End Proxies On State Central

This weekend, the Republican Party of Virginia State Central Committee voted on a few things including whether or not to file a legal brief that said “ignore our Party Plan,” and to hold a secret ballot to ultimately vote for a primary instead of a convention for next year’s Presidential nomination contest.

One big argument that came out was over the process, in particular, the use of secret balloting to make an important decision. Social media lit up with people calling for the heads of anyone who voted for a secret ballot… because thanks to the secret ballot they couldn’t call for the heads of the people who voted for a primary over a convention and purge accordingly. Some blogs went so far as to list the roll call and criticize the move, saying our representatives on State Central must be open and honest about their votes and be held accountable by those who put them there! Just like elected representatives in Richmond or Washington!

Side note: A few months back State Central used a secret ballot to kick out the 5th District Chair. No one complained then.

Problem with that is, a handful of people who voted were not actually elected to vote. They were there by proxy, selected by duly elected State Central members to represent them at a meeting that was quite important and known about well in advance.

These proxies? They are accountable to no one. They weren’t elected by anyone. Your congressman can’t vote with a proxy. Your delegate can’t vote with a proxy. You can’t vote with a proxy.

Some of the people driving the vote were there by proxy, for example: Russ Moulton and Waverly Woods, both great activists but not elected to State Central. And their votes aren’t counted as their votes on the public record, they’re recorded as the vote for who they were proxying. So not only are they not elected and held free from accountability, but they’re hidden from the record for any future reference.

Why are we ok with State Central allowing proxies for big decisions?

If we’re talking about transparency, if we’re talking about accountability, secret ballots aren’t the problem. Leaving the fate of the party to unelected individuals who’s names do not go on record is the problem

So, I waited a couple of days…

…and Schoeneman’s sour grapes hit piece on Whitbeck, Snyder, Colgate and the RPV Grassroots Challenge success is still ridiculous. I wanted to see if he walked it back, or “put it in context”, etc. Nope. He’s doubled down, both in comments and on social media. In the meantime, Chris Beer has spared the rest of us the task of debunking it in detail.

During and after the Sully primary, I was one of the conservative voices telling people to ease up on Schoeneman a bit, for the sake of party unity, plus, what does attacking Brian really accomplish?

Well, never mind that now. Carry on.

Great time at the Guevara general election kickoff shindig last night. Great turnout, plenty of candidates and activists came to enjoy the unique venue and hear Senator Allen talk about what we need to do to win in Virginia. Met my colleague here at VV, Steve Thomas, for the first time in person. I saw John Guevara give the best speech I’ve seen him give. We’re going to win in Sully.

No Need To Compromise

On Sunday, VV published an op-ed by the chair of the Richmond City Republican Committee, Chip Muir, on why we should compromise, and grant the ‘moderate pro-business’ wing of the Republican Party of Virginia a Presidential primary in Virginia next year, in exchange for their so kindly granting us a convention to nominate statewide candidates in 2017. While noble in its intent to bring disparate interests and factions within the party together, simply put… Why?

Why should the Conservative Fellowship, its allied organizations (Full disclosure: This includes RLCVA) and the Republicans who helped elect them to the State Central Committee of RPV, compromise here? Does it gain us anything? That wing of the party, and its shills on social media, have spent considerable time and effort making clear that they will not financially support RPV with the current leadership, and will indeed, encourage others not to, either. We don’t owe them a thing.

Indeed, consider what the expectations would be if the roles were reversed. The slating effort, organized and led by the consulting class, led by Ray Allen and his pals, and quite some number of Virginia Republican elected officials, led by Eric Cantor, Frank Wagner, Scott Taylor, was intended to gain control of the State Central Committee by steamrolling the wishes of conservatives by any means necessary, and they made it clear they weren’t going to compromise at all. Anyone remember Ray Allen’s treatment of folks who tried to reason with him, or offer compromise, during that? Anyone remember Bill Bolling’s political director making a spectacle of herself, actually DANCING, at a certain 2012 meeting of the SCC, where it chose a primary as the method of nomination for the statewide ticket in 2013, despite the fact that elections for SCC were forthcoming later that year? Further back, remember the effort to remove a certain RPV Chairman that began the moment he was elected at the 2008 convention? It didn’t matter what he did, they were out to get him from day one. This is the crowd we should compromise with? Seriously? Really?

No, if the roles were reversed, conservatives would be told to shut up and get in line, and maybe, just maybe, they’d let us have a seat at the table. Let them go to US Chamber of Commerce mixers and talk about how nominees like Ken Cuccinelli are just too conservative, so therefore they have to assist guys like Terry McAuliffe, while saving their Republican support for important things like helping George P. Bush, and gearing up to support Chris Christie or Jeb Bush for President.

If we’re unable to stand on principle, we are simply wasting our time. We should nominate by convention in both 2016 and 2017. No compromise here.

Follow-up On Slating… And A Word About The Sully Mess

A little over a week ago, I wrote here about the slating affair of last year and what its lasting consequences have been, are, and should be. A few days later, I got an email from Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-72nd) expressing his concerns that he was being unfairly named as one of the slaters. He copied the illustrious T. Boulden on it, asking me to retract that part of my post. So I again reached out to some Henrico activist folks I know that were at the Henrico mass meeting. What I got back was interesting.

Delegate John O’Bannon (R-73rd) actually taunted someone before the meeting, sticking his finger in the guy’s face, saying “When your side starts winning elections, then we can sit down and talk.”

Whoops. How’d that work out for you? See you in 2017.

Both O’Bannon and Linwood Cobb clearly were in on the slating, and Janis was seen whispering with Cobb at the back of the room. And… “Massie addressed the audience before the voting began to prepare our side for losing. He said we had to ‘leave there and stay friends after the vote.’ After the vote, I went up to Jimmie and asked him if we were still friends?”

Also, these letters went out shortly before the Henrico County mass meeting (editorializing and highlighting not mine, this is the state in which I got them):


Remarkably like some emails that went out in Hampton Roads before the meetings down there, which were courtesy of Ray Allen and the YG Virginia crowd, aren’t they? Bearing in mind as well that O’Bannon was obviously involved in the planning and execution of the Henrico slating effort, it certainly doesn’t look good to be coordinating with him.

To sum up, I stand by my previous post.

Moving on to the Sully Supervisor primary, I just want to state that while I’m personally a firm supporter of John Guevara in that race, the attack on Brian Schoeneman yesterday was ridiculous. He went to his personal network, as every smart candidate does, to raise money. Not a thing wrong with that.


A year later… “Get over it.” Not a CHANCE.

So it appears that many Republican members of the General Assembly that supported the Cantor/Young Guns-led slating effort at county conventions last year will be unopposed for nomination this year. More’s the pity. These are the very people who need to be held responsible… and when I say ‘held responsible’, I mean ‘defeated and sent home’. It’s been roughly a year since that (thankfully largely unsuccessful) effort went down, and somehow Frank Wagner and Scott Taylor, the most odious of this bunch, have escaped primary challenges. It seems the entire Hampton Roads/TowneBank mafia/delegation was involved. The only good news is that Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-8th) is retiring, but his buddy, and fellow slater, Del. Bill DeSteph, is all set up with McWaters’ support for the nomination.
However, this is one place where there is an opportunity to hold a slater accountable in a primary. DeSteph is opposed by Craig Hudgins, a former Marine and grassroots conservative, with the support of local tea party activists. I encourage every Republican to do whatever they can to support Mr. Hudgins.
Another opportunity is in the 12th Senate District, which is also an open seat. The establishment-backed candidate is former Delegate Bill Janis, who supported slating. Siobhan Stolle Dunnavant is also running… yes, she’s another member of the slatin’ Stolle dynasty from Hampton Roads, and as such, is to be opposed. From what I’ve heard from locals, she’s not particularly impressive. Thankfully, there is also Vince Haley, a tea party backed conservative who has the personal support of Newt Gingrich, which has helped him raise quite a few dollars. He’s also brought aboard Zach Werrell, the young campaign manager of Dave Brat’s primary upset of slater-in-chief Eric Cantor last year. Just as with Mr. Hudgins, it’s vital to support Mr. Haley in this primary.
As to the other slaters who will coast to nomination unopposed, it would seem an opportunity has been lost this year. This includes Wagner, Taylor, all the Stolles currently in office, Barry Knight, Jimmie Massie, and DeSteph’s minion Jason Miyares, who was parachuted in to fill DeSteph’s current House seat, and no doubt quite a few others. The grassroots will just have to wait until 2017 (or 2019, in the case of Senators) to challenge them. There’s always the general election, and the possibility of their defeat there. You might well think I’d support that, but as a Republican, I couldn’t possibly comment.
The common refrain from the slaters and their supporters in response to this is some version of “Get over it. It happened.” This is patently ridiculous. As a certain former RPV chairman once told me, it’s not often that people show you who they really are in politics. The slating effort was one such moment, and it was very illuminating, and not something these people can paper over or take back. “Whoops, sorry” isn’t going to do it. Their arrogance and entitlement shows how little respect they have for those they claim to represent.
Our outstanding current state chairman, John Whitbeck, is focused on uniting the party behind conservative principles, and is working hard to right the ship across the board. I know this is the last thing he needs, but from the perspective of the grassroots, this has to take precedence. Never forget.

National Republicans fear Virginia’s dysfunction

A salute to President Ronald ReaganIn today’s Washington Post there’s a long piece on the divide among Virginia Republicans and how national campaigns are looking at the state with some concern:

Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who was an adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said the GOP has “little room for error” in a “crucial” state such as Virginia.

“The last thing any presidential candidate needs is to drop into a battleground state and have the state party folks going at it like the Hatfields and McCoys,” Madden said. “Every ounce of energy used fighting internally distracts the party from the real opponent.”

If Republicans in Virginia cannot unify, strategists say, national party leaders will have to intervene.

“They’re like feudal lords fighting among themselves instead of a common enemy,” said Brendan Quinn, a Republican consultant and former executive director of the New York state GOP. “At some point, you’re going to have to have the national party step in. You’re going to have adult supervision and someone saying, ‘You’ll have to get along.’ ”

Of course the Post buried the best bit from Mary Matalin:

Mary Matalin, a GOP consultant who advised President George W. Bush and his father, President George H.W. Bush, said Virginia Republicans, along with Republicans across the country, are going through a “necessary and cathartic reform-oriented transition, which might look like strife contemporaneously but ends productively.”

“The contentious issues and factions will be vetted in what promises to be a full-throated rock ’em, sock ’em primary season,” she said in an e-mail. “Whatever divides us pales in comparison to our unity in opposition to liberal, left incompetence.”

You have to take a step back and ask whether or not the divide among Republicans is as bad as the Washington Post makes it out to be because this is coming from the Washington Post, which has done more to elect Democrats in Virginia than the Democratic Party of Virginia itself.

But a divide is there. And both sides need to figure out how to work together and quit fighting, suing, slating, and out “Conservativing” each other, or the Republican Party in Virginia is going to be in the statewide wilderness for a generation at least.

Ronald Reagan said it best: My 80-percent friend is not my 20-percent enemy. Reagan didn’t demand unity, he wanted diversity. The Republican message resonates with most rational people at least 80% of the time. Let’s work to find those people, not drive people out over the 20%.

Everyone needs to lay off John Whitbeck… and Shaun Kenney. Now.

It’s been only since Monday, when the news broke that Shaun Kenney was leaving as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Virginia. Since that time, folks have both castigated Shaun for RPV being broke, and attacked our new Chairman, John Whitbeck, for supposedly forcing Shaun out, blamed Ken Cuccinelli, and thrown the football that is RPV’s debt back and forth, looking to assign blame.

The truth is that only a handful of folks, including John Whitbeck and Shaun Kenney themselves, actually know what went on and why. The truth is that both men are appearing down in Virginia Beach this weekend for a fundraiser for RPV. The truth is that Shaun Kenney has honorably agreed to stay on and help right the ship, and help find a replacement for himself. The truth is that the Eric Cantor/Ray Allen/Boyd Marcus/Bobbie Kilberg crowd are the ones who pulled money from RPV, and it had little to do with either Whitbeck or Kenney.

I hear a lot of people talking, but very few people speaking out of any sort of knowledge of the situation. All will be borne out in the fullness of time, as they say. In the meantime, shut up and wait to see what the truth is, and remember, the idea is to rebuild the RPV together, and disregard those who are ‘taking their ball and going home’. We need every Republican who supports our party’s Creed, to help elect candidates who support it. Who’s in?

The Battle Rages On… But There Is Hope

So Jon Berkley is finally out as the chair of the Republican Party of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, and none too soon. He presents the unvarnished “what are you gonna do about it anyway” face of consultants and political profiteers in RPV. While that’s a positive, his behavior is a symptom of their arrogance and ruthlessness, even after the leader of their faction within RPV was punked by Dave Brat.

They had a confab recently down in Richmond that you may have heard about. Unfortunately, many of the fears the grassroots had about Barbara Comstock appear to have been confirmed by her speech there, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention.

Even better, apparently Linwood Cobb, who got some medicine of his own before his boss did, is masquerading as some sort of political tough guy, now that he’s been relieved of his party office, just like his boss. Who does he think he is, Rob Catron?

It’s obvious that the defeat of their slating efforts, and of Cantor’s crew in the 7th, and now of Berkley in the 5th, hasn’t dissuaded them at all. The grassroots of the Republican Party of Virginia will unfortunately have to remain on a war footing with people like Frank Wagner and Robert Hurt for the foreseeable future.

But there is hope. At the same State Central Committee meeting that finally unwound the Berkley debacle (despite Cobb and others actually defending Berkley for some reason), John Whitbeck, the Chairman of RPV’s 10th Congressional District Committee, was elected the new Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia by acclamation. He reached out to me personally to talk about his candidacy and his ideas and his vision for the party, and he actually understands we have to unite our party if we want to win in Virginia. Having a guy like that as our leader can only be a good thing.

Time to Remove Berkley

Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee met last week at the Advance in Chantilly. Among the items they discussed was the removal of Jon Berkley from the 5th District chairmanship. The move is called a remedy for a dysfunctional committee. The case against Berkley is lengthy and baffling. He thinks he is a king but he is really just someone who falls under the party plan and therefore needs to play nice with the others in the sandbox. Berkley has acted in revenge against Republicans, has ignored State Central and RPV General Counsel rulings, and he has handled himself like a real jerk. Our party should have no place for anyone who chooses to conduct themselves as he has in this last year. It is time to remove Berkley.

Berkley’s baffling incompetence first popped up on my radar last spring during the pre-filing period for the state convention. As Charlotte County chair Berkley did everything he could to stop 19 Republicans from being delegates because they would have voted against Berkley for chairman at the 5th District convention. The story is obnoxiously ridiculous. The Bull Elephant ran it when it happened. Berkley claims that the envelope of forms he received could have contained a playboy magazine or a bomb, he didn’t know. So he put an envelope that may have had a bomb in it in his car? How often do you put bombs in your car?

When word of Berkley’s actions in refusing those forms came out, the campaign I was working on blasted out an email alerting Republicans of Berkley’s shenanigans so that the grassroots could rise up and stop this injustice. That is when Berkley and I first spoke as he called me cursing me out with f this and f that. What a nice guy. I had not yet met him nor ever spoken with him, but here he is acting all tough and threatening to me over the phone. How about engage me in conversation first, then act as you need to but opening up with cursing and demands and threats is, at the least, unprofessional.

Next came Berkley’s baffling refusal to turn in the Charlotte County delegate list to the U.S. Senate campaigns and to RPV. I kept calling and emailing Berkley asking for the names of those who signed up. Technically the party plan does not compel him to hand over the names, but EVERY other chair did so in a judicious fashion. State Central Committee members have told me the reason the pre-file deadlines for signing up for the convention were so early was it would allow the campaigns more time to engage the delegates. By withholding the delegate list from the campaigns Berkley was doing his county committee a disservice because he was preventing those delegates from being engaged by the candidates and therefore they were going to a convention without all the information they should have to cast their vote.

I saw Berkley at the 5th District convention and I approached him about sending me the Charlotte County delegate list. He actually told me that he hadn’t sent it to me because his feelings were hurt after the email about throwing out the 19 delegate forms. Unbelievable. I can’t believe he admitted to me how small and petty he is. I told him that grown men do not let hurt feelings prevent us from meeting our responsibilities. Berkley responded without class, but eventually promised me that he would email me the list “Monday/Tuesday.” That Wednesday I called Berkley leaving an obnoxious message of my own pointing out the fact that Monday/Tuesday had come and gone and no list was sent. At the state convention I saw Berkley and reminded him that he broke the only promise he ever made to me. I also pointed out that the effort required on his part was minimal, just attach an excel file to an email and hit send, that’s it!

This next part is the worst part of all. I witnessed it and I still can’t believe it. After Berkley won the chairman’s race at the 5th District convention one of Berkley’s cronies stood up and made a motion to strip the 5th District State Central Committee members of voting rights at the 5th District Committee level. Why? How does that serve the 5th District? Berkley did so out of revenge. The five members of the 5th District State Central Committee did not support Berkley in the chairman’s race so petty little Berkley wanted to strike back. With few people left the question of a quorum was brought up, but the convention chair was a Berkley supporter who ruled that a quorum wasn’t needed. The floor then voted in favor of this motion only because Berkley’s minions were holding up Robert Hurt for Congress signs that had a big “yes” attached to them. I stood by the doorway and asked people as they left if they knew what they had just voted for and the dozen I spoke to said no. State Central Committee members are voted to serve their district by district members at a convention or mass meeting. But here we saw just a few Berkley and Hurt supporters overturn the results of the 5th District convention from 2 years ago. By stripping these popularly elected members of voting rights Berkley disrespected the will of his own committee. And he did this out of revenge.

Funny thing about all of this is State Central’s move to remove Berkley is based entirely on how Berkley has handled himself since all of these events I described happened. He came into the chair acting like he doesn’t have to follow the rules and then proceeded to do just that. He has ignored State Central and General Counsel throughout. At the meeting on Friday Berkley was absent and he didn’t even send a proxy. I was at the Advance over the weekend and when I heard about State Central’s move I started lobbying State Central members with the firsthand information I have from dealing with Berkley. Just like me, they couldn’t understand why a Republican would act like that to other Republicans.

Berkley’s fate will be decided at the next State Central Committee meeting in January. He will be given the chance to defend himself at this meeting, if he decides to show up.

Individually these events make Berkley look like a real jerk, collectively they illustrate that Berkley does not have the integrity to serve in any elected capacity. Looking at things as a whole we see a pattern which establishes a behavior, a behavior unbecoming a member of our party, a behavior we can just simply do without. It is time to remove Jon Berkley from the 5th District chair.

Cross-posted to Red NoVA

Frank Wagner is running for Governor in 2017

Yes, that’s right. According to the Shad Plank, he confirmed it to John Fredericks at the Republican Party of Virginia’s Advance this past weekend. Anyone who follows RPV politics knows that, on top of being a mediocre Senator in the first place, Wagner teamed up with Eric Cantor and a gaggle of other Republican electeds and consultants to try and slate off delegates to Congressional district conventions this past year, with some limited success. It’s widely thought that this brilliant idea galvanized grassroots support behind Dave Brat, and cost Cantor his job. Nevertheless, Frank Wagner believes he can somehow win a nomination for statewide office.

The solution to this is to teach establishment hacks like Wagner a hard lesson by defeating him for renomination to his Senate seat (the 7th) this year. There are a number of other Republican elected officials who must be held accountable, most notably Delegate Scott Taylor, but Frank Wagner stands out. For his arrogance, for his condescension, for his ruthlessness, for his dishonesty, and, not least, for his sense of entitlement. In short, he needs to be the example made by the grassroots this year.

Tax issue helped Republicans expand the wave election (too bad Virginia Republicans took it away from Gillespie)

Disaffection with the president was a major driver for Republican success in last night’s election – of that there is no doubt. That said, the extent of success was greatly helped by…wait for it…taxes.

We begin with the epicenter of the tax argument: Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback’s tax reduction were supposed to be his own worst enemy – a political millstone that might not only drag him down, but Senator Pat Roberts, too. Instead, Roberts won going away, and Brownback not only won re-election, but came within 100 votes of an absolute majority (a Libertarian nominee took 4% of the vote). AP (via the Lawrence Journal-World), explains why in their exit poll analysis:

TAX CUTS: Roughly half of the voters said that tax cuts Brownback pushed had mostly helped Kansas, while about two in five said they had hurt.

So the tax cuts broke roughly 10 ten points in Brownback’s favor, contrary to the conventional wisdom…not that this is any surprise to me.

In the rest of the country, the tax issue popped up in referenda. John Hood (NRO – The Corner) has the details:

It’s worth noting also that conservatives won all of the nation’s big fiscal-policy referenda this year, beating a gas-tax hike in Massachusetts and business-tax hike in Nevada, while winning tax limitations in Tennessee, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

Note the states listed: Massachusetts also elected a Republican Governor. In Georgia, both Republicans (Purdue for Senate and Governor Deal for re-election) managed to avoid runoff and win outright (yet another “surprise” for the chattering classes). Finally, of course, Wisconsin re-elected Governor Scott Walker with unexpected ease.

Finally, there is Maryland, where I must spend two nights a week for work. As such, I saw every add Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (D) put up in his race to succeed his previous running mate, Governor Martin O’Malley. Brown’s ads ran the gamut of positive and negative, hard-hitting issue ads and soft-touch personal ones. By contrast, I only saw one ad for Republican Larry Hogan – an ad that tried to squeeze in all of O’Malley’s tax increases in 30 seconds (practically one per second), along with a promise to give taxpayers a rest if he (Hogan) won.

In fact, Hogan did win.

Similarly, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn used major tax increases to keep his state government afloat. Despite being in the president’s home state, Quinn lost to Republican Bruce Rauner last night.

Again, anger and disaffection with the president was the big driver here, but voters especially rewarded Republicans where they could also take advantage of the tax issue…

…which makes one wonder what could have happened in Virginia had Republican Ed Gillespie not had the headwinds of tax-hiking Republican Bob McDonnell to face.

I’m just sayin’.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Bob McDonnell was a WHAT?!?!

Reactions to the Bob McDonnell verdict our pouring in, and there’s one in particular (from many of his defenders) that I find completely flabbergasting.

The ex-Governor’s defenders are calling him a “man of integrity.” My jaw hits the table each time I see that.

Folks, Bob McDonnell spent all of 2009 insisting he would not raise taxes. He blasted his opponent (Creigh Deeds) for even considering it, and rode the issue to a landslide win in November of that year.

In the last year of his term (as it happens, last year) he broke that promise in spectacular fashion, ramming through the largest tax increase in at least 40 years.

Even then, he skirted the truth. He insisted the tax hike was for relieving commuter congestion, but in fact his top priority was actually a parallel road to US 460 that wasn’t needed for traffic relief – and which the Army Corps of Engineers said he couldn’t build anyway (Bacon’s Rebellion).

So please, spare me the “man of integrity” nonsense. If you want to complain about the federal decision to prosecute McDonnell (as opposed to other Virginians) or the bizarre nature of the “honest service fraud” statute, that’s one thing.

But Bob McDonnell was no angel.

Cross-posted from the right-wing liberal

State Senator Phil Puckett resigns; deck chairs on Titanic to be re-arranged

Richmond is all agog over the resignation of State Senate Phil Puckett (Richmond Times-Dispatch), which grants the Republicans a temporary majority in the State Senate, pending a special election which the Republicans are favored to win. According to the RTD, Puckett’s resignation paves the way for his daughter to be elected to a judgeship, while he himself could land on the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

All eyes (in Richmond) went immediately to the budget, where according to the Constitution (emphasis added):

No bill which creates or establishes a new office, or which creates, continues, or revives a debt or charge, or which makes, continues, or revives any appropriation of public or trust money or property, or which releases, discharges, or commutes any claim or demand of the Commonwealth, or which imposes, continues, or revives a tax, shall be passed except by the affirmative vote of a majority of all the members elected to each house, the name of each member voting and how he voted to be recorded in the journal.

Normally, that means 21 out of 40. Given that we only have 39 at the moment, 20 should actually work…for the State Senate to pass the budget until the special election. In the grand scheme of things, though, there is a lot less than meets the eye. Here’s why.

First, not every Republican State Senator supported the Republican budget: Walter Stosch (Dave Brat’s patron), John Watkins, and Emmett Hanger all voted with the Democrats to add Medicaid expansion to the budget. In theory, party unity could convince them to change their minds, but there’s no guarantee of that.

Second, there is still the Governor: If one wanted to hand Terry McAuliffe the perfect excuse for a budget veto, coaxing a Senator’s resignation with the promise of appointments for himself and his daughter would be it. I’ll admit, a veto is unlikely, but this deal is excellent ammunition for Election Day 2014, 2015, and 2017.

Speaking of…

Third, even if the GOP wins the budget battle, the fight of Medicaid will go on, and this will make it harder to win: According to Christopher Newport University (poll), the Republicans were actually winning the debate on Medicaid expansion. That might, and probably will, change if T-Mac can now claim perfidy from the opposition. This allows Terry McAuliffe – Terry F–king McAuliffe – to run as Mr. Clean, and the Democrats to present themselves as the Clean Team in 2015 and 2017.

Odds are this will even damage our recent nominee for U.S. Senate – Ed Gillespie, the consummate Virginia Republican insider.

We may even see the Republicans cave on Medicaid expansion just to neutralize the issue in 2015.

Fourth, the State Senate is the poisoned chalice of recent times. Let’s say the GOP does win the special election and holds all 21 seats next year, which I’ll admit is still likely despite the above (or because of the previous sentence). Let’s take a look at the fate of the party controlling the state senate after the last six midterm elections (1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011). In all six cases, the party lost the ensuing gubernatorial election. In five of them, they lost House seats and a majority of the statewide races. In three, they lost all statewide races, and in two they lost the senate itself.

Now, one could say even that might be worth it if a Republican Senate would mean greater momentum for limited government, but that just isn’t so…

Every Republican-controlled State Senate in the 21st Century has enacted a tax increase: That’s right; there was the referendum of 2002 (defeated by the voters), the Warner tax hike of 2004 (which, at $1.5 billion, was only half what the State Senate originally wanted), HB3202 (largely overturned by the courts), and Plan ’13 From Outer Space. If anything, it has been minority status that forces Republicans to behave.

Given all of the above, I can’t help thinking that this victory is meager, if not pyrrhic.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Nordvig Indicts Tea Party, Brat Judgment at Brat Rally

There are a number of reasons why a sizable group of conservatives in the Virginia Republican Party are uncomfortable with those who raise the tea party banner high and identify themselves as such primarily. Sometimes proudly. ‘I’m not a Republican’ they will say, ‘I’m a member of the tea party.’

Yet these same folks show up to Republican meetings and Republican conventions — not usually to Republican fundraisers — and seemingly want to participate in the GOP. Fantastic. Welcome. We certainly agree on some issues.

Still the discomfort exists.

Ultimately, many of those anecdotal reasons boil down to judgment. Good judgment. Sound judgment.

That’s where Larry Nordvig head of the Richmond Tea Party and Vice Chairman of the Powhatan Republican Committee comes in.

At Dave Brat’s rally on Tuesday, Nordvig told the following joke:

“A politician, a Muslim and an illegal alien walk into a bar, and you know what the bartender said? Good evening, Mr. President.”

Here are the questions that immediately come to mind:
1) Is this an appropriate joke to tell?
2) If so, in front of what groups?
3) Did Dave Brat find this joke funny?
4) How do you expect this joke to attract people to the Republican party?
5) Does this joke help us win elections?
6) Do you have a filter between your brain and your mouth?
7) Could we have adjusted the joke to insult other groups of people besides immigrants and Muslims and people of fair mind?

This is an unfortunate example of why some so-called tea party leaders cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

And it is why no matter how hard Dave Brat runs, he will hit a ceiling of support.

This is not something to be proud of.

Rob Wittman for Re-election

Unlike the painful situation in the 7th District, Republican voters in the 1st (which included me until I moved into the 4th last year) are blessed with two superior choices: incumbent Rob Wittman and challenger Anthony Riedel. They are both near-perfect on the issues (the only major blemishes are Wittman’s farm policy votes and Riedel’s overly doctrinaire non-interventionism). Either would do their constituents proud.

However, I am endorsing Wittman, for one very simple reason: he opposed TARP, not once, but twice.

Readers of this blog know how much importance I give to the bank bailout. I have called TARP a policy mistake practically since its conception, and I am still convinced of that. I am also certain that support for TARP has been a serious problem for Republicans. Given this, when presented with Republican elected officials who were willing to defy their own president, their own candidate for president, and their own party leaders to do the right thing and vote No, I am compelled to stick by them.

Thus, I am sticking by Rob Wittman.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Time and Geography Back Up Shaun Kenney’s Side of the Story

Late last week, the Virginia Pilot ran a story stating that Republican Party of Virginia Exec. Dir. Shaun Kenney was under investigation with regard to property that he purchased last year and whether he used his position while on the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors to enhance the value of that property. Based upon the facts that I have been able to discern here, both time and geography appear to vindicate Shaun’s side of the story.

First of all, let’s get this part out of the way. Anyone can ask for a state investigation of an elected official, whether it’s a state senator or a supervisor. The state police are duty bound to look into the nature of the allegations and offer whether or not there is merit to the accusation or not. Right now, state investigators are said to be wrapping up their investigation of Kenney and the accusations that he bought property in the Town of Columbia in order to sell it back to the James River Water Authority (JRWA) for an amount of $1.25 million so that it could build a pumping station or the alternate accusation that he bought the land in order to benefit from a revitalization grant.

With regard to geography, the Town of Columbia is one-mile away from the proposed pipeline route and none of the town lots are next to a water source. The JRWA can only serve Fluvanna and Louisa customers, which is why Columbia already has its own water treatment facility. (The black marks on the map below are Shaun’s property in Columbia. The proposed pipeline, as previously indicated, is a mile west and would not serve the town.)

columbia map

This is pretty clear-cut to me that Kenney’s property is not of interest to the JRWA. Furthermore, all of the information with regard to the JRWA proposal is public, so even if Kenney’s property would have been of interest to them, he would not have been utilizing inside information unavailable to the general public in order to make a profit (unlike how Virginia’s senior senator Mark Warner made his millions upon departing his staff job on Capitol Hill.)

The alternative allegation that Shaun purchased the property in order to benefit from a revitalization grant falls due to timing. The county’s application for a grant to restore the main street in Columbia was declined by the state in the summer of 2013. The major property owner along the main street in Columbia then began selling all of his properties at which time Kenney bought four buildings and six lots for the assessed price of the properties. So Kenney bought the property AFTER the grant was denied.

Even if the county reapplies for the grant in the future (and Kenney is no longer serving on the county board, so that issue is off the table), it was public knowledge at the time these lots were being sold that a grant had been applied for and anyone could have purchased them if they wanted to speculate that a grant might yet be approved one day. Plus Kenney bought the property for their assessed value, so it isn’t as if he received a sweetheart deal on the land like the Clintons did with Whitewater.

So, with both geography and time on Kenney’s side who filed the complaint against him and why?

In March, when Shaun was interviewing for Executive Director of RPV, State Senator Tom Garrett made statements insisting that Shaun not be hired.  Garrett not only referenced his involvement in helping a Fluvanna citizen file the request for a state investigation of Kenney, but stated specifically that Shaun was only taking the position as executive director so that Kenney could primary Garrett for state senate in 2015 (something that I have been assured Kenney is not looking to do, but Garrett’s actions sure are a great way to get someone to change their mind.) It makes you wonder if Garrett has been pushing this story with the media (and this blog comment mentioning Garrett is particularly interesting since it almost appears like a pre-emptive defense.)

Meanwhile, on Medicaid expansion in Virginia, the Republicans are actually winning

“First, you win the argument, then you win the vote” – Margaret Thatcher

On Medicaid expansion in Virginia, proponents have the newly-elected Governor, all of Virginia’s Democrats, a few dissenting Republicans,the State Senate and various well-heeled interests.

Opponents have the reality of Medicaid’s damage to poor people and (most of) the Republican Party of Virginia – a party that is badly, badly divided, controls only a majority in the House of Delegates, and was just handed it’s first goose-egg in Virginia offices in over twenty years.

Yet, according to Christopher Newport University, the RPV is actually winning the debate:

Virginians have been paying attention to the debate over Medicaid expansion taking place in Richmond, with 58% saying they have been following it either very closely or somewhat closely, and only 20% saying they have not followed it at all. Given the current contours of that debate, Virginians say 53% to 41% that they oppose Medicaid expansion. This is a reversal from the Wason Center survey released February 3 (see below), which showed general support for Medicaid expansion, 56% to 38%.

However, in that February survey, support for Medicaid expansion fell to 41% with 54% opposed, when respondents were asked if they would still support expansion if the federal government did not pay its share and Virginia had to cover the cost. That risk has been a key contention in the Republican argument against expansion. Those February numbers are very close to the 41% to 53% in the current poll, suggesting that Republican skepticism concerning expansion has gotten through to voters.

Simply put, this was hardly what was expected. In fact, I suspect most in the Virginia rightosphere still suspect that the Republicans in the House will cave on this issue…and perhaps they still will.

However, we should give credit where it’s due: not only has the Howell-led HoD held the line so far against Medicaid expansion, they also are winning the argument – the first critical step to winning votes, as Thatcher noted.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Oh joy…another immigration flame-fest

So, new RPV Executive Director Shaun Kenney (full disclosure, close friend of mine) takes some time to sit with center-left activists on the immigration issue. Much of his talk centers around thanking them for stopping by, talking about how it’s important to talk to folks who don’t necessarily agree with them, and an observation on the debate that was miles above anything discussed on the matter since…

I genuinely believe that both sides of this debate want to do the right thing; it’s just a matter of getting those wires to touch.

It didn’t take long for the wires to vehemently protest. Soon Greg Letiecq (also a friend) was slamming Shaun for advocating amnesty – something which, I confess, I didn’t catch in the video excerpt Greg provided, although Greg and Shaun have made clear their disagreement on the issue for years. Soon Jeanine Martin and Brian Schoeneman (whom I would also call friends, but as I’ve never met either of them in person, I don’t know what they would think), joined in the fray, with Martin claiming Shaun would hurt poor people and Brian calling Jeanine and Greg racists (in the comments).

Yeah, it’s that kind of party.

Sadly, as both sides spent their time reminding themselves how wonderful they are – hey, we’re bloggers; it’s what we do – the questions I raised almost two months ago remain completely outside of the discussion:

  • What are we doing to encourage entrepreneurs to come to America?
  • What labor shortages in the American economy (such as, health care) can be alleviated via immigration reform?
  • How can we use our immigration policies to take advantage of capital flight in areas around the world, so that those who own that capital will feel more welcome here (along with their capital, of course)?
  • In other words, how can we use immigration reform as a supply-side economic opportunity, rather than merely an argument about Keynesian “aggregate demand”?

As I stated in that post, anything that doesn’t address the above subjects is just noise…which is exactly what we got from nearly everyone concerned – a lot of heat, but very little light.

As for Shaun, I’m glad he’s willing to talk to folks outside his political comfort zone. At the very least, we all need to remember how to disagree without being disagreeable.

I would have been much happier if he and Mr. Sajur had spent some time talking about the above topics….

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Cuccinelli Gave $25K to RPV Yesterday; Why Is Bolling Still Sitting On $334K?

From an email sent out today by RPV Chairman Pat Mullins:

[New RPV Exec. Dir. Shaun Kenney] had a pretty good first day on the job, too. Ken Cuccinelli stepped up to the plate and gave us $25,000 to help us put all of our attention on Mark Warner going into the fall! Ken hasn’t stopped fighting Obamacare yet, and I’m grateful that he’s staying in the fight!

So, why is former LG Bill Bolling still sitting on more than $334,000 in his campaign account? (Even he couldn’t eat that many sandwiches.)

BOLLINGHow about donating a chunk of that to the party that you professed to love? Perhaps he isn’t done throwing his temper tantrum yet or maybe he’s planning to be the next John Chichester / Russ Potts and become the “Republican” that seeks attention by endorsing Democratic candidates.

We’ll be watching to see which path Bolling chooses to follow.

Kenney In At RPV, Foreman Out In Dumfries

In light of Virtucon’s long track record of April Fool’s Day posts dating back to 2006, we thought it wise to hold off until today to report two unexpected political moves in the Commonwealth lest they thought to be pranks on our part.

First of all, in a bombshell announcement that took everyone by surprise, Dumfries Mayor Jerry Foreman announced during the town council meeting last night that he was withdrawing from the race for mayor next month. Foreman had declared for reelection back in November and when I spoke with him just two weeks ago he was gung-ho about the future. No reason for his decision was given. We hope that everything is okay with Mayor Foreman and the members of his family and wish him all the best in the future. He has served the Town of Dumfries well as both a councilman and mayor.

On the other side of the coin today is Shaun Kenney who has been named as the new Executive Director for the Republican Party of Virginia. I have known Shaun for years from both our days in the Young Republican Federation of Virginia and as fellow bloggers. He will undoubtedly bring a great deal of energy and ideas to the RPV just at the time when it needs it the most. Shaun brings something else as well – the ability and the will to take the political fight to the Democrats. For far too long Republicans in Virginia have sat idly by while Democrats have rolled over them because they viewed themselves above getting into the fray. If they expect Shaun to continue in that tradition, they are sadly mistaken.

On the Bank Bailout, the Buckley Rule, and Ed Gillespie

There has been increasing talk among Virginia Republicans about “the Buckley Rule,” and how it should impact decision on the nomination for U.S. Senate. There are, however, two problems with the application (usually from Ed Gillespie supporters): the rule isn’t quite what they think it is; and even if it did, Gillespie still wouldn’t qualify.

First of all, the rule itself is repeatedly “both misquoted and misapplied” as Neal Freeman noted in his account of when the rule was first promulgated (National Review). He should know; he was there. Buckley came up with the rule during the 1964 Goldwater-Rockefeller nomination battle. Despite what we may think, Rockefeller had his defenders on the right. He trailed LBJ by less than Goldwater, and his anti-Communism was rock-solid and unquestionable (Goldwater himself noted in his autobiography that before he decided to run himself, he was leaning to Rockefeller). It took months for NR itself to make a decision:

These intramural arguments, as I say, were protracted, begun in the winter and carrying on into the early spring. WFB sat at the head of the table, encouraging others to speak, keeping his own counsel. In early June, after Rockefeller had won the Oregon primary and Goldwater had won California, after all of us had had our say, after rumors had begun to creep out of 35th Street that NR might shift its support to Nelson Rockefeller — the equivalent, today, of word leaking out of 15th Street that the Washington Post might endorse Michele Bachmann — Bill, who rarely proposed, decided that it was time to dispose. With each of us in our assigned seat and with six pairs of eyeballs staring at him unblinkingly, Bill announced that “National Review will support the rightwardmost viable candidate.”

Victory for Team Goldwater! We all knew what “viable” meant in Bill’s lexicon. It meant somebody who saw the world as we did. Somebody who would bring credit to our cause. Somebody who, win or lose, would conservatize the Republican party and the country. It meant somebody like Barry Goldwater.

Indeed, NR did endorse Goldwater. More to the point, one year after this, Buckley himself chose to run for Mayor of New York – despite having no shot at winning – against the Republican establishment’s candidate, John Lindsay….

in the general election.

So clearly, those who use the Buckley rule as an electability argument have it wrong. However, even if they had it right, Ed Gillespie has a problem that sinks his electability: his support for TARP (a.k.a. the Bank Bailout).

Gillespie supporters will, of course, take issue with this. They will tell you (and me) that the key issue in 2014 isn’t the bank bailout, but the failures of the Obama Administration. As it happens, the critique against the Administration has three planks: government has grown massively large and costly; the economic “recovery” is so sluggish as to be hardly felt; and the president’s dangerous habit of assuming the Affordable Care Act is an American Enabling Act giving him legislative powers to change the law on the flyThe problem is that pro-TARP candidates are unable to use any of these arguments.

If Ed Gillespie tries to criticize the president and Mark Warner for reckless spending and government enlargement, Warner can throw the $700 billion bank bailout back in his face, but Mark Warner cannot accuse Shak Hill of supporting hundreds of billions in spending for America’s biggest banks.

Likewise, any attempt by Gillespie to discuss the economy will be trumped by Warner mentioning the 2008 financial crisis – and then remind everyone that Gillespie agreed the crisis was exceptional because of his support for the bank bailout. Only Shak Hill can remind voters that the bank bailout and hysteria ginned up by Washington to get it enacted made things worse, not better.

Finally, there is the fact that after TARP was enacted, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen rewrote the law at whim. That he had the authority to do so was bad enough, but Warner can play it simple and demand to know why Bush can change the law at whim but not Obama. Only Shak Hill can address this issue with the hypocrisy charge being thrown back in his face.

In short, Shak Hill can deliver the conservative message in 2014 far batter than Ed Gillespie can. As a result, he is a more “viable” candidate than Ed, and in my opinion, a more electable one, too.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Barbara Comstock for Congress

Some time ago, this blog endorsed Barbara Comstock for the Republican nomination for the 10th Congressional District. Since then, a new entrant, Bob Marshall, has garnered a lot of attention – and deservedly so. That does not change our position, however. Delegate Comstock is still our preferred choice for the seat.

To be fair, Bob Marshall has done yeoman’s work for all Virginia taxpayers in his 20-plus years as a Delegate. In fact, that’s the problem: the House of Representatives is a far different body, one in which individual members have far less power than legislators do in Richmond. If Bob were running for the Senate, we might react differently, but he’s not.

Moreover, Barbara Comstock is not your typical “Establishment” Republican in Virginia. Last year – as a Fairfax County Delegate with nearly every interest group screaming, begging, and cajoling her to support Plan ’13 From Outer Space – she said No. If she is the now the model for the Republican Establishment in the Commonwealth, than perhaps said establishment really has learned a thing or two after all.

In other words, assuming this comes down to Comstock and Marshall (and given the rest of the field, it almost certainly will), it is in fact a battle between two genuine supporters of limited government. The question is this: would Virginia be better served by Comstock in Washington and Marshall in Richmond? Or the other way around?

The answer is obvious. Virginia would lose far more than it could possibly gain if Marshall is sent to Congress. Better for him to stay where he is most valuable (Richmond), while Comstock can continue standing up for taxpayers in her own, quiet way in Washington.