I vaguely remember the controversy over his conservative master's thesis last summer (see the Washington Post's story, "'89 Thesis A Different Side of McDonnell: Va. GOP Candidate Wrote on Women, Marriage and Gays." But McDonnell of course won election on November 3rd, and his victory is now seen as a precursor to big GOP sweeps next November. Even then, it wasn't until I watched his talk with Chris Wallace last Sunday when I realized that this is a great man. McDonnell sounded clear and confident about meeting the priorities facing his state. He spoke most clearly about economic challenges, but didn't back off when asked about hot button social issues. McDonnell said, for example, "We tried to focus on the issues we knew people cared about. It was jobs, the economy, economic development, transportation, the things that the citizens overwhelmingly said they wanted government to fix." Watch the whole exchange:
McDonnell's comments were particularly compelling given what's happening here at home, in the once-great State of California. It turns out, as the Los Angeles Times reported this week, that a majority of the state's voters think California's best days are long past. See, "California's Best Years Have Passed, Voters Say":
Frustrated at California's woes, voters are sharply pessimistic about whether the next governor will be able to move the state in the right direction, and most believe California is in the midst of a long-term decline, a new Los Angeles Times/USC poll shows.While Boxer's poll standings are comparable to where she stood in earlier election years, 2010 is going to be a massive anti-incumbency election. As Pew reported earlier this week, "A Year Out, Widespread Anti-Incumbent Sentiment."
Against that grim backdrop, next year's political contests loom as potentially volatile, but Democrats start out holding the upper hand, the poll found. President Obama retains his popularity in a state that gave him a landslide victory one year ago, with 60% approving of his tenure as president. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican struggling in the last year of his term, won the support of only a third of voters.
In the election to replace Schwarzenegger, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, the only major figure currently angling for the Democratic nomination, was seen favorably by more than 4 in 10 voters, and unfavorably by about one-quarter. His likely Republican opponents are much less known; none was seen favorably by more than 2 in 10 voters, the poll indicated.
There was little confidence that the next governor, whoever he or she may be, would be able to successfully battle California's problems. Voters were split over whether the winning candidate would be able to bring about "real change." More than half of voters said that California's problems are long-term in nature and will not ease substantially when the national economy recovers.
"I just feel like we are spinning our wheels," said Tracey Blair, a mother of two from Mar Vista who described herself in a follow-up interview as an independent-minded Democrat. "I don't feel like it's going anywhere at the moment. . . . It's a feeling of -- like we've peaked."
Asked about next year's election for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Barbara Boxer, nearly 3 in 5 voters said they "want a senator who will mostly support" Obama's policies. .
Few voters said they knew enough to have an opinion about either of the Republicans running to challenge Boxer, Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore. Voters, however, have a favorable view of Boxer, about in line with where she has stood before her three prior victories in Senate races.
Obviously, Bob McDonnell can't run for governor of California. But his message of practical governance and conservative values needs to be the core of the GOP message in California next year. (I have no idea who I'm backing in the primary, but I'll work like hell to get Barbara Boxer into retirement, in any case).
Anyway, McDonnell, in another segment from the interview, lays out an agenda for reform:
I ran very specifically on the fact that I'm going to make government work better. We're going to find ways to cut spending out of state agencies and retool government to find ways to keep taxes low, whether it's — and when the economy returns, find ways to reduce the tax burden on working families, use tax cuts as a way to promote economic development.Here's hoping for the best for my home state.
These are clearly things that my friends in the — my conservative friends and I are very interested in doing, and then to make sure that these important issues are protecting families, promoting fatherhood, looking for options in education, like charter schools and merit pay.
These are things that I ran on as part of the overwhelming — the overarching theme of the campaign, and I intend to pursue those as well. So I think that the overwhelming conservative message with a focus on practical results is exactly what people have elected me to do.