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BREAKING: Lohr to become Ag Commissioner, Leave House

Just was alerted to this by a friend of mine who works in the General Assembly–nearby Delegate Matt Lohr (R-26) has been appointed as Commissioner for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Lohr has not yet resigned from the House and will not take the job until May 1st. However, from the tone of his letter (click read more below for the complete letter) he has decided to resign (and almost certainly has to under state law), meaning the move will surely trigger a special election in the district, which comprises Harrisonburg and parts of Rockingham County.

Lohr is a familiar face to those in the Valley, including Shenandoah County, as he often appears on WHSV, the main station for the area. Lohr previously served as a statewide FFA officer and runs his own family farm and pick your own pumpkin patch. I’ve worked very closely with the Delegate on several campaigns and worked with his staff during his first year in the House (he and Delegate Gilbert were both members of the class of 2005). Lohr is definitely an excellent pick for the position, as he brings both extensive knowledge and passion to the position. His letter to supporters is below the fold.

Of course, even with this happy news for the Lohr Family, this does mean that a special election will be triggered in Harrisonburg and creates practical political concerns. The seat went heavily for Lohr in the fall, scoring 73% of the vote and even carrying the city proper, which was the first time a Republican Delegate candidate had since 2001. However, Democrats currently control city council, and they won in 2005 (Kaine only), 2006 and 2008. The city makes up a slim majority of the district, so it could be in play. Still, the overwhelmingly Republican nature of the district makes me lean towards making this a likely Republican hold.

The field may already be cleared, but names to watch as the election develops, on the Republican side:

Chaz Evans Haywood, Clerk of Court
Tom Mendez, City School Board
Mike Meredith, former GOP Chairman
John Elledge, former LA to Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz
Tracy Evans, former city council candidate and City GOP Chair
Kerri Wilson, former City GOP Chair and City School Board Member
Pablo Cuevas, Board of Supervisors member

On the Democratic side:

Kai Denger, Mayor
Gene Hart, Democratic nominee in 2009
Lowell Fulk, Democratic nominee in 2003 and 2005

Wild cards (independents):
Rodney Eagle, 2003 State Senate candidate and former Mayor
Carolyn Frank, 2005 Independent Candidate for Delegate and Councilwoman
Myron Rhodes, local political gadfly and blogger

We’ll track this story as it develops. This may even be enough intrigue to convince me to attend the Rockingham-Harrisonburg LDD this Friday.

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Notes from SCRC

March 13, 2010 4 comments

(County Convention, 6th District News below the fold)

As promised, I have something to write about. Well, it may not be of interest to the Virginia Blogosphere at large, but there are some tidbits that play into outside races, and in the interest of picking back up local political coverage, here it is. This was the first meeting in nearly seven years that I did not have to speak at, and I must say: I certainly understand the tedium that can build in the cheap seats now.

First up were various reports from Chairman Mike Monahan and the other officers of the committee. Not much there, other than the expected kudos for electioneering activities and our victories in November. Of note–the Committee will be hosting its Annual Lincoln Day Dinner two Fridays from now, March 26th, at 6:15 p.m. at the Yellow Barn Complex at Shenandoah Caverns. Congressman Goodlatte, Delegate Gilbert, and Senator Obenshain will all be there–however, we’ll also be hearing from Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, as well as RPV Chairman Pat Mullins. I suspect we’ll also be seeing our candidates for Congressional District Chairman. Tickets start at $20 and details are available here. (Full disclosure: I am both a sponsor of the dinner and also purchased ad space to promote this modest venture of mine)

Read more…

One of Many

December 9, 2009 1 comment

Far away from our own commonwealth, word that an incumbent congresswoman in Kansas will be seeing a primary challenge from the right. From CQ Politics:

A Kansas state senator announced Tuesday that he is considering challenging Republican freshman Rep. Lynn Jenkins in the GOP primary in August 2010.

“When Lynn was elected, there were a lot of Republicans who were suspect of how genuine a conservative she was,” Pyle said in his announcement. “But most of us decided to take a wait-and-see approach. With her record before she was elected to Congress, and just a few votes while in Congress, it is abundantly clear that Lynn is not a conservative.”

What’s interesting about this case is that this not some lone activist mounting a challenge against an “impure” Republican. The candidate is a sitting official, so they already have a platform and an activist base. Additionally, Jenkins has not exactly been a breakaway figure in the House–she stuck with her fellow Republicans on the stimulus and health care. Her biggest sin is the same one former Congressman Jim Ryun brought up when he faced off against Jenkins for the nomination in 2008: Jenkins is pro-choice to the point where she publicly allies herself with fellow pro-choice Republicans.

As it should be pointed out whenever we talk about primaries, all politics is local. Kansas has a long and storied history of fighting within its GOP between moderates and conservatives. Indeed, the state’s current Governor is a Democrat who bolted the GOP to run with now HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Still, this is not the first challenge to a sitting GOPer, nor will it be the last. The brand is in such bad shape that there’s a brewing conservative movement to boot as many moderates and “soft” conservatives as possible in favor of starting over again with principled candidates. Indeed, this has reached our backyard in the visage of a challenge against Frank Wolf (though I suspect this gu will do no better than the last one, who barely cracked 10%). There’s even been word of a challenge to Congressman Goodlatte, who voted against the intitial TARP package last fall. If that’s not a true conservative, than I don’t know what is–though again, Goodlatte’s is a case of local interests meshing with national movements.You can bet your bottom dollar, though, that I’ll do everything in my power to keep Goodlatte in the House.

My guess: pretty much any Republican with less than a 80% lifetime score from the American Conservative Union will see a challenge, though the strength of the candidates will vary widely.

Tea Partiers continue to flex muscle

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I find the tea parties that sprung up around the country last spring an absolutely fascinating exercise in political involvement. Though the media and left-wingers are quick to denounce it as “astroturf,” but the fact of the matter is that, regardless of who came up with the term and who puts what events together, run-of-the-mill activists across the country have made it into something much bigger than anyone could imagine. Right now, many groups are getting involved in congressional primaries to turn out a candidate close to their values. Indeed, in our own backyard tea partiers are promising to have a series of debates in Virginia’s Fifth District.

“Our intent is to make the process fair and accessible to all viable candidates and give them the opportunity to prove themselves to the citizens of the 5th District,” Lynchburg TEA Party leader Mark Lloyd said in the release.

Lloyd noted that many TEA party members are independent from the GOP. “…Nevertheless, as Americans we intend to make our voices heard and we intend to be part of the political process.”

Lloyd points out correctly that the are a number of independent conservatives in the effort–however, in speaking to some of these people I find that many are former Republicans who just couldn’t tolerate the party’s full fledged support for certain types of candidates. However, these people appear to have still come out in droves for Bob McDonnell this past year. Therefore, they are drawn to the Tea Parties first as a way to get involved then jettison again if they get burned. The label is so potent that Rasmussen did a poll that discovered that an actual Tea Party would beat the Republican Party in a congressional match-up:

In a three-way Generic Ballot test, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Democrats attracting 36% of the vote. The Tea Party candidate picks up 23%, and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided.
Among voters not affiliated with either major party, the Tea Party comes out on top. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer the Tea Party candidate, and 30% are undecided. Twenty-five percent (25%) would vote for a Democrat, and just 12% prefer the GOP.
Among Republican voters, 39% say they’d vote for the GOP candidate, but 33% favor the Tea Party option.

Obviously, dissatisfaction with the Republican label remains so high that nearly a third of people who call themselves Republicans would consider a third-party. No wonder state Republican parties, such as Colorado and Virginia’s, have taken great care to listen to the tea party movement and co-opt its focus on individual liberty and fiscal issues.

I still maintain that the Tea Party is more of a re-branding and re-ignition of a staid conservative movement that became unprincipled early in the decade. The Republican Party can defuse the threat of conservative independents bolting or staying home by a) keeping leaders like Sarah Palin from seeing hope in a third party and b) by not only promising but delivering on issues key to the identity of tea party activists.

As Norm pointed out over at TQ:

It may indicate that Republicans, if they hope to be successful in 2010, would be wise to pay attention to the activists back home who are protesting, organizing, forming PACs, lobbying for legislation and more under any number of tea party banners.

Or they could ignore it. In which case, they had best hope they packed along an extra pair of socks…because it gets mighty cold and damp in the political wilderness.

Three Must Reads

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m not entirely sure how to categorize all three of these posts, but I do know this: any conservative who is serious about their principles not only in politicking but in governance should read them.

First up–Part one of Shaun Kenney’s ongoing series about his jump into the wild world of elective office:

This will be the first in a series of observations I will offer for my friends and readers as I start explaining my personal observations during the orientation process.  It’s an education, and it hasn’t been without it’s political lessons.  Like anything, there are honest brokers and turf-seekers, there are folks with whom you agree and folks whom you disagree.  The two sets often mix and match… and naturally the omnipresent factors of miscommunication, laziness, and old fashioned human nature conspire to create the bureaucratic haze so common in any large organization.

The second: RedState’s call to action to get involved, somehow, ANYHOW in the coming election season:

Well, we’re 27 days away from a new year.

The year.

The year we’ve been talking about for 14 months.

I have a question for you. What are you prepared to do?

Are you going to just sit by, worry, be anxious and complain about how everything is being messed up in our country?

Or are you going to do something about it?

…..

We are not all called to be the candidate. We are not all called to finance the campaign. We are not all called to traipse around the countryside and put up signs in the craziest of places. And we are not all called to make phone calls and stuff envelopes.

But, I do believe that we, as people interested in and passionate about this thing called liberty, do have a responsibility to be involved in some way.

And finally, but of most interest to political professionals, Virginia Conservative’s ongoing tale of his time in the 93rd, with these words of caution to any field organizer, paid or volunteer:

So where is a good place to look for volunteers?  How about the city and county Republican committees?  After all, these people have shown at least a marginal level of interest and commitment.  Sadly, committees are not a good source of volunteers.  First of all, the average age of committee members are much higher than your average age of volunteers.  Once you reach seventy years old, you’re much less likely to be physically able to go door-to-door.  Second, some people have the mistaken impression that committee membership is sufficient involvement to elect like-minded candidates.  How many undecided voters can you reach in a committee meeting?  Now don’t think that I must hate committees just because I can’t wring them dry for volunteers.  Certainly not!  They are indispensable and many committee leaders are the hardest working, most motivated, and most dependable people you will ever meet.  Seek out the committees for help, but if your search begins and ends there you will be woefully short of help.

Sunday Morning Quarterbacking

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

The first press clippings are coming out about the Advance. What’s curious is that the DPV Central Committee just happened to meet in Staunton on the same day, and writers can help but compare the two events. But first, the Advance, from the RTD:

In a celebratory mood, Virginia Republican activists hailed their conquering heroes yesterday after several years of discouraging defeats.

“Isn’t it great to have an Advance where we can actually celebrate?” said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. “The last few years have been like wakes.”
“We’re happy, hopeful and energized,” said Del. Benjamin L. Cline, R-Amherst, who for the first time carried the college town of Lexington.

…..

McDonnell, who drew a standing ovation and loud huzzahs, spelled out why he thought the VRepublicans won: “We stuck to our conservative principles, while providing practical solutions.”

McDonnell said voters wanted solutions to the everyday economic problems confronting them, and the Republicans offered those solutions. McDonnell said that by 2014, when he leaves office as Virginia’s 71st governor, he wants Virginia to be the energy capital of the East Coast; government to be careful about spending taxpayers’ money; more “privatization, innovation and consolidation;” merit pay for teachers; and all highway rest stops reopened.

The Post was also there on Day One:

Tonight was mostly about socializing.

Republicans walked from one hospitality suite to another where they sipped drinks from open bars, munched on cheese and crackers and picked up more stickers.

Most suites were hosted by 2010 congressional candidates including Scott Rigell , Ken Golden and Ben Loyola who are vying to replace U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye (D) and Feda Kidd Morton running for U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D) seat. Keith Fimian, who is opposing U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly for a second time, also made the trip.

And Day Two:

McDonnell, visibly relaxed and seven pounds heavier since the election, individually thanked many of his supporters and volunteers.

“The Republican resurgence has begun in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

McDonnell talked about how Republicans won the election — by offering solutions to everyday problems — but his loudest applause came when he promised to uphold the conservative issues he rarely talked about on the trail.

“I was a pro-life attorney general for Virginia and I will be a pro-life governor,” he said. “I was a Second Amendment attorney general for Virginia, and I will be a Second Amendment governor.”

As I mentioned, the Dems held a meeting, but the mood wasn’t nearly the same for Creigh Deeds’ victory, I tried my best guys, I really did, I’m sorry speech. From the WaPo:

Looking rested and wearing an open collar shirt under his blazer, Deeds was greeted warmly by his fellow Democrats and spent long moments huddled with longtime senate pals Mary Margaret Whipple and Dick Saslaw. The crowd of more than 100 gave Deeds a standing ovation when Gov. Tim Kaine recognized Deeds as “one of the finest people I know in public life.”

Still, quietly, a few activists said they blame Deeds for the breadth of the party’s losses in November, believing his hesitancy to embrace the agenda of Democrats at the national level left the party unenthusiastic about his effort.

And of course, leave it up to Virginia Democrats to throw more bad after bad:

With many party members convinced November’s losses came because Democratic office seekers did not clearly enough set out policy positions that distinguished them from Republicans, the party took the unusual step of adopting a resolution on a policy issue: With little discussion the central committee voted to encourage all of Virginia’s Democratic members of Congress to support a health care reform bill that includes a public option.

Seriously?? Adopt THAT in a part of the state that CLEARLY repudiated you? When the Republicans just succesfully reamed you by showing what a charade your “reform” package is? Of course, in their words of their House leader:

“A lot of it was apprehension about what’s going on in Washington, make no mistake about it,” Armstrong said.”People say they want change–right up to the moment it shows up.”

That’s right–If I ordered a $20 dollar steak and got a bill for $100, I’d be pretty pissed off too.

But perhaps my favorite line comes from the WaPo blog’s preview of the weekend: “GOP prepares to Celebrate, Dems to Commiserate

Advance Update

December 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Well, I’m not there, of course–but I may not be going much of anywhere today, with between 4 to 6 inches of snow forecasted for the Valley today. If I end up being home later today, I’ll try to live-blog my thoughts on the luncheon and the gala, which are being streamed via video by RPV (courtesy of help from Greg Leticeq, proprieter of BVBL). Greg hinted at bold proposals to come from Eric Cantor at the Dinner tomorrow evening, so it may well be worth your while.

What we’re hearing:

–Mark Obenshain’s suite featured only coffee and sweets and is getting a bit less attention than others (Edit: as someone who is over alcohol in politics, I find this to be a refreshing departure)

–Eric Cantor’s suite is packing them in. Other Congresscritters in attendance: Forbes, Wittman, and Goodlatte–wait a second–the whole dang delegation is there! (Edit: Forgot Wolf! Will verify if he was around) They’re all usual suspects….still waiting word on if any contenders from the 5th outside of Morton showed up

–Krystle’s post may have very little to do with the Advance, but it still makes me feel downright alright about occasionally “shopping” (read: buying Red Bull from the corner store) in flip flops and flannel pants. As long as it leads to you all enjoying this blog, I’m alright with it. I couldn’t agree more with her thesis (despite the fact that I am on the opposite end of both the gender and size spectrum from Lady Krystle)