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The Saga Continues: The AG Race (POLL INCLUDED)

Movie franchises work best in threes. Comedy has its own rule of threes. And here in Virginia, we have three statewide elected officials elected in the year between the presidential and midterm elections. So, of course, I feel like I have to complete my own trilogy of posts about the state of the race for 2013. As has been said by me and plenty others, much is in flux right now, and this isn’t even the biggest race on the radar. Those, of course, are the US Senate Race and the Presidential election, for which the GOP will need all hands on deck next year to prevail in. However, as we recently saw with the discussions over the presidential primary ballot requirements and the “loyalty oath” issue for said primary, these races are definitely coloring how people are approaching the 2012 races. So, since we’ve already gotten a feel for where we’re at for the Governor and LG races, why not go for a threepeat?

A caution–let us not read too much into any results I have to offer. If anything, the only thing internet polls are good for are for giving us a slight idea of who has the best organized and motivated people. That, and just who reads what blogs. (My readers/acquaintances seem to be more Bolling fans than Cuccinelli fans, given that my poll results were the inverse of Bearing Drifts) But, in a number driven business, they’re just fun too, so why not?

Your Contenders

Announced

  • Delegate Robert Bell–Bell is starting his fifth term in Richmond as a Delegate representing a Piedmont based district, with territory in Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and just a chunk of Rockingham Counties. (This makes for an interesting race, as that means two candidates represent parts of the same locality) Bell was first elected in 2001 and has represented a “purplish” district–mostly due to the Albemarle based precincts but has consistently done well. Bell’s ambition has been known for a long time, but this cycle marks his first clear shot at the brass ring. Bell has often been considered one of the “young guns” of the General Assembly (though at forty four, he’s just five years younger than another candidate). He’s married with two young children. Bell has been a pretty reliable conservative in the General Assembly, but some of his legislative agenda has tended towards strengthening laws and regulations–something that may not play well with the current libertarian leanings predominant amongst many Virginia GOP activists. Bell chairs the powerful Criminal subcomittee, which handles a large chunk of legislation that comes through the GA each year. Additionally, Bell is a former prosecutor, something that’s always a plus (though not a necessity) in this race. Bell is also a pretty formidable fundraiser.
  • Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk John Frey–Frey, the three term clerk of the combined Fairfax and Fairfax Circuit Courts, is something of an unknown entity to many activists–even a few in Northern Virginia. However, from what I had learned about Frey, he certainly brings an interesting angle to things. For one, he’s not in any real way tied to Richmond as it is, and I think we can expect him to talk alot about the relationship between the state and localities, a tack that will likely also be taken by Corey Stewart in the AG’s race. Additionally, he brings the sort of executive experience that Bell and Obenshain don’t quite have, running an office of more than one hundred fifty employees with a budget of $11 million. I’m not sure about Frey’s experience as a lawyer nor his fundraising abilities, but it’ll be interesting to learn more, as he’s attempting a path that hasn’t been successful on the GOP side since Jim Gilmore won the AG slot in 1993 (going from local to statewide office).

“Exploring”

  • State Senator Mark Obenshain–Right now Obenshain is said to be “exploring” a run for Attorney General, but he has launched a committee specifically for this race and its said that an official announcement is forthcoming–he’s in. Obenshain is embarking on his third term in the State Senate. Obenshain has twice handily dispatched opponents in this rock solid red district, and in 2011 no one even bothered running against him. Obenshain has been a stalwart conservative in a Senate that was, earlier in the last decade, more under the influence of moderates. Obenshain has a reputation as a fighter but also as somebody who can get things done. Obenshain has been a decent fundraiser, but compared to Bell, he’s never had the real need to raise a huge chunk of coin to get the job done. Obenshain is more closely linked to Cuccinelli than Bell, the two having been close in the State Senate, and therefore may draw many of Cuccinelli’s supporters, but Obenshain has clearly stated his neutrality in the Governor’s race. It certainly doesn’t hurt, either, that Obenshain is the son of a party legend, former RPV Chair and 1978 Senate Nominee the late Richard Obenshain (who died in a air crash during the campaign and was replaced on the ticket by now Former Senator John Warner). I’m not sure but I don’t believe Obenshain has any prosecutorial experience but is regularly named one of Virginia’s “Legal Elite” by Virginia Business Magazine. Obenshain has two children in college, is married, and is 49.

Possible Candidates

  • Former Arlington School Board Chair Dave Foster–Foster ran in 2009 and came in third at the convention to Cuccinelli and Brownlee on the first (and only) ballot. Foster’s primary claim to fame is as a member of the Arlington County School Board (0nce as chair) and is regularly touted as a figure who can break the Democratic stranglehold in that region (although the School Board is non-partisan). Foster raised a decent amount of money in the AG’s race last time but never really gained any traction, squeezed by Cuccinelli’s strident conservative legislative accomplishments and Brownlee’s tough on crime rhetoric. Foster has remained active, hosting hospitality suites at recent Advances. Foster’s biggest appeal was and is as a Republican in deep blue territory–but last time he wasn’t the only one, with Cuccinelli in the mix, and this time he won’t be the only one either if Frey does indeed make it to the primary. Foster may instead make the race to replace now-State Senator Barbara Favola on the Arlington Board of Supervisors, but the guy’s scrappy–if he takes a pass on that, and its looking very likely, then we’ll have a better idea of where he’s leaning.
  • Former US District Attorney John Brownlee–Brownlee could make the race again, having placed second to Cuccinelli at the 2009 State Convention. Brownlee is many a consultant’s perfect storm candidate–a veteran, a tough on crime prosecutor, young, great looks. However, Brownlee, despite his sterling prosecutorial credentials, never really made a strong case against the Cooch and managed to lose a good chunk of the rural counties, supposedly his strongest area as he served in the Western District in Roanoke. Still, Brownlee was a pretty decent fundraiser and pulled in some pretty good supporters, but don’t count him out yet. However, keep in mind that a GOP win in November could lead to different opportunities for Brownlee…..

So there’s your slate, folks. Vote above, with the usual choices (all of the above mentioned plus undecided and someone else). Feel free to share any further thoughts or candidates in the comments below.

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Selecting A Second (POLL)

December 19, 2011 1 comment

The biggest political news in Virginia over the last few weeks has been the emerging primary between Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Well, to a certain degree….that story is slowly being overtaken by talk of the Governor’s agenda for the upcoming General Assembly Session and the upcoming Presidential Primary (though if Virginia will have much impact right now is anybody’s guess).

However, a new survey from Public Policy Polling (a Democrat leaning firm in North Carolina) put the conversation back in the news. Right now, Cuccinelli has a tentative lead over Bolling, 44% to 25%. A few issues with this poll–one, they use automated polling, rather than live interviews. Two, there’s no indication in the toplines that there was any real attempt at geographic weighting. One big issue right now for Bolling is that he simply doesn’t seem to generate much attention from the GOP faithful, despite having been in the limelight for the last seven years, stemming back to his first run for his current job. While his net favorable is +24%, 52% of primary voters don’t have an opinion of him. This compares to Cuccinelli’s net +41%, with 27% not having an opinion. However, Bolling is already attempting to heighten his profile, starting with this WaPo profile on his new role as the state’s “part-time decider” (referring to his new role as the tie breaking vote in the State Senate). Meanwhile, Cuccinelli has fired back at some of the key criticisms of his decision in an email to supporters shared at Bearing Drift.

So all that’s going on….but what about the race for the silver medal? That is to say, what about the Lt. Governor’s race? Right now, the other race ginning up alot of attention is Bell v. Obenshain v. Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk John Frey for Attorney General. Historically, here in Virginia, Attorney General has been the preferred stepping stone to the Gubernatorial nomination, but that all really depends on just how things play out in the general. If your AG candidate lose but the LG wins, then they suddenly find themselves in the catbird seat. Given that Virginia has few statewide offices compared to neighboring states, its not a bad place to be if your aspirations eventually head in the direction of the Governor’s mansion. So, naturally, the position tends to draw stiff competition, even if, statutorily speaking, its pretty dang boring (though most LGs preside over the Senate more actively than their federal counterparts and McDonnell has given Bolling more duties to Bolling than usual, the primary duty is still the macabre responsibility of waiting for the unthinkable to happen).

So, who wants this possible diamond in the rough? Here’s the rumored/announced contenders so far:

Announced On the precipice of announcing, but not quite yet…..

  • Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart–So far Stewart is the only announced candidate for Lt. Governor. Corey has been making the rounds for several years around the state and already earned a great deal of cachet through his localities efforts on illegal immigration. He would not be the first local elected to make the leap from county politics to the state level (his predecessor, Sean Connaughton, ran for the position in 2005), but he’s probably the best positioned, coming from a key locality for statewide campaigns. He also carries less of the baggage that weighed down Connaughton in terms of fiscal issues. Furthermore, Stewart is also guaranteed to shake up the debate on localities versus the state in a way that Warrenton Mayor George Fitch failed to do in his quixotic 2005 Gubernatorial campaign. UPDATE: Corey isn’t exactly announced, but he’s definitely way more “in the game” than the rest of the field. So I’ll keep him separated from the rest of the bunch with the caveat that he’s not announced–but he’s more or less running.

Rumored

  • Keith Fimian–Mr. Fimian has twice been the GOP nominee against now Congressman Gerry Connolly (formerly Fairfax County Chairman). Fimian came very close to an upset in 2010, but alas, no cigar. However, he still has a large following and certainly would start out with some strength in 2010–something that would make the roadmap more difficult for Stewart. However, Fimian won’t start with much of a base outside of the 11th unless he really steps up his operation over the next twelve months, and as a two time loser may have an image problem to overcome. Still, he’s a dynamic figure and one to watch at this stage.
  • Pete Snyder–Mr. Snyder is the founder of New Media Strategies, an Arlington based social media firm. He recently left the firm to start a venture capital firm, Disruptor Capital, and to head RPV’s Victory 2012 program. Snyder is certainly well known within professional political circles, but less-so-amongst rank and file activists. However, he has strong business ties (ones that will only get stronger with his new venture) and his part in the Victory program will bring him a higher profile over the next year. Again, his NOVA ties are a plus. However, his part in the Victory program could possibly be as much a hinderance as a help, as there will likely be pressure for him not to be campaigning while trying to win Virginia for the GOP.
  • Ed Gillespie–Former RPV, RNC, and McDonnell for Governor chair, Gillespie has a long, long history of Republican political work. He’s going to bring not only political expertise to the table but also financial ties and likely a top notch management team. Gillespie won’t likely be able to bank on NOVA ties as much as the aforementioned candidates. He’s one of those Beltway types who lives in Virginia because, well, what professional Republican wants to live in Maryland (Sorry Krystle, but if its any consolation, I still want Crabs for Christmas)
  • Senator Jeff McWaters–I’ve gotta admit, I’m somewhat in the dark on McWaters, other than he won a special election for the seat of now Sheriff Ken Stolle down in VA Beach. Also, he’s earned a 92% rating from the American Conservative Union–not shabby. It would be a big jump to go from one and change terms in the State Senate to a statewide bid–right now, I imagine the talk is driven largely by the lack of other contenders from that part of the state. But he’s not a horrible fundraiser and was certainly generous with his money in 2011, so we shall see.

So that’s the field right now. I have them all included in the poll above, so vote away….well, them plus one. Right now, as a wild card, I’m including Delegate Ben Cline. Why? A few reasons. One, although is pretty much assumed that Delegate Cline is the heir apparent to Congressman Goodlatte, Goodlatte is pretty young in Congressional terms–he could conceivably serve another decade or so, so long as he beats off his upcoming primary challenge (and right now that seems like a good bet). Cline has a leadership PAC (although its seen little activity), and he hosted a hospitality suite at the Advance this year. He’s put himself through law school since he started his run in the House. I’d be surprised if Cline, a young comer by any account, sits still for too long–it’d be curious for someone to go from LG to Congress, but hey, stranger things have happened. At just 39 Cline certainly has room to grow, so hey, why not?

I suspect that the field we discuss now will not be the one we end up with in June of 2013. I suspect a Richmond based candidate will pop up, and I would be very surprised in that many NOVA based candidates stay in. In 2005 there were 5 candidates flirting with LG at one time or another but only 2 ended up on the ballot. It’s a big task getting on the statewide primary ballot (ask Emmet Hanger), so we’ll revisit this later. For now, though, have fun, and include any additional rumors you’ve heard in the comments.

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.

Obenshain at the Advance

November 30, 2009 1 comment

In my inbox today comes word that State Senator Mark Obensahin, who represents my neck of the woods, will be hosting a “sweet” hospitality suite at the Advance:

A celebration of Election Day’s sweet victory with sweets – featuring ice cream and a coffee bar – and sign up for drawings for ten copies of Craig Shirley’s “Reagan’s Revolution” and ten copies of Ron Maxwell’s critically acclaimed Civil War films “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals”

These sorts of family-friendly events have become the rage at the last couple of Republican Advances/Conventions and are a welcome change from others were booze is more the norm. They’re also smart politics with the religious right and homeschoolers continuing to flex their respective muscle at these events.

The bigger story here though is that Obenshain is venturing out on his own to do a hospitality suite. Hospitality suites are historically a way for potential candidates and leaders to both thank activists for their support and get their attention in an intimate setting. Obenshain had been touted by some as a possible candidate for AG in 2009. However, he yielded to Ken Cuccinelli. Word has it that the Senator was worried about putting his family through the challenging grind of the campaign as his children enter late adolescence (one is finishing high school and another is a freshman at JMU). This is a position to respect.

Additionally, it gives Obenshain time to continue to build his already stellar credentials as a law and order type (he and Todd Gilbert have led the fight against crystal meth and the expansion of the death penalty to those who order capital murders) as well as a reliable voice for fiscal conservatism (VDOT, anyone?).

Given this record, his stellar service to the party (he was a constant source of support for me during my time in Harrisonburg), and his current role as an advisor to AG-elect Ken Cuccinelli during the transition, Senator Obenshain will be one to watch in the next four years. If nothing else, I can guarantee you he will be a strong voice for fiscal sanity in the Senate (a space where it is often hard to find) and an advocate for the sort of pragmatic plans with strong conservative foundations that Bob McDonnell advocated on the trail.

Obenshain’s Introduction

Terribly sorry, but I totally forgot that I put up Senator Mark Obenshain’s introduction of Bob McDonnell on YouTube. Here it is, and as Virginia Conservative said, Obenshain really bridges the gap between hardcore ideological conservatives and the more pragmatic conservatives such as McDonnell. 

Obenshain on Conservatism

Mark Obenshain’s father was Richard Obenshain, one of the finest conservative minds and leaders ever to enter Virginia politics. As party chairman in the early 70s and briefly as the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate in 1978, Obenshain oversaw the party’s strategy of appealing to economically and socially conservative people who were increasingly becoming disenchanted with the national Democratic Party.

During his brief 1978 campaign, Obenshain largely ran on economic issues, which were then as now troubling the nation. They were also appealing to the fast growing suburbs of Richmond, just as economic concerns drive many Northern Virginia voters today. However, Obenshain never betrayed his core conservative principles and belief in the rights of the individual and the superirority of the free enterprise system. 

In the above video his son shows that he continues to carry that flame, and that perhaps he may someday hold the statewide office his father was never able to attain. 

VDOT: Video Department, Occasionally Transportation

I spent last night with 176 of my fellow Shenandoah County Republicans at our Annual Lincoln Day Dinner. The crowd was the largest its been in years, the food from Shaffer’s catering wonderful (as always), and the speakers electric. I’m working on getting some video up, but there’s one thing I wanted to comment on while I’m getting some of that up. 

As I noted the other day, Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Todd Gilbert have been taking VDOT to task for holding rural Virginia hostage in order to provoke legislators into supporting a tax increase, all while the General Assembly has been unable to get an independent audit of the department conducted. Delegate Gilbert devoted most of his speech to the topic, noting some of the waste during the inaugural while calling again for an independent audit. 

Well, from Mark Obenshain’s office, via Tertium Quids, we have word that VDOT is playing its hand as towards where some of the money is going. It appears that, while making the decision to cut services in rural Virginia, there’s plenty of time and money for the department to launch its very own YouTube channel. There, you can watch scenes from the last winter storm (if your local news station and the Weather channel just weren’t enough):

Learn about the Norris Bridge Festival:

And watch five years worth of bridget demolitions, both with natural sound:

And set to OPERA!

Look, some of these videos are good public service announcements, but are they really best distributed via YouTube? The video on workzone safety should be required watching for every high school driver’s ed class, yet I never recall seeing it. Does VDOT really expect to be able to get the public’s attention this way when videos of laughing babies and dancing cats have hits in the millions? A number of the videos are self-serving promotional materials, but should a department with giant orange trucks really have a PR problem? Well, I suppose if it had no idea how to manage it’s money it might…..

YouTube doesn’t charge a fee, but I’m sure that the videographers who either work for the department or are contracted do. VDOTs maintenance workers are fine, hardworking people who take pride in their work. The problem here is with the bureaucracy. They are making cuts that will cripple rural Virginia, all the while not making such non-essential expenditures clear. Call your Delegate and Senator now and demand an independent audit of VDOT.