Sheila Johnson, co-founder of Black Entertainment Television, local Middleburg business owner and noted philanthropist and entrepreneur, has written the following column in The Washington Post about why she supports Bob McDonnell for governor. Two weeks ago Sheila Johnson endorsed Bob at a press conference in Richmond. The column is available today online and in tomorrow's paper.
I am a Democrat. This year I have endorsed the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell. I have done so because in an election focused on jobs and the economy, I believe Bob is uniquely suited to provide the leadership we need here in the commonwealth.
Unemployment in Virginia is at a 25-year high. The global economic crisis has hit home. As a businesswoman who employs nearly 100 Virginians, I see it every day. That is why, before this gubernatorial election, I resolved to do my homework. I met with all the candidates and studied their records and proposals for Virginia. Bob McDonnell stood out.
Bob's record is one of leadership. Raised in Fairfax County, he has served as an Army officer, a prosecutor and a delegate, and for the past three years he has run a major state agency as Virginia's attorney general. He oversaw a budget of $30 million and hundreds of employees. On his last day in office, he was praised by Democrats and Republicans alike for bringing people together across party lines to get things done. That is most evident in the fact that 92 of his legislative initiatives became law during that time, with broad bipartisan support.
His campaign for governor has been marked by an unwavering focus on advocating policies that will get Virginians back to work and our economy back on track. He is the only candidate for governor with a transportation plan. He will commit Virginia's colleges and universities to awarding 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years so that more of our children can gain access to our great schools, where they can get the educations they need to get the jobs they deserve. He is the only candidate calling for more charter schools and performance pay for our teachers, joining President Obama in this bipartisan effort to achieve real education reform. He has set a goal of making Virginia the best state in America in which to open a small business. On every issue, Bob's focus is jobs: how to create the jobs we need, how to protect the jobs we have and how to help young Virginians get the jobs of tomorrow.
Bob's message has resonated with me and with so many other Democrats and independents. In endorsing Bob, I've joined former Cabinet secretaries who served then-Gov. Mark Warner, independent sheriffs and commonwealth's attorneys from across the state, and prominent members of "Virginians for Mark Warner."
For me, this isn't about party. This is about policy and the person. Bob McDonnell is the right person to serve as Virginia's next governor.
As I said when I joined Bob in Richmond to announce my endorsement: I'm a Democrat. I'll always be a Democrat. But this Democrat is very impressed with this Republican candidate for governor.
Sheila C. Johnson is president of the WNBA's Washington Mystics and founder and CEO of Salamander Hospitality.