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Democrats Eat Up Criticism of Republicans

February 19, 2011

By Jillian Quattlebaum
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – About 1,400 people attended Virginia Democrats’ Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, where party stalwarts discussed their core values and criticized the state’s Republican leadership.

At their annual fundraiser Saturday night, Democrats touted their support for education funding and abortion rights.

Delegate Ward Armstrong of Martinsville said he disagreed with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget plans to take some money from the state’s general fund – which supports education, law enforcement and social services – and spend it on transportation projects.

“As important as transportation is, you cannot rob schools, police and the mentally challenged to pay for roads,” said Armstrong, the minority leader in the House of Delegates.

He said it is difficult to be a Democrat in the House, where Republicans hold 58 of the 100 seats.

“There is a war going on in the House of Delegates right now over whether we should take money from schools, police and funds for the mentally challenged and put it into transportation,” Armstrong said.

Another speaker at the dinner was Sen. Richard Saslaw of Springfield. He is the majority leader in the Senate, where the Democrats hold 22 of the 40 seats.

Saslaw said the audience would not believe the number of bills that would strip a woman of her right to have an abortion.

“I can tell you as long as I’m in the majority, those bills will never pass,” Saslaw said.

Speakers riled up the crowd with remarks criticizing Republicans.

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly said Republicans won the 2010 midterm elections by claiming that the first thing they would do if elected was to create jobs and fix the economy.

“The first thing they did was pass a bill to repeal health care,” Connolly said.

He said Republican budget writers want to cut spending for health care, public television and programs to help seniors and the underprivileged.

“Those Republicans know the cost of everything and the value of nothing,” Connolly said.

Brian Moran, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said Republican leaders are more concerned with affairs in Washington, D.C., than in Virginia.

“Folks, we have an attorney general who thinks ‘The Flintstones’ was a documentary,” Moran said in a jab at Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who has challenged federal regulations concerning global warning.

Moran said Democrats must get more members elected to the House of Delegates. All of the House seats are up for grabs this year.

Connolly’s speech reflected this sense of urgency.

“I’ll give Republicans 2009 and 2010,” he said. “But 2011 and 2012 is ours.”