the hoopla surrounding E.W. Jackson’s dominating win at the RPV
Convention, a quiet thing happened that impressed me and perhaps
tipped the hand of the party as to where it looks to the future.
Though it probably wasn’t noticed by the rest of the state,
many of us in Northern Virginia had our Spidey-sense go off when we
saw that Del. Tim Hugo was named convention chairman. I know it
is a largely symbolic post, the previous two being Kay Cole James
(2009) and Bill Bolling (2008), but going into this everyone knew
there would be more than one ballot. The fact that Hugo was
asked to manage this is a signal that many in Richmond, and in the
House of Delegates, understand where the future is.
know Hugo a little bit and I have always been impressed with his
ability to remain popular in Northern Virginia without selling out
his principles. It isn’t always easy. In a way, he
reminds me Cuccinelli in that he’s figured out Richmond, which is
rare for ambitious NOVA pols. In this area, we only care about
federal and local government, largely ignoring with our noses firmly
in the air what is going on in Richmond. Since his election
just over a decade ago, Hugo has risen fast in a chamber notoriously
hostile to Northern Virginia. While some may look at this as a
ceremonial honor, it strikes me that some thought was put into who
would be the choice to chair the Convention. Hugo is the kind
of guy that all the factions like and respect. I suspect when
Speaker Howell decides to retire, conventional wisdom tells us Kirk
Cox moves up, but it might not be for long. Ff the visibility
and trust given to him last weekend is any indication, Hugo might be
the future for the House Republicans if not beyond.
We really have a self-loathing streak in us, don't we Republicans? Republicans quietly, and maybe not so quietly, are stool pigeoning Democratic talking points about E.W. Jackson. Ex-Democratic Rep. Artur Davis was on John Fredericks's radio show, the biggest cage for all the stool pigeons to play in, bemoaning Jackson. I'm sad that Davis takes this stand, because he himself is the biggest symbol of left-wing racial demagoguery. Bill Bolling waddled up to a reporter to express similar outrage at the "extremism" of E.W. Jackson and the GOP ticket, a rehearsed line I'm sure he was ready to utter regardless of who the Convention selected.
Meanwhile, while the Republicans out there who care more about what the other side thinks before our party's principles, THIS is what we are fighting.
8,000 plus Republicans took to
Richmond yesterday for the 2013 RPV Convention tired, upset, and
itching to do something about it. For weeks we have had to suffer
through mailboxes full of glossy mailers, emails, and social media
wars. We had to listen to candidate after candidate tells us why
they were conservative, why their opponents were not, and so on and
so on. The race for the office of lieutenant governor was one large
pander. What happened was nothing short of a grassroots revolt
against every segment of leadership in this party, from every
faction. This was a convention of 8,000 Republicans tired of the
Establishment telling them what to do, tired of the Liberty movement
telling them they don't love “liberty,” tired of the professional
statewide Tea Party organizations telling them who to support.
Through this entire process, there was only one candidate who refused
to attack his opponents and more important still, refused to tell
anyone who was a conservative and who wasn't. It was a complete
revolt of anyone who claims to “speak” for the grassroots.
EW Jackson was not just selected by a
small band of outlaw conservatives. He finished in first place on
every single ballot. On the first ballot, he had more than double
the votes of the next person. Make no mistake, this was no fluke.
His support was all over the spectrum. When he came out on stage for
his speech, the arena was flooded with Jackson signs. His ovation,
usually defining at the end of his speech, was just as defining at
the beginning. Meaning? He got his people here. I had heard that
Jackson was organizing well among local tea party groups, including
here in Northern Virginia, but nobody predicted this.
The delegates in the run-up to this
convention were clearly tired of mediocre candidates pretending to be
something they aren't attacking the others on minutia that nobody
really cared about. I'm going to try and do individual round-ups on
all the candidates but as a friend mentioned to me last night, it
says something that the two most honest and positive campaigns were
the last two standing – Jackson and Pete Snyder. Snyder faltered
at the end when his campaign announced, erroneously, that Mark
Obenshain had endorsed and rumors were circulating that Cuccinelli
would as well. I actually believe that if the final two had been
Snyder and Stewart. Snyder also printed up fliers announcing Corey
Stewart's support, but like a pro wrestler Corey quickly turned heel
on Snyder and was marching around the convention floor arm in arm
with EW. The second Corey and EW walked around the floor together,
it was over.
The lessons of this convention are
clear. Candidates need to be both positive and honest. Whatever you
think about EW Jackson, he's real. He is who he is. He's not trying
to pretend otherwise or insult you by telling you the person you
support isn't a real “conservative,” or that they don't “love
liberty.” We have a serious problem with language in our party,
the things we define ourselves by and the way we try to define
others by. We throw words around too casually and it causes bad
feelings. Jackson was able to tap into that internal resentment all
factions have for each other right now and sooth it. He made us all
feel good about being Republicans and conservatives, however we
defined that for ourselves. Whether he will be a good candidate or a
bad one it completely up to him, and he better be ready for an
onslaught from the left because we know they don't like minorities
and women who speak conservatism. My hope is the
Cuccinelli-Jackson-Obenshain ticket will be the vehicle that finally
starts to heal the hurt feelings that the factions all have for each
other together. Tea party versus moderates, social conservatives vs.
Paul conservatives, insiders versus outsiders; Jackson helps complete
a ticket that could show Republicans across the country how we can
move out of the in-fighting, realize we all have way more in common
that we might want to believe, and move forward to victory.
This election season has not always been pretty and many of the candidates have been unimpressive, but I remain committed to the idea now more than ever than conventions are the way to go for nominating candidates. Conventions keep things tight and don't allow big-money, low rent candidates to sail to nominations. Can you imagine how bad the Corey Stewart business would have been if this were a primary and he was running that shit as television ads? Conventions force candidates to work hard, rather than rely on name idea and PAC money to do the work for them.
So here is who I will be voting for this Saturday:
Governor: I really wish Bill Bolling hadn't taken the easy way out. For all his big talk about how Ken is unelectable (95% of Republicans suggest otherwise), I would have loved to shove it in his face. But such is life, the George McClellan of the GOP surrendered before fighting again so we must go with our Ulysses S. Grant instead. I've waited since 2007 for this vote, I won't miss it. Ken Cuccinelli
Lieutenant Governor: To say I have been underwhelmed by the mediocrity that stepped forward for this race is an understatement. There have been scores of times that I've had fiery blog posts tee'd up but I just couldn't hit publish because the quality of candidates just wasn't worth the arguing. The way I broke this up was has-beens who will hurt us, or new candidates who might make mistakes but have something going for them. Jeannemarie Davis, Corey Stewart, Steve Newman, and Scott Lingamfelter fall into the former; E.W. Jackson, Susan Stimpson, and Pete Snyder. In the past, I've expressed such frustration with these candidates that I was going all in with EW, the ultimate protest candidate.
I've had some time to think about it. Right now, there seems to be only three real candidates with a chance - Scott Lingamfelter, Pete Snyder, and Susan Stimpson. I would throw Davis in there based on the hard work she has put in, but I just can't get to the place knowing what I knowing that Jeannemarie Davis could be our LG nominee. I've made my feelings known about most of these guys, so I'll let that guy. Instead, I've decided to thread the needle. I want someone new, young, and enough of a record that I could resasonable understand how they will actually act in office. Not that this particular position requires much.
So I've decided to vote for Susan Stimpson. Some might think its because of the embrace of the liberty movement, the faction in the party I agree with most. That's part of it, but I like what she's bringing. Young, a little diversity, local government experience with real responsibility, and a pretty clear and consistent message. My in-laws live in Stafford County, and have lived there since the 80s, and they love what his happening there.
Attorney General: Mark Obenshain. I actually think that there is more of a difference between him and Rob Bell than many think. Ken Cuccinelli re-defined the office from one focused on strict law enforcement to one that is about protecting the state and constitutional liberties from the overreach of the federal government. Rob Bell is a good man with a good record, but he is clearly looking to turn back the clock to the days of putting as many people in jail as possible and making as many things illegal as possible. Obenshain strikes me as the candidate more willing to continue the current focus of the office on protecting our liberties. It's a small difference, but a critical one.
Again, this is just me. Look forward to seeing folks in Richmond on Saturday.
There are a lot of things wrong about the Corey Stewart situation where he funded anonymous attacks on his opponents through a third-party organization that didn't disclose where their money came from. That is not what was the worst for me. I'm a firm believer in complete and open spending in campaigns. As long as its reported, of course. If some crazy ginger casino mogul wants to fund Newt Gingrich's campaign for president, he should be forced to give the money directly to the candidate and make the candidate own up and answer for it. Campaign finance reform is one giant answer to a problem that never existed. Campaign finance reform is really just glorified incumbent protection.
But I digress. The biggest problem I have with Stewart is his willingness to revel in "hardball." He's not wrong when he says politics is rough, no double I've engaged in some good intra-party brawls. But Stewart seemed to be looking for a fight without any reason. What policy differences does he have with Scott Lingamfelter, EW Jackson, or Pete Snyder? These were premeditated ads and mailers meant to mislead. They weren't even based in fact, they were just attacks. Corey got nervous because people started digging around into his record - fair game - and he decided to try and smoke the rest of the field without putting his own name to it.
It's really too bad. I've been a fan of Corey's, and I think his immigration reform wasn't a terrible idea. He had a serious problem and nobody who was supposed to do their job was doing it, and it was all for politics. Local elected officials have nowhere else to go if the state and Feds don't stand up. His willingness to start needless fights over essentially nothing is a serious problem.