The Fairfax Connection has an article up on Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling's recent visit to Reston where he spoke about the future of the Republican Party in Virginia and realized exactly where we are:
Gov. Bill Bolling (R) attempted to energize local Republicans on Friday night when he spoke to the Republican Club of Greater Reston at Hidden Creek Country Club. He said the Republicans need to "get back to being a party of issues and ideas," and called on those at the club’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner to invigorate the Northern Virginia Republicans. "Most Virginians are not Republican or Democrat," said Bolling. Instead, he said, most residents of the Commonwealth evaluate candidates’ positions on issues rather than associate with one of the parties. "The truth is, Virginia is a very competitive two-party state," he said. "This is a critical time for our party. Tonight, as we stand here, Virginia is a purple state."
Its something we have known up here since 2001, while many Republicans in the rest of the state have not figured it out yet, or don't want too. Its easier being a Republican in the rest of the state, where they have the luxury of divisive primaries (Hanger v. Sayre). But up here things are different, and the rest of the state needs to understand that had recognize before we start winning. I think many Republicans in Virginia still sit around with a false sense of security as to where this party is right now. And while some might not want to hear it, Bolling's words need to be accepted so we can properly realize where we start. We aren't ten points ahead at the start of the gate every time now. In fact, we are down now 20 points in a US Senate race. Part of the problem has been the way the party has shut out Northern Virginia in choosing candidates. Of the statewide candidates since 1993, only 2 where from NOVA (Michael Ferris and Jay Katzen), and the party's treatment of others, such as Rep. Tom Davis, has hurt the image of the party in Northern VA. Whats refreshing about Bolling is he is from one of reddest parts of the state, suburban Richmond. Aside from simply stating where we are, Bolling offers two solutions to our problem: unity and ideas,
TO KEEP Virginia a Republican state in the future, including this November’s elections, Bolling recommended that all Republicans adopt a set of guidelines, among them unity within party members. He urged those gathered at Friday’s event to support U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in his presidential bid. Bolling said he was a Mitt Romney supporter, but supporting someone he agrees with 95 percent of the time is much better than supporting a candidate he disagrees with 95 percent of the time. He said Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do not offer American people what they need, while McCain does. While Virginia has voted Republican in every presidential contest since the 1968 election, Bolling warned the 2008 race would not be an easy one for the Republican candidate. "Make no mistake about it, it will not be an easy state. Virginia will be a battle state," said Bolling. "If a Republican loses Virginia, it will be impossible for them to be president of the United States."
Bolling also urged Republicans to return to being a party of issues and ideas and to be a party that offers a positive vision. "Reagan made us believe it was morning in America," said Bolling, and more candidates are needed who will convey similar messages. He said the past two gubernatorial races were lost to the Democrats because they were not races that discussed issues. He initiated a Web site, www.100ideasVA.com, for Virginians to share their ideas for solving critical issues with the Republican leadership.
I would also hope that the party begins to show more respect to Northern Virignia. I think that has hurt, a lot. Democrats have focused on the area, cultivating candidates and a message that tailors to the area. They have backed liberals and moderates, uniting behind all of them. Not only that, the party has put NOVA Democrats in leadership positions, areas where these officials can build influence in the region and thus help younger members. Its not a hard formula. Republican leaders seem to always think that the rest of the state will pull it out. But we know better, and apparently so does Bill Bolling. Its not secret that Bolling ran ahead of all GOP candidates in 2005,
and did best among all three in Northern Virginia (against a Northern Virginia candidate, funny enough). The party can no longer come here and pader, ask us for our votes but deny us a seat at the table. Thats why the lieutenant govenor's race between Corey Stewart and Jay O'Brien is important, its why Jeff Frederick running for chairman is important, and its why Keith Fimian's race for Congress is important. Its why Ken Cuccinelli's future in the party is important. The rest of the state needs to hear Bolling's words and understand them. Virginia is purple because the Republican Party has lost the confidence of Northern Virignia. When we win it back when we win back the voters confidence in ideas.