Let's be clear, this isn't a liberal-conservative divide. The Daily Progress is the only major paper in the 5th District that endorsed the entire Republican ticket of McCain-Gilmore-Goode last year in 2008. It's credentials are solid when compared to, say, the Danville Register & Bee (McCain-Warner-Perriello). As the newspaper of record for the liberal island of Charlottesville, the Daily Progress knows a RINO when it sees one.
One possible problem for Hurt’s candidacy is that he voted in favor of a $1.4 billion tax increase in 2004 that closed a gap in Virginia’s budget that threatened the state’s AAA bond rating and increased spending on education, public safety and mental health services.
The tax increase has been a sore spot for the Republican rank-and-file ever since. The issue has come up, for example, in this year’s gubernatorial race between Republican Bob McDonnell and Democrat R. Creigh Deeds. McDonnell has criticized Deeds for backing the 2004 vote, saying it was the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history — and unnecessary.
“People have long memories, especially of such a difficult time politically,” said Keith Drake, a former Albemarle County GOP chairman and leader of the Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance. “[Hurt] was on the wrong side of that vote.”
Hurt’s support of the 2004 tax increase, Drake said, could be a factor when the district’s Republican voters choose their nominee in a convention. Conventions, he pointed out, tend to draw a small number of hardcore party members who have strong feelings about the issue.
Hurt acknowledged that the 2004 tax vote still irritates many Republicans, but he said it was necessary, based on the information lawmakers had at the time, to avoid a government shutdown over budget gridlock.
“I was convinced at the time, based on what I knew, that it was something that had to be done,” he said. “I hated the vote, but I felt it was necessary at the time."
In the middle of a heated election for Governor, Rob Hurt decided to announce his run for Congress knowing that it would bring up his support for the 2004 tax increase. This tax increase has become a defining issue in the Gubernatorial race. And yet Hurt is defending it and undermining the nominee of his own party less than a month before the election! Instead of admitting he cast the wrong vote, Hurt is throwing his own party's nominee for Governor under the bus!
The Southside establishment is a good old boy network that only cares that Hurt is "one of us." They are not offering the principled and conservative leadership this district needs. I can only hope that the grassroots movement of conservatives rising up in opposition to Obama and the Democrat Congress will be strong enough to block Hurt's nomination and ensure a true conservative defeats Tom Perriello.
But here's my question for the Hurt fans. How can Hurt claim to be a Pittsylvania native if he was born in New York City?