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One of Many

December 9, 2009 1 comment

Far away from our own commonwealth, word that an incumbent congresswoman in Kansas will be seeing a primary challenge from the right. From CQ Politics:

A Kansas state senator announced Tuesday that he is considering challenging Republican freshman Rep. Lynn Jenkins in the GOP primary in August 2010.

“When Lynn was elected, there were a lot of Republicans who were suspect of how genuine a conservative she was,” Pyle said in his announcement. “But most of us decided to take a wait-and-see approach. With her record before she was elected to Congress, and just a few votes while in Congress, it is abundantly clear that Lynn is not a conservative.”

What’s interesting about this case is that this not some lone activist mounting a challenge against an “impure” Republican. The candidate is a sitting official, so they already have a platform and an activist base. Additionally, Jenkins has not exactly been a breakaway figure in the House–she stuck with her fellow Republicans on the stimulus and health care. Her biggest sin is the same one former Congressman Jim Ryun brought up when he faced off against Jenkins for the nomination in 2008: Jenkins is pro-choice to the point where she publicly allies herself with fellow pro-choice Republicans.

As it should be pointed out whenever we talk about primaries, all politics is local. Kansas has a long and storied history of fighting within its GOP between moderates and conservatives. Indeed, the state’s current Governor is a Democrat who bolted the GOP to run with now HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Still, this is not the first challenge to a sitting GOPer, nor will it be the last. The brand is in such bad shape that there’s a brewing conservative movement to boot as many moderates and “soft” conservatives as possible in favor of starting over again with principled candidates. Indeed, this has reached our backyard in the visage of a challenge against Frank Wolf (though I suspect this gu will do no better than the last one, who barely cracked 10%). There’s even been word of a challenge to Congressman Goodlatte, who voted against the intitial TARP package last fall. If that’s not a true conservative, than I don’t know what is–though again, Goodlatte’s is a case of local interests meshing with national movements.You can bet your bottom dollar, though, that I’ll do everything in my power to keep Goodlatte in the House.

My guess: pretty much any Republican with less than a 80% lifetime score from the American Conservative Union will see a challenge, though the strength of the candidates will vary widely.

A Few Tweaks

December 6, 2009 1 comment

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve decided to switch my format. I’m still scoping out moving things over to wordpress.org, but for right now I think this theme does a better job of organizing things. It gives me a bit more room on the column to bring back an old feature–a listing of area political events. If you have something you’d like me to promote, send it to me at craig.orndorff@gmail.com. Please include the date, time, location and sponsoring organization. It also allows me to feature my twitter feed, which thanks to my new phone with QWERTY keypad I’m utilizing more and more these days.

Also, this design allows me to feature my tagline, which was inspired by a high school classmate’s joke about me blogging my way up from a cardboard box in DC. It tickles me to no end–and after all, isn’t the fundamental principle of blog design vanity?

Thoughts on the RPV Luncheon

December 5, 2009 1 comment

The snowfall in the Valley today cut my day at Belle Grove short–not short enough for me to catch the RPV Luncheon live, but enough for me to review the tape. Special kudos to the RPV New Media Committee for making this possible. New media has penetrated every aspect of the Advance moreso than any year (although I’ll note that many of the Commonwealth’s finest twitterers and bloggers have been a bit quiet today–though some of them may be fleeing back home to beat the snow). Here’s the feed for your purusal–I’ll note that a good chunk of the video is a a review of some of Tim Murtaugh’s greatest hits and other gootage from the campaign, so you may want to fast forward to catch the speeches from each of our statewide victors.

My thoughts below the fold

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Verga Shakes Up 5th District Race

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

As former resident of Charlottesville and a Republican who was caught off guard by the loss of Virgil Goode last year, I’ve been watching the race for the Republican nomination in Virginia’s 5th District very closely. Given the make-up of the district and the various factions of the party dwelling within, I’ve viewed it as a bellweather for primary fights to come (plus its pretty easy to watch from the neighboring Sixth).

Although all the candidates bring their own values and personalities to the table, I’ve been impressed time and time again with candidate Laurence Verga. When I first heard of him my first response was “Who is this guy? That’s not a Virginia name!” Yet both in listening to him speak and reading his campaign announcements via my inbox, I’ve come to see Mr. Verga as the kind of candidate we need to embrace in the coming cycle–a principled outsider with real world experience. Mr. Verga is not a long time party activist, nor is he a current officeholder. What he represents is a heavy thinker on the issues facing America and someone whose extensive success in the business world can lead to real principled, conservative leadership in Washington. That’s why I was glad to see Mr. Verga come out today and denounce the NRCC’s premature involvement in the 5th.

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More Advance News

December 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Another addition to the hospitality suites at the Advance. Americans for Prosperity will be in Suite J with former Senator George Allen. The suite is hosted by Delegates Brenda Pogge and Ben Cline.

Americans For Prosperity has been a unique force in Virginia politics over the past few years. One of their biggest initiatives was to get recorded subcommittee votes. They’ve also been pushing hard for a comprehensive energy policy for the state as well as a generally business friendly climate. Phil Cox, campaign manager for Bob McDonnell, is a former employee, and Tim Phillips continues to have alot of street cred. Allen was honored earlier this year at a dinner by the group, and in his speech he touched on a number of issues that became core points behind McDonnell’s platform.

This, combined with the fact that Allen’s wife is speaking at the Saturday luncheon, indicates that the Allen’s aren’t finished yet. I find it hard to believe that George Allen would ever be satisfied with the title of party elder. Might he smell blood in the water for a 2012 rematch against Jim Webb? And Cline–with Saxman out of the way (for now) Cline is increasing his already sizable presence in the 6th District as a pragmatic conservative. Observers will recall that he was Goodlatte’s Chief of Staff in the 90′s. With several terms in the House, a law degree and wife to his name, might Ben Cline be looking to the stars? If there’s a group with a ready made base to mobilize in a place like the 6th once Bob Goodlatte retires, its AFP.

Thank You for Not Thinking

December 2, 2009 6 comments

Here’s some snark from the gang at the Weekly Standard for this, the second day in which Virginia is a slightly less free place to do business:

Last February, the assembly passed a smoking ban, thereby depriving business owners of the right to make decisions about how to run the businesses they own, and depriving patrons of a choice between smoking and non-smoking establishments.

Good thing, too, because the market place, responding to customer predilections as it’s wont to do, had just about licked the “problem” the legislature sought to solve:

By February, when the legislature finally passed the ban after years of lobbying by anti-smoking advocates, about 66 percent of restaurants had already gone smoke-free in response to customer demand. A week ago, that proportion was about 75 percent.

So, the smoke had already been nearly eliminated—the ostensible reason for the law— but the legislature saved us from the potentially horrifying consequences of leaving in place the freedom to run an establishment with a smoking section. To be fair, I have heard that second-hand freedom can be very dangerous for state legislatures.

The article goes on to recount Arizona’s current fight against live fish pedicures. No, that was not a non-sequiter. Some enterprising soul came up with this in response to–get this–increased regulations on the use of razors in nail salons.

Only in America could someone come up with such an idea and the government see fit to get involved.

Palins Continued Ups and Downs

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

In one respect, Sarah is riding very high. Her book has broken the million mark and the print run has been increased all the way to 2.8 million according to the Washington Post. It’s also garnering glowing reviews from conservatives nationally and locally (SWACGirl and James Atticus Bowden both enjoyed it). The media continues to pooh pooh the book, but hey, what do you expect from a gaggle that so thoroughly railroaded her last year? The biggest mark of success–her book is #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. This is rather unusual for a politician–she joins the Clintons and Colin Powell in that territory.

However, that can’t stop the criticism. The Hill ran a hit piece on her internet strategy. It critiqued her for an over-reliance on Facebook:

“She is a political celebrity,” said Florida-based Republican new-media consultant Jordan Raynor. “She has built a significant new media space in the last year.”

……

“What I don’t like about as far as an online strategy is that she puts most of her eggs in the Facebook basket. She should be extending her online cachet into other strategy,” he said.

Not using email well enough:

“Even with this web 2.0 and social networking, we still see that one of the most powerful tools is a really good e-mail list,” said a former campaign co-manager for former Sen. Fred Thompson’s (R-Tenn.) 2008 presidential bid who declined to be named.

……..

“Building up a good e-mail list would be a good tool to influence 2010,” the former co-director said of next year’s midterm elections.

And for starting a new Twitter account rather than keep her old one:

Others, such as Alabama-based GOP new-media consultant Jeff Vreeland, lamented Palin’s decision to create a new Twitter account instead of changing the name of her gubernatorial account to keep her follower base of over 150,000, though it’s not clear that she was allowed to keep her old one.

……..

Palin’s new Twitter account has almost 30,000 followers.

I agree with comments in the article that right now, Sarah’s focus is on moving a TON of books….first get the message out there and try to salvage her image, then move on to the dialogue. It’s a smart strategy. The big question is will she have an audience to speak to once the glamour and glitter of the book tour is gone? I think her Facebook-oriented strategy is actually fairly sound, but again, she needs to move more towards that two way street, always cognizant that on a platform like facebook there will ocassionally be cars headed straight towards her. I remain on the fence about her other efforts, though I will say this: I just joined her email list for SarahPAC the other day and have yet to receive a welcome message, or any others at that rate. I got emails at least once a week during the Virginia election cycle from HuckPAC, and even the Romney camp puts out something once a month.

The real test of her star power is yet to come: the primary season and the ensuing general elections in 2010. Like I said, if she’s collecting emails at every stop good on her. If she’s not (and she may not be allowed to be too political by her publisher), then she needs to figure out a way to energize and speak to all the Palin fans out there who will hang on to her every word.

California Here We Come

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Richard Reeves is not someone I would agree with a great deal, but I’m afraid he was spot on in his column last week where he lamented the downward spiral of his home state:

You may have noticed that the governor and legislators of the Golden State finally produced a “balanced” budget with a deficit in double-digit billions. But, hey, who’s counting?

He lays blame at the feet of California’s often insane patchwork of direct democracy. Both conservatives and liberals have abused this system to the point where voters will simulatenously support huge new spending iniatives and giant tax cuts:

Sure, the state’s chief justice, Ronald George, traveled to Cambridge, Mass., to tell the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that the state is “dysfunctional.” His reasoning:

“California’s lawmakers, and the state itself, have been placed in a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement — imposed at the ballot box — for raising taxes. … Much of this constitutional and statutory structure has been brought about not by legislative fact-finding and deliberation, but rather by the approval of voter initiative measures, often funded by special interests.”

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Continuing Advance Coverage

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

CPAC currently leads in the polls, and since I may otherwise be engaged this weekend, the Advance is looking out for me. However, that doesn’t mean an end to our continuing team coverage of RPV’s Advance this weekend. I’m working on plans for a correspondent during the event. Bella has volunteered, but unfortunately there’s no way for me to humanely get her there, and I have yet to discover a way to discreetly mike her, despite the large frame of your average Norwegian Forest cat. Not that I think that a cat would be out of place. This is the confab where there will be much discussion of the Grand Old Party’s new outreach to a wider swath of voters, and I can only assume that includes Feline Americans, given the “Cat Lovers for McDonnell” button I spotted on the trail (and still seek for my collection, FYI).

Ok, enough of my insane ramblings. On to my very real thoughts about the coming weekend. First, some background on the event. It was started by former Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Donald S. Huffman, who served from 1983 to 1992. The event is an annual gathering of Republican activists to both discuss the past election’s results (there’s one every year in Virginia) as well as to prepare for the coming year. One would think this of this as a retreat, right? Well, Huffman and the original organizers were of the mind that the GOP should never retreat but always “advance.”

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The ties of the Working Families Party

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Every once in a while a little quirk of a state’s politics makes national news. A recent example is New York’ 23rd, where two of the three major third parties made news–the Conservatives for embracing Doug Hoffman over the Republican nominee, and the Working Families Party for having had allowed Dede Scozzafava to run on its line in the past. New York law allows candidates to run on multiple party lines and to have those votes added to their total. Generally speaking the Liberal Party endorses the Democratic candidate and the Conservatives the Republican, but this is not always the case. A key case of this was the 1980 Senate race, when Republican nominee Alfonse D’Amato won over Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman and Republican turned Liberal nominee Jacob Javits. It happened the other way in 1968 when liberal Republican/Liberal Party cincumbent Charles Goodell split the liberal vote with the Democrat, leading to the election of Conservative Jim Buckley.

At any rate, the Atlantic (courtesy of City Hall) shows how the Working Families Party actually has four different avenues to wield influence. The graph is below, but the post is more detailed.

There may be something to be learned here for state parties, even those affiliated with “the big two.”

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