An Open Letter to Virginia Republican Delegates

Good afternoon delegates to the Virginia Republican state convention.

In just a few short days you will be heading to Roanoke to select a candidate to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate to face Mark Warner in the fall.  I must confess that I’m disappointed that I won’t be joining you this year as I did in 2013 and 2008.  As you may have heard, unfortunately the Republican Party of Virginia now requires a signed loyalty oath to participate.  Now, this isn’t a loyalty to our shared principles and the Republican Creed of Virginia, but rather a blind loyalty to the party and her candidates, regardless of their positions.  It is a troubling sign of the times and one reason why the party continues to falter, but I’m not going to delve any further into that matter here.

Anyway, at the convention, you will choose between four men, Tony DeTora, Ed Gillespie, Shak Hill, and Chuck Moss.  Each, of course, has their benefits and drawbacks.

First, I must confess that I know little of Mr. Moss and Mr. DeTora.  Although I have been heavily active in Virginia politics and have attended a lot of Republican events, I have not met either of these two men.  A big part of campaigning, as they say, is simply showing up and, as either have made zero visits to my corner of the state, or have not publicized such trips, I would recommend against both.  Again, they may have great principles or they may not, but when you don’t make a concerted effort to reach folks, you shouldn’t be running in a statewide contest.

With that thought in mind, that leaves but two choices, Ed Gilllespie and Shak Hill.  I have appreciated the fact that I have had several opportunities to speak with both men.  Let me outline what I see are the main upsides of each.  Mr. Gillespie is well-connected and is an excellent fundraiser and has proven that fact once again with this campaign.  Mr. Hill has been advocating a set of principles that is in general more conservative and more detailed than Mr. Gillespie.  I can tell you without a doubt that if I were a delegate this weekend, I would be casting my vote for Shak Hill.

As I’ve written previously, I tried on several occasions to discover where Ed Gillespie stands on the issues.  Although his website contains a multitude of well-crafted videos in a variety of languages, there is very little substantive information of what he will actually do if elected.  For example, I know far more about his family history than I do about his stance on foreign policy.  To me, this deficit is a major problem.

Recently, I asked both Ed Gillepsie and Shak Hill what federal agencies and programs would he work to eliminate if elected.  It is the same question that I asked of the 2012 Republican Senate candidates several years ago.  The question harkens back to the 1996 Bob Dole for president campaign where he pledged to eliminate three federal departments.  You’d be hard-pressed to call Bob Dole a constitutional conservative, but at least he understood that the federal government has grown well beyond its authorized roles.  By comparison, Mr. Gillespie’s response was that he didn’t have the answer and would need to speak with his advisors about the issue.  In reply, several Gillespie supporters in the audience shouted their own suggestions, such as the Department of Education.  Although I would prefer a little more detail, Shak Hill’s response was far and away much better, declaring that he would get rid of “those not authorized by the constitution.  Which is most”.

Now, one major strike that Gillespie supporters use against Hill is that due to lack of funding he cannot win the general election.  And do you know what?  I think they are likely right.  Although thankfully money by itself does not win elections, it is exceedingly difficult to win these days without a lot of it.  I do not believe that he will be able to raise the kind of funds that Gillespie can.  If Hill is the nominee, it seems probable that many of the establishment Republicans won’t back him financially.

However, I would also argue that due to his either undefined or mushy principles, the divided nature of the Republican Party in Virginia, and the fact that the Democratic nominee is Mark Warner, the most popular elected official in the state, Ed Gillespie cannot win the general election either.  Even though the most stalwart Gillespie supporters I have spoken with claim he is more electable, they all have rated his victory as highly doubtful.  Need I remind you that in both 2008 and 2012, Republicans nominated the supposedly “most electable” candidate and both times that candidate was in no danger of winning once the votes were counted?  And, even if Gillespie did win, except for a few social issues, how would he  be much different from Mark Warner?  I still don’t know the answer to that question.  Now, if anyone thinks that I’m wrong and would care to wager on the outcome of the Senate race in Virginia, please let me know.

So, if the Republican nomination isn’t likely to lead to victory in November, what is it about?  The answer is the future of the Republican Party in Virginia.  If that is true, the question each delegate must ask him or herself is, what direction do I want to see the party take?  As I see it, there are two options:  Do I want it to see the party regress into a plutocracy, where the well-funded and well-connected rule?  Or do I want a party grounded on principles, such as obeying the Constitution, shrinking the size of the government, and fiscal and personal responsibility?  After all, I thought that idea was supposed to be a central belief of the Republican Party when I first got involved in 1995.  Yes, Gillespie can spend a lot of money to improve the party infrastructure but, without solid principles, it matters little.  Only with Hill do I see a chance to make the state GOP something more than a party filled with an increasing number of big government Republicans.

Therefore, I would encourage delegates to cast their votes for Shak Hill on Saturday.

9 Replies to “An Open Letter to Virginia Republican Delegates”

  1. Uh, FYI: the “the Republican Party of Virginia [has ALWAYS] require[d] a signed loyalty oath to participate.” Or more specifically, it limits participation to “All legal and qualified voters under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, regardless of race, religion, national origin or sex, who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, and who, if requested, express in open meeting either orally or in writing as may be required their intent to support all of its nominees for public office in the ensuing election may participate as members of the Republican Party of Virginia in its mass meetings, party canvasses, conventions, or primaries encompassing their respective election districts.”

    It’s called freedom of association, and the last time I checked, it was protected by the First Amendment. So could we please stop complaining about it?

    Of course, it is necessary because the Commonwealth will not allow voter registration by party.

    1. I am voting for Shak Hill at the Virginia State Republican Convention. He is a Solid Conservative and I can count on him to support the constitution. I still have more questions for Ed Gillespie. Every time I ask a question, I don’t get the complete answer as I get cut off by his staff. It is frustrating. I will support Ed Gillespie, if he gets the nomination, as I am a loyal Republican and any Republican would be better than a Liberal Democrat who votes with Obama 99% of the time. Mark Warner is not a moderate. He was the one who cast the final vote to bring us Obamacare. Shak Hill can strongly attack Mark Warner.

    2. The last two Conventions I attended, required only that I state I was in accord with the RPV Creed. I did not have to sign anything saying I would blindly support the party. That’s a major difference and I agree with the author that blind loyalty is not something we want.

  2. Are we really about to nominate a candidate who calls HIMSELF the “Ultimate Washington Insider” on the cover of his own book? How is “It wasn’t me, it was my giant lobbying firm” going to work out? Didn’t work out so well for Romney and Bane Capital. Unfortunately, I have seen nothing that would give me any confidence that we will be able to effectively counter the ads that will be run by Mark Warner. And, those ads will write themselves…just “cut and paste” straight from Ed’s book. Please stop saying “Mark Warner cast the deciding vote for Obamacare” if you plan to oppose him with the man who wrote (and was paid to write it) in support of the individual mandate.

  3. “Do I want it to see the party regress into a plutocracy, where the well-funded and well-connected rule?”

    Pretty much already is, isn’t it? Just sayin’ …

  4. we lost one race because some people didn’t like the idea that they were not in the running.–even to the point they betrayed their party, for personal gain, like an un-named MAYOR of a major city
    –but–we have a fundraiser as president
    –we have another fundraiser as governor.
    do we want another fundraiser as our senator?
    do we want to keep the democrats in control of the senate to keep doing as the president commands?

    the big question is will all the people unite behind the person chosen Saturday
    or will they desert the party again–for personal gain–AGAIN?–sour grapes AGAIN?–

  5. The Establishment picks ALWAYS want a pledge of loyalty from the masses. But you watch an anti-establishment candidate win and those same people demanding “everyone must get behind the nominee” turn around and flip you the bird. Their ONLY “loyalty” is to themselves.

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