Archive for the ‘State Government’ Category

Money Talks

December 7, 2009 Leave a comment

VPAP (h/t WaPo) has comparisons and figures out for this year’s House and Statewide races. Despite a slumping economy, records were still set: the Wekheiser v. Albo race was apparently the second most expensive race in Virginia history for a seat in the General Assembly. The only race to ever beat it: 2007’s legendary affair between Democrat Chap Petersen and Republican Jeanmarie Devolites-Davis. Two parallels: both were in Northern Virginia, an extremely expensive media market, and both produced a lopsided outcome despite the money spent (43% for Wekheiser, 44% for JDD), except this time the incumbent prevailed.

There were a number of other races that broke into the top ten. Though the WaPo is counting ten races breaking the million dollar mark, VPAP only counts nine (as I did too). This is about on par to 2007, when there were ten $1M+ races for the House and seven in the Senate. It should be noted that no one candidate broke the million dollar mark, although Albo came close with $933k.

Other interesting numbers:

  • Although the general election for the Gubernatorial race did not break the record, when the money is factored in for the two losing Democratic primary candidates a record $52.8 million was spent. It should be noted that this was the first seriously contested nomination fight for the Governor’s mansion for either party since, arguably, 1993, when George Allen beat off Earl Williams and Clint Miller. 1985 was the last time the Democrats had a primary.
  • Spending on the Attorney General’s race was actually down from over $11k to about $7.2k. This figure includes the ultimately non-affair of the Republican nominating convention in May. The Washington Post, though, points out that in 2005 the race went into overtime with the recount between Deeds and McDonnell.
  • Only two of the top nine races were outside of either Northern Virginia or the Beach/Hampton Roads: Rob Bell’s re-election bid in Albemarle (a blowout win) and Dr. Scott Garrett in Lynchburg (a squeaker). Two other races that almost made the list were Greason in Loudon and Villanueva in the Beach.

Lots of great information for those who are really into the money race, and plenty of nauseating details for those who bemoan the influence of money in Virginia politics, what with its unlimited donations and expenditures.

Give this man some air!

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Cal Thomas has a column in the Washington Times, the first of what I’m sure will be an endless stream of copy hailing McDonnell as a new Republican hero.

In a recent interview at his transition office, Mr. McDonnell – who crushed his opponent Creigh Deeds by a 59 percent to 41 percent majority, attracting sought-after independents by a 2 to 1 margin – said that while he emphasized bread-and-butter issues like jobs, transportation and taxes during the campaign, he hasn’t forgotten social issues that are near and dear to the Republican base: “I am a social and economic conservative and have made no bones about it. I have an 18-year record as attorney general and as a legislator of not only supporting, but leading on a lot of those issues … but what I understood people were most concerned about … were quality-of-life and pocketbook issues: jobs, economic development, taxes and federal intrusion into the free-enterprise system.”


Message: If you have a good platform that can improve the economy and promote job creation, independents will give you a pass on your social agenda. That is a reversal of traditional Republican thinking of putting social issues front and center. “I try to [attract Independents] by reaching out and embracing people, not having a covenant of limitations that excludes people.”

Certainly Mr. McDonnell has set up a winning playbook for Republicans to use to their full advantage in 2009, and his team deserves the plaudits it has won over the past few weeks, including at the recent RGA conference. But the time is drawing down for that: now is the time for governance, a task that Mr. McDonnell is fully up to. I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll lead by his guiding conservative principles–indeed, he’s doing his homework as we speak–but let’s give them some time to go into effect before we start throwing the man into the national spotlight as a “contender”, alright? He’s got a Commonwealth to run, and the last guy made a pretty big mess of things…..

Our Man Mitch?

December 3, 2009 1 comment

For someone who recently has begun making sport out of saying no to a possible presidential bid, Mitch Daniels sure is making a heck of alot of sense whenever he does speak (though some may argue that commonsense’s natural momentum is away from those seeking higher office). From the Washington Times (h/t Brothers Judd), Daniels of fiscal conservatism as a moral issue:

“The essence of our nation is the protection of individual liberties,” he says in an interview with The Washington Times. “That means, for example, never take a dollar from a free citizen through the coercion of taxation without a very legitimate purpose.

“And then we have a solemn duty to spend that dollar as carefully as possible, because when we took it we diminished that person’s freedom. Otherwise, that citizen could spend that dollar on something he or she chose. This is an obligation of everybody who serves in government.”

On the issues any 2012 contender will need to address:

For one thing, “a colossally unsustainable [national] debt load — an unfair, even immoral burden we’ve deposited on our young people,” he says.

“The threat of Islamic fundamentalism coupled with its ability to take advantage of modern technology,” for another.

And then there’s “our reliance on energy purchased from people who use the money in ways contrary to American interests.”

And perhaps most refreshing–modesty and austerity (a topic he gave an entire commencement address on this past spring):

A Princeton graduate from a modest family background, he conveys in conversation the image of the quiet-spoken libertarian-populist for whom braggadocio is simply unthinkable. Getting him to talk about his accomplishments isn’t easy. “I want to look to the future,” he says.


Ask him to crow about his gubernatorial accomplishments, and he flatly refuses. Press him by asking if there’s anything he’s proud of having done in office, and you learn he is “pleased” he took a state that was in bankruptcy when he came into office “and put it in the best fiscal position ever,” though he acknowledges that holding on to that status is tough in this economy.

The article goes on to cite some of his accomplishments as Governor. He has been able to govern the way Bob McDonnell promises to–conservative principles guiding real results. Through initatives such as privatizing the state’s toll roads and keeping an eye on state payroll (actually managing to REDUCE it, of all things), Daniels has been able to cut property taxes by a third statewide and affect the largest tax cut in state history.

Perhaps his biggest watchword? Accountability. The state’s DMV went from being a joke to winning an award for the best in the nation. The average time spent in an office is SEVEN MINUTES. How was this accomplished? By rewarding good employees and punishing or removing bad ones. Sorta sounds like a business, no? Yet Mitch Daniels seems to be the only one with the courage to do it.

I encourage any conscientious conservative serious about cutting government size and scope to look into this man.  I will admit he has one mark against him–in his first year in office he proposed a 1% income tax hike. But when the state legislature balked, he simply took out his scissors and not only made state government work with less but work better. His humility may prevent him from talking about higher office, but one things for sure: I’d rather spend the next two years convincing him to run only to see him decline than to jump on the Cheney 2012 bandwagon.

Thank You for Not Thinking

December 2, 2009 6 comments

Here’s some snark from the gang at the Weekly Standard for this, the second day in which Virginia is a slightly less free place to do business:

Last February, the assembly passed a smoking ban, thereby depriving business owners of the right to make decisions about how to run the businesses they own, and depriving patrons of a choice between smoking and non-smoking establishments.

Good thing, too, because the market place, responding to customer predilections as it’s wont to do, had just about licked the “problem” the legislature sought to solve:

By February, when the legislature finally passed the ban after years of lobbying by anti-smoking advocates, about 66 percent of restaurants had already gone smoke-free in response to customer demand. A week ago, that proportion was about 75 percent.

So, the smoke had already been nearly eliminated—the ostensible reason for the law— but the legislature saved us from the potentially horrifying consequences of leaving in place the freedom to run an establishment with a smoking section. To be fair, I have heard that second-hand freedom can be very dangerous for state legislatures.

The article goes on to recount Arizona’s current fight against live fish pedicures. No, that was not a non-sequiter. Some enterprising soul came up with this in response to–get this–increased regulations on the use of razors in nail salons.

Only in America could someone come up with such an idea and the government see fit to get involved.

Saxman Advising McDonnell on Education

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Soon-to-be Former Delegate Chris Saxman will be advising the McDonnell administration on public education, according to the News Virginian via SWACGirl. Saxman’s retirement took many by surprise–including yours truly, whose territory included Saxman’s seat in the House of Delegates. Saxman had been eyed as many as a possible contender for Lt. Governor in 2009 before Bill Bolling made the race. He also briefly considered a run for the GOP nod for United States Senate against Jim Gilmore. From the NV:

Saxman, R-Staunton, said he and former Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Bosher will spend the next month reviewing personnel, programs and criteria at the Virginia Department of Education before issuing a report to McDonnell on Jan. 4.

Saxman said his review could entail how to work on McDonnell’s plan for additional charter schools in a time of lean state budgets. “It’s quite an honor and a privilege to take on a transition area like K-12 education,’’ said Saxman, who has been a strong proponent of school choice during his four terms in the state House.
Saxman also said serving on the transition team would offer him an opportunity to “see how the executive branch works.”

Even before leaving the House one of Saxman’s biggest issues was educational choice. He was behind the founding of the School Choice Virginia 501(c)4 group that has made a big splash both here and in D.C.–they were upfront in the recent publicizing of data that shows the public firmly in support of school choice. The group is headed by former Saxman aide and campaign manager Whitney Duff.

Two outcomes from this announcement. One, McDonnell is giving hints of a sweeping legislative agenda to come in the next few months. Two, we haven’t seen the last of Chris Saxman. Chris is a young guy, just in his 40s. He’s also a smart and dedicated guy, willing to take big risks to get his core values time in the spotlight. I’d put money against Saxman joining the administration, but Saxman’s soapbox is now a whole lot bigger than the one he occupied in the House.

Continuing Advance Coverage

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

CPAC currently leads in the polls, and since I may otherwise be engaged this weekend, the Advance is looking out for me. However, that doesn’t mean an end to our continuing team coverage of RPV’s Advance this weekend. I’m working on plans for a correspondent during the event. Bella has volunteered, but unfortunately there’s no way for me to humanely get her there, and I have yet to discover a way to discreetly mike her, despite the large frame of your average Norwegian Forest cat. Not that I think that a cat would be out of place. This is the confab where there will be much discussion of the Grand Old Party’s new outreach to a wider swath of voters, and I can only assume that includes Feline Americans, given the “Cat Lovers for McDonnell” button I spotted on the trail (and still seek for my collection, FYI).

Ok, enough of my insane ramblings. On to my very real thoughts about the coming weekend. First, some background on the event. It was started by former Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Donald S. Huffman, who served from 1983 to 1992. The event is an annual gathering of Republican activists to both discuss the past election’s results (there’s one every year in Virginia) as well as to prepare for the coming year. One would think this of this as a retreat, right? Well, Huffman and the original organizers were of the mind that the GOP should never retreat but always “advance.”

Read more…

Some ’09 Bits and Pieces

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Here’s some interesting stories and media about both the aftermath of the 2009 election season. First, the Richmond Times Dispatch on the brilliance of the McDonnell campaign. They note the importance of competence in a campaign. Just how can voters be expected to support someone who can barely manage their own effort to get elected:

The underlying problem for Deeds may have had little to do with strategy and tactics, however; at times the Deeds campaign appeared incompetent. Groups reported great frustration in trying to set up meetings and forums with Deeds. The candidate himself proved inept when working crowds. The Democrats dispatched mediocre surrogates to events where Deeds’ presence was required. Appointments that should have been scheduled in a day or two took several days or more.

The McDonnell effort never faltered. The candidate and his team stayed on message. If someone were to ask aides who would win the Notre Dame game, the snap answer would say, “Bob’s for jobs.” “Honey, what’s for breakfast?” “Bob’s for jobs.” And so on. McDonnell arrived early at breakfasts, lunches, and dinners — and lingered. He did not rehash old stories about setting out for college with $80 in his pocket but would address issues of immediate concern to his audience. He explained the state implications of Obama’s far-out agenda. His staff promptly returned calls and e-mails.

There’s also some commentary on the brilliant handling of the thesis issue, and notes that while Obama may have had some effect, ultimately campaigns matter.

Meanwhile, McDonnell’s ticket mate Ken Cuccinelli is getting to work. Also from the RTD:

Ken Cuccinelli sits at the head of an empty table in a large conference room at the Virginia attorney general’s office in Richmond — a fast-food cheeseburger in one hand and an open binder, thick with office briefings and organizational charts, in front of the other.
He intends to devour both.
As the attorney general-elect, Cuccinelli — a 41-year-old lawyer, fa ther of seven and Republican state senator from Fairfax County — inherits a statewide office formerly occupied by Bob McDonnell, who leveraged the high-profile post into a successful run for governor this fall.
“The first priority really is to get a team in place here that can continue, and we’re always seeking to improve the professional quality of the work done in the AG’s office,” Cuccinelli said.

The article also features praise from, of all people, Ken Willis, state director of the ACLU. It also features some of Ken’s trademark good humor and humility:

McDonnell, who turned the office over to Bill Mims in February to run for governor, said Cuccinelli has good people to work with in his old office.
Said Cuccinelli: “He emphatically told me I was getting a good office, by which he meant very knowledgeable and professional, very capable, doing a good job, even while struggling with the budget.
“He finished with: ‘Don’t screw it up,'” Cuccinelli added. “So I’ll try not to screw it up.”

Finally, via Bearing Drift, comes a remarkable video showing some of the hard work and dedication of people behind the scenes. It also features some heartwarming scenes of the Governor-elect himself being, well, a real person and the good natured, dedicated man that so many of us on the Victory staff were extremely proud to work for.