Republican U.S. Senate candidate George Allen relies on the voices of a far Southwest Virginia couple in two new television ads that depict Democrat Tim Kaine as unfriendly to the coal industry.
In the two 30-second spots that will air in Southwest Virginia, Appalachia mayor Jay Swiney and his wife Elaine complain that regulations imposed by President Barack Obama’s administration are killing the coal industry and that Kaine is a loyal Obama ally. Allen has made the same arguments on the campaign trail, asserting that excessive environmental regulations are impeding coal production and will hurt Southwest Virginia’s economy.
“Tim Kaine stood beside President Obama, supporting cap and trade,” says Jay Swiney, a fourth-generation coal miner, in one of the ads. “Tim Kaine wants to be President Obama’s senator, not Virginia’s.”
In the other ad, Swiney says, “Tim Kaine claims that he represents Southwest Virginia and the coal miners, but we never see Tim Kaine.”
Kaine actually spent part of last weekend in Southwest Virginia, including a stop at the United Mineworkers of America’s annual fish fry in Castlewood, and has made multiple trips to the region during his campaign. Kaine’s campaign also has produced an ad in which the former governor rides in a helicopter above Dominion Virginia Power’s new Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center in Wise County. The plant was permitted during Kaine’s term as governor, a point underscored in the Democrat’s response to the new Allen ad.
“Great connections with friends and family in Southwest Virginia keep me coming back and keep the needs of the area foremost in my mind,’ Kaine said. “I enjoyed traveling to Southwest Virginia many times including this past weekend to meet with coal miners and their families and discuss the challenges they face as well as strategies to bolster a vital part of the region’s economy. I support coal as part of a comprehensive energy approach that utilizes all our domestic energy resources to propel our economy and become more energy independent. This is the approach I took when implementing Virginia’s first statewide energy plan and it’s why I supported the permitting of the Virginia City coal facility in Wise that created thousands of jobs. Hurling false accusations won’t create jobs in Southwest Virginia or anywhere else, but pursuing investments in the region like I did as governor to renovate schools, attract business expansions, and expand infrastructure will. That’s the commitment I’ve made to Southwest as a governor and it’s a promise I’ll keep as senator.”
Kaine’s campaign also issued statements from UMWA member Mike Kennedy of St. Paul and state Sen. Phillip Puckett of Russell County.
“It was Tim Kaine, not George Allen, who fought to help ensure the permitting of a state of the art coal facility in Wise County that created 2,500 new jobs,” Kennedy said. “It was Tim Kaine, not George Allen, who put in place Virginia’s first statewide energy policy that emphasized use of Virginia’s native resources, including coal. And, it was Tim Kaine, not George Allen, who just last weekend stood with the United Mine Workers in Castlewood to support us and our families. We know Tim Kaine will stand with us as a senator just like he did as Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Virginia.”
Said Puckett: “As Governor, Tim Kaine made critical investments that helped improve Southwest Virginia’s economy. Whether it was the thousands of jobs created at the new coal-fired facility in Wise, or the significant investments he made in the Coalfields Expressway and at UVA-Wise, Tim Kaine has always been a friend to Southwest Virginia workers and families. While many come to Southwest during an election year, Tim Kaine has been a steadfast presence in our community. Whether celebrating our music festivals like the Fiddler’s Convention in Galax or helping to expand CGI in Lebanon, Tim has always been someone we can count on. As a senator, I know he’ll continue that same commitment to Southwest Virginia and work hard to create jobs and expand opportunity.”
– Michael Sluss