Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hurt Bailout Watch

Now that the first round of fundraising numbers are in, the entire 5th District field is watching and waiting to see what Robert Hurt will do next. When he first declared, the conventional wisdom was that this race would be a cake walk for him. Get the nomination, defeat Perriello, and just kick back and relax up in DC voting the way his donors tell him to. Just like his career in the General Assembly.

This plan started to fall apart when the primary field didn't clear for his easy nomination. The fight over a convention versus a primary was just the start. The lingering doubts about his votes to raise taxes have hindered his campaign and continue to be a distraction from his anointment as savior of the party. But the fundraising numbers are another hit to his campaign, showing that he's not the only one with the cash on hand to compete in a primary.

Now what?

We're on the Robert Hurt bailout watch.

Hurt needs a bailout. He needs to be saved from his own failures. He's made mistakes, but rather than be responsible for them he's going to turn to the Republican Party establishment (the same folks who brought us the first Bush bailout) to save him.

I see two options.

First, he'll get the establishment to fold and find a graceful way for him to step out of the race. A defeat in the primary, which is a very real possibility, would doom all of Hurt's future ambitions. He'd almost certainly never be able to come back for a run for Congress. Other statewide offices will be ruled out. He'll be stuck in the State Senate forever.

The best way to fold is for the establishment to go to Virgil Goode, apologize for their attempts to push Goode out in favor of Hurt last year, and get Goode to run. Hurt would bow out in support of Goode and spend more time with his family. Goode would unite the party and go on to clobber Perriello. Game, set, match.

Unless they can get Goode to jump in, I don't see a way for Hurt to fold.

If they can't fold, they'll have to double down their bets on Hurt. Go all in.

This will mean more funneling of corporate and lobbyist money into Hurt's campaign. He needs a major cash infusion and it doesn't matter where it is from. With the cap on maximum contributions, look for Hurt's campaign to try new and desperate tactics. Perhaps LaCivita will pioneer the use of "independent" corporate ads in the post-Citizens United era. Let's not forget his reaction to the case.

Another observer of those adventurous companies will be Chris LaCivita, the conservative consultant who produced the Swift Boat Veterans ads that damaged Democrat John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid.

LaCivita said the 2008 campaign was bad for independent groups. The FEC had penalized Swift Boat Veterans, the Sierra Club and some other big players from the 2004 race. It got the attention of potential donors — corporations and wealthy individuals. So when LaCivita's group, the American Issues Project, went looking for money in 2008, many donors were reluctant to write checks.

"There were some committed Americans who wanted to communicate a message — you know, threats from the government be damned, they were still going to be involved," LaCivita said. "But at the end of the day, we were only able to accomplish a tiny portion, budget-wise, of what we originally set out to do."

He said he expects the court decision to ease donors' minds.

And as he spoke, he sounded like a kid who'd opened his Christmas presents and gotten just what he wanted.

How long until some of Hurt's big donors are running ads in the Republican primary defending him? I have nothing wrong with corporations expressing free speech, just like George Soros is free to give money to Tommy Boy. But when Soros does it we know who really owns Tommy's vote. So let's not pretend that Hurt is anything but a tool of the big corporations that depend on Washington for bailout money when the corporations pick up the slack to give him the nomination.


  1. A whole lotta "ifs."
    And Goode needs to stay the hell out of this race.

  2. I don't see Cantor..oops I mean LaCivita allowing Goode to get back in the race. This is Hurt's till the end. If he can't win this what good is he to the Republican party anyway. You write an interesting piece but this is now Hurt's baby. If Hurt can't win this the DC republicans won't even remember his name.

  3. har. Sen Hurt a "tool" of corporate America? based on what evidence? at least he is the opposite of Perriello who is a tool of the Obamba administration. and charlie rangel, and nancy pelosi & soros.

  4. Not Andy Sere needs to take a step back and look at the field for a minute to realize that Robert Hurt is the only one in the race with a chance at winning this thing.

    First, Feda Morton, Mike McPadden, and Ken Boyd are all dead in the water. They missed the critical filing deadline and hadn't raised much of anything. They can't compete and may as well drop out now.

    Second, Jim McKelvey is just blowing smoke by loaning himself 500,000 secured by some properties he owns? Can he self fund a campaign? I highly doubt it. He will blow over pretty quickly. Now on to the come here from the Left Coast, good ol' Lawrence Verga. He is the only one who has put together a serious campaign, but he is a helicopter candidate and we all know what happens to them (think T-Mac trying to buy the Democratic nomination for governor). Also, he looks about as slick as Mitt Romney and I don't think the folks south of Charlottesville (even in lower Albemarle) will be able to connect with a come here from California. Even our current congressman has closer ties to the 5th than this one.

    Not Andy Sere needs to take a step back and look at the field. There are only two strong candidates and Verga's weaknesses will far outweigh his strengths.

  5. Can you pour me some of what you've been drinking?

  6. OR, can you give me some of what you've been smoking? Jeez, what a fantasy!

  7. Tommy boy? What is this, middle school? He is an adult, unlike some on this blog.

    Make sure and go in after recess!

  8. Rather than attempt to get Hurt to bail out, I believe the TPs will follow the strategy outlined in this excellent analysis of the Tea Party Convention that I saw online:
    New flavor of 'Tea'

    ......Folks here at the Tea Party movement's first national "convention" talk about all the good America stands for in the world, how their country is under constant threat from terrorists, and how they are completely fed up with a tax-addicted federal government that is out of touch and out of control.
    These are principled people who are quick to point out that even worse than being a liberal of the enemy Democratic camp is being a Republican unfaithful to conservatism.
    But they have a big problem.
    Outside this protected political snow globe, all their idealism crashes and falls apart against the rocky shoals of reality.
    The political world they want to influence is a world of compromise and accommodation. It is no place for "purity" and that is precisely how the American Founding Fathers designed it.
    At best, these Tea Party folks have just one actual success at the ballot box that they can point to.
    Scott Brown's astonishing come-from-nowhere victory to take the Massachusetts Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy was a caustic rebuke of Democrats, but it is also a race that the Tea Party claims to have put on the map and brought home to an unlikely victory.
    Helping Brown to victory, Tea Partiers worked with the GOP.
    In every one of their attempts to punish unfaithful Republicans, they have either failed to win or simply handed the seat over to Democrats.
    Even Brown's victory is a strange one for them to rally around, since it is hardly a testament to the success of political purity.
    As Brown himself points out at every opportunity, he has spent his political career compromising with Democrats.
    There are basic principles from which he says he will never budge, but generally speaking he is all about compromise -- a battle cry that is not heard here at Opryland.
    But that may be changing.
    Tea Party organizers now say they want to get serious about harnessing their powerful movement toward getting strong conservatives elected to office.
    "Simply responding with emotion does not get people elected," said Mark Skoda, a Tea Party organizer from Memphis.
    Perhaps the first sign that these people are getting serious about broadening their appeal and forcing real change in Washington is their choice of venue for their first "national convention."
    Opryland does not allow handguns on the premises.
    The ensuing interest in the convention surprised and overwhelmed event organizers, who said they are hosting news reporters from France, Japan Switzerland. Even Al-Jazeera sent someone to cover it.
    Judson Phillips, who along with his wife are the main organizers, announced plans to form a political action committee to raise money to help bankroll conservative candidates all over the country.
    Called the Ensuring Liberty PAC, the new operation will be aimed at whittling away at the Democratic majorities in Congress in the 2010 House and Senate races.
    Its mission -- "first principles," they call it -- will be less government, fiscal discipline, lower taxes, states' rights and strong national security.
    And Tea Party leaders indicate that they have every intention of settling down and working with the Republican National Committee instead of punishing GOPers they consider too moderate. Third-party challenges that most often result in a Democratic win, they say, are a thing of the past.
    "We're not attempting to replace the RNC. We're not attempting to co-opt the RNC," Skoda said. "We want to get more conservatives elected."

  9. Robert Hurt's brother writes a piece that basically tells the tea party they can't beat his brother - um OK. That's good news writing and fair to boot!

    How does Hurt's mom and wife feel about the tea party?