Blue Virginia (rightly) calls out Jo Thoburn. Good lord.
Being a Republican can be SO MUCH fun sometimes.
Dranesville Supervisor John Foust (D-Questionable Mustache) made clear early on in his congressional race that there was a war on women, yet little did he know that the women are apparently warring on him. After a 20 point obliteration at the hands of Barbara Comstock that had even the most partisan Democrat giving a "that's impressive" whistle. Losing a congressional race to a Republican in a district that a Republican has represented since 1980 isn't bad in and of itself, but doing so badly that it actually sets the party back. So naturally, one has to question Foust's standing in his own magisterial district.
So after losing a professional women from Great Falls, he now gets another one. Jennifer Chronis has stepped forward to run, and I imagine Foust is having some pretty harrowing flashbacks. I don't know much about Ms. Chronis, though I was semi-taunted that a certain Boss from Springfield is actively supporting her. But I'll leave that up to others to decide and we'll see if anyone else jumps in.
Earlier this session, the Senate passed SB 919, which gives government the right to issue an “administrative subpoena” to collect the phone and Internet records of a citizen. Ostensibly to combat child pornography, abduction and terrorism, the bill authorized the government to conceal the fact of the subpoena from the target if disclosure would “seriously jeopardize” the investigation, i.e. by causing the target to hire a lawyer and challenge an unjustified or overbroad search.
The bill passed 39-1. I was the only “no” vote.
Scary stuff. A lot of Republicans run around talking about limited government, the Constitution, and fear of a large federal bureaucracy. Where are all of you?
Sully District has always been considered the most Republican magisterial district in Farifax County, and for the first time since it was created we have an open election. Readers of the Virginia blogosphere are well aware that the omnipresent Brian Schoeneman was the first out of the gate and applause from everyone not living in Sully district. And while for some there is enjoyment in beating Brian up a little, that isn’t really the story here. The larger story is Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity attempting desperately to be some sort of 21st century Tom Davis, a Republican boss who can select and fund candidates himself and run the party. Thus fair, whatever he is attempting, it has failed miserably.
First are the candidates, and right now we stand at three. We have John Guevara, a local community activists both politically and non-politically who seems to have the grassroots support. Then there is John Litzenberger, who has run for office before and is currently Mike Frey’s man on the county Planning Commission, usually a stepping stone to supervisor. Brian would be the third. This race hasn’t broken down into the traditionally establishment vs. conservative paradigm one might think because of Herrity’s funding of Schoeneman, who nobody in Sully really knows. Brian’s chief reply to the carpetbagger question is he points out a majority of the delegate district he ran in 2011 has Sully in it. That doesn’t really help his case when reminded that he lost to David Bulova by 20 points. Brian literally moved to Centreville in the last month and announced less than a week after he moved. In an election like this, for supervisor, local ties both in politics and civic associates are more important than almost anything else. Right now Brian has Pat Herrity’s people and contacts, which have done him no favors.
The first skirmish in this just happened, and that was the vote on the method of nomination. The procedure according to the party plan is that the unit committee, in this case FCRC’s voting membership, will select the method of nomination for the local and constitutional offices. The RPV party plan apparently doesn’t recognize the existence of magisterial district committees as separate entities because they don’t exist in most of the state. So by the rules, the county committee can’t actually devolve this decision to the districts. The FCRC e-board made a decision that it would be a good idea basically for each magisterial district to unofficially select what method they want to use for nomination and it would be recommended to the full county committee for ratification. This way the wishes of the districts are granted and aren’t forced upon by the entire committee. It’s actually a clever way of keeping the natives happy within the districts and it’s worked well.
That is, until Boss Herrity (lol) tried to game the system for Schoeneman at the last meeting. Sully voted overwhelmingly for a mass meeting instead of a firehouse primary or standard primary, with I believe the only two no votes coming from Brian and his wife. What was especially embarrassing about this was according to the birdies chirping out there is that Brian nor Patt ever called any Sully activists or FCRC members ahead of this meeting and walked in having no idea how this would go. He was completely blind-sided. The interesting part is Litzenberger, who holds the support of much of the business and professional community in Sully (why Pat isn’t backing him, I’ll never know), is also pushing for a mass meeting. So now Pat and Brian are left in the position of convincing the FCRC membership as a whole to set aside the overwhelming choice of the Sully committee (Mason district as well chose a mass meeting) and put in place a firehouse primary. Guevara and Litzenberger, who represent the grassroots vs. business divide, both agree on a mass meeting. I’m not sure neither Pat nor Brian have that kind of sway, and I’m certainly convinced that members as a whole do not want to pick a needless fight over the overwhelming support of a magisterial district and the candidates. The key, again, is Litzenberger, who’s constituency in this race would naturally be allies of Herrity. Since he is pushing for a mass meeting, it is unlikely we’ll see some long drawn-out establishment vs. grassroots fight over primary vs. mass meeting. And this is all against the backdrop of the Democratic Party having a legit, A-list recruit in Kathy Smith as their nominee. If Brian and Pat can’t find the time or effort to call Sully activists within the committee, how can we expect them to run a real general election campaign against the Connolly/Bulova-backed Smith?
The real story for me is Pat Herrity once again grasping for influence in a county party that he has no sway over. People like and respect him, and he does a good job as a supervisor, but Frey and John Cook get more done than Herrity does as far as the board Republicans go. He tried running for Chairman and Congress and lost both, the latter badly. Meddling in Sully’s open race has angered a lot of activists of both business/establishment and grassroots stripe and has really left Brian hanging in the wind. Doing absolutely nothing to prepare for this race hasn’t helped either, as many Sully precinct captains found out about Brian’s announcement on Facebook and Bearing Drift like that rest of us. One thing Brian and Pat do have going for them is an incredibly sharp campaign manager in Erika Dyer, who comes from BarbaraWorld, but I’m not sure that will be enough. In a way I feel bad for Brian because he’s a good guy, has worked hard for the party (certainly harder than me LOL), and really I think would want to do a lot of good if he were elected. But he got talked into something here that I’m not sure was very well thought out and with zero advanced preparation. Does Pat Herrity really think he can wave a magic wand and make Republicans in Fairfax County do his bidding? What major races has he won, what candidates has he groomed, what major donors does he control? And what is the end game? Fairfax County is Democratic, Gerry Connolly and Sharon Bulova rule it and there really isn’t much we can do about it. The best we can do is create strong unit committees that develop good candidates from the grassroots, from civic associates, and from HOA leadership.
If Herrity is trying to be a Boss like Tom Davis was, he’s doing a terrible job of it.
RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia lawmakers want to give local and state authorities the same sweeping search-and-seizure powers used by the FBI and other federal agencies under the Patriot Act.
The bills allow for “administrative subpoenas,” or what Virginia civil libertarian John Whitehead calls “sneak-and-peek searches.”
While, in the old fashioned and bygone eras of the past, it might have been expected that a candidate for public office should demonstrate a commitment to his community before placing his name forward to be their leader or representative, such laughably out-dated notions have no place in our brave new world of the internet age. By sharing your personal opinions on the internet, all diverse people of the commonwealth of Virginia are now your community, and none are foreign to your thoughts and wisdom. Knowing your brilliance, they shall surely follow your lead in the days ahead, as the internet already does.
Alas, you must at times disappoint the waiting throngs of your faithful followers. Despite not being a PTA member, having gone to church just once (with my parents), and having never volunteered for anything other than talking to a cop about a hit and run in my neighborhood; I did feel the pull of public service. However, after careful considerations with my lovely wife Jess and our daughter Abigail, I have decided to pass up running for any office in a county I just moved to and where I hardly know anyone in order to focus on my family and career. To Mayor Hal Parrish, to Del. Bob Marshall, and to Supervisor Peter Candland - rest easy, you need not fear a my potential candidacy any longer. I want to thank the people of Prince William county who don’t know me and did not write me, it was amazing hearing all of the outreach and support. My only regret is there are consultants out there who won’t be able to take all of my money.
God bless you all.
Christopher T. Beer
Husband, father, ex-Fairfax YR secretary, blogger, anonymous commenter, and one-time attendee of Manassas Fall Jubilee
Stay tuned ...
Sitting delegates, senators, and constitutional officers are barred from raising money while the General Assembly is in session. That much we all know. Susan Stimpson, who is challenging Bill Howell in Stafford County, has sent out an email and brings something interesting to light. RPV has sent out a mailer on behalf of Bill Howell, paid for by the state party, during the GA session. Are people okay with this? It's bad enough that RPV is picking sides, though not surprising given Howell's position, but is this something we really want to just let slide? Is Howell playing fast and loose here?
I'm about done with the Bob McDonnell scandal. Whatever happens will happen, but one thing has not been discussed that I'm frankly surprised about. Many folks on blogs and social media have decried the federal government for attacking McDonnell, some even directly blaming Barack Obama and Eric Holder (forgetting that the same Justice Department just indicted a powerful Assembly speaker in New York, who's a Democrat), as if they sit around trying to figure out a way to bring down Bob McDonnell. The party of law and order seems to be in denial about the process of accusation, investigation, indictment, and trial by jury. McDonnell received all those, with a high-powered/high-dollar defense team, and was convicted I see "Pray For The McDonnells" Facebook profile pictures, vague accusations about the presiding judge, but never have the actual facts of the case been contradicted. The divide is frankly on the same tea party vs. establishment divide that separates everything else in RPV. But this isn't what I'm blogging about here. There is something else that all of the McDonnell defenders refuse to talk about, and it isn't a matter of the law. He cannot go to jail for this, but it is the main reason that I have zero sympathy for him.
Bob McDonnell failed as a husband, and for that I have lost all respect for the man.
Now I'm no expert, I'm only approaching my four year anniversary - that seems like nothing to most people. But the most amazing, and disgusting, part of Bob McDonnell's defense strategy was to attack the integrity and character of his wife, Maureen. I won't go over the painfully embarassing details, but needless to say any true man would never ever put his wife whom he's promised before God to love and honor in that position. Aren't we the party of faith and family values? Do these vows matter? Bob McDonnell had a choice in 2009, his wife or his career. It has become clear that Maureen McDonnell wanted nothing to do with the intense pressure of being First Lady. The social and financial pressure of a large family and the need to meet the demands of being First Lady, both in responsibility and appearance, was not something the McDonnells were ready for financially. The McDonnells could not financially afford for then AG McDonnell to run for governor and his wife did not want to be First Lady.
Marriage is about sacrifice. I've learned that myself and my parents have taught me that. You give up things for the happiness of your loved one. Bob McDonnell was 55 years old when he ran for governor, hardly an old man in politics. With Virginia's single term limits for governor he could have easily bowed out for a term and gotten a job with someone like McGuire Woods and put his family, that he was in charge of, in better financial footing. Instead he choose himself over his wife, his ambition over his family's happiness. It's a disgrace. He could have run for Congress in 2010 or waited for 2013 to run for governor when his finances were in a better position to endure a run for political office. Maureen McDonnell was a sitting duck for someone like Jonnie Williams. Bob's answer to his wife's pain and agony at this pressure she wasn't ready for was to withdraw further and dream of being vice-president. Who would do that to their spouse?
Maureen McDonnell has been made into a villain, a paranoid, jealous, petty miser who terrorized staff and wanted things she could not afford. Maybe its because the demands of her office put so much pressure to have those nice things and she treated staff terribly because she didn't want to be there in the first place? Even her own daughter has turned on her. What real man would allow this to happen to his family? What real man would allow personal ambition destroy his marriage and then blame the wife?
I'd rather go to jail than put my wife through that. So defend him all you want, think Obama and Holder are behind it, keep believe the judge has some petty grudge he's been hanging on to for ten years if that is what you want. Not me. This "man" failed his family by putting himself before the responsibilites he agreed to before God.
TBE has a good post linking to this PJMeida article about what Eric Cantor might be up to. If he does indeed run for governor .... I could live with it. I think Cantor is a pretty conservative guy, he just got washed away in blind ambition and forgot where he came from and who got him there. Maybe with some time away and reflection on his roots he could possibly make a good statewide candidate for governor. Would I like it? Not really. Could I deal with it? Sure.
But Bill Bolling? HELL F'ING NO.
This guy, who's sterling state senate record was nearly identical to Ken Cuccinelli, turned his back on this party and that record when he decided to supprt Terry McAuliffe. And make no mistake about it, no matter the plausible deniability he may have, he supported Terry McAuliffe. Ken lost by right around 2% and underperformed in the 7th district ... guess who could have helped him there?
So if Bolling thinks that turning his back on his own conservative voting record and so many of the grassroots supporters that were once supporters of his will lead him to the governor's mansion, I'll do everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen. Whether it be a convention, primary, or a general election. I'll vote for Mark Herring or Ralph Northam before I vote for Bill Bolling.
If it wasn't so hard for him to do it, why should it be hard for us?
The Virginia Way.
If I have to hear that phrase one more time in this commonwealth I might lose it. It is thrown around by those generally on the inside to explain the genteelness and ethical history of Virginia politicians. It has been a nice story to tell, but one rooted in the anti-democratic roots of the modern Virginia.
For those who have not read the history, the Virginia we know today (short ballots, powerful local governments, powerful House of Delegates, powerful clerks of the court) was enacted by the machines of Thomas Martin and his successor, Harry Byrd. It became a state of the haves and have-nots. Martin and then Byrd centered their power across the county courthouses and the House of Delegates because both controlled judgeships in Virginia. Those judgeships then enforced poll taxes, literacy tests, and Jim Crow segregation in public schools and buildings. The Byrd Machine by the late 1930s was an impenetrable fortress from both Republicans (like Ted Dalton) and liberals (Francis Pickens Miller) alike for a generation. What the Byrd machine established is a sort of genteel dictatorship where everyone smiled, patted each others backs, and quietly continued to pass budgets with little resistance. So when someone throws the "Virginia Way" in your face, remember its not about getting along but rather about a select group of insiders intent on keeping outside agitators, be it Arlington progressives or Farmville tea partiers, out of power.
This model has been handed down from generation to generation, with every now and then some kind of outsider forces briefly breaching its walls only to either be turned back or absorbed into it. This is why I was not surprised in the least by the scandals and departures of Bob McDonnell, Philip Puckett, or earlier Phil Hamilton. The local courts, General Assembly, public boards and public universities are all interchangeable playthings of those in power whether a Democratic governor or a Republican House committee chairman. It is why outsiders as different as the populist Henry Howell and moderate Tom Davis had so much trouble pursuing statewide success. The Virginia Way is just a clever way of explaining why those in power in this state always stay in power.
So is anyone really surprised that Phil Puckett's daughter is still going to be a judge? I mean for someone like Terry Kilgore, an accomplished Virginia Way insider, a deal is a deal.
So far, the most fascinating impending race in Virginia 2015 is the state senate primary between Sen. Steve Martin and Amanda Chase in central Virginia. At least to me. I'm not going to speak about the particulars in this race because I don't know the area as well as the activists down there do. But there is something larger going on that I find fascinating and may play out on a larger level in 2016. For the most part the narrative of internal GOP fights has been the Tea Party versus the Establishment, and that has largely been correct. But the definitions of the tea party often varies, and lazy reporters generally don't work that hard trying to figure it out. The the two most high profile primaries in Virginia, Keith Fimian vs. Pat Herrity in 2010 and Eric Cantor vs. Dave Brat in 2014, however did fall along these lines. Big business, chamber-backed, big money, cozy insiders are what usually define an insider, establishment Republican. They don't want to deal with social issues, they are slightly embarrassed by some of the more passionate grassroots activists, and in Richmond are generally fine working with a Democratic governor.
Does that sound like Senator Stephen H. Martin?
There are others I'm sure that can tell Sen. Martin's history more accurately than me, so I'll keep the strokes broad. Martin was first elected in the 1980s when the religious right was taking over the Republican Party and one of the epicenters was right here in Virginia. He is, by all accounts that I can find, a classic late 80s/early 90s insurgent conservative who believes in the three Gs ... gays, God, and guns. This is not someone who has played nice with Democratic governors, big business donors, or fat cat lobbyist. This is a committed low tax Republican social conservative. He's one of the state co-chairman for the controversial (to the left) ALEC, and recently got in some hot water for calling pregnant women "hosts." He's not Walter Stosch or Emmett Hanger or John Chichester. He was, in some ways, an insurgent conservative before it was cool. So why is he getting a primary from the right?
The answer is that while there is a real divide between "the grassroots" and "the establishment," there is also a wedge between social conservatives and libertarian conservatives. I know, this might get confusing. Just think of it this way, in 2012 the top three Republicans were Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. Martin is Santorum and Chase is Paul. Now that is a crude correlation, and I'm not saying Chase was a Paul supporter. I have no idea. But in the greater intellectual divides in the party, that is where this is. And trust me, people like Santorum (social conservatives) hate libertarians like Ron and Rand Paul. Libertarians are pushing the party away from some social issues and some of the more harsher planks in our platform when it comes to criminal justice issues. To social conservatives, drug use and homosexuality are deviant behavior that should not be sanctioned or supported by society or government. Libertarians tend to want American foreign policy dialed back, while social conservatives are the most vociferous supporters of Israel and defenders of American action in the Middle East.
I often look at the GOP as a three-legged stool - establishment, libertarian, and social conservatives. What nobody is really talking about is the biggest fight within the party isn't libertarians and/or social conservatives against the establishment, but rather social conservatives against libertarians. This is what we are seeing in this race, I believe, between Amanda Chase and Steve Maritn. Martin is also quite vulnerable given his anemic lieutenant governors candidacy that went absolutely nowhere. In some ways, that was shocking. Who was more reliably conservative than Steve Martin? He was EW Jackson but with a history of actually winning elections. He finished last? Susan Stimpson and Pete Snyder were nobodies at the outset and finished ahead of him. It was an incredible sign of weakness. Chase, for those who might not know, is fresh off of working for Dave Brat and helping to steer him to victory.
So I'm going to be watching this one closely, it is by far the most fascinating race to watch this spring.
John Fredericks outlined on The Bull Elephant his favorites right now for the statewide races in 2017. I had to stop from laughing at some of this analysis, and mostly on the Democratic side. This was, in the end, mostly about inserting and giving run to as many Hampton Roads politicians as he could because that is where he is from and what he knows. Thus, a terrible list. Let me quickly breakdown the candidates for you that he has.
Ok. We have some serious problems here. Let me start at the very top with the Democratic nomination for governor. There is no way Ralph Northam can beat Mark Herring, hero to progressives, in a statewide primary. Fredericks cites support from Dick Saslaw which makes no sense since Northam almost switched parties five years ago or so. He claims Hampton Roads give Northam a bigger base to run from, seemingly not understanding that Herring comes from the most important county in the state and will probably win big margins in progressive Arlington and Fairfax County on his gay marriage stand alone. Terrible, terrible analysis here. Biased. Republicans should HOPE its Northam. Fredericks says all Northam does is win elections, but all Mark Herring has done is win elections, too.
Snark aside, I generally agree with him on the lieutenant governor's race, although I don't think Chap Petersen will run statewide. He's tried that before and it didn't end well for him. I very much expect actually that Herring and Northam come to a gentleman's agreement the same way McDonnell and Bolling did. Fredericks also fails to mention other names, specifically female and black candidates, who could run too - I think specifically of Jennifer McClellan and Michael Futrell, especially if he wins his Senate seat. Chap is an enigmatic guy and very popular in his little corner of the state, but I'm not sure if his quirky views and bipartisan insticts will play well in a statewide, base-driven primary.
And there is NO WAY Justin Fairfax is anyone's favorite for attorney general. If Scott Surovell is running on the Dem side, he'll wipe the floor with any Democratic of Fairfax's diminished stature. The Democratic bench wasn't strong in 2013, but it has gotten better. The 8th district congressional primary showed that Patirck Hope and Adam Ebbin both have ambitions. Fairfax kind of reminds be of Steve Baril, who ran against McDonnell and did better than most thought. Also, think about Shannon Taylor, Henrico County commonwealth's attorney.
On the Republican side, I have very little to quibble on the surface with his analysis. I think everyone likes Obenshain but the spectre of Creigh Deeds haunts over him. Deeds lost to McDonnell in a recount for attorney general but then got blown out four years later in the rematch. McDonnell was from a populous portion of the state while Deeds was from rural Virginia. That fact is not lost on any Republicans that I have talked to that love Obenshain but understand the population dynamics of this state. If Frank Wagner does run for governor, I think that basically assures us that Rob Wittman would be the nominee if he ran because Obensahin and Wagner was split the party and Wittman would run up the middle as everyone's second choice. Not sure where Bill Stanley's name comes in on this. Another thing for conservatives to think about with Wittman ... if he wins his safe congressional seat opens up and guess who lives in the 1st district now? Ken Cuccinelli.
For LG, I think he's mistaken on both Snyder and Stewart. Synder's campaign was all sizzle and no stick (literally) and I think that while most people like him, I don't know how serious people take him. Stewart has taken a mighty fall that began even before 2013. His views on immigrants, especially Hisapnic ones, are as toxic as ever and he is currently facing an uprising in Prince Williams County over raising taxes. He's out. The middle three - Reeves, Ramadan, and O'Quinn - are definitely names to think about. Two other names to think about are Del. Tim Hugo and of course Jamie Radtke. If Radtke does indeed primary Walter Stosch and defeat him, she'll be a force to reckon with and this could be a prime spot for her obvious ambitions.
Attorney general is obviously Bell until someone else can find someone else.
If I had to pick now this si what I'd go with:
Mark Herring/Ralph Northam/Shannon Taylor vs. Rob Wittman/Jamie Radtke/Rob Bell.
But that's just me.
To Our Readers:
Last month, Rolling Stone published a story titled "A Rape on Campus" by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, which described a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity house; the university's failure to respond to this alleged assault – and the school's troubling history of indifference to many other instances of alleged sexual assaults. The story generated worldwide headlines and much soul-searching at UVA. University president Teresa Sullivan promised a full investigation and also to examine the way the school responds to sexual assault allegations.
Because of the sensitive nature of Jackie's story, we decided to honor her request not to contact the man she claimed orchestrated the attack on her nor any of the men she claimed participated in the attack for fear of retaliation against her. In the months Erdely spent reporting the story, Jackie neither said nor did anything that made Erdely, or Rolling Stone's editors and fact-checkers, question Jackie's credibility. Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie's account. She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn't confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.
In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie's account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced. We were trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault and now regret the decision to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. We are taking this seriously and apologize to anyone who was affected by the story.
"Grab its motherfucking leg," she heard a voice say. And that's when Jackie knew she was going to be raped.
That single written sentence will encapsulate everything you need to know about the bone-chilling Rolling Stone article on the rape culture at the University of Virginia. I don't want this to be one of those pieces written with the "now that I'm a father" perspective because everyone does that. There is something even deeper here that hasn't been touched on too much lately. The focus has been, rightfully, first been placed on the victims who have not received justice. There is also outrage on the perpetrators, the ignorance of the police, and the complicity of the university administration. UVA has a reputation, certainly among those of us who did not go there. There has always been a dark side of Charlottesville that has previously peaked out from behind the curtains in the cases of Morgan Harrington and Yardley Love. If you asked anyone in Virginia where something like this could take hold, I'm pretty sure we could all agree that UVA would be at the top of the list.
But deeper than that, the article is even more sinister in something else. Look at that quite above again. "Grab its" leg. Its. These boys were treating this girl as an it. Taking her humanity away from her. How have we gotten here? How has an entire culture at UVA, and I'm sure it's not the only school or fraternity like this, been created that treats women like that?
What has happened to our boys?
I don't know the answer. Forget politics, forget class, forget race. As a society together we need to figure out what has happened to our boys. This isn't the crime of depraved criminal like Jesse Mathews that, while horrific, can be explained. This? An entire culture at fraternities that turn girls into gang-raped victims, into "it?" How did we get here? All I could think about reading this story is the boys who did this. What happened to them, where were they raised, what circumstances conditioned them to plan something like that and how on earth do they live with themselves for doing it? Again, in no way do these thoughts mean I'm not thinking about the victims or anything like that. But what have we done to raise boys like this? In Charlottesville, a light has been shined on a problem that goes deeper than simply a few disgusting frat boys. This has been going on for nearly 30 years.
I have no answers. But this is a question we need to think about, especially among my peers who are all now young parents.
Emporer, they say?
First off, I missed the speech because I was putting my daughter to bed and I was watching the Chiefs-Raiders game. Murica. Now that I've gone back and looked at what he is doing, I'm not even that mad. I actually kind of agree with what he's doing. I have no real interest in deporting 5 million people who are here working and have kids that were born here. And no, I don't condone lawbreaking. But then again, I hardly consider someone leaving a Managua ghetto to do lawn care for rich white people in McLean breaking the law. But maybe that's just me. But man, if you are looking and what the Ted Cruzes of the world were preparing us for, I was expecting Order 66 (google it) but that is not what Obama did. Frankly, if he comes through with the additional border protection that he's promising, this is exactly the kind of bill that should have been passed in the first place.
The problem for me is Obama didn't even give the Republicans a chance and now he's ensuring that the next two years will more of the same. There are enough Republican senators who want to be president that would be willing to make a deal, and more Republicans looking and softening the party's image with Hispanics. I suspect this very action would have been pretty close to what a compromise immigration bill would have looked like. I get that in the us-vs-them sports world of politics, this makes Democrats feel good about rubbing Republicans nose in shit, but it is foolish public policy for Obama to go about it this way. I'm guessing the problem is what it has always been, Obama doesn't actually know how to do political horsetrading because he's never ever done it before. This is what he knows. Ideology, organizing, campaigning, and taking action. It's both good and bad. I know the big, bad nasty Republicans shut the government down a year ago, but who solved it? Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden.
Anyways, I loathe the idea of the next two months being a shout-fest between Ted Cruz and Luis Gutierrez ... all the sound and the fury, signifying nothing. Whatever could have been done, whatever good will the parties could have built up by actually doing what they are supposed to do is gone. Obama has to own some of this dysfunction that will come.
All that so 5 million illegal immigrants who won't going to be deported anyways get to pay taxes ... America. You gotta love it.
I did a couple of hot takes on the mid-term elections right after they ended and I wanted to wait a week to give a broader view of what is going on in Virginia. I am still in shock that Mark Warner was kept under 50% in his reelection bid. I would have never guessed, ever, that something like that would happen. I hear the complaining about Robert Sarvis costing the GOP the election, but that’s not true. Neither party are entitled to your vote, they must work to earn it. If Sarvis can get on the ballot and convince people to vote for him, that is the way the system should work. Voters should not be forced to choose only between generic Republican A and generic Democrat B. You don’t like what Sarvis has done, go figure out where his votes are coming from and try and win them over
But the overwhelming chatter is about Ed Gillespie, and to hear many Republicans across the blogs, Facebook, and everywhere else we should be ready to deify him. He absolutely ran a tremendous race, did everything right, and worked hard. But make no mistake, he had some remarkable breaks. An unprepared incumbent, a depressed Democratic turnout, a very unpopular president, and a strong Northern Virginia open-seat congressional candidate among other factors. This really is something of a miracle that it was this close, that all of these events somehow manifested themselves all at the same time.
The point is to throw some cold water on Republicans who think we are ready for a breakthrough and furthermore, think Ed Gillespie is the man to lead it. Democrats won’t be caught sleeping like this in 2017 and they have two very good statewide potential candidates in Herring and Northam, or even Warner if he chooses to run for governor. It is a statement on Republicans that someone like Gillespie is now our savior, apparently. Ed Gillespie won’t solve all of our problems, no matter how many people talk about how much they respect his character or his wife or however else people are turning this guy into the next Linwood Holton or something. I remain unconvinced that our future lies in the hands of a professional lobbyist/DC insider. This isn’t meant to be an attack on Gillespie, who I’m sure is a fine man and did a great job uniting the party in 2014. But let’s not act like there was some giant civil war he overcame, the general consensus among most people about this race was “sure, at least Gillespie won’t embarrass us.” That wasn’t a high threshold to leap. This wasn't 2013, the passions had cooled and none of Gillespie's opponents could be taken seriously for a state senate race, let along US Senate. He was a sacrificial lamb who would protect our congressional candidates by not pulling an Akin.
The fact remains that for most of the last ten years, our electoral bench has been decimated in Virginia. Our sweep of 2009 has been swept away as Bob McDonnell looks to be headed to jail, Bill Bolling will never be accepted by conservatives, and Ken Cuccinelli lost a winnable race thanks to the betrayal of Bolling. In addition, Eric Cantor’s lose and the fall of Northern Virginia to the Democrats has been difficult to overcome. Ed Gillespie is not the answer to these glaring weaknesses.
So, you might ask, give us an answer then. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but we need statewide candidates that challenge voters about their preconceived notions about Republicans. Generic Republicans won’t cut it anymore because the same thing that happened last week, and has seemingly happened the last decade, will happen again … the Republican takes a big lead until Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia are counted and it all comes crashing down. We need candidates, whether establishment or grassroots, who run on issues and beliefs that are different or tweaked from what voters think. This isn’t necessarily an argument between the grassroots and the establishment, because each had their candidates (Cuccinelli and Gillespie) and each lost. Both came close, but both lost. Right now, I don’t see much of that out there but hopefully it will come as we begin to move out the old bulls and replace them with young cubs. I’m excited to hear that dinosaurs like Bill Howell, Emmett Hanger, and Steve Martin will be getting primary challengers. Hopefully there will be more of that. Fresh faces with 21st centiry ideas, ready to challenge not only Democrats but the voters in general to show that the GOP is different.
When I look at the future, I don’t look at Ed Gillespie. Gillespie was a nice placeholder, a guy that everyone liked who could hold down the fort until we get our shit together. What I see in the future from both the grassroots side and the establishment side are people like Barbara Comstock and Dave Brat. Each won their races and jumped on the scene by doing exactly what I was talking about, tweaking and adjusting people’s normal perceptions of generic Republican candidates. Brat was a breath of fresh air in a district long ignored by the national ambitions of an ambivalent congressman, and instead argued for a more libertarian form of conservatism that appeals to swaths of new GOP voters across the state anxious to move past the good ‘ol boys days of small government talk but big government votes. Comstock was a living and breathing refutation of the war on women; an accomplished lawyer, public servant, delegate, and mother who drove liberals crazy because she was everything they claim women can be, but a conservative.
Instead of boring, DC-based candidates who mean well but are connected with the past rather than looking to the future or right-wing social conservative fanatics obssessed with homosexual sex; I hope all factions of RPV look for more candidates like Brat and Comstock rathern than Gillespie. Feeling good about a tough lose is a substitute to the feeling of actually winning. Brat and Comstock won, Gillespie didn’t.
Let’s find out what works for those who won instead of lionizing the honorable man who lost.
So. Who had Mark Warner winning reelection under 50%?
I don't think in my entire time as an active Republican in Virginia (since 2006) have I ever been more shocked than I was last night. The Radical Centrist turned into basically a giant pile of mush. He ran on platitudes that have worked in the past about "getting things done," "fixing Washington," and "working together." Yet he had six years to do that and accomplished absolutely nothing. At this point, he's gone from a bipartisan governor to an empty-suit senator who's stump speech hasn't changed in 15 years. He's so dull and boring that Democrats completely fell asleep at the wheel here and only survived by the skin of their teeth. For Mark Warner, right now, the shine is off the apple. Maybe he recovers and wins his next three races by 30 points and retires in his 80s, but whatever brand that has worked for him since 2001 is effectively over, and that is good new for Republicans. The reason I saw that is Warner's legacy and personality has been what has carried Virginia Democrats to prominence in this commonwealth. In the back of voters minds, when they think Democrats in Virginia they think Mark Warner. That, my friends, is over. The most popular Democrat in the state is now just another guy. That could be a huge turning point moving forward.
There is now no doubt in my mind that Ed Gillespie, if he does not prevail in this recount, has a clear shot for governor in 2017. Sure some fringe candidate like Bob Marshall could run, but Gillespie has done the unthinkable in my opinion. In a race nobody thought he could win, with a background in establishment GOP politics and corporate lobbying, he has united this party in a way not seen since 2009, and that was a blip in the radar. Gillespie did a great job of not doing a victory dance on conservatives who voted against him at the convention, never complained about a convention, and worked hard to appear before any and all Republican groups that would have him. Where as Warner was all hot air and empty words, Gillespie time and again released smart, detailed plans to "fix Washington." That message will have even more fertile ground in Richmond where the McDonnell and Puckett scandals are just crying for a patient, competent outsider to come in and run the state like a professional and not like a blowhard CEO of a failed green car company. It's still a long ways away, but if I had a gun to my head I would say our 2017 ticket will be something like Gillespie-Vogel-Obenshain. We'll see.
Also, a shout out to Mark Obenshain. His attorney general loss was agonizing but he clearly has the best political operation in the state. His team took over Gillespie's campaign and you could see the results. Obenshain's AG race was similar to Gillespie. Smart, close to the ground, hard working, and patient. Obenshain out-performed the GOP ticket in 20013 and came within a eyelash of victory. His team proved they could do it in the big leagues. Keeping Warner under 50% is just astonishing. My thought was he was the odds-on favorite to run for governor but it looks like if Ed loses to Warner, that he's now the favorite. An AG race is obvious, but perhaps Congress if Goodlatte retires (not that he will). We'll see, but he was a big winner last night.
In the end, the experience remained the same. Republicans look good early on until Northern Virginia's votes cascade down upon the state. Which is why we now have seen the future and it is Barbara Comstock. He crushing victory of John Foust was impressive in its totality. In the precincts in Fairfax County taht she lost, Foust never gets over 52%, and that is in Drainesville. Of any potential Republican statewide candidate, it is Barbara Comstock that holds the most promise of victory. She has set herself up nicely if she can get reelected, and her incredibly showing and muscle flexing might scare off more serious challengers who will bank on her ambition causing her to leave the seat sooner rather than later. She proved in the House of Delegates she can take strong votes and comunicate them to independent and even Democratic voters. She's a walking, talking repudiation of the Democrats War on Women meme. If she gets reelected, the next major battle will be for the US Senate in 2018: Tim Kaine vs. Barbara Comstock.
Even in defeat (kind of), I think last night might have been a turning point RPV. As long as we stay way from candidates that are too controversial, we now may have finally found an avenue to victory statewide. The Democrats have lost their Prince and we have a real chance to flex some muscle next year in the General Assembly elections.
This is as good as it can get without actually winning.
I got to go to bed soon, but here are my quick thoughts:
1. Scott Walker - He has to be the favorite right now, he unites the entire party. Every other candidate alients one of the three legs of our conservative stool - Establishment, Social Conservative, and Libertarian.
2. Chris Christie - He elected a shitload of governors
3. Republican women - The GOP got the message. Ernst, Capito, Love, Comstock, Stefanik etc etc
4. Blue State Republicans - Hogan (MD), Rauner (IL), LePage (ME), Baker (MA), Snyder (MI), and Walker (WI) all won in states Barack Obama carried pretty handily in both 2008 and 2012.
5. Mitch McConnell - First elected in 1984, his thirty year climb to the Senate majority leadership is complete.
1. Barack Obama - Obviously.
2. Rand Paul - He's being overshadowed as tea party candidats lost primaries and important reelected governors now take center stage. Also, the Kentucky House remained Democratic so he has to choose between running for president or running for Senate - he can't have both in 2016
3. The Clintons - They tried to swoop in and save the Democratic Party from Obama and failed miserably.
4. Southern Democrats - there is not a single white southern Democrat in Congress saved for Steve Coehn in TN, and he represents a majority-minority district. Wow.
5. War on Women. Yay ... about that. How'd that work for Mark Udall, Wendy Davis, and John Foust?
That phrase is, of course, the apt description V.O. Key gave Virginia in his political science masterpiece Southern Politics in State and Nation gave to our beloved Commonwealth of Virginia. It is as real today as it has ever been. In a state that about four percent has separated Republicans and Democrats in statewide elections since the 1970s we have a super-majority House of Delegates and an 8-3 Republican majority in the US House delegation. I'm sure that there isn't real reasons for it, I won't dismiss that entirely, but let's be real. Virginia has turned gerrymandering into an art-form. This news brings that legacy back into the fore.
To a certain extent, I believe in the maxim, to the winner go the spoils. Everyone knows going into elections that this is one of the stakes that can be won. But THIS news is interesting and something that has been simmering below the surface for awhile. And not just in Virginia. Across the South African-American law-makers and Republican state legislators have compromised to create majority GOP districts with Democrats packed into majority black districts to ensure black political power. Virginia's 3rd congressional district is an especially butchered piece of business. There really should be two districts, one anchored by Richmond and the other by Newport News. And before Democrats get too giddy, let us not forget the way they sliced and diced Arlington and Alexandria into districts that stretch as far as Loudoun, which dilutes the power of perhaps Virginia's richest and most populous counties. The Democrats did that.
Why is Virginia so afraid of competitive elections? Its been this way since 1895 when Thomas Martin build the first political machine later inherited and perfected by Senator Byrd. Our statewide races have been exciting and a great way to debate our differing views, why has it failed to trickle down? How is it that in a state with 11 congressional districts, only ONE is contested?
I suspect the candidate most worried about this is Randy Forbes, who has been blessed with one of the more generous examples of gerrymandering in recent history. When he ran in the 2001 special elections he defeated Louise Lucas with just over 52% of the vote. When the General Assembly got done with it, Forbes won his nexted competative election in 2004 64-35. The changes in the distrct were, as I recall, large swaths of Democratic precents jammed into Bobby Scott's 3rd. And if the 3rd loses Richmond, does it take from Scott Rigell's district? What about Southside and Robert Hurt's 5th?
A larger argument must also be made for the elimination of the federal oversight of southern states like Virginia for their congressional maps. It only makes the problem worse. By mandating majority-minority districts, it ensures that black leaders will only ever (for the most part) represent black voters. That is a problem. Tell me how that isn't a form of political segregation? Secondly, its hypocritical because other non-southern states do all sorts of chicanery when it comes to race and congressional districts, it's just those states weren't apart of the Confederacy 150 years ago. Ever see what California and New York do with their congressional districts? The goal of this country is that anyone can represent anyone else. We have stunted racial reconciliation in this country by instituting this kind of system. There is a reason why there are so few black statewide elected officials, and its not just white racism. Barack Obama was lucky to lose his 2000 congressional race because if he won, he would have been just another black congressman unable to break through upwards.
As it is, it looks like the Republican General Assembly is going to looking for a way to create a second majority-minority district next year, and that will be interesting. Who has more pull, Forbes, Hurt, or Rigell? Because that is where a Richmond district is going to come out of. And what happens when the quiet political war between the old Richmond Machine and the outside forces that helped Rosalyn Dance win her nomination for the state senate breaks into national view?
Is this what social conservatism has devolved into in Virginia?
Make no mistake: Once natural marriage is abolished, marriage will soon include polygamy, or threesomes, leaving innocent children to suffer the consequences and other far reaching consequences of attempting to force legal acceptance of so-called same sex marriage.
You can read the entire thing here.
The New Yorker is the latest to give a hard establishment look at the movement behind Ron and Rand Paul and the quest of libertarians to take their ideology mainstream and possibly to the White House. It was interesting at least in the history he tries to tell, but like most anything that focuses on either Ron or Rand Paul (or libertarianism in general), it obsesses over the wrong things. This something that libertarians are going to need to overcome if we are to convince the country to entrust us with the power of state. I was going to write something short on this but my mind has gone in a thousand different directions and it is best summed up this way. There are two competing versions of libertarianism out there right now. The first is the version that the adherents and sympathizers of libertarianism view and the second is how it is presented by the media to regular Americans. I’m no expert, but I felt that there is a need for someone to say some of this and try and make people understand what is really going on. I've been thinking abou this for almost two years since my conversion was completed in 2012 and only now have finally found the motivation to put these thoughts down.
“I know there was a lot of frustration with your daughter, not, you know, getting a judgeship or something,” Reagan said, according to the transcript provided to The Post. “If there’s something that we can do for her, I mean, you know, we have a couple of big agencies here that we still need agency heads. We could potentially, potentially, subject to approval of the governor and so forth, you know, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy could be available.
“So we would be very eager to accommodate her, if, if that would be helpful in keeping you in the senate. We, we would basically do anything. We just need you really, we need you for the rest of your term and beyond, but in the immediate future, we need you to help us get this Medicaid deal through and I think we’ve got a way to do it.
-Chief of Staff Paul Reagan
Yikes. This probably wasn't where Democrats were expecting this to go.
You will never convince me a smooth operator like Terry McAuliffe had no idea that his chief of staff ... not some random aide, by the by ... was about to make an "offer" like this. This of course brings up the fundamental problem with ethics reform, that being people like McAuliffe only wants ethics reform when it can embarrass Republicans. He doesn't really want ethics reform, because ... I mean, look at the guy's career.
“The governor has full confidence in Paul Reagan."
Wow. A committee of Very Serious People who are very non-conservative and thus are probably Very Serious. No room for the rabble, I guess.
What a joke.
While am not familiar with every name on this list, I know enough to know that people on this commission are people who have made a lot of money and notoriety off of state and local government and I doubt are very interested in doing anything to actually fix what is really wrong. The recommendations will no doubt ask for more government in order to manage government.
These are, after all, Very Serious People.
When we think of ethics reform, the first thing we need to ask ourselves is WWJLF. What Was Johnnie Looking For? He was looking for money from the Governor's Opportunity Fund, a slush fund of millions that the governor has at his disposel to throw at businesses to move to Virginia. Every governor has used it, it is without General Assembly oversight, and it is something a certain co-chairman of this commission was counting on using to propel himself to the governorship. See here.
What was the other scandal? Phil Puckett, of course This is a twofer! Not only do we have a state senator with enough tenure to retire and get a pension, he was looking for that golden parachute that so many state lawmakers have used to end their careers rich since the pension is paid out on the last three years of your public service. Get reelected in a safe district over and over, take a job as head of a state department nobody cares about, retire with a fat pension for doing very little. Keep gettin' them checks. On top of that, somehow a sitting member of the House of Delegates, Terry Kilgore, is also the chairman of a powerful state commission that doles out millions itself. Its insane.
I can only imagine what this Bolling-Boucher train-wreck will give us. No doubt there will be much hand-wringing by these Very Serious People. I can just see it. A large lacquered table, perhaps with a skirt on it and the seal of Virginia. There would be another table in front of them to listen to testimony from other Very Serious People, with notepads and nice nameplates in front of everyone. They will be looking perhaps to set up another permanent commission to oversee ethics (with, no doubt, a nice salary that will tack on to your state pension), and various other laughable proposals that will look strong but won't be. After all, these people no doubt believe in the openness of government. Don't be fooled, Virginia. Nearly all of these Very Serious People have served significant amount of time in elected office, I'm sure they aren't going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg they, and their friends, are feeding off of.
If you want ethics reform, Virginia can save some money on these Very Serious People and just do the following:
Does ANYONE think the Bill Bollings, Sharon Bulovas, and Viola Baskervilles of the world, these Very Serious People, would do any of this? Come on, be honest. Abolition of the Opportunity fund, legislative term limits, state legislative pay raise, and the elimination of elected officials serving on state commissions concurrently. That is real ethics reform. Getting rich off of state government has been a bipartisan shibboleth among the political elite and connected in this commonwealth. In order to bring about real ethics reform, that axis needs to be broken.
P.S. Can a reform commission really be taken seriously by the Chief Jobs Creation Officer of a governor just convicted in federal court?
From Republican hawks looking to re-escalate Mideast wars? From Hilary Clinton, seeking to finally undo the anti-war populism that reinvigorated the party? From itself?
I watched Jim Webb's address to the National Press Club and came away mightily imperssed. Please take a look at it and ask yourself, who is asking these questions? Can you imagine Hilary Clinton giving that speech? Chris Christie? Joe Biden? Marco Rubio? No. Webb political doctrine seems not to fit either party perfectly, and he will certainly have a hard time running as a peace candidate in a party that has firmly turned its back on peace, particularly if they nominate Hilary Clinton.
Jim Webb is an interesting guy. Conventional politics can't really define what he talks about and what he is thinking about. He sees the world from the eyes of a soldier, a son of rural Virginia, but one who deeply cares about the injustices he saw around him. He's both a conservative and a liberal at the same time and his struggle may just be that conventional politics tends to define presidential candidates. But its a voice that many, including myself, find intriguing. When he talks about poverty in rural white Kentucky and urban black Baltimore, he doesn't talk about politics or using it to justify a precious program or attack a president to win elections. There is a concern that someone like Hilary Clinton could ever show.
Back in my kool-aid drinking days of yore, I was involved in getting information from the Allen campaign to blog negative stories about Webb, about calling his books pornography, is not something I'm proud of. And that speaks to Webb's essential problem. When federal campaigns come around, most people revert to their base politics and ignore the curiosities that come with political downtime. When push comes to shove, after all the work to elect and reelect Barack Obama, do Democrats want to turn their backs both on him and the Clintons to once again make a statement against American interventionism, one that their president started and former secretary of state supports? I somehow doubt it.
Still, Webb could be one of the most consequential candidates to run for office in some time and could prove to be an interesting conscience hovering above the Democratic primary to remind the party what put them in the majority, what elected them to two terms in the White House, and what they have turned their backs on in Syria and Iraq.
No, not the blog Mason Conservative, I'm still here. My alter ego Chris Beer has moved from Herndon to Mansassas. My wife and I finally cobbled together enough to purchase a nice townhouse in the Bull Run area of Manassas. Best of all, I have signifigantly upgraded my political representation.
Congress: Old: Gerry Connolly, New: Frank Wolf
State Senate: Old: Jennifer Weston, New: Chuck Colgan
House of Delegates: Old: Ken Plum, New: Bob Marshall
Board of Supervisors: Old: Cathy Hudgens, New: Peter Candland
The Plum-to-Marshall move is probably the most drastic you can have.