In Virginia’s gubernatorial race, no issue has been as powerful as taxes. Creigh Deeds bobbed and weaved but ultimately got pinned down in a September debate (and then an embarrassing press avail), saying he’d go for a tax increase. Ever since, Bob McDonnell has pummeled him with that.
The same issue is now affecting the other statewide races and the 100 House of Delegate contests. One Virginia Republican told me: “We have Walter Mondale Democrats promising to raise our taxes in a recession and the Washington Post endorsing them because of it.” (The Post, in its infinite political wisdom, announced that it was this issue — the willingness to raise taxes — that distinguished Deeds.)
So now every Democrat on the ballot is being asked, Do you support a tax hike? Many are saying yes, and may go down to defeat because of it. We are reassured each election by the chattering class that the tax issue is losing its potency. Well, not this time. And if the Democrats in Washington are determined to raise hundreds of billions in new taxes (both in the guise of health-care reform and by letting the Bush tax cuts expire), get ready for taxes to become a top issue in 2010 as well.