“…as long as it’s under MY faction!”

So, the WaPo decided to take another stab at a hit piece attacking conservatives today. Some of it is the usual tripe about being out of touch, blah blah blah.

The twist? This time, they interviewed NOT A SINGLE CONSERVATIVE, instead opting for half a dozen moderates.

Seriously? I thought basic journalistic ethics required SOME story balance… or at least one quote from both sides of a story. But then, the WaPo has a long and storied history of relentless, biased, and untruthful attacks against conservatives.

That said, there are several strange things about this piece.

  1. No conservatives, no liberty caucus
  2. This quote: “If Republicans in Virginia cannot unify, strategists say, national party leaders will have to intervene.” How, precisely, would that happen? We already have a brand new chairman who has pledged to strive for unity. And since when are national Republicans known for either unity or electoral success? Only once since 1988 has a Republican candidate for President achieved as much as 50% of the popular vote nationally. They have bigger problems than we do.
  3. “strategists say”. This is as sloppy an example of journalism as it gets. What strategists? This phrase appears no less than 6 times in the article. Basically, it’s a cover for a lazy reporter who wants to include HIS view but is too chicken to do it outright.
  4. The only State Central Committee member interviewed was not a conservative, but a malcontent. “We don’t get anything done, we don’t talk strategy, we don’t talk about how to raise money,” said Thomas, describing the central committee as being “consumed” by internal disputes and “people defending themselves against baseless charges.” While I have no doubt that is Mike Thomas’ opinion, and he has every interest in trashing the party leadership in which he is a real minority, you don’t think others might have a different point of view? How about Eric Herr or Chris Stearns? Hardworking guys who believe in liberty and have raised money and moved the needle in their own districts?
  5. Scarcely a mention of the McDonnells’ corruption, which was a major factor in how we got here.
  6. Scarcely a mention of the poor establishment candidates along the way who contributed to the losing streak. McCain, Romney, Allen, Gillespie all contributed to the losing streak- and none were grassroots favorites. None would be confused with ‘conservatives’.

Here’s the root of the problem: the Republican voters do not trust their leadership or elected officials. In fact, 59% of them do not- and with good reason. The voters have been lied to over and over, which is why 60% of Republicans also want Boehner out. And it’s not the working class grassroots Americans have a problem with; it’s the patrician donor class, like Romney.

With the base so disconnected from the party leadership and the donor class, is it any wonder there is strife? And that strife is all over the country, not just in Virginia.

Look, the WaPo is always going to try to tear us down. Shame on ‘Republicans’ like Mike Thomas who helped them do it. He should be stripped of his position for that bit of collusion with our opponents.

Here’s a novel idea. If you are so concerned about fundraising, how about you put a little shoulder grease into it. If the usual suspect donors won’t kick in, fine- let them have their temper tantrum. Let them see how far electing Democrats gets them. There are always new donors and new sources of money to be had- it’s time RPV stopped the whining, settled down and got to the hard work. It’s doable- and won’t it be great when the Washington Compost and its merry band of pseudo-Republican informants has to eat their words?

RPV is under conservative, liberty minded leadership. If you agree, donate to RPV here.

RPV suffered a BIG loss today

So, Shaun is gone, less than a year after taking the job.

I know some revel in this information, but I do not. Having seen from the inside some of the issues inherent, I can vouch that whoever leads that organization has a miserable hand to play- and Shawn played it as well as it could be played.

A couple quick points:

1. Kenney was never allowed to bring in his own people to RPV. Why this is the case is baffling, but despite promises from the Mullins regime to the contrary, Shaun Kenney was never allowed to bring in the people (or positions) needed to succeed- to wit, a fundraiser, a savvy data guy, a savvy tech guy. With the Cantor machine pulling all funding from RPV because conservatives control the State Central Committee, it was incumbent on RPV to chase a broader- more grassroots- sort of fundraising structure. Not only did it not, but certain short-sighted portions of the party (including one of the US Senate campaign campaigns last year) forced out one of the few experts in grassroots fundraising that exist in Virginia, who Kenney had brought in to build the infrastructure.

Hard to succeed without the appropriate team around you.

2. Kenney focused on fundraising from the getgo, but he was the only one. Now, for sure fundraising isn’t everyone’s forte. Not everyone likes asking others for cash. I get that. But Shaun was literally the only one at RPV leadership focused on fundraising in 2014. Others- including notably Del. Rob Bell, and current Chairman John Whitbeck- tried to lend a valued hand, but there was little infrastructure in place to take advantage of their assistance.

3. RPV’s fortunes rose and fell with the Senate race. Look at the good graph that BVBL posted. As all GOP units do, their resources spiked before the election and dropped after. Many units- including successful ones- find themselves in debt after November. The question is, what then? Without the infrastructure in place and with the Establishment deep freeze in place, the answer is: oh no.

Ultimately, as TBE notably pointed out, Shaun did a great job with minimal resources and nearly no freedom to put in place a winning organization around him. With half the party taking their ball and going home, it is incumbent on the conservatives- who lead SCC- to step up and help John Whitbeck develop a winning organization capable of raising money from small dollar donors in an effective and inexpensive way. Ultimately, this will provide needed insurance from the ups and downs of RPV- be they sour grapes, or the election cycle, or needed investments to keep up with the Dems.

The slate is clean and the stage is set. Conservatives, you’re on deck. #giterdone

Attack of the Moderates, Part 4

Lynn Mitchell is at it again. This time standing up for disgraced 5th District GOP Chairman Jon Berkley.

Let’s run through her arguments methodically, to be fair.

Her arguments:

  1. Berkley was a good Chairman.
  2. Berkley did nothing to deserve his removal.
  3. Berkley had “overwhelming support” within his committee.

All three arguments are intellectually dishonest on their face- and Ms. Mitchell should know better. Let’s review.

The facts:

  1. “Berkley was a good Chairman.”

Mitchell’s two arguments seem to be that Robert Hurt won his district in 2014, and that he raised $10,000 for the 5th CD Committee.

Well, first off, 2014 was the biggest Republican wave election of our lifetimes- literally. If you were a Republican candidate and could not win in 2014, something was wrong with you. Further, the 5th is a gerrymandered district that bifurcates the state- taking in Pittsylvania and Brunswick in the south, part of the Roanoke and Lynchburg areas, Charlottesville, and stretching all the way up to Loudoun. It encompasses nearly all of U.S. Rt. 29 in Virginia. Clearly drawn to favor a Republican, it would have been a real shock if Robert Hurt had not been able to win convincingly in that district, in that year.

Secondly, a key part of any unit Chairman’s job is fundraising. To that extent, Berkley deserves some credit- until you drill down into where he got the money. You see, of the money the 5th District Committee raised in 2014, nearly all of it (except filing fees from Mark Lloyd and Berkley himself) came from the Congressman himself (which is usual for Virginia, it would have been a surprise if not), or from the individual units that make up the Committee. The dues paid by the units made up over 2/3 of the money “raised” by Berkley. Further, it stands to reason that there should have been no money in the kitty as Berkley took over, since they had just held a Convention for which the previous Chairman, Sen. Bill Stanley, and his 5th CD Committee had to pay. So no, Berkley apparently did little to raise money, and had to start from the same place nearly every district committee must start.

  1. “Berkley did nothing to deserve his removal”

This one has been documented VERY well on The Bull Elephant and Red Nova, here here and here.

Summing up, what is public knowledge is that Berkley illegally deprived the 5th district’s 5 State Central members of a vote on the 5th, then proceeded with a temporary majority to stuff the officer’s positions with his cronies.

What is also reported is that Berkley had a history of hysterically shouting down and using physical force to remove members of his own committee during meetings. He arbitrarily denied committee members the right to vote and abused parliamentary authority to create a hostile and uncooperative atmosphere. His own boorish behavior most directly led to his downfall; sources on SCC and the 5th CD committee say that he was approached several times by SCC members concerned about the reports coming out of the 5th, and those warnings were shunned and ignored. The person responsible for Jon Berkley’s removal is Jon Berkley, alone.

  1. “Berkley had “overwhelming support” within his committee.”

Mitchell lists 10 members of the 5th District Committee as supporting Berkley. She was apparently unaware there are almost two dozen members of that Committee, as well as the fact that a few of the people she listed are some of the cronies snuck into leadership positions after Berkley disenfranchised the 5th CD SCC members of their votes. Sorry, but 40% of the Committee does not constitute “overwhelming support”, no matter how you cut it.

Bottom line, Berkley’s repeated behavior was totally unacceptable. He proved himself incapable of running a meeting or meeting even the most basic functions of a CD Chairman. Alienating over half the units in his district, denying members their right to vote, encouraging slating and other divisive tactics, and showing gross disrespect for members of his own Committee showed Berkley to be incompetent and nonfunctional as a Chairman. It is little wonder this cancer was removed; now perhaps a compromise Chairman may be chosen, the Committee may reconstitute and some level of healing from the Berkley fiasco may begin. Hopefully the intraparty anti-conservative propaganda spewing from Ms. Mitchell’s blog can ease up, in the best interests of everyone involved.


The race to replace Senator Watkins is starting to take shape, with former Richmond City Council member Bruce Tyler positioning himself as a moderate to challenge liberty-minded State Central Committee member Steve Thomas from Richmond City.

For those not familiar, Bruce Tyler was a Republican member of Richmond City Council (1st District) until he was beaten by conservative Democrat Jon Baliles, son for former Gov. Gerald Baliles (D). Tyler had positioned himself as the moderate in that race.

Why is this relevant?

Baliles beat Tyler, in part, because of the “$316,000 alley“.

You see, it seems that Tyler steered $316,000 to create a “green alley” in the one behind his house, while Richmond City roads suffered (as anyone who has driven in the City could attest to).

Quoeth Baliles:

“If you look at it, it looks like the Taj Mahal of alleys”

“I do support green alleys. I don’t support green alleys that cost [$316,000],”

That’s right, the Democrat was able to out-conservative the Republican because of cronyistic spending by the incumbent, who was bounced from office.

Ironically, Tyler and Baliles are both rumored to now be aiming for the Watkins seat in the State Senate. Also running is Thomas (NO RELATION to yours truly), who is running on a fiscal conservative, liberty-minded platform.

If Tyler got out-conservatived by Baliles and couldn’t beat him in Richmond, why would something any different come to pass in the state senate race?

Steve Thomas has hit the ground running and put together a crack campaign team. Find out more at steve2015.com.

Attack of the Moderates, Part 3

The part of the conservative grassroots takeover of the RPV’s State Central Committee in 2012 that annoyed the Washington Post the most, was the move to conventions- which tend to empower high-information, grassroots activists- rather than open primaries in which Democrats may vote.

The Post- never a bastion of conservative thought- has never forgiven the conservative grassroots.

So when Republican moderates held a closed-door meeting to discuss how to wrest power back from the conservatives in the party, the WaPo naturally rejoiced.

Now, to be clear: I have worked with a number of those moderates and there is room in the party for them. When I was a unit Chairman in Spotsylvania for three years, I made it a point to make sure all parts of the part were invited and felt welcome. Not everyone always got what they wanted. But I set a big policy goal- Spotsy’s first tax cut in 36 years- and it unified the factions. And we won 15 elections out of 18. So there is space in the party for moderates.

Generally speaking however, that space should not be in the driver’s seat.

Why, you ask?

I could start with the efforts by these same establishment moderates to slate out conservatives in the 2nd, 7th, and 5th districts last year. This does not speak to “unity”. At the time, RPV Vice-Chairman Mike Thomas said he “had no problem” slating out conservatives in Campbell County.

Or I could point out the rank hypocrisy in wanting to “expand the party” in a closed-door meeting excluding the party’s base. So let’s be honest: this was not a meeting about unity. It was a meeting by one faction to drive the other faction out of power.

But I think this passage from the WaPo article sums it up nicely:

“Ron Headlund, a Brat volunteer, said he was blocked from the suburban Richmond Doubletree where the meeting was held.

“I’m assuming that the Eric Cantor machine is working to drive out the grassroots from the Republican Party,” he said.

Thomas rejected that characterization of the meeting and said the party is big enough for establishment and conservative coalition supporters.

“We can disagree on tactics or personality or what have you,” he said, “but unity means everyone sees what the goal is and is committed to walking toward that goal even while maintaining differences along the way. People who might want to engage in griping about grievances or engaging vendettas were not invited today.”

Herein is the issue: What exactly IS the goal?

The entire focus of this closed-door meeting was winning- ie, achieving power.

But to what end?

Can you name one policy or philosophical issue Eric Cantor ran on in his loss to Dave Brat? No, of course not. He lost because he was focused on power- tearing down Brat with untrue and viciously negative personal attacks. That is why Cantor lost.

George Allen? Mitt Romney? Can you name a single new idea or policy goal either one of them proposed in 2012?

THAT is why Republicans lose. A focus on power for power’s sake, with no great purpose.

Power is all this faction knows or cares about. They don’t have it, and it stings. But they are unwilling to be brave and do the hard work of outlining significant policy goals driven by a coherent philosophy- because after all, that might offend someone.

You don’t win elections by being timid and weak. You win them by being brave and clear.

Without being clear, there is confusion- and confused minds say no.

Margaret Thatcher used to say, “First you win the argument- THEN you win the election”.

That one line could have saved those establishment moderates a whole lot of trouble in assembling on Saturday.

Attack of the Moderates, Part 2

Apparently Friday the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin stepped in to slam liberty-minded Senator (and perhaps Presidential candidate) Rand Paul.

Her main contention? That Rand was not conforming to decades of failed Republican inside-the-Beltway thinking about foreign policy and the role of government, and thus is not really a Republican.

So let’s examine this.

First, she chides Paul for his opposition to NSA spying on Americans without a warrant, which most Americans disapprove of (59%) and particularly most younger voters (70%). Apparently she did not read the Fourth Amendment, which states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Seems fairly unequivocal, no? Now remember, the Bill of Rights exists to restrain government- not to empower it. But Ms. Rubin has never believed in a restrained or reduced Federal government- which is exactly why the Washington Post brought her on board as the token Republican. Her idea of a “conservative” is Mitt Romney, father of nationalized healthcare and infamous possessor of “binders full of women” from the 2012 campaign.

The remainder of her article consists of the same circular thinking, by the same recycled Beltway insiders, that Rubin and, indeed, the Post is famous for.

She also takes issue with noting that Rand stood up for the court’s role in Constitutional checks-and-balances, naming this as a sort of “judicial activism” that is appropriate as a check against tyranny of the majority- which, by the way, conservatives wanted when applying it to Obamacare. Rubin, however, relies on yet another obscure Bush alum’s definition of “judicial restraint” to level a childish, dictionary-like slam at Paul.

Really, it’s as if she failed to notice that nearly every establishment hack in the last half century has failed (Ford, Bush 1 re-elect, Dole, McCain, Romney), and that the boss of nearly every “expert” she cited- George W. Bush- used to hold the record for growth of government and expansion of debt until late in Obama’s first term.

But the bottom line is this: why does the Republican Party exist?

I would argue the answer is: to shrink the size and scope of government, and make it more honest and transparent and accountable.

This is where Rubin goes awry.

In the case of Rubin, only Beltway insider thinking is acceptable- even though a vast majority of Americans and even greater majorities of Republicans see Washington as the problem, not the solution. Her defense of imagined rights of government to pry into our lives- even when the Constitution explicitly disallows it- shows her reasoning to be fallacious on its face and an affront to the freedoms we are supposed to enjoy.

Then again we should not be surprised at Ms. Rubin’s defense of big government: she IS the WaPo’s idea of a “Republican”, after all. Even then, the Post’s Ombudsman recommended her firing last year for being “just plain bad”.

Who ever you vote for in 2016, whoever you vote for in any race, remember that the reason the party exists- its mission statement if you will- is to shrink the size and scope of government and make it more accountable and transparent. If a candidate refuses to do this, they deserve your derision, not your support- no matter what party they claim to represent.

Attack of the Moderates, Part 1

Boy, for people who supposedly pride themselves on temperamental moderation, the establishment moderates sure are coming out swinging lately, eh?

First, noted liberal Republican Lynn Mitchell takes issue with conservatives and populists. Apparently content to continue losing national election after national election, Mitchell recently pondered the quandary of being able to nominate two-time loser and father of nationalized healthcare Mitt Romney, or plutocratic scion and tax hike and amnesty advocate Jeb Bush. With Faustian choices like that, indeed it’s a wonder the Republicans ever lose!

Next, she takes it upon herself to eviscerate any conservative who dared challenge House Speaker John Boehner.

Now, to be clear, Boehner is a fellow Bengals fan and Cincinnati guy- so I looked for reasons to like him. And he is a personable, likeable guy.

But herein is the issue.

Boehner’s closeness to Capitol Hill lobbyists had always aroused suspicion; his reluctance to take a stand against Obamacare, Common Core or amnesty confirmed those suspicions. But what happened in the lame duck session in 2014 really sealed his image among conservatives.

Thumbing his nose at the American peoples’ clear vote for change, Boehner rammed through an Omnibus spending bill in the lame duck- a bad bill so imbalanced, it nearly failed the rules vote and required ½ the Democrats’ support ultimately to pass.

This bill spent too much, cut nothing, and notably did not take a stand against Obamacare or amnesty while maintaining funding for common core. Why would any “conservative” vote for this? Because his lobbyist masters commanded it. You see, there would be virtually no chance Boehner could have gotten such a bill through a new Congress packed with conservatives. So, knowing he could not get such a big-government bill through without Democrat support, he made a metaphorical pact with the devil to get this appeasement through while the Dems would be at their strongest and conservatives at their weakest.

As an added bonus, Boehner carved out a special-interest exemption from Dodd-Frank regulations for some Wall Street banks. Now, while the bill as a whole is a failure and needs to go, it should be repealed as a whole- not by special interest carveout where some firms still must abide those onerous laws and some must not.

Granted this cave-in and payback to corporate interests, is it any wonder conservatives revolted?

Boehner showed that the Republican Party stands for corruption, cronyism, and big government. Apparently Ms. Mitchell likes that- and agrees, calling it “commonsense conservatism”. The rest of us might call it “statism”, “Democrat”, “liberal”, “unwise”, or any one of a number of things- but probably not “conservative”, of any stripe.

The Republican party that Ms. Mitchell supports does not exist- not should it. Her own previous support for tax hikes, big government, and corruption (in the person of her blind support for convicted felon Bob McDonnell) paint the picture of a party that is clearly a part of the problem instead of the solution, holding unpopular positions that would make it both indistinguishable from Democrats and unpalatable to voters.

Mitchell’s support of the largest tax hike in Virginia history and excuses for former Governor McDonnell’s misdeeds remove any cogent rationale for the party to exist, if she got her way.

Better Know a (State Senate) District: the 7th

7th State Senate District

2014: Gillespie 50%/Warner 47%/Sarvis 3%

2013: Cuccinelli 47% / McAuliffe 46% / Sarvis 6%

2012: Romney 49% / Obama 49% / Johnson 1%

2012: Allen 48% / Kaine 52%

VV calculation: R+1; Tossup district with R lean in non-presidential years

The 2011 redistricting changed this district dramatically, from a 63% McDonnell district to one that is evenly split. Cuccinelli barely won it in 2013; Gillespie won it close in 2014. As before, the district is Virginia Beach-based, with some Dem-leaning precincts in Norfolk thrown in. This is a tossup district with tons of military voters.

Unit makeup

Virginia Beach City           96.30%

Norfolk City                          3.70%

This district is almost entirely in Virginia Beach City.


Incumbent: Republican Frank Wagner is running for re-election. He has raised over $367,000 per the last VPAP filing.

Rumored or declared candidates

There are no declared candidates, either Democrats or other Republicans at this time.

However, the Hampton Roads TEA Party has promised to primary Frank Wagner over his role in the slating in the 2014 party elections in Virginia Beach. At that time, Wagner was running for 2nd District Republican Chairman, and elected to attempt to exclude hundreds of Virginia Beach Republicans from voting to stack the 2nd District Convention (since Virginia Beach is the majority of the district, if he gets all its Convention votes, he would win). This attempt was overruled in a series of party organization meetings (http://thebullelephant.com/rpv-appeals-committee-rules-sen-frank-wagner-slating-virginia-beach/), but bad feelings among Republican conservatives abound- and they are looking to hold Wagner to account for trying to exclude them. So this one is one to keep an eye on.


While the lean of this district looks like a tossup or a bellweather, Wagner would appear to look strong based on fundraising and a current lack of opposition. Wagner did win 96% in running unopposed in 2011. The Democrat bench in the area is weak. But Wagner unnecessarily antagonized the conservative wing of his own party, and is likely to get a strong challenge- and in fact, this strongest opposition may come from a primary challenger.

Rating: Safe Republican

A Christmas Wish Worth Repeating

I am friends and connected on social media with most of the rightosphere in Virginia and much of America. While I disagree often on one issue or another, one tactic or another, one philosophy or another, I truly believe everyone I come in contact with genuinely wants good for our country and is a well-meaning person (even if some are occasionally, umm, misguided).

So here’s my Christmas Wish for the Rightosphere: that everyone sees every human life as valuable and sacred.


First, because it would mean an end to abortion, which I believe later generations will scarcely forgive us for.

Second, because it would mean a real appreciation for each other which currently does not exist.

Now in our society, we have every right to be misanthropic to each other. That is our right…. But does not make it right or wise.

Here’s where I am going with this.

I have seen a disturbing trend on social media that relates to my Christmas Wish.

A small sampling of disturbing opinion articles that have crossed my social media:




Why is this disturbing from a small government perspective?

  1. It denies accountability. Conservatives hate it- and rightly so- when liberals follow up a shooting tragedy (which occasionally occur) by advocating gun control. Why? Because it implies the shooter had no accountability, it was the gun’s fault, and if there were no guns the crazy shooter would simply have gone on his merry way. Complete farce.

But why then are we blaming everyone from Al Sharpton to Bill de Blasio to Barack Obama for the actions of one clearly deranged psycho who actually pulled the trigger before offing himself? It flies in the face of everything conservatives believe and rightly criticize liberals for. Stop trying to stretch to score cheap political points. It devalues you as a person and absolves a murder from the blame. It makes you sound like Alec Baldwin from Team America: World Police.

  1. Why is every life is sacred when it comes to babies and cops but not when it comes to “thugs”, err, black folks? No one gives conservatives any credibility when talking compassionately about babies when discussing the evils or abortion, because they act so heinously and callously when discussing the deaths of people not “in their tribe”. Sorry folks, but it’s the truth. When you imply that Garner deserved summary death for selling cigarettes or that it is “self defense” to shoot someone six times from 150 feet away, you are really saying it’s ok to kill someone not from your “tribe”. Stop it. If the Constitution matters when you are criticizing Barack Obama for disregarding it, then it must matter when other people deserve due process. Even people who do not look like you or come from your neighborhood (ie, not from your “tribe”). Cops’ lives matter. Black lives matter. Babies’ lives matter. Everyones’ lives matter. Let’s protect everyone’s life and mourn everyone’s death.
  1. Police can do no wrong. Ever. Huh? Since when did a movement that values individualism suddenly decide that we need to submit to an absolute government authority? You really think the Founding Fathers would have gone along with this? Not being willing to submit to unjust authority was what set off the American Revolution. The argument “just listen to the cops and nothing bad will happen” is particularly problematic. It assumes that there are no bad cops (which white conservatives apparently believe but no one else does) and there are no bad laws (which NO ONE should believe). There are corrupt cops and bad cops (LAPD for most of its existence) so stop trying to pretend there aren’t. You don’t get a halo just because you put on a badge.

Further, the police in Nazi Germany or Pinochet’s Chile or Stalin’s Russia enforced unethical laws all the time. Should the Germans just have “just listened to the cops”? Of course not.  A healthy relationship with the state in a democratic republic demands give and take, and cops have to understand this as well. We in America don’t have laws THAT bad, but we have plenty of bad laws that put good cops in bad positions. So there is blame to go around there, and much fixing to be done to laws and law enforcement.

Ultimately, if you believe in a good society, that starts with you- value its members, even the ones you don’t agree with. We need to rally around the families of the slain who will be missing loved ones this Christmas…. From New York, Staten Island, Ferguson, Cleveland, Atlanta, Utah, and other places. It’s a tragedy whenever we lose members of our society, and if we really want to get back to a “culture of life”…. That is the first step. No exceptions.

If you believe in limited government, that starts with accountability for everyone and less government power. Less bad laws that intrude on our liberty. No citizens that live above the law. Due process for everyone, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

I have many Christmas Wishes, but it would really be great if a bunch of good and well-meaning people would start to value the human life of everyone in society, not just some. Then maybe we could get somewhere. #everyoneslivesmatternoexceptionsmerrychristmas

Better Know a (State Senate) District: the 17th

17th State Senate District Lean

2014: Gillespie 53%/Warner 44%/Sarvis 3%

2013: Cuccinelli 49% / McAuliffe 44% / Sarvis 7%

2012: Romney 50% / Obama 49%

2012: Kaine 50%/Allen 49%

VV calculation: R+2; Tossup district with R lean in non-presidential years

The 2011 redistricting changed this district dramatically, from a 61% McDonnell district to one Obama had actually won in 2008. The inclusion of large parts of heavily Democrat Albemarle County made the difference; in his victorious 2011 campaign, Sen. Reeves only lost the City of Fredericksburg and Albemarle County. Those two alone were enough to make the race close.

Unit makeup

Spotsylvania County       37.36%

Orange County                 17.14%

Albemarle County           13.62%

Louisa County                    11.91%

Fredericksburg City         10.76%

Culpeper County              9.20%

The population center of this district is Spotsylvania County, with significant portions from five other localities.


Incumbent: Republican Whip Bryce Reeves (R) is running for re-election. He has raised over $425,000 per the last VPAP filing.

Rumored or declared Democrat candidates

Traci Dippert: Dippert is the Chair of the Culpeper County Democrat Committee and a local school teacher. She lost in a House of Delegates run against Del. Ed Scott (R), garnering only 35.5%. She has raised $7,300 for the Senate effort. Rumors are that the Dem Senate leadership is not impressed and is looking for a better candidate. Her campaign manager stated:  “This seat may very well be the hinge upon which the balance of power swings,” he said. “This is going to shape up as the race of 2015 and right now we are the only show in town. We expect national attention.” (http://www.dailyprogress.com/starexponent/news/local_news/dippert-hopes-to-shift-power-back-to-democrats-in-state/article_41375a38-2963-11e4-a8cd-0017a43b2370.html?mode=story)

Dr. Chris Lillis: Lillis is a New York native who lives in Fredericksburg. According to his Facebook page, he is apparently a big fan of Nevada U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D).

Hap Connors: Connors is a former Chairman of the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors who lost his seat in 2011. He is a lobbyist who is a former head of the South Carolina Democratic Party and Clinton appointee; his fundraising prowess and connections in the region run deep and he would be a formidable candidate. While not declared, scuttlebutt is that Gov. McAuliffe is heavily recruiting his longtime friend Connors to move to Fredericksburg and run for this seat. Last year, he appointed Connors to the Fredericksburg area seat on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, over a candidate favored by the elected officials from the area. Connors was a major supporter of McAuliffe in each of his gubernatorial runs.

Rumored or declared Republican candidates

No Republican challengers to Reeves have been rumored.

Reeves had this to say about the race: “We are planning a campaign kickoff for after Christmas.  We are poised to run for election again.  Since our last election, we have been working to secure our place, through a lot of hard work and great constituent services.

Our legislative record is one that I am proud of because we have tackled some hard issues and had some very positive results.  Everything from offshore drilling, to protecting women’s rights in sexual assault cases, to multiple veteran’s issues, to fostering job growth in the district, all while maintaining our conservative values. Values that matter to working families in the Commonwealth. 

I have been recognized by my peers and selected as a Majority Whip.  No small feat for a freshman senator. 

We will continue to press the hard issues to get results that will allow our constituency the opportunity to live, work, and play in the 17th district.

We have knocked 22k doors for ID already and have our campaign manager starting next week.”


While the lean of this district looks like a tossup or a bellweather, Reeves has maintained a high profile, raised money proficiently, and looks strong. In 2011, his early hard work laid the groundwork for a narrow defeat of Sen. Edd Houck (D), a rare red-district Dem in the Senate. The Democrat bench in the area has been decimated and is extremely thin (the writer of this analysis is proud to have had something to do with that!). So far, the announced Dem candidates read more like a laughingstock than a fearsome roster, though that would change if Hap Connors entered the race. Gov. McAuliffe has loads of cash ready to dump, so while Reeves looks to be very very strong, he cannot rest on his laurels at this point.

Rating: Safe Republican

Better Know a (State Senate) District: 29th

29th State Senate District

2013: Cuccinelli 39% / McAuliffe 57% / Sarvis 4%

2012: Romney 35% / Obama 63%

(source: VPAP)

VV calculation: D+9; Safe Dem

The 2011 redistricting really did a number on this district; where McDonnell carried the old district with 55% (it was basically a tossup district, a bellweather for the state), Mitt Romney managed only 35% here- in a year where he got 48% statewide. This district is now a safe D seat.

Unit makeup

Prince William: 74.7%

Manassas: 19.2%

Manassas Park: 6.1%

The population center of this district is now the Woodbridge area along Rt. 1, as well as the heavily-Hispanic Manassas area. The Woodbridge area is strong Democrat, the Manassas area swings.

Incumbent candidate

Chuck Colgan (D) is not running for re-election. He had $40,500 in his campaign account per the last VPAP filing.

Rumored or declared Democrat candidates

Jeremy McPike (http://potomaclocal.com/2014/12/02/mcpike-makes-run-virginia-senate/) will contest for the Democrat nod, after nearly knocking off Republican Delegate Scott Lingamfelter.

Del. Michael Futrell (D-2nd): Giving up his Delegate seat to run for State Senate. He has $10.939 in his Delegate campaign account (https://virginiavirtucon.wordpress.com/tag/michael-futrell/).

Atif Qarni: Reported to open a candidate account by VPAP with no money in it.

Rumored or declared Republican candidates

Ian Lovejoy: Reported to open a candidate account by VPAP with no money in it. Rumored to no longer be interested in running.

Hal Parrish: Longtime moderate fixture in PWC politics is rumored to give it a run.

Tom Gordy: 2011 Republican nominee in this district came closer to Colgan than anyone suspected, losing 55-45. Rumored to be interested in another run.


While historically a GOP-leaning district, the 2011 redistricting and Prince William’s ongoing realignment mean that this district should be in safe Democrat hands. It would take a combination of favorable environment, bad Democrat candidate, good Republican candidate, and lots of money to flip this seat. Rating: Safe Dem

Next up: the 17th.

It’s time to re-examine our laws to increase police accountability

I do not wish to re-litigate Ferguson here; there is a tremendous amount of political and racial tribalism that colors who people view that situation, and it really is open to interpretation.

The situation in New York, where a New York cop brutally choked Eric Garner for selling loose cigarettes, is another matter altogether.

For one, that incident was caught on camera. The officer who killed Garner? Not indicted. The guy and his wife who filmed the incident? Indicted. Garner? Dead. Choked.

If my friends on the right wonder why there is so much anger and suspicion on the part of the black community at the police, incidents like this are a big part.

One of the issues that came out about the Ferguson case is that the laws in Missouri are extremely favorable to police- meaning, it is extremely difficult to hold a cop accountable for misdeeds in a court of law. Apparently, the law in New York is similar.

Judge Andrew Napolitano also wonders if we are becoming a virtual police state, where any cop can get away with use of deadly force with impunity.

What is to be done? I would recommend liberty as the answer.

This issue runs deep for Americans; remember, the Boston Massacre was an issue of law enforcement overreach that was artfully used by patriots agitating against the British.

I am not against the police. I salute their service. It’s a tough job. But any reasonable person knows there are good and bad cops, just as there are good and bad people. We have all met overzealous or unfair cops, and wondered what can be done to hold those individuals to account.

Part of the issue is, we have too many damn laws. In New Jersey, it is still against the law to slurp soup! When a cop can stop a citizen for doing almost anything, it creates a bad situation for all involved. So laws have to be looked at to maximize individual liberty.

The other part of it is to make sure that cops can be held to account for their actions. They are humans, like everyone else; they need to be held to account like everyone else. No agent of the government should be able to act with impunity to punish the citizenry without recourse. It’s unconstitutional.

Cop cameras are a good step. But the laws need to allow for normal accountability.

In case of a death, a special prosecutor should be named (to prevent collusion by normal DAs who must work with cops), and no abnormal deference should be shown to police in the course of their duties. Bernard Kerik added that community policing prevents these kind of situations; police should return to being the constables of the peace they started out as, not an internal army.

Shooting or killing a citizen should not be the default; it should be extraordinary.

Now, tell me if those things were followed, people would not feel a lot more faith in the system than they currently do. And that is ultimately the goal here- better safety for everyone.

No, Jeb Bush is NOT a conservative.

Much talk lately about “whither Jeb Bush” for President in 2016- but more specifically, if he is a conservative.

Liberals in the Republican Party here in Virginia are big fans. They cite Bill Bolling as another local Republican who is “misunderstood”.

There are several problems here.

The biggest one is, it really is a different time period than the last time Jeb faced the voters. In 1998, when Bush was first elected governor of Florida, Bill Clinton was being impeached by Congress. In 2002, the last election he competed in, we were in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the effects of NCLB were not yet known. His brother had just been elected President, and passed a big tax cut to boot.

Not so in 2014.

In 2014, we’ve had six years of a far leftist President Obama, who has given us a HUGE tax hike, Obamacare, an unprecedented expansion of Federal government power and size, and more new job-killing (and freedom-restricting) regulations than anyone really thought possible.

The priority at this point, as the Republic passes the $18 trillion mark in Federal debt, is on not just slowing the growth of government- but actively and quickly rolling it back.

That means rolling back Obamacare. Rolling back spending of all kinds. Rolling back innumerable regulations. Appointing judges who will respect a less active role for the leviathan central government in the Capitol.

So ask yourself: why would you nominate a person whose only policy calling card in the last 10 years is the expansion of Federal control in education, something which even liberals agree is best governed on a local level?

Common Core is a HUGE issue in 2014. Not only are states opting out and suing the Feds over it, but 2/3 of adults (likely the ones with school-age children) disapprove of Common Core and want it done away.

This is a big issue that favors a small government approach and is very popular among parents of all political persuasions.

But wait, there’s more.

Another big issue being raised on both sides of the aisle is cronyism- crony capitalism on the right, crony government on the left.

The main proponents of Common Core? The Chamber of Commerce and Public School Administrators. FAIL.

Why would we nominate someone on the wrong side of the biggest single issue of our time facing families? An issue that so clearly demonstrates why small government approaches are better than centralized ones?

Then there is immigration…. where Bush is at odds with 80% of his party’s faithful, and at odds with 60% of the country as a whole.

Times change. It was great that Bush cut taxes while Florida Governor. But in the decade since, he made his bones on the wrong side of a very important size-of-government issue.

There are too many other talented, good options this time around. This isn’t England; time to let the Bush dynasty go.

Announcing the VV 2015 State Senate Race Preview Series

Next year, the close State Senate races will be the ones to watch, as the GOP tries to defend their slim one-vote majority against the marauding money of Gov. McAuliffe and the Democrats. Which races will be close? Which will be noncompetitive? Where will we see hot nominating contests? Will any incumbents fall?

If you are planning to run for a State Senate seat in 2015 and would like your candidacy or comments to be included in the writeup of your race, please contact VV here. We will begin the series next week, with the 29th State Senate District race.

A Conservitarian postmortem of the Virginia race that is not yet ended

The ink is not yet dry on this year’s elections, with a possible recount in VA and a runoff in Louisiana and several races undeclared across the country.

But that does not stop the postmortems from coming out. The curious case of Virginia is the topic of many already this year.

Ed Gillespie, left for dead with double-digit deficits in polling before the election, nearly pulled off the upset against incumbent Sen. Warner.

This sets off several questions worthy of consideration.

1. How?

This is a question with several answers.

-Warner ran a lackluster campaign. He took Gillespie lightly, not really laying a glove on him for all of the liberal kvetching over Gillespie’s Enron connections and other past resume fodder. The polls showed a strong win, so why chance raising Gillespie’s name ID the way Cantor did to Brat? Normally Warner’s strong approval rating would carry him.

-The Wave. Look at results across the country. Republicans typically polled between 3 and 9 points behind where they finished on Election Day. Even where there were bad Republican candidates (NC and Kansas were two examples), Republicans took all the late deciders as the nation delivered a message to President Obama. Even Thom Tillis, one of the worst Republican candidates of this or any cycle, overperformed to win despite being outspent 3-1. A Republican won in Maryland for governor for God’s sake! The Wave was massive and washed away and Dem in its path. Gillespie clearly benefitted from that.

-Establishment strategy. In most cycles, you actually have to tell people what you would do with the power you seek. Not this time. The Establishment strategy of keeping your head down and telling people what percentage of the time your opponent supported President Obama was effective this time because this electorate is reviled by Obama and his policies and incompetence. Gillespie ran low on substance (which is a problem when you need to govern or seek re-election), but this time it kept the focus off him and on Warner. I don’t think this strategy works in most cycles (see Cuccinelli, Ken; Allen, George; Thompson, Tommy; etc). But this time, it provided the Democrats fewer targets to hit, while allowing the natural anti-Obama environment to fill the room.

-The hard work of Republican activists all over Virginia, some of whom did not like Gillespie as the nominee but remained good Republicans and supported him anyway.

-The late bribery charges against Warner, which while they did not stick, did catch traction because of the corruption conviction of former Gov. Bob McDonnell. Virginians are tired of corruption among their political class and that weariness showed.

Overall, while lackluster, Gillespie ran a mistake-free campaign.

2. What happened on Election Day?

This is a tricky question.

Gillespie performed as a Republican needs to in most places. There was no special overperformance in Southwest Virginia; strength in Central Virginia. He won Loudoun, which McCain and Romney could not. He did not perform well in Fairfax, with only 40%; nor in Arlington or Alexandria (under 30% in each). Ideally you’d like to see a Republican with closer to 45% in Fairfax and 34% in the People’s Republic. Losing Prince William, Manassas, and Manassas Park is crushing; a Republican cannot win statewide without them. Even McCain took Manassas and MP.

The Richmond area was also a big problem. Gillespie lost Henrico by 12. Henrico used to be the center of the Marcus-Allen Republican machine; regardless of the rise of Democrat Eastern Henrico, a Republican MUST win Henrico to win statewide. Performance in Hanover is also not what you would ideally like it to be; Chesterfield was right on target however.

Hampton Roads was mildly disappointing. Chesapeake was a close win; Virginia Beach was strong but needed to be stronger, granted weakness in Henrico and elsewhere. Norfolk was disappointing. It would appear that African-American voters heard the President’s pleas to come out and save Warner’s backside.

Nelson and Caroline counties are usually good indicators of how the state goes; if they go Republican, the Republican usually wins. They went for Warner this time.

Libertarian Robert Sarvis scored 50,000 votes and 3%. Some have cursed his voters, but history has shown with Sarvis that his voters are very rarely Republican; most likely they would have stayed home. Issues like the Patriot Act, Drug War and others would have put them crossways with both Warner and Gillespie. Ultimately, a candidate’s votes are earned. If you didn’t earn them, they don’t belong to you anyway.

3. What does it all mean?

Ahh, a very tricky question.

For Warner, it means the end of his presidential aspirations. If the investigation for corruption yields an indictment, he is done- and may have to resign. His aura of invincibility is shattered. This may hurt Tim Kaine as well, who is well known for being Warner’s lap dog.

For Gillespie, tough to say. A close loss is still a loss, just ask George Allen, who lost by a closer margin than Gillespie did in 2006 and never recovered, losing again in 2012. A Republican who cannot pull it out during a cycle like this one or 2010, probably never will. It is not very frequent that you get a situation where the wind is THIS much at the Republican’s back; most cycles, a Republican will need to run a stronger campaign to win in Virginia- take more positions, raise more money.

This is not to say others could have done better, necessarily. What ifs are common in close losses but rarely useful. Write-ins were no more a factor in this election than any other (ie, their numbers were comparable to past elections). Warner is still the most popular politician in Virginia, and that is no small thing.

Some in the Washington Times and different bloggers here in VA have been floating Gillespie already for Governor for 2017- something that was rumored to be his goal all along.

History has not been kind to retreads in Virginia however. George Allen lost in 2006 by less than Gillespie did; that loss was still the end of his political career. Virginia moved on without him. Jim Gilmore last won in 1997, his 2008 loss to Warner was a blowout. Bob Marshall barely lost to Jim Gilmore in the 2008 convention and has never been close in any Federal office run since. And you always run the risk of being labelled the “perennial candidate”. Fundamentally, there is never the guarantee the dynamics behind one election will be there for any others.

We in Virginia are hard on newcomers; we tend to embrace the comfortable known rather than give a new guy (or gal) a chance. The Virginia Republican bench is deep and getting deeper. 2017 and 2018 are a long way off, and the Virginia GOP is riding a 6-race statewide losing streak. We have had a number of close losses there; it’s time to open the field of ideas, stand for something (lower taxes?), and do as Margaret Thatcher advised:

“First you win the argument; THEN you win the election.”

Op/Ed: What the heck are Republicans doing to each other in VA?

Friday night, I received a disturbing email from Tom Gear. My first question was, “Who the hell is Tom Gear and why is he sending me spam?” He titled it “To the Woodshed”, because apparently he hopes to take various elements of the Republican Party that he doesn’t like for a good spanking.

The target of his ire on that day was the new 7th District Chairman, Fred Gruber, whose personal life is apparently open for scrutiny now.
Gear made various accusations about Gruber’s personal life. Now, I don’t know if they are true or not. Personally, I don’t care- it’s a party position, not an elective one, and nearly everyone has some sort of baggage if you’ve lived at all.

The thing that concerns me most is, why the heck is this in my inbox, why should I care, and why is Tom Gear perusing porn sites to make these tawdry claims against a man he’s never met? Does he hope to take Fred Gruber “to the woodshed” for a good spanking?

And this brings me to my larger point: The Republican Party in Virginia is in a world of trouble.

But it’s not trouble from bad leadership. It’s trouble from one faction who would rather destroy the party completely so that they could pick through the ruins, than share power with anyone else.

Now, if you’ve read my articles before, you know I see the party as a coalition of about 9 different factions, and without all of them we have no real chance of winning. So any attempt to “drive out” any faction is a self-defeating exercise.

What is the point of a party? It is a group of people of like goals and principles who come together to advance candidates and policies that they agree on. Persuant to this, there may be contested races for nominations from time to time. That is part of the process. But once there is a nominee- we are bound to support that nominee.

That, or don’t bother participating in the process!

Look around us now. We have supporters of a losing candidate in the 7th district evacuating all the money from that district rather than letting the winning Chairman have a say in its distribution. That is flat out being a sore loser- and is destructive to the party.

The people involved are smarter than this- they know the optics, they know that everyone sees it for what it is. Their lame attempts to justify this action only drew the attention of the Washington Post, who was all too happy to write about the self-immolation of the party.

We also have a shadowy un-transparent “VAGOPnow.org” group launching ad hominem attacks against Republicans. Thankfully most of these end up in the spam box, where they belong.

We have supporters of other candidates in the 10th district withholding support for the GOP nominee there too. Why? Did you not participate in the process? Does that not bind you to the same party principles I outlined above?

The attempts at personal destruction of Fred Gruber are most disturbing. Personal attacks, people don’t forget- or forgive. Attempts to besmirch reputations, people don’t forget. That is the kind of thing that destroys a party.

I know there are a relatively few losing consultants and bad actors responsible for the turmoil we now see. I know who this bad behavior is coming from- and that they don’t care if they destroy the party, alienate our base, lose key elections like the 7th and the 10th and the Senate seat with this nonsense.

I have no doubt that this blog will cause these bad actors to target me with personal attacks too, so let me save you the trouble: I have worked as a consultant, I have been through a painful divorce, and I have been unhappy with this brewing civil war since 2012. But I also own a 17-5 record in races I have run, and have been calling for an end to these kind of dirty pool tactics against fellow Republicans for a LONG time.

So Tom Gear, I will ask you to cease your woodshed spankings. I will ask the 7th District Committee to respect the will of the activists in the 7th district and give its duly elected Chairman a fair shot. And I will ask the personal and vituperative attacks against party faithful and candidates to stop.

Everyone who participates in this garbage at this point is only weakening the party. Some of you are looking to do that. But for those who want something different, including candidates and party leaders, it’s time to police our own and take out the trash.

The problems with the 7th CD GOP Committee’s appropriation are not resolved

Anyone who looks at the state of the Virginia Republican Party right now has got to be in shock…. I know I am.

Sooooo…. why do political parties exist?

Political parties exist so that people of like goals and principles can join together to elect politicians who will advance those goals and principles.

An essential part of this process, is that we have contested nomination fights where people who share the party’s goals and principles choose a candidate to stand for them in an election.

Sometimes those fights are tough- as they should be.

But once we have a duly elected nominee, that’s it. The party gets behind that nominee. That’s the point of a party.

Shak Hill gave a thunderous speech to get behind the U.S. Senate nominee, Ed Gillespie, as “one team” to defeat Mark Warner. 

Eric Cantor publicly stated last week that he would vote for Dave Brat, even though his loss had to be personally painful. 

Classy, right?

What happened at the 7th CD committee this week is not that.

Nancy Russell, Chair of the Hanover Republican Committee, released a statement that claims that the $300,000 appropriated to the RNC and NRCC will be spent on Virginia candidates.

Wonderful if true, right?

Except, the vote was taken with no assurance or commitment whatsoever by those groups to do that. The question was asked at that meeting and the answer given was that no such commitment existed, according to multiple attendees at that meeting. 

Now, someone did ask, why not give it to RPV… so we could guarantee that the funds could be spent in Virginia to elect Virginia Republicans. 

According to Linwood Cobb, former Chair of the 7th District Committee, the money could not be appropriated to RPV because “RPV is so dysfunctional”. 

More dysfunctional than appropriating 4/5 of the Committee’s money against the wishes of its newly elected Chairman and the nominee they are supposed to elect?

Ultimately, this comes down to egos and hurt feelings and a lot of things that have no place in a political party. Can’t give it to RPV because some have a personal beef with RPV. Can’t let it stay with the committee because the Chair we didn’t vote for is the bogeyman, and because it was raised by the candidate we liked who was just defeated. 

Sour grapes, basically.

If the RNC and NRCC have made such a commitment to spend that money on Virginia, let them publicly say so. Then this decision would make a lot more sense.

Otherwise, this decision should be revisited- and the members of the committee (many of which are friends of mine) should remember what it means to be in a political party in the first place.

Where Card Went Wrong

I know Bill Card.

I have worked with Bill Card many times before as a unit chair. I know how dedicated he is, how tough of a job he has in Prince William.

But I know that, in his Op/Ed on Bearing Drift, he is dead wrong.

It wasn’t a very coherent piece, but if I may summarize:

The TEA Party isn’t welcome, if they are to be Republicans they must become more like other Republicans who were there before, and conservative candidates have no right to run against those ordained by establishment folks.

Well, that doesn’t sound like the Bill Card I know. But then, it didn’t sound like the Bill Card I know either when I heard he was disrespectfully leading boos of Shak Hill during the candidate’s speech at the Roanoke Convention.

He thinks the TEA Party and the conservatives must become more like the Establishment? He thinks they need to give way to Establishment candidates?

If that’s what he thinks, he could not be more wrong.

1. Without the TEA Party, without conservatives, Republicans stand no chance of winning.

Dick Morris once observed that the Democrats are a coalition of identity politic groups; single women + Blacks + Hispanics +white liberals + others. In contrast, Republicans are ideological; we take conservatives from any group. This is very relevant here. We have many factions that make up our coalition, and they are ideological ones.

Social conservatives. Libertarians. Foreign policy conservatives. Neocons. TEA Party. Chamber of Commerce. Moderates. Fiscal conservatives. There are others as well, but here is the major point:

Republicans cannot win without every single one of them.

Every oar in this boat must be rowing in the same direction for us to win. If any faction deserts, we lose.

So we cannot afford to go antagonizing any part of the coalition. Which is why Card’s juvenile actions at the Convention, and his “nah nah nah” Op/Ed, make no sense and are counterproductive.

You backed Gillespie, fine. But know that Ed has no chance, ZERO, without Shak Hill’s conservative supporters. None. Ed knows this- and so does Shak. That is why Shak magnanimously called for unity with Ed- because otherwise there is no chance of unseating Warner.

And what does Bill Card do? He goes out of his way to offend Shak and his supporters.

I saw no end of complaining by Eric Cantor’s supporters after the primary in the 7th that Brat’s supporters were rubbing it in. Dave’s supporters needed cooler heads to prevail- because without Eric’s supporters, Dave cannot win the general. And winning a nomination fight without winning the general is pointless.

Ed now needs cooler heads to prevail and to police classless behavior like Card’s. Every time someone says something like Card did, meant to offend and discount entire segments of the Republican coalition, it lessens the chance his own candidate will win the election.

Not smart, when anyone does it. If you can’t respect and value the other parts of the coalition at least to some degree, you do not deserve to be a leader in the party.

2. Conservative candidates do not need to kneel before anointed Establishment candidates.

First of all, this is a Republic where the people are sovereign. Not any person or party- the people.

We as a party of the people should not be anointing anyone. We are not Whigs. Anyone who makes the difficult decision to sacrifice and run for office, God bless them- they should be offered praise, not scorn.

But there is a bigger dynamic at work that Card, Ray Allen and others are clearly missing here:

People are angry!

They are angry at big government socialist Democrats.
They are angry at big government corporatist Republicans.

They think power is all that matters to both parties and they are disgusted with it, and with politics in general. That anger is manifested on the right by the populist TEA Party.

Mainly, they just want to be left alone. They are rightly concerned about government spending and debt. And they don’t want rhetoric- they want results, and have gotten none.

They should be mad!

People on the left are angry, people in the middle are angry, people on the right are angry- and too often, politicians are caught bring in politics for power’s sake and not to actually move the needle in a productive direction.

If you don’t understand that anger, you are likely to get swept up in it. The mood of the country is frustrated. If our party does not acknowledge this, and actually make meaningful efforts to address it beyond rhetoric, we will lose- but more importantly, we will deserve to lose.

Our future is in being defenders of liberty, defenders of freedom. If our party will not do this in a meaningful way, we will be consigned to the trash heap of history. And deservedly so.

Card’s efforts to dismiss and discount the anger Americans feel right now toward their government and toward politicians is dangerous coming from someone in a position of leadership. I have never known Bill Card to be someone who does not rise to the challenges of leadership. It is time for him to take a good look around him, take notice of the mood of the country- and lead accordingly.

Ultimately, we need the Bill Cards of the world on our side- and we need them to be leaders. But being a leader means not demeaning or discouraging enormous segments of our coalition. Some look like they get this. Let’s hope the rest do too.

2011: When I met Dave Brat, as an opponent

The year was 2011. I was the hotshot Spotsylvania Republican Committee Chairman, fighting to elect a Republican board and a Republican state senator from that county.

That was a redistricting year. In that year, the 56th House of Delegates district was redrawn to take in just 1 ½ precincts in Spotsylvania… including my (then) house.

My new Delegate, Bill Janis, was very friendly and outgoing in reaching out and assuring me Spotsy would be important to him. I was looking forward to electing him.

Then, 2 weeks before the nomination was to be confirmed in August, a bombshell: he was resigning from the House of Delegates to run for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

That set off a 2-week scramble to have a Republican nominee for the 56th HoD district. It would be decided by the unit chairs of the Republican Committees of the four counties (Henrico, Louisa, Goochland, and Spotsylvania) at a public meeting August 23.

I declared, as did five other good men: Graven Craig, Surya Dhakar, Dave Brat, Peter Farrell, and Jack Manzari. I remain friends with all of them to this day; they are all good people.

Immediately, the Establishment began attacking me; they were trying to force me out to make room for Peter Farrell, who is the son of Tom Farrell of Dominion Resources, a large GOP donor. Understandable- although Peter had his own accomplishments, including starting his own business and being 1st Vice Chair of the unruly Henrico Republican Committee.

Nonetheless, I forged ahead, gaining endorsements and traversing the state to gain support for my bid. Among the first people to call me, however, was Dave Brat. He invited me to meet him at the Bulls and Bears Club in Richmond to talk.

I accepted, not knowing Dave or what to expect. But I am so glad I went.

We sat down in some sofas and ordered some wine and just talked. He told me he was a conservative Catholic, a conservative, a former seminarian, a man passionate about his family and a man of principle. He is a very decent man, a man of God, a man anyone would want to be friends with.

Over the 1 ½ hour conversation I found all those things to be true. I was blown away by how good a guy Dave was- how genuine- and how if I didn’t win, I wanted him to.

He had also gotten pressure to bow out to the Establishment wishes. Neither of us would be cowed so easily.

Other than the job I could have done, I felt he could have done the second best. And I told the other unit chairs as much.

We parted better for the conversation, and as new friends. Ultimately, neither of us won the office; on the day of the Mineral Earthquake, Peter was chosen as the Republican nominee, and he has done a very good job as Delegate.

But I never forgot the genuine conversation Dave and I had that day. Ultimately, he won the endorsement of the Richmond TEA Party and I won the endorsement of the Fredericksburg Patriots TEA Party. We were eye to eye since then.

I returned to Spotsylvania to help retake our Board of Supervisors for the second time since Reconstruction, as well as help defeat a 28-year Dem incumbent to retake the State Senate.

And now Dave will be a Member of Congress representing the 7th District of Virginia.

And it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

God has different plans for all of us, and now we know he had a special plan for Dave.

Sometimes, nice guys do finish first.


YES WE CAN! (a rebuttal of Jeanine Martin)

Jeanine Martin in the Bull Elephant (www.thebullelephant.com) admitted that Shak is a real contender to win the convention in Roanoke. Unfortunately, that’s the last truthful thing she says in her article. Allow me to cut through the emotional cacophony of factless assertions to reveal the real state of play.

1. Shak CAN beat Mark Warner

Jeanine asserts that Shak Hill can’t beat Mark Warner. Of course it would make sense that Shak couldn’t raise what Ed Gillespie did for the nomination; Ed is a seasoned fundraiser for decades and has relationships with big Republican donors. That is why Shak decided to self-fund his nomination fight; he has poured about $200,000 of his own money in, which is part of the reason why it is competitive. Sen. Ron Johnson did the same thing, faced with similar circumstances, in Wisconsin in 2010.

But that doesn’t mean that, once Shak is the nominee, that money can’t be raised. Most Republican donors are happy to max out to any reasonable nominee. Some will go further because Shak actually stands for what they believe in. Some will not. And I am in a position to make that claim, being that I sat in on hundreds of such phone calls with Shak, which Jeanine has not.

But there is a reason why outside groups such as Gun Owners of America, National Association for Gun Rights, National Defense PAC, Special Operations Speaks PAC, and several others have backed Shak; additional conservative organizations (whose endorsed candidates have taken a beating this year) have already been contacted and will jump on board with Shak as the nominee. They would never have backed Gillespie.

Bottom line, neither Ed nor Shak would out-raise Warner, but Shak will have the resources to get his message out- and he won’t be playing defense with his money like Ed would with his. Which brings me to point #2…

2. Ed has been vetted but Shak has not?

You have got to be kidding me.

The arguments Shak has been making about Ed have to do with policy, and there are some differences there. TARP bailouts, HB3202 (unconstitutional tax hike), amnesty, compulsory mandatory insurance, and other policy items give conservatives and the liberty-minded cause enough to doubt that Ed is one of them.

What Shak has NOT hit Ed on is what Warner HAS- and it is potentially much more damning in a general election. Lobbying for Enron? Lobbying to exempt Tysons Foods from immigration requirements? Running the campaign of former Governor McDonnell, now on trial for corruption? Being besties with Karl Rove (also detailed in Gillespie’s book)? Expect to see this and much, much worse if Ed wins. Ed will need to spend $10 million just to play defense on his background- and that is a target-rich environment.

With all of Ed’s money, do you honestly think Shak has not been vetted? If he had ANYTHING even remotely untoward, you’d see Jeanine or Justin Higgins spreading around the muck as fast as they could get it. Fact is, he’s a hero- a military hero, a hero for Life, a family hero, and presents a MUCH more compelling story than Gillespie OR Warner. Oh, AND he’s a bona fide, unquestioned, conservative.

3. The death of conventions?

Melodrama anyone?

You know who else was nominated at a convention? George Allen, 1993. He won.

Jim Gilmore, 2008. He lost.

Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, Ken Cuccinelli, 2009. All won.

Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, Mark Obenshain, 2013. All lost.

See a pattern? Me neither. Sure, people with an agenda will try to draw patterns, but those patterns simply don’t exist. That’s why electability is a tough aspect to rank with conventions.

Everyone knows Warner is a tough mark (no pun intended) anyway, especially in a race where Libertarian Robert Sarvis is also on the ballot. With Sarvis on the ballot, it makes it all the more imperative to nominate a candidate libertarians can rally behind. Shak Hill is the only person running that fits that bill. With Gillespie as our standard bearer, Sarvis might reach 10% of the vote- meaning Warner could be re-elected with as little as 45%.


Shak Hill will aggressively hold Warner to account on his record, setting Republicans up well for a comeback in the Old Dominion. And a comeback based on principle- instead of selling out our principles- is worth it. So stop believing what the Washington Post says about Republicans Jeanine, because it doesn’t stand up to the light of day.

YES, WE CAN. And yes, we will!

The hubbub about Kenney misses the point

I am a conservative.

I have always been a conservative. I led my high school’s pro-life group. As Spotsylvania GOP Chairman, I campaigned for (and eventually won) the county’s first property tax cut in 36 years. I want to roll back restrictions on gun rights and other bad regulations on the books. And I was the first candidate ever endorsed by the Fredericksburg Patriots TEA Party.

I fight for my principles every day, in big ways and small ways.

I also want to engage other groups to convince them to join forces to empower those same principles.

As Spotsylvania GOP Chair, one of my best working relationships was with the local NAACP. We sure didn’t agree on everything, but we agreed to work together where our principles allowed. This took the level of distrust down a notch and formed some good friendships. I was also a regular fixture at School Board meetings, talking with teachers and parents who didn’t necessarily agree with me but who were grateful a Republican Chairman was interested enough in schools to attend.

At heart, that’s what Shaun was doing last weekend.

Now, I don’t necessarily agree with his specific views on this issue (though notably he does NOT support amnesty, and nor do I). And I think SEIU is a repugnant, regressive organization- filming the conversation certainly casts doubt on their motives. But that is less relevant here than the fact that Shaun was willing to have a conversation with those on the other side.

I learned in leadership the value of dialogue. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean we have to be enemies. I want the party to keep reaching out to convince folks about conservative ideals- so we can win elections and enact those ideals.

The late, great Baroness Margaret Thatcher once said “First, you win the argument. Then, you win the election.”

That convincing starts with a conversation. I also learned you can’t make everyone happy all the time- and learned it the hard way. And certainly all Republicans and conservatives don’t agree on all things. We value independent thinking- and EVERY faction of the party needs to have a seat at the table because of that.

But having a conversation with those you disagree with wins their respect. It’s a hard thing to do but there is certainly no harm in talking. We can be people of principle while not locking the doors.

Roanoke College Polls US Senate Race

…and the most accurate Virginia off-year pollster has this to say:

In a very early test of a possible November match-up, Senator Mark Warner leads Republican Ed Gillespie by almost 30 points (50%-21%)

Ouch. But there is a bit more interesting here:

 President Barack Obama’s favorable rating is 47 percent (43% unfavorable), which is slightly lower than in the October 30, 2013 Roanoke College Poll. Former Governor Bob McDonnell finished his term at 43 percent, up 3 percent from October 30, while Terry McAuliffe begins his term as Governor with a 36 percent favorable rating (22% unfavorable). Senator Mark Warner has a favorable rating of 47 percent, down 10 percent from September, and Senator Tim Kaine sits at 40 percent, a decline of 8 points since September. Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee Chair and potential Senate candidate, has only a 6 percent favorable rating, with 13 percent unfavorable, but three-fourths (75%) of Virginians do not know enough about him to have an opinion.

So, Warner is slipping and is vulnerable, but Gillespie (6% approval rating) would do roughly the same as Jim Gilmore did in 2008 against him. And Kaine better thank his lucky stars he doesn’t face the voters soon.

Puts the electability argument in a different perspective.