Friday, February 29, 2008

HB 3202 Authorities Unconstitutional

It is being largely reported the the authority portion of 2007's transportation bill has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. I am certainly not suprised. Having voted for the bill while in the Senate, I can say it is probably one of the worst votes I ever cast. While I haven't read the details of the opinion, presumeably it leaves only the $3.0B in debt to fill a few potholes over the next couple of years. I really hated the debt portion of the bill. What is left is merely putting off truely dealing with the transportation needs of this state.

What happens next? My bet is the Governor calls a special session as soon as the budget is complete. At least he would be smart to do so! That way he can point back to the GOP for letting the bill fall apart. It would also set up the 2009 races as ones centered on transportation.

Fallout? Probably the largest injuries go out to the House Leadership and Attorney General McDonnell. For the AG to pull together Republicans in both houses to cobble together this bill then have it determined unconstitutional? It would seem he took a hit on this. He will be forced to take the lead on crafting a new alternative going into 2009. We'll see if that happens!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Judge Rules "No" on Special Election for Dowe's Seat

I just got word that a judge has ruled against a special election to fill the seat on Roanoke City Council vacated by Alfred Dowe. Outrageous. There are over 2 years left on the term and we are having a Council election this May. What sense does it make to take away the voice of the people and give it to sitting Council members to fill the vacancy? It doesn't make any sense to me.

So now the question turns to who will Council appoint? I actually think it would be a great political move for Nelson Harris to lead an effort to appoint a Republican. Yes, this City is majority Democrat, but there are a lot of Republicans too. The "at large" system of voting does a good job of keeping Republicans off Council. But does anyone really think 7 Democrats (the Independents call themselves "Independent Democrats" so I think it's fair to lump them together) and 0 Republicans makes for the best Council? It's difficult to make a case for such dominance by one party on any level of government. Harris and Company could put the good of the City above politics, and start to rehabilitate his image. I have my doubts, but we'll keep our fingers crossed.

A Book and a Movie Worth a Shot

OK. So things have been a bit heavy on the blog, what with all the scandal in Roanoke City. So I thought I would lighten things up and share a book and a movie that are worth taking a look at.

First the book. "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer is one of, if not the best book I have read in years. This is a book you cannot put down. I read a lot and I don't find to many like that. Into Thin Air is a personal account of the Mt Everest disaster that occurred in 1996. But this isn't just a retelling of the story by a gifted writer. This is a first hand account. Krakauer was on the mission and nearly died himself. When you combine an incredibly gifted writer with a story so amazing and unreal, it feels like it was created in Hollywood, you get one heck of a good book.

Now the movie. I don't watch nearly as many movies as I used to, so when I do watch something, I want it to be good. "Once" did not let me down. This is a low budget movie, shot in Ireland. "Once" is an amazingly simple and profoundly moving film. The story revolves around the relationship of two young musicians and is set to a great original soundtrack. In fact, I think one of the songs just won an Oscar. This is a movie that actually makes you feel good when you are watching it. The only drawbacks are the heavy accents (turn that volume up!) and some curse words (maybe not the best for children to watch). Otherwise, it's perfect.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Republicans Oppose Tax Relief. Ignore Vote Rich Northern Virginia.

In a surprising move, Senate Republicans voted against and helped to defeat the so called Homestead Exemption. The bill would have allowed localities to exempt up to 20% of a home’s value from property taxes.

This legislation is a favorite of those living in Northern Virginia, many of whom have been grappling with skyrocketing assessments and tax bills. Although, those assessments may have begun to be checked by the softening housing market.

I am left scratching my head as to why Senate Republicans would oppose this tax relief. What’s even more strange, 6 Republicans who voted for the bill in Committee--Steve Martin, Ken Stolle, Mark Obenshain, Harry Blevins, Ralph Smith, and Jill Vogel—changed their minds and voted to kill the bill on the Senate floor.

I believe it’s a mistake for our Party to ignore such an important issue in Northern Virginia. Like it or not, this region of the State can make or break a Republican candidate in a statewide election. They have been breaking a lot of them in recent years. Even Ken Cuccinelli, the lone Republican member of the Senate from NOVA, voted to kill it. I can’t imagine what would have motivated him to do so.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Roanoke Republicans Start Blog

Roanoke City Republicans have a new blog up at This is a great way to share ideas about our Party and candidates. Have your voice heard!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Scandel in Roanoke City: Dowe Resigns Council Seat

The Roanoke Times is reporting that Roanoke City Councilman Alfred Dowe has resigned his seat. Last week, the paper reported on Dowe's extravagent spending habits. On this blog, I gave Dowe the benefit of the doubt, saying he may not have acted unethically, but it was certainly poor judgement. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

Dowe billed the City AND the State for expenses related to 5 trips he took to Richmond last year. We can only assume he pocketed half the money. I am not a lawyer, but this sounds like fraud to me. Dowe may be facing something far more serious than losing his seat on Council.

I am told that the Board of Elections will call a Special Election to be held on the same day as our normal Council and Mayoral elections this May. That means Roanoke City will be electing 3 Council members to a 4 year term and 1 to replace Dowe, who has 2 years left in his term.

I am sure the Demcrats will nominate a candidate. One of those that lost earlier this month at the Party's Firehouse Primary would be a safe bet.

This is a great opportunity for a Republican to run. We don't have any candidates for the 4 regular seats, so this would be a chance to redeem ourselves.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, there is no shortage of Independents interested in running. They now have to decide if they want to run for one of the 3 regular seats, or for the 1 seat in the Special Election. They may wait to see who the Democrats and Republicans nominate.

UPDATE: Roanoke City Republican Chairman Adam Boitnott has expressed interest in running as a Republican for Dowe's seat. I have known Adam for several years and consider him a friend. He would be a fine nominee for our Party and would serve us well on Council.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Are the Democrats Over Confident?

You hear it a lot in Republican circles. I've said it myself--We are in trouble this year. How can we ever hope to stop Obama's momentum? Obama will be the next President of the United States.

But it seems some on the Democrat side aren't so sure. A friend sent me this article by Steve Soto on how McCain will beat Obama. Soto is not a Republican or a McCain supporter, but I thought this was interesting.

Smaller Government. Not Anti-Government.

DJ over at the RWL is really on a roll. Two of Zak’s recent posts have got his blood boiling. Zak’s Coalitions post was the latest offender. First off, Zak has his own opinions about issues and is free to share them on this blog. Just as I do. He doesn’t speak for me and I don’t speak for him.

Since DJ lumped me into his response, I feel compelled to respond. I take offense to being called a big government guy. As a small business owner, I see first hand the effects of an over burdensome government. It’s not pleasant. And I have never had a history of supporting unnecessary government programs; DJ rightfully pointed out my post opposing Kaine’s Pre-K program. I see a Federal Government over stepping its bounds with programs like No Child Left Behind and the Prescription Drug Program. And I’ve spoken out against them.

But there is a difference between DJ and myself. I believe in smaller government. I am not anti-government as are most libertarians. I believe government plays an important role in our society. Public safety, education and transportation infrastructure come to mind. Government just needs to be kept in check.

DJ’s post is also telling as to how many in our Party view coalitions. For DJ and others, taxes are the litmus test for calling yourself a Republican. If you are solidly anti-tax in all matters, you can be a part of our Republican coalition. It’s OK if you stray on other issues like immigration or campaign finance. I think DJ’s support of McCain proves this. McCain’s support of amnesty and tough campaign finance laws have placed him out of favor with many Conservatives. But DJ is supporting McCain. And I think that’s because they are on the same page fiscally. DJ agrees with McCain on the issue most important to him.

I have met Republicans here in the Valley who are staunchly pro-life. That is the most important issue to them. If you are not pro-life, then they don’t consider you a real Republican. And again, they are willing to look the other way on issues like taxes or immigration, as long as you are pro-life.

The problem with this way of thinking is clear. If members of our coalition are only willing to accept other members who think like them on that one key issue, then we don’t really have a coalition anymore. The pro-lifers are over in this corner. The anti-taxers are over in this corner. The gun folks are in the other and so on. Yes, there is some cross over and we may work together occasionally, but we are not one unified group. And without that unity, we lose the ability to win elections.

I was surprised at the cavalier attitude in which DJ describes how the anti-tax wing has been leaving the party for years. He mentions how the anti-taxers abandoned Bush 41 for Perot in 1992 and never really supported Dole in 1996. I have heard others say they have not voted for the Party’s nominee in years. I am not aware of other groups abandoning the Republican Party in this fashion. And I don’t think it’s something to be proud of. What do you gain be leaving the table? Nothing. You just lose your place and your voice.

A small number in the Party tried to get rid of me. And they were damn near successful. But I am still here. Is the Republican Party perfect? Not by a long shot. But I think our Republican Party is the best chance for our Country and Commonwealth and that is something worth fighting for.

Roanoke/NRV Young Republicans

Last night, I attended the second meeting of the Roanoke/NRV Young Republicans. I would encourage anyone of youthful age to give this group a shot. Young people tend not to be involved in the official aspects of our Party. They might support our candidates, but they don’t attend Party functions or volunteer on campaigns. Having a YR Chapter in the Valley can change that.

It takes a strong, dedicated leader to put something like this together in such a short period of time. Chris Obenshain is the driving force behind the Young Republicans and I want to commend him for a job well done.

Our next event is a Happy Hour at Mac & Bob’s in Salem on March 3rd from 6-9pm. Meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month at Famous Anthony’s in Salem at 6pm. If you have any questions about the Chapter, feel free to shoot me an email at

Speaking of young people, Roanoke City Chair Adam Boitnott is having great success recruiting more young people into the Committee. That is great news for the future of our Party in the City.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Roanoke City Councilman Dowe Goes On A Spending Splurge

Did you see today's headline in the Roanoke Times? I am sure Democrat turned Independent Councilman Alfred Dowe got a sinking feeling in his stomach when he opened his door this morning. There he found a front page article detailing the use of his City issued credit card. It's not a flattering article. Dowe was responsible for spending nearly one half of all the money spent by Council Members. And there are 7 in total. For a politician, it's got to be one of the worst types of articles. Because it's not about your position on an issue or a vote you took. It's about you personally.

I have meet Dowe once or twice but I don't know him. So I can't say one way or the other if the spending is ethical. Let's assume he didn't do anything unethical or illegal. It still looks bad. Just because you can take trips out of town doesn't mean you should. Just because you can pay for lunches where you are talking City business doesn't mean you should. Every now and then, fine. But not all the time.

As many of you know, I worked for Senator Brandon Bell for four years. Legislators don't have expense accounts per say, but the State offers to pay for them to travel to legislative conferences in sunny places like California and Florida. These are similar to the conferences Dowe attended in New Orleans and Washington. Brandon never attended the first one. While completely ethical, Brandon was always very sensitive to this issue. He never wanted to give the sense of impropriety. Again, just because the perk is offered doesn't mean you should take it.

I know many of our elected officials are not wealthy people. And the cost of serving the public can be substantial. It's OK to use City funds to pay for some of your expenses. But when you are outspending your fellow Council members by at least three to one, you need to look at some other options. Elected officials have the option of using their privately raised campaign funds. Or they can spend some of their own money.

Dowe probably didn't act unethically. He just used poor judgment.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Death of the Coalition?

Unlike many countries around the world, our political coalitions have been built within our two major political parties; as opposed to a coalition formed by many different parties. The Democrat coalition consists of Pro-Choicers, African Americans, gun control advocates, gay rights groups, feminists, anti-war groups, unions, just to name a few. The Republican coalition is made up of Pro-Lifers, religious groups, 2nd Amendment supporters, anti-taxers, small government advocates, military supporters and the list goes on and on. These coalitions form the backbone of our political parties. If a significant number left, neither party would have the support to function as it does today.

I have an ongoing debate with a fellow Republican in Roanoke City. This individual fashions himself as a kind of Republican gatekeeper, passing down judgment on who is and who is not a Republican. Those that do not pass the test are most commonly referred to as RINOs—or a Republican In Name Only. I was recently given this very title. I find all of this to be very divisive and destructive and not conducive to growing and strengthening our party. He and I disagree on that point.

There is indeed a movement on the Right to tear the Republican Party apart (look at how they are reacting to John McCain) and rebuild it in a more pure form. And of course, to be pure, the party must cleanse itself of anyone who does not meet the standards of a “true conservative”. Does this really make sense? I don’t think it does. Unless of course you want only a minority party that has no role in governing. But that’s not what I signed up for.

Take Jose. Jose is pro-life. He’s a gun owner. He believes in low taxes and smaller government. He home schools his children. Jose is a Republican. But Jose is also Hispanic. And he supports amnesty for illegal aliens, many of whom are his friends who have lived here for years. They are not just people caught on camera crossing the border some 2,000 miles away. Now, some would say there is no place for that belief in our party. They would say there is no place for Jose and would seek to cast him out. Where would he go? Most likely he would become an independent. Or he may even become a Democrat. But the bigger question is does casting someone like Jose out of our party make sense? Do we really need to build a coalition with people that we don’t agree with on every issue, only the vast majority of issues? I believe the answer is yes; we need those coalitions. Without them, the Republican Party will die.

House GOP Drops Another Seat

Former Delegate Albert Pollard is returning to the House, having won a special election on Tuesday for the seat vacated by Congressman Rob Whitman. If you are keeping track, we are now down to 53 Republicans in the House and have lost seats in every election cycle since 2001. What was once heralded as an impossibility now seems more and more likely to happen—the Democrats taking control of the House. The trend certainly points in that direction.

Pollard won in a solid Republican district. While a Democrat, I don’t think Pollard can be called a liberal. In other words, the Democrats are much better at running candidates that fit their respective districts. At least they have been in recent years. This is a lesson Republicans desperately need to learn and a strategy we need to implement. It is actually one of the mission’s of my PAC, Virginia’s Future Leaders.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

House Budget is Good. Senate Republican’s Proposal is Better.

House Republicans passed a good budget over the weekend. They recognized the growing problems in our economy and took steps to address that. But Senate Republicans proposed a budget that was stronger on fiscal responsibility. They didn’t dip as much into the rainy day fund and kept spending under control. In a surprising showing of solidarity, most Senate Republicans broke from the Democrats and voted against their budget, which included new programs, a significant dip into the rainy day fund and a gas tax hike.

Speaking of the gas tax, Senate Democrats have made a mistake on this one. They propose to raise the tax and use the money to balance the budget—not build and improve roads. How can we ask our citizens to pay more at the pump for roads when we use that very road money for other things? We can’t and we shouldn’t. These types of proposals will make it even harder to make transportation improvements down the road. A few short months after making campaign promises to solve the problem, Senate Democrats have taken us a few steps back on transportation.

I am really a little surprised that Senate Democrats would propose spending for new programs when revenues are dropping. I shouldn't be. I think this really comes down to the Democrats carrying the water for Governor Kaine. Having to do something you probably don’t want to do is one downside of your party controlling the big house.

But the budget debate is far from over. I see an impasse on the horizon. House Republicans will never go for the new spending. The question is how far Senate Democrats are willing to go to support their Governor.

Finally, I want to thank Senators Wampler and Stosch for their leadership on Senate Finance in opposing the budget. I wonder if the anti-government Republicans now believe the internal fighting was worth having the Democrats control the Senate. I feel confident that a Republican controlled Senate would not have passed such a bad budget.

RWL Takes Me to Task Over Smith Post

The Right Wing Liberal didn't much care for my post about Ralph Smith's Big Brother school reporting bill. I know he likes Ralph, but I am surprised he likes this bill. It would seem that the RWL is in the minority on this one--the bill got only one vote in Committee. And that was a courtesy vote from Steve Newman, cast so as not to make Ralph look bad.

But this raises a bigger question. Am I not allowed to ever have a negative opinion about Ralph Smith because he defeated the person I worked for? Or, can every negative opinion I have about Ralph be driven only by bitterness? Ridiculous. And a convenient to shut down the discussion.

By the way, Ralph Smith supported HB 3202 during the campaign. Although I wouldn't expect him to admit it now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Roanoke City Republicans to Support Bowers for Mayor?

I got an email over the weekend from a member of the Roanoke City Republican Committee, suggesting that our party should consider supporting David Bowers, Independent candidate for Mayor. This is the same David Bowers who was (and I presume still is) a lifelong Democrat. This is the same David Bowers that challenged our own Congressman, Bob Goodlatte. This is the same David Bowers who was the Democrat Mayor of Roanoke from 1992-2000. This is the same David Bowers who ran this year (unsuccessfully) for the Chairmanship of the Roanoke City Democrat Committee. Oh, I get it, this is an early April Fools joke. Well, maybe not. I’ve seen other emails from influential members of the Party suggesting that Republicans should support Bowers.

Is this really how we build and grow a party? By supporting a candidate who couldn’t take control of the Democrat Committee so then he comes, head down and hand out, to our party for support? It worked for Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson (ran as a Democrat and lost and then ran as a Republican and won), so maybe Bowers feels good about his chances.

I was glad to see Roanoke City Republican Chair Adam Boitnott come out against the idea. Others have done so as well. I doubt Bowers will get any official support. But it’s bad enough that the issue was even raised.

Some have said Bowers represents change. I guess everyone is the “change” candidate these days. To the contrary, Bowers is part of a group in Roanoke that wants to return the City to the dark ages. Well, they don’t put it that way but that’s what it seems like. I know it sounds nice and easy but Roanoke can’t just go back to the way it was. We’ve got to reinvent ourselves. I talk to a lot of young people in this City and I hear the same things over and over again. They want a new direction. They want a growing, lively City. Roanoke's young professionals are not obsessed with the past. They are looking to the future. We need elected officials that are doing the same. And Bowers doesn’t fit the bill.

And just to point out one ironic twist in this story…..the same people who are constantly nagging the rest of us in the Party about the RINOs (if you ever see one, be sure to take a picture) now want the Republican party to support a Democrat. So, what will you have with that plate of Hypocrisy?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Has Ralph Smith Compromised His Principles?

During the 2007 Primary campaign, we heard a lot about Ralph Smith’s principles. He talked in great detail about his belief in small government and the rights of the individual. I think it’s fair to say that most Republicans like the idea of small government (although a few in our party are really anti-government which is subject matter for an entirely different post). Ralph’s comments made for nice campaign literature and sound bites, but many of us wondered if there was any meat to it.

It turns out that Ralph may not be as big a believer in small government as he would have us think. His recent General Assembly email update failed to mention it, but Ralph introduced Senate Bill 732, which “Provides that local law-enforcement authorities shall report to the school division superintendent and to the principal or his designee all offenses, wherever committed, by students enrolled in the school if such offense would be a Class 1 misdemeanor if committed by an adult.”

SB 732 may not seem offensive on the surface, but this law would apply to a misdemeanor committed by a student in any location—on or off school property. Does the high school principle really need to know if Johnny got a speeding ticket over the weekend? I don’t think the school needs to know that—unless the offense occurs on school property. Not to mention the bureaucracy this will create at every police department in the Commonwealth. You know they will all need a new position to track and report the actions of the students within their jurisdictions. And guess who will pay for that? That’s right, Joe Taxpayer.

I was on the front line of the campaign in 2007 and I heard Ralph talk about his commitment to small government and individual rights and privacy. This bill violates every one of those principles. Fortunately for us, both Democrats and Republicans joined together to kill this “big brother” bill in Committee.

Check it out:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

McCain and the Kamikaze Republicans

Kathleen Parker had a good OpEd that ran in Monday's Roanoke Times. She asks this question: Are conservative Republicans willing to suffer through an Obama or Clinton Presidency, just to spite McCain.

If you didn't get a chance to read it, click here:

Congrats to John McCain

I want to offer my congratulations to Senator John McCain. His sweep of the Potomac Primaries has cemented his status as the Republican nominee to be. Huckabee ran well in Virginia, winning the 5th, 6th and 9th Congressional Districts. If he’d had a few more days, I think think Huck could have won the entire state. The momentum was clearly on his side at the end. But it wasn’t enough.

According to exit polls, Huckabee won the very conservative vote. McCain won the moderate and somewhat conservative vote. To win in November, McCain needs the entire Republican coalition—moderates and conservatives. McCain must begin reaching out the conservative base now. Virginia will be in play in the fall and it’s imperative that McCain spend some time in Southwest Virginia. He will need big margins in this part of the State if he hopes to win.

I will continue to officially support Mike Huckabee as long as he is in this race. But I think the time has come to step aside and bring our party together. There is no question that Huckabee can help McCain solidify support among evangelicals and working class Republicans. He should start that process now.

We as Republicans have a daunting task ahead of us. Twice as many Democrats turned out in Virginia as Republicans. Democrats even outnumbered Republicans in the 6th and 9th Districts. Granted, they have more of a horse race. But we cannot ignore the level of excitement and enthusiasm on their side.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Election Day Observations

I just voted and noted a couple of things. First in SW Roanoke County there were no McCain signs. This was not only at my precinct but there were none at any of the 5-6 I drove by. I also noted that the vote breakdown was basically even between Democrats and Republicans. This was in a roughly 60% traditionally Republican precinct. It seems that there is much more energy on the Democrat side.

My sense is that Huckabee wins the 6th and 9th Congressional districts and maybe even breaks 50%. If he wins the state I wonder if McCain will concede the election.

Great Speaker. High Energy. Terrible Location.

Mike Huckabee rode his wave of momentum into Roanoke last night. And there was an energy level in the room that gives me the feeling that Mike is going to do very well in Southwest Virginia and possibly the entire State in today’s primary.

Mike Huckabee is a phenomenal speaker. And he knows how to work a large crowd. He had the 500+ supporters screaming and cheering. It’s not hard to imagine him on the pulpit preaching to the faithful. Like most successful preachers, Mike has a way of connecting with each and every person in the room. That skill translates well into the political world.

But as good as Mike was, he couldn’t quite make up for such a terrible location. The Link Museum is just not a place to hold a rally for 500 people. It was cramped and you couldn’t see well. I saw clips of Bill Clinton’s rally at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke. The contrast was stark. He had a great set up on an elevated stage. The visuals worked perfectly.

As much as I like Huck, I have been disappointed in his campaign’s level of organization. As most of you know, Debbie and I have been working with the campaign since December. But we haven’t had any contact with the campaign over the past few weeks. I had spoken with a staffer last month about helping Mike in Virginia, but never received any direction as to what I could do. A bit disappointing to say the least.

I want to make one more observation about last night. I noticed a lot of the “conservative base” in attendance. These were the same folks that supported Fred Thompson. Then Mitt Romney. And now Huckabee. They are just moving from candidate to candidate, driven by the “Anyone But McCain” mentality. I am glad to have them on board, but I am a bit leery of their last minute support. Then again, these are folks that supported me for years, only to find greener pastures during last year’s primary. I’ll make a note to warn Mike.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Join Me in Supporting Conservative Mike Huckabee on Tuesday

Tuesday is Election Day in Virginia and I hope you will join me in supporting Conservative Mike Huckabee in the Republican primary. I have been on board with Huck since late last year and am thrilled to see that he is still in this race.

With multiple wins last weekend, Mike is proving that he is the Conservative choice in this race and another win in Virginia will only increase his momentum.

Polls show McCain with a significant lead, but I feel certain this race is much closer. Independents will likely vote in the Democratic primary, meaning they won’t be voting for McCain. This scenario favors Huckabee.

And if you live in Southwest Virginia, join me tonight at 7pm at the Link Museum in Downtown Roanoke as Mike holds a pre-election rally. It should be a high energy event!

Candidates Return from the Political Graveyard and the Shortest Congressional Campaign in History – All in Roanoke City!

This past Saturday, Roanoke City Democrats nominated three candidates for City Council. I am still trying to make sense of the results. Political newcomers Court Rosen and Anita Price were nominated. At 29, I think Rosen was able to tap into the growing block of young professionals who are becoming increasingly active in City politics. I don’t know enough about Price to determine how she was victorious. Surprising to me was the loss of incumbent Bev Fitzpatrick and the victory of fellow incumbent Sherman Lea. Fitzpatrick has been part of the progressive majority on Council, while Lea has been a consistent obstructionist, aligning himself with Brian Wishneff.

And most surprising was the loss of Rich Cranwell. That’s right, the son of the Democratic State Party Chair came in fourth place. It was often joked that this was really the beginning of Rich’s run for Congress. I’d say this was actually the end. I know Bob Goodlatte will sleep a bit easier at night.

But the Democratic candidates are not finished. It’s well known that a slate of independent candidates will be running in the May election. Everyone has an opinion of who that might be. David Bowers, Granger McFarlane, Stuart Revercomb, Alice Hincker and Mac McCadden have all been rumored to be running. Can anyone guess how many collective political loses this group of people has between them? Don’t try—it can be a bit overwhelming. It used to be that Democrats went to the local graveyard to “dig up” votes. Now it seems we are going to the political graveyard for actual candidates.

Friday, February 8, 2008

House Continues To Ignore Majority Views on Smoking Ban

As expected, the House General Laws Subcommittee defeated all 8 House bills that would have regulated smoking in public. I am not surprised by the vote. But I am dismayed that House members, including Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, can be so confident in their position of political power, that they would continue to ignore the views of the vast majority of Virginian’s on this issue.

At the very least, this issue should come before the entire General Laws Committee. It is outrageous and a disservice to the citizens of this Commonwealth to prevent a fair hearing of these bills. But the voters may have the last laugh. They want this legislation and they will eventually elect legislators that will give it to them. That’s the beauty of our system.

Not only did the Subcommittee block the bills from a full hearing, the Chairman didn’t even play fair. Each side was given 30 minutes to speak. The tobacco lobby got their full 30 minutes. But the Smoke-Free coalition had half that time. The time used by the bill patrons to present was counted against the Smoke-Free coalition. This is absolutely unheard of. Patrons have to present their bills. Then you let the various individuals and groups speak for or against. This is the same type of dirty tricks used by Dickie Cranwell and the Democrats for years. And it was part of the reason they lost their Majority. The voters get tired of this stuff.

I’ve also gotten wind that Majority Leader Griffith is telling his colleagues in the House Republican Caucus that I lost my primary fight because of my support of Smoke-Free legislation. The subtle message is, you better vote against this, or you’ll be the next one to lose in a primary. He knows full well this is absolutely not true. This issue is supported by the majority of Republicans! In his attempt to keep his Indians in line, Griffith should be worried about how tight those wagons are circled. For him and our GOP House Majority, I hope this isn’t a last stand.

A Conservative’s Conservative?

They couldn’t be talking about Mitt Romney. But to my dismay, they were. I got a good laugh when talk show host Laura Ingraham introduced Romney in this way at CPAC on Thursday. The Right’s new found love affair with the former Massachusetts Governor seems a bit fake to me. Maybe that’s because Romney was running for President for a long time and he never had the support of these very same Conservatives. At least he didn’t until the last few weeks.

The Right has been waiting for the illusive “perfect” candidate. It shouldn’t be a surprise that such a candidate does not exist. I think most people realize this, but the extremes on both sides of the political spectrum have a hard time accepting this fact. Fred Thompson was the “perfect” candidate. Until everyone realized he was really just a bad candidate.

Once the Right realized that John McCain was well on his way to the nomination, Romney was quickly crowned as “the only true Conserative in the race”. Limbaugh, Hannity and others became his biggest cheerleaders and began their assault on McCain. It was too little too late. I think many Republicans were left wondering why they hadn’t supported Romney before. Most knew it was because Romney was as big a flip flopper as John Kerry and they weren’t buying his newly minted Conservative crown.

John McCain is more Republican than Conservative. Sure, he has some Conservative positions. He’s committed to the War on Terror. He hates wasteful government spending. He’s pro-life. But he’s also taken some mainstream, and dare I say it, “moderate” positions. He believes in the American dream and hasn’t bought into the “immigrant hate” that has stained the Right—meaning he can win the Hispanic vote. His pro-environment positions and stance against deficit spending contribute to his appeal among independent voters. In short, McCain can win a General election. That’s why, to the utter dismay of the Conservative Right, he will be the Republican nominee.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Will the McCain-Huckabee Ticket Begin Today?

Romney is out. McCain is the front runner and now presumptive nominee. Huckabee is still in, but for how long is hard to tell. I would personally like to see Huck and McCain in a two way race, at least through the next couple of primaries, including Virginia on February 12th. I would like to know if Huckabee can capture the core Conservative vote that has eluded McCain. If so, I think he could win a few more states. Not enough to capture the nomination, but enough to absolutely prove his viability as a running mate.

But I am not certain that Huck will have the money to stick around. There will also be intense pressure from McCain and party leaders to drop out and coalesce behind the nominee. As cordial as these two men have been over the last few weeks, I have to think there is a back channel conversation happening right now for Huck to drop out. McCain would then declare himself the nominee and offer the VP spot to his formal rival.

As a Huckabee supporter in Virginia, I have not heard the first thing about the campaign’s activities in our State. I would have expected to at least hear something. But it hasn’t started yet. That makes me think a deal is being made.

I think Huckabee has a lot of bargaining power right now. He has a handful of Delegates. And more importantly, he’s proved his strength in the South, something McCain will need in the General election if he wants to win. He can also end the Republican nomination fight and allow the GOP ticket to begin it’s nationwide campaign. That in the backdrop of the continued Clinton-Obama political bloodbath.

On a side note, McCain securing the nomination in a matter of days instead of weeks may have a dramatic impact on the Democrat process. With no real contest on the Republican side, Independent voters will move to the Democratic primaries and likely support Obama. A McCain win now may lead to an Obama win down the road.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

Clinton or Obama? That is the other question (the first being the identity of our nominee) for the Republican Party. Who do we want to face in November? The conservative talking heads are giddy at the thought of a Clinton loss—and it’s these folks who have been predicting the Clinton demise ever since Iowa. These predictions are based less in fact and more in wishful thinking. And I think Clinton’s continued strength proves this.

But can Obama finally take out the Clinton machine? Can he do something that the GOP has been trying to do since the 90’s? More importantly, do we really want him to?

I get the feeling, and other Republicans have it as well, that if Obama gets the Democratic nomination, he may very well be the next President of the United States. He will be the only “change candidate” in a change year. The GOP doesn’t really have a true change candidate--except maybe Ron Paul.

I feel much better about our chances against Hillary. We can beat her. She is the establishment candidate. She has negatives approaching 50%; numbers that make Jim Gilmore look good. Hillary will inherit her husband’s dirty laundry. Bill Clinton is no longer the rock star he was before he began his smear campaign against Obama. This primary has tarnished the Clinton brand. If she wins, she will be much weaker than anyone ever expected.

I know Republicans love the idea of a Clinton loss—payback for all the times they beat us. But her defeat of Obama may be the best thing for our party. We better be careful of what we wish for. And start worrying if these two stop beating each other up and join forces.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Smoking Ban Gains Momentum

Today, the Virginia Senate passed three different bills to ban smoking in public, each at a different level of restriction.

A complete workplace ban passed 23-15-1. A Restaurant only ban passed 28-10-1. And a local option ban passed 29-9-1. These numbers suggest serious momentum and are surprisingly in line with the opinion of the electorate. Recent polling suggests that 75% of Virginian’s want some type of smoking ban. Kudos to the State Senate for siding with the vast majority of voters. What’s even more impressive is the bi-partisan vote. I’ve been saying for years that this was not a Republican or Democrat issue. This is a public health issue that the voters want addressed.

One particular vote caught my eye. Democrat Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds voted against the ban. Deeds has a spotty record on this issue, having voted against it, then voting for it and now back to voting against it. My guess is the hospitality industry, which has been equally fickle, put some pressure on him. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that opposing the ban is not a smart political position for someone running statewide in 2009. The ban is supported by the majority of Republicans and the overwhelming majority of Democrats. This could be Deeds' Achilles’ heel.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Proud Dad!

As you may know, I was born in Virginia, but grew up in Mississippi. When I was 9 or 10 years old, my all time hero was Archie Manning, quarterback at Ole Miss. He was a true legend in the State. I had every newspaper clipping and even an “Archie Who” button made popular after his big victory over Tennessee as a junior. For such a great quarterback and person, it was always frustrating when he was left to languish in the New Orleans Saints organization. He was never able to realize his full potential in the NFL.

Then came his sons Peyton and Eli. For years the rumors would roll out about the two up and coming Manning quarterbacks growing up. Congratulations to Archie for raising two exceptional young men. No family in football is more deserving of this success. To have Peyton and Eli win back to back MVPs of the Superbowl is absolutely fantastic.

While last night was great, I got a chill when Eli avoided a sack with one minute left in the game, only to complete a long pass putting the Giants in range to win the game. It was like watching his Dad 40 years ago scramble to make plays and excite the fans.

Congratulations Archie!