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Third-Party Challenge Could Help VirginiaĂ?¢ââ??‰â??¢s Kilgore

A liberal Republican state senator running for governor of Virginia as a third-party candidate now seems more likely to drain votes from Democratic nominee Tim Kaine than from Republican Jerry Kilgore in what promises to be a very close gubernatorial election next month.

Should eccentric state Sen. Russell Potts, who takes left-of-center stands on cultural and economic issues, stay in the race as an independent candidate, said University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, he will “take more votes from Kaine than Kilgore” and help the Republican win.

“Russell Potts has virtually no support, but if he gets any significant percentage of votes, he might be able to deliver something to [Kilgore],” said Sabato, an expert on Virginia politics.

According to the latest Mason-Dixon poll, former state Atty. Gen. Kilgore holds a wafer-thin 41%-to-40% lead over Kaine, who is lieutenant governor under lame-duck Democratic Gov. Mark Warner. The 61-year-old Potts is at 6%, and even a couple of points could make the difference in a tight race.

Sabato said Potts will take more votes from Kaine than Kilgore “because he’s well to the left on social issues and emphasizes it.” Potts is not only strongly pro-abortion but has also come out in favor of gay adoption. Because his pro-abortion stand is so clear, while Kaine will say only that he won’t work to change Virginia’s abortion laws, the Virginia chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America has remained neutral in the race.

In the past, Potts has flip-flopped on the issue. “I remember when he first ran for the state legislature in 1991 and said he was 100% pro-life,” said Sabato.

Potts was also one of a handful of Republicans in the state legislature who supported $1.4 billion in new taxes proposed by Warner in 2004. Tellingly, his top strategist is Tom D’Amore, who helped elect one-time Republican Sen. Lowell Weicker governor of Connecticut in 1990 on an independent ticket. Weicker went on to push his state’s first income tax through the legislature.

Virginia Republican and Democratic leaders generally echoed Sabato’s analysis. “Tim Kaine and Russell Potts are both competing for the hearts and souls of the extreme liberal wing of the Virginia Democratic Party,” said Virginia Republican Party Chairwoman Kate Obenshain Griffin. “Jerry Kilgore is the only candidate who supports lower taxes, stronger educational standards, and the culture of life.”

“I always thought Potts posed a greater threat to Kaine than Kilgore, even though he is running as the anti-Kilgore Republican,” added former Democratic Chairman Paul Goldman.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ?ť and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ?ť and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â?ť video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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