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Archive for November, 2009

Today is Thanksgiving and, as the name implies, it is a day to reflect and be grateful for all that you have, all that you are.  In tough economic times like ours, I think it best to remember not the extravagances of life, but instead the fundamental things.  Be thankful for your job that provides an income to live, be it lavish or simply day-to-day.  Be thankful for your home, a roof over your head, and a shelter from the storm.  Be thankful for your friends and family who stick with you in times of plenty and times of want.  How much more difficult would life be without steadfast companions?  Be thankful for your health, that which us the strength, will, and ability to accomplish our goals.  But most importantly, give thanks to God, your God and mine; for all that he gives us.

Remember that money can be squandered, time can be wasted, friends can become enemies, family can become estranged, and your health can deteriorate.  And yet YHWH endures forever.  So even if your life is at a low point, I encourage you to be of good spirits and be mindful of all of your blessings whatever they may be.

Today is Thanksgiving in our country.

Give thanks for life.

Give thanks to God.

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ODU

The sticky situation with Old Dominion University was a constant thorn in the side of the campaign.  If you will recall from my post on Oct 20, I didn’t want to create a “macaca moment” for the campaign as a result of this blog.  Unfortunately ODU became that very “macaca moment”.  If you are unfamiliar with this term, watch this segment from the Allen campaign.  It is a single comment or issue detrimental to the campaign that is repeated ad infinitum.  Like leprosy, if left untreated it can hideously disfigure the campaign and cause the public to view the candidate as an undesirable outcast.  I

f you will allow me to return to 2006 for a moment, I don’t believe that comment should have cost George Allen his seat, as he was a good legislator and governor.  I just wish that the issue could have been resolved quickly and completely and not allowed to fester.

But let’s return to the issue at hand.  I’m not going to exhaustively go into the ins and outs of the situation, as I’m sure there are many other blogs who have already done so.  The basic information is as follows:  Several years ago Delegate Hamilton secured funding for a teacher training center at Old Dominion University.  A bit later, the university offered Delegate Hamilton a part time $40,000 position at the university.  Was it a quid pro quo agreement?  Or was it a legitimate hiring practice?  It was a question that would continually haunt the campaign.  Once the situation came into the public eye, Delegate Hamilton resigned from his position and offered an apology for creating the perception of impropriety.  What else could the campaign and candidate have done?  Given his extensive background in the Newport News School system, I believed that his job was appropriate.  After all, I wouldn’t work for a person or organization I thought was unethical.  You have to wonder though, if the ODU issue was such a sordid outrage, why wasn’t it brought to light several years ago when it happened and not when it was politically advantageous, during an election?

When I learned of the issue, I knew that it would be a strong talking point for the Democrats.  After all, our opponent, Robin Abbott was not well known.  By comparison, Delegate Hamilton, as a 21-year incumbent, had a massive name ID advantage.  It served as a perfect opportunity for the Democrats to paint Phil Hamilton in a negative light, a problem in need of removal.  What I didn’t know, however, was that other Republican candidates and the Republican Party of Virginia itself would use the issue against us.  While drinking iced tea after a lengthy day of campaigning, I was shocked to hear that both Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling called upon Delegate Hamilton to resign.  It was troubling news indeed.  Although I didn’t agree with their decision, it did make some political sense.  As they were both running for statewide office, they did not want this scandal to be used against them too.  By comparison, I much preferred Ken Cuccinelli’s approach to the issue.  He thought the question as to Delegate Hamilton’s fate should be left to both the voters and the House Ethics Committee.  As a result of his stance, in Hampton Roads, Steve Shannon, Cuccinelli’s opponent, spent more time attacking Hamilton than he did Cuccinelli. Believe it or not, what caused me the most concern was RPV Chairman Pat Mullins’ similar condemnation.  Although perhaps less damaging politically (certainly Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling command much higher statewide publicity), it worried me greatly. I reserve a very high level of respect for the state party, much higher than the national party or most other political organizations and to suffer their wrath made me begin to doubt.  About the same time, the RPV removed Delegate Hamilton’s name from the party website as a candidate thus placing him in the same ostracized category as Catherine Crabill.  The reaction from voters in the 93rd was immediate but mixed.  Believe it or not, some voters returned their McDonnell yard signs as a symbol of protest for “throwing Hamilton under the bus”.  Others sent angry letters or phone calls to the RPV.   The RPV placated this discontent by reinstating Hamilton’s name to the list of official candidates.  On the other side of things, although far less vocal, some party activists agreed with the decision of McDonnell, Bolling, and Mullins and withdrew their support from the campaign.  As I’ll be discussing soon, it was this discontent which cost the campaign dearly.  By contrast, Republican delegates from neighboring districts, Brenda Pogge (96th) and Glenn Oder (94th) rallied behind Delegate Hamilton.  In addition, during the final days of the campaign, Representative Wittman showed up at headquarters to offer his support.  At the end of the day, neither standing with or against Phil Hamilton cost any other candidate his or her position.

On Election Day itself, while working at one of the precincts, I had the opportunity to speak to our opponent, as she was always called.  Was it harmful to the campaign to call her by her name, Robin Abbott?  We discussed a handful of subjects and I brought up ODU.  She mentioned how she didn’t want the ODU situation to dominate the election and, in general, I think her campaign stuck to that plan.  For all the literature that the Abbott campaign paid, I don’t recall seeing a piece focusing mainly on ODU.  The same could not be said, however, for direct mailings created by the Democratic Party of Virginia, the Virginia Education Association, and other related groups.  Several times a week, these organizations would bombard the district with literature slamming Delegate Hamilton over ODU.  Rather than highlight anything positive about Robin Abbott, far more frequently they would find some guilty-looking picture of Delegate Hamilton, add a picture of a hand in a cookie jar or innocent school children and bam, instant sensationalism.  Don’t vote for this guy, he’s a crook…a creep…a bad guy!  Negative campaigning at its finest. The whole affair was rather like a scab.  Just as soon as you would think the issue healed and forgotten, it would be torn open again and exposed to the open air.  It was 2006 all over again.  How can you win in such an environment?

The bottom line is this:  I am convinced that apart from the ODU scandal Delegate Hamilton would have easily won reelection.

Check back for Part III.

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An Introduction

2009 was a busy election year in the state of Virginia.  Not only did we elect a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General, but we also elected one hundred members to the House of Delegates and numerous other city and county officials.  In this season, I worked in the 93rd House district, an area comprising the northwest portion of the city of Newport News as well as the eastern most portion of James City County.  On the middle peninsula, there were four competitive house races: the 64th, the 91st, the 93rd, and the 94th.  The 64th pitted longtime Democratic incumbent Bill Barlow against the Republican Stan Clark.  The 91st was a three-way struggle between Republican incumbent Tom Gear, Democratic Sam Eure, and the Republican leaning Poquoson mayor Gordon Heslel.  The 93rd featured Republican Phil Hamilton versus the Democratic attorney Robin Abbott.  Rounding out the bunch, Democrat Gary West took on Republican Glenn Oder in the 94th.  There were other delegate races too such as Delegate Pogge’s, but as these candidates ran uncontested, there isn’t too much to talk about concerning them.

Over all, 2009 proved to be a smashing success for the Republicans statewide.  They won all three top ticket seats as well as numerous pickups in the House of Delegates.  Of course not every Republican candidate won, but the party as a whole suffered only two net losses.  The first was the 52nd, where ousted RPV chairman Jeff Frederick was not seeking re-election.  The second was the 93rd.

Throughout the next series of posts on the Virginia Conservative, I’ll share with you my thoughts and impressions concerning this potentially surprising and heated race as we seek to discover how a 21-year incumbent loses in an otherwise stellar Republican year.

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The Campaigner’s Lament

I sit in my room alone shoveling lukewarm Spagettios into my mouth as greedily as a malnourished child.  The meal is bland, but allows me precious time to reflect on the day…a time to be myself.  It’s 1:10 in the morning/night depending on your perspective.  I just got home from work and am expected back in seven hours.  A desperate plea races through my mind, dear God how did it come to this?   I arrived at the office this morning around 9:00 AM.  For those keeping score, that’s 15.75 hours.  15.75 hours!  Although some people thrive in such a stress filled environment, I find it extremely taxing.  Proper sleep is necessary for a job well done, but apparently this mantra is not shared in this world.  Worst of all, I’m coming off of only two hours sleep the night before.  Tonight won’t be much better.  A dozen needles accompany every step and, although I don’t recall stepping in any puddles, my right sock is wet and spongy.  I wouldn’t wish this lifestyle on anyone, especially myself, but here I am, neck deep in the quicksand once again.  Survival is key.  Only a few days and it is all over.  But then what?

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Now that the dust has pretty well settled (and I’ve gotten a bit of sleep), here are my thoughts concerning Election Day.  Overall, it was a sweeping victory for Republicans as the Grand Old Party claimed all three statewide races, a feat last achieved in 1997.  Bob McDonnell will be our new Governor.  Bill Bolling will remain our Lt. Governor for another four years, and Ken Cuccinelli soon will be our Attorney General.  In addition, Republicans made further inroads in the House of Delegates picking up seats in districts 3, 21 (depending on the recount), 23, 32, 34, 51, 67, and 83.  Although I would have liked to see a few more pickups, especially in 64 and 100, Republicans as a whole did quite well.  Even the party-shunned Catherine Crabill picked up 47.98% of the vote.  Now the day was not a complete blowout in favor of the GOP.  With all the successes, Republicans did suffer two net losses: in 52 failing to retain retiring Delegate and former RPV chair Jeff Frederick’ seat and in 93 with the loss of the twenty-one year incumbent Phil Hamilton.  According to my math, that means a gain of six seats in the hundred-member chamber.

The reason for the Democrats failure was that none of the statewide Democratic candidates succeeded in motivating their base or attracting independents.  Creigh Deeds lost by 17 ponts!  Moving down the ticket, a 13-point win for Bolling and 15-percentage point win for Cuccinelli further illustrates this point.  Although I don’t believe these results are as far reaching as to be used to determine the next presidential race three years from now, they do show a growing dissatisfaction with our current President and Congress, as well as the Democrats failure to market their brand.

Elsewhere, somewhat surprisingly, Chris Christie knocked off veteran Jon Corzine for New Jersey Governor.  Then we have Bill Owens victory in New York 23, which was one ray of sunshine for the Democrats in an otherwise poor showing in both Virginia and New Jersey.  Personally, I’m very disappointed with that result, but New York politics is a fairly alien concept to us here in Virginia.

Congratulations to Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli.  May the three of you, along with the General Assembly, and our other officials govern the affairs of our state wisely.

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The big day is today.  Election Day has come at last.  Assuming my automatic timing is correct, polls are just now opening across the commonwealth.  So get out there and vote. If you don’t, and your side doesn’t win, you have no room to complain.  I’ll accept no excuses.  Although I’m many miles away from the 26th district right now, I voted absentee.  It wasn’t hard.  Our state needs strong, conservative leadership which is why we need to elect Bob McDonnell as our Governor, re-elect Bill Bolling our Lt. Governor, and Ken Cuccinelli as our Attorney General.  In addition, we must increase the number of conservatives in the House of Delegates.  So don’t wait until five minutes before seven to vote.  Make time.  Vote now.  It’s worth it.  Although separated in many cities and counties, tonight we will celebrate victory as one.

As a side note, I’m pleased to announce that The Virginia Conservative has passed the 10,000 views mark!  Thanks for joining me so far.  I’m looking forward to the road ahead.

Oh yeah…one last thing…vote!

For liberty with responsibility!

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Scozzafava’s departure from the NY-23 congressional race should come as welcome news to Republicans and conservatives alike.  The great concern was that a Republican and a Conservative candidate would split the Republican vote and allow for a Democratic victory.  Although Hoffman’s views were arguably more Republican than Scozzafava, the Republican nominee, the Republican R label attached to Scozzafava would draw heavily from three types of Republicans:  Republican only voters, liberals, and the uninformed. Now, even though her name will remain on the ballot, she should only attract a scant number of votes.

Today Dierdre Scozzafava once again showed her true colors.  Rather than endorse the Conservative, Republican-leaning, Doug Hoffman, she instead encourages her followers to vote for the Democrat, Bill Owens.  Although she remains true to her liberal principles, clearly these are not the values of Republicans or conservatives.  To a vast number of Republicans, there is no greater betrayal than for one of their own to unite with the Democrats.  Now that Scozzafava is out of the race, I’m guessing that most upstate New York Republicans are breathing a sigh of relief.  I just hope they learned something from this experience and insist on nominating true conservatives, not RINOs.

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