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.

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