Why a Life-Long Republican Left the Party

Image from sodahead.com

A Guest Post by David Benjamin Dull

To start, I feel it is important to explain how I was raised, and where my roots are. My father is a die-hard, Trump supporting, racist, social conservative and his parents were social conservatives as well while my mother is a bit of a hippie, but a conservative hippie.  I was raised to vote Republican and did so starting with George Bush in 2000 when I was 18.  I was never “involved”, never did any research and didn’t pay attention to the issues even though I smoked cannabis, was pro-choice and had close friends who were/are homosexual.

All of that changed, however, in the fall of 2008 when I accidentally ran across a motivational YouTube video for libertarian godfather Ron Paul who was running for the Republican presidential nomination.  Without a shred of hesitation, I am proud to say the words of this modern-day prophet made me openly weep.  For the first time in my life, my worldview was challenged in a way that was informative and more importantly, not condescending, which was needed to get thru to me.

Did I run right outside with my pitchfork and torch, ready to burn down the capitol?  No.  I spent a long time combing the internet for input.  I researched Austrian economics, free-market solutions, non-interventionist foreign policy, individual sovereignty and ending prohibition. I began talking less and listening more.  Eventually, fully confident that my new worldview was solid, I ventured out into the political realm by attending my first Tea Party Tax Day rally in DC in 2010, which featured to my surprise, Ron Paul himself.  And yet, I still didn’t know how to get involved.

I left Baltimore and bought a home in Virginia Beach, and knowing no one political in the area, remained the guy who protests on social media… …until my mother sent me a friend suggestion for a local anarcho-capitalist.  Finally, I had someone in my town I could share my disdain for waste, fraud, and abuse with!  And what’s more, when a mutual friend commented about the Ron Paul 2012 campaign and I jumped right on that asking how I could get involved.  I was directed to attend a dinner in Newport News across the river.  The night of that dinner, I met a dozen libertarians who have become like family.  Never in my life have I ever felt so connected to and loved by a group of individuals, not of my blood.  Together, we took on the establishment, hard!

Luckily for us, there were only two candidates on the ballot in 2012; Ron Paul and Mitt Romney, which enabled a Tea Party/libertarian alliance to not only send 49% of Virginia’s delegates to the Republican national convention, but more importantly, the grassroots alliance overwhelmingly took over the Republican Party of Virginia state central committee and a host of district chairman seats and local unit chairman seats.  We did it!  We won!  Or did we?  With the primary firmly behind us, the “presumptive nominee” was hailed as the savior to the “Obama” problem with the Tea Party falling in line like good little Republicans.  We Ron Paul supporters were soon left out in the cold.  We were scorned for not eagerly volunteering for the nominee.  We were constantly told by establishment trolls that “libertarians belong in the Libertarian Party” and our posts on Republican social media outlets were deleted.  We were called isolationists, dreamers, liberals, and idiots.

When we rallied behind Susan Stimpson for Lt. Governor, who had an impeccable record of cutting taxes and fees while also cutting the budget of Stanford County while remaining temperate on social issues, the Tea Party and other grassroots social conservatives flocked to boisterous hot-heads like Corey Stewart who is in the middle of losing his third statewide race, and EW Jackson who just lost his third statewide race. When the votes were tallied for the first ballot of the seven-way Lt. Governor race, Susan came in second after Jackson, but when the names were put up on the Jumbotron, her name was at the bottom. When she failed to carry the third ballot, I voted for “moderate” (establishment) Pete Snyder because I wasn’t about to let Jackson pull down the ticket with his outrageous statements when Snyder would help libertarian-leaning Ken Cuccinelli win the governorship… which is exactly what happened despite Republicans complaining about the Libertarian nominee, who exit polls show actually took more votes from (D) McAuliffe than Cuccinelli… but I digress.  This was in effect, the beginning of the end of the grassroots revolt of 2012.  The establishment slowly took back the state central and local units.  The Tea Party continued to rally around hot-heads like Corey Stewart year after year.  Many of my libertarian friends, disgusted with the political process and the online nastiness from bigoted conservatives and paid establishment trolls, simply threw in the towel.  Subsequently, the Ron Paul class of 2012 was all but gone by 2014.

To be fair, having left Virginia to seek my fortune in the oil fields of North Dakota in the summer of 2013 and not returning until December of 2015, I was in no position to blame anyone for leaving, and I didn’t.  I did, however, unfurl my libertarian-Republican banner and plant it in the red sand of the Republican Party on last time for Rand Paul in the 2016 presidential primary, but was met with mild enthusiasm.  I saw even less enthusiasm for Trump, but his bigoted and insulting rhetoric somehow positively reached the voters even though it turned off most of the politically active.  The abysmal primary results coupled with the death rattle of the Tea Party in Virginia was the signal to me that “changing it from the inside” was a completely unattainable goal in Virginia Beach and highly unlikely in Virginia.  So I left the party of my father and my grandfather after being undyingly faithful for eight years, somewhat hesitant for another four and actively engaged for the last four.  Truth be told; it’s the best breakup of my life!

David Benjamin Dull is a libertarian activist who has volunteered for a dozen campaigns.  Although admittedly brash and stubborn, he is working to better himself and is currently engaged in growing the Libertarian Party of Anne Arundel County by reaching out to disenfranchised liberals and conservatives as well as independents who lost faith in voting.

Thoughts on Tuesday’s Primary

Photo from Corey Stewart for Congress’ Facebook page

Leading up to the primary on June 12th, I asked activists who they thought would win the Republican U.S. Senate primary in Virginia.  As is the case in many elections, most people stated that their preferred candidate would win.  Stewart people assumed Corey Stewart would be victorious while Freitas people thought likewise about Nick Freitas.  Although I supported and ended up casting my vote for Delegate Freitas, I stated that I thought Stewart would win.

Image from the Virginia State Board of Elections

Why? Well, as stated above, it wasn’t because I wanted Mr. Stewart to be the Republican nominee.  At this point, Corey Stewart has almost reached the status of a perennial candidate.  He briefly ran for U.S. Senate in 2011-12, finished third for the Lt. Gov nomination in 2013, and came close to winning the Republican nomination for Virginia Governor in 2017.   However, if you look back the last time that Corey Stewart ran for statewide office, in 2017, he narrowly lost the Republican nomination to Ed Gillespie.  Gillespie won 43.74% and Stewart got 42.5%.  If he had gotten blown out last year, it is unlikely that anyone would have taken him seriously in 2018.  As an example, consider E.W. Jackson, who was the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in 2013.  He ended up losing the general election by over 10 points thus making it far less likely that the Republican Party would ever give him another statewide nomination.  Stewart, conversely, was close in his last attempt.

Then there is the issue of fundraising.  As of May 23rd, the Freitas campaign had raised $502,784.  By comparison, the Stewart campaign had raised $841,112.  Money isn’t everything, but it certainly helps.

Next is the matter of name ID.  Although none of the three candidates were terribly well-known across the state, presumably Stewart was bolstered by his previous runs.  Chances are that activists who had supported Stewart in 2017 would likely do so again.  Therefore, he already had an established base to build from.  Although he traveled the state during the election cycle, Freitas was a less well-known name without a cadre of longtime supporters scattered across the various corners of Virginia.

Another aspect concerned endorsements and the ideology each candidate represented.  While Corey Stewart represents Trump populism, Freitas is part of the liberty/small government movement, and Jackson has the religious right.  Although President Trump isn’t particularly popular with Virginians as a whole, he does seem to command a loyal and active following among a sizable segment of Virginia Republican voters.  Oddly, unlike just about every other year, there wasn’t a candidate from the establishment wing of the Republican Party.  Several months ago, I was told that Representative Barbara Comstock would be entering the race but that never happened.  As such, many in the Republican establishment endorsed Nick Freitas.  At face value, you might think that the establishment combined with the liberty-wing would be enough for a winning coalition in the primary.  After all, the establishment more or less propelled Ed Gillespie to the Republican nomination in 2017 single-handedly.  Liberty-minded folks may have cast a vote for Gillespie, but I doubt many were excited about it.

However, upon further reflection, it is likely that many in the establishment weren’t all that enthusiastic about Freitas, but it was rather a lesser of three evils type of scenario for them.  In 2013, Jackson demonstrated that it would be nearly impossible for him to win statewide and some of his comments derided as bigoted or closed-minded could hurt the GOP in other races.  As for Stewart, his ties to the alt-right with to the Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville, his previous false or misleading statements about Ed Gillespie in 2017, the fact that he represented the same Trump faction that lost Virginia in 2017, and that he was likely seen as an uncontrollable force resulted in some of them viewing his nomination as an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party of Virginia.  Given some of Freitas’ outstanding bills in the General Assembly which would curb the power of the party bosses, my assumption was that the establishment ended up supporting Freitas out of perceived necessity, not desire, and thus I assumed that their level of support would be far lower than it would be for someone like Gillespie.

The night before the primary, I stopped by my local polling place in Harrisonburg to see which campaigns had placed signs at the precinct.  Although signs don’t win elections, they are one way to gauge levels of campaign activism.  When I arrived, I found Brent Finnegan, the 2017 Democratic candidate for the 26th House district placing signs for Jennifer Lewis.  There were also signs for Peter Volosin, but none for any of the Republican Senatorial candidates.  However, when I went to cast my vote for Nick Freitas around noon the next day, several of his signs had appeared in the interim.

Image from the Virginia State Board of Elections

Once polls closed at 7, I sat in front of my computer, watching the results on both the VPAP and NY Times websites.  To my surprise, Freitas took an early lead…but could it last?  Were my predictions wrong?  At one point, E.W. Jackson jumped out in front with a commanding lead due to results from Virginia Beach.  However, upon closer inspection, I discovered that one precinct had erroneously given Jackson several tens of thousands of extra votes, likely the result of a few misplaced additional zeros in his totals.  When it was corrected, Jackson did not come close to leading for the rest of the night.  As results continued to come in, the difference between Freitas and Stewart began to tighten.  At around 85% of the vote reporting, Freitas was still leading.  But I thought it prudent to check where the bulk of the outstanding votes were left to report.  Most were either in Prince William County (where Stewart is the chairman of the board of supervisors) or Fairfax County directly to the north.  Although Freitas was still leading, I realized at that point that Stewart had almost certainly won the election once all the votes were in.

During the evening, I wondered if either the Stewart or Freitas camps would deride E.W. Jackson as a spoiler, declaring that his candidacy cost them victory.  If he weren’t in the race, I assumed that a majority of his votes would have gone to Stewart, but without seeing the exit polls, it is difficult to say with any measure of certainty.  Jackson won about 12% of the vote.  If asked, I would have recommended that Jackson not run as I believe it would only hurt his future prospects of holding elected office (if any).  Nevertheless, I believe he had every right to run (just like anyone else) no matter how slim his chances happened to be and that it is unfair to call him a spoiler.

In November, Virginia will likely have three candidates on the ballot, Republican Corey Stewart, Democrat Tim Kaine, and Libertarian Matt Waters.  At this point, I would assume that Kaine will best Stewart by at least 10 points.  However, regardless of my predictions, I recommend to you, dear reader, to research all three of your choices and vote for the one who best embodies your values.  I know I will.

A Libertarian for Senate

In 2018, Virginia will hold elections for U.S. Senate.  On the Democratic side, barring any major surprises, current Senator Tim Kaine will be the nominee.  For the Republicans, so far we have Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas, E.W. Jackson, and Ivan Raiklin vying for the nomination.  And, as of 15 hours ago according to Facebook, we also have a Libertarian seeking the position too.

Image from the campaign Facebook page

A fellow by the name of Matt Waters has now begun to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the Virginia ballot.  Although I first heard news of his possible candidacy shortly before the new year, it seems that he has decided to go forward with the plan.  At this point, I cannot say I know anything about him, other than I’m told he is pro-life (which is exciting!).

Even when there is only one candidate running for the party’s nomination, getting the Libertarian stamp of approval isn’t a guarantee, as delegates to their state convention can vote for none of the above if the person seeking the position doesn’t share enough of their principles.  I believe that this is a position that both the Republicans and Democrats ought to adopt given the positions of some of their nominees over the years).

Who is Matt Waters?  I’m told by some of the Libertarian leaders in Virginia that he will be a strong, credible, and value-focused candidate, but I’m looking forward to finding out for myself.

Looking Back On the Tea Party

img_1330This morning, fellow Shenandoah Valley blogger Lynn Mitchell asked the question, “Why did the tea party (and libertarians) decide to take over the Republican Party instead of the Democratic Party whose policies they were supposedly against?” Well, as a person who has been involved in tea party politics for a number of years, I wanted to offer my take on the situation.

First off, let me begin by saying that no group is a monolithic unit.  Yes, it is easy to lump people together, to assume that their history, motivations, and goals are unified, but that simply would not be the case.  Anyway, like a number of folks, I joined the tea party while also a member of the Republican Party.  At that time, I had been growing increasingly dissatisfied with the direction of the GOP.  I recall saying at the time that the tea party would never have come into being if the GOP held firm to its supposed principles.

Although Republican politicians seemed to employ inspiring rhetoric when it came to limiting the power of the government, their actual track record was pretty poor.  It is tempting to say that the tea party had its start with the election of Barack Obama, but the truth is that for many of us its roots are earlier, the presidency of George W. Bush.

Let’s look back at George W. Bush, shall we?  What do we find?  An exploding national debt, increased federal government control in areas where it had no defined constitutional authority such as education and healthcare, and a troubling and expensive foreign policy based upon misinformation and a neoconservative philosophy.  Only in recent years have Republican officials finally begun to admit what many people in the tea party have known for years, that a lot of things went wrong in the eight years of the George W. Bush presidency.

So why did the tea party try to push the Republican Party harder instead of the Democratic?  Well, the GOP was seen as having closer ideological ties, especially given that many of us were disaffected Republicans.  Economically, there was supposedly a closer link between the tea party and what the Republican claimed to stand for.  Has that always been the case?  No.  Perhaps the last, best example of what might be considered a “tea party Democrat” (at least in my mind) is the Bourbon Democrats.  As Wikipedia states:

Bourbon Democrats were promoters of a form of laissez-fairecapitalism which included opposition to the protectionism that the Republicans were then advocating as well as fiscal discipline. They represented business interests, generally supporting the goals of banking and railroads but opposed to subsidies for them and were unwilling to protect them from competition. They opposed imperialism and U.S. overseas expansion, fought for the gold standard, and opposed bimetallism and promoted hard and sound money. Strong supporters of reform movements such as the Civil Service Reform and opponents of the corrupt city bosses, Bourbons led the fight against the Tweed Ring. The anti-corruption theme earned the votes of many Republican Mugwumps in 1884.”

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party has not held to these principles in about a century.  Given how much time has passed and the great partisan divide which presently exists, a lot of folks see the Democratic Party as irredeemable.

In order to make a greater impact in politics, some candidates tried running under the unofficial tea party label.  Here in Virginia, one could argue that Jamie Radtke was the first statewide tea party candidate.  In 2012, she challenged former Republican governor and senator George Allen for the Republican nod for U.S. Senate.  In the June primary, she won 23.05% of the vote to Allen’s 65.45%.  However, given Allen’s massive advantage in name ID and fundraising, it wasn’t a particularly shocking a result.

However, after that election, the tea party had changed.  Rather than standing strictly on principle, it had somehow begun to morph into a wing of the GOP.  Originally, the local group disdained both President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain.  In the November election that followed, however, we were told that we must rally behind the Republican candidates to defeat Obama and his allies.

In the 2013 contest, the Republican Party of Virginia switched their nomination process from a primary to a convention, presumably to aid gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.  However, that change had a very profound down-ticket result.  E.W. Jackson, who finished last in the 2012 GOP senate primary, began to gain momentum.  In this part of the state, he saw in upsurge in popularity with the tea party, although I would argue he was far more concerned with social issues than the traditional fiscal matters that drove the tea party.  As a result, the regional tea party priorities began to shift again, adopting many of the same principles of groups such as the Valley Family Forum.  Again, prior to this Virginia Republican convention, local tea party goers were informed by the head of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party that the group would support whichever candidates won the GOP nod.

So, to return to Lynn Mitchell’s question, I would say that the reason that the tea party is trying to take over the Republican Party is that it has now become one of a multitude of factions within the GOP.  It no longer stands outside of party politics as originally envisioned.  As such, that fight for control exploded over the weekend in Virginia’s 7th congressional district where Eric Cantor’s ally, Linwood Cobb, was booted for the tea party choice.  A major goal of the tea party these days seems to be to purge the Republican Party of what are seen as big government leaders and politicians.

There is very much an ongoing civil war for the heart of the Virginia Republican Party between those who are primarily motivated to win and those who are motivated by principle (although what that principle happens to be can be a variety of things).  Saturday’s battle is only a continuation of this conflict.

2013 Post Election Thoughts

Vote HereWell, ladies and gentlemen, it has been nearly a week since the election of November 5th.  Perhaps it is time for a little analysis.  Before I begin, I should add that the week before the election, Bearing Drift asked their readers to offer their predictions on how things would turn out.  Therefore, in each race, I’ll start by mentioning my predictions.

Governor

Prediction: McAuliffe 51%, Cuccinelli 43%, Sarvis 6%

Actual: McAuliffe 47.74%, Cuccinelli 45.23%, Sarvis 6.52%

The four November polls in the lead up to Election Day predicted Cuccinelli down by significant percentages, 12%, 7%, 6%, and 7%.  Only one, Emerson College placed him within two points and the margin of error.  As Cuccinelli had not been leading in a poll since mid July, the general thought was that it wasn’t going to be a particularly close race.  However, the Cuccinelli campaign tried two tactics right before judgment day.

The first involved Obamacare.  Given that citizens across the country were having tremendous difficulty signing up on the official website, this frustration and anger proved to be fertile ground for the Cuccinelli camp given that Cuccinelli had been attacking the program within hours of its passage.  If the Cuccinelli campaign had latched onto this message sooner rather than relentlessly attacking McAuliffe, then perhaps they would have stood a good chance of actually winning.

Second, as negativity was their style, the Cuccinelli campaign and their allies attempted last minute smearing of Robert Sarvis, declaring that he was not a real libertarian and that he was secretly funded by Democrats.  Although neither of these claims were grounded in much fact, as they were distributed by both leaders in the liberty movement and a handful of well-known media sources, some voters accepted them as true and passed them on to their friends and neighbors unquestioned.  Although these tactics likely enraged a number of Sarvis supporters and turned them further from Cuccinelli, it did drive others to switch their votes from Sarvis to Cuccinelli.  Although I predicted that Sarvis would pull equally from both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, exit polls show that either his presence didn’t affect the overall outcome or he drew more from the Democratic side than the Republican.  However, this last ditch effort to win Sarvis support likely caused an even deeper fracture within the liberty movement in Virginia.

10% was the hurdle that Sarvis needed to reach and, as I predicted, he fell short.  However, assuming these false attacks were not launched, it would have been interesting to see how close he would have come.

Lieutenant Governor

Prediction: Northam 55%, Jackson 45%

Actual: Northam 55.11%, Jackson 44.54%

If you account for rounding, I hit this one exactly on the mark.  Unfortunately, as I stated upon the conclusion of the 2013 Virginia Republican Convention, by nominating Jackson the Republicans had surrendered the LG race.  If you will recall, in Jackson’s previous attempt at a statewide race the year before, he picked up a scant 4.72%.  Although Jackson strongly resonated with the hard-line social conservatives within the GOP, many of his previous statements regarding alternate religions and lifestyles hurt him tremendously among average Virginians.  Although Ralph Northam did not run a particularly impressive or vigorous campaign, all he needed to do was to air some of Jackson’s more controversial statements and victory was all but a certainty.

Attorney General

Prediction: Obenshain 52% Herring 48%

Actual: Obenshain 49.88%, Herring 49.88% (as of 11/10/13)

The Obenshain/Herring contest turned out to be a real nail-biter, with the results still unknown and likely headed to a recount.  Originally, I expected Obenshain to win based upon the fact that the Democrats had not won the attorney general’s spot since 1989 and that Obenshain had been working hard to capture this office for the last several years.  Although, in my opinion, the Obenshain team ran the best of the three Republican campaigns, they were no doubt hampered by troubles at the top of the ticket.  Once news of a possible recount emerged, I was still under the impression that Obenshain would win, but with the addition of “missing” ballots from Fairfax, the results seem a lot more unclear.  We likely won’t know anything definitive for at least a month.

House of Delegates

Prediction: 1 net seat gain for the Democrats

Actual: 1 net seat gain for the Democrats

With all of the excitement surrounding the three statewide races, the hundred seats in the House of Delegates weren’t much more than an afterthought for many Virginia voters.  Although I didn’t know where, I assumed that the Democrats would pick off a Republican somewhere.  It looks as if the GOP lost in the 2nd district, picked up the previously Republican leaning independent seat in the 19th, picked up the vacant seat in the 78th, picked up the vacant seat in 84th, and lost the 93rd.  Elsewhere, there were a considerable number of close contests.  Prior to the elections and vacancies, the Democrats had 32 seats.  Now they have 33.  Although I’ve written extensively on the 93rd in previous posts, it seems that even with a bit of gerrymandering the seat was too difficult for the GOP to hold for long.

So I guess the question now is, will Obenshain win?  And, especially if he does not, given their string of successive statewide losses since the 2009 election, what will become of the Republican Party of Virginia?

Jackson Returns to Harrisonburg

IMG_1104 copy
E. W. Jackson in downtown Harrisonburg. April 15th, 2012

I have just received word from the Harrisonburg Republican Party that lieutenant governor candidate E. W. Jackson will make a stop in downtown Harrisonburg on Wednesday.  The details are as follows:

“E.W. Jackson will be at the Rockingham County Courthouse on Court Square in Harrisonburg Wednesday October 30th at 4:30 P.M.  E.W. Jackson will be laying out his agenda for his role as Lt. Governor if elected as a part of his Statewide tour to promote Conservative Governing principles.

“The media and various local officials will be in attendance. Right now E.W. is tied with his liberal opponent in the polls.”

Update:  Today’s emails indicate that this event has been cancelled.

Saturday Morning With Cuccinelli

IMG_2204Yesterday morning at 10 AM, Ken Cuccinelli greeted supporters at the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Republican Party headquarters.  There were almost forty in the crowd including several members of the media.

After an introduction by Delegate Tony Wilt (R-26), Cuccinelli spoke on a number of topics, drawing clear contrasts between himself and Terry McAuliffe.  As in previous speeches, Cuccinelli did a pretty good job balancing the troubling positions of his Democratic opponent while offering his own positive solutions to these issues, unlike the bulk of his campaign, which is still mired in negativity.

One issue that ought to be distressing to Republicans regarding the event is the attendance of Saturday’s gathering, especially this close to the election.  By comparison, the Sarvis event in Harrisonburg earlier that week drew about three times the crowd and the lieutenant governor debate watching party also had slightly better numbers.  One would expect that a multitude of conservatives from in and around the Shenandoah Valley would come out to wish Cuccinelli well; unfortunately, the fact that they did not perhaps further underscores the fact that both Cuccinelli and McAuliffe are viewed with disdain by huge segments of Virginia voters.

With less than a month to go until the election, it should be interesting to see how the polls fluctuate and what Virginia voters ultimately decide on November 5th.

44 For Jackson

1236458_10152224906193626_65574730_n
Photo from Cole Trower

This evening, forty-four activists came to the Republican Headquarters in Harrisonburg to watch the live-streamed lieutenant governor debate between Republican E.W. Jackson and Democrat State Senator Ralph Northam.  Although most were from Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, several came from nearby areas as well, at least two from as far away as Luray.

In general, the crowd seemed quite energized, clapping frequently when Jackson articulated their principles and questioning some of the claims made by Northam.  The local media also stopped by to interview several of the attendees.

Given the number of yard signs spread across the area (more than any other candidate) combined with the considerable numbers of volunteers who have lined up to help the Jackson campaign, tonight’s gathering of forty-four is yet another demonstration of the vast enthusiasm many conservative activists in the Shenandoah Valley share for the Republican LG nominee.

The 2001…I mean 2013 Election

This November, Virginia voters face three interesting statewide races.  On the Democratic side for governor, we find a well-connected, well-funded Democrat who has never held office (though did previously run) squaring off against the Republican attorney general, who previously served in the Virginia State Senate, and a Libertarian from northern Virginia who sought a seat in the state senate several years ago.  The fight for the GOP nod featured the lieutenant governor, favored by the establishment and more moderate wings of the party, against the conservatives, especially religious conservatives, who preferred the attorney general.  Although the attorney general emerged victorious, it seems that wound inflicted to the GOP as a result of this feud has not yet fully healed; some of the supporters of the lieutenant governor have not yet announced their public support for the attorney general and a few are openly backing his Democratic opponent.  For lieutenant governor, the Republican Party nominated an Ivy League graduate who holds some views that pundits and his running mates consider extreme.  And for attorney general, the Republican candidate is a lawyer who hails from the western portion of the state.

Although the above paragraph is an accurate description of the 2013 elections, did you know that each statement could also fit Virginia’s election from 2001?  As another twist, were you aware that only twice in Virginia history did all three statewide Republican office seekers win, in the elections immediately preceding these two, in 2009 and in 1997?  Quite a fair number of coincidences, don’t you think?  They say that elections run in cycles and, as I’m sure you know, they also say that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

IMG_2162Currently, as was the case in 2001, the Virginia Republican Party is divided.  Although a college student in Williamsburg back in the early 2000’s, and thus somewhat less informed in the statewide scheme of things, I would argue that the party is more fractured today than it was then.  First, in the early stages, some Republicans worried that some of E.W. Jackson’s statements would drag down the ticket, and some offered him only conditional support.  Now, others are convinced that Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign is weakening the cause.  Many Bolling supporters are still upset.  As proof of this party rift, unlike previous years, I have seen no full ticket literature, yard signs, or bumper stickers.  Each campaign seems to be charting its own course independent of the others.  Now to be fair, from my observation it appears as if the Democrats are focusing solely on the race for governor, presumably hoping that McAuliffe’s coattails will carry both Northam and Herring to victory.  One only need to look to Monday’s parade in Buena Vista to see that the Democratic Party has placed most of their eggs in the McAuliffe basket.  And then there is the Libertarian Sarvis; admittedly under funded, but also the great-unknown factor, currently holding sway with an astounding 10% of voters, assuming the latest poll numbers are accurate.

If we look back to the 2001 election, we find a Democratic victory for governor and lieutenant governor while the Republicans win the attorney general’s race with a huge margin.  For the record, for governor the Democrat got 52%, the Republican 47%, and the Libertarian with .77%.  The LG race was pretty close, but still a Democratic victory 50% to 48% (with 1.5% for the Libertarian), and for AG, the Democrat got 40% to the Republican 60%.

Although at the start of this campaign season I originally predicted that both Cuccinelli and Obenshain would win (Obenshain with a larger margin than Cuccinelli), with two months out, if the election were held today I now believe that November’s result will likely closely follow 2001 (with Sarvis likely outstripping Bill Redpath’s percentage due to considerable recent upswings in his media coverage).  Nothing is set in stone quite yet nor do any of us possess perfect knowledge; for example, in the lieutenant governor contest, if Jackson’s supporters are as out in force throughout the state as they are in the Shenandoah Valley and the Democrats only focus on McAuliffe, a surprise upset is not out of the question.

So, the question of the day is, do you also believe that 2013 will mirror 2001?

Labor Day, Buena Vista, 2013

Yesterday, the city of Buena Vista held their 43rd annual Labor Day parade.  As in previous years, this event serves as the start of the countdown to Election Day.  However, unlike previous years, Monday’s parade was smaller than average in terms of both attendance and sign coverage.  Normally, one can find a thick blanket of yard signs from all of the candidates along Route 60 into the city.  By comparison, signs this year were restricted to the parade route itself.

All seven of the statewide candidates participated in the parade and the speeches that followed.  Besides Ken Cuccinelli, Terry McAuliffe, Robert Sarvis, E. W. Jackson, Ralph Northam, Mark Herring, and Mark Obenshain, other elected officials who attended include: Lacey Putney, the longest serving member of the Virginia General Assembly and grand marshall of the event, Representative Bob Goodlatte, Delegate Ben Cline, and Delegate Dickie Bell.

Much like the overall tone of the governor’s race, there seemed to be more anti-Cuccinelli signs than either pro-Cuccinelli or McAuliffe signs.  In addition, at the start of the parade, a plane flew overhead flying a message critical of the attorney general.  As for the winner of this year’s sign wars, both the Obenshain and Jackson campaigns shined.  Sarvis also did well, outpacing both his Republican and Democratic opponents.  Cuccinelli finished fourth and McAuliffe in fifth.  Neither Northam nor Herring had signs of any appreciable quantity.