Governor Kaine today accused Congressman Eric Cantor of being principally responsible for the death of 18 Virginia rest stops.
The Governor observed that the House GOP Whip lobbied fellow Republicans to oppose the proposal advanced by Frank Wolf and supported byKaine that would have enabled the state to privatize the rest stops and allow private companies to keep the stations open.
All at no cost to the Commonwealth.
Kaine’c charge echoes one advanced last week by Delegate Bob Marshall (who holds both the Governor and Cantor responsible) who said that he was told that Cantor jawboned House members against the Wolf proposal after a group of fast food/gasoline retailers opposed rest stop privatization on the grounds that it would give an unfair advantage to the companies granted the operating licenses.
For his part, Cantor denies playing an active role in opposing Wolf’s legislation and suggests that it is simply a way of diverting attention from the Governor’s responsibility.
I can’t settle the argument between Kaine/Marshall and Cantor on the role that the Minority Whip may or may not have played in defeating Wolf’s bill.
The problem is that the issue should have never reached the stage where keeping the rest stops open depended on an eleventh hour reprieve from Congress.
By not allocating the funds to keep the rest stops open, I think that the administration miscalculated public sentiment and misunderstood the powerful (and negative) visual symbolism that the CLOSED signs send about Virginia. It also served up an issue to Bob McDonnell on a silver platter.
Blaming Cantor may make a political point, but it is unlikely to change the underlying public sentiment:
Let’s get the rest stops reopened- the sooner the better.