July 8, 2017 Press Releases and Announcements

Republicans Slam Gillespie For Criticizing McDonnell Transportation Bill

by Kevin Donohoe

Former Sen. John Watkins on Ed Gillespie: “He’s Being a Political Opportunist”

Republican legislators from across the Commonwealth are standing by Governor McDonnell’s 2013 transportation package that Ed Gillespie is now criticizing and using to attack Ralph Northam’s record.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reported, “In essence, Gillespie -- who was the general chairman of McDonnell's 2009 campaign -- is attacking what his own party once described as an historically important piece of legislation that GOP officials wrote, championed and signed into law.”

The $6 billion 2013 transportation was seen as a critical mechanism for providing much-needed transportation improvements in Virginia. One former legislator said “the revenue generated by the legislation has been critical to jump-starting major transportation projects, especially in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, which were given additional taxing authority to raise additional money in the regions.”

And despite once siding with McConnell and praising the bill, Gillespie is now turning his back on this major accomplishment and using it as an attack against Ralph.

Republicans are not having it:

  • Former Speaker Bill Howell: “I think what we did was right."
  • House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones: "It was the consensus of the leadership in the House and the Senate, working with the governor, to fashion a bill to address the pressing needs of Virginia’s transportation networks.”
  • Former Senator John Watkins: “I think he is being a political opportunist.”

Speaker Kirk Cox, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, former Senator Walter Stosch and Senator Frank Wagner were also strong supporters of the bill.

“Ed Gillespie will say and do anything to attack Ralph’s record in hopes of getting elected and advance his political career,” said DPVA spokesman Kevin Donohoe. “For Gillespie, that means slamming one of Virginia’s most transformative transportation bills that has improved the commonwealth’s economy and quality of life. Republicans in the legislature who are critical of Gillespie are right -- he is just being a political opportunist who is only looking out for himself and not what is best for Virginia.”