Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Was 2007 Really All About Taxes?

This blog posting is prompted in part by my most recent dialogue with DJ McGuire over at the Right Wing Liberal. There is a lot of discussion about what wing of the Republican Party is the most “unsatisfied”. Or, what group of Republicans were the catalysts for the 2007 primary fights. As a side note, I suppose you could argue that nearly everyone in the Republican Party is at least partly unsatisfied, albeit for many different reasons.

The prevailing school of thought says that the 2007 primaries were about taxes, specifically the tax votes of 2004 and 2006. That was most definitely true in many of the primary challenges, and Emmett Hanger in particular. Many across the State assume that I was challenged and ultimately defeated because of my tax record. But that’s not really the case. Taxes came up in my primary fight—although my opponent fixated on the 2004 increase, which I opposed then and continued to oppose throughout my tenure, saying that I voted against it but I was secretly for it. Yes, that is as stupid as it sounds. He largely ignored the 2006 vote on transportation, which I did vote for. That may have been a wise decision as my internal polling of likely Republican primary voters suggested that taxes were not as much of a concern as illegal immigration and social issues.

My primary was ultimately about my social voting record. That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? I had a Family Foundation rating of over 90%. The Virginia Conservative Action PAC, who was actively involved in the campaigns against Senators Stosch and Hanger, had no involvement with my opponent. I supported the Marriage Amendment and internet filters at public libraries. I was endorsed by the Virginia Society for Human Life. Reaching another odd and factually inaccurate conclusion, my opponent said that I voted pro-life (which I have consistently done my entire career) but I was really pro-choice. I know, it’s strange logic. But as strange as it may sound, it worked and was one of the reasons I lost my seat.

I hesitated to write this post, as I don’t want you to think I am giving excuses (I have readily taken my share of the blame for my loss) or looking for sympathy. I just want to set the record straight about my primary and what the issues were. This leads me to my next post, which will look at the statewide Republican coalition. Are there really just two wings, fiscal and social, or is there a 3rd wing that many have forgotten about?