Friday, May 30, 2008

U. S. Senate Candidate Decision Time

Deciding on who I will vote for to be our nominee for US Senate has been one of the more difficult I have encountered in some time. While the readers of this blog know I have real problems with Gov. Gilmore's candidacy, you would think I would automatically support Marshall. Not so fast.

The very first post of this blog was "Anyone but Jim". I was hopefully such a call would lead to having a heavy weight get in the race and give us a fighting chance against Mark Warner. Bob Marshall is a principled and fine man but he is hardly the heavy weight I was hoping for.

Still I have many issues with Gilmore such as: high unfavorable ratings, favors abortions in the first 8 weeks, a car tax plan that shifted state tax revenue disporportionately to NOVA, and others I won't mention. I have a real problem with his abortion stand particularly when I was able to see my daughter's heartbeat at 6 weeks. It is hard to stomach that it is OK to end life at that point. That being said he has come through with a real winner of an issue: Energy.

Gilmore has the best energy policy of anyone running. His position is even better than our presidential candidate. I predict due to the pandering to the environmental left over the last several years the voters understand what it means not to have enough oil. They understand that we need to drill for more while we explore alternative sources. This is one issue that Joe sixpack will understand and I believe the fall's election could turn on.

I have been surprised that Marshall feels the Sierra Club and others are that important in order to win in the fall. He should understand that they will drop him like a hot rock for Mark Warner. My hope should he be our nominee that he would figure that out and adopt a policy much like Gilmore's.

When comparing resources both our guys are in bad shape. Gilmore has more money but has been spending almost all of it (80%) and will have little for the fall. A significant number of GOP givers are siding with Warner and that will make it more difficult. He will need more money than Marshall because he needs to create a more positive image of himself due to his high unfavorables. Marshall will need a lot of money just to let people know who he is. So far he hasn't shown such an ability but has waged a very efficient nomination battle and has a real chance of becoming the nominee.

The last consideration is how will our nominee effect our other candidates running. At least for the 6th District neither will slow down Goodlatte. Bob's opponent hasn't shown much and is not likely to put up the effort to be able to take him down. But the effect on our presidential nominee could be more important. Senator McCain will need help motivating social conservatives to turn out. Probably a slight edge in this area goes to Marshall. Marshall may have difficulty winning himself would turn out a more dedicated group that would help McCain. With Virginia in play nationally this can't be overlooked.

So---with all this back and forth---the envelope please. And the winner is-----------! Sorry I have decided to keep this one to myself. I wish whoever wins all the best but for once I plan to vote my conscience and come back home. I'm sure I'll have comments on Monday about how the weekend went.

Hager New Endorsements

Just got wind that George Allen and Ollie North plan to endorse Hager for Chairman today. Seems that momentum is back on Hager's side. We'll see tommorrow!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

District Chairman Slams Frederick for Negative Campaign

I've been waiting for this to happen. After reading Delegate Frederick's increasingly vitriolic emails against Chairman Hager, I figured it was only a matter of time before someone hit him back. I received the email below (as part of a blast) from Mike Wade, 3rd District Chairman. I don't know Mr. Wade, but thought this was worth sharing. I suppose we will all form our own opinions about this race. I will only say I have been truly surprised by the tone Frederick has taken, especially with the Mark Warner criticism and the letter to Speaker Howell.

Leadership? A Few Questions for Delegate Frederick

Dear Delegate Frederick,

Luckily, the demand of Party business has consumed my time and I have been spared up to now from your unyielding barrage of vicious statements. After almost five months of running, a lot of us thought that you would find at least one positive message for your bid for Chairman. As I peruse your recent e-mails, I am truly saddened by the fact that you have run a campaign attacking fellow Republicans with much more energy than you have ever attacked the Democrats. In your mind the Republican Party of Virginia is a defunct institution, our District Chairman are bumbling idiots and our volunteers just didn't meet with your expectations lastyear. You seem to want us to believe that Chairman Hager is a closet supporter of Mark Warner and that we should disregard his 30 years of devoted service to our Party and conservative causes. Your own Leadership in the House of Delegates has even felt the visciousness of your attacks. Delegate Frederick, it seems that without you, we will all but cease to exist.

So please, if you will, answer my questions in your daily e-mail propaganda. Answer them honestly, check your facts out and tell us the real deal. Please help us understand how your recently found interest in the Party can be credible when your record fails to support your claims of Leadership. Remember Delegate Frederick, answer based on your record not campaign hype. Most Republicans believe that it's not what you say that counts, it's your track record.

First question, would you agree that an essential ingredient to winning is to have a united Party, working for our nominee once the nomination is settled? If you answer "yes", please explain why you have made mocking comments to rank-and-file activists at District conventions when they made it clear they would not support you for chairman. Even worse, you have gone to the extreme of telling an unpaid intern who chairs a local College Republican club that she would not be asked back to intern when you are elected, all because she would not wear your sticker. At the Goochland County Committee breakfast just a few weeks ago, you stated publicly that all of the District Chairs would be challenged because they supported Chairman Hager, and that the challengers who were supporting you would win these seats. You later criticized the entire State Central Committee. Can you truly expect to rally and lead those activists and party leaders you have vilified after your callous behavior?

Second question, how can you claim to be a leader for our Party against Mark Warner when nowhere can I find you, Delegate Jeff Frederick, making any statement against the Democrat previous to your campaign for RPV chairman. As a matter of fact, on your own web-site you repeatedly thank the Democrats first for your wins in your District. You also crow about your "bipartisan ideology" with great pride on your web-site. Rather than what your campaign attacks would try to have us think it is your statements that disturbingly sound a lot like the rhetoric of Mark Warner. Thanks to that bipartisan thought process, we got the largest tax increase in Virginia's history.

Third question, how can you blame John Hager for losing the majority in the State Senate and seats in the House of Delegates, even though John Hager became chairman just 3 months prior to election day? Answer with irrefutable facts to support your claim. Surely it couldn't have been the support by some legislators for Mark Warner's massive tax increase, could it? It couldn't have been the perception of Republicans in the General Assembly as more interested in fighting with each other than in fighting for working men and women, could it? It certainly couldn't have been that many of our candidates supported the creation of new, unelected regional government with taxing authority, could it? What reasonable person would think the voters would hold that against our candidates? No, it must have been John Hager who single-handedly brought about the demise of Republicans in the General Assembly. You must think conservative activists and party leaders are clueless if you think they will buy your propaganda. While we're on this topic though, I have a Fourth Question: Since you are now so interested in our majority in the House of Delegates, what did you do, Delegate Frederick, to help our candidates who were in trouble? Remember, actions speak louder than words.

Last but not least, the Fifth Question. Would you agree that a Leader sets an example for those he leads? If yes, please explain how you have allowed yourself and staff to run such a divisive campaign. From where I sit, your entire campaign has set out to besmirch the Party as a whole, threaten or ridicule those who do not support you and apparently just makes things up when the truth doesn't suit. Is this the example you would set for our party to follow? In 2007, with Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and the Democrats pouring millions of dollars into campaigns to defeat our legislators, Republican Delegates from across the Commonwealth opened their own campaign war chests and gave generously to the campaigns under siege. What was your example of leadership in this time of need? You came in 46 th among your fellow Delegates in assisting fellow campaigns. You invested less than $3,000 from your own campaign last year, even though you ended up with money in the bank, money which was transferred to your campaign for chairman.

Is this the leadership you would propose to provide for us statewide?

You see, Delegate Frederick,getting elected chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia doesn't suddenly make one a leader. State Chairmen who are real leaders were leaders before they were elected. In this race for chairman, there is only one candidate whose track record is that of a leader who works with party activists and leaders rather than attack them. That candidate is John Hager. There is only one candidate whose record is that of a leader who was giving to candidates personally and raising money for them not just weeks before asking that we elected him party chairman, but did so for decades. That candidate is John Hager. There is only one candidate whose record is that of a leader who has the grassroots experience and long-term commitment to build our organization so that Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling and our GOP nominee for Attorney General will re-take the reins of state government next year. That candidate is John Hager. And, there is only one candidate who is working now to unite out party for the crucial United States Senate race and only one candidate who has been publicly taking on Mark Warner. That candidate is John Hager.

Sincerely, Mike Wade, Chairman, Third District Committee

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

News Flash: STD and RRZ in Agreement

Solution to high gas prices and need for more transportation dollars in Virginia: Lease oil and gas fields offshore in Virginia. Have the lease revenue dedicated to the transportation trust fund. It is unclear at this time how much revenue this would generate but such a move could start funds flowing soon from big oil eager to develop new fields.

This is an idea I have had for some time but thanks to Spank the Donkey for his post that highlights a North Carolina congresswoman that has introduced legislation allowing states to participate in lease revenue. The primary focus of the bill would be to allow states to opt out of the Interior Department restriction against drilling offshore. I didn't realize until I read his post that $8 billion is generated from offshore leases. I was aware that citizens in Alaska actually receive rebate checks (pay no state tax) from the state for oil production fees and lease revenue generated there. While we certainly don't have those type of reserves we can increase the state's revenue for our transportation needs dramatically.

As we approach the special session on transportation in June, someone in the GA needs to seize upon this alternative, flesh out the numbers and drive this issue home. My selection would be Senator Frank Wagner since he has already done a great deal of work on the energy issue. This would be a great alternative to raising taxes.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Delegate Frederick Should End Campaign

Since I was able to out Delegate Frederick in his intentions regarding his race for State Chairman, the decision has become obvious. We must retain John Hager as our State Chairman.

I would suggest to Jeff that he announce today he is ending his Chairman campaign and call for unity in the party. He would then be free to focus on his House district and his reelection in 2009. With our majority in the House of Delegates extremely narrow it is imperative that we hold this swing seat. As Jim Riley, a constituent of Jeffs, at Virginia Virtucon comments in a previous post, Jeff is capable of holding this house seat for as long as he wants it. He may be the only person that can keep it in GOP hands.

Come on Jeff do what's right for the party.

A little bit of additional advice, albeit unsolicited. It wouldn't hurt to have Amy Frederick give the Speaker a call and offer to let her letter to him go down as written in the heat of the moment. An apology might keep young Jeff from being reassigned to 2 or 3 committees that never meet.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day Rememberance

For some this weekend merely marks the beginning of summer and warm weather. It should be noted as a holiday to remember those who have sacrificed in order to perserve our freedoms.

I wanted to share with you a letter that was written by our 16th President during one of the most difficult times this country has ever faced. When I first heard it read, it struck me as a clear example of true meaning of Memorial Day. While the letter is not without controversy, I believe in it's authenticity.

Executive Mansion
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864

To Mrs. Bixby
Boston, Mass.

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguille you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

Say a prayer for all who have served and for those who have lost loved ones "upon the altar of freedom".

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Goodlatte on Gas Prices and the "Pelosi Premium"

Do We Need Parties In Local Elections?

This is a question that is being debated in Roanoke City. It's an issue that has come up for years and came up again at a Council meeting on Monday--Do we switch to non-partisan local elections?

I can honestly see both sides of this argument. On the one hand, local elections are the back bone of the local party. The City of Salem has non-partisan elections and I believe that has served to weaken the local Republican Committee over the years. Compare that to Roanoke County, where elections are partisan. That has lead to an active party structure on both sides of the aisle.

On the other hand, many people ask, and with good reason, what national issues like abortion and the War have to do with City Council. It's a legitimate question. With local elections, local issues and personalities tend to dominate. We see cross over between parties and to independents. Both David Bowers, running as an independent, and Court Rosen, running as an Democrat, won with (I believe) significant Republican support in the Council elections. Granted, there was no Republicans in the race, but many Republicans were voting on personality and local issues. Party just didn't matter. Of course, Republicans had the option to sit out the election, though I doubt many did.

I have found this to be especially true with young people. They may be fiercely partisan on national politics, but very non-partisan on the local level.

Again, I don't know what the answer is with this one. But it's something we should be talking about.

UPDATE: Roanoke Valley Republicans has pointed out an error in my original post. It seems it's more of a tradition to run as an Independent in Salem. They can run with party affiliation if they choose to. Thanks for setting me straight!

Here is a Salem prospective on the issue:

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You Heard It Hear First - Frederick Confirms That He Will Not Seek Re-Election If Elected Chair

Congrats Brandon for sniffing this one out last week. Jeff's announcement is below.

Dear Fellow Virginia Republican:
From the very beginning of my campaign for Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), I have recognized the day may come when I would need to demonstrate my commitment to the well being of the Party as a whole, even at the expense of my own political career.
Friends, that day has come.
I want to thank Misters Cobb, Malek, and Neel for their recent letter. After careful consideration of their opinion, those of others, and much prayer, I have decided that I will not seek re-election to the House of Delegates if I am elected RPV Chairman. This is something I have considered for some time and have not been opposed to, but the Cobb/Malek/Neel letter articulated the issue well, and I agree.
With the loss of 9 seats in the General Assembly in just the last 6 months alone, and RPV finishing 5th in fundraising to four Democratic committees last year, the risk is too great for me to not make the tough decision to eliminate any objections to my candidacy for Party chair. The future of our Party, and indeed our Commonwealth, is at stake.
RPV doesn’t need a babysitter, but rather someone with vision to set the direction and to hire the right team to establish a solid and reliable infrastructure and implement a sound plan to turn things around and start winning again.
Nevertheless, I see a great deal of benefit to the Party in not having their Chairman limited by the legislative calendar, even if then-Senator Randy Forbes handled both his RPV Chairmanship and legislative responsibilities well.
With a dedicated focus on the Chairmanship, however, I’ll not only be free to build upon my successes in winning tough Democrat leaning districts like the one I currently represent in Northern Virginia, but also to advance our conservative agenda statewide to help us win back seats where the Democrats have trumped us.
I realize that some see the Cobb/Malek/Neel letter as a cynical attack by the Hager campaign to pat me on the back as such a great leader and the only person able to hold my seat – while on the other hand claiming I’m not qualified to lead our Party as Chairman.
Neither is true.
My point in saying I’ve won a district most Republicans haven’t is not that I have some inflated ego and the voters have some special affection for me. The key to my winning elections while RPV is losing seats is that I understand how to logistically raise the money, involve the youth, reach out to new communities, and use technology to communicate to voters why our Republican philosophy is best.
Using the same approach, I am comfortable that my House seat can continue to be represented by a Republican. Yet, I am not comfortable that the current RPV leadership is capable of retaining our House majority – and that is the larger problem we face, rather than just concern over my one seat.
My success in raising $1.3 million in my last 2 campaigns (representing just 1% of the state) speaks for itself, and as Chairman, I will continue to expand these resources for the benefit of our candidates to win back seats we have lost.
If I am ultimately unsuccessful in this Chairman’s race, I will certainly be a team player and seek re-election to the House – but I am not looking forward to the prospect of being in the minority after two more years of RPV “staying the course” and John Hager claiming RPV has “met all their goals”.
Every decision in politics involves some risk. Still, the only risk facing the delegates to the May 31 state convention is the one we take by keeping the status quo in charge at RPV, as we continue to lose election after election across Virginia, and consistently being outmaneuvered by the Democrats in technology, fundraising – and yes, even grassroots activism.
Mr. Hager’s own supporters are quick to praise me for my energy, talent and skill to win where others do not win. I worked hard to develop the right formula to prevail in one of the toughest areas of the Commonwealth. Instead of welcoming this know-how, they want to use it as an excuse to promote leadership that has us going backwards, and losing everything we’ve worked so hard to accomplish.
You don’t have to be a mathematician to know that the health and well-being of 100 House seats warrants much greater consideration than one. If you believe that I am the best choice to hold our most competitive seats and win back others to build our majority, then you should have every confidence that I’ll also provide the necessary skill and leadership to hold the very seat I may be vacating.
If, on the other hand, you believe that RPV under John Hager – which hasn’t picked up a single Democratic seat – not one – but has lost 9 Republican seats during his tenure – is the right man for the job, then your mind is made up regardless of the evidence.
I hope we can count on your support, and if you haven’t already – I hope you’ll join our team.
Sincerely, Jeff Frederick

Brownlee Announces for AG

As expected, John Brownlee, former US District Attorney from Roanoke, has announced as a Republican candidate for Attorney General.

Read the Roanoke Times story here:

Visit Browlee's website here:

A Bright Light for Roanoke City Schools

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to hear Roanoke City School Superintendent Dr. Rita Bishop talk about the future of the City school system. For the first time, I actually felt a glimmer of hope. If you have concern about our schools, you need to hear Dr. Bishop. And give her your support.

As most of you know, I live with my wife in the City. We love our neighborhood and don't want to leave. But we know we will have a tough choice to make when we have children. Do we leave our neighborhood and City to find better schools? It's a decision that many young people are making and will have to make in the future. Sadly, most leave. This illustrates why the schools are the most important issue facing Roanoke. Art Museums, Greenways, mountain top restaurants--they are all great. But they are worth a hill of beans if our graduation rate remains around 50%. That's right, almost half of Roanoke City's young people do not graduate from High School.

That alarming number was actually how Dr. Bishop began her presentation. She said it was unacceptable. And she's got a plan to fix it.

As most of you know, Dr. Bishop has pushed for, and the School Board has passed, a plan to close Forest Park Elementary and turn it into an academy for overage students. I won't go into all of the details about the plan, but Dr. Bishop believes this academy can dramatically increase our graduation rate and she makes a convincing argument for it--backed up with some great research.

But like most things in Roanoke, her plan is controversial. Mayor-elect Bowers campaigned to "save the school" and stop the plan. It makes for great politics (obviously, since Bowers won), but we need to think about what's best for our City as a whole. Yes, the closing will be hard on the families affected, but it's not the end of the world. And it just makes sense.

If you care about the future of our schools, voice your support to Dr. Bishop and the School Board. To often in Roanoke, the vocal minority--in this case those protesting the school closure--are able to stand in the way of progress. These folks will have powerful backers, including the new Mayor, but if our School Board and other elected officials know they have the majority of our Citizen's support, they will stand by their decisions and feel confident in bringing about these much needed changes.

State Convention Phoning

Another call came to my home phone yesterday regarding the US Senate race. The call came during the day so my wife answered the call. It was a survey call for the Marshall campaign. The caller started off asking if Mr. or Mrs. Bell was in. She said she was Mrs. Bell. Then she was asked if she was attending the state convention to which she answered--no. The caller thanked her and disconnected the call.

Now here's the rub. My wife isn't registered as a delegate but I am. Seems there was an oversight in the scripting of the callers. There should have been a follow up question as to whether I was attending the convention or actually using the delegate sign up list to call from. I know this exists because mailings for the convention are only addressed to me. It seems a missed opportunity when you actually get a connect by phone but fail to get any valuable information.

Why am I focusing so much on these phone calls?

With a known universe of delegates calling is the best way to reach them. It is concievable that both candidates could actually personally call undecided or soft support delegates before the convention. Probably only 2500 to 3000 total delegates will attend. Maybe it's Marshall's intent to personally call a large number of delegates. It would be a smart move if it is because I doubt the Governor would do it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

So Much for Moving On in Augusta County

After watching these videos a few times, all I can think of is how a prospective new member of our party would react to this---most certainly NOT a recruiting tool!

So, what's the point? Kurt Michael was confirmed as the Chairman in Augusta County. Emmett won his election. Why feed the fire? Who benefits by posting videos like this and keep the pot stirred up?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Filling SPR Stopped

As I have called on before the US Senate voted today to stop filing the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until the price of oil drops to $75 per barrel. The vote in the senate was 97-1 and the vote yesterday in the house was 385-25 in favor. Although the administration opposes this measure the votes constitute a veto proof majority. It does concern me a bit that the adminstration projects an image of being out of touch with the average American struggling with high oil prices.

We need to take this one step further. We need to begin selling some of the 709 million barrels currently in the SPR in order to increase supply. This at least could be done during the summer driving season. The proceeds from the oil sale would offset the lost revenue from the gas tax holiday. We should sell 1 million barrels per day until the price drops below $100. Some of the oil was purchased when the price was below $15 per barrel. If and when the price drops below $75 we could return to filing the reserve. This is just good business sense but adds supply at a critical time. Maybe then we can get the attention of OPEC--proving that we mean business when it comes to increasing supply. Thus protecting our national economic interests.

Hillary's Win, Looking to the Fall

I had heard Hillary would win in West Virginia. I had no idea it would be as big as it was. Sounds like she will win Kentucky next week as well. I still don't see how she can beat Obama for the nomination, but this is sure to draw the process out. And that's good for McCain and Republicans. The big question is how nasty will this get. Will she throw in the towel after the last primary on June 3rd. Or will she start the Florida-Michigan mantra again. If Hillary thinks she's got a shot, she will take this thing to the Convention, even if there is a chance she loses and becomes a political leaper with no chance of running again. Why take the risk? If Obama wins, and there is a good chance he will, Hillary is looking at 2016. That's an awful lot of time for other stars to rise in the Democratic Party--think Obama.

Hillary's win in a State like WV highlights an opportunity for McCain. If he can position Obama as an elitist liberal, he may have a shot at Clinton's working class voters. A tall task for sure, but I think the opportunity is there.

And speaking of the fall, I heard a commentator on TV say that Obama, the most liberal member of the US Senate, will not run as a liberal, but will instead run from the middle--just as most Presidential campaigns are run. But McCain literally is the center. Sure he has some Conservative positions, but he really is the poster child for moderation and centrists politics. Something that usually appeals to the voting public. He doesn't have to spin his voting record to fit his campaign rhetoric. Not sure how much difference it will make....just some food for thought.

Third GOP House Seat Lost - UPDATED

Yesterday the Republican party lost it's third special house seat election in the Mississippi 1st district. This wasn't the region in Mississippi that I grew up in but I know the area well. This is really bad for our party. This is a district that Bush carried by over 60%.

It's clear that this fall will be brutal for Republicans. Anyone with a 55/45 congressional district is in play with a lot of 55-59%GOP seats. I sure hope this trend bottoms out before 2009 or we are in for some real difficulty in the statewide and house of delegate races.

UPDATE: We received an email from a reader expressing concern that my post could be used by Democrats against our candidates. First, this post is for Republicans who just don't get it. We are in trouble and so far most have been unwilling to admit it or do anything about it. For the past few years, we've had Republicans running against Republicans and Democrats running against Republicans. That means Republicans are going to lose, which is what we've been doing a lot of lately.

Yes, this is a public blog and my comments can be used by others, even if out of context. But that concern shouldn't override the need to speak openly and honestly about the situation our party is in. If we don't talk about it, nothing will change and we will continue to lose. Instead of worrying about our dirty laundry, lets put it through the wash and start winning elections again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Frederick Runs for RPV Chair – Will Not Seek Re-election to House

Now that I’ve got your attention….so that’s not a news headline, but it’s my suspicion.

For weeks now, I’ve wondered why Jeff Frederick was running for RPV Chairman. It’s an unpaid position that has not exactly been kind to previous holders. He’s already a member of the House of Delegates. Why not just use that platform to increase your prominence within the party?

But now I get it.

I did not receive the email from Amy Frederick that Zak referenced in his recent post, but I did receive the letter from Speaker Howell. The same letter Amy received.

This letter was obviously sent to those signed up as Delegates to the Convention. My envelope was addressed to Brandon Bell, just as I signed up at my local Mass Meeting—not the Honorable J. Brandon Bell as RPV correspondence is normally addressed. Again, this is just a Delegate list. Whoever coordinated the mailing likely didn’t know who Amy Frederick was. They must have removed Jeff’s name but not Amy’s.

The letter itself is not personalized. It’s addressed to “Dear Fellow Republican”. And not only does the letter mention Jeff just once, Howell speaks of him in a positive light. Quoting Speaker Howell, “While Jeff Frederick is a fine Delegate, I believe that John Hager’s leadership is best for our Party at this important time.” Not exactly the attack on Jeff that Amy claims.

Now back to my original headline--Jeff Frederick is not planning to run for re-election to the House. Why am I so sure? No Delegate who wants a future in the House would ever speak out against the Speaker in such a reckless way. Yes, I know it’s his wife, but we all know she didn’t write it. It’s just like Jeff said it. Jeff is in a tough district that will only get tougher, plus there’s that whole redistricting thing. He might be able to hang on for another election or two, but I think Jeff sees the writing on the wall. And RPV Chairman gives him the perfect out.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Jeff Frederick's Wife Vs. Speaker Howell--Yes, Really

I am getting a real kick out of the latest salvo in the RPV Chairman's race. Jeff Frederick's wife Amy has responded to a letter she received from Speaker Bill Howell, declaring the Speakers support for her husband's opponent, John Hager. Now, Amy would have you believe that she received a personal letter from the Speaker. I suspect she got a generic letter. Embarrassing for the Speaker and his office, but a bit of political grandstanding on Amy' part no doubt.

The email is below. Anyone have a copy of the Speaker's letter? Feel free to post.

Amy N. Frederick
An Open Letter To William Howell, Speaker Of The Virginia House Of Delegates
Dear Mr. Speaker:
I received your letter this morning. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement.
It takes some nerve for you to write me to outline all the reasons my husband should not be Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV). Worse, your letter to me was apparently timed to arrive the same day RPV (the organization our opponent currently oversees) leaked misleading documents intended to attack Jeff's integrity.
Can you imagine your reaction if Jeff sent a letter to your wife Cessie telling her -- in light of the House Republican Caucus losing 11 seats to the Democrats since you've become Speaker -- that you should not be Speaker any more? That the House GOP has gone from a very healthy governing majority to now a slim 3 seat majority under your leadership and therefore you're not best qualified to be Speaker?
Then, on the same day after such a letter, you were attacked for standing on the podium at the 1993 Virginia Republican Convention to ask Republicans to defeat a pro-life nominee for Lt. Governor with a pro-choice alternative?
I believe you'd demand an apology from Jeff immediately -- and while I can't demand anything, I do believe you owe me an apology.
I realize Jeff is a young go-getter, and that rubs the old guard the wrong way. Yet, just because you've known Jeff's opponent for over 20 years, as you stated in your letter, doesn't excuse this sort of conduct.
I do find one of your statements rather curious:
"As the Speaker of the House of Delegates, I've stood firm for our conservative values and John Hager has stood with me. I've known John Hager for two decades, and I've always been able to count on him."
Was it the time you were advocating the Party go with a pro-choice statewide candidate over a pro-life leader, or more recently when John Hager was working to advance the agenda of Democratic Governor Mark Warner, that you were counting on him?
True, Jeff was too young to vote two decades ago when you started working with John, but is the old guard really getting things done?
Republicans came to power on the backs of conservative, grassroots activists, and Jeff is a young leader who has shown he can motivate young voters to join those who have spent years doing the volunteer work necessary to elect conservatives.
Jeff is not going to march more in line with the establishment to earn their support; no thanks. It is amazing to me that the old guard has betrayed grassroots conservatives on so many issues, yet still feels it can dictate to the grassroots who they need to select as their Party leaders.
As you recall, John Hager lost his 1992 bid for RPV Chairman running as a moderate. Then the Party was able to get back to its conservative principles on life, taxes and the 2nd Amendment and the result was us winning control of both houses of the General Assembly and sweeping all statewide offices.
On May 31, I believe the Republicans who attend the convention will vote to get back to winning elections and governing as conservatives -- and will defy you and the rest of the old guard to elect Jeff Frederick as RPV Chairman.
Sincerely, Amy Frederick
P.S. Please take "Mrs. Amy Frederick" out of your contacts, and please don't send me anything further in the future about my husband.
Authorized & Paid for by Virginia's Future PAC

Brian Wishneff - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

OK. Lets see if we can simplify the recent Brian Wishneff election scandal.

Brian Wishneff runs a campaign for Roanoke City Council based around the slogan "Integrity Matters".

Brian Wishneff runs smear ad against fellow candidate, but refuses to put his own name on the ad, thus violating State law.

Brian Wishneff blames the Roanoke Times for not explaining State law to him when he placed the ad.

Brian Wishneff may now sue the Times for it's coverage of HIS scandal.

To quote the article: "Brian Wishneff accused the newspaper of "trying to influence the election and trying to maim my character.""

No Brian, you took care of maiming your own character. And in doing so, lost your seat.

While it's probably wishful thinking to hope this guy is going to fade away into the background, thank God he is no longer on Council.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rockledge & The Amphitheater - Thoughts on Two Controversial Projects

With Roanoke City Council elections behind us, it's time to think about the future. I wanted to offer my thoughts on two controversial projects--isn't everything controversial in Roanoke?

First Rockledge. I support the restaurant and community center. Do I think this project will change the future of Roanoke. No. There are many things far more important. But the project could be an asset for Roanoke. Let me begin by saying I use the Mountain for recreational purposes. I've hiked it and I've recently started biking it. It's beautiful and frankly amazing that we have such a great place sitting right in the middle of our City, only minutes from Downtown. Recreational use of the Mountain and support of Rockledge are not mutually exclusive. I don't think Rockledge will ruin the Mountain. If done right, I believe it will enhance the Mountain. The Mountain already has a giant star, park, visitors center and Zoo on top of it. These things don't detract from Mill Mountain. They enhance it, just as Rockledge would do.

Some have characterized those that support Rockledge as anti-environment, as people who would tear down everything to build anything. My experience tells me that could not be further from the truth. Yes, there are probably some out there that would build condos on the Mountain. That's not the vision of the Young Professionals that have spearheaded this effort. The folks I encounter are environmentally conscious. They care about things like our parks, the river and greenways. And they care deeply about Mill Mountain. They don't want to destroy it. They just see an opportunity to enhance it.

Now for the amphitheater. For heavens sake, lets not turn this into another Victory Stadium. Accept the decision that has been made and move on. But as far as I can tell, a final decision has not been made, so here are my two cents. I see advantages to both the Elmwood Park and Riverside location. So let's use both.

Elmwood Park is a great place. It has a natural setting for an amphitheater and it's close to Downtown. But it's not the place to build some monstrosity. Let's work with what we've got. Invest some money to enhance the existing venue. Build a nicer, more permanent stage. Regrade the lawn--some parts are terribly uncomfortable to sit on and too steep for lawn chairs. Maybe add other amenities like bathrooms and a concession stand. If done right, Elmwood Park could be a world class, intimate venue for our festivals and small concerts.

As for the Riverside location, lets not invest $10-15 million in a flood plane. I've heard many say we can engineer it to be flood proof, but I have my doubts. Nothing is flood proof. Build a stage and raise the lawn for a concert setting--but no seating or major infrastructure. Bathrooms and concessions wouldn't hurt. And work to contain the river, but lets keep the total investment to a minimum just in case we get another one of those 100 year floods. We could use this location for larger concerts. Are we going to book the Dave Matthews Band or the Rolling Stones? Probably not. But it could be used for the occasional large gathering.

The Riverside location should be a part of a larger plan for the park. I like Mayor-Elect Bowers plans for a Veterans Memorial in the area. And it really could be the center of Roanoke's outdoor recreational opportunities. Whether it be hiking, skating, fishing, running, tubing, biking, kayaking, whatever, River's Edge is the perfect place to start from. Lets use the park to take advantage of Roanoke's greatest asset--our natural environment.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Councilman Nash to Stay, Company to Forego Federal $$

Newly appointed Roanoke City Councilman Alvin Nash today announced that he will remain on Council and the company he runs, Blue Ridge Housing Development Corp, will forego Federal funding, which has averaged around $500,000 a year. This is required to avoid a conflict of interest since Roanoke City administers these funds.

OK. Does that sound right to you? Giving up $500,000 a year for a job that pays something like $15,000. Maybe someone can enlighten me as to how this makes any sense.

UPDATE: The Times has updated this story to state that Blue Ridge Housing Development Corp will forego two types of Federal grants, but not Federal money altogether.

From the Roanoke Times.....

Nash to remain on Roanoke council
By Mason Adams

Roanoke Councilman Alvin Nash said this morning that his company, Blue Ridge Housing Development Corp., will forego federal funding so as to allow him to remain on the city council for the remainder of his term, which expires in 2010.

The city had applied to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for an exemption from the federal conflict of interest law, but the federal agency denied the request. The federal Community Development Block Grants or HOME Investment Partnerships Program subgrants make up about 40 percent of Blue Ridge’s annual funding, Nash said.

Nash said this morning that rather than resign from the council or from Blue Ridge, the nonprofit group would instead forego the federal funding for the remainder of his term.
“We have enough on the table in current contracts that would last for the next couple years,” Nash said. “We may revisit this later and I may make another decision, but right now I don’t want to make a career decision just from this.”

Nash said the Blue Ridge would also pursue “alternate funding” sources and look for projects in localities other than Roanoke.

Jenny, now Jenny

I got a strange call last night at home. The caller started off saying that she was conducting a survey for those attending the Republican State Convention. She asked who I was supporting for US Senate and State Chairman. I stated that I was undeclared. She seems taken aback. She asked what I considered to be my top issue and was further confused when I said a variety of issues are important to me. My goal was only to find out who was conducting the survey.

The first oddity came when she asked if I needed a ride and a place to stay. I said no but I was really intriqued with who would be willing to pay for my gas and put me up at their house. Huh, I was dying to find out who was doing this so as she was wrapping up the call I asked. No answer. I asked again. Again no answer. She had disconnected or hung up. I have no way of knowing if she heard me ask her to state who was paying for the call. The call clearly was in violation of state election law.

I was guessing that the Gilmore campaign was sponsoring the calls since he has more money that others up for election at the convention. However I don't know for sure of course. If you talk to someone in the campaign you could mention they need to fix their "survey".

Oh yeah, the biggest oddity. My caller id came up 703-867-5309. That's right--the song by Tommy 2Tone--867-5309 Jenny. It was too funny. No way I could make this up. Now I'll have that song in my head all day. "I got your number from the wall, I got it, I got it, for a good time, for a good time call"!

And in case you want the song in your head all day........

UPDATE 5/8 - We received an email from the Gilmore campaign stating that they are not behind these calls. According to the campaign, they are only using volunteer calls and this is not the script.

Roanoke City GOP Chair Weighs In on Election Results

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Roanoke City Elects Bowers - Takes a Step Back

David Bowers completed a dramatic political comeback tonight. After losing 5 or so elections in a row, Bowers was able to knock off incumbent Mayor Nelson Harris by a wide margin.

As a young professional in Roanoke City, I cannot tell you how disappointed I am. Harris may not have been a great Mayor, but Bowers represents the politics of the past--the last thing Roanoke needs right now. At a crucial time when Roanoke needs to look forward, I feel that Bowers will resist progress and change--something Roanoke has done quite well for a long time. I think Bowers represents a step back. And that's a shame. Bowers will have four years to prove me wrong. I hope he does.

On the bright side, incumbent Councilman and chief obstructionist Brian Wishneff lost his seat. That is most certainly a small step forward. Wishneff has the occasional good point, but his attitude and tactics have made him completely ineffective, something we don't need more of on Council. City Hall will certainly be a more civil place without him.

While Roanoke has a history of electing one issue candidates (think Victory Stadium), they rejected the candidacy of Valerie Garner, whose sole purpose for running was to save the Country Side Golf Course. We need more depth than that. Roanoke made right choice.

Anita Price ran on her record as an educator and won a seat. Roanoke's failing school system is the single biggest problem facing the City. I hope Price can lead on this issue and bring about much needed change.

Sherman Lea was the sole incumbent to survive. I won't pretend to understand those politics. Lea doesn't exactly inspire me, but I guess he also avoids the controversy that plagues many of the candidates. Interestingly, earlier this year, Lea disassociated himself from Wishneff and realigned with Harris, both of whom lost tonight. Go figure.

Finally, I am glad to see a fellow Young Professional like Court Rosen win a seat. Rosen can now give voice to our growing demographic. There is a lot of expectation there, but I think Rosen is up for the job.

As for the the new makeup of Council, Rosen will most certainly align himself with Trinkle and Mason. Bowers will be on the other side. Lea and Price may be the tiebreakers. I just read tonight that Alvin Nash may have to resign his seat--that could play out in a way to give Trinkle, Mason and Rosen a working majority.

Goodlatte Launches New Website, Blog

Congressman Bob Goodlatte has launched a new website and blog. It's a nicely done site. Hopefully they will keep the blog updated and take advantage of what has become an incredibly powerful political tool.

This is Bob's first Democrat challenge in 10 years so we can expect a much more aggressive campaign from the Congressman than we've seen the past few go rounds. Looking forward to it!

I've also posted a link on the right.

Speaking of new blogs, the Roanoke City and Salem Republican Committees have launched Roanoke Valley Republicans. I've also added a link on the Blog Roll.

Gilmore Gets One Right

Yes, you read that right. The former Governor and US Senate candidate got something right--Energy.

Gilmore recently presented a good energy policy plan. And with gas prices as high as they are, it could help him in the fall should he win the nomination. In fact, gas may be even more expensive then which will make the issue all that more important.

Boone Pickens predicts oil will go to $150 a barrel. He called the move to $75 and $100, so I take what he says seriously. And $150 a barrel is a serious problem that must be dealt with.

Gilmore proposes drilling an Anwar, expanding offshore drilling (when was the last time there was a problem with an offshore rig—oh right, there haven’t been any problems), new refinery capacity and clean nuclear power.

I know the environmental lefties will groan, but this is a matter of our continued economic survival. We’ve got to get off the foreign oil and Gilmore has a good plan to do it.

I would suggest we take some additional steps. We need to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve—this will decrease demand and potentially decrease prices. Not only should we stop buying, I think the Federal government should start selling some of the reserves. They will make some nice gains (maybe they can use this to offset the gas tax holiday!) and increasing supply will do even more to lower prices.

Oh, and don’t say I never said anything nice about our former Governor.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Roanoke Council Candidate Smeared on Eve of Election

The Roanoke Times ran a breaking news story today that attack ads run in two local newspapers (including the Times) against City Council candidate Court Rosen were in violation of State Campaign Finance Law. The ads were placed by Citizens for Sensible Decisions. The disclaimer actually read "paid for by Joe Smith, Citizens for Sensible Decisions". But, there is no Joe Smith and the group isn't registered as a Political Action Committee with the State. The fines will be probably be minimal but I think this story illustrates a couple of important points.

One, this "political" group is either completely ignorant of campaign finance law or they don't want to disclose who they are. Bad news in either case. Two, there is a vocal minority that seeks to obstruct progress in our City. They did it with Victory Stadium. They are doing it with Rockledge and the amphitheater. They may not be the same people on each issue (although I suspect many are), but they use similar tactics and the goals are the same--to take Roanoke back to the ice age. OK, maybe not that far back, but they hate change and work against progress. And they use personal attacks and shrill rhetoric to get their way.

I just hope enough citizens, young and old, come out tomorrow and send the obstructionists a message. This is our City too and we are not going to allow a vocal few to stop it from becoming the great place it can be.

6th District GOP Convention Observations

Congratulations to Fred Anderson for holding on to Chairman with a slim margin of 10 votes. He unselfishly gives of his time and energy and was not deserving of the smear tactics used against him.

Jim Crosby of Botetourt County lost the Chairmanship race. While more actual people were there supporting Jim, each of them didn't carry enough delegate votes and he was turned back. I doubt this will be the end of Jim and his tactics. His mission is to run against those Republicans that don't 100% agree with him. I wouldn't count anyone safe from his attack including our Congressman.

Jeff Frederick was at the Convention and didn't seem harmed by his comment that he was glad to be in the 5th Congressional District. He had a loud positive response. If this is any indication, he has a real shot at Chairman.

Bob Marshall was a no show. Now I don't really understand this. This is a very Republican District and most everyone there will be attending the Convention. I would say most lean to Gilmore but with Frederick's response, Marshall could have taken the house with a hand shake and decent speech. Maybe he was at the 7th District Convention that had more people but so was Hager and he was able to make it to Lexington. This nomination is still not in the bag for Gilmore but so far I don't see Marshall doing what it takes to be competitive.

Kurt Michael was confirmed as Augusta County Chairman. Congratulations! I was able to sit in on the credentials subcommittee on Saturday and he is an impressive and detailed man. This should be the end to this disruption in our party. Let's move on.

Well not quite so fast. What disappointed me was the argument pressed by Dr. Micheal from Augusta that those attending the 6th District Convention that were not certified in his half of the April 10th Augusta County mass meeting should not be seated as delegates. My understanding it was a total of 5 people--come on. Whether or not these 5 were handled properly in the Augusta mass meeting, it was clearly their intent to be a delegate. They were allowed to vote by provisional ballot. That means their vote doesn't matter unless the count was close enough for a challenge. Regardless of these 5 individuals reasons for being there on Saturday, what does it say about us a party? This was a great opportuntity for Dr. Micheal to take the high road and argue they be allowed to participate if they gave up their Saturday to be in attendance. It bothers me that citizens outside our difficult to understand process are given the message that we don't want them to join us. Too bad.

Lastly Don Huffman, former state party chair from Roanoke, spoke on behalf of Jim Gilmore. One of his comments struck me like a ton of bricks. He said that he has never spoken ill of another Republican. What? Radio ads and recorded telephone messages went out from Mr. Huffman last June attacking me in the nastitest of ways. He called me a liberal and not worthy of serving in office. This without providing any factual basis for making the claim. For him to make this statement one of three things have to be true. One, someone was using his name and voice to attack me. If so, as a lawyer he should sue. Second, he has no problem lying through his teeth. In that case whatever he said for Gilmore is suspect. Third, he's getting up there in age and memory of past actions is no longer his strong suit. No matter which ever is true, it's time to hang it up Don.