Monday, August 31, 2009

Get Tucker Watkins a Map!

Tucker Watkins, former Virgil Goode campaign manager and current Chairman of the 5th District Republican Party, has a busy summer trying to recruit candidates for a run against Virginia's other pretty boy Congressman, Tom Perriello.* Now you'd usually expect the NRCC to step up and take over the recruitment of what has to be a key race for them, but Tucker's wise leadership in 2008 must have reassured them that he knows what he's doing.


Well as Tucker Watkins is driving around the 5th District and exploring parts he previously didn't know about (UVA is in the district? Wowie!) he might want to bring a map. No, not for him. I'm sure he can figure out how to work a GPS in the car. Or get some poor intern from Hampton-Sydney to do it for him (that's how it usually goes). He needs to hand out maps to the Republican challengers. Apparently they don't know the borders of the 5th District.

Why else would two of the declared candidates against Tom Perriello be at a Republican picnic in Fishersville?

Now I understand the confusion you, the reader, may be in.

Declared candidates?! What are those? I thought the only candidates were Tucker's imaginary friends?

My friends you have been mislead. Despite the media attention on people too afraid to jump into the race, there are actual candidates against Tom Perriello. The first, Bradley Rees, is a working class candidate with strong conservative credentials and an understanding of technology surpassing the predecessor Virgil Goode. Look, he can use Twitter! And he can also read a map because he's been focused on reaching out to voters in the 5th District.

Not so Feda Kidd Morton and Laurence Verga, two other challengers. The pair showed up in Fishersville for the joint GOP picnic for the three local Republican Committees from Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro (SAW, how cute!).

Now this bothers me because Feda and Laurence were candidates I wanted to like. They come from the growing northern end of the 5th District. You know that part Tucker didn't know was added to the district years ago. While Tucker is chasing around State Senators in the reliably conservative end of the district, he's ignoring the work that needs to be done in the northern end. Will it take a Kilgore-esque defeat of the Republican challenger to Perriello for the GOP to learn they need a candidate who can connect with the swing voters in the northern end around Charlottesville, just like Bob McDonnell is winning by appealing to Northern Virginia and Tidewater?

So Tucker, get a map or get lost!

* My apologies to the Glenn Nye groupies out there for mentioning Tom Perriello in a post without mentioning Glenn Nye. Leave no doubt, I'm sure Glenn is the fairest of them all. I know that Glenn's groupies are very insecure and have fragile egos . . . much like Glenn himself.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Breaking: Republican Bob McDonnell is a Social Conservative!

The Washington Post, in an amazing display of investigative journalism, has the scoop:

At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

It gets worse. These socially conservative views that the Washington Post thinks have been hidden from public view actually appear to have guided Bob McDonnell in his legislative work to promote pro-family policies in the House of Delegates.

The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.

Amazing. Shocking. A Republican backing pro-family policies. A Republican supporting restrictions on abortion. A Republican backing . . . Republican policies!

This will certainly doom Bob McDonnell in November. At this point, I feel confident that he will not reach the 60%+ landslide that he was on track for earlier. He may only hit 55%. What a campaign disaster!

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Tale of Two Democrats

"Democrat" Congressman Glenn Nye has been working very hard to avoid both constituents and controversy. While Nye hopes to be virtually identical to any Republican candidate he risks the danger of being the "me too" candidate in 2010. And we've seen how that is working out for Creigh Deeds.

Compare pretty boy Glenn Nye to the other Virginia pretty boy, Tom Perriello. There are some obvious similarities. Young, single, Democrats, first-term, Virginians . . . but some obvious differences. Nye took second place behind Aaron Shock while Perriello was fourth out of five. But the differences also involve some substance.

While Glenn Nye is hiding from his constituents, Perriello is visiting even the small rural counties with over twenty town halls. He's up to eighteen so far! And while Nye was both for and against the energy bill, Perriello has taken a strong stand in support. Such a voting record may cost him reelection but he's at least being the type of bold Democrats that most Democratic voters want out of a Congressman.

Two Virginia Democrats, two stories. Here's an interesting twist. Between the two districts, Obama won one and lost the other. Which is which?

Based on their behavior, you might guess that Glenn Nye represents the district that Obama lost. Knowing that he's got a district with more McCain voters than Obama voters, he's trying to be very conservative. And Perriello, the bold Democrat, must represent the Obama district and feel more comfortable in being able to take liberal positions.

You'd be wrong.

Obama won Glenn Nye's 2nd district, although narrowly, with 50.45% of the vote. But in Tom Perriello's 5th district he lost, again narrowly, with 48.29%.

While both of these margins are close, look at the raw votes. In the 2nd, Glenn Nye won but finished 400 votes behind Obama. On the other side, Thelma Drake was 8,239 votes behind John McCain. So there was huge drop-off on the Republican side but Nye was unable to show significant gains ahead of Obama.

Over in the 5th, Perriello ran 1,448 votes ahead of Obama. Virgil Goode was 6,791 votes behind John McCain. A smaller drop-off for the Republicans than in the 2nd, but a better performance by Perriello compared to Glenn Nye.

During the 2008 campaign Perriello was seen as too liberal to win in the 5th without Obama winning the district and providing coattails. The pundits were wrong. Nye ran a more conservative campaign but failed to win over many McCain votes and hung on thanks to Obama winning the district. Somehow Perriello, the guy the pundits said was too liberal, won over more McCain voters than Nye, the guy who the pundits said was doing everything right to win in a swing district.

Eight months into their first term the two are still acting like they did on the campaign trail. Glenn Nye is afraid, very afraid, of anyone thinking he has even a hint of liberalism. It seems like he is convinced that Obama's victory in his district was a fluke and it will go back to having a slight red hue in 2010. That's a very good assumption on his part. But Nye wasn't able to win over many Republicans in 2008 and so he seems to be overcompensating going into 2010. He risks alienating his own base. And "me too" isn't a good Democratic strategy for winning when voters can pick a solid Republican.

Perriello is legislating like he campaigned. He has an independent streak to him but is far more like a traditional Democrat than Nye. Some may call it confidence and others arrogance. The guy thinks that he doesn't need to be as conservative as Nye and other Republican lites in order to win in his McCain district. After all, he didn't in 2008.

Going in 2010, this could make Nye the easier target than Perriello. Nye will have base problems. The bloggers won't want to help him. Democratic enthusiasm is already down in Virginia. Nye isn't going to be able to whip it up. His hope is that two years of voting like a Republican will be enough to keep him into office. But a weaker base means he has to win over an even larger pool of conservative and independent voters who are naturally more distrustful of Obama and his Democratic Party.

Perriello could become the more difficult target. He seems like the type of Democrat who could whip up the Democratic base, geographically concentrated in Charlottesville, even if the national trend is against Democratic enthusiasm. Only a candidate from the Charlottesville area will be able to cut into Perriello's margins in the north. With a stronger base the pool of independents and conservatives Perriello has to win over is smaller. And I think the district has more traditional Democrats who voted for Virgil Goode because they had always been voting for Virgil Goode. Anyone but Goode might not be able to win over these traditionally Democratic voters. The Republican Party needs to find a top tier challenger here. Not just anyone will do.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Red Voters in Blue Cities & Counties

Top twenty localities with the most votes for Republican John McCain in 2008, with percentage of total locality vote. Actual localities won by McCain bolded.

Fairfax County: 200,994 (38.9% of total)
Virginia Beach City: 100,319 (49.8% of total)
Chesterfield County: 86,413 (53.3% of total)
Prince William County: 67,621 (41.6% of total)
Henrico County: 67,381 (43.5% of total)
Loudoun County: 63,336 (45.4% of total)
Chesapeake City: 52,625 (48.9% of total)
Hanover County: 37,344 (66.4% of total)
Roanoke County: 30,571 (60.0% of total)
Arlington City: 29,876 (27.1% of total)
Stafford County: 29,221 (52.7% of total)
Newport News City: 28,667 (35.3% of total)
Sposylvania County: 28,610 (52.9% of total)
Norfolk City: 24,814 (28.1% of total)
Bedford County: 24,420 (68.2% of total)
Augusta County: 23,120 (69.4% of total)
Rockingham County: 22,468 (67.4% of total)
James City County: 20,912 (54.2% of total)
Albemarle County: 20,576 (40.4% of total)
Hampton City: 20,476 (30.1% of total)

Ten of the localities were actually won by Barack Obama.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Establishing the Conservative Commonwealth

This fall's election is looking good, very good, for the Republican Party of Virginia. A clean sweep of the entire ticket of McDonnell, Bolling, and Cuccinelli is very likely. Poor turnout on the Democratic side could very well save all but the most doomed of Republican Delegates. Sorry Phil Hamilton, the ticket can't do anything to help you. And I fully expect to pick up some Democratic-held seats.

So with a Republican executive branch and a House of Delegates more Republican than before, the only block to this conservative trifecta is the narrowly Democratic State Senate. Defending Cuccinelli's seat in the special election is the vital first step but possible given the poor turnout organization demonstrated by Northern Virginia Democrats in the last series of special elections. Once that's in order, McDonnell can turn his attention to opening another Democratic seat through an appointment or, maybe, flipping someone like Chris Miller or Ralph Northam. Hey, it almost happened before with Ralph.

Once the conservative trifecta is established in Richmond, the goal becomes saving this conservative commonwealth for elections to come.

First, given that the 2010 elections will occur before redistricting, I think that it's wrong to make the argument that if we don't knock off Connolly, Nye, and Perriello now they'll be more entrenched in 2012. Redistricting offers the possibility of giving them radically different districts to try to run in 2012. If we can't get the right conservative Republican nominated in 2010, I'd rather see these freshman Democrats reelected than put a potential RINO into office for decades. We can wait for 2012.

Second, I think that recent elections have clearly shown some demographic trends that favor the Democratic Party. Redistricting can reshuffle areas around enough to save some vulnerable Republicans and put a buffer into the Republican majorities in the State House. But conservatives need to start thinking about ways to stop and ultimately reverse these trends.

The goals for the conservative trifecta, as I see it, are:

1- Continued winning statewide in an electorate more dominated by Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads than in the past. This year we are helped by the lack of energy on the Democratic side. I don't know if we can always count on that to happen.

2- A need to find policies that promote the growth of more Republican areas of the state like Western Virginia/Lynchburg metropolitan area/rural Virginia in a way that doesn't make the areas more Democratic. Democrats have no problem trying to pass legislation to boost their base, such as card check or amnesty. Republicans can and should do the same.

3- Finding a way to make the growing areas of the state more Republican and not more Democratic, which seems to be a trend. Similar to 2.

Here are some random observations related to the challenges above. No numbers since they are just an oddball assortment.

- How will Obama's defense cuts impact Hampton Roads? The move of carriers from Virginia to Florida? Has an over reliance on the military for economic growth in Hampton Roads endangered the region?

- How will Obama's expansion of the federal government impact Northern Virginia? Long term, the growth of the federal government directly impacts the number of government employees in Northern Virginia more favorable to the Democratic Party.

- What can be done to contain the threat of Charlottesville? As demonstrated by Perriello's win in 2008 the growing liberal metropolitan region is dangerous when combined with a marginal Republican district with a large African-American vote. A conservative redistricting needs to radically change the 5th to ensure that Charlottesville is in another, more Republican, district.

- The cornerstones of a conservative commonwealth seem to be (with a lot of overlap): Western Virginia, Lynchburg and its suburbs, rural Virginia, suburban Richmond, and the Shenandoah Valley. Looking at this list the industries that stand out are agriculture and energy. The need for a general pro-business environment for the commonwealth also stands out.

Those are just some thoughts, more to come.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Laying the HURT on Perriello?

The 2009 Gubernatorial election isn't even over yet but the Republican Party of Virginia has lined up a top tier cast of candidates to take back Virginia's Congressional Delegation next year. Rick Boucher's vote on cap and trade may be the tipping point to get Delegate Terry Kilgore into the race.

Much like Virgil Goode in 2008, Rick Boucher has built up the appearance of invincibility because he's managed to crush weaker candidates. The Republican Party is convinced that Delegate Kilgore would be a top tier challenger, unlike Delegates Bill Carrico and Jay Katzen. Personally, I think the political climate will swing Southwest Virginia so much against the Democratic Party (More so than it already has) the 9th is in play with anyone with the ability to raise money.

In the 11th, Gerry Connolly may seem relatively safe but we still have to read the tea leaves of this fall's election. He may end up being vulnerable as the suburbs swing against Obama's mismanagement of the economy and tax and spend policies. That makes self-funder Keith Fimian a great challenger. He has strong name ID from his previous run and the resources to bid a challenge to test Connolly's numbers out.

I may be most excited about the 2nd District, where we may be able to replace Republican Glenn Nye with Republican Scot Rigell. But any Virginia politico junkie knows that this list leaves out the 5th District, where Tom Perriello narrowly defeated Virgil Goode with only 727 votes. The GOP should be out for blood in this district but I haven't seen any sharks yet. Except for this rumor of State Senator Robert Hurt running.

Here are my concerns:

He also doesn’t have a reelection battle on his hands this year, allowing him to gear his energies exclusively toward a congressional bid.

But we are almost at the end of August! The reelection battle will be over in the first week of November. That's only two months. If he doesn't get in soon, not having a reelection battle is virtually meaningless. It would have mattered if he had announced in, say, July. But not October.

Those close to Hurt say indications are he will enter the race, but that family issues are holding him back.

Bad news! If Hurt's family is not behind him 100%, his heart won't be in the campaign 100%. Defeating an incumbent Congressman, even a vulnerable one, will be difficult and I don't think Hurt has ever experienced a difficult election. If he doesn't have his family supporting him he's not going to have the fire in his belly to keep going when times are tough. He's looking at challenging a guy doing over twenty town halls this month. He's got to be just as energetic and on the road.

A Washington operative who has worked in Virginia estimated Hurt is 60 percent leaning toward the race.

“I think if he jumps in there, you’ll see the vast majority of those who talked about it start drying up real quick,” the source said. “He’s obviously a favorite down there, but he also has the pedigree and resume for the district. He can raise money statewide to raise money from PACs and lobbyists in Washington.”

Andy Sere (Who else would be the Washington operative who worked in Virginia commenting on the potential recruitment of a Republican candidate for Congress?) wants to highlight that Robert Hurt is willing to take money from PACs and lobbyists in his challenge to Tom Perriello . . . who doesn't take money from corporate PACs and lobbyists. This is more bad news. Given the anger at Obama and the Democrats, a Republican challenger should be able to tap into the grassroots. 2010 will be the year we'll see the money bombs from Ron Paul's Presidential campaign finally hit Congressional candidates. I'd rather have a more right-wing Republican running than Robert Hurt if it meant clean money with fundraising.

But of course Robert Hurt has to focus on the corporate special interests and not the conservative grassroots for his run. He voted for the largest tax increase in the history of Virginia under Governor Mark Warner. With that type of background, it is hard for me to see how the patriots at Tea Parties will rally behind Rob Hurt.

My suggestion to the Republican Party of Virginia: Keep looking in the 5th. Someone else will be able to lay the hurt on Perriello.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Did the Virginia 2nd Elect a Democrat or a Republican?

Vivian Paige's message to Glenn Nye: Man Up!

My message to Glenn Nye: If you want to vote with the Republicans, come join our party! We aren't holding it against Scott Rigell that he gave money to Barack Obama. We all make mistakes. Just come on over and all will be forgiven.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Glenn Nye: Profiles in Cowardice

Pretty boy Glenn Nye has been in office only a few months but has already turned a few heads up in the Beltway by going both ways on key issues like the Waxman-Markey Energy Bill. Following this impressive profile in cowardice, Glenn Nye now seems to be running to hide in the closet away from his constituents this August recess. His only two "public" events this August aren't really public and are cleverly designed to keep most constituents away. For shame Glenn! Luckily, constituents found out there was a local Democratic breakfast in Virginia Beach that offered a chance for their voices to be heard. Glenn Nye must have seen his shadow because now he's canceling his appearance at the event! Will Glenn ever have the balls to hold a public town hall open to all of his constituents?

And, since we're on the topic, let's not forget this classic!