Tuesday, June 23, 2009

McDonnell ducks on mining question while stumping with Mississippi governor

By Tyler Whitley

Published: June 23, 2009

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell talked jobs and energy yesterday at a news conference with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

McDonnell also ducked on two issues that have been in the limelight recently.

McDonnell said he would defer judgment on whether to allow uranium mining in the state and what to do about Virginia's troubled information technology agency, VITA, until studies have been completed.

McDonnell said he supports public-private partnerships and wants the state to use them more, particularly in roadbuilding.

Some have blamed cost overruns and management problems at the Virginia Information Technology Agency on its operation as a public-private partnership with Northrop Grumman.

Asked about VITA, McDonnell said the agency "needs further review and some stewardship and accountability."

He said he wanted to see what a study of the agency by the state Senate turns up.

McDonnell spoke at a news conference with Barbour, who helped McDonnell raise money and perhaps help his own presidential ambitions.

A spokesman for McDonnell said the Barbour visit helped the McDonnell campaign raise $250,000 at three events, including a luncheon at the Richmond Marriott Hotel, yesterday.

Barbour, a former GOP national chairman, made a recent trip to Iowa and is said to be eyeing a presidential run.

Barbour said he is not and urged Republicans to concentrate on winning the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey this year and congressional races nationwide next year before focusing on the 2012 presidential election.

While he favors more nuclear-power plants, McDonnell said he wanted to await the results of a study of the environmental and safety risks of uranium mining before taking a stand. A rich vein of uranium worth an estimated $10 billion exists in Pittsylvania County.

The proposed study would not be completed until well after the gubernatorial election.


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