It’s not unusual for those with tax-and-spend records to run from them at re-nomination time – particularly when they are facing formidable challengers.
But in the case of Bill Howell in the 28th House District and Mark Dudenhefer in the 2nd House District, the subterfuge intended to fool Republicans is simply breathtaking.
As you can imagine, neither Howell or Dudenhefer are touting their tax-and-spend records in their Primaries. Their votes for the landmark 2013 McDonnell Transportation Tax Hike aren’t even mentioned in any of their campaign materials. In fact, they are trying to present themselves as champions of smaller government, lower taxes and less spending !
The herculean contortions their campaigns are going through to weasel out of accountability with Republican primary voters and pretend they are the opposite of who they are is fascinating.
Howell’s lastest lit piece amazingly claims he is a “proven conservative”, who cut “$7B in spending” and “stopped 26 tax hikes” totaling “$30B”.
But as DJ McGuire shows in his detailed analysis, this is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Howell actually engineered three separate tax measures to increase taxes over $20B dollars, and more than doubled state spending in 10 years!
These Bill Howell tax hikes included an 18% increase in the sales tax, an increase in the gas tax, an increase in the income tax, an increase in the tax on a new car, an increase in the tax on buying a home and even an increase in your taxes when you merely re-finance your home mortgage !
But I give Mark Dudenhefer the “whopper of the year award” for this piece. Here Mark falsely accuses his opponent of wanting to increase the sales tax, when it was actually Mark himself who VOTED to raise the sales tax! Tim Ciampaglio, his opponent, has signed a No New Tax pledge, and actually proposed CUTTING 3 separate business taxes offset by the elimination of certain business sales tax exemptions.
Newsflash: Mark Dudenhefer went from the Board of Supervisors where he voted to raise property taxes to the House of Delegates, where he voted to raise the sales tax in 2013. Could this 2013 higher-tax vote have been responsible for Dudenhefer’s defeat for re-election in November 2013? A lot of folks think so.
Howell and Dudenhefer have spent a lot of money running false advertising hoping to distract Primary voters from their real tax and spend records. Clearly, Howell and Dudenhefer felt they had to resort to these tactics to fend off the serious challenges from Susan Stimpson and Tim Ciampaglio respectively. Will it work? Possibly. Howell and Dudenhefer certainly hope so.
But from indications I see locally on the ground, the Stimpson and Ciampaglio campaigns looked poised for upset victories in these Primaries.
And my money is that Republican voters won’t fall so easily for this “smoke and mirrors” desperate dodge.
Russ Moulton is a well-known Virginia conservative leader, successful small businessman and former First District GOP Chairman. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy and University of Pennsylvania. He is married to a wonderful wife and has three children.