Sell Out!

Image from the film, The Sellout (1952)
Image from the film, The Sellout (1952)

VC Note:  I wrote this piece on November 15, 2015, though I decided against publishing it until recently.

 

In the world of politics, a person is often faced with the decision to sell out one’s principles in order to further his or her own ambitions.  I dare say that every activist has faced this choice sooner or later and if you haven’t yet, that likely means that you are still quite new to the arena.

In 2014, while running for local office, I had the opportunity to sit-in on several of the meetings of the JMU College Republicans.  If you are new to this website, you might not know that student activism has been an interest of mine ever since I began my political journey as a high school student and so I try to encourage students any chance I get.  Unfortunately, I was told that my presence at the JMU CRs upset some of the local establishment Republicans, given that I wasn’t wed to their partisan banner anymore, and they were pressuring the CRs to get rid of me.  As a result, one evening a student came up to me and flatly said that I was no longer welcome at their gatherings.  However, if I were to tell you that the JMU CRs hosted an event honoring Bill Bolling during that semester, that likely tells you all you need to know about the values of that organization at that time.

Anyway, before my exclusion, I appreciated the chance to listen to several of their speakers.  One week it was Delegate Ben Cline of Rockbridge County with whom I had a very positive interaction after the meeting.  However, it was a speech from my own state senator, Mark Obenshain, that sticks most strongly in my mind…even over a year later.  During his talk, he extolled several former JMU Republicans who went on to successful careers in politics, such as a few of Representative Bob Goodlatte’s past and current employees.  Unfortunately, each and every person he mentioned that night shared a common trait; they either sold out their principles or never really had any principles to begin with, and all were more than willing to step on anyone who gets between them and power.  I had more than my share of nasty run-ins with many of these folks.  Although these names were likely foreign to many of the students around me, I knew them all well and to hear this rogue’s gallery listed as a group young political activists ought to aspire to emulate was dismaying indeed.  It made me think.  Is selling out is the ticket to success?

Over my twenty years in politics, I have had a chance to meet a lot of liberty-minded activists.  Some have remained faithful to their ideals while others have not, choosing to support and work for candidates and politicians of dubious moral character who willingly jettison their principles when the leadership tells them to do so…or the price is right.  Some activists have been willing to use any tactic, without respect to morality, if they think it will achieve their goals, knowing that elected officials and party leadership will defend their actions.

As you might imagine, hearing cases of this corruption or watching it unfold firsthand has been profoundly disheartening.  Now don’t misunderstand what I am saying.  Yes, having power is important.  Being able to support yourself in the political world is certainly important too.  But, at the end of the day, if the eager and wide-eyed novice you once were has been replaced by a callous, manipulative, and immoral professional, don’t you have to ask what was the point of getting involved in politics in the first place?  Isn’t it written, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”  (Mark 8:36 NLT).  It pains me to say that I’ve crossed paths with many individuals who have apparently sold their souls and, despite any superficial claims to be godly and attempts to cosy up to the religious right, face the very real danger of damnation.

So, my friends, whatever your political leanings, I urge you to remain grounded and faithful to your principles.  Never lie, cheat, or steal in order to gain glory, money, fame, or power nor should you ever knowingly follow anyone who acts in this fashion.  Shouldn’t we work to instill values such as honor, courage, honesty, and steadfastness in the next generation of activists?

But, then again, what do I know?  After all, there are many activists and politicians who have advanced much further than I have by stabbing others in the back, bowing down to the lobbyists, and deceiving the folks back home.  And, if you asked them behind closed doors, here’s the advice they would likely give:

Considering The Lives of Others

Image from The Lives of Others from theguardian.com

On Sunday evening, I joined several friends in watching the German film, The Lives of Others or, as it is called in German, Das Leben der Anderen.  The movie portrays life in East Germany, with a heavy focus on the activities of the Stasi, the secret police of East Germany. It is a bleak existence where anyone and everyone can be placed under surveillance without warrant or probable cause and unquestioned loyalty to the state and her leaders is demanded of all.

The Lives of Others serves as an important reminder of what happens when a people surrender their civil liberties in the name of security.  It isn’t hard to see the United States drifting in this direction with the creation of the TSA, warrantless wiretaps, unlimited detentions of terrorist suspects without trial, and related activities.  However, what I found particularly impactful was a personal connection.

In the film we meet a character named Albert Jerska.  Although a theatrical director, he fell out of favor with the party leaders for expressing anti-government opinions and thus was blacklisted, unable to continue to work in his field.  Looking back, for me my blacklisting likely began with my support of Karen Kwiatkowski in the 2012 Republican primary over Representative Bob Goodlatte.  Although Goodlatte hasn’t been a particularly principled legislator during his several decades in office, there is no doubt that he has amassed considerable power and influence, especially in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Unfortunately, over the years I’ve had several nasty run-ins with some of Goodlatte’s staffers.  One memorable example was in March of 2012.  Another took place in the fall of 2014 when I was harassed by one of his local goons who he later promoted to his Washington D.C. office.

I was surprised when I was expelled from the Harrisonburg GOP in early 2014.  However, what was even more surprising was that when I asked the local chairman why I was kicked out, he told me it was done at the request of Bob Goodlatte’s staff.  This revelation spawns several questions.  Why would Bob Goodlatte take such an interest in the affairs of a local unit and an activist such as myself?  Why would a local chairman kick out a member based upon the request or demand of a legislator?  Based upon this event, has Bob Goodlatte and his staff been working behind the scenes to blacklist me from future political employment as one local GOP leader seemed to hint?  And, does it concern anyone else that a member of Congress seems to wield enormous power over the lives of others in a fashion disturbingly reminiscent of a Stasi official?

In The Lives of Others, when Stasi Captain Wiesler discovers that a writer in East Germany is questioning the actions of the government, he is faced with a difficult choice.  Does he turn the writer in for subversive activities?  Or does he keep it secret because he realizes that both the Stasi and the government are corrupt and trample upon the liberty of the people, even though he knows revealing this truth puts his career, liberty, and even his very life at risk?

Bob Goodlatte speak at the Rockingham County Republican mass meeting
Bob Goodlatte speaking at the Rockingham County Republican mass meeting

Earlier this year Bob Goodlatte’s people attempted to install city and county party chairmen up and down the 6th district whose primary loyalty would be, not necessarily to Republican ideology, but to Goodlatte.  Surprisingly, they were largely unsuccessful.  Am I wrong in thinking that in a free society one should be judged according to his or her merits and not simply rewarded or punished based upon loyalty to party bosses?  Step by step I worry we are becoming more like the now defunct East German government, complete with their network of informants and secret police.

I wish that more people would stand up for principle rather than unquestioningly siding with a party or a political official, especially when they know that that person or group is engaging in morally questionable or hypocritical behavior.  Unfortunately, doing so is the riskier path that many avoid which is one big reason why the power of the government expands and political leaders grow more and more unresponsive and dictatorial.  The Lives of Others is a stark portrayal of what happens when the government and its officials stop viewing themselves as servants of the people and instead treat the public as their vassals.  If we wish to remain a free people, we must resist this kind of thinking at every turn and not be afraid to speak out boldly whenever we hear of it.

The Liberation of Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli and Joshua Huffman at the 2009 RPV Convention
Ken Cuccinelli and Joshua Huffman at the 2009 RPV Convention

In case you don’t follow former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Facebook, lately he has been expressing a lot of strong opinions regarding politics.

For example, when it comes to Del. Joe Morrisey and his adventures with an underage woman, Cuccinelli writes “I hope there’s a race on under Rule 24 of the House, or other appropriate mechanism, to expel him from the House of Delegates.”  But his comments aren’t limited to only Democratic misconduct.  For example, when there are poor Republican actions, such as the vote on HR 83 concerning amnesty, Mr. Cuccinelli stated that it “is so disappointing I’m beyond comment”.  On December 12th, he announced, “I am sorry to have to report that of all 8 GOP congressmen in Virginia, only Cong. Dave Brat voted ‘against the rule’ governing debate and amendments of the CROmnibus bill.”

I don’t know about you, but the fact that Ken Cuccinelli is willing to take a stand on principle, even when it means calling out members of his own political party, is one reason why I like Mr. Cuccinelli.

But wait a minute, the astute observer might say.  If you like Ken Cuccinelli why did you support Robert Sarvis over him in 2013?  How can what you say above make any sense?

Well, just about every Cuccinelli supporter I know is of the opinion that the 2013 Cuccinelli campaign was one of the worst run statewide campaigns that Virginia has ever seen.  Rather than highlight any of the positive aspects of Ken Cuccinelli as attorney general and a state senator beforehand, his campaign instead focused on painting Terry McAuliffe as a sleazy, unelectable dirt-bag.  Although they succeeded in creating a general disdain for McAuliffe, the McAuliffe campaign successfully defined Cuccinelli as a scary right-wing zealot out to control every aspect of our lives.  I’ve seen far too much fearmongering and incivility in politics in recent years and could not be an advocate of either.  For that reason, and several others, I could not support Cuccinelli and decided to latch on to the one campaign that offered a clear message of liberty and hope, Robert Sarvis’.

Shortly before Election Day, several of us, including the chairman of the Harrisonburg Libertarian Party had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Ken Cuccinelli.  I told him that his campaign had to offer voters a positive message, that there were a number of reasons why citizens cast their votes for him in 2009 and why they should do so again in 2013.  He did have one video, which I thought was great, but I said he needed more like.  I was told the funding wasn’t available and that the negativity was the only real course available.  The Ken Cuccinelli I knew, that I ardently supported in 2009, the one that would stand up for principle even when in means bucking his party, the one who got kicked out of the GOP in 2011 for supporting an independent candidate over a poor Republican choice, was lost amid the campaign.

But, once the campaign was over and McAuliffe was sworn in as our new governor, I noticed that the Ken Cuccinelli that I knew, the one who boldly takes a stance for what he believes in was making a comeback.  Now, do I agree with every position that Ken Cuccinelli takes?  Over course not!  But it was a very encouraging sign and thus I had a strong desire to speak to the former attorney general once more and reached out to his staff.

Shortly before the 2014 elections, I had the great opportunity to speak to Mr. Cuccinelli again.  I hoped to discuss the 2013 campaign and his efforts in promoting liberty through his new role with the Senate Conservatives Fund.  Unfortunately, some of the scars from last election had not fully healed and so our conversation was cut short before we could explore the second topic.  Although I think I failed, I was trying to provide whatever limited advice I could, not to maliciously reopen an old wound.

Regrettably, I’ve discovered that when a person holds or is running for an elective office, they often disguise or mute their true political opinions.  I’m wondering if Ken Cuccinelli was elected governor (and I think he would have made a far better governor than Terry McAuliffe) would he be presently hamstrung too?  Once they are no longer in position of power or are planning on seeking election do we catch a glimpse of the true colours of politicians?  In 2013 Republicans got a taste of liberated and vengeful Bill Bolling and in 2014 they might have finally realized that one could only laughably call former Senator John Warner a conservative.

So, today I’d like to take a moment to recognize Ken Cuccinelli.  I’m glad to see him speaking out whether it is admonishing either Democrats or Republicans who seek to expand the power of government, strip away our freedoms, or funnel our money to further crony capitalism.  Don’t ever obey the voice that tells you that you must stand by your party regardless of their actions.

Keep fighting the good fight, sir!

The Republican (Feudalism) Plan

Image from nobility.org
Image from nobility.org

Ask the average Republican voter or even activist if he or she is familiar with the party plan of the Republican Party of Virginia and I’d wager you’re likely to get a blank stare in response.  Much like a constitution or a set of bylaws, the party plan is the governing document for the state party.  Well, as Craig Orndorff, who runs the Race to Richmond, This Time, Roanoke, recently highlighted, the RPV has made several changes to their party plan.  You can read the entire document here.

Perhaps the most important modification deals with participation in party activities.  Point 2 in section A of Article 1 reads, “A voter who, subsequent to making a statement of intent, publicly supports a candidate in opposition to a Republican nominee shall not be qualified for participation in party actions as defined in Article I for a period of four (4) years.”

Now what difference does this change make?  Well, if it were in effect prior to the 2011 elections, Ken Cuccinelli would not have been the Republican Party nominee for governor in 2013.  Both Ken Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling broke party ranks to support independent Bill Janis for commonwealth attorney of Henrico over the GOP nominee.  As such, under this change not only would neither of the two men would have been eligible to run for any office under the Republican Party last year, but in addition they would have been excluded from all party functions until 2015.  Even Eric Cantor, the U.S. House Majority Leader, backed Janis and would not be eligible to be a Republican, much less hold his current post.

Although not changed in the latest round of revisions, there are other troubling aspects of the party plan.  For example, who can participate in Republican primaries and conventions?  According to the plan, “all legal and qualified voters…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.”

Several years ago the RPV attempted to use a loyalty oath as a condition to vote in a primary.  Although legally unenforceable, the effort generated considerable backlash and it was withdrawn.  The whole idea is rather concerning.  In order to select a Republican nominee a voter has to pledge in advance to support the eventual Republican candidate whomever he or she happens to be and regardless of what positions he or she happens to hold.  Imagine, if you will, a single issue voter.  Let’s say she is a pro-life Republican.  On primary day she goes to the polls to support a pro-life candidate over a pro-choice one.  Regardless of the outcome, according to the party plan by voting in that primary she is honor-bound to support the Republican even if that candidate holds a position which is in stark contrast to her own.  Does that seem right to you?  What will be the effect assuming it is attempted to be enforced?  It seems that the loyalty oath is alive and well.

Now, this position is not unique to the Republican Party as the Democratic Party of Virginia included a similar statement in their 2010 party Plan.  “No person shall participate in a Democratic primary, convention or caucus who intends to support a candidate opposed to any Democratic nominee in that general or special election.”  Many of the locals know that it is very unlikely (but not impossible) for me to vote Democratic.  Will some party official stand at the door of the polling place on primary day, like George Wallace, denying me entrance?

In point three, the party seems to call for voter registration by political party, an idea I firmly oppose.

Moving through the RPV party plan, we reach point four.  It reads, “In addition to the foregoing, to be in accord with the principles of the Republican Party, unless otherwise stipulated by the appropriate Official Committee, a person otherwise qualified hereunder shall not have participated in Virginia in the nomination process of a party other than the Republican Party within the last five years.”

In plain English, this means that if you vote in the Democratic primaries, you are booted from the GOP.  It doesn’t matter that your tax dollars fund these primaries, you cannot voice your opinion in these contests…according to the Virginia Republican Party.  As someone who faithfully votes in as many primaries as he can, this plank is exceedingly worrisome.  I can think of at least three Democratic primaries in which I’ve voted; 2006 U.S. Senate, 2009 Statewide Virginia, and 2013 Statewide Virginia.  In addition, although I could not vote, I was a witness to the 2013 Libertarian state convention.  Does that count as participation too?  What if you live in an area of the state where only Democratic candidates can win?  Would voicing your opinion to select the best Democratic option exclude you from later expressing your opinion in Republican circles too?  Can a party forbid you to take part in a political process funded by your own tax dollars?  Although there is a clause to avoid this issue…as a one-time exception…being required to craft a written statement denouncing the other party very much seems over the top.

I find these issues worrisome and would expect that many of my conservative brothers and sisters would as well.  Why is it that the Republican Party is so concerned with making vassals of their base?  Shouldn’t they instead promote the Republican principles found in the Republican creed and make sure that Republican elected officials actually honor and uphold these values?  If the GOP wants to make a principled statement, why not strip party membership from delegates and state senators who supported the transportation tax hike last year…or work to remove them from leadership positions…or, at the very least, publicly chastise them?

With these rules, one has to ponder why the party just doesn’t force all primary voters, convention goers, and potential candidates to declare, “I will to my party be true and faithful, and love all which it loves and shun all which it shuns”?  In case you are wondering, that declaration is a modification of the Anglo-Saxon Oath of Fealty.  I wonder if the RPV wishes to reduce us to serfdom.  Is political feudalism alive and well within the Commonwealth?  Are we being transformed into red and blue vassals, stripped of any semblance of political free will?

Shouldn’t the RPV do a better job reaching out to voters and actually reducing the size of government rather than promoting restrictive regulations?  Rather than expanding the Republican Party, these rules (especially if actually enforced) will only serve to shrink involvement, which, in turn, will further reduce any chances of future Republican statewide victories.

As so many Virginia elections are either uncontested or one party has a virtual lock on a seat, participation in party nominating contests is an important tool for voters to have at least some voice in determining their representation.  Demanding loyalty or forbidding cross party voting in order to take part in party politics is a violation of a free and open political process and weakens the strength of our democratic process.  No group or individual should ever unquestioningly own your vote or your support.  We haven’t lived in the middle ages for centuries, so why should our partisan politics be so mired in the past?

If the Republican Party of Virginia desires to enact an oath I can get behind, it ought to sound something like this: “I will to my principles be true and faithful.  As long as the party and her candidates uphold these shared principles, I will support them.”

McDonnell to Resign?

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

Lately, Virginia politics has shifted to an ethics probe surrounding Governor Bob McDonnell.  Yesterday, Bearing Drift, the largest conservative blog in the state, reported that the governor would resign, a rumor denied by the governor’s staff.

To recap for those who haven’t been following this story, Bob McDonnell has recently come under fire as a result of an FBI investigation which discovered that one of his donors has given the governor and his family thousands of dollars in unreported gifts including paying a substantial sum for the wedding of the governor’s daughter and giving the executive a multi-thousand dollar Rolex watch.  State Senator Chap Peterson is the first (and so far only) legislator calling upon the governor to resign.

But what does Governor McDonnell think about possible ethics violations?  Well, if we rewind the clock four years, we come across the case of Phil Hamilton, a former member of the House of Delegates who lost his seat in a scandal involving Old Dominion University.  Almost as soon as the allegations were made, before any charges were filed, McDonnell, along with Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Virginia Republican Party Chairman Pat Mullins, called for Hamilton to resign.  He stated, “From what I have seen of published news accounts containing emails and admissions, it appears that Delegate Hamilton has violated the public trust. Based on this public information it would be in the best interests of his constituents for him to step down…” McDonnell went on to add “…but if he believes that the due process of a full inquiry by the House Ethics Advisory Panel will clear his name, he should have a full opportunity to present his case.”  McDonnell, like his cohorts, were quick to condemn Hamilton without either a trial or full ethics inquiry, choosing instead a course which he thought would best help the party and his own chances during his 2009 run for governor.  Then State Senator Ken Cuccinelli stood alone in his conviction that Hamilton, like anyone accused of a crime, ought to have his day in court before being thrown under the bus by his party and his running mates.

So, will Bob McDonnell resign based upon these charges?  Well, if he wished to remain morally consistent he would do so.  After all, if the mere charges of bribery and corruption were enough to bring down a delegate in 2009, surely this line of thinking would be constant for a governor in 2013 as well.  Unfortunately, especially in politics, far too many politicians live in a world where they insist on a certain moral code…as long as it applies to everyone but the person advocating the code.

Yes, the charges levied against Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell are deeply troubling and, if proven true, he ought to resign his office. Whether the governor survives this scandal or whether he ends up sharing a cell alongside Delegate Hamilton, it is all but certain that this once rumored 2016 presidential contender’s political career has reached its zenith.  However, the hypocrisy of the whole situation is not lost on this blogger.  Remember, as Bob McDonnell said in 2009, “Elected officials must keep the highest ethical standards in order to maintain the public trust.”

Is Bearing Drift’s prediction of a resignation in the works?  I suppose the answer to this question hinges upon the severity of the charges and the evidence against McDonnell.  Either way, I expect we will find out in the coming days.

Dean Welty’s Picks

For many activists in the central Shenandoah Valley, Dean Welty is a very familiar name.  For those who do not know him, Mr. Welty is the Director of the Valley Family Forum, a particularly active political and religious group with ties to organizations like The Family Foundation (based in Richmond) and Focus on the Family.  Issues important to this group include: the sanctity of life, the protection of traditional marriage, promotion of school choice, and the free expression of religious freedom.

About an hour an a half ago, Dean Welty sent out an email regarding his personal choices for the three Republican candidates for statewide office as well as his reasoning.  They are as follows:

For Governor: Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli is the uncontested GOP candidate with an exceptional record as State Senator and as Attorney General for defending Life, Marriage and the Family, and Religious Liberty, and for his unwavering fight to protect our Constitutional rights.  There is no one better suited by character and conviction to be our next Governor.

“Related to this, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling has indicated that he may run against Cuccinelli as an independent.  If he does, that will split the vote in November and virtually guarantee Cuccinelli’s defeat. Therefore, please click on the following link in which Bolling has asked for our opinion, and respectfully urge him not to run:  http://www.billbolling.com/survey-on-the-2013-virginia-race-for-governor/.”

For Lt. Governor: E. W. Jackson

“In a crowded field of strong candidates, E.W. Jackson nevertheless stands out like none other, as reflected in his bold call for all God-fearing Americans to “Exodus Now” from the Democrat Party.  An ex-Marine, Harvard Law School graduate, business leader, and pastor, Jackson is a fighting statesman who can raise the standard and stir our hearts like no one else has been able to do.  In addition, he has been a close friend and supporter of the Forum and a powerful champion for Faith, Family, and Freedom.

“Beyond that, Jackson is a man of great vision who transcends party and politics in his commitment to restore our Judeo-Christian heritage and to defend our Constitution.  No one expresses it better than when he quotes from Thomas Paine in the fight for independence in 1776:

 ‘These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  … Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation …, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.'”

For Attorney General:

“In a nutshell, Senator Mark Obenshain not only votes right but, even more importantly, he leads right on issues of principle that others sometimes avoid as being too “controversial”.  To cite just a few, he has led the Senate in the fight for life from conception to natural death, for marriage as only between one man and one woman, for private property rights, for religious liberty, and for quality education and choice – to name only a few.  Like Jackson, Mark has also been a close friend of the Forum and, with his wife Suzanne, received our annual Wilberforce Award in 2011.”

Whether you happen to agree with Dean Welty’s picks or not, it is beneficial for an informed voter to hear a multitude of opinions.  Use them, along with a variety of others, as you make your choice as a delegate for the May RPV convention.

The Bolling Question

In less than a month’s time, on March 14th, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has stated that he will be making a major announcement.  Presumably, he will be declaring whether he intends to run for governor in 2013 as either an independent or a third party candidate.

Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling
Bob McDonnell & Bill Bolling (in what must have been happier days)

So what is your prediction?

Record Turnout for Jackson & Stewart

E.W. Jackson
E.W. Jackson

Today, the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Republican Parties played host to both E.W. Jackson and Corey Stewart at their monthly First Friday gathering.  These two men are vying, along with five other individuals, for the Republican nomination to be the next lieutenant governor of Virginia.

As the title of this article states, this meeting saw a tremendously high turnout.  Normally, the event takes up one of the back rooms at the Woodgrill Buffet in Harrisonburg, but today’s attendence was doubled, a number of activists not reached in at least a year’s time.  Besides Harrisonburg City and Rockingham County residents, there were also citizens from most of the neighboring and nearby cities and counties of Virginia including: Shenandoah, Page, Augusta, Staunton, Charlottesville, and Rockbridge.

Both Stewart and Jackson gave impassioned speeches.  Jackson, arguably the strongest speaker of the seven GOP candidates, invoked the role of religion in the founding of the nation and highlighting his ability to reach out to minority communities, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd, while Stewart offered excellent statements as well, reminding the group of his successes as the chairman of the board of supervisors in Prince William County and also adding that it is not a proper role of government to be in the business of job creation.

IMG_1659
Corey Stewart

Upon the conclusion of First Friday, Corey Stewart offered what is likely to be a bit of chilling news to the Republican crowd stating his belief that Bill Bolling, the current Lieutenant Governor of Virginia who earlier dropped his run for the Republican nomination for governor, will announce his bid as either a third-party or an independent candidate for governor soon.  Such a move on the part of Bolling would likely greatly hinder Ken Cuccinelli, the current Republican Party nominee.

Jackson and Stewart seemed to gain a number of followers at this meeting today.  However, as mentioned previously, given the fact that seven men and women are seeking the GOP nod, it is difficult to say which of the candidates currently enjoy the highest level of support.

Remember, the May GOP convention will be here before we know it.

Bill Bolling for…Governor?

Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling
Governor Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

In the early stages of the 2013 gubernatorial race, it seemed as if Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling would be the unquestioned Republican nominee.  Due the deal struck four years earlier between now Governor Bob McDonnell and Bolling, where Bolling would forgo running for governor for McDonnell in exchange for future political support, who would able to stand up against the combined political strength of these two men?

Senator Cuccinelli and Bolling
Then Senator Cuccinelli and Lt. Gov. Bolling

Then Ken Cuccinelli entered the picture.  Ken Cuccinelli, the dynamic Attorney General of Virginia who garnered national attention for his stand against Obamacare, tossed his hat in the ring for governor.  Some people in Republican circles had hoped that Cuccinelli, following Bolling’s example four years prior, would run for re-election thus giving Bolling a clear path to the Republican gubernatorial nomination.  After several months of uncertainty, Ken Cuccinelli announced that he was entering the race for governor.  Given the popularity of Cuccinelli in conservative circles, this decision alone would have made a very difficult path for Bill Bolling’s victory going forward.  However, when coupled with the factor that the Republican Party of Virginia then switched their nominating process from an open primary to a convention, Cuccinelli became a virtual lock for the party nomination.  Cuccinelli had established himself as a rock star among conservatives and although feared by liberals, the closed process meant that Democrats and independents would have no hand in the party’s nomination process.

With these exceedingly difficult circumstances, Bill Bolling recently withdrew from the Republican nomination for governor.  At that time, he refused to endorse Cuccinelli for the post.  Given that Bolling had been seeking the nomination for governor presumably since first running for lieutenant governor in 2004, the fact that he would not readily endorse the man who he likely believed stole the nomination from him isn’t too surprising.

However there was one startling development as Bolling floated the idea of continuing his campaign for governor as either an independent or a third-party candidate.  The prevailing thought was that Bolling would not run in 2013 but was merely using the idea as a way to vent his frustration about the whole process.

But it seems that the idea of Bill Bolling for governor is not dead.  Over the weekend, I was sent the link to a website that is actively promoting his candidacy.  It seems that Gail “for Rail” Parker, a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006, and the Independent Green Party of Virginia are working to get Bolling’s name on the ballot.  According to the site, the petition drive for Bolling began on January 2nd of this year.  The real question becomes is this effort independent of the Lt. Gov. or is website part of his exploratory run?

Bolling for GovernorI’ve said on several occasions that Ken Cuccinelli will be the next governor of Virginia.  However, if Bill Bolling runs either third party or as an independent, it is possible that he could draw enough support from disaffected Republicans to radically change November’s outcome.  Will this movement led by Gail Parker derail the Cuccinelli campaign train?  Will Bill Bolling run for governor?

The (More Important Than It Should Be) LG Race

Good afternoon, readers.

Glad to be with you once again.  First, let me apologize for the two-week hiatus in posts.  If you are wondering why the lengthy break took place, every time that I would come up with a topic that I wanted to write about, my mind would keep drifting to thoughts of a rather remarkable woman.  But the Virginia Conservative must go on and go on it will!

Now that Virginia Republicans have come to terms with the disappointing results of 2012, they are turning their attention to the 2013 contests.  After all, every year is an election year here in Virginia.  Next November, Virginians will vote for a new governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.  In addition, all 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be up for grabs.

Normally, the race for lieutenant governor is a rather low-key affair.  In most circumstances, the lieutenant governor has about as much relative clout and power as the vice president of the United States.  He or she presides over the Virginia Senate, only casts a vote to break a tie in legislative matters, and assumes the role of governor if the sitting governor resigns or is incapacitated.  Typically, the office is also a placeholder for a person who will seek the role of governor in the next election.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling also was given the role of Chief Jobs Creation Officer from Governor McDonnell, a rather curious title.  After all, don’t conservatives believe that it is not the role of government to create jobs, but rather to create the most business friendly environment possible where taxes are kept low and bureaucratic red tape is minimized?  But we can delve into that topic on another post.

However, after the 2011 election, the lieutenant governor gained an additional function.  When the dust settled in November of that year, the 40-member body of the Virginia Senate was split evenly between members of the Republican and Democratic Parties.  In that rare circumstance, many people assumed, given that neither party held a majority in the body, a power sharing agreement would be the outcome.  However, as the lieutenant governor was a Republican, the GOP declared that they controlled the Virginia Senate and thus no power sharing agreement was reached.

Although the move to claim victory in the Virginia Senate may have been politically smart for the Republican Party at the time, I personally opposed the plan.  In some ways, it felt as if it circumvented the will of the people.  After all, the voters elected an equally divided Senate and ought to have a Senate that reflected this result.  However, this action gave the lieutenant governor considerably more power.  As a result, I knew that it would put a greater emphasis on a race that is typically considered second tier.  After all, even though we will not elect a single new senator on November 5th, 2013, control of that body will hinge upon the outcome of the lieutenant governor race.  If the Democrats win,  given what happened in 2011, I’m certain that they will ignore any pleas for a divided Virginia Senate.

Unlike the election for governor and attorney general, the Republican nomination for lt. governor is very much up in the air.  There are a whole host of candidates: former State Senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, 2012 U.S. Senate candidate E.W. Jackson, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, State Senator Steve Martin, Chairman Corey Stewart of Prince William County, Chairwoman Susan Stimpson of Stafford County, and 2012 Virginia GOP Victory Chairman Pete Snyder.  Although many liberty-minded folks that I know are lining up behind Stimpson, I still need to learn more about the candidates and thus remain uncommitted at this time.  At this point, none can claim front-runner status and, if the field remains so large, the outcome of the 2013 GOP convention could very well yield surprising results.

On the Democratic side, we have Aneesh Chopra, the first person to hold the role of the Chief Technology Officer of the United States and State Senator Ralph Northam.

Will the Libertarian, Constitution, and/or Green Parties field a candidate to run for lieutenant governor as well?  And, if so, what sort of impact will he or she make in the race?

The bottom line is that due to outcome of 2011, the 2013 race for Virginia’s lieutenant governor is far more important than it has been in previous cycles.  Therefore, I encourage all of my fellow conservative activists to consider each of our choices carefully before selecting or dismissing a candidate prematurely.