The following guest post was written by the Honorable Clifton A. "Chip" Woodrum of Roanoke, who served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1990 until his retirement in 2004. Chip Woodrum wrote a previous post reflecting on Gov. Gilmore's interference in the tragic Hugh Finn case in Virginia.
My, my, the governor’s race seems to be heating up quite nicely—and quite early, too.
The latest incident was an ad taken out by Republican Jerry Kilgore’s campaign which accused Democrat Timothy Kaine of mocking Kilgore’s Southwest Virginia accent. The ad contains a headline addressed to Kaine that literally shouts “SHAME ON YOU!” It doesn’t feature Kilgore’s own words but utilizes “quotes” from others.
Now what is this all about? A little context might clarify for those of us who have not been paying close attention. It seems to have started a few weeks ago when the Kilgore Campaign began to run a radio ad that belittled Tim Kaine’s Catholic faith and implied that he was using his religion for political purposes. The ad was slickly produced and featured the customary golden-throated oily voice trying to sound sincere but dramatic. Kilgore himself did not use his own voice to make the allegations.
Kaine responded with an ad criticizing Kilgore and saying that Kilgore should “speak for himself” when attacking and not rely on “slick radio announcers to do his dirty work.” Kaine’s ad made no mention of Kilgore’s accent or his rather high-pitched voice.
This obviously set the Kilgore campaign all atwitter. After U. Va. professor Larry Sabato opined that Kaine might be trying to gain some advantage with the state’s suburban voters by emphasizing Kilgore’s accent, they began to accuse Kaine of demeaning all of southwest Virginia.
Seriously folks, I think they might want to be taken…um-- seriously.
Well—as FDR used to say—let’s take a look at the record.
First, this theory ignores the fact that Kilgore was elected Attorney General in 2001 and has been running for governor ever since. I mean the guy has been everywhere—Accomac, Fairfax, Norfolk, Newport News—you name it. As a matter of fact there are some who claim that Kilgore has spent more time running for governor in the last four years than he has in doing the job he was elected to do. There is hardly a nook or cranny of the state that hasn’t heard his dulcet tones.
The Kilgore claims also ignore the fact that Kaine has married into (married up-we say) a prominent southwest Virginia family. Yes, he married the daughter of former Governor A. Linwood Holton. Holton was born and raised in Big Stone Gap and practiced law in Roanoke before he became governor. They still have scads of in laws hereabouts. I don’t believe we will find him making fun of his wife or father in law’s accent or anything near to it!
No what Kaine obviously meant was that Kilgore was being what we used to call a “sissy” but now call a “wimp” for letting others do his dirty work for him in demeaning Kaine’s religious beliefs. Kaine was doing what we all used to do in the school yard and told Kilgore, in effect, “Say that to my face.”
And even in his response, Kilgore wouldn’t say it to his face. No, he got others to do his work—Wimp!
Editor's Note: An editorial in today's Staunton News-Leader concurs with Chip Woodrum's assessment, saying of this kerfuffle, "[A]ll that Kilgore is accomplishing is to make himself look like a thin-skinned crybaby."