Reflections from the Convention

You may wonder why it has taken me so much time to write about the recent convention.  Originally I planned on writing a detailed log of everything that happened over the weekend; however, after several pages, I deemed the post too lengthy.  Therefore, here are just a handful of reflections based upon the event.

First, they needed more signs during registration in the Coliseum.  I wandered the halls for a good half hour looking for the registration table.  It was very frustrating.

The suites, like last year proved to be the excitement on Friday night.  Thanks to the RPV for sponsoring The Jeffersoniad suite.  It’s very gratifying to have a party and a chairman who values blogs such as my own.  We got quite a lot of visitors.  Perhaps you picked up one of my newly printed business cards there.  I’m hoping to incorporate that new logo into my website soon.  Of course the candidates had their suites too.  I visited them all with the exception of Foster’s.  Unfortunately, I didn’t discover the location of the Foster suite until after it had closed.  The McDonnell/Bolling suite was absolutely huge, with rows of food tables, large crowds, and a band.  Although the Cuccinelli suite promised cannoli, it was all gone in less than an hour.  I suppose that fact alone highlighted the popularity of Senator Cuccinelli (and free food too).

Let’s move on to the topic of the hotel.  Although things went smoothly at the Richmond Marriott last year, this time was quite a different story.  Now I admit it, I’m a very light sleeper.  So, when I discovered that my room was directly over the Jacuzzi, I was less than thrilled.  How can you sleep when your bed vibrates and you hear a very noticeable and constant vrum vrum vrum?  As the hotel was full, I couldn’t switch rooms.  With little option, I sat slouched in a chair in the lobby watching Glenn Beck.  But salvation did come.  I owe much thanks to both Jason and Sean Kenney, who offered me a spot in their hotel room.  The next morning, the valet couldn’t find my car keys, so it took considerable time to get my luggage into my vehicle.  I hated to miss breakfast as a result of this added delay, but had no other choice.  To say that I was merely disappointed with my stay at the Marriott is a gross understatement.

The Saturday convention was quite a spectacle.  Although not packed to the brim, there were still thousands upon thousands of Republican activists from throughout the state.  The whole event was a bit like a huge family reunion as you got to see and speak with folks who you haven’t seen in a long while.  The RPV had reserved a row for bloggers near the stage.  Be it for better or worse, I decided to spend most of my time with my fellow Harrisonburg delegates.  It may have been a mistake in that I would have had a better view of the stage and could have generated more publicity for this blog.  On the other hand, if I did, I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet Mr. Wilson, a fellow Harrisonburger.  I did enjoy my conversations with him.

I thought that the list of speakers was far too great.  Obviously I was expecting the candidates to speak along with Sean Hannity, and many of the other speakers were good, but time seemed to drag by.  Speaking of Sean Hannity, I must say that I don’t really care for him.  First and foremost, time and time again during the 2008 campaign he offered callous disrespect for Ron Paul.  From my experiences listening to him on the TV and radio, he wraps himself in a blanket of egotism, lambasting any person who holds a differing viewpoint, even those on the right, as small-minded, unpatriotic, and downright stupid.  Far too often he lashes out at his critics, not as one would logically expect, with refutations and rebuttals, but with bursts of vitriolic hatred and insults.  While his friends and yes-men are unquestioned “great Americans”, his critics, “hate America” and are “ignorant”.  He began his dialogue talking about Alan Colmes, his former partner.  He joked that Colmes quit the show after Hannity gave him a birthday present of a hunting trip with Dick Cheney I found his supposed humor tasteless.  Although I often disagree with Colmes, the notion of having Cheney maiming or killing Colmes is downright disgusting.  I know what some of you will say…Joshua, lighten up!  It was just a harmless joke.  But even in jest, what kind of conservative or Christian ethic does such a joke promote?  Should we wish for the death of all liberals?  I didn’t hear the rest of Hannity’s speech as I left the auditorium until he had finished.

Then came the slate of candidates.  There are two in particular that need mentioning.  First, I thought Senator Cuccinelli’s presentation was quite entertaining and theatrical.  At the start, he had placed a number of supporters throughout the crowd who waved the Gadsden flag.  I remarked to a fellow delegate that unfurling such a flag might get one labeled as a terrorist in the state of Missouri, as you might “gasp” support the crazy notion of a limited Constitutional government.  Then the auditorium faded to black as sound clips played.  I also want to make mention of Chairman Mullins’ speech.  He made a very refreshing commitment to conservative principles.  In addition, it was quite gratifying to both hear and experience his appreciation of bloggers such as myself.  After the rest of the speeches came the two hour voting session.  Although the vote totals were not released to the public at the time, we were told the results:  Bolling for Lt. Governor, Cuccinelli for Attorney General, and Pat Mullins for RPV Chairman.  Congrats to all three.

So that, in a nutshell, was the RPV Convention.  As my friend Cliff ran his survey again this year, hopefully I can share with you some interesting statistics about the delegates soon.  Oh and below are some pictures for you.  Hope to see you at the next convention!

Cuccinelli Suite
Cuccinelli Suite
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Prosperity
McDonnell Bolling Cantor Suite 1
McDonnell Bolling Cantor Suite 1

At the Convention

Greetings everyone.

I, like many of you, will be heading to the convention this afternoon/evening.  I’m pleased to say that the Jeffersoniad will once again have a hospitality suite (generously sponsored by The RPV New Media Committee) in the Richmond Marriott.  So feel free to stop by tonight and meet some of your favorite (or least favorite for the liberals in the crowd) bloggers.  Should be a great time!

Until then!

That Curious Robocall

By now, many of you have heard about the anti-Brownlee robocall sent out yesterday.  To recap, many of the delegates to the RPV convention received a pre-recorded phone call from a childlike voice lamenting “John L. Brownlee put grandpa in jail!”  The brief call goes on to repeatedly urge the listener to visit the website www.johnlbrownlee.com.  You can find the call itself over at Bearing Drift.

Now last minute attack ads are nothing new.  I recall hearing several, right before last year’s convention, and certainly the recent contest between McCain and Obama had numerous.  The real question with this robocall is, who paid for it?  In accordance with state law, all political ads must include a disclaimer mentioning who sponsored the ad.  However, this call did not have such a tagline.  So then, who made it?  Let’s throw open the door to wild speculation.

Across the Virginia blogging community, most everyone seems to have some opinion as to who sent out this call.  First of all, who would have had a list of the delegates phone numbers?  Supposedly only the RPV and each of the eight campaigns would have such access.  So who did it?  First of all, what about Senator Cuccinelli’s campaign?  From the polls I’ve seen, it appears that John Brownlee is Cuccinelli’s strongest competition and therefore lessening the threat of Brownlee would be seen as a priority.  On the other hand, polls also tend to show that Cuccinelli is leading, so would the campaign gamble on a rather poorly created phone message?  What about the Brownlee campaign?  Could they have created the message in order to disgust delegates about the anti-Brownlee material floating out there?  Then again, a good bit of what is posted at johnlbrownlee.com has not had much press time, so I doubt they would want to draw attention to that material.  What about the Foster campaign?  They could make such a call in the hopes of pinning it on Cuccinelli so that both Brownlee and Cuccinelli destroy each other.  However, I haven’t really seen much either positive or negative coming from the Foster folks, so why would they spend the effort on a call like this one?  How about Brian Gentry, the creator of johnlbrownlee.com, which the call repeatedly references?  Certainly this call has generated considerable traffic to his site and his message.  But if he did so, why would he not claim ownership of the call?  After all, he isn’t shy, clearly listing his name on his website.  Perhaps it is some other unknown pro or anti Brownlee group in conjunction with a campaign?

In the end, unless some person or group comes forward, I doubt that we will ever know who sent out the call.  The real question is, will this call have any impact on the voting this weekend?  Only time will tell.

Mullins? Or Stanley?

Across the Internet, there have been many posts and emails concerning the Republican nomination for Attorney General.  Even the race for Lieutenant Governor has received a fair amount of discussion.  However, the contest for the Chairmanship of the Republican Party of Virginia seems to be less of an issue by comparison.  Nevertheless, this race has the possibility of being just as important as the rest (assuming that we can find a chairman who holds that post for more than a single year).  With fresh memories of the showdown between Jeff Frederick and the State Central Committee, and the removal of John Hager by convention delegates last year, I’m sure that we all are hoping to find a candidate who can lead the party for an entire term.

After Frederick’s dismissal, the SCC chose Pat Mullins to lead the Party until the convention.  Then Mr. Mullins decided to attempt to retain the chairmanship by running at the RPV Convention.  Although names swirled about as to who might challenge him, including former Chairman Frederick, no candidates emerged.  It appeared as if Chairman Mullins would easily hold the chairmanship.  Then, in early May, Bill Stanley announced that he, too, would be seeking that position.  And so, the contest is on!

From what I’ve read thus far, it appears that both candidates seem to be good choices.
Each promotes the mantra of limited government conservatism.  Each is or has been successful as the chairman of one or more committees:  Pat Mullins served as chairman of the Fairfax and Louisa County Parties.  Bill Stanley is the current chair of the Franklin County Party.

Will Pat Mullins win?
On the surface, it would appear that Pat Mullins would be the likely victor.  Most important is the fact he is the present chairman.  The SCC appointed him and therefore his leadership style and abilities presumably would not conflict with the SCC as compared to our previous chairman.  He has more endorsements than Bill Stanley and that list includes:  Morton Blackwell, Mike Farris, Thelma Drake, Mark Obenshain, and Jim Gilmore to name just a few.

Will Bill Stanley win?
Although Pat Mullins currently holds the chairmanship, the average political life span of a chairman these days is only about a year.  For proof one only need look at the last four:  Obenshain Griffin 2004-2006 Gillespie 2006-2007 Hager 2007-2008 Frederick 2008-2009.  In addition, some of the grassroots, especially the Frederick supporters, may resent the actions of the SCC and view Mullins as a mere agent of the committee.  After all, the “We Support Chairman Jeff Frederick” Facebook group has 299 members at present.  Also, in a poll at Bearing Drift, Bill Stanley currently leads Pat Mullins 250 to 216.

So I cannot honestly say who will win this contest on Saturday.  My advice to you is very simple.  Read as much as you can about both candidates on their websites (found here and here) and also the wisdom of those who know more about the men and the specific nature of the job of RPV Chairman.  Whoever wins, I certainly hope that we can unite around him and our supposedly commonly held conservative principles, and put aside our infighting.  So who is it going to be?  Mullins?  Or Stanley?

Virginia Conservative Endorses Cuccinelli

As we are now less than two weeks from the Republican State Convention, I thought I should weigh in on the important Attorney General’s race.  For the attentive folks, you may have noticed that I’ve recently added two graphics links to my page.  One serves to remind you about the RPV Convention.  The other is a link to the Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General campaign.  When it comes to selecting our next Attorney General, there are a myriad of reasons that can compel you to support a certain candidate and I would like to share with you my three most important reasons for choosing Senator Cuccinelli.

The first point is the issues.  State Senator Ken Cuccinelli has proven time and time again, not just with rhetoric, but with deed and legislation that he embraces the same limited government conservatism critical to the preservation of the liberty and prosperity of Virginia’s citizens. When it comes to abortion, Senator Cuccinelli has been a tireless advocate for the rights and lives of the unborn.  He has worked to deny funding to pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, he has pushed legislation to end the horrid infanticide known as partial birth abortion, and he supports parental notification.  On immigration, the Senator has fought for the rights of citizens in denying immigrants who have entered the country illegally the same unearned benefits, such as in-state tuition for college students, driver’s licenses, and our jobs.  Senator Cuccinelli has fought against unconstitutional meddling by the federal government by standing firmly against the “Real ID” program.

The second point is endorsements.  Many politicians and political leaders I know and respect have also endorsed Senator Cuccinelli.  They include my own State Senator, Mark Obenshain, and Delegate, Matt Lohr.  In a discussion with Delegate Bob Marshall, he mentioned that the way I could best serve the conservative movement in Virginia was to work to ensure the nomination and election of Senator Cuccinelli, strong praise indeed I think you would agree.  Before becoming party chairman, Pat Mullins endorsed him.  So too have Morton Blackwell (president and creator of the Leadership Institute) and a number of other members of The Jeffersoniad.

Update: Sorry I missed the endorsement of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia, another very important group.

The third point is Senator Cuccinelli’s courage and commitment to his principles.  When the General Assembly began to debate the merits of the Real ID, who led the rally against the measure?  Senator Cuccinelli.  What about standing for the rights of the family, property rights, abortion, and the whole host of pressing issues of the day?  Again, Senator Cuccinelli.  He doesn’t just vote correctly, he also actively speaks out, encouraging other politicians and activists to rally behind his strong example.  One event that still comes to the forefront of my mind was the nomination for Senator at last year’s convention.  Former Governor Gilmore had a nearly endless parade of supporters trot across the stage singing his praises.  Yet who stood for Delegate Bob Marshall?  Ken Cuccinelli and Ken Cuccinelli alone.  Although many in the convention hall supported Bob, only Senator Cuccinelli had the guts to speak in favor of Delegate Marshall.  Even if you favored Jim Gilmore, I still think that you have to admit what sort of courage and fortitude Senator Cuccinelli displayed that day.  I strongly believe that he will consistently display such resolve when serving as our next Attorney General.

Therefore, I am both pleased and honored to endorse Senator Ken Cuccinelli as Virginia’s next Attorney General.  I have no doubt that he is the most committed limited government conservative in this race and he will serve this state and her citizens exceedingly well.

An Update In The RPV Chairman Struggle

I’d bet good money that you’ve heard the results of the RPV Chairman struggle.  If not, on Saturday the State Central Committee voted to remove Jeff Frederick as Chairman.  It was a close vote (well close in the fact that they voted 57-18, precisely the 3/4th vote that they needed).

Rather than dwell on the particulars of that event, (by the way, Deo Vindice has an interesting write-up of the event) I want to focus on the future.  As I stated earlier, I am deeply concerned that this chairman fight will rage on as many Frederick supporters think he was railroaded out of power.  Although I was concerned about the outcome, the potential fracture in party and conservative unity was a far more important issue.  Well, it looks as if my fears may indeed come to pass.  About fifteen minutes ago, I received an email from the former chairman recounting the recent events.  Here is the email in full:

Dear Fellow Virginia Republican:

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, fifty-seven members of the State Central Committee voted on Saturday to remove me as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. Their decision effectively overturned the result of the thousands of Republican grassroots activists and volunteers who elected me at the 2008 Virginia Republican Convention.

The difference in the outcome hinged on a favorable proxy vote for me, who was disqualified by the Committee. Had this gentleman – an active Republican who drove all the way from Bath County to attend this meeting – been allowed to cast his vote, I would be Chairman today.

As I told the press corps after the vote, I’m certainly disappointed, yet I remain optimistic.

I ran for Chairman with the hope of changing our Party so we could once again be the majority party in Virginia, achieving real progress for our Commonwealth and our families while remaining true to our principles and values.

Unfortunately, the headwinds against changing course were just too great. Too many are still invested in doing things the old way, giving direction from the top-down instead of building and growing from the bottom-up. When I sought the chairmanship, I promised to put our Party firmly back in your hands – the grassroots of our Party. Of course, that didn’t sit well with long-time Party insiders. Instead of concerning themselves with electing Republicans, they – from the moment my victory was declared last May – focused their efforts on replacing me with someone who would “play ball” with them.

I am disappointed for our Party and our grassroots, since the very same people who have presided over our Party’s decline in Virginia are now back in charge.

Yet, I will not be deterred. I have always said that I am not in this business for me. Philosophically, I fight these fights to further the principles you and I share. Practically, I engage to do all I can to ensure that my daughters have a chance to grow up in the wonderful Virginia in which I had the privilege of growing up.

Amy and I have some decisions to make. Over the next several days, we will be talking amongst ourselves and with close friends, and praying about our next steps. We will fill you in as soon as we make those decisions.

Until then, I want to give my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to those of you who stood by me through these challenging and trying times. It is times like these when you truly learn who your friends are, and I’m humbled by the outpouring of support we have received from every corner of Virginia. You are true friends, and I will never forget all that you sacrificed on behalf of our Party and our principles.

Notwithstanding whatever course we take from here, know that our friendships will endure, and please don’t ever hesitate to let me know how I can repay even just a small measure of the abundant support you all have shown Amy and me.

Our movement to revitalize Republican conservatism in Virginia is far from over. We will be in touch soon.

God Bless,

Jeff Frederick

What I gather from this email is that we haven’t seen the last of Jeff Frederick.  Now I don’t have a problem with this fact as if I were Frederick, I would look to repair my good name too, plus we need more conservative voices out there.  What does concern me, however, is the particular manner in which he chooses to proceed.  As you will note in his email, he mentions that he would still be Chairman assuming a Republican from Bath County was not disqualified from voting.  Will he run for Chairman again?  And will this fight spill over into the May RPV Convention?  According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the answer is yes.

All is calm now…but isn’t that always the case before a tempest?

Update: I want to draw your attention to a post by a fomer Mercer student on the Frederick battle over at RedState.  It is a story I’ve heard before, but it does offer an alternative perspective.