US Senate Candidates Join Forces in AP Debate Debacle

VC note:  To follow is the latest press release from the Donner campaign regarding the issue of U.S. Senate debates.  I wish they could have offered additional specific details, such as which GOP committee passed the resolution and which other candidates are involved.  Nevertheless, given my previous posts, I’m quite interested to hear how this issue turns out.
Great Falls, VA – September 28, 2011 – At least three US Senate candidates have joined forces to call on the Associated Press to sponsor primary debates for both parties.

Republican Senatorial Candidate Tim Donner initiated the bipartisan call after AP announced that it was sponsoring a general election debate that excludes all but the two establishment candidates for the US Senate almost nine months before the primaries. The two real primary debates would be in addition to the previously announced general election debate on December 7.

Donner told Richmond’s WRVA talk show host, Doc Thompson, on his program earlier this week, “I am calling on the AP to use this opportunity to correct the situation by inviting all of the announced candidates in both the Republican and Democratic parties to participate in actual primary debates.”

“This will allow the AP to constructively advance the cause of informing voters of all the choices available to them and hold true to its own statement that ‘any time a question is raised about any aspect of our work, it should be taken seriously,’” Donner added.

At least one GOP County Committee has already passed a resolution insisting that all candidates be invited to participate in the December 7 debate.

“It is heartening to see the momentum building for this effort. And I am hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can present a united front in what is most certainly a fair and reasonable request on behalf of the voters of Virginia,” Donner said.

A full list of Senate candidates participating in this initiative will be released once all the campaigns have responded to the invitation. Donner has called on voters to contact Dorothy Abernathy, AP Bureau Chief, at (804) 643-6646, and ask her to sponsor primary debates that include all candidates.

Allen Declines to Debate

Starting at 6:30 PM, on October 20th in Verona, the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party will be holding the first debate between the various candidates for Virginia’s Senate seat.  Although Republican hopefuls Jamie Radtke and Tim Donner have already confirmed their participation, I’m disappointed to say that one candidate has declined to participate.  That person is our former Senator and Governor, George Allen.

Once I heard that news, I contacted the Allen campaign personally in hopes of getting some sort of explanation.  According to the person who spoke with me, the Allen campaign is presently declining to attend any debate prior to November.  Even with the most basic understanding of politics, one can come up with multiple reasons why the Allen campaign would choose to maintain such a stance.  I’m just hoping that with enough outcries from the folks in the Tea Party and the rest of the citizens of Virginia, we can help change their minds.

I’m of the opinion that debating ought to be vigorously encouraged.  After all, political discourse and education is vital to health of both a republic and a representative democracy.  With proper information, citizens can decide for themselves who not only best articulates our values, but also assess the desirability of their plans once in office.  Without such knowledge, voters must rely solely on glossy mailers, media buys, slogans, and thirty-second sound bites.  Which type of electorate do you prefer?

Now, maybe you’ve heard about the upcoming Senate debate in December sponsored by the Virginia Associated Press and the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association?  However, for this debate, the hosts have set such a high threshold in both fundraising and poll numbers that currently only Tim Kaine and George Allen qualify.  Looking for Radtke, Donner, Jackson, or McCormick?  At this point, none of the other candidates will be given the right to speak.  That unfortunate set of circumstances makes the Tea Party debate all the more important.

Now, this isn’t merely an argument of whether you prefer George Allen or someone else, but an issue of principle.  Virginia citizens have a right to hear about each qualified person running for office so that, when primary season arrives, they have sufficient wisdom to make an informed decision.  Therefore, I encourage you to call George Allen’s campaign office (804-726-2012) and let them know that you want to listen to him alongside Donner, Radtke, and everyone else who chooses to participate in the October 20th debate.

The GOP Senate Race is Over?

Although there are still many months until the Republican primary for Virginia’s Senate seat, some people are already calling the result.  Now such personal predictions don’t bother me.  It is true that George Allen is leading in race currently, in much the same way as Rick Perry is leading in the race for President.  One, both, or neither of them could end up winning.  If you will recall, four years ago Rudy Giuliani was the clear front-runner for the GOP nomination for President while John McCain’s campaign seems to be in total disarray. We all know how that situation played out.  However, when the press starts picking winners and losers, I certainly have a problem.

Yesterday, I received word, first from the Radtke campaign and then from the Donner campaign, that the Virginia Associated Press and the Virginia Capitol Correspondents Association have more or less determined the outcome of the race.  They just announced a Senate candidate debate in December.  Rather than inviting all of the legitimate Republican candidates, presently they are only allowing George Allen and Tim Kaine to participate.  Now this event would be all well and good if both Allen and Kaine were their respective party nominees.  But, as the primary has not taken place, they are not.

Although I would expect that most of the conservative activists who support Allen would merely shrug and consider it a win for Allen, the press is tampering with something far larger and more important than this one election.  Sure, many debates have limited candidates based upon exceedingly low poll numbers, but a threshold of 15%?  Is that reasonable?  And then you add the additional hurdle of fundraising too?  As the Radtke campaign writes, “By their logic, an AP / VCCA presidential debate in Virginia would include only Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. The AP and VCCA would exclude Ron Paul (9.8%), Michele Bachmann (6.8%), Newt Gingrich (6.2%), Herman Cain (5.4%), Rick Santorum (1.8%) and Jon Huntsman (1.4%).

As the Donner campaign asks, “Do you want the chance to elect your own candidates, or do you think the media and pollsters in league with the usual cronies should decide that for you?”  For anyone who has the slightest desire to uphold our system of representative democracy, the answer is obvious.

I recommend emailing the Virginia Associated Press at and the VCCA at  Take a stand.  Let them know that the voters, not the press, have the duty to select our nominees.

No Need for a Balanced Budget Amendment?

While the federal government continues to spend recklessly, there have been many outcries for remedy.  One of the most popular solutions is a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution.  My Representative, Bob Goodlatte, is one of the chief proponents of this effort and has been championing the idea for many years.

Earlier today, I received an interesting email on the subject from his Republican opponent for Virginia’s sixth district seat, Karen Kwiatkowski.  The text is as follows:

Representative Goodlatte, representing his own constituency of “always bigger government” while continually complaining that Congress can’t seem to make ends meet, has asked us to speak out on his Balanced Budget Amendment (Roanoke Times, 9/19/2001).    I, and many others, have publicly criticized the proposed amendment for being toothless and too late.  Yet, with false promises of future savings, Bob once again voted to raise the debt ceiling, most recently to over $14 trillion dollars.

Turns out, we never needed a balanced budget amendment, because we already have a Public Law that requires the federal government to live within its means.  Public Law 95-435 was signed into law in 1977, and went into effect in 1981.  It states, “The total outlays of the Federal Government shall not exceed its receipts.”

Our Congress does not, and has never, followed the laws it passes, nor is it overly concerned with the Constitution.  We seem to be represented by a Congressman who doesn’t even know the existing law.  Instead, he harps on a new amendment, one which offers the Congress many waivers, no penalties, will take years to be ratified, if ever, and abjectly fails to address the money creating function of the Federal Reserve.

I guess there’s a reason why a CBS poll this week showed that only 6% of voters believe the congressional incumbents deserve to remain in office.

Looking over the congressional summary of H.R. 9214 which apparently became Public Law 95-435 on October 10th, 1978, one does indeed find that “beginning with fiscal year 1981, the total budget outlays of the Federal Government shall not exceed its receipts”.  You can read the official summary for yourself on the Library of Congress Thomas website here.

This development raises three very important questions.  Assuming Public Law 95-435 is in effect, why is it insufficient?  And if it is a law, then how has the Congress been able to act in bold defiance of this law for the last thirty years?  Will a balanced budget amendment solve this problem?

So is a balanced budget amendment necessary to restrain our out of control federal spending as Bob Goodlatte recommends?  Or is it simply a smoke and mirrors ploy as Karen Kwiatkowski writes?

Goodlatte Endorses Bell

On Tuesday afternoon, Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke and Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton gathered with a reporter, staff, and the general public inside the city council chambers in Staunton.  Although I was unaware beforehand, the primary purpose of this meeting was to announce Goodlatte’s endorsement of Bell.  Delegate Bell faces a Democratic challenger in the November 2011 election.  This fact is a tad unusual for this area as no other General Assembly race in the Shenandoah Valley is contested.

Besides the endorsement, Representative Goodlatte also offers a few thoughts regarding future developments and plans for the federal government.

Unfortunately, the video cuts off abruptly when the camera runs out of power.  When a camera displays half a charge remaining, you would expect it to last longer than five minutes.

Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy.

Spin Away A Win

In yesterday’s California straw poll Ron Paul won a commanding victory capturing almost as many votes as Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann combined.  The final vote totals are as such:

Ron Paul 374 votes or 44.9%

Rick Perry 244 votes or 29.3%

Mitt Romney 74 votes or 8.8%

Michele Bachmann 64 votes or 7.7%

The rest of the candidates finished with less than twenty votes apiece.

Given how the media has been hyping the results of previous straw polls you’d think that this one would be a big deal as well.  Although the various outlets are reporting this poll, a few are also quick to dismiss the impact of this particular poll.  For example, Politico reported that “it was not a prize that most campaigns were organizing for” and “Paul camp had brought in busloads of people to vote.”  Fox News repeated Politico’s earlier line in their story while MSNBC attempted to downplay the victory by repeating Politico’s statement that “it was not clear how much effort each of the other candidates put into winning the poll”.

As I stated prior to the Ames poll last month, I don’t take too much stock in straw polls.  None of these votes are binding and should serve primarily to motivate the campaigns, candidates, and activists.  Nevertheless, I believe that the primary point of the major media is to report issues objectively without spinning the issue to favor their cause or candidate.  Facts are facts, but when the media masquerades their opinions as if they were truth, one does have to question their ability to report without bias.  Of course, one can see a long history of such actions with even with the most superficial of glances at the 2007/08 campaign season.

Now, you might argue that I’m operating under a double standard here, but I’ve been quite clear time and time again that my choice for president is Dr. Paul.  Any article that I write concerning this issue should be viewed with the knowledge that it is crafted through a pro-Paul lens.

I congratulate Ron Paul and his campaign for their victory in California yesterday.  I hope that they are able to use that win to increase fundraising, activism, and excitement for the effort.  Although it is not a monumental victory, one should not completely dismiss it either.  Paul and his supporters are a growing force in the political dialogue.

But, then again, that’s just my 2¢.

The Primary Date

With another debate under our belts, I’ve been wondering what will be the schedule of the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries.  Regardless of their vote totals, states are typically rated in importance according to how early they vote in the process.  Each early victory builds momentum for the candidates and most campaigns dissolve after the first several contests.  That’s why so many people pay attention to the relatively small states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Four years ago, Virginia was pretty late in the process.  Unfortunately, that meant that not many folks paid attention to the state.  By February 12th, there were only three candidates left in a race shrunk from an earlier field of eight.  This time around, it should be different.  Currently Virginia holds a spot of prominence, as it is a part of the Super Tuesday primaries on March 6th.  Hopefully, that means that both candidates and campaigns will take an effort to educate and impress the citizens of the Old Dominion State.

Getting back to the larger picture at hand, last week I called the RNC asking for a schedule of the 2012 Republican Presidential primaries and caucuses.  It seems that didn’t have much information and therefore recommended contacting the Republican Parties of each state for information.  So, I did; here are the results I have thus far.  Please note that all dates are subject to change.  This list is not complete and I plan to add more information as it becomes available.

Unofficial Dates for Primaries, Caucuses, and Conventions for the 2012 Republican Presidential Contest

Feb 6: Iowa

Feb 14: New Hampshire

Feb 18: Nevada

Feb 28: South Carolina, Michigan (tentative)

The latter half of Feb: Maine (dates vary by county)

Mar 3: Washington

Mar 6: Super Tuesday Virginia, Vermont, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alaska, Texas, Idaho, Massachusetts

Mar 6-10: Wyoming (by county.  Statewide event to follow on Mar 14)

Mar 10: Kansas

Mar 13: Alabama

Mar 20: Illinois

Mar 24: Louisiana

Apr 3: Maryland

Apr 14: Colorado

Apr 24: New York, Delaware, Connecticut (tentative), Rhode Island

May 8: West Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana

May 14: Nebraska

May 22: Kentucky, Arkansas

Jun 5: California, Montana, New Mexico

Jun 26: Utah

Hob-nobbing Here Among The Elite

On Friday, September 9th, the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted their twelfth annual Hob Nob event.  Perhaps the most important political event in the area, it featured a number of politicians and hopefuls from Winchester, Clarke County, and Frederick County, as well as two (or three) statewide office seekers.

I last attended this gathering four years ago.  Back then; my purpose was a little different.  I had heard that representatives of the Ron Paul campaign would be present and I had been eagerly trying to secure employment with them.  As I recall, when I arrived in 2007, the grassy field next to the parking lot was jammed with tents of political campaigns and causes.

This time, the outside ground was barren politically.  Due to the recent rain, all of the activity had moved into the building.

Although this statement might sound strange, I want to express thanks to the local Democrats.  Because of them, I was able to get my ticket for a reduced price.  All they asked in return was for me to visit the Democratic table and pick up some literature.  So what’s the take home lesson here?  Although the easiest course of action is to simply ignore those with differing political opinions, dialogue is often beneficial.

As for the political displays themselves, although both the Republicans and Democrats hosted a table, there wasn’t much else in the way of swag.  None of the presidential campaigns were there.  Besides a few Allen and Kaine bumper stickers, the Senate candidates had nothing either.  Sure, they had info for the General Assembly candidates, commonwealth attorneys, sheriffs, and the like, but, for an out-of-towner like myself who knew little of local politics, I desired hunks of statewide and national meat.

Speaking of meat, the meal was beef or pork BBQ with sides of potato salad, fruit, and potato chips.  It was acceptable.

The real highlight of the whole affair had to be their two featured speakers, former Governor and Senate candidate Tim Kaine and former Virginia first lady and wife of a Senate candidate Susan Allen.  As I didn’t see any other bloggers there I knew, it is possible that these videos maybe fairly exclusive to The Virginia Conservative.  Sorry that they are a bit shaky.  I’ll get a real video camera one of these days…I hope.

Perhaps even more important than these speeches was the opportunity to speak with both Mr. Kaine and Mrs. Allen.  I took the opportunity to strongly encourage them to attend the Senate Tea Party debate in Verona in October and I hope that you will come likewise.

I suppose that I should mention that there was also a straw poll at the Hob Nob, but as the poll made no mention of either the Senate or the President, I didn’t stick around to hear the results.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the event.  It is not as exciting to hob-nob here among the elite if many of them are unfamiliar faces.  Also, given that there is not much at stake in this corner of the Shenandoah Valley, I’ve already turned my eye to 2012.  But, with the exception of Allen and Kaine, the local 2011 races dominated the night.

I suppose that situation does make sense.  As far as I could tell, there may have only been three people who attended from the Harrisonburg area: Nick (a JMU student and friend who traveled with me), Senator Obenshain (R-26), and myself.

Why was the good Senator there you might ask?  Well…if you don’t know the answer to that question, then chances are you haven’t been following Virginia politics much at all.

A New Facebook Poll

After the recent Republican Party presidential debate, I created a new Facebook poll to gauge the favorability of the candidates.  Although the poll has been up for less than a day, it is interesting to note that the leading candidate thus far is one who wasn’t even in the debate, Gary Johnson of New Mexico. Will that trend continue?

So who is your pick for President?  Cast your vote here!

Perry vs. Paul

The rift between Texas Governor Rick Perry and Texas House of Representatives member Ron Paul seems to be growing rapidly.  After the Paul campaign released their video comparing Paul’s support of Ronald Reagan in 1976 to Perry’s support of Al Gore in 1988, the Perry campaign fired back with Ron Paul’s GOP resignation letter.  I’m sure their line of thinking is, how can Paul be a “good Republican” if he left the party for a time?  Although the letter can be found on Perry’s site (and I encourage you to read it), it expresses Paul’s extreme disappointment with Republican politicians.  As Paul stated, “I want to totally disassociate myself from the policies that have given us unprecedented deficits, massive monetary inflation, indiscriminate military spending, an irrational and unconstitutional foreign policy, zooming foreign aid, the exaltation of international banking, and the attack on our personal liberties and privacy.”   Gee, is Ron Paul talking about 1987 or 2011?

During the debate last night in California, Perry and Paul went at it again.  However, the most interesting exchange seemed to have taken place when the cameras were not rolling.  One or more photographers caught the following pictures during the downtime.  I’d be very interested to know what was said between the two of them especially considering how hostile Perry appears:


























So what happened?  Maybe only Perry, Paul, and Huntsman know for sure.