Sunday, November 20, 2005

November 15, 2005

Dear Sis ~

Well, the gubernatorial election is over here in Virginia. The Democrat (and Lt. Governor) Tim Kaine defeated the Republican (and attorney general) Jerry Kilgore, which was a little surprising inasmuch as Virginia is solidly conservative and Republican. But Kilgore turned off the public with his relentlessly negative TV ads. All of his ads dealt with just one issue, the death penalty. Over and over and over all Kilgore spoke about was his promise to execute more people, and to do it faster. His vow to eliminate appeals and speed up executions was particularly pointless in view of the fact that Virginia already leads the nation, by a substantial margin, in the speed with which it carries out executions. The average death row stay here is about 4 1/2 years; the next fastest state is about 7 years, with most states averaging 10 years or more. Anyway, all Kilgore spoke about was him promise to expand the use of capital punishment, and his dire warnings that his opponent, Tim Kaine, "cannot be trusted to carry out executions." He based these statements on the fact that, in the past, Kaine suggested Virginia should consider a moratorium on the death penalty until certain legal problems can be straightened out (like the investigation into the state crime laboratory which has already uncovered fabricated DNA results). Kaine countered with a TV ad stating that while his Catholic faith leads him to consider all life to be sacred, and that he does not personally believe in capital punishment, he would do his duty as Governor and would not interfere with executions. Kaine, unlike Kilgore, also spoke about the real issues which the citizens were concerned with (taxes, education, roads and bridges, the environment, the budget). The fact that conservative Virginians voted in Kaine, despite his decidedly lukewarm support for executions, reflects an important shift in the voters' mentality, in my opinion. It sends a message to politicians that they don't have to be a mad dog killer to get elected (and that it takes more than just spouting pro-death penalty slogans to win over the voters), and that prospective politicians don't have to fear showing a little compassion and common sense. Like most folks, I don't have a very high opinion of most politicians, but Tim Kaine appears to be a genuinely decent guy, and I expect he will be an excellent Governor. And maybe, just maybe, he'll do something to correct and slow down the death penalty train in this state...

Love & Peace,