Rebel With a Cause

Paul Goldman


Reading Jim Gilmore's Mind



From HBO's new Series, "The Mind of a Political Man"


Setting: The former governor is relaxing in the back seat of a long, black limousine on the way from his new home in Northern Virginia to a new job as a high-powered, well-connected political lawyer.

Gilmore: You know, I had to come out against the Northern Virginia Transportation Tax referendum on the ballot tomorrow. [He re-reads the Sunday Washington Post story headlined "GILMORE SAYS N.VA. TAX IS UNJUSTIFIED"]. Great story, but they only used my name 10 times. When I am governor again -- and like Jake Cade the rebel says in Henry VI, part two 'and I will be King' -- they are gonna remember this moment, the day Jim Gilmore got back into the arena, as Richard Nixon called it.

Besides, I had to oppose the TAX -- I mean, I can't let them fix the problems I helped create now can I? How would that make me look?

They call me Governor Gridlock! Who gave me that name, that guy Goldman with the big mouth? He put the "Tax Governor" tag on Baliles, desperate to save Wilder's bacon. He was right: it was otherwise sure defeat for Wilder, just like it was for Beyer when he waffled on taxes against me.

No, it wasn't Goldman, he ain't smart enough to think of the Gridlock thing. He got lucky with Wilder. No, it was Leslie Byrne, the senator from Fairfax.

She is worse than Panny Rhodes, the former delegate from Richmond I helped redistrict out of her General Assembly seat as punishment for opposing me. Come to think, I did the same thing to Leslie Byrne, too! We redistricted her out of her Senate seat for the 2003 election.

That will teach her to call me Governor Gridlock. Leslie, baby, think of that while being stuck in traffic up here! You will have plenty of extra time!

[Reads the article again]. Liked my statement about Warner, saying he was failing to ask the feds for all the road money Virginia is owed, and he was purposely creating a crisis to justify a tax increase.

Some say it was a cheap shot. But really, it cost about $1.5 billion, the size of the deficit they say I left in the state budget, not to mention the hundreds of million hole I left in the road building budget. Get it? Cheap shot costing $1.5 billion?

And people say Jim Gilmore doesn't have a sense of humor!

Believe me, I will be back. Mark my words Warner. Get it? Mark my words ... Mark Warner?

And people say Jim Gilmore doesn't have a sense of humor!

Besides, I am Mr. No Tax in Virginia, I fought for four years to keep a transportation tax referendum off the NOVA ballot.

So I had to oppose it. Once Sen. Allen came out against the tax increase, people could no longer say it was Gilmore trying to embarrass Warner or my being mad at all the things Warner has been saying about my mismanagement of VDOT, my busting the budget.

What busting the budget? I submitted a balanced budget before leaving the governorship. Warner is the one who can't seem to balance the budget. I was governor for four years and you never heard me talk about not having money, not being able to balance the budget.

But Warner, I mean, all he talks about is how he has this deficit and now that deficit, and suddenly this new and bigger deficit. First it was 1.5 billion, then 2 billion, then it was 3.5 billion overall, then it was balanced, then he cuts 800 billion and now there is another 1.2 billion deficit left.

What deficit? Whenever I wanted money to spend, it was there.

For three years, only the flakes accused me of busting the budget. Goldman on his Richmond radio show along with that McMurtrie fellow. They called themselves the Fiscal Watchdogs or something, blasted me on my handling of state finances and my perks in office.

No one ever listened to those guys, certainly not the Democrats in the General Assembly who voted for all my budgets, voted for my car tax program right down the line.


Then bingo ... you get to the 2001 election, and suddenly I am "The Deficit Governor".

Who gave me that name? It was that Leslie Byrne again. No, this time it was Goldman, in his Washington Post piece.

"The Deficit Governor!" The guy's a flake I tell you, just ask the Democrats. Just ask Sabato, he will tell you.

I AM INNOCENT of this budget busting thing, I tell you. Warner, Goldman, that whole campaign thing in 2001, it is all just election year mumbo jumbo.


I am gonna show them.

All I got to do is replay my 1997 campaign theme of No Car Tax! with this 2005 gubernatorial election platform: No Real Estate Tax!

Deficits? You never heard that word from my lips and never will. Temporary accounting lag sure: it takes time to cook -- I mean prepare -- the books, I am not Martha Stewart.

No Real Estate Tax! is gonna win it for me in 2005. Then in 2013, it will be NO SALES TAX! and in 2021 it will be NO INCOME TAX!

Then my final campaign, winning an unprecedented fifth term as governor in 2029 on the penultimate political platform:


But wait a minute: If I do that, then where is the state gonna get the money to pay for my tax-free state pension at half of my governor's salary, plus all the built-in cost-of-living increases only available on public pensions?

I earned that pension, the people owe me."

-- November 11, 2002

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Paul Goldman, the Rebel With a Cause, was chief political strategist for the past two winning Democratic governors in Virginia and was credited with leading a "revolution in American politics" by The New York Times for his role in breaking America's 300-year-old color barrier in national politics.