EXCLUSIVE: Virginia Governors Interview

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting down with five Virginia governors — all at once — inside the Executive Mansion in Richmond.

Former Govs. Linwood Holton (R), Doug Wilder (D), George Allen (R) and Jim Gilmore (R), plus current Gov. Tim Kaine (D) talked about campaigning for and holding the state’s highest office.

The entire interview will air as a half-hour special on NBC29 in Charlottesville sometime between now and Election Day. An exact airtime has yet to be determined. I’ll also post video here.

For now, I’ll whet your appetite with a few tidbits and a photo, after the jump.

All five governors talked about how much they hated fundraising, describing it as uncomfortable and challenging.

“All of us agree, I think, on a bi-partisan basis, the groveling and the begging for money is the part I think all of us like the very least,” Allen said.

Kaine said that when he ran in 2005, his campaign raised $26 million. In contrast, Kaine’s father-in-law, Holton, needed just $800,000 to win in 1969.

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Holton — the oldest of the bunch — spoke strongly in support of using social media such as Twitter and Facebook in campaigns.

“It enables politics to get back to the days when the basic method for being elected was door-to-door knocking on individuals— to have the communication directly with an individual,” Holton said.

“This uses technology to reach individuals on an individual basis and I think it’s a great change. It may get us away from the 30 second television spot, which is meaningless as far as any individual contact is concerned.”

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The governors are mixed in their opinions about whether Virginia will eventually adopt rules to allow a governor to serve two consecutive terms.

Right now, we’re the only state in America where a governor can serve just one term.

Interestingly, Republicans Gilmore and Allen are on opposite sides of this coin. Gilmore supports a two-term governorship; his predecessor does not.

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At the end of the interview, I asked each governor to talk directly to the voters about the qualities they should seek in choosing Virginia’s next chief executive.

Wilder responded, in part:

“Courage of conviction and commitment to stay the course. To do what’s right. To listen to people. To be in a position to wait and not be knee-jerk. Management skills. Are you in a position to handle people? Do you know anything about money – taxpayers’ money – and how to handle it? How would you spend it? Accountability. And you take it all and you put it together. Ultimately it comes out to say you’re looking for the best possible CEO you can find.”

Can’t say it much more clearly than that.

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