Thursday, October 06, 2011

Who Owns John Watkins?


The Virginia 10th district Senate campaign between Democrat David Bernard and Republican John Watkins is a real David vs. Goliath contest. Bernard, a small businessman, is waging his first campaign for public office. Watkins has served numerous terms in the General Assembly. This maven has noted that in any political race an incumbent, especially one who has served multiple terms, has a significant advantage and generally wins. So, even if this election were being played on a level field, Watkins would have the advantage. But this playing field is not level. Why? In five simple letters: M O N E Y.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project (vpap.org), as of August 31, 2011, David Bernard had raised $23,638 to run his campaign. This figure is a bit misleading because $20,000 of that comes from Bernard’s own savings. On the other hand, since the beginning of his current term in the Virginia Senate, John Watkins has raised $346, 745 for his campaign. This is in addition to the $133,718 he had left over from his previous campaigns. Virginia election law only requires candidates to itemize campaign contributions of $100 or more. David Bernard has received 12 contributions in this category, including 3 from himself. John Watkins has received 484 contributions of $100 or more. These contributions provide him with 95% of the money he has raised. So, dear reader, in Virginia’s 10th Senate district we have a wee little David and a most gigantic Goliath.

So, where exactly does Mr. Watkins’ campaign money come from? If you want to see a list of his 484 benefactors, take a look at VPAP. But I thought we might just want to take a look at his 20 biggest benefactors:
Dominion Power*..................................$12,000
Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Assn. .11,700
Verizon ....................................................8,300
Virginia Bankers Assn. ........................... 7,500
Home Builders Assn. of Virginia ............6,900
Assn. of Electric Cooperatives ................6,600
Appalachian Power Co. ...........................6,500
Thomas F. Garner, Jr. .............................6,000
Genworth Financial ................................6,000
Zaremba Metropolitan Midlothian LLC* 5,600
Columbia Gas of Va. ................................5,250
Altria ........................................................5,000
Anthem ....................................................5,000
Va. Credit Union League .........................5,000
American Infrastructure * ......................4,900
Alpha Natural Resources* ......................4,500
Balzer & Associates Inc.* ........................4,400
Hospital Corp of America .......................4,400
Rebkee Co* ..............................................4,300
Va. Independent Insurance Agents ........4,150

Trusted reader, when I make a contribution to a political candidate I expect that I am buying influence, whether in Washington or Richmond. Of course, the $25 or $50 or $100 I contribute is not going to buy too much influence, but since I only support candidates whose values I share and are probably going to vote the way I would if I were elected to their seat, I expect that I am “buying” someone who will represent my interests.

I assume it is not any different for the 20 Watkins donors listed above and the other of his big money contributors. I do not think that these entities contribute to Mr. Watkins because he is handsome or has a great personality or just because they like him. I think they contribute because they share Mr. Watkins’ values and expect that he will represent their interests in the Senate. And, because Mr. Watkins has been in the General Assembly for many years, these contributors know that he has represented their interests in the past. Be assured, these are not charities; if Mr. Watson had voted against their interests in the past they would not be supporting him now.

So, if you live in the 10th district your choice this year is pretty clear. If you want your senator to be someone who has represented special interests in the General Assembly for years you should vote for John Watkins. If, however, you want a senator who will represent the people rather than the special interests I urge you to vote for David Bernard on Election Day, November 8, 2011. Pick David over Goliath.

*Dominion contributions are generally made through the Dominion PAC, which contains contributions from Dominion executives and employees.
Zaremba is in the retail business
American Infrastructure is a general contracting company
Alpha is a coal company
Balzer is an engineering firm
Rebkee is a real estate developer

3 comments:

Roger Mc Cauley said...

The Maven is correct again as he usually is. When are we going to have the guts to stop these sellouts to the Powers of Corruption? Or do we really not care enough?

By the way, welcome back Maven. There has been a giant void without your insights.

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