Apparently the field is clear for John Whitbeck to be the next chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. Virginia Republicans are hailing the clearing of the field of candidates as a sign of unity and praising Whitbeck for his “unifying efforts” as 10th Congressional District Republican Party of Virginia Chair.
As a public service, Virginia Republicans should be aware that Whitbeck’s “unifying efforts” as a party activist and 10th Congressional District RPV Chair are self-serving at best and sleazy at worst.
In Whitbeck’s day job as a divorce lawyer, he went out of his way and above and beyond to financially and emotionally wreak the life of a woman on the other side of the courtroom in a divorce case several years ago. That woman happened to be the best friend of one of the current Loudoun County Supervisors who, like Whitbeck, is also a Republican. War on women, indeed.
This is a known secret in Loudoun County that undermined Whitbeck’s failed run for Delegate in 2011. One of the strategists for a primary opponent against Whitbeck in 2011 encouraged a whisper campaign highlighting this fact and stated, “I don’t trust a guy who makes a living off of broken homes.” This known fact among the political class in Loudoun County has since been swept under the rug to further Whitbeck’s political ambitions and to create a veneer of peace in an otherwise uncomfortable and awkward situation with the aforementioned Republican Supervisor after Whitbeck became 10th District RPV Chair.
One only needs to check out Whitbeck’s lists of endorsements for his failed bid for the House of Delegates and failed bid for the State Senate to notice that Whitbeck could never unite the entire Loudoun County Board of Supervisors behind him because of his sleazy actions as a divorce lawyer against a Republican Supervisor’s best friend. Someone was noticeably absent.
The only reason why Whitbeck was able to unite the entire Loudoun County Board of Supervisors *once* behind his campaign for 10th District RPV Chair (which has Loudoun County at the epicenter) was because his crucial 9th endorsement on a board of 9 Supervisors quietly acquiesced in order to avoid political retribution from Whitbeck, his cronies, and his slobbering, rabid supporters after it became clear that Whitbeck was going to win convincingly at the convention. Whitbeck needed that 9th endorsement only to prevent the questions and the whisper campaign of 2011 from resurfacing. This Republican Loudoun Supervisor, who is admired as a conservative hero by the grassroots despite never seeking the limelight, and Whitbeck, who thirsts for the limelight, are not friends.
John Whitbeck, a “unifying force” for the RPV? He can’t even unify his own home county on his own merits and the reason why he can’t is damning to his character, judgment, and life choices.
Also, there are these gems.
November 14, 2014 By Phil Tran
““[Speaker Bill] Howell will beat [Susan] Stimpson like a rented mule,” said Ray Allen, a Republican consultant and Cantor loyalist who has tangled with the conservative coalition.”
Can you imagine if a Democrat said that? Republicans would spend a million dollars to make it known from every rooftop that Ray Allen is waging a “War on Women”, a war on mothers, a war against everything tangentially related to women that they can twist and stretch the statement to cover, and a war against “rented mules”, who possess the same diligence and decency as “paid-in-full” mules.
Ray Allen has used crony capitalism to secure no-bid contracts for direct mail with the Republican Party of Virginia for the longest time, thus hurting small businesses (which the RPV purports to support). Ray Allen, as Eric Cantor’s campaign manager, ran that campaign into the ground and snatched landslide defeat from the jaws of landslide victory all while earning a healthy payday.
Ray Allen has spent his entire life being a tone-deaf political hack in bed with Washington and Richmond insiders and has no idea how the rest of us work to earn a living. His “small business” sure ain’t like our small businesses. A candy store it is not. It is high time that Ray Allen finds a “real job.”
I supported Bill Howell for his leadership on the landmark transportation bill in 2013 (something Susan Stimpson is staunchly against). My conservative critics (who all support Stimpson) call me a Democrat straight up and skip over the RINO label. I am proud of the fact that no one has ever called me a RINO, they just call me a Democrat.
However, I am also a pro-life feminist fan of Sarah Palin whom Mitt Romney Republicans like Ray Allen have been trying to excommunicate for years. If Bill Howell wants to associate with Ray Allen or even go so far as to hire him to manage all or aspects of his campaign, I sure hope Susan Stimpson beats him like a… I just hope Susan Stimpson earns more votes than Bill Howell.
All politics is personal and politics sure makes strange bedfellows. Vote Susan Stimpson for Delegate.
October 26, 2014 By Phil Tran
October 24, 2014 By Phil Tran
Kim Kardashian has no talent and became famous in an amateur film that depicts her getting screwed. Corry Bliss is a nationally known Republican political operative who is famous for getting his candidates…screwed.
Ever since Corry Bliss became a consultant and a campaign manager for Republican candidates, he has always found a way to lose.
Thelma Drake for Congress 2008 (Virginia) – Lost to Glenn Nye. Bliss’ understudy here, Seamus Owens, lost with Jay O’Brien for State Senate 2007, Marianne Horinko for State Senate 2009, and Miller Baker for State Senate 2011.
Kerry Bolognese for Delegate 2009 (Virginia) – Lost to Dave Marsden in the general election in 2009, the same year Republicans trounced Democrats across the board. Bliss’ understudy Justin Shaffer would go on to work for Kerry Bolognese’s losing effort in the 2010 special election for the same seat against Eileen Filler-Corn. This understudy would follow Bliss to Vermont…
Brian Dubie for Governor 2010 (Vermont) – “Corry Bliss took a candidate that was up 20 points and turned him into a loser by election day,” said Bradford Broyles, a Republican activist from Mendon, a town in the central part of the state, near Killington. “We’re still repairing the damage to the Republican party.”
John Stirrup for State Senate 2011 (Virginia) – I am just going to quote myself here. See below.
Bliss’ understudy here, Ryan Terrill, would follow Bliss the rest of the way, but not without losing races of his own including Laura Neuman for Anne Arundel County Executive 2014 (took a Maryland statewide favorite and “rising star” and ran the campaign into the ground, thus forcing his mid-campaign ouster) and Joe Leibham for Congress (lost the primary).
Linda McMahon for U.S. Senate 2012 (Connecticut) – Bliss tried to deceptively link McMahon to Obama in a year Obama won by a landslide. McMahon still lost.
Joe May for Delegate 2013 (Virginia) – Bliss tarnished the image of a Virginia gentleman and lost in a primary to far-right extremist anti-public transportation bully Dave LaRock. Virginia is much worse because of this.
Karen Handel for U.S. Senate 2014 (Georgia) – Handel was an afterthought and finished 3rd in the primary.
Pat Roberts for U.S. Senate 2014 (Kansas) – To be determined, but this is a very negative campaign that is alienating a lot of people.
In just about every instance, Bliss employed his trademark dark, deceptive, and deathly negative campaign tactics. A Pat Roberts win, if Bliss can attain it, will not repair the smoldering wreckage Bliss has left behind for the candidates and the country to fix.
Likewise, to illustrate the incestuousness of the campaign world – that is every bit as incestuous as the Cocktail Party establishment crowd Inside the Beltway, everywhere Bliss goes, he takes his whole crew with him. Chris LaCivita is always the general consultant. Vince Harris is always the web designer and digital director. Ray Allen’s Creative Direct is always the direct mail firm (this is the same Ray Allen who is responsible for Eric Cantor’s demise as his campaign manager). Add an unimpressive crew of permanent underlings properly schooled in Bliss’ negative campaigns and negative personal demeanor like Ryan Terrill and Patrick Lee (who has a losing record of his own in Virginia – Will Nance for State Senate 2009, Samantha Rucker for School Board 2010, Pat Herrity for Congress 2010, Cory Stewart for Lieutenant Governor 2013) and you have an F Troop cast of characters who can’t hit a stationary target at point blank. It is a losing tradition.
In their defense, if Republicans are stupid enough to hire Corry Bliss and give him a six-figure salary and a blank check for staff, these hanger-on consultants stand to make an easy $10,000+ every year simply by sticking up for a victimizer known for his fierce loyalties to his peers. It is nice work if you can sell your soul for it.
July 14, 2014 By Big Gipper
Mitt Romney’s quixotic 2012 Presidential campaign was dead on arrival when he insinuated that 47% of Americans will never vote Republican because they enjoy paying no taxes and living on the dole, as if poor people have no goals in life. Such insensitive, out of touch statements apparently come naturally from one born into power and privilege like Mitt Romney. Now we have this doozy from one of Mitt’s very own endorsers Ed Gillespie.
Ed Gillespie said that “a minimum wage job…is where you learn the social aspects of work – it is where you play on the work softball team and go out for a beer after work.”
What alternate universe is Ed Gillespie living in? I do not know of a Congressional Softball League team consisting of 7-11 workers who hit up the Ugly Mug to get hammered after a weeknight game.
Ed Gillespie was not born into power and privilege, but he stopped keeping it real when he hit the big time. To understand Ed Gillespie’s comments is to understand his career history. His grandfather is one of us. His father is one of us. Ed himself is NOT one of us.
Ed “paid his way through college” by being a U.S. Senate parking lot attendant. He and the country club, Cocktail Party wing of the GOP in Washington, DC and Virginia think this is the definition of “starting from the bottom”. Let’s be real folks. Being a U.S. Senate parking lot attendant is NOT the same thing as being a parking lot attendant at PMI in Northeast DC in the hood.
Ed Gillespie’s alternate universe is the exclusive, elitist world of Washington politics, where liberal arts graduates brag about securing minimum wage or unpaid jobs “on the Hill”, pretend they are celebrities, attempt to photobomb C-SPAN, join their office’s beer league softball team, hit up all the “networking happy hours” to get throwed, and chase a “good time” after hours. You should hear about the sex scandals involving Capitol Hill staffers from both parties alike. If hard-working, taxpaying Americans knew what an incestuous, immature fraternity Capitol Hill is, it would destroy their awe and wonder about Capitol Hill and enrage them to vote everyone out and replace them with nobody.
In the name of networking, career advancement, and just straight up arrested development, low level Capitol Hill staffers are bleeding money, partying it up, spending more than a day’s paycheck on alcohol, and living in the red in one of America’s most expensive cities. Meanwhile, the rest of us are closing up shop at one minimum wage job, not so we can hang out with our co-workers at Tortilla Coast, but so we can make it in time to our second minimum wage job.
I don’t deny that Ed has done well for himself. He went from being a U.S. Senate parking lot attendant, to U.S. House staffer, to Presidential advisor, to RNC Chairman, to lobbyist, to “small business owner” working in…politics. Therein lies the problem. Ed Gillespie has never known a job outside of politics. His “minumum wage job” is nothing like our minimum wage job and that distorts his reality.
Americans are sick of career politicians pretending to know the struggles of hardworking, taxpaying Americans. Despite Ed’s overarching attempts to paint himself as a little guy who made it, he is looking more and more like Mitt Romney everyday. We know how badly that ended.
June 14, 2014 By Phil Tran
Like a parasite that just won’t go away, one-time failed U.S. Senate candidate, one term Massachusetts Governor, and two-time failed Presidential candidate Mitt Romney keeps coming back for more. As if prideful ambition was not bad enough, Romney’s diehard supporters from the elitist, exclusive, privileged Cocktail Party wing of the GOP keep building him up like a golden calf in the desert.
Some Republican elected officials of the Cocktail Party persuasion (The “Establishment”) are delusional enough to believe that perennial candidate Mitt Romney can be a unifying force in a deeply fractured party and that he should run for President again in 2016.
It is laughable that Mitt Romney can be a unifying force for the GOP when many of his diehard supporters quietly or openly harbor contemptuous, condescending disdain for Sarah Palin Republicans and Ron Paul libertarians and wish to drive them out of the party.
Don’t believe the Cocktail Party’s rhetoric of “unity”. They are interested in “uniting the party” only if they or their buddies are the nominee in order to secure the votes they need to win so that they and their incestuous Cocktail Party buddies can once again have access to power and privilege in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Beyond that, they will never give libertarians and working-class, populist, blue collar Republicans a seat at the table or staff jobs in the White House and the Hill. Cocktail Party incest and groupthink is killing the movement.
Maybe a third Romney loss is what the GOP needs in order to completely discredit the Cocktail Party Establishment so Republicans can clean house and start anew with fresh young talent not beholden to the traditional power brokers of Washington.
June 11, 2014 By Phil Tran
The Tea Party and libertarian-backed Dave Brat defeated House Majority Leader, next-in-line for the Speakership, and Establishment crony Eric Cantor tonight. This is a victory for the blue collar common folk over the white collar, insular, neocon, out-of-touch, inside-the-Beltway Cocktail Party.
Ideology was not the sole factor in Cantor’s demise. Cantor became a creature of Washington and no longer fit in with nor related to his constituents. Think about it. Was there anything about Eric Cantor’s persona that uniquely represented central Virginia? No. When you think of Eric Cantor, you think of a creature of Washington paying his dues, playing nice, playing the game, following the script, and waiting for his turn to be Speaker of the House.
Americans are tired of politicians going to Washington or Capitol Hill staffers/lobbyists going “home” in order to go back to Washington as Members of Congress to hobnob with their elitist, exclusive, insular, and incestuous group of friends in fancy offices and expensive restaurants. As my fellow blogging compatriot said, this is about “cool kids vs. outcasts”, “insiders vs. outsiders”, “white collar vs. blue collar”, “Fraternities vs. Independents”, “wine vs. beer”, “The Monocle vs. Cracker Barrel”, “clean hands vs. calloused hands”.
There is hope for the rest of us when an unknown, underfunded candidate at a 40-1 fundraising disadvantage can force the House Majority Leader, next-in-line for Speaker of the House (3rd highest post behind the Vice-President), and 14-year incumbent to spend over $5,000,000 running a negative attack campaign in a state-sponsored primary designed to benefit incumbents with huge war chests only to lose 55%-45% on Election Day.
Believe in America. The American Dream is alive and well.
June 9, 2014 By Phil Tran
In the summer of 2013, former Bush Administration official Chuck Floyd launched Conservative Victory PAC with a strictly defined goal of increasing Republican numbers in the Maryland General Assembly. With 7 more Senators and a few more Delegates, the Maryland GOP could exert quite a bit of influence despite still being in the minority. A flashy video and a campaign plan set the stage at the PAC’s launch party in Potomac, MD.
Conservative Victory PAC will work to increase Republican numbers in the Maryland General Assembly by first…going to Virginia to help elect Ken Cuccinelli as Governor???
Of course, questions to Floyd were asked immediately. “Why are we financing Virginia’s elections? They can take care of themselves. We need to keep Maryland donor money in Maryland!” (I agree.)
Conservative Victory PAC’s line of reasoning was that they wanted to do two things in Virginia to supposedly benefit Maryland. First, they wanted to hold fundraisers in Virginia in 2013 to build a donor list that they could use to help finance Maryland races in 2014. Second, they hoped that a show of commitment from Maryland donors and activists for Virginia Republicans would necessitate Virginia Republicans repaying the favor by sending donations and activists to Maryland in 2014.
Both points are interrelated so I will address them as one. These ideas are utterly laughable.
I have worked in Virginia politics. There is a waterfall of utter disdain and contempt from Virginia Republicans toward the great State of Maryland. The constant barrage of negativity from Virginia Republicans against Maryland makes a proud Marylander with tons of Maryland friends and fun times in the state want to cut his wrists.
I have had countless conversations with Virginia activists over the years and have heard more stump speeches from Virginia politicians mentioning Maryland than I care to recount. What do Virginia Republicans truly wish for Maryland? Virginia Republicans want Maryland to die so that they can siphon away all of Maryland’s Republican voters to shore up their own at-risk Congressional seat in the 10th District, to quixotically have a shot at defeating Gerry Connolly in the 11th District, and to try to retake the statewide offices. That is what Virginia Republicans truly want to happen to Maryland.
Even if Conservative Victory PAC provided the needed resources that were a determining factor to put Ken Cuccinelli over the top in 2013, Virginia Republicans were never going to repay the favor. They have their own Congressional races and U.S. Senate race to consume their time in 2014.
Was there a hidden motivation for Conservative Victory PAC’s foray into Virginia in 2013? Could the fact that two of its board members – Lynne Blankenship and Chris Melling – live and work in Virginia have anything to do with this misguided foray into Virginia by a supposedly Maryland-focused PAC? (Trojan Horse alert!)
Also, Conservative Victory PAC has been noticeably absent from the Maryland General Assembly races in 2014, contrary to their stated commitment to such races exclusively back in 2013.
With no outside help and no reinforcements from the RNC, the Maryland GOP has continued to make strides in the right direction in recent years at the local level where it counts the most. There is a healthy and growing farm team of Republicans in Maryland and Maryland did not need Virginia’s help to make that happen.
Give credit to the Democratic Party. The Democrats truly care about all 50 states and will stand their ground to fight for their values in every state, even against insurmountable odds. “Moving” is not in the Democratic vocabulary. I know. I spent a large chunk of my political life working with Texas Democrats.
Republicans, curiously despite being advocates of “stand your ground laws”, have a penchant to flee their home states at the first implementation of liberal government policies. That is not a recipe for long term party growth. Republicans will never see national electoral success on the level with Democrats in the modern era if they continually write off California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, DC, and Maryland as “lost causes”. Democrats are fighting tirelessly in Texas as Republicans retreat from Democratic states. It is game over for the Republicans if Democrats succeed in flipping Texas in the next ten years.
This is why it is important for Republicans in Democratic states to recruit, equip, and elevate homegrown talent. People who have a longstanding, emotional connection to their home state (and folks like me who will relocate to Maryland in due time!) will be most fit to serve in a disadvantageous political climate. One of the best decisions the Maryland GOP has made in recent years was to start hiring in-state. In-state talent inside the Maryland GOP headquarters has proven to be more loyal, effective, and passionate than the out-of-state hired guns of the past who viewed Maryland as a stepping stone at best for their political careers. Maryland is a neglected and ignored neighbor in the RNC’s own backyard. This actually provides us with the prime opportunity to set an example on how to build a state party free from the RNC’s interference and cronyism.
I believe that each state’s politics generally exist as an independent unit largely unaffected by the political winds of neighboring states. All politics are local after all. It is true that Virginia is less liberal than Maryland. However, that does not mean that should the Republican Party in Virginia establish total dominance in the Commonwealth, that it would create a “rising tide that lifts all boats”.
In the alternative, if state politics are interrelated in some form or fashion, the following would be true. A Democratic Virginia would help build a more Republican Maryland. It would actually be in the best interests of Maryland Republicans to NOT help Virginia and let Virginia succumb to Democratic dominance. With no strong Republican neighbors, the RNC would have no choice but to be fair to all neighboring states with its time and money earmarked for local support. If Virginia was a solidly Democratic state, Republicans relocating to Washington for work would find Maryland more attractive and settle there. Some would plant roots and even register to vote as Republicans in Maryland. A Democratic Virginia will help build a Republican Maryland.
In the interim, let Virginia be the Washington GOP Establishment’s damsel in distress. As we speak, RNC and RPV efforts to hold Republican seats have become much tougher as known Republicans have moved out of Virginia since Terry McAuliffe’s election and as reports indicate that most new residents in Virginia in recent years are Democratic.
Maryland Republicans should be fully committed and invested in their home state. Focus on Maryland and Maryland alone. There is progress being made and if done properly, Maryland could be a true two-party state in ten years while Virginia becomes a solidly Democratic state.
Virginia – sell high. Maryland – buy low.
June 4, 2014 By Big Gipper
No, the Republican National Committee is not paying for the buses to take a group of RNC-connected politicos down to Virginia’s 7th District to help Eric Cantor in his toughest primary battle yet. Cantor for Congress is paying for the buses.
However, a guy I know who somehow ended up on an RNC mailing list forwarded the message below to me. Indeed, Cantor is pulling out all the stops. He is scared. Likewise, the Cocktail Party wing of the Republican Party is pulling out all the stops to make sure one of its own returns to Congress. Because the last thing the country club, Cocktail Party Establishment of the Republican Party needs is a populist in Congress who doesn’t care for private dinners at the Blue Duck Tavern, among other things.
Virginia Republicans, the choice is yours. Most people are making this an ideological battle between the Establishment and the Tea Party. It goes much deeper than that. This is culture war. It is Insiders vs. Outsiders. It is “cool kids” vs. “outcasts”. It is the Fraternity vs. the G-D Independents. You can’t change Washington without changing the culture of Washington.
On June 10th, you can either vote for a Majority Leader who has scripted his life for political power, fame, adulation, and its trappings – from working for Congressman Tom Bliley, chairing six of Bliley’s reelection campaigns, paying his dues in the Virginia House of Delegates, to becoming “next in line” for Bliley’s seat in Congress when he retired.
Or you can choose to change the culture of Washington and vote for Dave Brat, who pursued his interests in life without regard of how the powers who can anoint future candidates perceive him.
My politics are closer to Cantor than it is to Brat, but my cultural persuasion is Dave Brat, not Eric Cantor. Dave Brat will not go to Washington sit at the cool kids table. He is not going to brownnose the Cocktail Party Establishment, its consultants, and its pundits. He will get things done and you will know where he stands.
On June 10th, vote Dave Brat for Congress.
On Jun 3, 2014, at 9:07 AM, Ben Cassidy
Still considering helping out Eric Cantor this Saturday, June 7th? If so, see info below and be sure to RSVP to Molly at firstname.lastname@example.org (cc’d)!
Also, please let us know if you are interested in helping at the polls on Tuesday, June 10. A bus will be departing from RNC (310 1st St., SE) at 8:00am and returning to the RNC following a victory party at Cantor HQ.
Both 6/7 and 6/10 are great opportunities to meet the Majority Leader, network and build-up your resume campaign credentials.
8AM: Depart DC from RNC (310 1st St., SE)
10AM: Arrive at RVA HQ (6002 W. Broad St., Suite 205, Richmond, VA 23230)
12 noon: BBQ lunch with Eric Cantor
6PM: Depart RVA (Dinner provided on the bus back)
7:30AM: Depart DC from RNC (310 1st St., SE)
10AM: Arrive at RVA HQ (6002 W. Broad St., Suite 205, Richmond, VA 23230)
Morning: Volunteer at the polls
12 noon: Lunch!
Afternoon: Volunteer at the polls
6PM: Victory Party with Eric Cantor (dinner and refreshments)
9:30PM: Depart RVA
Paid for by Cantor for Congress
June 7 is the Saturday before Eric Cantor’s primary.
Can you make June 7 about Virginia 7 by helping Eric Cantor win his primary?
If so, we have 20 spots left on the Cantor Express!
At 8:00am on Saturday, June 7th buses are leaving from the RNC (310 1st St., SE) to Cantor for Congress HQ (6002 W. Broad St., Suite 205, Richmond, VA 23230).
Join us in the fight and support a pro-growth, pro-liberty, small government conservative!
In Richmond, we will spend the day dropping lit at voter’s homes, enjoying a VA BBQ lunch at Cantor HQ and meeting Eric.
Buses will return to the RNC early Saturday evening. Meals (bfast/lunch/dinner) and transportation will be provided by Cantor for Congress.
If you can join Cantor for Congress, please RSVP to Molly at email@example.com (cc’d).
If you are unable to make this trip, please share this invite with friends far and wide!
If you can attend, but prefer to drive yourself, please do!
Also we need additional help at the polls on primary day, Tuesday, June 10. Please let us know if you are interested as well.
Paid for by Cantor for Congress
May 21, 2014 By Phil Tran
No, I am not referring to premiere political blogs of the same name. By the end of 2014, there is a small, but very much realistic possibility that we may see a Red Maryland and a Blue Virginia. Let us take a brief overview.
All Politics Are Local
All politics are local. National trends matter, but in the end, all politics are local. Weird things can happen within a state’s election results that will not be explained neatly within the confines of national trends and the limited knowledge of a national talking head on television. Yes, some of these guys are real con men getting paid 6 to 7 figures for talking political nonsense on television. Remember how Karl Rove and others of his ilk got egg on their face in 2012 prematurely writing about the end of Obama’s presidency?
Republican Bob Ehrlich won the race for Governor of Maryland in 2002. He defeated a Kennedy in his race – Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The Ehrlich-Steele ticket was also one of the most competitive showings for a Republican statewide campaign in the dense and heavily Democratic Montgomery County garnering over 113,000 votes. Being able to secure close to 40% of the vote in Montgomery County was the difference maker in the election for Ehrlich.
Meanwhile, Connie Morella, the longtime Republican incumbent in Montgomery County’s Congressional District lost. Bob Ehrlich and Connie Morella may both be Republicans, but that is where their commonality ends.
Bob Ehrlich is as conservative as you can be in Maryland. His voting record is much more pro-life than he claims to be. Ehrlich is a cultural conservative. In Ehrlich’s recent book which he wrote without the assistance of a co-author or ghostwriter, the chapter entitled “An Insecure Culture” is actually longer and more detailed than the chapter on national security.
Connie Morella is a liberal Republican that would make Nancy Pelosi blush. She supports abortion rights, strict gun control measures, progressive environmental regulations, government funding of contraceptives, needle exchange programs for drug addicts, and legalization of medical marijuana. Morella also opposed many tax cuts, opposed the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and opposed the Iraq War in 1991 AND 2002.
Why did conservative Bob Ehrlich win statewide in his first race for Governor in a Democratic state when longtime Congressional incumbent Connie Morella lost her reelection bid running on her liberal record in a liberal district?
All politics are local. Coattail effects don’t always materialize because each campaign needs to be viewed in the context of its own campaign.
A gubernatorial race is a state matter. In 2002, many Marylanders were upset about the direction of the state. After eight years of Parris Glendening’s Democratic administration, many Marylanders felt it was time for a change. Bob Ehrlich took advantage of this opportunity and presented them with the change they wanted. As a Congressman from Baltimore County, Ehrlich ran on his conservative voting record in Congress and promised Marylanders the change they wanted in Annapolis. Also, so goes Baltimore County, so goes Maryland. Every time a Republican has won statewide in Maryland, Baltimore County has voted for that Republican. Baltimore County is a swing district and a bellwether for the state of Maryland. It certainly helped that Baltimore County overwhelmingly voted for one of their own to be the Governor of Maryland.
A Congressional race is a national matter. In 2002, many Marylanders were upset with Congressional Republicans as they were simultaneously upset with Democratic Governor Parris Glendening. The Bush Administration was beginning to plan for the invasion of Iraq. Tom Delay was a very unpopular figure.
Democratic State Senator Chris Van Hollen ran his Congressional campaign against Connie Morella by repeating this one phrase. “A vote for Connie Morella is a vote for Tom Delay.” The Van Hollen campaign knew that even though Morella was a Republican, she was highly popular with Democrats and was able to easily win reelection every two years since her first election in 1986 because she was a liberal’s favorite liberal. The way to convince Democrats to stop crossing over to vote for Morella was to tie her to Tom Delay.
Never mind that in 1997, Morella voted “present” on the issue of the Speaker of the House, thus denying Newt Gingrich her vote. Never mind the countless instances in which she openly challenged GOP leadership. She was a Republican. Tom Delay is a Republican. Therefore, Morella has to go.
The line worked. Van Hollen won a close election. It also helped that redistricting added nine Prince George’s County precincts where Connie Morella was unknown and Van Hollen ran up the score in PGC.
Fast forward to 2014. Virginia does not have state and local elections on the ballot. There is one U.S. Senate seat up for grabs and all Congressional seats are up for election. Virginia Republicans, who already have a tendency to make state and local elections about Washington, have nothing but federal elections on the ballot with the U.S. Senate race as the marquee event. In an increasingly blue Virginia, Republicans are running against Barack Obama. Make no mistake. President Barack Obama is still a highly popular cultural icon in many segments of the population. Republicans thought that they could unseat Obama in 2012 and were absolutely convinced it would happen. It did not happen. Running against Obama in 2014 in order to maintain and pickup Congressional seats should not be viewed as a solid strategy.
Additionally, while Republicans are expected to flip some U.S. Senate seats, the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia held by Mark Warner is consistently rated as the least likely to flip in 2014 along with Minnesota. Al Franken is running for reelection in Minnesota. That Minnesota U.S. Senate seat will remain Democratic. Mark Warner is running for reelection in Virginia. Mark Warner continues to enjoy broad support from Democrats, Republicans, and independents.
Maryland, on the other hand, does not have a statewide federal election on the ballot. The marquee event is the gubernatorial race. Much of the Congressional races are so heavily gerrymandered to one party or the other that they are an afterthought. All focus is on state and local issues.
This is where Republicans have a window of opportunity in Maryland. Over 50 percent of Marylanders think the state is heading in the wrong direction. When Bob Ehrlich was elected Governor in 2002, the number of dissatisfied Marylanders was actually 39 percent. Many Democrats have soured on Martin O’Malley’s tax hikes and are willing to give Republicans a shot. Republicans are fielding legitimate contenders to flip State Senate and House of Delegates seats. Republicans are fielding candidates at the local levels to build on recent successes at the local level.
Unknown to most observers is that the majority of the counties in Maryland are now dominated by Republicans. In a state where Democrats have had a stranglehold throughout all of the political party realignments in American history, the Maryland GOP is quietly building a farm team for higher office. At the level of government that is closest to the people, Marylanders are starting to learn directly how Republican polices can improve job growth, public education, and the quality of life in their home counties. If you want to know about the long term health of a state political party, don’t look at the top. Look at the bottom. The local level is the foundation. The local level is the here and now and the future.
In regard to internal party issues and “inside baseball” matters, the differences between RPV and MDGOP could not be more stark. The Republican Party of Virginia continues to deal with civil war between grassroots insurgents of the Tea Party and the refined, polite establishment figures of the cocktail party (Editorial: The latter descriptor of the Establishment is NOT a compliment.). There are activists who will not lift a finger to help a nominee because figuratively speaking, the nominee drinks wine while the activist drinks beer.
[Note: Establishment/moderate vs. Tea Party/conservative is a false dichotomy. There are Establishment Republicans who vote like Tea Party people and there are Tea Party people who care more about promoting themselves than conservative principles. The real battle here is cultural. It is between the grassroots who are the kids loitering outside the school on their skateboards while the Establishment is sitting inside the air conditioned school at the “cool kids table” and enjoy favoritism in the classroom as “teacher’s pets”. [Editorial: The writer takes no sides in this debate.)]
However, on the prettier side of the Potomac, the Maryland GOP is showing a great deal of unity compared to the tenure of previous Chairs and Executive Directors which was often marked by fracture and fleecing. Current Chair Diana Waterman and Executive Director Joe Cluster are Marylanders invested in Maryland. They are working to empower candidates so they can spread common sense policies to move the state forward. They are not using their titles to check off a box for their own political ambitions or agenda and, just as important, they are not mouthpieces or puppets for any faction of the GOP. Everyone is focused on electing a Republican Governor and increasing Republican numbers in the General Assembly. The MDGOP leadership has also built a team of grassroots advisors to do yeoman’s work behind the scenes and start preparing for the numerous City and Town Council elections in 2015 to solidify the party’s foundation and create a formidable farm team to draft candidates for 2016, 2018, and beyond.
Where there is no vision, the people perish. The MDGOP is in better health for the long term than the RPV is. Many events can happen between now and Election Day 2014 and let us not forget the fact that the MDGOP faces more electoral disadvantages than the RPV does. However, anything can happen. If the MDGOP continues to press forward in unity while the RPV is mired in strife at all levels, don’t be surprised if we see a Red Maryland and a Blue Virginia after the election.