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Wrap-Up of the Harrisonburg Rally

After a little bit of a mix-up getting to Taylor Hall, I managed to make it to the rally shortly before former Attorney General Bob McDonnell arrived. However, by that time the room was PACKED and every chair was taken. I counted about 70 heads, including 8 or so College Democrats. Bob acknowledged their presence, and they were in turn respectful. He joked that he hoped to peel some of them off in his 15 minute speech (which actually played out for about 25 minutes, given the intimate nature of the venue). 

Given that it was a Tuesday afternoon shortly before most people got off work, it was primarily a young crowd. Indeed, it was one of the youngest crowds I’ve ever seen at a political event. It was a real testament to the organization of the JMU CRs, of which one of Bob McDonnell’s daughters is a member. The invocation, which was delivered by a member of the CRs whose name I regretfully cannot recall, was absolutely wonderful and touched on many of the spiritual themes we need to remember as we fight this race. They staffed the HQ in Harrisonburg around the clock last fall, and I hope they’ll do the same this coming year. 

I did see Shenandoah County Republican Women Chair Sue Hughes, as well as noted Valley activist Suzanne Curran. Also on hand were Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Matt Lohr. You could tell the sort of rapport the two men have built up with the CRS over the last few years. Luis Padilla was there as well, who some may remember from his stand for his first amendment rights during the gay marriage referendum in 2006. Noticeably absent: The SWAC crew. Why? This was the closest rally for them (well, that or Charlottesville). Many of them are standing behind Jeff Frederick. However, I would be interested in knowing if any of them (or any other public Jeff supporters) attended the rally. 

Bob’s speech echoed many of the themes that he has been pushing during his kick-off. However, since the audience was mostly college age, he talked a great deal about jobs and college opportunities. I’m hearing the case was the same at UVA. Also of note: Two of Bob’s daughters were there: Cailin, the youth co-ordinator for the campaign, and Rachel, a junior and cheerleader at JMU. He talked about his texting effort, and many people actually whipped out their phones. Early on in his speech he talked about the main thrust of his campaign: bringing people together to improve the quality of life in Virginia and bolstering Virginia’s economy with well paying, stable jobs. Or to put it the campaign’s way: Bob’s for Jobs!

Now, here’s the disappointing part. I was not able to get a seat, and the room was extremely warm. I unfortunately don’t have the sort of stamina I used to in these situations, and I almost got ill in the room. Since I figured our Republican candidate didn’t need a supporter throwing up next to him on the 11 o’clock news, I left the room. I only got about 11 minutes of video, mostly Mark Obenshain’s introduction which I will post later. So sorry about that, but I will try to get as best as I can tomorrow morning in Winchester to get a complete video account. 

All in all, a great event, and definitely a good move to introduce Bob to our next generation of young Virginian leaders. McDonnell is clearly making a play for the youth vote through his message and use of technology.

McDonnell in Harrisonburg Today (UPDATE: Winchester tomorrow)

Bob McDonnell, as part of his kick-off tour of the entire state, will be in Harrisonburg today! The event will be in Room 400 of Taylor Hall on the JMU campus. The event starts at 4:15 p.m. The campaign asks that you RSVP, but don’t fret–there’s still time to get in on the action! Click here to RSVP.

UPDATE: Bob will be in Winchester tomorrow at 8 A.M. at Jimmy’s Restaurant at the junction of I-81 and Rt. 50. RSVP and directions can be found here

We’ll have plenty of pictures and hopefully video as well. Also, if you can’t make it be sure to stayed tuned to my Twitter feed, as I’ll be live-blogging the events as they happen.

Introducing Winchesterreport.com

March 31, 2009 1 comment

Anyone who enjoyed my Morning Round-Ups over at the Shenandoah GOP Blog (don’t bother going over there, it’s defunct) will greatly enjoy Winchesterreport.com. The site is a human run aggregator selecting the best stories about the Northern Shenandoah Valley from a variety of news sources. However, they’ve also featured some original reporting, most notably regarding upcoming elections in Frederick County and Winchester. I expect great things from them, and know that my fellow news hungry politicos will enjoy this new source as well. Help them out and send them your news tips today!

Cookies and Politics

Because we raise money the old fashioned way in Shenandoah County. 

April 4 – 9 a.m. at First Bank, Strasburg. Benefit: Strasburg precinct, Republican party. Information: 436-3279

Bet you Terry McAuliffe wouldn’t do THAT. This is why Strasburg meets its fundraising goals year after year–hard work and knowing their responsibility to get the job done.

Goodlatte on the Budget

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, though not known as one of Washington’s key fiscal critics, has been a steadfast opponent of the veritable spending spree that has coursed through Washington, D.C. over the past six months. Opposing both the bailout and the stimulus, Congressman Goodlatte has recognized both the short-term and long-term implications of trying to spend our way out of our current economic predicament. From his weekly column: 

This past week House Democrats presented their $3.6 trillion budget resolution – a budget which spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much. The Democrat budget proposes a deficit of $1.2 trillion for 2010, with the national debt climbing to $17.1 trillion.  It also includes one of the largest tax increases in history.  The spending in this budget is so massive that independent estimates suggest roughly 250,000 new federal bureaucrats may be needed to spend it all. 

….

In these challenging economic times it is even more important for government to control spending. The federal government must work to both eliminate every cent of waste and squeeze every cent of value out of each dollar our citizens entrust to it.  Families and small businesses all across our nation understand what it means to make tough decisions each day about what they can and cannot afford, and Congress should not be allowed to ignore these tough decisions when creating spending policies for the federal government.   

One aspect of spending that has gotten alot of attention is earmarking. Here too Congressman Goodlatte has put actions behind his words. The Daily News Record notes that he has submitted the sixth lowest number of earmarks of any member of Congress:

xGoodlatte himself has long said that cutting wasteful spending should be a priority for Congress.

Earmarks, he said, can be useful for setting aside funds that have already been budgeted for worthwhile projects, based on the needs of communities, he said in a statement on Friday.

“While I have made limited use of earmarks, there have been serious abuses and excesses by others with this process,” he said.

Not spending the money that has already been budgeted is not an option, he said, because the funds would be redirected to other projects.

Virginia’s Sixth District should be represented fairly in the earmark process, he said.

More disclosure and accountability is needed, Goodlatte said.

“The entire Congress,” he said, “should enact a moratorium on earmarks until standards are adopted for all.  But until that is done I will continue to use my own careful review process,” in weighing the legitimacy of earmark-related funding.

As Congressman Goodlatte notes, the earmark process is often misunderstood. While it is correct that these projects are often quite silly and are used to reward supporters in a quiet manner, the money is generally already set aside. Indeed, Congressman Ron Paul, while voting against all earmarks and budgets, argues that all money should be earmarked so as to know its exact use. Regardless of your views on earmarks, however, it is certainly heartening to see a member of Congress that recognizes the severity of the situation and that there is no need to risk mortgaging the next generation and endangering the income of the current one to pay for things we can’t really afford and who understands the government’s moral responsibility in spending citizen’s earnings for the common good. 

It is especially heartening knowing that he’s MY Congressman.

The Road to Des Moines runs through Richmond

March 31, 2009 1 comment

We noted last week that Mitt Romney will be speaking at the RPV Commonwealth Gala on May 29th, which is being held in conjunction with the State Convention. While as of right now no other potential 2012 candidates are slated to appear at the convention, a number will be making swings through Virginia in support of our ticket. 

Bobby Jindal has already endorsed and helped raise money for the man he hopes to join him in the Republican Governor’s Association, and today Mike Huckabee did the same, focusing on the rural Virginia strongholds that he carried in the primary last year. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich will be joining Bill Bolling at his official campaign kickoff on April 17th.

Being one of only two games in town for potential 2012 candidates to show off their political muscle and test their networks, plus given the fact that it may very well find a key place in the calendar once again (recall that in 2008, while being the site of Huckabee’s death throes, was a key post-Super Tuesday victory for Senator Obama that carried him through the Jeremiah Wright controversy and showed momentum was on his side), Virginia is sure to see alot of the potential contenders this year.

Wherein I make my fellow Goldwater fans uber-jealous

March 31, 2009 1 comment

The newest addition to my over 400 piece collection of political items. 

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McAuliffe: The “Not As I Do” Candidate

If there’s anything to be said for Terry McAuliffe’s shameless self-promotion, it’s that he tends to know what people like. Recently, he managed to latch on to government reform as an issue, and knowing that many transparency efforts have seen wide Republican (and indeed, Democratic support) in the last few months, he decided to kick things up a notch. From the RTD

McAuliffe, one of three candidates for the Democratic nomination, yesterday called for a prohibition on “all gifts and trips from lobbyists” to legislators and executive-branch officials, including the governor.

The proposal follows a report Sunday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch spotlighting widespread weaknesses in the state’s mandatory disclosure rules under which entertainment and gifts go unreported.

Frankly, I think that the proposal may be a bit overreaching. I’d like to hear if this is just a ban on gifts from registered lobbyists or a gift of value from anyone advocating for or against legislation. I think it’d be rather ridiculous if a local Farm Bureau group was not allowed to give their Delegate or Senator a token of their appreciation. Honestly, the requirement of gifts of more than $50 probably goes as long a way as an outright ban, as members of the GA have to think long and hard before they accept a gift knowing it will be in the public record. 

What’s far more interesting, however, is that while McAuliffe thinks there’s a big problem with legislators and the Governor accepting gifts from lobbyists while in office, he has no problem with using lobbyist money to fund his own ambitions. From CNN: 

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is taking flack from one of his Democratic rivals for attending a campaign fundraiser co-hosted by a prominent Republican lobbyist who publicly opposed Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.

The event was held Tuesday night at the Washington office of the BGR Group, a top government affairs and public relations firm founded by three Republicans including lobbyist Ed Rogers, a friend of McAuliffe’s who co-hosted the fundraiser.

Ethical pop quiz: If you were a legislator, would you feel more beholden to the donor who gave $5,000 to your campaign, or to the lobbyist who gave you a coffee mug, or even, heaven forbid, a steak dinner? 

Of course, as the Washington Examiner points out, it’s not the big business lobbyists that we’ll have to worry about:

Under Gov.Tim Kaine – one of Obama’s earliest supporters for president and his choice as DNC chairman – Virginia became the 18th most taxed state in the U.S. But that would just be the starting point for McAuliffe, who has been busy lining up lots of outside money from his union pals in New Jersey and elsewhere. He was known during the Clinton years for his “soft money” strategy that culminated in the 1996 Lincoln Bedroom sleepover scandals. And at least two of McAuliffe’s private real estate investments in Florida were bankrolled by a union pension fund. A former DNC finance director even testified at the 1999 Manhattan trial of the Teamsters’ former political director that McAuliffe urged him to bypass campaign contribution limits by getting major Democratic donors to give to unions and liberal political groups, which would in turn contribute to various Democratic Party committees.

Foster’s Gambit

The conventional wisdom on the Republican AG race is that it is primarily one between Cuccinelli and Brownlee, with Foster struggling behind in third place. Foster has laid claim to a majority in a few delegations, but right now the battle seems to be between Ken and John. By and large, their approaches can be broken down thusly: Brownlee is the certifiably conservative crime-fighter, while Cuccinelli is the true conservative streetfighter who can win in NOVA. Why, just tonight I got an email from Cuccinelli touting the signing of his Choose Life license plate bill, while one from Brownlee called on supporters to call their Delegates and Senators to fight for an override of Governor Kaine’s veto of the triggerman rule repeal. 

Foster, meanwhile, has been vaguely making the argument that since the AG’s office handles more consumer and other state related matters than crime, as a professional lawyer he can run what he dubs “the state’s second largest law firm.” That, and he can win in the deepest blue part of Northern Virginia, as he was once elected as a nonpartisan member of the School Board and in that position was actually able to push some conservative policies. With that message, Dave has been stuck behind in general terms of enthusiasm amongst grassroots and blog types (with the notable exception of Too Conservative’s VA Blogger).

Read more…

Wrap-Up of the McDonnell Kick-Off

As many of you know, former Attorney General Bob McDonnell officially kicked off his campaign this past weekend and will continue touring the state with his message of economic prosperity and principled reform. He’ll be making two stops in the Valley on Tuesday in Harrisonburg and on Wednesday in Winchester. You can find more information about those stops here, but in the meanwhile, here’s some ‘best of’ coverage from the weekend. 

First and foremost, you can read the complete text of his speech here. 

And now, first from the mainstream media, only because they’re used to it and could use the ego boost. From the Washington Post

“To every Virginian who has lost their job, to every small-business owner trying to make payroll, to every retiree afraid to look at their retirement account, to every homeowner struggling to make the next mortgage payment, to every parent worried about writing that next tuition and book check: This campaign is for you,” he said to cheers.

McDonnell touted a variety of proposals — drilling off the state’s coast, creating tax-free zones for companies involved in producing renewable energy, widening Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway, increasing educational programs in high-need areas such as nursing and engineering, conducting independent audits of state agencies and creating a task force to examine ways to make life easier for working mothers.

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

McDonnell said he would cut red tape to make sure Virginians can start a business in 48 hours. He said he would support drilling for oil and gas 50 miles off Virginia’s coast, and would emphasize green energy jobs by creating tax-free zones to encourage renewable energy technologies.

McDonnell said he places an emphasis on government frugality and called for independent audits of major state agencies. He noted that the state budget has doubled in the past 10 years and has grown 30 percent faster than the rate of inflation and population growth.

From The Associated Press via the Daily Press:

At his second stop of the day at a high school in Richmond’s affluent Henrico County suburbs, McDonnell’s most rousing ovation from a crowd of several hundred were over his support for abortion restrictions, gun rights and his attack on unions, a mainstay of money and campaign support for Democrats. 

“Now all three of my opponents look at it differently,” McDonnell said of the Democratic field. He said they will not oppose the card check bill. 

Moran, McAuliffe and Deeds are on record as supporting the state’s right-to-work law. And none has either endorsed nor opposed the card-check legislation, dismissing it as a federal issue. 

That provides a nice segue into coverage from the blogs of the MSM folks. First up from NBC 12, which has video from the speech:

McDonnell was joined at the event by all three candidates for the Republican nomination for Attorney General and his running mate and the current incumbent Lt. Governor Bill Bolling. I wasn’t at the event but watched the tape back after our photographer Richard Garner returned and wanted to share a few key moments which I think define the McDonnell campaign.

McDonnell clearly needs to separate himself from the Republican brand. If this event is any indication of how he plans to do that, it will come on the backs of three populist issues, which he believes conservatives have the winning argument: taxes, energy and the economy, most specifically job creation.

The Washington Post blog offers an interesting statistic from the speech:

McDonnell began his six-day “New Jobs, More Opportunities” tour of the state with a mostly positive speech outlining broad policy goals that focus on creating jobs and boosting the economy, partly by cutting bureaucratic red tape to allow Virginians to open a business in 48 hours. He mentioned jobs 19 times.

Now on to the true stars of the weekend, the blogs, which showed how activists can offer superior and more in-depth coverage than other media outlets. First up: Too Conservative, which had the best coverage, as one would hope, given that their founder Vincent Harris is working for Bob on new media. He has video from the Annandale rally here and live-blogged the Annandale, Richmond, and Virginia Beach rallies with plenty of photos and such over at BobMcDonnell.com.

BearingDrift.com has a great live-blog on the event in Virginia Beach, as well as audio from the speech. One highlight is their response to McAuliffe’s pre-emptive smears against Bob on the economy, noting that Terry is saying one thing to business and another to labor:

“Bob McDonnell has a long record of standing against Governor Mark Warner and Governor Tim Kaine, and he has opposed many of the policies that have made Virginia the best managed state in the nation,” said Chairman McAuliffe’s campaign – of Global Crossing fame whose primary business credentials are fund-raising for the Clintons and apparently being an African-American barber. “While Terry McAuliffe has been laying out a comprehensive Business Plan to get Virginia’s economy back on track, Bob McDonnell has been deafeningly silent.”

Really?

Wasn’t it McDonnell who asked McAuliffe to sign a letter Secretary of Interior Salazar addressing Virginia’s energy needs and jobs – but McAuliffe refused?

Wasn’t it McAuliffe who marched with a union picketing Hilton, while Gov. Kaine was bringing Hilton jobs to Virginia?

While McAuliffe is trying to distract from McDonnell today, you can’t distract from the clarity of McDonnell’s message.

Chris Beers at Mason Conservative notes the enthusiasm of the crowd, as well as the unity at the event and the conspicuous lack of active campaigning from the AG field:

So I stopped by the Annandale Fire House to see Bob McDonnell’s kickoff yesterday morning.  I would have had something up faster but I went out last night and am now just getting my bearings.  So I was impressed with the turnout, the firehouse was certainly packed . . . somewhere between 400-500 people for sure.  I got there right at 10 am so I missed whatever might have been going on.  Couple things, first and foremost any campaigning by the AG candidates was clearly banned because none of them were allowed to have any yard signs or literature passed out.  BothTom Davis and Frank Wolf gave nice little pep talks about how this is the best group of Republican candidates we’ve had in a long time.

….

Overall, it was a good speech and a great way to kick off the campaign.  McDonnell is putting together a truly unified message statewide, linking each part of the commonwealth to the other through broad and clear proposals that will bring the state party together.  One of our biggest problems as a party has been the sectional divides, the inability of our leadership to make other sections understand how helping another helps everyone.  McDonnell and Bolling seem to be work hard on this and I am, quite frankly, very excited about the whole ticket right now. 

Finally Crystal Clear Conservative (one of my new faves in the VA Conservative Blogosphere) has a great wrap-up of the Annandale speech: 

On a rainy Saturday morning, a gathering of about 700 supporters (confirmed by the Fairfax County Republican Committee) filtered into the Annandale Fire Hall to rally around Bob McDonnell as he officially kicked off his run for Governor. This enthusiastic crowd was pumped to welcome the McDonnell/Bolling team to town, as they held signs that said, “Bob 4 Jobs,” “Welcome Back Bob!,” and “Maureen 4 1st Lady.”

….

McDonnell also emphasized his strong ties to Northern Virginia. He mentioned to the audience that he met his wife, Maureen about two miles from the venue event. Additionally, he talked about how he and his wife both grew up in Fairfax County. It was definitely a great homecoming for both Bob and Maureen McDonnell.

Overall, the Kickoff event shows the strength of the Republican Party. The audience was fired up and ready to go out to help the McDonnell/Bolling team. No doubt, this event was a success and the momentum will continue to strengthen as we get the message of limited government and lower taxes to the people of Virginia.