The Following Day

This morning, citizens across Virginia awake to a day much like any other.  The sun has risen, the temperature is fairly warm, and life proceeds steadily onward.  The politicos among us, still weary from the toils of yesterday, look to the results of Election Day and are instilled with either hope or dread depending on one’s perspective.  So what are the results?

The biggest topic is the Virginia Senate.  So far, the Republican Party has netted one seat with Bill Stanley’s narrow win over Roscoe Reynolds in the 20th district.  The 17th district is still too close to call with Republican Bryce Reeves currently enjoying a 136-vote lead over incumbent Edd Houck.  It seems very likely that a recount in that district is coming soon.

Although the GOP has made gains, it certainly isn’t the slam-dunk that many conservative and Republican activists had hoped.  Assuming Houck emerges victorious, the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.  If Reeves wins, then the chamber will be evenly split with Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling likely casting the deciding tie-breaking vote in many circumstances.

One question that has troubled me throughout the campaign is, assuming the Republicans gain control of the Senate (or have a 20-20 tie), who will lead the party in that chamber?  Will it be a fiscal, social, and constitutional conservative?  Or will it be someone in the mold of former Senator John Chichester?  Even though I’ve been told by several sources that we will not return to such days, unless the GOP chooses a leader based on conservative principles, and not merely on seniority, I remain concerned.

Before moving on to the other races, I believe it is important to recognize that conservatives could have made their gains greater, but they spread their resources too thinly.

Looking at the unofficial results, the GOP ran pretty close campaigns in the 1st, the 33rd, the 36th, the 37th, the 38th, and the 39th.  However, the party devoted efforts to wide range of other races and thus ended up short in so many places.  As Bearing Drift stated in the most recent issue of their magazine, the 36th and the 38th districts leaned Republican and yet both were lost.  If money and volunteers were used in a wiser fashion, would the GOP now have a 21 or 22-seat majority instead?  To use a sports analogy, why gamble so much and swing for a homerun when a simple base will win (or at least tie) the game?

Here at home, Republican Bryan Hutcheson will be the new Sheriff of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  Even though the city was close, Hutcheson captured an amazing 66% of the vote in the county.  Congratulations to Mr. Hutcheson and his campaign team for their decisive win.

Moving north, Craig Orndorff emerged the top vote getter in the four-way race for Soil and Water Conservation Director in Shenandoah County.  Best wishes to him in his new position.

With the House of Delegates firmly in Republican hands, not too much attention has been given to that chamber.  However, given my ties with a particular House of Delegates seat, the last area of interest is the 93rd district.  As I mentioned previously, this district became a little more Republican after redistricting.  Mike Watson of Williamsburg capitalized on shift by defeating freshman Delegate Robin Abbott of Newport News.

Over all, things haven’t changed too much here in Virginia.  I’m sure pundits from both sides of the aisle will spin the results to declare victory for their cause boldly stating that either President Obama has been repudiated or vindicated.  Personally, I don’t think this election demonstrated a huge shift, but rather serves as another testament to Virginia’s conservative-leaning principles.

As the ink begins to dry on Election Day 2011, we prepare for 2012.  Given the limited space on my car, today is the annual ritual of bumper sticker removal.  So long Delegate Wilt and Senator Obenshain.  I expect to see both your names on my vehicle for the 2013 cycle.

The ceaseless political battle continues again soon.  But, for the moment, let’s come together as Virginians united and savor a respite.  The time for reflection and introspection is at hand.

Vote Virginia!

In about eight and a half hours polls across the Commonwealth of Virginia will open.  On the ballot, we will find each member of the House of Delegates, the Virginia Senate, and a whole host of local and constitutional offices.

The most talked about aspect of this election statewide is control of the State Senate.  Currently, the Democratic Party enjoys a 22-18 majority in that chamber.  Most commentators, myself included, believe that the Republican Party will pick up several seats.  The two questions are: how many seats will the GOP gain and where will they enjoy the greatest success?

Here in the Shenandoah Valley, neither the House nor the Senate races are particularly interesting.  Most incumbents are unopposed and the one Delegate who is challenged, Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton, should win handily.  As I’ve mentioned, the race for Sheriff is the most exciting contest in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  Of course, I’m also interested to hear the outcome of the school board race in the county too.

In years past, you would often find me outside polling places, working for a candidate or the party.  This year, though, I’m trying something new.  I’ll be working for Rockingham County to help oversee one of their many polling places.  From 5 AM to 9 PM, you will find me at this post.  It’s going to be a long day, but whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or an Independent, we can all agree that ensuring proper voting and fair play is a central element of our election process.

Anyway, if you live in Virginia, I want to remind you to vote tomorrow.  Sure, this election may not be as glamorous as the 2012 Presidential race to come, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.  After all, if you want to have a voice in your state and local government, now you have your chance!  Polls are open from 6 AM to 7 PM.

Vote Virginia!

Fairly High Turnout

Well, I’ve just returned from the polls.  Activity was pretty brisk with three of the six city council candidates in attendance and the rest represented by proxy.  Not surprisingly, none of the House of Representative candidates had any staffers or volunteers, although there were a group of younger Republicans handing out sample ballots.  Earlier today, the Harrisonburg Democratic Committee and the JMU Young Democrats were passing out leaflets encouraging passage of all three Constitutional amendments stating, “all three are widely supported, and none of them has any major opposition”.  I guess they don’t read the conservative blogosphere do they?  Anyway, while voting at about noon, I overheard that turnout at this polling place was already about 16%.  16%!  Although you may think such a number is small, to have 16% when less than half of the voting day is gone and in a race where we have no statewide or presidential candidates is a pretty high number.

Update:  Below are a few scenes from the Keister polling location in Harrisonburg, VA.  Enjoy!

Council Candidate Greg Coffman with Republicans

Backwards Voting Logic

About a week ago when I went in a local mechanic to get my car inspected, I noticed that their office contained a handful of yard signs for our Republican nominee for Delegate, Tony Wilt.  As I’m always looking for an opportunity (or excuse depending on your point of view) to discuss politics, I made a comment to the woman working behind the counter about the race.  I asked her if she was planning on voting for Tony.  Her response was that she wasn’t planning on voting at all.  She stated that she only votes in “important races” like the one for President.  Although such a viewpoint is common, it still makes little sense to me for several reasons.

Sure, the President is a lot more powerful position than a Senator, Delegate, or a Mayor, but which of these leaders are more likely to know who you are and know which issues are important to you?  Think about it.  Take me for example.  In my years of political involvement, I’ve met a lot of Delegates, a handful of State Senators, a few Representatives, and even a U.S. Senator or two…but never a President.  How about with voting?  Time to roll out the numbers.  In the 2008 election, there were approximately 131,000,000 votes cast for President.  In 2009, there were 15,510 votes cast for Delegate in the 26th district.  Tell me, a vote in which election carries more value?  When is your vote more important?  When it is 1 out of 15 thousand or 1 out of 131 million?  Then again, as we don’t elect the President through the popular vote, but rather through the Electoral College, depending on whether or not you live in a battleground state, your vote likely carries even less weight.

The bottom line is the following.  Although it may seem glamorous to only cast your vote when it is time to elect the “leader of the free world” (I hate that term by the way), in all truthfulness, such a vote is a mere drop in the vast ocean of ballots.  If you really want to make your vote and your voice count, take the time to vote in smaller state and local elections.  The turnout is lower and you might actually be able to make a personal connection with the candidates.  So, fellow citizens of the 26th, I urge you to become informed in the nine days we have left and then get out to the polls on June 15.

Election Recap

Now that the dust has pretty well settled (and I’ve gotten a bit of sleep), here are my thoughts concerning Election Day.  Overall, it was a sweeping victory for Republicans as the Grand Old Party claimed all three statewide races, a feat last achieved in 1997.  Bob McDonnell will be our new Governor.  Bill Bolling will remain our Lt. Governor for another four years, and Ken Cuccinelli soon will be our Attorney General.  In addition, Republicans made further inroads in the House of Delegates picking up seats in districts 3, 21 (depending on the recount), 23, 32, 34, 51, 67, and 83.  Although I would have liked to see a few more pickups, especially in 64 and 100, Republicans as a whole did quite well.  Even the party-shunned Catherine Crabill picked up 47.98% of the vote.  Now the day was not a complete blowout in favor of the GOP.  With all the successes, Republicans did suffer two net losses: in 52 failing to retain retiring Delegate and former RPV chair Jeff Frederick’ seat and in 93 with the loss of the twenty-one year incumbent Phil Hamilton.  According to my math, that means a gain of six seats in the hundred-member chamber.

The reason for the Democrats failure was that none of the statewide Democratic candidates succeeded in motivating their base or attracting independents.  Creigh Deeds lost by 17 ponts!  Moving down the ticket, a 13-point win for Bolling and 15-percentage point win for Cuccinelli further illustrates this point.  Although I don’t believe these results are as far reaching as to be used to determine the next presidential race three years from now, they do show a growing dissatisfaction with our current President and Congress, as well as the Democrats failure to market their brand.

Elsewhere, somewhat surprisingly, Chris Christie knocked off veteran Jon Corzine for New Jersey Governor.  Then we have Bill Owens victory in New York 23, which was one ray of sunshine for the Democrats in an otherwise poor showing in both Virginia and New Jersey.  Personally, I’m very disappointed with that result, but New York politics is a fairly alien concept to us here in Virginia.

Congratulations to Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli.  May the three of you, along with the General Assembly, and our other officials govern the affairs of our state wisely.

Vote! Vote! Vote!

The big day is today.  Election Day has come at last.  Assuming my automatic timing is correct, polls are just now opening across the commonwealth.  So get out there and vote. If you don’t, and your side doesn’t win, you have no room to complain.  I’ll accept no excuses.  Although I’m many miles away from the 26th district right now, I voted absentee.  It wasn’t hard.  Our state needs strong, conservative leadership which is why we need to elect Bob McDonnell as our Governor, re-elect Bill Bolling our Lt. Governor, and Ken Cuccinelli as our Attorney General.  In addition, we must increase the number of conservatives in the House of Delegates.  So don’t wait until five minutes before seven to vote.  Make time.  Vote now.  It’s worth it.  Although separated in many cities and counties, tonight we will celebrate victory as one.

As a side note, I’m pleased to announce that The Virginia Conservative has passed the 10,000 views mark!  Thanks for joining me so far.  I’m looking forward to the road ahead.

Oh yeah…one last thing…vote!

For liberty with responsibility!

Put Your Time (or Money) Where Your Mouth Is

I’ve heard a number of people say that we have to elect Bob McDonnell as Governor and we have to retain the House of Delegates.  Of course we do, but my question to you is, what are you prepared to do about it?  Do?  Well, they answer back; I’m planning to vote for them.  Now don’t get me wrong, voting is a critical component to any candidate’s success.  But, if you really cared, shouldn’t you be doing more?

Some activists donate their money.  Funding is one of the two most important means of support of campaigns.  Want to donate to Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Senator Ken Cuccinelli, Delegate Matt Lohr, or any of the other candidates?  My advice is to head over to RedStormPAC and donate today.  But what is RedStorm?  According to their website, “RedStormPAC is an independent political action committee (PAC) whose mission is to support conservative candidates with an avenue for small dollar donations, organized by committed conservative activists who want to help fellow conservatives utilize the ‘long tail’ of online fundraising.”  In addition, “100% of every contribution is passed directly to the candidate or organization. You donate $100, the candidate will get $100 and RedStormPAC processes the transaction at-cost to itself.” Simplicity itself.  As we don’t have much time left, every dollar could make the difference.

Assuming you have already done so (or you don’t have the funds to donate), we arrive at the second campaign lifeblood, volunteering.  Personally, I’ve been volunteering since high school.  The reasons for volunteering varies:  you have a personal connection with the candidate, you want to advance your political ideology, you expect some sort of quid-pro-quo advancement, or you’re helping out a friend or relative who is engaged for one of the other three reasons.  Whatever your reason for getting involved, the most important thing is to go out there and relentlessly advance your candidate and his or her principles.

Campaigns never have sufficient money or volunteers but an increase in one can offset a lack of the other.  Additional funding can be used to hire additional staff to promote the ground game or deliver extra ads to the voters.  More volunteers offer a low cost method to perform vital campaign functions: phone banking, door-to-door, mass mailings, usually for a handful of pizzas.  So, the take-home message is to get involved whether through donations or volunteerism, or both.  Although voting is very important, if you truly care, it is not enough.  With less than 30 days until election, now is the time to open your checkbook.  Stop by the campaign headquarters of your local delegate or the RPV and put in some quality hours.  Although it is poor grammar, don’t you think you should put your time (or money) where your mouth is?

The Uninformed Voter

First, let me direct your attention to today’s Sinfest comic.

I suppose the strip would be funnier if there were not actually voters like the dumbfounded one in the comic.  Let me tell you that having been involved in politics for as long as I have, few things scare me more than the uninformed voter.  You might be voting for McCain, you might be voting for Obama, you might be voting for someone else, but I sincerely hope you have some sort of logical reason for doing so.  If you can’t offer any sort of rational thinking, then please, please, do not vote!  If you don’t know the positions of the candidates, then you shouldn’t select from among them.  As I’ve told a number of folks, back in 2000 while volunteering for the Bush campaign, I came across a voter who said he would be supporting W. in the election.  When I pressed him for a reason why he was voting for George Bush, he answered, in all honesty and with a straight face, that it was because he liked Busch beer.  Although I said nothing then, and even though he was voting for my candidate, I would have preferred it if he had not voted.  Just as bad, still other voters have told me that they want to vote for whichever candidate will win.  Do you honestly think that you get a prize if you vote for the winner?  Don’t we still have a secret ballot in this country?  Although I think you should be ashamed if you don’t know at least a little bit about political issues and candidates, there is a far greater shame in voting ignorantly.  At the rate we are going, mark my words…sooner or later an uninformed electorate will ruin our country.

Voting is not a test.

Voting is not a popularity contest.

Voting is not like picking a winner at the horse race.

Voting is a chance for the voter to express his or her opinions and principles through the selection of a like-minded candidate.

Any questions?