I have exercised my best efforts to unsubscribe from every politician’s mailing lists. I still get junk mail from both parties.
Perusing this junk mail and event invitations and reflecting on what I know about the various factions of activists in the area, I have arrived at this conclusion. Northern Virginia Republican stalwarts and activists are pulling for a Bill Bolling – Jeannemarie Davis – John Frey RPV ticket in 2013.
This is where you say, “thank you, Captain Obvious.” You are welcome, but the underlying analysis is not so obvious. Here is my point-by-point objective assessment of the prospects of a Bolling-Davis-Frey ticket for Virginia.
Bill Bolling is from Hanover County and that can balance out the Fairfax County roots of Jeannemarie Davis and John Frey. Bill Bolling happens to be the preferred gubernatorial candidate of the moderate Republicans and the RPV establishment (these two groups are NOT mutually INclusive of each other) instead of the firebrand conservative Ken Cuccinelli from Northern Virginia. This presents a convenient opportunity to load the bottom two slots of the ticket with Northern Virginia interests with Bill Bolling at the top.
Democrats might end up nominating an all Northern Virginia ticket with Terry McAuliffe – Aneesh Chopra – Mark Herring. If this is the case, having two seemingly moderate Republicans carry water for a gubernatorial candidate from the “Rest of Virginia” can be an asset.
Northern Virginia’s Growing Influence
There is a big demographic shift in Virginia and most of the new jobs and residents are coming to Northern Virginia (Thanks to the federal government! Let’s be real.). These people tend to be moderate to liberal. Fiscal conservatives from other states who sought Virginia as a tax haven often bring their progressive social values with them and would vote their values if their pocketbook was not at the forefront of their minds.
Rural interests can typically get their way despite their numerical disadvantage simply by being loud and persistent. The tipping point will come one day, however in which no amount of effort and noise from rural interests can drown out urban interests, because the numbers are not there. If Loudoun County with its staunchly rural western interests pitted against a more cosmopolitan eastern half is supposed to be the bellwether of the entire Commonwealth, the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole is close to reaching a tipping point in which Northern Virginia can simply decide the direction of the Commonwealth based on pure numbers alone almost akin to New York City’s influence on Albany politics.
Ken Cuccinelli, a Northern Virginian, is the favorite to win the RPV nomination for Governor, but his views are very much outside the Northern Virginia mainstream. Similar statements can be said for Scott Lingamfelter running for Lt. Governor who is one of the favorites to win the RPV nomination in early assessments. The Attorney General primary will be a slugfest between Rob Bell and Mark Obenshain, two downstate General Assembly members who are trying to out-conserve one another. The most likely RPV ticket for 2013 will contain downstate candidates and Northern Virginia candidates who are out of touch with the mainstream in their own backyard.
Just as it is folly to think that an all Northern Virginia ticket can win statewide with just Northern Virginia alone right now despite being close to a demographic tipping point, it is a folly to think that a hard right-wing ticket can win statewide simply by keeping the losses in Northern Virginia low. That time has passed. Candidates must be competitive everywhere in today’s Virginia. A Bolling-Davis-Frey ticket could be the ticket provided they make it through the convention.
General Election Prospects
Assume a Bolling-Davis-Frey ticket is what the RPV nominates. Assume for now because I will follow up with analysis of the primary prospects.
A Bolling-Davis-Frey ticket is a stronger ticket IF Mitt Romney loses in 2012. There are two reasons. Recent trends show that Virginia votes for the party that loses the Presidential race in the prior year for Governor.
1988 – George H.W. Bush (R-TX)
1989 – Douglas Wilder (D-VA)
1992 – Bill Clinton (D-AR)
1993 – George Allen (R-VA)
1996 – Bill Clinton (D-AR)
1997 – Jim Gilmore (R-VA)
2000 – George W. Bush (R-TX)
2001 – Mark Warner (R-VA)
2004 – George W. Bush (R-TX)
2005 – Tim Kaine (D-VA)
2008 – Barack Obama (D-IL)
2009 – Bob McDonnell (R-VA)
2012 – ???
2013 – ???
Yet, past trends are not sufficient future predictors by themselves. If we assume that Bolling-Davis-Frey all win their respective nominations after a Mitt Romney loss, Republicans will be so absolutely, despairingly desperate for any semblance of success that they would vote for any Republican in a general election, with or without a pulse. If a moderate ticket sneaks through the convention, such a moderate GOP ticket can fight aggressively for the center without as much concern for solidifying the base. A true “big tent” campaign is what is needed to grow and balance the party. Look for a fierce battle, rather a circular firing squad, to occur between the principled and the pragmatists to happen in 2013.
A Mitt Romney loss presents a window of opportunity for moderates in the RPV to make a power grab, counter-intuitive as it may sound. The DNC will succeed to a certain degree with their “Fire the Tea Party Congress” campaign this year. A Mitt Romney loss *****will certainly coincide with GOP losses in Congress – many of these Members are much more right-wing than Mitt Romney*****. At that point, the “electability” argument will be an easier sell because not only did Mitt lose, so did a lot of Tea Party favorites in Congress so it is not just one faction that is at fault.
A Mitt Romney win (*shudder the thought) would embolden the RPV to go even farther right as they would believe that this is their opportunity to ram through extremist legislation and threaten non-compliant elected Republicans with primary challengers. Assuming Bill Bolling stays in the gubernatorial race, Ken Cuccinelli benefits more from a Mitt Romney win (*shudder the thought) that Bill Bolling would.
Right wing activists will not think, “we got a Republican in the White House so let us get more of his type.” They will think, “we got a Republican in the White House so let us get more hardcore, take-no-prisoners right wing Republicans to keep him honest and punish liberals.”
Now you can forget everything I previously said because, regardless of whether you thought this analysis so far has been on-point or off-base, a Bolling-Davis-Frey trifecta will not happen under any realistic circumstances in today’s Republican Party of Virginia. Look all the new insiders that were installed by the Tea Party during the last round of intra-party elections. He who makes the rules, controls the game.
That said, I would not be surprised one bit if I hear that Bolling, Davis, and Frey staffers and volunteers are coordinating campaigns on the down low.