By this time tomorrow the polls will have closed across Virginia and we'll be starting to wait for election returns to come in from the Old Dominion. Here in the 5th District of Virginia we've had the privilege, or curse, of watching a spirited and sometimes dirty primary among seven Republicans trying to win opportunity, or misfortune, of taking on Democrat Tom Perriello. This past Saturday, the Democrat Party officially nominated Tom Perriello to be their party's candidate for the 5th District of Virginia. Over the past year and a half, Perriello has raised almost $2 million and is sitting on a pile of cash worth almost $1.7 million.
Perriello is well positioned for the general election. Last week I gave some tough love to Robert Hurt by pointing out that he has voted to raise (some) taxes, not just the 2004 budget deal. He's not a liberal Democrat, he's a moderate Republican with some conservative credentials. But he's no Rand Paul or Sarah Palin.
Here is my tough love for my fellow Republicans about Perriello. Talk all you want about how he is a Pelosi clone, the real voters of the 5th District know he's not a knee-jerk Democrat. Take a look at the record. Yes, Perriello voter for the pork-filled stimulus, cap and tax, and the government take over of health care. But he's been very blunt about his support for these policies and hasn't tried to hide from them. Just a little bit to the east, Glenn Nye is running as a Democrat but doing everything possible to distance himself from Pelosi. He claims to oppose cap and tax and socialist health care, but in his letters to constituents he talked about how great cap and tax is. Politician insiders like Glenn Nye will tell you exactly what you want to hear, which is why you can't trust them. At least Perriello tells you what he believes.
And so when Perriello votes against his own party I believe he actually is doing what he thinks is right, not a political stunt to win voters for reelection. When he votes to defend the 2nd Amendment I believe that he really is pro-gun rights. When he votes against federal funding of abortion I believe him that he really does oppose federal funding of abortion. When he votes for a permanent bailout fund for Wall Street executives at the expense of the taxpayers I think he's doing what he thinks is right.
So this is going to be a tough reelection fight. I think Perriello has done everything possible to keep his Democrat base happy. And I think he's set himself up to win over the moderate voters that first put him into office. And maybe even pick up a few more.
When Robert Hurt first threw his hat into the ring I was distrustful. And here is my first Tuesday prediction. Tomorrow night an establishment Republican will fall short of the majority in his Republican primary. No, I'm not talking about Robert Hurt. I'm talking about South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis, who I first blogged about last year. Bob Inglis will go into a runoff, where he will almost certainly be defeated for the GOP nomination.
Congressman Bob Inglis is what Robert Hurt could be in the future. No one can fault Inglis for being a liberal. He's just a career politician who, despite being a Republican, has some moderate and left-leaning instincts. He voted for TARP. He's not comfortable with the grassroots conservatives in the Tea Parties. He's the type of Republican who doesn't attract much notice until the going gets tough. And then he buckles and votes for bigger government. Just like Robert Hurt, who was virtually unimportant until his 2004 vote for higher taxes.
I don't want to put someone like Inglis into office if I can stop it from happening. The problem with Inglis is that he doesn't care that his vote for TARP doomed his reelection chances. He knows that the establishment will take care of him. He's got a nice retirement, maybe a job as a lobbyist, or a political appointee. There's no accountability when members like Inglis don't care if they vote for bigger government. Hurt could do the same. Get elected, serve for years, and then vote for another bailout. Sure, we'd get angry and vote him out, but would that really punish him when he's just going to go to K Street and get a cushy job?
So that's been my biggest concern for Hurt. My other concern is his hire of a ruthless mudslinging political operative who I won't mention here. I don't like negative personal campaigns. I don't want Perriello to win, but I will be voting for Jeff Clark if Hurt runs a negative campaign against Perriello that focuses on him personality and not politically.
Over the last week I've been preparing for the general election by setting mental benchmarks for Hurt. If he campaigns dirty, he won't get my vote. If he campaigns as the true conservative he isn't, he won't get my vote. If he's honest about who he is, he'll get my vote.
I was getting ready to type up a post tonight endorsing the most viable opponent to Hurt, Jim McKelvey. That was until I heard about his pre-primary antics of having a recording of Virgil Goode talk him up, despite the lack of a Goode endorsement. That's the lack of honor and integrity I worried Hurt's adviser would bring and it has totally alienated me. So, here is my endorsement, based on my fears that Hurt will betray the conservative base of the GOP and my belief that McKelvey has run a dirty campaign.
I will be writing in Virgil Goode.