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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.

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Tea Partiers continue to flex muscle

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Norm pointed out over at TQ:

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

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

The Right’s Rebirthing Pains

November 23, 2009 3 comments

In the aftermath of 2008 alot of conservatives seemed almost as if the life had been completely sucked out of them. Many could be found stumbling along, unshaven, hair akimbo, mumbling, “How could this happen? How could they have elected HIM?” I exaggerate some, yet the fact is that many conservatives were utterly dejected, having worked their tails off for a Republican few could stomach fully before his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Those who just stayed home felt worse yet, wondering aloud if there were any “true” conservatives left.

Yet just a little over a year later the right seems to be energized, coming off huge electoral victories and seeing protests all around the country. In a year President Obama has united a group of voters that it took President Bush six years to disintegrate to the point where each group had its own representative in the 08 dogfight. Talk of the “Tea Party movement” has overtaken conservative circles. From the size and scope of the protests, its clear that SOMETHING is going on. Indeed, the passion is palpable–to the point where some rallies have been taken with violence. Yet the media is hoping to paint a story of emerging discord within the Tea Party. From the Politico:

After emerging out of nowhere over the summer as a seemingly potent and growing political force, the tea party movement has become embroiled in internal feuding over philosophy, strategy and money and is at risk of losing its momentum.

The grass-roots activists driving the movement have become increasingly divided on such core questions as whether to focus their efforts on shaping policy debates or elections, work on a local, regional, state or national level or closely align themselves with the Republican Party, POLITICO found in interviews with tea party organizers in Washington and across the country.

However, in digging into the matter, the Politico only comes up with two strange scenarios within local groups to point at internal discord amongst the “movement.” They also claim that groups such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity are jockeying for credit. This is a good point but misses the mark. These groups were around long before the Tea Party movement began. Indeed, I would argue that there’s really no Tea Party movement at all. Rather, it is just a refocusing and reawakening of the American conservative movement.

Read more…

Abingdon Tea Party On; Harrisonburg, Front Royal Join Tea Party

From Norm at TQ we have word that the Abingdon Tea Party has found a site and is on for good. Not of much interest for people in the valley, but I wanted to follow up on the story and rest assured, for right now, that no Virginia locality is playing shenanigans with our constitutional rights. You can find information about the new site here if you came here looking for information about the Abingdon event. 

For readers in the Valley, you’ll be interested in knowing that, in addition to the Old Town Winchester event scheduled for noon, there are three more events scheduled for the valley: One in Harrisonburg from Noon to 6 p.m in the Court Square on Main Street and two, count ’em, two in Front Royal (12 pm and 6 pm) in front of the Warren County Government Center.

While I’m still concerned that the rallies may not prove themselves to be effective if conservatives don’t get out in front to articulate their principles and simply allow the day to go by as a muddled explosion of populist anger, it is still a good staging ground for the movement. Be sure to attend one if you can on the 15th.

More on the Abingdon Tea Party

April 6, 2009 1 comment

Jerry Furhman over at From On High has an email from a town council member from Abingdon. In less than grammatically correct language, Councilwoman Cathy Lowe mildly chides supporters for less than polite language directed towards her and points out that the council is “powerless to help them”, as the most recent council meeting has already come and gone. However, here is the money quote:

Third, we have been informed that someone from your group has been contacted by the Town Manager via phone and told the reasons he said no to the mustering grounds this year and that there are other properties available for use. You are correct you have many rights afforded to you under the constitution and I know my fellow council persons well enough to know we believe in your rights. Not using the Mustering Grounds had nothing to do with denying your right to peaceful assembly it had to do with protecting the property because of it’s current condition. I am told that you were offered Veteran’s Park as well as other locations with in the town. Please let us know if that is incorrect.

This is quickly devolving in to a game of “he said, she said,” which is never good for organizing an event. The organizers need to come out with the full story of their permit denial–otherwise, like-minded individuals who are contacting the town council on their behalf, well, they look a little goofy. Although I’m not entirely behind Jerry’s suggestion that the organizers “take it to the streets,” I do think the organizers need to quickly reassert their first amendment rights in a clear way.

Abingdon Tea Party Snafu?

April 4, 2009 1 comment

While I am hesitant to throw in completely with the Tea Party movement, as I fear that free market ideology may get muddled down in a great deal of populist rage, I am generally sympathetic to their goals. I am most certainly happy to see regular working people rising up against the often Byzantine and esoteric world of budgetary and tax policy. 

That’s why I’m concerned to see various local governments throwing up barriers to parties. First there was the case of Cape Coral, Florida, where it was initially reported that the city had shut down the party. Actually, the organizer could not afford liability insurance. While it can certainly be debated why and if local governments should require permits for rallies, fair is fair in this case and FreedomWorks stepped in to save the rally.

More troublesome is the actions of officials in the City of Burleson, Texas. In this case an unelected “street supervisor” attempted to have state officials intervene, as he did not feel the protest was “in the public interest.” Fortunately FreedomWorks intervened once again, and the rally is back on. 

Closer to home, organizers in Abingdon, a town of about 8,000 people, are experiencing their own logistical issues. Located in Washington County, which was the first place to be named after General Washington in the United States, and founded in 1776, one would think that the town would be more than supportive of individuals gathering to support individual rights and limited government. Indeed, the group planned to gather on the same ground that the brave Overmountain Men, Scots-Irish from the region, gathered nearly 229 years ago for the long slog to Kings Mountain, South Carolina, a battle which many historians consider to be a turning point in the Revolutionary War. However, it appears that the town has thrown some roadblocks in their way. From Tertium Quids:

Here’s a note from the event’s organizer, Ted Dingler, on the group’s Facebook page:

The town of Abingdon has denied us the use of the muster site as well as all town owned property. We are currently working on a substitute site as well as several other options. Rest assured, there will be a tea party somewhere in the Abingdon, VA area.

Now, the comments on the TQ post make it unclear what exactly the town’s position is exactly….some of the commentators indicate that the mustering grounds are rather fragile to begin with, and even moreso after recent weather events. Additionally, they claim that the number of public areas are limited. However, the town has a population of nearly 8,000 people….surely there is some public area that could be utilized? As it stands, the organizers indicate that ALL areas have been made off limits to the group. 

While different approaches abound (some supporters believe they should protest anyways in defiance of permit law), what is needed now is answers. All we have at the current time is information from the former mayor via a third party. This is not sufficient. If you are interested in answers, TQ has the contact information. 

We’ll keep you updated on the Tea Party protests as they occur and if any run into legal roadblocks. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend one, but as Norm points out, it is on the same day as that holiest of all political days in Virginia, the Shad Planking. Norm has clearly made his choice:

So you have a choice that day…

Either pay $25 to huddle in the woods with a plate of inedible fish and a gaggle of hacks, or stand up against rapacious government in the town nearest you (for free) with thousands of average folks just like you.

Not much of a choice, really. At least not for those who’ve been paying attention.

Tea Party Coming to the Shenandoah Valley

If you won’t be able to make it to the one in Washington, DC or to the one in Richmond, join your fellow concerned citizens on April 15th at Noon in front of the Old Courthouse in downtown Winchester. Check here in the coming weeks for updates as they become available, as well as this very blog. Organizers are attempting to have Jill Holtzman Vogel headline the event. I can not think of  a more fitting scene for protesting the recent over-reach of government power and responsibility than a courthouse built on the remains of the original built in 1740, when the area was America’s first frontier and self-determination drove the survival of settlers and when this area represented freedom at its purest. Also of note: the building now contains a museum pertaining to the Civil War, which was the cause for the nation’s first income tax. 

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it or not, but if I do expect photos and video.