The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XXV)

IMG_0243This morning, I returned to the radio on 550 AM WSVA and was glad to have Andy Schmookler join me in studio once again.

The main focus of the day was the 2016 Presidential race.  We spoke about the various politicians currently vying for both the Republican and Democratic nominations.  On the Democratic side, the main candidates were Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton with a small sampling of Jim Webb.  Switching over to the Republicans, Donald Trump took center stage and there was some discussion of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and even a little Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Jim Gilmore thrown into the mix.  Although I would have liked to mention Gary Johnson and the Libertarians, we are still waiting for his official announcement.

In addition, we also discussed the problematic issue of gerrymandering in Virginia.

If you missed our twenty-fifth installment, you can find it here.

The ’93 RPV Convention

IMG_2435Earlier today, one of my friends presented me with a bag of political materials, primarily from the 1993 Virginia Republican Party Convention.  Although that convention predates my time in politics, it was fascinating to explore these items.  At the time, the George Allen campaign dubbed the ’93 RPV convention, “the largest political convention in the history of the free world”.

In case you don’t remember, that convention featured three candidates for governor: George Allen, Clint Miller, and Earle Williams, two for lieutenant governor: Mike Farris and Bobbie Kilberg, and two candidates for attorney general: G. Steven Agee and Jim Gilmore.

But what was the state of the Republican Party at the time?  Well, the RPV chairman was Patrick McSweeney.  At the federal level, the party had only four Virginia members of the House of Representatives: Herbert Bateman in the 1st, Bob Goodlatte in the 6th, Thomas Bliley in the 7th, Frank Wolf in the 10th, and one senator, John Warner.  Back then Republicans were in the minority in both the state senate and house of delegates.

The program featured three ads from Ollie North and his Virginia Action Committee, no doubt a precursor to his run for U.S. Senate the following year.

As you can see from the picture, the bag included a convention guide for delegates supportive of George Allen as well as a cowboy hat shaped fan.

Scan 38Like many political contests, this convention had its share of negativity.  This flyer, created by a group called “Reclaim the GOP Coalition” attacked the candidacy of Mike Farris.  However, this tactic proved to be unsuccessful at denying Farris the nomination.  His nomination did not condemn the entire Republican to defeat as the flyer claimed, though Farris himself was not victorious in the general election.

Besides the convention materials, the bag also contained: a copy of The Federalist Papers, a brochure from Representative Bob Goodlatte’s 1992 campaign, and a flyer from the 8th Annual Republican Advance in 1991.

All in all, an interesting time capsule from twenty years ago.

Special thanks to Amanda for these items.

Marshall 2012?

Currently, five candidates are vying for the Republican nomination for the Senate seat currently held by Jim Webb.  But could a sixth soon join the fray?

As far back as two years ago, I began wondering if Delegate Bob Marshall would seek Virginia’s Senate seat again.  After all, in 2008 he came within a handful of votes of upsetting the establishment favorite, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, at the Republican convention.  Along with Corey Stewart, rumors swirled that Marshall would run after he won re-election.

Throughout the past forty-seven or so months, the topic keeps popping up.  On multiple occasions, including The Leadership Institute’s 4th of July Soirée and the Agenda 21 presentation in Verona, I’ve spoken with several folks with very close connections to Delegate Marshall who indicated that he would enter the contest.

Now that his House of Delegates election is over, he can now focus on this race…assuming he chooses to do so.

But what are his chances of success?  Has the race solidified sufficiently to severely hinder any new entrant?  Have the coalition of activists and politicos that rallied behind him back in 2008 already selected a candidate in this race?  Well, it is true that Marshall’s former campaign manager has joined the Allen campaign, many social conservatives are supporting E.W. Jackson, and Jamie Radtke is working her tea party contacts.  Earlier, I argued that waiting until after Election Day 2011 would be too late for any candidate.  But perhaps I was mistaken.  After all, the field still seems pretty divided.

In addition, Delegate Marshall enjoys the highest name recognition of the non-Allen candidates.  For example, the marriage amendment to the Virginia Constitution bears his name as the Marshall/Newman Amendment.  If can gather together his loyal band of activists from the 2008 convention, maybe he can position himself as the best conservative alternative to Allen as he did with Gilmore three years ago.  Then again, perhaps Radtke, Donner, Jackson, or McCormick is already on his or her way to capturing that title.

So will Bob Marshall announce?  I cannot say for certain, but I expect we will have our answer very soon.

Trouble Brewing

Good evening everyone. Sorry for the unannounced week off. Anyway, I wanted to share some news with you. About every week or so, I get an email from my local GOP Committee encouraging me to pick up my Goodlatte and McCain signs. It struck me as odd that they didn’t advertise Gilmore signs as well. So, this morning I called to ask about this omission. You know what I learned? Apparently they don’t have any Gilmore signs to give away. It seems that Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, and the rest of the Shenandoah Valley only have a handful of signs. Now in a Republican voter rich area like ours where many counties are easily 60%+ Republican, one would think that you would try to get as many voters as possible interested in the election. Unfortunately, the reason for this deficiency is not merely a stupid oversight. The news only gets worse. I have heard that the campaign has faltered heavily on fundraising. If they cannot afford to send signs here, I wonder how many other localities have been shorted as well. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen a Gilmore sign since the convention.

Come on people, those who can afford it should put their money where their mouths are and votes were back in May. They said we should support Gilmore because he was more electable than Marshall. I know for certain that without funding, Jim Gilmore stands no chance of beating Mark Warner. None. The thought of a Republican getting blown out in the state of Virginia is ridiculous, but we are heading in that direction. Maybe too many conservatives have been disaffected and are sitting this one out. I tell you this, should Gilmore get buried in the election, you’ll be able to easily spot my car on the highway. It will be sporting a bumper sticker reading, “Don’t blame me. I voted for Marshall”, and maybe another reading, “See, I told you so.” Ugh. Six years of Mark Warner.

The Curious Case of the 2008 Senate Race

When examining the present Senate race here in Virginia, there are two factors that one should keep in mind:  the events leading up to and including the Republican convention, and results since that time.  For those who attended the convention or keep up with party politics, most of this information will be redundant for you, but I hope to bring others who have not followed as closely up to speed.

In the end, the fight over the Republican nomination was very heated and very close.  Initially, it was shaping up to be a showdown between Rep. Tom Davis of Fairfax vs. Former Gov. Gilmore of Henrico County.  Davis was the liberal candidate and Gilmore was the conservative.  While Davis advocated a primary, Gilmore supported a convention.  When the state party voted to hold a convention, Davis withdrew from the race.  The reasoning was simple; conventions typically favor the more conservative candidate.  With Davis gone, Gilmore officially announced his intent on Nov. 19th of 2007.  For a little more than a month, Gilmore stood as the only Republican candidate.  Then, on Jan 7th of 2008, Del. Bob Marshall of Prince William County entered the fray.  Marshall’s challenge stood as a serious problem for Gilmore as he is more conservative on a number of issues.  One issue in particular was the issue of abortion.  While Gilmore supports allowing abortion in the first eight weeks, Marshall opposes abortion from minute one.  Time and time again a number of the party activists hammered Gilmore on this issue.  The question for Gilmore was, given that a more conservative challenger had arisen, and the nominee was going to be selected by a convention, how could he win?  The answer his campaign settled on was relevancy.  As Gilmore was a former governor, he had far more name recognition that a delegate (which is, of course, very true).  Until the last several days he approached the campaign as if he was already the nominee, hardly ever mentioning his opponent, instead choosing to contrast himself with Mark Warner.  He had already won they said, all that was needed was the vote to make it official.  Although, of course, I supported Marshall, as a delegate to the convention I was insulted by the insinuation that my vote didn’t matter, that it was more of a coronation than an election.  I understand that if Gilmore got everyone to believe that his win was inevitable then no one would oppose him, but it produced the opposite effect in me.  In the last several days, the fight got quite ugly as accusations and names were thrown around.  In the end, although the vote was extremely close, Gilmore won by about sixty-five votes out of the over ten thousand cast. Borrowing someone else’s terminology, David nearly slew Goliath, but fell painfully short.

Now that Jim Gilmore is the GOP nominee, he finds himself in a similar position in which he placed Bob Marshall, fending off the supposed coronation of Mark Warner.  Prior to the convention many delegates supported Gilmore, not because of his political positions, but because they claimed he had a better chance of Mark Warner.  Now, although I could find no polling data pitting Marshall and Warner, the data of Gilmore vs. Warner was grim.  Prior to the convention, Rasmussen Reports charted the match up from Oct. 30, 2007 to May 5, 2008.  During that time frame, Gilmore was favored by 37% to 39% of likely voters, while 53% to 57% supported Warner.  If Gilmore was indeed our best hope as those delegates claimed, our hope was very small indeed.  In fact Rasmussen estimated Gilmore had a 15% chance of victory.  15%!  Who can be happy with those odds?  Even worse was the fact that 42% of those polled had a negative opinion of Gilmore.  The news gets ever worse.  In the latest poll of June 16th, Warner now leads Gilmore 60% to 33%.  We are headed in the wrong direction!  They now say that Warner has a 90% chance to win.

How did we get in this situation?  The answer has several parts.  The first is our President, George W. Bush.  Regardless if you like him or hate him, you should recognize his approval rating hovers at about 30%.  Two key issues here are the war and the economy.  Most voters now feel the war in Iraq was a mistake and that our economy is either in a recession or headed in that direction.  Fair or unfair, these opinions reflect poorly on Bush and thus reflect poorly on the party of Bush, the Republicans.  To the best of my knowledge, former Governor Gilmore has not distanced himself much from the President and thus will be viewed as a continuation of many of Bush’s policies, which means that a number of voters’ dislike is based simply on association.  Second, it is a proven fact that a party who controls the White House usually loses seats in Congress (must be that whole divided government ideal thing).  Third is the public perception of Gilmore and Warner.  Although very incorrect and unfair in my mind, many voters blame Gilmore for the financial turmoil suffered in the Commonwealth during his later days in office and the early days of Mark Warner.  One can see a similar parallel between Hoover and FDR.  People blamed the depression on Hoover and credited the recovery to Roosevelt even though facts of the matter spoke otherwise.  Fourth, as a result of his “brilliant leadership” as governor, Mark Warner enjoys the highest popularity of any Democrat in the state.  Fifth, to the best of my knowledge, after winning the GOP nomination in late May, Gilmore has made no efforts to reach out to Marshall supporters to tie the base back together.  He needs each and every vote possible to have a chance against Warner.  Sixth, although money isn’t everything, so far Mark Warner has raised far and away more money than Gilmore.  Unless Gilmore closes this gap quickly, we will see fewer ads, less signs, and an overall weaker campaign.

So, I suppose the question is, after fending off a spirited assault from the Marshall supporters, does Jim Gilmore have the ability to beat Mark Warner?  I certainly hope that he does, but every day that passes further fills me with concern.  Unless Gov. Gilmore and his campaign quickly and effectively address the numerous issues I mention above, the chance of success looks bleak.  Although the road ahead is very difficult, we can and must win.  We need to all work together.  To those who supported Gilmore at the convention, where are you now?  You said then that he had the best chance at victory.  So now you, above all others, must back up your claims and help the former Governor win!  We cannot afford another Democratic senator (and one far more liberal than Senator Webb).  Go Jim Gilmore!  Beat Mark Warner!

The Convention

I hope you all had an opportunity to attend the state Republican convention in Richmond this weekend.  Overall I think it went quite well and here are my thoughts on what happened.

First of all, I should mention that I supported Bob Marshall for U.S. Senate and Jeff Frederick for Party Chairman.  I strongly believe that these were the two candidates who best represented my conservative values.  Of course, the results were a mixed bag.  

The U.S. Senate

Bob Marshall lost by only the slimmest of margins, losing by about 60 votes out of over 1,000 cast.  For those like me, who greatly wanted to see Del. Marshall elected, it was a heartbreaking loss.  In my hometown, Harrisonburg, I was the lone vote for Del. Marshall.  One out of nine.  Needless to say, I felt a bit out of place waving my Marshall sign among the Gilmore supporters, but I’m used to being the lone voice in the crowd from time to time.  As a mixed blessing, we were seated in front of the city of Lynchburg, and while they had a number of vocal Marshall supporters, I sincerely wish they had shown about a bit more respect to the former Governor.  I felt their booing gave the rest of us a bad name.  The 6th district as a whole went for Gilmore, but only by a little over 20 votes.  It was amazing that most congressional districts supported one candidate very heavily with 2 to 1 and 3 to 2 margins being common.  In the end, we came up just a little short.  I suppose the hardest losses are the ones that could have been won.

The RPV Chairman

Del. Frederick easily won election to the post though official results were not given to the mass public.  For the Harrisonburg delegates the vote was 7 to 2 in favor of Frederick.  Not only that, but in the 6th district Jeff Fredrick won every single county and city with the exception of Roanoke City where it was tied.  I suspect the result was somewhere between 60 to 70 percent in his favor.  I do confess that I feel a little bad for former Chairman Hager, losing decisively as he did, but we needed desperately needed a change.  I felt that the RPV has ignored the western part of the state for too long and the losses in the General Assembly were avoidable.  Let us hope that both situations will be reversed soon.

It was great to meet so many Republicans across the state.  The hospitality suites were a perfect way to get in contact with the candidates, their supporters, and other related groups.  In fact, if not for the fine people at thejeffersoniad.com, I would not be writing here now.  Special thanks.

Well, that’s all for now.  Talk to you again soon.

Joshua