GOPers Blast the Newest Dem Star: How Dare He Pay For Transportation!

deeds.jpgCan Virginia Democrat Creigh Deeds win on a transportation-centric platform? (Photo: Waldoj via Flickr)
Democrat Creigh Deeds is the man of the hour for many in the D.C. political establishment, having managed to upset a well-funded ally of the Clintons in the closely watched Virginia gubernatorial race.

And now that Deeds is moving on to an even more hotly contested general election, his handling of the transportation debate could become a bellwether on the national level.

Deeds has long vowed to make Virginia's epic congestion problems his top priority, and his support for increasing the state's gas tax -- currently low enough to rank 40th in the nation -- to fund transport improvements is already drawing fire from the GOP. The Republican Governors Association's first release criticizing Deeds begins:

Despite prevailing in tonight’s gubernatorial primary, even Democrats know Creigh Deeds’ record of hiking taxes makes him unelectable this fall.

Can the GOP successfully paint Deeds as a profligate for wanting to pay for transportation upgrades? President Obama survived a similar challenge during last year's campaign when his opponents began pressing for a federal gas tax holiday, but Virginia Republicans may have better luck peeling off rural voters with their knocks on Deeds.

Deeds could help his cause by getting more specific about the types of transportation projects he wants to pursue. His lack of detail thus far has caught the attention of the Washington Post, the newspaper that provided him a game-changing endorsement.

The newly minted Democratic star could begin by reviving three transportation bills he offered during last year's Virginia state Senate session. The three proposals would encourage less punishing commutes by giving tax credits to employers who provide flex-time scheduling and telecommuting, as well as a tax deduction to anyone who takes transit, walks or bikes to work.