activists, including the city and county chairs. Ward Armstrong was also there (see post below).

Terry is a very energetic speaker. I tried to get several pictures of him, but they all came out blurry because the guy just moves around so much. He had some interesting ideas, one of which was to harness the copious amounts of chicken scratch and other biomass that goes to waste on Virginia farms and use it to make biodiesel for our state vehicles. McAuliffe also mentioned retrofitting schools to be more energy efficient and requiring new school buildings to meet environmental guidelines. The biggest policy change he advocated was to repeal the Dillon rule, saying that it ties the hands of localities and forces them to beg Richmond's permission to do pretty much anything. Instead, he would like to see local governments regain some autonomy from the state. Finally, he pledged not to go negative against either of his Democratic opponents.

For the most part it was a standard town hall, but what struck me was that it almost felt like a miniature presidential rally--there were huge signs on the walls (not just hastily-taped rally signs) and there was a campaign sound guy with a PA system. During the Q&A, staffers were bringing around microphones, even though it was a fairly small room where that sort of thing wasn't really needed. That approach was a bit awkward for the size of the event, but it sent the message that his campaign has its act together. They're very much serious about this thing--to the tune of sending out 40 field organizers starting this week.

All of this begs a question I've been wondering about for some time: Where's Creigh? So far, McAuliffe and Moran have both held big events in Martinsville and Henry County, and both have visibly campaigned here on at least one other occasion. Creigh Deeds has been around, attending breakfasts or holding house parties, but he's about to spend six weeks in the General Assembly session and he has yet to really have a public presence locally. There seemed to be a feeling among some in the room that the primary was quickly reverting to a two-way race. 

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