This is the third and final article in a series about the three Democratic candidates for governor of Virginia. The Democratic primary is Tuesday, June 9, at which time one will be chosen as the party’s candidate for governor, to face off in November against Republican nominee Bob McDonnell.
Today’s article examines Creigh Deeds and his platform. Previous articles looked at Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe.
Creigh (pronounced “Cree”) Deeds has a long history of participating in Virginia politics. He served in the House of Delegates, representing Virginia’s 18th district, from 1992 to 2001, then moved to the Senate, where he has represented the 25th district.
Deeds cites a 2005 run for state attorney general as setting him apart from Democratic opponents.
Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe. Coincidentally, Deeds lost that election by 323 votes — a mere one-hundredth of one percent of the vote — to the man who is now the Republican nominee for governor, Bob McDonnell.
“I’m the only candidate in this race who’s ever run state-wide. I didn’t win that race but I think I did prove I could win statewide,” Deeds said. “I’ve proven I can win statewide. I’ve proven I can run against Bob McDonnell and beat him.”
Restoring consumer confidence in the economy must be the first priority of the next governor, Deeds said.
“Every candidate out there is talking about nothing but jobs, and it’s the right thing to be talking about. Unemployment has doubled in Virginia in the last year. We’ve got huge needs,” he said. “Here’s the reality: Virginia is a good place to do business in. Virginia’s consistently ranked the best or one of the best states in the country to do business in.”
According to Deeds, a strong investment in transportation and infrastructure is a key aspect of economic recovery in Virginia.
“We’ve never had a hard time attracting jobs to Virginia. What we’ve had a hard time doing is investing in the infrastructure to support economic growth,” he said. “I’m a ‘Field of Dreams’ kind of guy, you know; you build it, and they will come.”
Deeds said he would use his first-year political capital as governor to pass a bill that addresses major transportation problems in Hampton Roads and northern Virginia but that also benefits the entire state, providing a boost to the economy.
“Let me get it done in the first year to create jobs and economic activity in every part of the state,” he said.
Higher education is also a priority for Deeds, who said the state’s colleges and universities are inextricably tied into the economy.
“I’d begin this higher education plan by retooling community colleges because the community college is the main entry point for people into our system of higher education,” he said.
His plans for higher education includes guaranteed loans of $4,500 for community college students and $15,000 for four-year college students and increasing need-based financial aid.
Deeds also wants to increase funding to programs in high-need jobs such as engineering, nursing and science.
“All this is to create the smartest workforce in the world,” he said.
The environment is also a major concern to Deeds.
“I’ve got a conservation ethic that I take very seriously” he said. “It’s grounded in faith.”
Deeds has a history of protecting the environment in his legislative career.
In 1999, he sponsored legislation creating Virginia’s land preservation tax credit program, which in the decade since has protected 100,000 acres, and in 1996 Deeds worked to create non-point-source pollution laws in the Chesapeake Bay.
“There’s never been a candidate for governor from a major party label that has a more significant record of conservation and the environment as I have,” he said.
His environmental plans hinge on promoting alternative energy sources and green technology in Virginia.
“The next big thing is energy technology and how we address our future energy needs,” he said. “Energy independence is a matter of national and economic security and you can’t take anything off the table until science takes it off the table. The future is going to belong to alternative and renewable energy sources.”
To that end, Deeds wants to incentivize research and development of green technologies, which would serve both to advance alternative energy sources and boost the economy.
“We need to build on the research going on at Old Dominion, at JMU, at Virginia Tech, at Virginia, and create essentially a research-based triangle using existing untapped research capacity at all of our four-year institutions,” he said. “I think if we do that, we can not only solve the problems about what our energy future’s going to be, we can build the next economy based on energy technology in Virginia.”
The economy can also receive a boost from tourism, Deeds said, because it is a revenue-positive venture.
“Tourism is a vital part of our economy, and the best thing about a tourism economy is that tourists come, you don’t have to educate their children, you don’t have to provide a lot of the infrastructure because they come, they spend money, they create economic opportunities for people that live here, and then they move on,” he said. “History tourists spend more on average than any other people around.”
Ultimately, Deeds said his experience in the legislature has prepared him for the governorship.
“I know how to get things done,” he said. “I’m ready for this job.”