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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Bolling’

As Goes Virginia…..

December 27, 2011 1 comment

UPDATE: Via Bearing Drift, it has been learned that Rick Perry has launched his own legal challenge. Actually, it’s beyond launched–the suit has already been filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Their argument seems to be that the requirement that voters be registered to vote or eligible to register in Virginia unconstitutionally restricted his ability to recruit signature gatherers. (Focus on seems to be–I’m not a lawyer) They cite a number of other cases in which registration requirements were struck down. We seem to finally have a number for Perry–6k signatures. This isn’t even close to the 10,000 valid required. We’ll see how this pans out–he may get relief from the court, but I imagine the jeers will be even louder from the blogosphere than they were before. Also, one correction–any legislative fix will require 80 delegates, not 60 as I wrote earlier. That means they’ll need 13 Dems to cross over (12 if Putney votes with the GOP).

This is a Virginia-centric blog, so of course, one would expect me to view the entire political landscape through the prism of the Old Dominion. And sometimes, that can be a rather jaundiced view. However, a funny thing happened over the weekend….Virginia became kinda important. Or at least we think we did, or maybe we became less important….at any rate, people were talking about us.

That came when, in the early hours of Christmas Eve, it became known that the ballot for the March 6th Republican Presidential Primary would feature only former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Volunteers at RPV’s Obenshain Center had been working since the morning of December 23rd. Paul and Romney got through easily, but on that evening it was discovered that Texas Governor Rick Perry wouldn’t make it. That pretty much left Gingrich for those who don’t much care for either candidate, and the supporters of those two to root for Gingrich to fail. Facebook and Twitter lit up with conversation rivaling election night itself. Granted, some of this was likely due to the fact that “Ron Paul” is something of a fighting word for both Ron Paul detractors and supporters, but it was still pretty amazing for the night before Christmas Eve. Ultimately, around 3 a.m., word came out that Gingrich had indeed fallen short. Huzzahs rang out from those who don’t much care for Gingrich, while everyone else who doesn’t much care for Romney or Paul found themselves rather disgruntled. To add tragedy to all of this, one volunteer died in an automobile accident after a day of working to verify signatures.

So what now? Well, let’s first look at this close to home. The very first reaction to this was the first thing that comes to the mind of any loser (or to the mind of any candidate too lazy/principled to fill out paperwork *cough*AlAsbury*cough*): Write-in Time! However, despite the fact that it is discussed every time a primary comes up, write-ins are not allowed in Virginia primaries. Newt Gingrinch, a Virginia voter, was out of the loop on this, along with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who suggested such a thing in his post-Christmas newsletter. What’s left for Gingrich? Well, there could be a legal challenge, but the Washington Post talked to observers who suggest this as unlikely. The other possibility would be an emergency change in election law that would allow write-ins. But the RTD notes this too is a problem: the GA doesn’t convene until Jan 11th, and ballots must be printed by Jan 21st. Emergency legislation requires a supermajority of (updated) four fifths–32 Senators, and 60 80 Delegates. Those are high barriers, and with a very slim Republican majority based solely on the fact we hold the LG’s chair, very unlikely to be reached.

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The Style Primary

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The problem with taking the time to gather your thoughts, at least in the blog world, is that there’s probably someone out there who’s quicker on the draw than you….you wanted to get all the facts straight, double check everything, but somebody else already has (or isn’t too bothered by those pesky “facts”). And so it was with this post, where I had the basic idea that Cuccinelli v. Bolling isn’t going to come down so much to the issues but as a pure contest of political style.

First, DJ over at the Right Wing Liberal:

Very little distances either man on issues: In the State Senate, both Cuccinelli and Bolling established low-tax, low-spending, and culturally conservative records. They even made the same mistake (backing the Howell version of HB3202), and walked it back during the critical but now nrealy-forgotten 2008 special session. We may see some dramatic magnification of miniscule differences, but I doubt it will be enough for any neutral (of which I am one) to go one way or the other.

……

As candidates, Bolling and Cuccinelli have very different skill sets. This is the political version of apples and oranges. Bolling is steady, predictable, and affable; all excellent qualities in a candidate running on a good record in an electorate generally favorable to him. Cuccinelli, by contrast, is dynamic, originial, kinetic, and on occasion hyperactive. Many more voters would be comfortable with Bolling than Cuccinelli (good for voter breadth). Cuccinelli forces voters to think, takes risks that could be game changers, and never backs down from a challenge, thus appealing to voters who are more focused and engaged (good for voter depth). To make things even more complex, each man’s traits could be strengths or weaknesses depending upon the political climate – and that means the political climate could be the one thing that determines which one would be the better candidate.

Chris over at Mason Conservative has much the same thinking, though he framed it more in regional terms:

Its a battle between Richmond and Northern Virginia.

 

The agendas of business interests, local governments, and even the citizens themselves of Richmond and Northern Virginia are different.  Richmond is old Virginia.  Its business interests are defined by old bankers, law firms, and tobacco companies that have been bankrolling Virginia elections since forever.  Northern Virginia is defined by developers, contractors, dot.coms, environmentalists, public servants that come from PTAs and HOAs and where education and transportation and the biggest issues.  And when you look and the needs of both regions of the state, then look at the relative small size of the state budget (compared to other states), there isn’t enough money for both of them.

………

You want to know why Bill Bolling is so outraged at Ken Cuccinelli?  Because Ken represents the biggest threat to the power of Richmond in this state it’s ever seen.  He’s charismatic, made a national name for himself, never was able to be controlled in the senate, and he cannot be pushed aside as a “moderate” someone downstate conservatives would be embarrassed to support.  Bolling has done things the Richmond way.  He’s paid his dues, worked hard, been loyal, said and done the right things, and waited his turn.  Just like all of them.  There isn’t much of a difference in politics between the two, which is a much bigger problem for Bolling.  Ken can’t be brushed aside like Davis was by the claim he’s some wishy-washy Fairfax moderate RINO.  That card is gone, and Bob Marshall proved in 2008 how strong a conservative with a NOVA base can be in a primary, and Ken only confirmed that in 2009 with his drubbing that he laid on two other candidates.

Ken is like Northern Virginia because he doesn’t play by the old rules, he doesn’t care about who’s turn it is, he doesn’t care about the old way of doing things.

And so goes my thinking. What we have here isn’t so much a fight over issues as a fight over style. Bolling comes from the political school of thought that you need to bide your time. Principles are important…you wouldn’t be bothering with this if you didn’t have something pulling you in, right? But what good are you going to be if every time someone challenges you your first move is straight for the jugular? Work the vineyards, move up….you’ll get your chance to make a difference. Cuccinelli doesn’t quite see things that way…..its all about principles, values. You’re either right or you’re wrong. You’re not doing it right if you don’t fight in the streets, leave no stone unturned, refuse to confront people. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Which I think is what makes all of this so disconcerting for so many activists. Let’s face it—RPV is predominantly conservative. Yes, there’s a few, just a few old hat moderates left, but their numbers are dwindling every year. And yes, there’s always someone right behind you saying that you’re not conservative enough……remember, it wasn’t even twenty years ago that George Allen and Ollie North’s people were looked upon with some distaste. It wasn’t so long ago that Allen was the outsider…..and Bolling was one of his guys. But things change. So who do you go with? The guy who takes no quarter on your issues and is willing to lose, so long as he’s right—or the guy who was there all along, used to even be more like his now opponent, but waited, worked for this moment?

A sidenote: A lot of people seem to be framing this in the context of “Republicans always go with the guy whose turn it is.” First off, this is largely based off of experience in presidential primaries—Bush ‘88, Dole ‘96, McCain ‘08. This is comparing apples and oranges. I’m not convinced that “its his turn” holds as much sway as it did prior to the Tea Party rise and their domination in primaries in 2010, nor that it ever really existed below the presidential level—ask former Delegate Clint Miller if he thought it was Allen’s turn in 1993. Secondly, these races are very different—yes, presidential primaries are a long slog, but there you’re dealing with contacting millions of voters in different states, each with its own nuanced system for choosing delegates to the national convention. Here, you’re dealing with getting voters in one state out on just one day (remember, the State Central Committee has already settled on a primary). Yeah, sure, you need to target your areas of the state, but they’re not weighted—whoever gets the most voters wins. Finally, the reason we’ve ended up with “the anointed one” in many past GOP Presidential primaries is not so much that they were always the front runner—Buchanan was whipping Dole hard before South Carolina, and Bush had lost more contests than he won up to South Carolina in 1988. McCain was in a similar situation, and even the Gipper lost Iowa to George H.W. Bush in 1980. The reason they ended up winning was because either they were prepared for the long slog or the new favorites of the activists withered under the hot lights of the media. Say what you will about Cuccinelli upending the order—fair or not, he’s been through this before, as has Bolling, but to a degree he’s had it tougher in no small part to his narrow re-election to the State Senate in 2007. Cuccinelli, love it or hate it, is ready for prime time.

To underscore just what’s going on here in terms of this being more a contest of style than issues, I decided to do a little more research—I decided to actually LOOK at both men’s records. Well, scratch that—I decided to look up where the two men have stood in the eyes of various groups, left and right, that dare to rate members of the General Assembly.

Two important caveats here. One, let’s keep in perspective that Ken and Bill only served concurrently for three sessions—2003 to 2005. If you follow the GA, you know that no one session is quite like the other. Sure there are perennial bills, but those are not the ones that define each session—those bills come up year after year because they always fail. The issues that define each session change. Secondly, just as both men are going to go over each other’s records with a fine toothed comb, so did these interest groups. The bills that each group takes into consideration are rarely, if ever, a complete record of every bill that touched upon that group’s issues, and those issues change from year to year—which is why one year you may get a 100% rating but the next 40%. But until I or some other intrepid blogger gets the time to examine every bill both men voted on (which will likely be around the time one of them or their Democratic opponent is sworn in), this will do.

This information is gleaned, largely from both men’s pages at ProjectVoteSmart (Ken here, Bill here). If either camp wants to correct the record here, I welcome it. So with no further ado:

Cuccinelli and Bolling: Interest Group Ratings

Key:

NS—Not Serving in the body that was rated

NR—Not rated (group did not issue ratings)

All scores are out of 100% unless otherwise noted

Abortion

Virginia Society for Human Life (Pro-Life)

1999

2000

2001

2002

2004-05

2004-2007

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

NS

100

100

Bolling

100

NR

100

100

100

NS

NARAL/Pro-Choice Virginia (Pro-Choice)

2002

2004

2005

2008

2009

Cuccinelli

NS

0

0

0

0

Bolling

0

0

0

NS

NS

Planned Parenthood (Pro-Choice)

2004-05

2009

Cuccinelli

0

0

Bolling

0

NS

Business
Virginia National Federation of Independent Businesses

1996-7

1998-99

2000-01

2006-07

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

100

Bolling

100

83

100

NS

Virginia Chamber of Commerce

1998

1999

2000-01

2002-03

2005

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

NS

82

Bolling

88

89

79

89

100

Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education
97 99 2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Cuccinelli NS NS NS NS NS 62 68 82 NR 61 94 89
Bolling 84 85 100 79 86 71 67 100 NS NS NS NS
LGBT Issues
Equality Virginia

2003

2004

2005

2007

Cuccinelli

0

0

0

67

Bolling

100

0

0

NS

Social Conservatism
The Family Foundation

1999

2001

2002-03

2004-05

2006-07

2008-09

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

100

100

92

91

Bolling

88

93

100

100

NS

NS

*Note: The Christian Coalition did ratings prior to Ken’s service. Bill received a 95% in 1997 and 100% in 1999.

Education

Virginia Education Association

1998

2002

2004

2005

2006

2006-07

2008

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

33/0*

67

80

78

75

Bolling

30

43

33/0*

50

NS

NS

NS

*Note: I found two different scores for 2004; both are included here
The Environment
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
99 2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Cuccinelli NS NS NS NS 17 11 0 43 50 57 10
Bolling 33 60 100 80 20 50 0 NS NS NS NS
Labor
Virginia AFL-CIO
99 2001 2002 2003 2004* 2005* 2006 2007 2008 2009
Cuccinelli NS NS NS 9 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bolling 0 0 50 0 6 11 NS NS NS NS
Gun Rights
National Rifle Association
1999 2003 2005* 2007 2009*
Cuccinelli NS A NR A A+
Bolling A A A NR A+
*Note: Bolling’s 2005 score is for his first LG run. Both men’s 2009 scores are for their respective statewide runs that year. The NRA assigns alphabetical grades that are based both on legislative work and survey responses
Virginia Citizen’s Defense League
I’m having trouble working out percentages here, since VCDL assigns one grade but VCDL-PAC is the one that hands out endorsements. Suffice it to say that both men, as far as I know, have been endorsed by VCDL in all of their runs throughout VCDL’s history. However, if I am wrong here, please let me know. Candidate surveys can be found here—figured I’d provide the source on this one because of the very nuanced nature of this exercise (or rather, the fact that too much nuance will earn you scorn from VCDL).
Conclusion
Obviously there’s a lot to chew on here, and again, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re highly interested in all of this, I suggest tracking down the actual scorecards for that year—again, something’s gotta be up for both men to earn over 50% from Equality Virginia once while pulling in zeroes the rest of the time—same with their wildly gyrating League of Conservation Voters Scores. This is the tip of the iceberg, and we have over a year and a half to go, but for right now—its pretty clear that the two men are relatively close when it comes to core issues for the Republican base. (As DJ pointed out, they both even made the same mistake by backing the miserable transportation plan in 2007, abuser fees and all). I have no commentary beyond that—just wanted to throw this out there.
Corrections, additions, and just plain criticism welcome.

Advance on the Advance

December 2, 2011 3 comments

The last twenty four hours has put a whole new spin on the Republican Party of Virginia’s annual retreat/conference, the Advance. Certainly spirits were expected to be high, given the GOP’s narrow gain of control of the State Senate and continuing enthusiasm for unseating Barack Obama. Of course, as is always the case, various figures were anticipated to start jockeying for position for statewide bids. Which ones, exactly, we didn’t know…..

Then last night the picture became a whole lot clearer when it was leaked that AG Ken Cuccinelli is preparing to announce a bid for Governor. It was expected that this wouldn’t happen until after the Advance, but, now its all out in the open. Cuccinelli has pretty much made it official, starting with an email to his staff that was leaked this afternoon:

You have likely heard in the media the many rumors about an announcement of a run for governor. While I wanted to wait to announce a candidacy until after the General Assembly session, as the rumors swirl, I find it necessary to put them to rest.

After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to run for governor in 2013. I have always intended to let you know before the media. Shortly after you receive this email, I will be sending a statement to the media announcing my candidacy.

Also of note: Cuccinelli stated that he would buck the recent tradition of AGs who seek the Governorship resigning to focus on their campaign/make sure the citizens have a full-time AG (depending on who you ask). Generally this doesn’t happen until the spring of election year, so I find it interesting the Cooch went to lengths from the start to say he wouldn’t be doing that.

We will continue this work together until the last day of my term. Just as I had intended not to resign as attorney general to run for a second term, I will not resign as attorney general to run for governor. The people of Virginia trusted me to be their attorney general, and I intend to give them their full four years. I also think it is important to see these lawsuits against the federal government all the way through, as they are unprecedented battles for liberty in our lifetimes.

I am committed to you and to the citizens of this commonwealth to leading this office and making this job my priority. I have no right to ask the voters for a promotion if I cannot continue to do my current job well.

Meanwhile, there’s been reaction from all corners, ranging from enthusiastic to downright icy. The only reaction anyone really cared about, though, was Bill Bolling’s, and as expected, he is not pleased:

Needless to say, I am very disappointed by Mr. Cuccinelli’s decision to run for Governor in 2013.  During the 2009 campaign, and since taking office in 2010, Mr. Cuccinelli had repeatedly stated that he intended to seek re-election as Attorney General in 2013 and that is what I and other Republican leaders had expected him to do.  Unfortunately, he has now decided to put his own personal ambition ahead of the best interests of the Commonwealth and the Republican Party.

But that much we figured. Bolling, however, has already been able to get the Governor squarely in his corner:

Virginia is fortunate to have both Ken Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling serving in statewide office. They are dedicated public servants and I enjoy working closely with them on a daily basis. While I do prefer a scenario in which both men continue to serve in statewide office together going forward, I certainly respect the right of the attorney general to make his own decision regarding future races. Since early 2008, I’ve been clear that I will strongly support Bill Bolling for Governor in 2013. Bill is a trusted advisor and a close, personal friend. As Lieutenant Governor, Bill has been a key member of our Administration. Serving as our Chief Job Creation Officer, Bill has been tireless and successful in his work to bring more jobs and economic opportunities to the Commonwealth. I look forward to supporting Bill in his campaign for Governor.

So what about the people who will actually decide this thing–you know, Republican voters? Again, reaction has ranged from enthusiastic to ambivalent to polite but disapproving to downright icy, with many in the comments sections of some of the state’s top right leaning blogs cheering for Cuccinelli but just as many chastising him for upending the “system”. Two bloggers have suggested Cuccinelli back off and run for re-election–one a Bolling supporter who fears a bloody primary will upend the party’s chances and another who specifically wants Cuccinelli around to fight UVA on the global climate records issue (UPDATE: for the record, that author is neutral between Bolling and Cuccinelli). For what its worth, in my extremely unscientific and lightly traveled poll, Cuccinelli and Bolling are tied, although there’s a bit more support for Ken running than not. Meanwhile, at Bearing Drift’s equally unscientific but far more participated in poll, Cuccinelli is leading Bolling 64%-32% (for some reason, they included neither rather than undecided). In the only scientific polling that has been done, an automated poll by PPP last August, Cuccinelli garnered 45% to Bolling’s 21%.

Others are bashing Ken for not upholding his “word”. For what it’s worth, as Chris at Mason Conservative points out, Ken wasn’t party to any agreement between McDonnell and Bolling, though at an AG’s debate in 2009 he said he wouldn’t:

“Will you pledge tonight that if elected Attorney General, you will support Bill Bolling for Governor in 2013 and not run against him?, asks Jay Warren.

“That’s just not something I would foresee happening.”, says Cuccinelli.

“So equivocally no?”, asks Jay Warren.

“Yes. Correct.”, responds Cuccinelli.

But he was guarded enough to say he didn’t foresee it….so that was then, and this is now. As I pointed out before, Cuccinelli is a darling of the right, not just at home but across the country. Indeed, rather than being at the Advance on Saturday Night, Cuccinelli will be playing a role as a moderator of a Fox News Presidential forum in New York City. (No word on what his Friday night plans are)

So if we’re looking at a Bolling-Cuccinelli match-up for the big job, where does that leave us for the rest of the potential field for other statewide offices? It was assumed that Lt. Gov. would be the only prize open, but now, it looks like that and AG will both be up for grabs. First out of the gate to finalize his plans is my own State Senator Mark Obenshain, who has announced (unofficially, at least) for AG:

Harrisonburg Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain confirmed Thursday he’s exploring a bid for attorney general in the 2013 statewide election as news broke about the future plans of that office’s current occupant.

A more formal announcement from Obsenshain is expected soon — he said he’ll make his intentions clear after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli declares his plans for the next election. (Cuccinelli is expected to reveal his plans to run for governor in the near term.)

I won’t be shy about sharing this–I’m with Mark. I’ve worked with him since his very first run for State Senate in 2003 (when we shared the back of a pickup truck following a sudden downpour after a July 4th parade in New Market–he got us all to dry land post-haste–my kind of leader). In his time in the State Senate Mark has been a solid leader on issues like eminent domain reform, auditing VDOT, strengthening law enforcement in the battle against the scourge of crystal meth, and the like. He’s also not too shabby of a lawyer, having been repeatedly been named as one of Virginia Business Magazine’s Legal Elite. He brings both the heft on public safety and the sound legal mind we should be looking for in an AG contender. Obenshain will be hosting a hospitality suite at the Advance for himself on Friday night and as part of the Conservative Caucus with Delegate Ben Cline on Saturday night.

Also on tap, Corey Stewart. For what, though, we don’t quite know yet:

Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart just won reelection last month but he’s already eyeing higher office.

Stewart said he will make an announcement in January about a run for statewide office — an office in Richmond.

Earlier this year, Stewart considered seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate but eventually ruled that out. He recently endorsed George Allen.

Stewart’s made no secret of his ambition to seek higher office. He won’t yet reveal which job he’ll seek, but today Republican State Sen. Mark Obenshain, who had been seen as a leading candidate for lieutenant governor, said he’s exploring a bid for attorney general instead now that Ken Cuccinelli will run for governor instead of seeking reelection.

Stewart has received high praise for his local battle against illegal immigration in Prince William County. Stewart’s biggest obstacle will be his record as Supervisor–not that he has a bad one, as the average tax bill in PWC is actually substantially lower than a few years ago. But past history shows that being a Supervisor always yields a few votes that can be spun as “un-conservative”–both former PWC Chair Sean Connaughton and former Hanover Supervisor turned State Senator and now LG Bolling lobbed charges against each other in the 2005 LG race stemming from their own service on their respective Boards. Stewart will host a hospitality suite as well.

So what about the rest of the field, as it were? Well, we really don’t know yet, but there’s a few names that have been floated already, and several will have hospitality suites at the Advance. Here’s the rest of the names we’re seeing:

  • Dave Foster–rumored to be considering a second run for AG, but also noted by some as a potential choice to square off for an open seat on the Arlington County Board of Supervisors
  • Delegate Rob Bell–thought to be another contender for AG
  • Delegate Bob Marshall–with Radtke floundering and no other challenger picking up speed, combined with coming very close to beating former Governor Jim Gilmore for the US Senate nod in 2008, Marshall is seen as possible late entry to the US Senate race
  • Though not listed on the official RPV agenda, Dick Black is said to be hosting one as well. I’m not sure Black is really eyeing anything–after all, he just made his political comeback by securing a State Senate seat this year. I think this is more about securing a statewide financial base for future runs than anything in the near future
  • Keith Fimian, who has twice gone up against Gerry Connolly in the 11th (in an open seat in 08 and as a challenger in 10). He came very close in the 2010 wave, but it looks like he may now have his eye on LG in 2013.
  • Delegate Ben Cline, a former chief of staff to Congressman Bob Goodlatte, is said to be the heir apparent when Goodlatte retires, but with two potential NOVA based candidates for LG, there may very well be a place for Cline in that race…
  • Dumfries Town Councilwoman Kristin Forrester–this is her second go around–she’s up to SOMETHING, but it’s not entirely clear what….
  • former Governor and former Senator George Allen–if I have to explain this one….but yeah, he’s running for the US Senate nomination
  • RPV Chairman Pat Mullins. Interestingly, this one is billed as Pat Mullins FOR Chairman–could be reading too much into this, but that would seem to indicate that Mullins is likely leaning towards seeking re-election as chairman at next June’s state convention

Also hosting suites: Americans for Prosperity and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, along with the Senate Caucus. Plenty of fireworks, what with the sudden start to the 2013 campaign and the Presidential Primary which, ironically, may lurk in the shadows to a certain degree….although many will still be gathering signatures, I imagine.

And So It Comes to This: Cooch v. Bolling (Polls Included)

December 1, 2011 2 comments

From Bearing Drift:

As mentioned here first back in September, two MSM news sources — the WaPo and the Virginia Pilot – are now repeating what Bearing Drift readers have known for weeks…

Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be announcing his bid for Virginia Governor in the coming days, possibly as soon as the RPV Advance this weekend.

It’s been rumbled about for months…well, years, really. After the GOP made their first clean sweep of all three statewide constitutional offices in more than a decade in 2009, it suddenly found itself in an unenviable position–there were now two men on the platform who were viewed as the heir apparents to the Governor-elect Bob McDonnell: AG-elect Ken Cuccinelli and re-elected LG Bill Bolling.

Yeah, yeah, you said “Wha? We just had an election!” That’s not how it works, though–there’s always jockeying for the next time the minute the last votes came in–heck, Mitt Romney was talking 2008 before the first votes were even cast in 2004. It’s all part of the horserace I talked about in my last post. But in the Old Dominion, the stakes are even higher–it’s the only state in the Union that limits its governor to a single four-year term at a time. Governors can come back four years after their successor is chosen, but so far, only one has pulled it off in the modern era. So there’s real incentive, knowing that whatever happens you won’t have contend with the big guy, to go ahead and start planning.

Really, this wasn’t all that new. In 2005, while the top of the ticket in the form of Jerry Kilgore floundered, Bolling won the LG slot for the first time and Bob McDonnell won, though the initial election did lead to a recount. It looked like there would be a repeat of 2001, when LG John Hager and AG Mark Earley squared off at a convention. Earley prevailed but lost the fall election to now-Senator Mark Warner. Many within the party felt the divisive contest led to a weak Earley effort where Warner was able to peel off a good chunk of moderates in rural parts of the state. So all eyes were on the two men to see what would happen. Both held their cards close to the chest, but ultimately in March 2008 Bolling decided not to run, leaving the path clear for Bob McDonnell, who won in 2009 in a landslide along with Bill and Ken.

The word at the time was that Bolling did this with the tentative support of a good chunk of state and local party leaders pledging to keep the path open for him in 2013. But a funny thing happened….the Tea Party. In Cuccinelli, they saw themselves. Even though his rise predates the Tea Party by about 7 years, here was a true, red blooded, take no prisoners conservative–an AG who took on Obamacare and the EPA! Cucinelli very quickly, in word and deed, became  a darling of the Tea Party movement. Bolling, meanwhile, has tended to the party vines and been a good soldier for McDonnell as his Jobs Creation Officer, but frankly, he hasn’t captured the imagination of tea party activists. Some are old Republican hands, some are newer to the party–but Cuccinelli has a lock on them in a way Bolling doesn’t.

So, honestly, to me, its no shock that Cuccinelli has thrown his hat in the ring. You may say, again, “GAH! Why so early??” But honestly, Bolling’s decision came in the midst of the last GOP Presidential contest, so we’re really only a quarter ahead of schedule. But Cuccinelli has been laying the groundwork for a while….what other AG has had volunteer liasions for each county in the state? I think, ultimately, this comes down to timing. One, Cuccinelli probably recognizes that, a few months from now, many Tea Party activists may be distinctly unhappy with the GOP Presidential nominee, so he wants to make sure they don’t stalk away from the party, that they stick around knowing that there’s at least ONE good guy with those goofy/power-mad/corrupted (depending on your take) Republicans. Secondly, this weekend is the annual Republican Re….uh, Advance. Republicans never retreat, always Advance, anyways, long story. My point is hundreds of top level activists will be descnding upon Warm Springs this weekend….and right next door in Rockbridge County, the Tea Party will be hosting a major confab featuring a debate amongst several US Senate Candidates. Why let Bolling take all the spotlight and stay in the background hemming and hawing? Strike while the iron’s hot.

Two notes:

One, there’s a narrative that’s already cropped up that the GOP is the “it’s his turn party”, that it always gives the nomination to the guy who has tended the vines, put in the hours. For starters, I don’t think that’s a good way to handle things. We need to go with candidates who are exciting, articulate with their views, and hold strong positions on key issues. Secondly, I think its a flawed view. People point to Dole in 1996 or Bush in 1988–but let’s keep this in perspective. It wasn’t exactly a cakewalk for Dole–he lost NH, AK, and LA to Buchanan and DE to Forbes, and did not get the margin he wanted in Iowa. Bush, on the other hand, was 6-7 before Super Tuesday led him to the White House. Here’s what happened: Activists became enamored of new candidates, and were drawn to them. They did well, and for a time it looked like the anointed ones may be knocked off. But then the media spotlight kicked in, and they withered. The difference? The old hands had been through this drill. They were able to keep going and slog through the dark days til they got their momentum back. Republican voters didn’t suddenly decide “No, we have to give it to the old hand”–what happened is the flavor of the month went bad, and the old hats were ready to take advantage because they could survive. Heck, even Reagan lost Iowa in 1980. But this go around–well, we have two good soldiers and two old hands. No, Ken hasn’t been around as long as Bolling, but he has done hard work for the party, and he also has been under the withering attentions of the statewide media. So this won’t be as cut and dry as those affairs…..

Secondly, the SCC has already decided on a primary. It comes down to one day, not a series of mass meetings/conventions that lead into a statewide convention (which, by the way, are not binding and difficult to “win”). Nope, its a primary, one in which any voter can vote (though if the Dems also hold a primary, you can only choose one ballot), plus absentee voting to boot, meaning more people can vote, people who may not be able to make it to a convention. The argument usually is that conventions turn out more conservative nominees, as their activists are more dedicated and more willing to travel long distances for their guys, but…..conservatives can benefit. Christine O’Donnell, anyone? I think the way it stands, Cuccinelli could easily run away with NOVA (which, despite his uber-conservative image, would be happy to finally have a true “one of us” in the statehouse…yes, yes, McDonnell was raised there, but he didn’t come “from” there politically) and the Shenandoah Valley, where Cuccinelli appears to be deeply, deeply popular.

However, don’t start writing the Bolling obituaries yet. Let’s keep in mind that Bolling is not exactly a nobody–that’s what makes this race so compelling. And not being a nobody, he has a full stable of consultants who’ve won before, and he’s got his Richmond base, and he’s got financial backers. He already has a substantial cash advantage over Cuccinelli–about a $300k advantage–and plenty of old party hands around the state who won’t give up on him so easy. There’ll be plenty of ink and bytes spilled on this one….

But for now, have your say with the polls at the top and the comments below.

Thoughts on the RPV Luncheon

December 5, 2009 1 comment

The snowfall in the Valley today cut my day at Belle Grove short–not short enough for me to catch the RPV Luncheon live, but enough for me to review the tape. Special kudos to the RPV New Media Committee for making this possible. New media has penetrated every aspect of the Advance moreso than any year (although I’ll note that many of the Commonwealth’s finest twitterers and bloggers have been a bit quiet today–though some of them may be fleeing back home to beat the snow). Here’s the feed for your purusal–I’ll note that a good chunk of the video is a a review of some of Tim Murtaugh’s greatest hits and other gootage from the campaign, so you may want to fast forward to catch the speeches from each of our statewide victors.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

My thoughts below the fold

Read more…

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.

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.