Hell Breaks Loose in the Virginia Grand Old Party

Wow! Read this Bacon’s Rebellion article, Winning On Principles, by Club for Growth President and certified fraud examiner Phil Rodokanarkis, someone who I’ve corresponded with occasionally and seems like a nice enough guy. Phil’s article has two points: 1. Kilgore lost because he did not satisfy his base with tax cut and spending proposals, so they stayed home. I think this weakened Kilgore’s candidacy, but I don’t think he could have made up 6 points with tax crazed Republicans (most of whom held their nose and voted for him anyway). 2. Bolling won because he ran as a true conservative. This is rubbish. Bolling barely beat a candidate nearly as liberal as Barbara Boxer…in a red state! If Phil is trying to glean a lesson from the race between Byrne and Bolling, then the lesson should be the following: Bolling is a bad candidate, don’t nominate him for Governor in ’09! 3. Ken Hutchinson sucks. I’ve met the guy (at a Sorensen event) and after hearing him speak for a couple of hours about campaign strategy and his past successes, I felt like he was a competent guy. Sure, he made some mistakes in this race, but I think he was burdened by a fundamentally bad candidate. If Jerry Kilgore was a Bill Bolling (extremely anti-tax) or a Bob McDonnell (no sodomy), he would have run as one. I’m confident about that. But Kilgore, like many of us, has subtleties to his policy positions. Unlike Bolling, he was open to tax increase in rare circumstances, and unlike McDonnell, he has enjoyed the occasional sodomy. He ran as a fairly conservative candidate who didn’t want to offend moderate members of his party who had been his friends for years. I believe that’s just the type of guy he is…an honest guy, and a decent person. Now, with that aside, check out Ken’s angry reply (along with Waldo’s analysis). Best passage:

P.S. Ignoring you and other nutjobs like Paul Jost was perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of this campaign. We may have lost in the end, but we did so with our dignity and pride intact and our principles firmly in place and by not selling out to you and your merry band of misfits, I am very much at peace with myself.

Overall, I agree with Phil’s assessment that Virginia Republicans must boot the RINOs if they want to succeed in the long run. I know that’s a contrarian opinion for a Democrat to take, but come on folks…do you really think it helps the Republican Party to have LIBERALS like John Chichester (a guy I love) demanding huge tax increases above and beyond what even Democratic Governors can tolerate? Do you think it helps the party to have a huge bloody legislative war every year at GA within the party? Of course not. It distracts them, and it makes Democrats like Warner (who is actually a conniving political mastermind) look moderate and reasonable. And voters turn away from the GOP. Incidentally, I have a theory about why a red state like Virginia supported the 2004 tax increase and rejected the VCAP challengers. It’s not because Virginia’s ideological breakdown has change… It’s because Virginians still remember the irresponsibility of Jim Gilmore. But that memory will soon fade. As time passes, Virginia voters will return to their old tax slashing ways. In fact, I think the Senate’s attempt to raise gas taxes this winter will probably accelerate this process. The sooner the Republicans purge the RINOS, the sooner they’ll win again in Virginia. Tax cuts might not always be a sound policy, but if American history has proven one thing, it’s that promising to cut taxes is almost always a sound political strategy. Don’t worry Virginia GOP – your tax cutting days are far from over! PS: My second favorite passage from Hutchinson’s letter is the following:

Wayne Ozmore, the GOP™s 4th District C.D. Chair and a friend of mine recently sent me a famous Teddy Roosevelt quote (see below“the last line describes you perfectly) that I believe to be very appropriate and fitting for people like you. You see, it™s people like Wayne and myself who actually get out there and roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty and work the long hours for the cause while folks like yourself and plenty of others like to sit back and type away on your computers and BLOGS, but in reality, each of you is kind of sad and pathetic in your own right. When you build up the same grit under your fingernails that guys like Wayne Ozmore and myself have, come back and we™ll talk, but in the meantime, why don™t you spare everyone your uninformed and laughable babble and try and earn a shred of credibility so that you don™t remain the laughing stock of Virginia.

Notice the disdain for blogs. He capitalized it for God sakes. Guess what? He’s correct! Blogging is a great hobby, and I personally love it. But if you really want to change things, stop whining, get out there and contact some voters. There are many ways to do it, it doesn’t always involve grunt work. But let’s face it – blogs reach committed activists, and that’s about it! Update: As Shaun Kenney points out, Ken’s email was prefaced by this Paul Jost commentary:

This type of work product by Jerry Kilgore™s campaign manager may explain why Jerry Kilgore came in 6th last week. Even Leslie Byrne did better than Jerry Kilgore. Fortunately, Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell had campaign managers that were stable. Paul Jost, Chairman Virginia Club for Growth

Anyone who thinks the Club for Growth and their kind are an irrelevant minority better think again. VCAP spent $763k in the 2005 cycle on behalf of conservative House candidates. That’s almost twice as much as the Virginia Democratic Caucus raised and spent!

Deeds is mounting a conspiracy to steal the election!

Or so say some Republican commenters, here:

The Squeaky Wheel said… That may be the case but I will say the same thing I said about Gore and Kerry… A win is a win. It is not like the Eagles are waiting for a review of the film… Even if by one single point, Dallas won. So therefore, even if McDonnell won by one single vote, it is still a win. I love when Democrats lose, they cry that there must be a mistake, but when Republicans lose, there is this thought of ‘of course they did’ and everyone moves on. Denial, anger, blame, guilt and then acceptance.


Jack Jouett said… In a 50-50 race, “finding” votes should be like flipping a coin, roughly half the time, it should come up heads, and roughly half it sould come up tails… The fact that this particular coin has come up “heads” enough times to erase an early McDonnell lead of several THOUSAND votes scares the heck out of me. The mathmatical probability of such a trend has got to be smaller than that of randomly picking the Mega Millions numbers on your first try. Is anybody in the media paying attention to this???? GOPHokie said…(included for context, not a shot at GOPHokie) I’m not too worried. That is, unless the dems try to steal this one like they did out in Washington state last year. Anonymous said… Now down to 347… Something is rotten in Denmark… or, to put it another way, if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck… Or, to put it another way, GOPHokie, from where I am sitting, somebody already is trying to steal it.

There’s plenty of that out there… That being said, I want to give Chad Dotson and Jaded JD credit for telling their people “calm down, this is all going according to the law.” I’ll say the same thing: Democrats, calm down. No one is going to steal anything. We have Democrats and Republicans at every counting station. To those who suggest conspiracy, I suggest you read this recent post from Shaun Kenney.

Remember “Conservative” Alex McMurtrie?

Bacons Transportation Blog has an update on Route 288, which cut straight through Watkins Nursery, tragically forcing Senator John Watkins (R-Chesterfield/Powhattan) to sell his land to developers. A tear comes to my eye every time I think of this story. Speaking of which, does anyone remember “Conservative Alex McMurtrie”, the self-financed candidate who challenged Watkins as an independent in ’99? He outraised Watkins by 300k but still lost by 40%. He ran tons of ads accusing Watkins of using his influence to push Route 288 through Watkins Nursery. These were amusing ads. Most amusing was the fact that he constantly referred to himself as “Conservative Alex McMurtrie.” McMurtrie was a lifelong Democrat, outspoken radio host, and a former Delegate from Chesterfield County. The one thing I remember about that race, other than McMurtrie’s hilarious TV ads (he’d looked straight in the camera and called Watkins a crook) was that many of my Democratic friends refused to vote for McMurtrie because they were confused about his signs, which read “Conservative Alex McMurtrie”. A google search of “Alex McMurtrie” suggests that he’s been serving on a few boards recently. He also gave a few hundred bucks to a couple of HoD candidates last year.

START committee meets Nov. 18th

The Statewide Transportation Analysis and Recommendation Task Force (START) met October 20th to discuss our transportation crisis and will meet again this Friday. The public comments from the October meeting are available here. Notice my recommendation (summarized from a long rant email I sent the committee):

No gas tax increases. No driver “abuser fees.” Tolls are okay. Use general fund surplus, and divert another 1/2 percent of the general sales and use tax for transportation.

I’d like to see another solid source of transportation funding diverted from the general fund, but I know that’s tough to do… Mostly, I think that a gas tax increase is politically unpalatable (although as a policy choice, it’s fine) and the “abuser fees” proposal is a cheap gimmick. If you look at the analysis that Albo/Rust presented, their revenue projections are asinine and one of their core assumptions is that a drastic increase in fines for traffic violations WILL NOT decrease violations (thereby decreasing potential revenue). And yet, this is one of the chief transportation policy proposals from Speaker Howell next year… A few other things: 1. I agree with Bacon and Company that we need to coordinate better between transportation and land use policies. This would require regional authorities with some actual power… 2. A limited access (at most, only one exit every 10 miles in rural areas) western bypass around DC is an attractive idea, but it would require cooperation with Maryland, and they aren’t cooperating. So it’s a non-starter. 3. Metro to Dulles is a huge waste of money that will have very little impact on traffic. It needs to go to Tysons, however. To make that work, Tysons needs to become much more pedestrian friendly…good luck with that. 4. I like tolls if we could ever trust politicians to (1) use the toll money for it’s intended purpose and (2) lift the tolls when possible. 5. You’ll notice tons of comments about “trains” or “freight” or “light rail” in the October 20th document. These ideas are of course absurd. If people only knew how expensive rail is compared to roads…extending Metro costs nearly $1 billion per station. In all honesty, I think that fixing our transportation system is a hopeless exercise…

09 rant

I can’t help myself, it’s time to talk about ’09. Judging by the chatter I’ve been hearing, it looks like the GOP will try the whole convention thing in ’09. This raises the possibility that they will nominate a NOVA moderate downticket (through some sort of backroom deal) – if they’ve learned any lessons from this year…they probably haven’t. GOP Gov: Bolling v. McDonnell (if he wins). The social conservatives vs the anti-taxers. God help us. Or should I say “Gilmore help us”. Downticket: Who wins the NOVA moderate downticket backroom deal sweepstakes? Most likely would be Connaughton (LG). Davis can’t possibly be interested in AG or LG. Devolites-Davis is a possibility, but I doubt it. On the conservative side, don’t forget Delegate Chris Saxman or Delegate Brochure Bell (R-Albemarle). And then you’ve got Chad Dotson, whose primary opponents are probably already scowering his blog looking for ammunition… The Cooch could run for something, adding to the fun. Albo will never seriously contend for an office higher than Delegate, thanks to the fact that this would receive serious media coverage if he ran for an office higher than delegate. Dems Gov: If Deeds wins then you’ll see Deeds. If he loses, then we’re screwed…maybe Warner again? Some Senator? Maybe just leave the seat uncontested? Perhaps a John Grisham Write-In Campaign? Downticket: Chap Petersen, Brian Moran, John Marshall (current Sec. of Public Safety)…some Senator…? Gerry Connelly? My my the Democrats have a strong bench. Update: After reading through some other blogs ’09 stuff, let me add some wild cards: GOP: Kate or Mark Oberstein, Baril, Paul Harris VDP: James Socas (remember his website with his head sticking over the top banner like a dog sticking it’s head over a fence?) David Englin (running on the gay marriage party ticket) Any others? Particularly women? You know…that other gender…

God Bless This Truthteller!

Ken Hutchinson was asked to explain the negativity of Kilgore’s campaign, and I agree with his statements 100%:

Voters are very lazy, he said. They’re uninformed because they choose to be uninformed. It’s depressing to me as someone who works in the business to see so many of our troops in Iraq dying for Iraqis to have the freedom to vote, the freedom we take for granted. ¦ It’s a very sad commentary on our society, and so I think voters take some responsibility in the campaigns for how they™ve evolved over the years.

Indeed! This is the classic chicken and the egg problem. Are voters uninterested because they’re turned off by the negativity, or are campaigns negative because it’s the only way to gain the attention of uninterested voters? I say the latter. I agree with Hutchinson. 80% of Americans don’t care about politics. They care about Trading Spouses – Meet Your New Mommy. It’s a sad state of affairs. Campaigns can’t help being negative because if you cut 30 ads with positive biography mush and 20 ads with serious policy proposals, nobody pays attention. PS: For all of you self-righteous people out there feigning shock…what percent of the people who voted Nov. 8th know what the Dillon rule is? What percent know what the House of Delegates is? What percent can name the current Lt. Governor? Stop pretending that people care about or pay attention to state politics at any more than a superficial level…because they don’t.


Advice for Dems: Bash him a bunch, highlight his opposition to abortion and his support for the police state, then for God sakes, quickly confirm him! Bush nominated an even-tempered conservative who is a nice fellow. He’s John Roberts Part II. You won’t win this one in the court of public opinion, largely because you won’t convince anyone that Roe is in jeopardy because it’s not. Kennedy’s shift to the left will keep Roe alive (and furthermore, it’s unclear whether Roberts would even vote to overturn it). First trimester abortion rights are not threatened, but popular restrictions like a partial birth ban and spousal notification are threatened. Personally, I’m rooting for Roe to be overturned. But that’s because I’m a sick calculating partisan bastard. I want it overturned for the same reason that Karl Rove doesn’t want it overturned (also a sick calculating partisan bastard) – it would unleash a Democratic landslide like we’ve never seen. Hey Republicans: Want to create an issue for Democrats to run on in ’08 or at the state level? Overturn Roe v. Wade…see what happens… Final thing for Democrats: Elections matter. If you stop nominating liberal losers like John Kerry, then maybe you’ll get to pick a Supreme Court Justice! Until then: forget it. Newsflash: When the Republicans repeat the talking point, “We confirmed Ginsberg by a 90 to whatever vote”, THEY HAVE A POINT. I’m not ruling out using the filibuster. In fact, I think that the Roe discussion changes the calculus completely. If it was clear that a Supreme Court pick would result in the overturning of Roe, I could understand a filibuster, because sending abortion to the states would fundamentally change America and I can understand Democrats using drastic parliamentary tactics to try to stop things from happening.

Dem bloggers vs GOP Bloggers

I have to say this… We don’t have enough good Virginia Democratic bloggers out there. We just don’t. Most of my daily blog reading consists of Republican blogs…there are more of them out there, they update them more often, and they interact with each other better…I’m starting to worry that this is subtly tilting my views to the right. A week ago I wondered to myself, “was that tax increase really necessary?” And just yesterday I decided to “support the troops”. See, they’re starting to brainwash me! I enjoy the few Democratic bloggers that are out there. But we don’t have enough. If you know any Democrats who want to blog about something marginally interesting (not voter fraud, please…) let me know. And to you Republicans who have found your way back here: I promise to bash liberals a minimum of twice a week if you promise to not post your typical blather to the effect of, “You’re not a Centrist, you’re obviously a far-left nut job because you don’t support Bill Bolling!!!”


I can’t say I disagree with Lowell on Dailykos:

Is Daily Kos “ultra liberal?” Uh, yah!! Don’t believe me, then check out this Pew poll and note the differences between “Dean activists” (basically, synonymous with the Kossacks) and “all Dems” (the vast majority of Dems). For instance, just 27% of “all Dems” say they’re “liberal,” compared to 82% of “Dean activists.” Only 38% of “all Dems” support gay marriage, compared to 91% of “Dean activists.” In other words, there’s a HUGE disconnect between “Dean activists”/Kossacks and “all Dems.” A few others?* 59% of “Dean activists” profess “no religion” or “other.” This compares to just 15% of “All Dems” in those categories*More than nine-in-ten Dean activists (92%) are white and just 1% are African American. Over one-in-five Democrats (22%) are African Americans.”*Only 19% of Dean Activists believe Pre-emptive Force is often/sometimes justified.” In contrast, 44% of “All Dems” believe that.The bottom line: Dean activists are far more rich, white, secular, liberal, gay (twice as high a percentage), educated (twice as high a percentage with some college), and anti-war than “all Dems.”

The lesson here? Liberals quite often forget who makes up the majority of their party…

Post mortum from the campaign managers

Check out Will Vehrs’ excellent recap of the Larry Sabato/Center for Politics post-election luncheon at the Richmond Marriott. The luncheon featured both the Kaine and Kilgore campaign managers breaking down the race.