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The annual 14-block parade is a political rite marks the start of the home stretch to the November election.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
BUENA VISTA — The fall election campaign season got off to its traditional start Monday with bagpipes, balloon-bedecked pickups and trotting politicians shaking hands with Labor Day parade watchers lining Magnolia Avenue.
“It’s great to start the last lap, the final sprint, the last 64 days and approximately seven hours — but who’s counting,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli told the after-parade crowd at Buena Vista’s Glen Maury Park.
Cuccinelli joked with parade watchers that he was literally running for office as he worked both sides of the more than 14-block-long parade
“Hi, folks, what a great day; happy Labor Day,” his Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe repeated as he shook hands with the crowd.
The sun was warm, the sky blue, and while most of the politicians had worked up a sweat by the end of the long parade, they still plenty of energy for the traditional speeches at the park.
“I’m running for governor to focus on diversifying and growing the economy,” McAuliffe said, after first asking the audience to applaud the Republican ticket sitting across the stage from him.
McAuliffe said he wanted to push to improve the efficiency of Virginia’s transportation systems and health care, and to enhance education.
“I’m running for governor to make Virginia the best for education,” he said. “Education is an investment, it is not an expense.”
Cuccinelli said his focus was job creation and battling federal encroachment, citing the federal energy policies and the Affordable Care Act as threats to Virginia’s economy.
“We’re watching this thing fall apart in front of our eyes,” he said, referring to the Affordable Care Act. “It’s for Virginia to say we’re as disengaged from this debacle as we possibly can be,” he said.
“I’ll be a governor for every Virginian, growing the economy, growing personal freedom in Virginia,” he said.
Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis said both Democrats and Republicans ignored the interests of ordinary Virginians to favor special interests
“For the past three or
four decades, neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have been fighting for your freedom.” Sarvis said. “They’ve been fighting for the interests of their monied backers.”
The gubernatorial candidates refrained from direct personal attacks on each other that marked their debate much of this summer.
But state Sen. Mark Herring, D-Loudoun County, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, sharply criticized Cuccinelli’s service in that office as “way too much politics … and not enough problem solving.”
Herring, saying he would bring ethics to the office, said Cuccinelli was wrong to back gas companies in a federal lawsuit over royalties claimed by Southwest Virginia landowners.
A group called NextGen Climate Action Committee posted signs up and down the parade route noting that the state inspector general is looking into the Office of Attorney General’s actions in gas companies cases, in what Rep Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, called an upsetting break from the Labor Day tradition of positive campaigning.
Republican attorney general nominee Mark Obenshain, a state senator from Harrisonburg, speaking immediately after Herring, said, “Southwest Virginia is under threat from Washington, D.C.” because of the Obama administration’s hostility to coal, and promising to fight any efforts to cut use of Virginia coal.
State Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said he supported expanding Medicaid, an option under the Affordable Care Act. His GOP opponent, E.W. Jackson, called on Virginians to join together to fight for the rights of all.
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