Richmond, VA – This week Virginia leaders who served in General Assembly while former Senator George Allen was Governor joined together to tell Virginians how their experiences working with Allen differ from his current efforts to cloak himself in bipartisan rhetoric.
Allen, whose reelection campaign has run ads featuring former appointees and advisers praising him for working across the aisle, is known to many Virginians, particularly those who have worked with him, as one of the most abrasively partisan and confrontational public figures in recent Virginia history.
His new campaign to rewrite that history motivated many leaders who worked with him to step forward and set the record straight about how Allen has conducted himself throughout his career in public life.
“George Allen is a lot of things – but a bipartisan coalition-builder is not among them,” said Delegate Ken Plum on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
“We all remember Allen for encouraging fellow Republicans to ‘enjoy knocking [Democrats’] soft teeth down their whining throats,’ and his inauguration address in which he devoted the bulk of his speech to trashing the Democrats with whom he would have to work in order to get anything done. This new bipartisan rhetoric is tough to take from a Governor who was criticized for ‘politicizing every nook and cranny of state government,’ and ‘forever changing Virginia politics from a genteel pursuit to a contact sport.'”
On the same call Senator Louise Lucas recalled the experience of Allen’s 1995 budget in which he attempted to ram a $2.1 billion tax cut through the legislature and pay for it by cutting schools, law enforcement and support for Virginia seniors. Allen relented on his plan only after Virginia businesses and three former Governors publicly condemned the plan and the damage it would do to Virginia schools.
“No one’s interests are served if politicians value confrontation and partisanship ahead of what’s best for this Commonwealth,” said Lucas.
Later Wednesday on the Charlottesville Right Now radio program with host Coy Barefoot, former Delegate and House Democratic Leader Ward Armstrong discussed Allen’s approach to public service and how it differs from his current bipartisan rhetoric.
“Virginia campaigns have always been fierce, but after they were over with everybody put them aside and tried to work together,” said Armstrong. “George Allen was the first time that partisan, smash-mouth politics descended upon Richmond.
“Hearing him now made me wonder when this new kinder, gentler George Allen showed up.”
As Allen continues his attempts to paper over a record as “the most partisan chief executive in modern Virginia history” as described by the Virginian-Pilot, officials who served with Allen throughout his career will conduct events, briefings and interviews around the Commonwealth reminding Virginians of how he has gone about their business.
They will also continue to demonstrate to Virginians how Allen’s willingness to put his own political agenda ahead of their best interests guides his agenda even in his current campaign. On Wednesday’s conference call Sen. Lucas said:
“Allen took that same partisan approach to Washington, where he voted with George W. Bush 95% of the time and helped authorize two wars, a huge Medicare expansion and tax cuts for the wealthy without paying for any of them.
“Virginians don’t need a Senator who will go back and support Paul Ryan’s disastrous budget, push personhood at the federal level and continue to favor tax cuts for oil companies over tax breaks for tuition. That approach didn’t serve Virginians well the first time he served in the Senate and it would not serve them well again.”
While Governor, Allen Started “Confrontations That Forever Changed Virginia Politics From A Genteel Pursuit To A Contact Sport.” The AP reported that Allen’s dealings with the General Assembly involved, “confrontations that forever changed Virginia politics from a genteel pursuit to a contact sport.” [Associated Press, 9/28/2000]
Virginian-Pilot: “Allen Has Been The Most Partisan Chief Executive In Modern Virginia History And The Battle Lines Have Been Clearly Drawn Between The Two Parties.” [The Virginian-Pilot, 8/16/95]
Virginian-Pilot: “Never In This Century Has Virginia Seen Such Partisanship At The Highest Levels Of Government.” John Goolrick of the Virginian-Pilot wrote, “Now George Allen, a Republican, is the state’s chief executive and at this juncture seems likely to be remembered in the future for three things – virtually abolishing parole for repeat violent offenders, economic-development incentives and his combative, highly partisan battles with the General Assembly. Indeed, never in this century has Virginia seen such partisanship at the highest levels of government.” [John Goolrick, The Virginian-Pilot, 9/13/95]
Allen Left A “Smash-Mouth Legacy” As Governor. The AP reported, “And his smash-mouth legacy was not lost on partisan politics either. In a 1995 speech urging Republicans to work toward a GOP majority in that year’s legislative elections, he exhorted the faithful to ‘enjoy knocking their soft teeth down their whiny throats.'” [Associated Press, 9/28/00]
Roanoke Times Editorial: Virginia Has Suffered “From Allen’s Evident Fondness For Politicizing EveryNook And Cranny Of State Government.” [Editorial, Roanoke Times, 12/7/95]