The economy, blame, TARP, and what it means for the GOP

CNN conducted a poll on the state of the economy, and as one would expect, the people are not happy (emphasis added):

Thirty-six percent of those questioned rate the current economic conditions as good. That’s up four percentage points from December and it is the highest level since January 2008, a year before Obama entered the White House. Sixty-four percent continue to say the economy is in poor shape.

But that’s not the key takeaway. This is (emphasis added):

Five years into Obama’s presidency, only a third of the public believes that Obama and the Democrats are primarily responsible for the country’s current economic problems.

More Americans continue to blame former President Bush and the Republicans.  But the number who say the GOP is more responsible – now at 44% – has dipped below the 50% mark for the first time since Bush left the White House.  Fourteen percent blame both parties equally.

I would humbly submit that the above poll (which, as implied in the excerpt, had blame for Bush over 50% in 2012) is the most important poll of the last several years – more important than the demographic polls, or the issue polls, or the “branding” polls, or anything else. I say that because it makes clear that the economy is still a winning issue for the Democrats – and has been since 2008. It also reveals the way forward for the GOP – which the other polls don’t.

First, let’s address the key takeaway: how can it still be Bush’s fault five years after he left office?

The answer is the Democrats’ message on the economy, and the GOP’s complete inability to counter it – something we are in danger of seeing all over again in Virginia if Ed Gillespie is the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.

Ever since the president put his hand on the Bible the first time (in 2009), the Democrats have had the same message regarding the economy: “the crisis did it.” Any comments from the Democrats on the subject go back to the fall of 2008. That has been their get-out-of-jail-free card for five years…and it has worked because Republicans have been foolish enough to present supporters of the 2008 bank bailout as their leaders (Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, Romney, and Ryan). If your leaders all think things were so bad that the major banks needed $700 billion, it’s impossible to argue that the Great Recession and weak recovery that followed were due to Obama policies – no matter how true it might be.

This is why I can not support TARP supporters for Republican nominations. We should have learned this lesson when Romney lost (I know I did). Unless we nominated candidates who did not support TARP (and thus can argue that it did more to exacerbate the problems of 2008 than to solve them), we are simply swallowing the Democrats’ economic narrative whole. That means the economy is no longer a winning issue for us, period (it also means we can’t change the subject when “War on Women” nonsense comes up, because switching the economy does us no favors).

Until the Republican Party repudiates the bank bailout, it will always be blamed for the state of the economy so long as it remains this weak. We have to counter the Democrats’ narrative on 2008, and we can’t do this if we nominate candidates who agree that things were so bad that the bailout was necessary.

Unfortunately, for all my friends who support Ed Gillespie, that means he cannot be nominated, for he will not win.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Impeaching Mark Herring is a terrible idea

“I’ve never seen anything as brutally clear as this…an odd, set, stony quality to it, as if tomorrow’s already happening and there’s nothing you can do about it. The way you feel before an ill-considered attack – knowing it’ll fail. But you cannot stop it.”

– General John Buford (acted by Sam Elliot), Gettysburg (1993)

Of course, Buford did manage to “stop” his nightmare scenario (the Union Army charging up a hill that could not be taken) by his own actions. I doubt I will be as successful, but I feel I have to try to stop what will be a catastrophic error by the Richmond Republicans: the impeachment of Mark Herring.

Plans to impeach Herring are already afoot. My friend Shaun Kenney has the details. The crime: Herring agreed with plaintiffs suing the state over the 2006 Marriage Amendment. The plaintiffs said it violates the federal constitution, and Herring essentially said the plaintiffs were right. This is apparently a “constitutional crisis.”

I beg to differ. The “crisis” will be within the Republican Party if they actually try to impeach and remove Herring. This is a mistake on multiple levels.

First, there is the matter of constitutions: In case anyone forgot, Herring’s oath is to uphold both the Federal and state constitutions, and the Federal one comes first. You can argue with Herring’s reasoning on whether or not the 2006 amendment violates the Federal Constitution, but he has the power to express his opinion and act on it. To attempt to remove him from office for upholding the Federal constitution (as he sees it) is a much greater danger than anything Herring has done. I would also note that this great concern for the state constitution was appallingly missing back in 2007 when “transportation solutions” were a priority, the result being a dog’s breakfast of legislation that nearly every Republican not named Bob Marshall swore was a great achievement, yet was laughed out of town by a unanimous state Supreme Court. Voters might find the idea that the Constitution is paramount when it can stop same-sex-marriage but irrelevant when it protects their money from the taxman to be…a bit strange (more on that later).

Second, there is the question of Herring’s action: I’m reading some bizarre hair-splitting from some who say that Herring didn’t have to defend the 2006 amendment, but he shouldn’t have opposed it publicly. Why? Based on the rulings from the federal Supreme Court on this matter last year, refusing to defend and openly advocating for the plaintiffs is a distinction without a difference. Does it really matter that Herring is simply open about his agreement with the plaintiffs?

Next up, we have the political implications, which are vast and multi-dimensional. For starters, as I noted above, the RPV’s respect for the state constitution is hardly consistent, and Democrats will gleefully remind voters of that for months and years. Again, voters saw the Richmond Republican crew pass and celebrate a blatantly unconstitutional tax scheme less than a decade ago. They will wonder why the constitution is so important now, and they will conclude that the Republicans care more about stopping gay marriages than keeping taxes low and government limited. That’s the political equivalent of drowning the Commonwealth in blue paint.

Yet there are also ramifications for just this year. Political capital that would otherwise be saved up for stopping Medicaid expansion (Brian Schoeneman explains the financial implications here; he didn’t mention that Medicaid does – at best – nothing to improve the health of the poor, but that would just reinforce the point) or Governor McAuliffe’s budget spending spree will be wasted on an effort doomed to fail (seven Senate Democrats would have to vote to remove Herring from office, and that’s not happening).

Finally, there is the one thing we are all forgetting – the flip side of what Herring has done: I may be the only person to notice this, but there are serious problems with the 1971 Virginia Constitution. Article 10 (on education) specifically discriminates against schools of faith, and could be read to make vouchers illegal in the Commonwealth (a potential violation of freedom of religion). Article 11 (on environmental protection) could be used to ride roughshod over property rights (and the Fifth and Fourteenth federal amendments). Do we really want future Attorneys General to arbitrarily defend an overreaching state government? Or muzzle itself in the face of such overreach? I feel the question answers itself.

For these reasons, impeaching Mark Herring is a terrible idea – one that will damage Virginia, the cause of limited government within Virginia, and the Republican Party of Virginia for years – if not decades.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

The Republican Party, TARP, and Ed Gillespie (plus some personal news)

For those wondering where I’ve been for the past three weeks, I was recently married (Sunday, the 12th, to be exact). For those interested, meet the new Mrs. Liberal.

Anyhow, while I’ve been on my honeymoon, Ed Gillespie made it official – he is running for the U.S. Senate. Whether he wins the nomination or not is an open question (I’ll admit it may not be wide open at this point); for what it’s worth, I do think he would be a better Senator than Mark Warner. However, as I have discussed before wedding planning dominated my time, Ed has one fatal flaw to the party: his support for TARP (a.k.a., the Bank Bailout).

I should note that I have considered TARP a policy mistake practically since its conception, and I have maintained that view over the years. I have also explained why Republican nominees who support TARP are badly handicapped against their opponents: because they essentially agree with the Democrats’ excuse for the poor economic performance of the Obama Administration (i.e., the “2008 crisis” did it).

There are, however, even greater problems for TARP-backing Republicans when they get into office. Whatever arguments may roil the GOP, there is near universal recognition that spending needs to be reduced in general, and entitlement spending in particular. However, any pro-TARP Republican who talks about entitlement reductions and/or reductions in anti-poverty programs (no matter how inefficient or counter-productive said programs might be), will get slammed as a friend of the rich and a hypocrite for supporting the $700 billion bailout. While many, many Democrats also supported the bailout, they aren’t talking about these cuts. We Republicans are, and thus we suffer the consequences of cynical voters and lack of trust when we say America can’t afford spending X on entitlements or Y on discretionary spending when our spokesmen voted for $700 billion for the nation’s biggest banks.

I will admit that TARP, as a stand-alone issue, doesn’t resonate with voters as it did in 2008. However, its effects still scar the political landscape. Its damage still affects Republican politicians who supported it (such as Romney and Ryan in 2012)…

…which brings us to Gillespie. Whatever else one may say of him, as White House Counsel during 2008, he was at the forefront of defending TARP (see here). He is the epitome of the TARP-stained Republican pol. He will find his ability to maneuver on political issues far more restrained than he or his supporters believe.

In short, I do not think he will defeat Warner. More to the point, whether he does or not, his nomination and (if it happens) election will keep the party stuck in its TARP-supporting past, when it must instead highlight the TARP opponents in the party in order to re-establish trust on spending with the voters.

I have many friends who are fond of Gillespie (and some who aren’t); I don’t know the man personally. I do, however, know his stance on TARP, and that is enough for me to say that if he were nominated, the party – and the country – will lose more than it gains.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Ed Gillespie – would-be Senate candidate – backed TARP (meaning I can’t support him)

This has been cross-posted from my personal blog, the right-wing liberal. I speak only for myself.

There have been whispers (and much louder) about Ed Gillespie running for United States Senate next year. Given his national connections and the potential vulnerability of Senator Mark Warner, one can understand why there is excitement around Gillespie’s potential candidacy.

That said, Gillespie has one very critical flaw: as White House Counsel in 2008, he was a loud defender of TARP (CNN):

(CNN’s John) KING: You mentioned the economy. One of the last acts was this bailout. And $350 billion of it has been spent on George W. Bush’s watch. The second installment will come on Barack Obama’s. But many Americans, when you travel, they think, where did this money go? Did big banks get it on Wall Street? It is being flushed literally down the toilet? They don’t see the impact on Main Street.

But can you cite specific evidence that the first $350 billion has done anything to begin the turnaround?

GILLESPIE: You can, John. And in fact, if you look at the rates that have narrowed in terms of credit markets, the TED spreads and LIBOR, things, frankly, I didn’t know that much about until about six months ago, they were very — the spreads were high. And that’s not good for the credit markets.

The injection that the Treasury has put into the capital markets has helped ease those. Again, this is a difficult time. But the president said the other night, I believe rightly, that had we not acted boldly and had we not put this money into the financial markets, we would have seen a lot worse of a financial strain on the American people today than what we’re already witnessing.

Now, readers of my blog will know that I’ve been critical of TARP practically since its conception, and I have maintained that it was a terrible mistake. However, there is more to it than that. When Republicans nominate TARP supporters, they are essentially agreeing with the Democrats’ claim that the situation in 2008 was so terrible that President Obama should essentially be given a pass for any economic problems under his watch. It was one of the reasons Mitt Romney’s criticism of the president on the economy was so ineffective. It also damaged his efforts to criticize enlarging government in general.

As for Gillespie’s specific comments, we now know LIBOR was a badly corrupted indicator, one that even at the time should have been eclipsed by SONIA and EONIA (which were based on actual transactions, had already discounted the pre-September concerns about the economy, and thus did not jump in panic when Lehman Brothers sank beneath the waves).

Thus, for policy and political reasons, I cannot support Gillespie for the nomination. Support for TARP is a stain that cannot be removed.

Election Take-aways

Number of tax increases enacted by Governor Chris Christie during his term: zero

Number of tax increase endorsed by Ken Cuccinelli during his campaign: two

Advantage of Democrats over Republicans in Virginia yesterday: five

Advantage of Democrats over Republicans in New Jersey yesterday: twelve

Cuccinelli’s support for election: 45%

Christie’s support for re-election: 60%

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Ken Cuccinelli goes squishy again

As Election 2013 comes careening towards November, Ken Cuccinelli continues to transform himself into the biggest Republican disappointment of the campaigns.

In an appalling Loudoun Times-Mirror interview, Cuccinelli tries to take credit for the $1.2-billion-plus tax hike that I have called Plan ’13 From Outer Space:

Attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli last week reiterated his belief that there wouldn’t be the current transportation funding reform law if it weren’t for him.

“There wouldn’t be a transportation bill right now if I didn’t save it as attorney general,” Cuccinelli said during an Oct. 7 interview with the Times-Mirror.

Unreal. Ken Cuccinelli is now boasting about saving a massive tax hike…

…and he wonders why he’s losing.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

North Carolina GOP Preparing to Siphon Virginia Jobs and Growth

Just a heads-up. When you hear that “giant sucking sound” of jobs leaving Virginia for points south, now you’ll know why.

Republican legislators in North Carolina have unveiled a plan to completely eliminate the state’s income tax, to be replaced with a consumption tax. This pro-growth measure, designed to place North Carolina squarely in the same league as jobs-creating giant Texas, has the support of the state’s Republican leaders and comes on the heels of last year’s across the board cuts in corporate and personal income taxes.

Imagine. Pro-growth, pro-taxpayer Republicans.

By contrast, Republican leaders in Virginia, led by Gov. McDonnell, argued that the largest tax increase in the state’s history passed earlier this year was absolutely necessary for economic growth. People other than Republican leaders, such as Bill Bolling, even went so far as to argue the economic benefits of expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, provisions for which were included in this year’s Virginia budget.

Silly me, but that sounds an awful lot like what Democrats typically say about deficit-busting entitlement programs and enterprise-crushing tax increases.

So, now we watch and wait to see the natural experiment in action. Who will have better economic growth? Which state will create more jobs and opportunities? I suppose we’re fixing to see. But Detroit-style economics (characterized by higher taxes and greater “investment” of other people’s money) has never worked wherever it has been tried. Texas economics (low taxes, less regulation) works every time.

But at least we’ll get to ride Amtrak to Roanoke. We still got that going for us.

Cross-posted to The Bull Elephant

May Campaign Ploy Backfires

Who is Freedom Works?  It appears that Delegate Joe May does not know; for he has mistaken them for the LaRock campaign.  There is a difference.  LaRock is running a local grass roots campaign, seeking to unseat 20 year political veteran Joe May on a challenger’s budget.  Freedom Works is the goliath of conservative grassroots organizations.

Founded in 1984, FreedomWorks is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has hundreds of thousands of grassroots volunteers nationwide. Matt Kibbe is the President and CEO.

FreedomWorks members know that government goes to those who show up, and are leading the fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.

LaRock has put together a fine campaign — but mistaking it for Freedom Works smacks of desperation.  Joe May proudly announced on his facebook page, that three members of the LaRock campaign were served with trespassing warrants.  Having someone served with such a warrant is easier than getting a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich — so what is there to crow about Joe?  Not knowing who you sic-ed the cops on is certainly nothing to crow about Joe.

The plot thickens when one actually takes the time to talk to the people from Freedom Works.  John Trent was one of the three Freedom Works grassroots workers who were served with the trespassing warrants.  The episode began last Friday around noon.  John and two others from Freedom Works were putting up signs.  They noticed someone was taking down the signs they had just put up; that someone turned out to be Joe May’s campaign manager, Jon Conradi!

Freedom Works entered the Joe May campaign headquarters in Purceville and asked Conradi if he knew anything about the missing signs.  This was Conradi’s chance to come clean but he opted for the other road and feigned ignorance.  At this point Trent told Conradi that they all saw him take the signs down; Conradi’s response was to throw them out of the office.  Trent and his compatriots complied and left the building.  Conradi followed them outside and threatened to have their vehicle towed.

At this point Trent and his companions just wanted the campaign signs back and were speaking to another witness who also saw the signs being stolen by Conradi.   It was during this time that Conradi called the Purceville Police.  Officer Hood arrived shortly thereafter, took statements from Trent and his Freedom Works co-workers regarding the theft of the signs, and as per the request of the May Campaign, Officer Hood did issue the trespassing warrants.   Critically, Officer Hood also entered the May Campaign Office and retrieved the stolen signs!

There are several unanswered questions at this point: 

  1. Did Joe May instruct Jon Conradi to take those signs?
  2. Did Joe May know that the people who entered his campaign office were from Freedom Works?
  3. Would Joe May knowingly disseminate a falsehood that David LaRock’s campaign was involved?
  4. Why is the May Campaign picking a fight with Freedom Works?
  5. Why is Jon Conradi stealing signs, in broad daylight?

The May campaign needs to get its facts straight.  They are sacrificing Joe’s good name on the alter of re-election.  At one time no one would think Joe would take part in such seedy tactics.  After the mud slinging of the past few months, the campaign signs being stolen or vandalized, all such illusions are now gone.  What happened to Joe?

UPDATED: Bobby Jindal Is Surprise Guest Speaker at RPV Convo

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LA Gov. Bobby Jindal has made a surprise appearance at the RPV Convention.

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PWC, Stafford and Loudoun are all in the nosebleed seats on one side while Fairfax is on the other. Horrible acoustics in the Richmond Coliseum.

Lots of Stewart staffers handing out stickers and signs outside, but few takers. Still has a lot of people supporting him, no doubt from the ridiculous Middle Resolution endorsement. In fact, sitting in my seat, I received a robocall from a “founding member” of the group. (Sorry, I don’t follow the advice of Johnny Come Latelys to the movement.)

Impressive showing by Stimpson staff. Lots of signs and people wearing stickers. If she is in the final three, watch out.

Hard to find Lingamfelter staff giving out stickers and signs they have posted. I can’t believe his campaign out raised Stimpsons because it appears she got the better bang for her buck.

A resident of Woodbridge in PWC just walked through our delegation handing out a flier hitting Corey on his ties to developers and includes VPAP campaign finance filings. Bill Petrak is not supporting nor working for any campaign, but wants everyone to know Stewart is not the conservative he portrays himself to be.

Will update as events warrant throughout the day.

UPDATE 1: Speeches started. Allen West nominated Lingamfelter. Ollie North nominating Snyder now.

JMD had a video intro w/ a small Darrell Issa clip. EW Jackson dispensed with everything and too the stage immediately.

Stewart walks onstage to Europe’s “The Final Countdown.” All I can think of is the show “Arrested Development” and how GOB Bluth (the magician) used that.

1:46 pm Voting has begun. LG Candidate Scott Lingamfelter casts his ballot.

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Breitbart Reports RPV Counsel Has Conflict In LG Race

Just how many people will be snared by the Stewart campaign’s knuckle headed Virginians for Limited Government scheme to subvert the Commonwealth’s campaign finance laws? Now the RPV General Counsel appears to have been placed in a position of having a conflict of interest according to Breitbart.

It sounds as if Stewart staffers are already pointing fingers at the culprit responsible for the campaign’s implosion.

What round do you think Stewart will get knocked out in today?

An Angry Soccer Mom

Like other recent posts on Virginia Virtucon.  This is a personal endorsement of this author and not and endorsement of the blog as a whole.

Former Delegate Tom Gear epitomized exactly what is wrong with the establishment of the Republican Party.   Gear in an email to RPV Convention delegates described Stafford County Chairman Susan Stimpson as an “angry soccer mom” because of her disdain for the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history.

Stimpson was the first candidate for Lt. Governor that spoke out against the tax increase plan for transportation designed by Republican leadership in Richmond.  She has continued to speak out about the tax increase while other candidates agreed with her opposition to the tax increase, but would prefer to sweep the issue under the rug and ignore the fact that the establishment failed us.

Republicans are supposed to be against tax increases and against expansion of government at all levels.  This year Republicans even set into motion the ability for Virginia to expand Medicaid as a part of Obamacare.  Stimpson has spoken out and spoken out loudly to this tax increase scheme and expansion of government power.

Stimpson has taken to the label of Angry Soccer Mom as a badge of honor.  If that is how the establishment wants to view women who speak out against tax increases, then that is the way it shall be.  The soccer moms of the Republican Party should speak up and speak up loudly when our Republican leadership fails us and makes it that much difficulty to manage a family budget.

Stimpson has fought government expansion in Stafford County and cut taxes every year she has been in office.  In Stafford County she has led efforts to cut real estate taxes three years in a row, repeal BPOL, taxes on boats, and tool and machinery taxes.  The results of Republicans governing as conservatives is unquestionable.  In Stafford County the bond rating has been upgraded, government bureaucracy has been cut to 2004 levels and economic growth is booming.

The delegates of the Republican Party Convention would be wise to nominate “Angry Soccer Mom” Stimpson.  She will continue to use anger and disdain for higher taxes to fight for the family budget.  She will fight government growth and overreach and prove the miracle of Stafford County is no fluke.

Where Will You Be Sitting At The RPV Convention On Saturday?

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Accomack County 26L
Albemarle County Floor 8, Floor 5
Alexandria City 19L
Alleghany/Covington Floor 7
Amelia County Floor 6
Amherst County Floor 7
Appomattox County 26L
Arlington County 22L, 23L
Augusta County Floor 1
Bath County 325
Bedford 18A, 19A
Bland County Floor 1
Botetourt County 28L
Bristol City 26L
Brunswick County Floor 2
Buchanan County 322
Buckingham County 322
Campbell County 6L
Caroline County 324
Carroll County Floor 9
Charles City County 323
Charlotte County 30L
Charlottesville City 325
Chesapeake City 4L
Chesterfield County 21U – 29U
Clarke County Floor 1
Colonial Heights City Floor 6
Craig County Floor 1
Culpeper County Floor 4
Cumberland County Floor 6
Danville City 323
Dickenson County 324
Dinwiddie County 3L
Emporia Greensville Floor 6
Essex County Floor 9
Fairfax City Floor 9
Fairfax County 11U – 20U
Falls Church City Floor 1
Fauquier County Floor 5
Floyd County 328
Fluvanna County Floor 7
Franklin County 16A
Frederick County 24L, 25L
Fredericksburg City 323
Galax City Floor 6
Giles County Floor 6
Gloucester County 24L, 25L
Goochland County Floor 7
Grayson County Floor 6
Greene County Floor 2
Halifax County 326
Hampton City 1L
Hanover County 31L, 32L
Harrisonburg City Floor 2
Henrico County 16L – 18L
Henry County 31A
Highland County Floor 6
Hopewell City 6L
Isle of Wight County Floor 4
James City County 3L
King & Queen County Floor 7
King George County Floor 5
King William County 322
Lancaster County Floor 1
Lee County 3L
Loudoun County 31U, 30U
Louisa County Floor 2
Lunenburg County Floor 6
Lynchburg City 28L
Madison County Floor 1
Manassas City 27L
Manassas Park City Floor 7
Martinsville City 324
Mathews County Floor 9
Mecklenburg County Floor 6
Middlesex County 15A
Montgomery County Floor 7
Nelson County Floor 9
New Kent County Floor 9
Newport News City 327
Norfolk City 14L
Northampton County Floor 3
Northumberland County Floor 6
Nottoway County 26L
Orange County 31L, 32L
Page County 3L
Patrick County 16L
Petersburg City 323
Pittsylvania County 326
Poquoson City Floor 9
Portsmouth City 14L
Powhatan County 20L
Prince Edward County Floor 4
Prince George County Floor 9
Prince William County 2U – 5U
Pulaski County Floor 4
Radford City Floor 6
Rappahannock County Floor 4
Richmond City 15L
Richmond County Floor 6
Roanoke City 328
Roanoke County 27L
Rockbridge Area Floor 4
Rockingham County Floor 3
Russell County Floor 7
Salem City 26L
Scott County Floor 6
Shenandoah County 31A, 32A
Smyth County Floor 9
Southampton/Franklin City Floor 6
Spotsylvania County 32U, 1U
Stafford County 32U, 1U
Staunton City Floor 4
Suffolk City 3L
Surry County Floor 6
Sussex County 326
Tazewell 3A
Virginia Beach City 1L, 2L
Warren County 12L
Washington County 30L
Waynesboro City Floor 4
Westmoreland County Floor 1
Williamsburg City Floor 6
Winchester County 24L, 25L
Wise County 3L
Wythe County 325
York County 3A, 2A

Why I support Susan Stimpson for Lieutenant Governor

Much like Riley in his post endorsing Scott Lingamfelter, I do not claim to speak for Virginia Virtucon as a whole. I only speak for myself.

As the race for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia careens toward the finish line, convention delegates are faced with a smorgasboard of candidates: some with experience, others with outsider credibility; some touting their records, others running away from them; some looking to lift the campaign up, others tearing it down (and themselves in the process). It can all be a bit confusing.

That said, this could be the most important nomination contest the party has faced in a long time. I say that not due to the importance of the office, but rather the nature of the candidates, the campaign, and the political environment swirling around them. This decision will be made as the party reels from internal arguments, the self-inflicted wound known as Plan ’13 From Outer Space, and as always, the growing shadow of Washington, DC. In times like these, while outsiders can be useful and appealing, what is really needed is someone who has both political experience in office and the willingness to take on entrenched interests on behalf of the taxpayer.

Five candidates have experience in elected office. Four of them have buckled under and chosen to raise taxes on Virginians. Only Susan Stimpson has refused to stain her tenure of office with a tax increase.

This is not to say that the other four have bad records, but their records do have bad votes – votes which have cost you more money. Steve Martin, Scott Lingamfelter, and JMDD all voted for the Rube Goldberg scheme known as HB3202. Martin and Lingamfelter also voted for the sales tax “acceleration” in 2009 (as part of that years budget amendements; Martin opposed it as a stand-alone bill) and the manufacturers’ tax increase of 2010 (as part of that year’s budget). Mrs. Devolites-Davis voted for the Warner tax hike of 2004.

By contrast, Stimpson has ensured taxes have gone down, not up, in Stafford County (in contrast to Prince William, where Corey Stewart has indeed raised property taxes during his time there). I know from personal experience how difficult it is to tell local elites “no” on spending and tax matters. Susan has done that, every time.

Additionally, she has stood up for her constituents at the state level, where she can, by calling for more thrift, openness, and accountability at the Virginia Railway Express (funded by taxes paid on gas by residents from Great Falls to Glenora), and publicly opposing Plan ’13 From Outer Space – crossing her former patron (Speaker Bill Howell) in the process.

The Republican Party of Virginia will have a difficult 2013. If they wish to show voters that Plan ’13 will not be repeated, and that taxpayers will be respected from here on out, they need a nominee for Lieutenant Governor who can do more than say he will stand with them. They need a candidate who has stood with them.

Susan Stimpson is that candidate.

What is Terry Hiding?

RPV has been hammering hard calling for Terry McAuliffe to release his tax returns. Susan Stimpson, candiddate for Lt.Governor agrees.

Stimpson has released a press release in which she has made her tax returns available and has called on all candidates seeking state-wide office this year to do the same.

“Everyone wants transparency in government. Ken Cuccinelli has led the way in disclosure of his tax records,” Stimpson said in a statement. “By contrast, his opponent Terry McAuliffe refuses to release his taxes.”

From Hamptonroads.com

Facing pressure from Republicans, he provided that information last month days after Cuccinelli allowed reporters to review hundreds of pages of his tax records covering eight years.

Stimpson is one of seven Republicans pursuing the party nomination for lieutenant governor.

Her campaign manager Tim Edson said Stimpson is leading by example because “she has nothing to hide” just a record of paying taxes “like hardworking middle class Virginians do.”

Candidates who refuse to follow suit and release their tax records evidentally “have something to hide,” concluded Edson.

And The Evidence Points To…

Late today, Virtucon was alerted to other videos available online that possess similar styles and characteristics to the two anti-Pete Snyder videos that we wrote about earlier.  Not only do these videos take great liberties with the truth, but they also fail to include the required basic legal disclaimers stating who paid for them and whether they were authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Listen to the voiceover work in these two videos.

And compare the two opening shots in each of these videos:

We had these analyzed by a video production professional who stated:

The voices could very well be the same ones. They sound like it to me. When I have voiceovers I tend to hire out the talent rather than do it myself, and there are some folks I’ve liked working with so sometimes they end up being used on more than one production. That wouldn’t necessarily mean it’s the same production company, but it would be an indicator since there’s a huge ton of voiceover talent out there and to come up with two videos with the same voice randomly is rather unusual. Especially when the voiceover “talent” is pretty sub-par like this.

However this doesn’t sound like pro voiceover talent to me. This sounds like a low-budget producer goofing around with his own voice to come up with a passable voiceover because he doesn’t have the money for talent. I’ve done this a couple of times, and it’s not unusual when you have a stingy client.

The production methodology in the second two videos is amazingly similar. Using that iris wipe at the opening is a key indicator. An iris wipe is a VERY rarely used technique (because it looks pretty stupid) and to have two different productions use the same technique at the very opening is definitely a production style unique to a very small number of people.

In my opinion these are most certainly done by the same person.

Anti-Snyder Video 1 CRNC Video

The “iris wipe” really only works at the beginning of a James Bond film.

I guess that is somewhat ironic given that sources have confirmed to us that the two non-Snyder videos were created by someone named Lee Bond (or maybe it isn’t so coincidental and it is his calling card playing upon his surname.)  Mr. Bond also has a very interesting LinkedIn profile.

Lee Bond Linked In

What are the odds that the person who made the anti-Snyder videos would have a similar sounding voice and use similar set-up shots as someone who until March of this year worked for Prince William County government? Factor in that these videos did not start to appear until mid-April and the odds start becoming astronomical that two different people are behind these.

You can draw your own conclusion as to where the evidence ultimately points as it is pretty obvious based upon this.

If this is the case, it appears that this is par for the course.  From another source we spoke to today:

I know that [Corey] likes to avoid direct confrontation and he has funneled money to outside organizations in the past. He was afraid to attack [’11 Democratic candidate for County Chairman Babur] Lateef, so he funneled money to the VA 11th CD GOP account and they did the negative mailers. Plus I know that he has a researcher who could dig up this kind of stuff.

Some of us here have also noted that fonts on the anti-Scott Lingamfelter mailers match fonts used in these video productions.

We have no problem with negative (or comparative if you prefer) campaigning if it is accurate and a campaign takes full ownership of it. Cheap shots like these against Snyder and Lingamfelter taken from behind the veil of anonymity are undignified, especially when it comes from a fellow Republican.

Normally, we would call upon a candidate to disavow these attacks made on their behalf and discipline the staffers responsible.  In this case, what’s the point?  It is a pattern.  Let the delegates to the State Convention decide.  For me, though, this was the last straw.

POLL: Which LG Candidate Do YOU Think Is Behind The Anti-Pete Snyder Videos?

Which candidate for Lt. Gov. do YOU think is behind the anti-Pete Snyder videos?  Take into account who has the motive and money to do this as well as whether this fits anyone’s modus operandi.  We want to know if your thoughts match up with our evidence…

House passes amended Plan ’13 From Outer Space (UPDATE: Senate does too)

The House of Delegates approved McDonnell’s changes to HB 2313 (a.k.a. Plan ’13 From Outer Space), by a 64-35 vote. The roll is not up yet, but taxes will go up, including automatically for regions in the future that hit certain population and traffic levels.

I am deeply disappointed. This bill (and I assume the State Senate will grease the skids for this debacle UPDATE: which the State Senate has also passed with the Governor’s changes) will damage the state’s economy, political transparency, and accountability…while doing nothing about its over-centralized and dysfunctional transportation system.

It’s a sad day for Virginia.

Cross-posted to RWL

How does Pete Snyder get his email lists?

Like most people, I have more than one email account.  One such email account I check infrequently.   On that account I receive emails from Lt Governor candidate Pete Snyder.  They always address me as “Caroline” and it’s clear they think I live in Prince William county, where I have never lived.  I ignored that until recently when I remembered that another campaign had also thought I was Caroline in Prince William.  I searched my emails and found it was Victory 2012 that also thought that I was Caroline in Prince William.  No other campaigns have addressed me in this way.

It appears that the Snyder campaign is using the Victory mailing list.  How did Snyder get it?  Did Pete duplicate the list during the year he spent as Victory chair?  If so, that was a pretty good deal and a good reason to take the Victory job in preparation for a run as Lt. Governor.

I assume that the Victory email list was owned by the Republican Party of Virginia.   Did the RPV give the list to Pete?  If so why?  Why Pete?  Why wasn’t it given to ALL the candidates?  Or need I even ask?  If Pete simply appropriated the list, well, that seems unlikely since taking that amount of data is a felony.  NotLarrySabato recently addressed this very issue.

How did the Victory 2012 email list fall into Pete’s hands?   Any guesses?

McDonnell’s amendments to transportation tax: a few rate tweaks, and a mechanism for AUTOMATIC future tax increases

Most of Governor McDonnell’s changes to HB2313 were minor – small reductions in the tax and fee rates – except for one big change that made this fiasco of a bill even worse: a mechanism to impose automatic future tax increases on Virginians.

One of the controversies surrounding what I call Plan ’13 From Outer Space was the state-imposed taxes on Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads (regional taxes being unconstitutional and all). So, in reaction to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s reminder of that fact (VV), the Governor came up with this (also VV):

Addressing potential legal questions regarding regional taxation authority for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Amendments are made to the sections imposing the regional taxes for transportation by the state to improve the legal posture of the law by changing the applicability of the taxes to any Planning District Commission meeting certain empirical thresholds including population, registered vehicles and transit ridership.  Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia are the only jurisdictions currently meeting these criteria, but in the future other parts of the Commonwealth could utilize these tools if their transportation challenges continue to grow.

Now, it sounds like the affected future regions could choose to impose new taxes, doesn’t it? There’s only one problem: there is no choice involved at all. From the verbiage of the amendment itself (LIS VAunderline added):

In addition to the sales tax imposed pursuant to § 58.1-603, there is hereby levied and imposed in each county and city located in a Planning District established pursuant to Chapter 42 (§ 15.2-4200 et seq.) of Title 15.2 that (i) as of January 1, 2013, has a population of 1.5 million or more as shown by the most recent United States Census, has not less than 1.2 million motor vehicles registered therein, and has a total transit ridership of not less than 15 million riders per year across all transit systems within the Planning District or (ii) as shown by the most recent United States Census meets the population criteria set forth in clause (i) and also meets the vehicle registration and ridership criteria set forth in clause (i), a retail sales tax at the rate of 0.70 percent. In any case in which the tax is imposed pursuant to clause (ii) such tax shall be effective beginning on the July 1 immediately following the calendar year in which all of the criteria have been met.

No “could utilize” about it. The tax increase is automatic. The determination is made not by local or state elected officials, but by the U.S. Census. Thus, future taxes can be imposed on an entire region without anyone taking responsibility.

By the way, here are the list of Planning Districts in Virginia. Please note that, in effect, a subdivision built multiple counties away from you can trigger a tax increase that no one can stop under the Governor’s amendments.

If anything, this just makes Plan ’13 From Outer Space worse. It certainly is no way to govern…

…and it leaves Virginia’s transportation system just as overcentralized, disconnected from land use, and held hostage to upstream unfunded mandates as it was before this entire sorry episode began.

With any luck, the legislature will reject this; the entire, listing enterprise will sink beneath the waves; and Virginia can try again with a fresh perspective in 2014.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal