Thursday, January 28, 2010

Prediction: McDonnell for Vice-President

I'm ready to call part of the 2012 election right now. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell will be the Republican candidate for Vice-President in 2012. It doesn't matter who the Presidential nominee is, everyone in the field would benefit from McDonnell being on the ticket. The way Obama's poll numbers are plunging, McDonnell should be prepared to move to DC in January of 2013.

And then what?

The problem is that unless McDonnell can force bold changes to Virginia's budget through the Democrat State Senate, where we also have the "Republicans" like Robert Hurt, he'll be forced to move year to year balancing the budget with smoke and mirrors. The system will eventually break down, something a Governor facing a reelection and possible second term would be more likely to tackle. But McDonnell, faced with just one term and the likelihood of the VP golden parachute, will be fine to just kick the problem down the road.

It will eventually blow up in the GOP's face. Lt. Governor Bill Bolling will take over in 2013, setting himself up for the Republican nomination for Governor and ending the chance of the party nominating the more energized Ken Cuccinelli. The budget will begin to break down as the short term solutions expire. Bolling will be defeated by a well funded Democrat, maybe McAuliffe or Connolly, and the stage will be set for another historic tax increase in Virginia.

You heard it here first.

Feda Can Still Win, So Can Others

Last night I blogged about the bombshell news that Jim McKelvey, Bedford real estate developer and conservative candidate for the Republican nomination in the 5th District of Virginia, had loaned himself half a million dollars. He's now sitting on $500,000 cash on hand before the primary really heats up. This puts him into the same category of Robert Hurt and Laurance Verga for having the cash needed to run a top notch campaign.

But last night I also noted on twitter that money isn't everything. I compared McKelvey's cash on hand to the amount that Eric Cantor spent in 2000 to win the Republican nomination in the 7th District. Cantor spent around $800,000 and won by a nose, 263 votes, against State Senator Martin in a primary that was practically 50%-50%. Martin barely raised $200,000 in the primary and Eric Cantor also had the support of the Republican establishment with the backing of then Governor Jim Gilmore. And he barely, just barely, won.

The story is similar but slightly different in the 1st District that same year, when Jo Ann Davis defeated Paul Jost for the Republican nomination. Jost dropped almost $1 million into the primary, Davis barely spent $100,000. Jost also had the support of Jim Gilmore. But Davis pulled out a victory and went on to serve in Congress.

Both of these primaries showed an interesting split between the two leading candidates (the 1st had some other candidates thrown in). There was one candidate who had the clear cash advantage and the backing of the Republican establishment. And there was another candidate with the backing of the grassroots on the ground soldiers for the Republican Party, the religious and social conservatives. That was enough for Davis to win, but not enough for Martin. He came damn close though.

Anyone who has worked in local politics knows the difference that social conservatives can make for the Republican Party. I remember talking to my few liberal friends back in the 1990s when social conservatives were making a strong effort to win at the local level on school boards and boards of supervisors. My liberal friends were shocked that such "extremists" were somehow winning by strong margins.

Social conservatives matter because they are active members of their community. They go to church, they are involved in the PTA, their kids play baseball or soccer. They are the neighbor you depend on when you go away and you need someone to feed the cats or just watch the house. When they run for local office everyone knows them. Liberals aren't active in their communities, they don't volunteer, they don't go to church, they don't have families and kids.

With her experience on the school board, Feda Morton knows what it takes to get conservatives involved at the grassroots level. For all of the talk about the Tea Party movement, there's also a wing of the Republican Party that's just as scared by Obama's proposal to allow gays in the military. Or to pass a huge socialist health care package that will fund abortions with your taxpayer dollars. The 5th District has these hard working conservatives, like Tim Boyer over in Campbell County.

But 2010 will be more than a repeat of 2000. It's not just the Republican establishment candidate with more money running against a candidate with roots in the local conservative community. There's a twist now. Robert Hurt has cash and the Republican establishment, but he's not the only one with cash. And we don't just have the traditional base of social conservatives, but a new and growing movement of Tea Partiers worried about the economic implications of Obama's liberal agenda.

That's going to make this primary more difficult to predict.

I noted last night that in the Cantor-Martin race the two candidates matched each other in their geographic bases of support. Cantor ran well in Henrico, Martin in Chesterfield. Cantor narrowly won the election by winning in the remaining portions of the district, the vast rural stretches of the 7th that go out to Culpepper and beyond. He was able to do so because he had the cash advantage to reach and win over the Republican voters who had never heard of Cantor or Martin before.

That's why I stress over and over again that Robert Hurt's "Southside" credentials are overstated. Representing a corner of the 5th District isn't going to give him a natural advantage over any other candidate in Prince Edward, Mecklenburg, or Halifax. Who knows who Robert Hurt is in Bedford? Appomattox? Aside from the County Chairs that listened to his plea for a primary. Three candidates, so far, have the money to campaign and win in the areas outside their natural and geographic bases of support. But there's also the chance that these big spenders will cancel each other out and allow for a candidate with strong grassroots appeal, either to social conservatives or Tea Partiers or both, to still win.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Remember this post? I asked the Republican candidates running for the nomination to show me the money.

Jim McKelvey has answered. And how!

One of the Republicans running for the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Ivy, has loaned his campaign $500,000 of his own money.

Jim McKelvey, a real estate developer from Bedford County, said he believes so strongly that Perriello and other Democrats in Congress must be tossed out and replaced with strong conservatives that he was willing to put up half a million dollars out of his own pocket to do it.

“These people swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and none of them are doing it,” McKelvey said. “These people in DC are destroying the country and I can’t take it anymore.”

This race is really heating up. A number of candidates have the cash to compete, while others are showing some impressive performances in grassroots debates and straw polls. This ain't over by a long shot.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Revolution Spreads to Mecklenburg

The grassroots revolution known as the Tea Party movement is spreading to Southside's Mecklenburg County:

The formation of a Tea Party in Mecklenburg County has become a reality under the direction of a Chase City man who describes himself as being neither a Republican nor a Democrat but someone who seeks to hear the truth and see people who will stand up for the area elected into office.

Why bother blogging about yet another Tea Party in tiny Mecklenburg? Because it shows that the movement is spreading in the 5th District. Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Danville, and beyond. Mecklenburg County is home to one of the more totalitarian Republican Parties in the 5th District with a Chairman who stifles free speech worse than Stalin or Perriello.

But Mecklenburg deserves special attention because it is one of only a few counties in the 5th District where Virgil Goode received more votes than John McCain. Mecklenburg is the type of county where conservatives are more inspired by speaking your mind than running to the middle. It's the type of county that will turn out strong for a conservative candidate, both in the upcoming Republican primary and the general election.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tom Perriello Is Better Than . . .

Let's have some fun with this.

So if your point is that Tom is 1% better as a candidate (and Congressman) than Glenn Nye, I would strongly agree.

In 2008, Tom Perriello received 100.92% of Obama's vote in the 5th District. Glenn Nye received 99.72%. So really, Tom Perriello is 1.2% better than Glenn Nye!

Lowell needs to be all over this bias reporting by Ben, understating Tom Perriello's awesomeness by a whole 0.2%! That's almost as bad as the Washington Post!

Take that mainstream media!!

Let's have more fun with this.

Gerry got 92.97% of the Obama vote. So Tom Perriello is 7.95% better than Connolly!

Oh, what about the other liberal favorite from 2008, Judy Feder? Does anyone still remember her? 71.55% of the Obama vote. Wow, Perriello is 29.37% better than Feder!

Who else should we pick on?

How about Moran? 95.21% of the Obama vote. So that puts Perriello better than Moran by 5.71%.

What if we traveled back in time to 2004. Everyone remembers Al Weed, right? Well he got 80.55% of the Kerry vote. Tom's 20.37% better!

I like this game.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

VA-05 Conservatives: Join, Or Die

Friday's debate among most of the candidates for the Republican nomination in the 5th District provides a clear message for conservatives in the district: Join, or Die.

I am increasingly worried that the field is too divided to defeat Robert Hurt in the primary. Verga has the money to win, but does he have the grassroots support? McPadden has the grassroots support, but does he have the money? Morton has a network of supporters from the conservative establishment, but can she translate that into being a serious contender. Boyd has a record of experience at the local level fighting for conservatism, but he still can't break through and get people to take him seriously.

This is one reason why I support the calls for Virgil Goode to run, either in the Republican primary or as an Independent. He would combine the best attributes of all the other candidates. He'd have the name recognition. The conservative credentials. The reputation as a serious candidate. And the ability to raise money.

The Washington Post has already covered the possibility that GOP division could save Perriello's reelection chances. But like all of the Post's takes on politics, it gets the details wrong. The Post would like you to think that the attacks on Robert Hurt will weaken him and potentially cost him the seat. More than likely the division among conservatives will allow Hurt to win the nomination, which will cost conservatives and Republicans the seat. A united front against Hurt will ensure a conservative nominee, a nominee who will be able to defeat Perriello. Don't blame the conservatives for making this difficult for Hurt. Blame the conservatives for making this difficult for themselves.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Goode vs. Perriello, 2.0

It's been a few days since the bombshell that Virgil Goode may or may not return to politics by running as a Republican or some type of an independent or third party. Or something. He won't confirm or deny practically anything.

But in an interview Monday, Goode would not rule out the possibility of an independent candidacy or that he might later change his mind about the Republican nomination.

“All I’ll say is my statement is the same as it was,” he said.

When asked if he was cracking the door to a possible third-party candidacy, Goode declined to say one way or another.

“My statement is still the same as it was on July 27,” Goode said. “I hope and expect [the GOP will] nominate somebody who has conservative values and beliefs.”
Conservative Tea Party members have asked Goode to consider jumping into the race, believing Goode to be the best candidate to unite the 5th District’s conservative base.

The Danville Register & Bee makes an interesting point that we don't really know why Goode backed out in the first place against Tommy Boy.

Based on rumors I've received from people who were polled during 2009, I feel relatively confident that the NRCC, Goode, or some other Republican affiliate polled the 5th District to look at the baseline numbers for a rematch, and potentially polled other candidates. Yet these numbers have not been released, in stark contrast to internals that were leaked on the Kratovil-Harris rematch in the Maryland 1st. Nor have we seen progressive groups poll the Virginia 5th, unlike their look at the Driehaus-Chabot rematch in the Ohio 1st.

In each of these rematches, which were decided by almost 50-50 votes the first time, the Democrat incumbent is down in the high 30s, a little over a 10 point drop since November of 2008. The Republican candidate is in the low to mid 50s, showing a strong lead early on. That's exactly where you'd want to be in this political climate.

What's fascinating is that these are two totally different districts but show similar splits. The Maryland 1st is very, very, very Republican, which argues that either Kratovil is a very strong Democrat or Harris is a very weak Republican. Or that Driehaus is a really weak Democrat or Chabot is a very strong Republican. Or all four.

So what's this mean for the Fightin' 5th?

I think something came back in that 2009 poll that scared good old Virgil away. The NRCC knows that Tommy Boy's narrow 08 victory will be enough for the pundits and chattering class to keep him at the top of the list of vulnerable Democrats for the entire cycle. They don't need to leak polls to make him look vulnerable.

The truth may be that Tommy Boy is looking stronger than other Democrats like Kratovil and Driehaus. Enough that Virgil was scared away last year.

But now Deeds got his ass kicked around the Old Dominion by Governor McDonnell. The Republicans just Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts. Health care is dead. Democrats are in shambles. I bet everyone is looking a lot weaker than last summer.

So now the race looks easier for Virgil to win.

And Hurt's problems in the Republican primary provide an opening.

If Virgil jumped back in and ran as a Republican Hurt either has to make a case for staying in that's better than his case for the largest tax increase in Virginia's history or bow out. I think Virgil would force out most other candidates in the primary.

But what if Goode ran as a third party?

Then we'd really have a New York 23 on our hands!

Could Goode win?

First, Perriello's probably got a floor around Deeds levels in the district. So let's say around 38%, 39%. Virgil would need to get 40%, 41% to win. Or just under two-thirds of the anti-Perriello vote. A more even split in the anti-Perriello vote would elect Tommy Boy back to Congress.

Could Virgil do it?

If anyone could convince about two-thirds of Republican voters to give up on their own party's nominee and back a third party candidate it would be Virgil.

Stranger things have happened, like a third party candidate finishing second ahead of a Republican in a seat held by the GOP since the Civil War.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Is This Any Way to Run a Party?

Is this any way to run a party? Tim Boyle should be appointed a Czar in the Obama Administration, he seems like an expert in heavy handed tactics to suppress political debate. The South Hill Enterprise reports on Boyle's Stalinist tactics at recent Mecklenburg County GOP event.

Morton addressed an issue brought up earlier in the meeting by Hurt, his voting for a budget that would include a tax increase in 2004.

“I say there was politics behind the scenes,” Morton began. Tim Boyle interrupted her.

“This is not about attacking other candidates.” Tim Boyle began. “This is about your campaign.”

“Excuse me …,” Morton began.

“What I am saying is this is for you to present your case as to why they should vote for you,” Tim Boyle said.

A constituent interrupted him by saying that Morton should be allowed to speak.

“You should vote for me because I will not compromise on your taxes as was done in the state of Virginia already and on record a $1.4 billion tax increase by representatives in the state government who crossed over (Republicans who voted with Democrats),” Morton said. She said now the state has to experience cutbacks that would affect teachers who would leave the school systems or would be “rifted.”

Sometime later, Tim Boyle told Morton her time was up and it was now time for her to take questions from the constituents. Someone with Morton’s campaign disagreed by saying that Morton had not reached her 15 minutes.

Someone from the audience spoke up and said, “Mr. Chairman I think you are being very unfair to this candidate. You have gone out of your way to say people couldn’t hand out sign up sheets.”

And Boyle attacked Verga as well for trying to show his contrast with tax-raising Rob Hurt:

“Earlier Robert talked about the tax increases of 2004. Those tax increases were very profound and affect me and each and every one of us, every day,” Verga said.

“With (Governor) Tim Kaine, Senator Hurt voted on a,” Verga was saying but was interrupted by Tim Boyle.

“I am going to have to ask you as I asked Ms. Morton, please keep it to,” Tim Boyle was saying but was interrupted by Verga.

“No, this is about policy,” Verga said.

“This is not about attacking other candidates,” Tim Boyle said.

“I am not attacking, this is his votes,” Verga said but was interrupted again by Tim Boyle. But Tim Boyle was then interrupted.

“I object again Mr. Chairman,” a constituent in the audience said.

“I will continue,” Verga said as he walked closer to the table where Tim Boyle sat. “If you want to walk me out of the room and think you can then go ahead.”

The constituent noted that the people wanted to hear about policy differences.

“Voting with Tim Kaine on a transportation bill that would have led to taxation without representation,” Verga continued. “That was voted down by the Virginia Supreme Court seven to nothing. I don’t believe that is the candidate you want in Washington fighting for the Constitution. More recently voting against making the ABC liquor stores free market. Not the person you want to go to D.C. and provide for an open market.

Is this how Hurt plans to win the Republican nomination? By suppressing debate? The actions of Tim Boyle bring into question the independence of the local Republican elite in the district as Hurt proposes a series of debates moderated by them. Will Boyle and the other Hurt henchmen even allow disagreement at these so-called "debates?" If Boyle shouts down anyone who wants to express disagreement with Hurt's record how can the people of the 5th District make an informed decision?

On Transparency

Back when Ken Boyd first released information on a poll showing him the strongest challenger to Rob Hurt in the primary, I defended his campaign's decision to reveal this information to his e-mail list first. I expected, at first, that he would follow this up with more transparency about the specifics of the poll after his closest supporters had access to the information. Instead, he's been hiding ever since and has refused to reveal anything about the poll, even the polling firm's identity. Bad form.

Similarly, Rob Hurt is now playing a game in which he releases a snippet of information about his fundraising daily without revealing the full FEC report, which has yet to be filed. This way he is able to totally control the messaging. Reporters take him at his word that his claims are true and are unable to fact check how many of his contributors from Virginia are members of Congress and lobbying firms with a Virginia address.

Already we know that Eric Cantor is counting as one of the 450 "grassroots" supporters that Hurt has from Virginia. Who else is Hurt counting? We don't know. And by the time he files his FEC report and people are able to look under the hood of this lemon the reporters in the 5th will say that it's old news and time to move on.

I have been informed that Media General reporter Brian McNeill has also chosen not to pass along information on the 28 bills that Hurt's campaign claims shows that he has a record of supporting tax cuts. Has McNeill fact checked Hurt's campaign on this claim? How many of these bills are duplicates of the same proposal introduced in different sessions of the General Assembly? How many represent small and minor tax breaks that are molehills compared to the mountain of new taxes Hurt voted for in 2004 and 2007?

The public doesn't know because Hurt's campaign is focusing on control, not on transparency. This doesn't bode well for the rest of his campaign and his potential time in Congress. Will Hurt fight for transparency in the legislating process? Many Republicans are quick to attack Democrats for making deals behind closed doors, but is that any different than how the Republicans acted when they were in power? We don't need to just replace Democrats with any random Republican, we need to replace Democrats with new Republicans with consistent conservative principles.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Nuclear Dominion

I've mentioned before the importance of the Pittsylvania uranium deposits for not only Southside but all of Virginia. Now, with a conservative Governor about to be sworn in on Saturday, all of the pieces are starting to come into place for Virginia to become the "Nuclear Dominion" and take a lead in the nuclear renaissance on the horizon. This doesn't have to be a partisan issue as Senator Jim Webb has taken the lead nationally in advocating for expanded nuclear production. And, as we close out Kaine's administration, I want to look at one success of his otherwise lackluster time in office. James Bacon outlines the work Kaine did to bring "critical mass" to Virginia's nuclear energy cluster.

Virginia's nuclear power industry cluster has gained a major new player: AREVA Newport News. The French nuclear giant AREVA, which makes uranium-filled fuel rods in Lynchburg, has partnered with Northrup Grumman Shipbuilding, builder of nuclear-powered naval vessels, to invest $363 million and create 540 jobs at a new 368,000-square-foot nuclear reactor manufacturing facility.

Said Gov. Timothy M. Kaine in announcing the deal: “This joint venture project is tremendous news for Virginia. Both AREVA and Northrop Grumman are stellar companies with strong reputations and a solid presence in Virginia. We are strong supporters of the nuclear and shipbuilding industries in Virginia, and we will continue to support this facility and compete aggressively for future expansions. Emission-free nuclear energy produced in the United States is a positive step toward reducing greenhouse gases and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

Added AREVA Inc. CEO Tom Christopher: “We are establishing a world-class entity that fully supports the deployment of a fleet of U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactors made in America by Americans and for Americans. Here in Virginia, we have access to a great workforce for both the manufacturing and engineering expertise we need."

Naturally, there are subsidies involved. According to the Daily Press, state and local governments are putting up $23 million in incentives. The includes $3 million from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, a $1.5 million performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Partnership program, workforce training and other benefits.

I'm normally a big critic of incentives, but these make as much sense as any subsidies (incentives) can.

(1) Bringing the nuclear-component manufacturing facility to Virginia builds upon, and strengthens, an existing nuclear power cluster. An industry cluster will have more staying power than an individual company such as, say, the Volkswagen USA headquarters.

(2) The deal brings high-skilled, high-paying jobs to a region that is beginning to hurt economically. Unemployment reached 4.8 percent in August, and prospects bode ill for the next few years as a new presidential administration ponders deep cuts in the military. Many of the jobs created will require skills that the local workforce already possesses.

Bacon's bottom line: This may be the biggest economic development coup of the Kaine administration with the most positive long-term implications.

This is on top of the other assets Virginia already has, or is investing in:

As it happens, Lynchburg, about an hour's drive north of Danville, is home to BWX Technologies and Areva NP, major providers of engineering, design and maintenance services to the nuclear power industry. Over in Hampton Roads, the Northrop Grumman shipyard in Hampton Roads builds nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

Between Dominion's power plants, Pittsylvania's uranium mines, Lynchburg's nuclear manufacturing/service companies and Northrop Grumman's shipyard, Virginia has the potential to assemble a world-class nuclear power cluster -- not just mining, but designing, manufacturing, installation and servicing. With all those capabilities concentrated in a small geographic area, who knows what synergies might develop?

I have read that once oil hits $100 per barrel, the long term factors flip in favor of nuclear energy for the Navy's ships. Oil is already close to $80 per barrel and we haven't even hit economic recovery yet. Virginia is well positioned for competing in nuclear energy and in shipbuilding. What more can we ask for?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

6 Reasons Why Hurt Should Not Be GOP Nominee

Here is a hot new press release from Republican candidate Laurance Verga outlining six votes where Rob Hurt voted for higher taxes for Virginians.

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA - Yesterday, my NRCC-backed opponent, State Senator Robert Hurt, unveiled his brand new website, where he once again lies to the citizens of the 5th District about his atrocious tax-raising record. Today the Daily Progress quotes my response:

"On Senator Hurt's brand new website he has the bold-faced lie that he has 'consistently opposed tax increases that did not put the people first.' Does he think that the people are dumb enough to forget that he voted to raise your taxes by $1.4 billion, the largest tax increase in Virginia history, and he even tried to raise taxes unconstitutionally? Shame on Senator Hurt for belittling the citizens of the 5th District who certainly haven't forgotten as we are still paying for his tax hikes daily. People are tired of career politicians like Senator Hurt who distort their atrocious record to further their own aspirations."

Senator Hurt has voted 6 times for higher taxes. Below is a summary of those votes:

In 2002, Hurt Voted To Increase The Excise Tax On Soft Drinks. "Increases the amount of tax in the current top bracket from $6,000 to $7,200 for gross receipts exceeding $10,000,000 but not more than $25,000,000. It also adds two additional brackets: for gross receipts exceeding $25,000,000 but not more than $50,000,000, the tax is $18,000 and for gross receipts exceeding $50,000,000 the tax is $33,000. The soft drink excise tax is imposed on every wholesaler or distributor of carbonated soft drinks." (HB 193, Passed, 84-Y; 12-N, 01/24/02, Hurt Voted Yea)

In 2004, Hurt Voted Against Lower Tax Rates For Businesses. "Phases in lower rates based on growth for each of the four BPOL categories by five cents and allows only a $25 fee rather than $50, for businesses that start up in the last six months of a taxable year. These changes are effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2005." (HB 461, Defeated: 38-Y; 60-N, 02/17/04, Hurt Voted Nay)

In 2004, Hurt Voted For The Omnibus Tax Bill Proposed By Mark Warner That Raised Virginia's Taxes. (HB 5018, Passed: 52-Y; 46-N, 04/13/04, Hurt Voted Yea)

In 2006, Hurt Voted To Increase The Fees In Order To Obtain A Hunting Permit In State Forests. "Increases the fees to obtain a hunting permit or a trapping permit in a state forest from $10 to $15." (HB 260, Passed: 89-Y; 9-N, 01/23/06, Hurt Voted Yea)

In 2006, Hurt Voted For A Bill That "Conforms The Amount Of Virginia Estate Tax Due From An Estate To The Maximum Amount Of The Federal Estate Tax Credit For State Estate Taxes..." (HB 40, Passed: 93-Y; 7-N, 02/02/06, Hurt Voted Yea)

In 2007, Hurt Voted For Tim Kaine's Unconstitutional Transportation Bill that Would Have Imposed Taxation Without Representation Through Unelected Regional Taxing Authorities. It Also Imposed A Diesel Tax Increase. (HB 3202, Passed: 64-Y; 34-N, Hurt Voted Yea)

And here is a preview of Tom Perriello's campaign against Rob Hurt should he get the nominee:

7/7/09: Co-signed a letter to House leadership authored by Rep. Adler opposing the taxation of sodas and other sugary beverages as a means of offsetting the cost of health care reform. This had the support of local beverage bottlers/distributors.

7/16/09: Co-signed a letter to House leadership authored by Rep. Polis opposing the imposition of a surcharge on small business with income above 250K as a means of offsetting the cost of health reform. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce and various other small business interest groups were supportive of this.

9/10/09: H.R. 3046, the Hunting Heritage Protection Act. The bill would protect the right of hunters to access public lands by requiring public land management practices ensure that there is no net loss of public lands for hunting.

5/22/09: Concurring to Sec. 512 of Senate Amendment to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 to protect the possession of firearms in National Parks in line with the existing policies of other public land agencies. Voted yes.

12/4/09: Introduced H.R. 4208, which would raise the estate tax exemption for the special use valuation of farmland to $3.5 billion.

Rob Hurt's entire website is full of stories about Tom Perriello being vulnerable. That's not a reason to support Hurt's campaign! That's a reason to support a strong conservative opponent to Perriello!

Who is Robert Hurt?

One of the other blogs out there, I refuse to link to them, has posted a series of "questions" concerning Republican candidate Laurance Verga. They attack him, among other things, for hiring consultants from outside of the 5th District. That a site supporting Robert Hurt is attacking another candidate for hiring consultants and staffers from outside of the 5th District is so ironic it's actually funny.

I am aware of only two major Hurt hires so far. Chris LaCivita is, of course, a nationally recognized Republican operative. He has experience in Virginia but he is not now nor ever was a native of the 5th District. And Hurt's campaign manager, Sean Harrison, managed the delegate race for Barbara Comstock in 2007. But he's not a 5th District guy either!

Any election campaign needs a staff that is balanced. Knowing the people of the district is important. So is having a professional staff with experience. Hiring people from outside of the district is not worthy of attack. But if it is, don't forget to consider the actions of the candidate you are supporting too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Voting Matters!

Back in February of 2008, John McCain brought home a commanding performance in the Old Dominion and defeated Mike Huckabee 50.04% to 40.67%, with the rest of the vote scattered between Ron Paul (4.50%), Mitt Romney (3.68%), and others. But within the 5th District, Mike Huckabee seized victory with 52.04% of the vote to McCain's 41.10%. Ron Paul (3.33%) and Mitt Romney (2.70%) rounded off most of the remaining votes.

But the results in the 5th District demonstrated a geographic divide between the two candidates. John McCain won Albemarle, Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Nelson, Buckingham, Prince Edward, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Brunswick. He practically tied Huckabee in Cumberland.

Mike Huckabee won in Greene (the only non-Roanoke area county he won in the 5th outside of the tie in Cumberland), Appomattox, Charlotte, Halifax, Pittsylvania, Danville, Martinsville, Henry, Franklin, Bedford, and Campbell. McCain still did well in many of these counties, but seems to have hit a wall before the western edge of Pittsylvania, Campbell, and Appomattox. McCain goes from a respectable second place of over 40% in places like Halifax and Charlotte County to getting swamped by Huckabee almost two to one.

The 5th District has some very clear divides in it. And in a low turn-out election these divides can make a big difference. Charlotte and Lunenburg counties are virtually identical clones in terms of being small, rural counties. The only reason I can provide for the 10 point swing in the Republican primary from February, 2008, is that Lunenburg is in the Richmond DMA and Charlotte is in the Roanoke DMA. At the time I believe, but I am not 100% positive, that Huckabee was focusing his campaign more in the Roanoke area along with the Southwest and Shenandoah Valley.

During this primary, Charlottesville and Albemarle cast around 18% of all votes in the 5th District. Compare this to the general election months later when the two localities cast a little less than 22% of all votes in the District. But they cast 15% of all votes for John McCain in the district.

Let's look at the Democratic side of this equation. Barack Obama slaughtered Hillary Clinton in the February Virginia primary 64% to 35%. In the 5th, he won by a similar 65% to 34%. Clinton was able to only pull together a small victory in Franklin and Bedford. The Clinton-Obama matchup statewide looks very similar to the Huckabee-McCain matchup except that the "fall line" between the two candidates is farther to the west in the Democratic primary.

In this contest, Charlottesville and Albemarle cast around 32% of the votes in the 5th District. Months later, Charlottesville and Albemarle would represent only 22% of all votes in the 5th District but 29% of the votes for Barack Obama.

Charlottesville and Albemarle seem to be heavy hitters in low turnout primaries, at least above their overall weight in the district. This isn't surprising because we know that political activism, the likelihood that someone will vote, is correlated with socioeconomic factors like education level and income. Wealthier, more educated localities will vote at a higher rate in primaries that poorer, less educated localities.

I won't go through this analysis for all the localities, at least not yet. But I think this gives an edge to candidates trying to appeal to the more affluent suburbs around Charlottesville. Right now Hurt doesn't have a foothold in this area and his only silver lining is that the large field of candidates may divide the vote against him. But we are looking at a primary that would be lucky to hit 40,000 votes. The PRESIDENTIAL primary in 2008 generated just over 42,000 voters in the 5th District. The last round of competitive Republican House primaries back in 2000 had around 40,000 votes each. On the low end, about 10,000 showed up to vote in the GOP statewide primaries in 2005.

Think about how few people that represents. Hell, Ken Boyd's 2007 reelection with 2,408 votes is more votes represents almost 6% of the vote for in a low 40,000 primary. I'm not saying that everyone who voted for Boyd from his 2007 reelection will turnout this time, but it just shows that a small number of people can and will make a difference in this primary.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ken Boyd Releases Poll! Impressive Results!

Via e-mail from Albemarle Supervisor Ken Boyd's mailing list. I must be a "Boyd insider" for using that notorious tool of "e-mail!"

The survey question was very straight-forward:

Hello, this is _______________ calling with a brief survey about how you feel about Congress. The first question is, if you could replace Democratic Congressman Tom Perriello today with a Republican of your choice, would you elect Robert Hurt, Feda Morton, Jim McKelvey, Michael McPadden, Laurence Verga, Ken Boyd or Ron Ferrin?

The results are very clear:

-If the primary were held today and the turnout was low, I would win with 21% to only 10% for Senator Robert Hurt and 4% or less for Feda Morton and the other candidates.

-If the primary were held today and the turnout was very high, Senator Hurt would win with 23% of the vote with me coming in second place at 10%.

-However, if the turnout were high but voters knew that Senator Hurt had voted for the largest tax increase in Virginia's history, while I had led the fight to cut almost $30 million from the Albemarle County budget, then I win with 43% of the vote to only 27% of the vote even in a high turnout race.

Candidate (alphabetical) Low Turnout High Turnout High Turnout after voters learned of Hurt's pro-tax vote
Boyd 21% 10% 43%
Ferrin Less than 1% Less than 1% Less than 1%
Hurt 10% 23% 27%
Morton 4% 2% 2%
McKelvey 1.4% 1.5% 1%
McPadden 1% Less than 1% 1%
Verga 1.4% Less than 1% 1%
Undecided 62% 63% 24%
Completed Surveys- Candidate names were rotated 500 definate primary voters including some who attend tea parties, conventions, etc. 2,500 voters who vote in at least 1 of 3 primaries 2,500 voters after being informed of Hurt's pro-tax vote and Boyd's budget cuts

In short, Senator Hurt's high Name ID will enable him to win this nomination if lots of people come out to vote in the primary without learning that he voted for the largest tax increase in Virginia's history, while I led the fight to cut almost $30 million from our county budget.

I have my questions about the poll's methodology, but I'm not too surprised by its conclusion. Ken Boyd comes from one of the largest population centers in the district and probably has a decent following in the Republican establishment in Albemarle and the other suburbs of Charlottesville. Robert Hurt has strong name ID compared to the unelected challengers but probably no more than 30%. And those that know his past are certain to have doubts about supporting him. Ken Boyd is a serious challenger in this race. Here's more information on the impressive team Boyd is putting together to challenge Robert Hurt in the primary.

When I started the campaign I knew we would be outspent dramatically, so I put together a team that had won numerous races in Virginia and throughout the South while being outspent dramatically in similar situations. They were part of the effort to take over the Virginia legislature in the 1990s, beating two 20-year Virginia State Senate incumbents, and winning campaigns for candidates like Peter Way and Bob Marshall with very little money.

In 2006, they worked with two candidates with the same kind of money disadvantage we will have this year, winning two Republican primaries with new candidates who were outspent $695,841 to $205,661 and $896,912 to $205,817 respectively. In 2007, they ran the surprise upset win for Brenda Pogge, who won the GOP nomination in Williamsburg despite being outspent by more than 2-to-1, then went on to win the general election in a year that most big money Republicans were going down to defeat. At the same time, five GOP senators won despite being outspent by Democratic opponents - Richard Stuart, Jill Holtzman Vogel, Emmett Hanger, Ralph Smith and Ken Cuccinelli - even while big spending Republicans were losing everywhere.

Verga's profile should increase once he starts spending money. We'll continue to watch the other challengers to see if they have a chance in the Fightin' Fifth!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are There (Many) Swing Voters in the 5th?

Here are some interesting numbers to consider heading into the 2010 elections in Virginia. First, in 2008 Barack Obama received 52.62% of the vote. This was up 7.14 point from John Kerry's 45.48% in 2004. But Barack Obama did not uniformly outperform John Kerry across Virginia. In the 9th District, for example, he received 39.6% of the vote to John Kerry's 39.31%. Virtually identical!

When you look at the Congressional districts it shows a big eastern-western divide. Obama strongly outperformed Kerry in the urban crescent from Nova to Richmond and Hampton Roads. But in the 5th District he was a lackluster 5.29 points ahead of Kerry--his lowest in the state after the 9th!

In 2009 we have a surprisingly similar story as Virginia swung against the Democrat Party and Creigh Deeds. Deeds finished an abysmal 11.37 points behind Barack Obama's 2008 performance. But there was again an eastern-western divide. His best district? The 9th, again, where he finished only 6.05 points behind Obama. This time the 5th was a little bit more "swingy" with a shift of 9.73 points, still below average and close to the same low swing in the neighboring 6th.

What does this all mean? Well, my question is if there are swing voters in the 5th? Or many swing voters? Obama won with strong support among Virginia's urban crescent where suburban voters revolted against Bush's mishandling of Iraq and the economy. Now they are ready to revolt against Obama! But they are a smaller share of the more polarized 5th district, where liberal Charlottesville is countered by conservative Southside. Swing voters will matter less and so will nominating a so called "moderate" to win. Conservatives need to be energized by a strong conservative candidate. That's the ticket to victory in the 5th.

Show Me The Money!

Yesterday, Laurance Verga dropped a bombshell with the announcement that he had contributed almost $227,000 to his campaign. That's nothing to ignore, although if I had that type of money I wouldn't be using it to run for Congress!

The Verga haters pounced on the announcement pretty quickly, but I was frankly surprised by how many of them were Perriello supporters. On Twitter, former (maybe even current?) Perriello campaign staffers were criticizing Verga for raising so little money from actual donors and depending almost entirely on his own personal wealth. If Perriello's supporters are attacking Verga already he must be doing something right!

But what does this use of personal wealth really signify?

Of course in an ideal world of unicorns the Republican challenger to an incumbent Democrat would have a huge warchest that included significant contributions from the district, showing that they have built a network of support. But self-funding candidates are not to be ignored, given that the Republican Party has turned to them in the 2nd and the 11th as well. At this point in the primary I'd give a bonus to any Republican candidate who was able to bring in a lot of cash from within the district, but I'm not going to give a negative to Verga for being a self-funder. At the end of the day the TV stations and the like will still accept his cash regardless of where he got it. It can still be used to wage a serious fight for the nomination.

But this does set up an interesting question for Rob Hurt when he announces. It's one thing to use your own personal wealth on a campaign, I think it shows that you are willing to put your money where your mouth is. But will Hurt's warchest come primarily from 5th District constituents or from corporate PACs in DC that have been directed to his campaign by the NRCC and Eric Cantor? We know with Verga that no one has bought for him. We know with Perriello from day one that he was bought by George Soros and New York money. Who will be buying Rob Hurt? The people of the 5th District or the Beltway establishment?