The VITA/Northrop Grumman controversy
Deeds: "In theory," Deeds says, contracting the state's IT services to Northrop Grumman for $2.3 billion was a "good idea," but he opines that laptops costing the state an estimated $9,000 apiece is "frustrating." Still, he is waiting to see what the state Senate's finance committee reports later this year before passing judgment on NG. "I want to get all the facts," he says. In August, he said state agencies should receive regular audits, beginning with VITA.
McDonnell: "I think the jury is out as to how well this is working. I hate to prejudge the situation until we know the facts," he says, but adds that "something systematic is not working." Yet, McDonnell says, "Northrop Grumman is an outstanding company." The firm donated $25,000 to his gubernatorial campaign, but he says that would not affect any decision he would make as governor regarding the contract.
Note: Both Deeds and McDonnell voted for the contract in 2005 as members of the General Assembly, and the attorney general's office was involved in handling billing disputes, according to news reports. Northrop Grumman also donated (a total of $550) to Deeds' 1999 and 2001 campaigns for delegate.
Privatization of state services
Deeds: Supports public-private partnerships in school improvements and transportation but draws the line at privately run prisons, which he says can lead to companies "looking for ways to cut corners" to make a profit. "I'm really leery of it." Privatizing liquor sales, which McDonnell supports, is worth examining but could take money out of the state's general fund, he notes.
McDonnell: "I'm a supporter of public-private partnerships. In many cases, they work out well." He backs privately owned liquor stores, calling the ABC "a vestige of the post-Prohibition era." McDonnell promotes his 2005 rewriting of the Public-Private Transportation Act, a decade after it was originally enacted, as a positive example of privatization. As for private prisons, he suggests proceeding "very slowly."
The Virginia Tech tragedy
Deeds: Meeting with families of the shooting victims led Deeds — a lifelong hunter and strong supporter of the Second Amendment — to push for a law requiring background checks at gun shows, which was voted out of committee in the 2009 session but then failed on the Senate floor. Deeds says he was "a little perplexed that [Seung-Hui Cho's] medical records would be kept off campus." Further investigation of the tragedy is appropriate, he adds, but one that "goes on and on and on doesn't make sense."
McDonnell: Within 30 days of the shootings, Gov. Tim Kaine, with legal advice from McDonnell, closed the mental-health loophole that allowed Cho to buy two guns. Like Deeds, McDonnell says the families of the victims "are owed complete disclosure," and the governor's panel seemed "at the time" to have completed a detailed investigation. McDonnell said he did not wish to comment further, since two families' lawsuits against the university are still active. He does not support the gun-show legislation backed by Deeds.
Note: In August, Kaine said he would not reconvene the Virginia Tech panel.
Transportation projects and funding
Deeds: His plan to improve the state's transportation situation includes: high-speed rail, including a spur connecting Norfolk to Petersburg; expanding freight- and regular passenger-rail service; extending the Metro system to Dulles airport (a project that started under Kaine); independent oversight of VDOT; offering tax credits to businesses for each worker who telecommutes; Port of Virginia upgrades; light-rail and bus rapid transit; expanding the capacity of Hampton Roads connectors.
Other than noting federal allocations for certain projects, the plan does not mention funding recommendations — drawing criticism from McDonnell. Deeds says, "People in the press are mainly concerned about this. If I put out specific plans out there, they'll be lightning rods." If elected, he says he would seek public input all over the state in the spring of 2010 and call a special session of the General Assembly in the fall to vote on a plan. In an August online interview on timesdispatch.com, Deeds did not rule out raising taxes.
McDonnell: His transportation plan includes: I-66 expansion; adding HOT lanes on I-495, I-95 and I-395; upgrading Route 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg as a limited-access highway and hurricane-evacuation route; widening the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel; establishing high-speed rail from Washington, D.C., to Richmond and Hampton Roads; I-81 improvements; freight-rail additions.
McDonnell's funding plan involves: expediting $3 billion in approved bonds from 2007; issuing another $1 billion in bonds; requiring at least 1 percent of all revenue growth above 3 percent to go toward transportation (approximately $150 million); 75 percent of surplus revenue and 80 percent of offshore drilling revenue for transportation; modernizing VDOT, at a potential savings of $50 million; setting up tolls on I-95 and I-85 for drivers coming from North Carolina into Virginia.
Deeds said at the July 25 Virginia Bar Association debate at the Homestead that taking revenue from the general fund for transportation costs would remove money from schools; McDonnell said later that "this legislation will ensure that education, health care, public safety and other core government priorities are protected."
Note: For more detail on the candidates' transportation plans, visit their Web sites, deedsforvirginia.com and bobmcdonnell.com.
Abortion and gay marriage
Deeds: Pro-choice; says marriage is between a man and a woman. On abortion, he said at the July 25 debate, "I trust the women of Virginia," saying that McDonnell opposes abortion "even in cases of rape and incest" and introduced 35 bills to restrict abortion (a contention the state Republican Party disputes, saying the number really is eight). Deeds voted to bring the 2006 marriage amendment to Virginia's ballots but campaigned against it later that year; it passed. He supports "non-discrimination" and benefits for same-sex couples.
McDonnell: Pro-life; says marriage is between a man and a woman. Introduced a bill banning late-term abortion and others requiring parental consent before a minor has an abortion and informed consent for all women. Also introduced a 2004 marriage-amendment bill and supported the 2006 amendment. He does not support civil unions.
Note: The moderator at the July 25 debate noted that neither candidate appeared to want to discuss "culture war" issues in the campaign. In response, McDonnell said that his main aim is to "strengthen families," while Deeds said, "I've never made social policy part of my agenda." In an August reversal, Deeds dedicated three events to criticizing McDonnell's abortion views.
And in late August, the Washington Post printed a story about the dissertation McDonnell wrote in 1989 as a 34-year-old graduate student at Regent University, in which he argued for preserving the "traditional family" and wrote that "every level of government should statutorily and procedurally prefer married couples over cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." Women who work outside the home and unwed mothers also fell under McDonnell's criticism.
In response to the story, McDonnell said that his views have changed about women in the workplace and that he does not believe in discrimination based on gender, marital status or sexual orientation, according to a Sept. 1 Washington Post article.