Monthly Archives: June 2005

Golden is no Golden Boy

The regressives are desperately spinning victory out of defeat at yesterday’s polls.

[Americans for Tax Reform] think the Republican nomination of appellate lawyer Michael J. Golden to replace Mr. Dillard is another victory.

Mr. Golden campaigned on reducing the property-tax burden for residents and said he opposed last year’s state tax increases. He will face Democrat David Marsden in November.

Here’s how Golden fared in 2003 against Marsden’s mentor Jim Dillard:

J H Dillard II—8,889–63.55%
M J Golden—–3,768–26.94%
J M Wolfe——1,294–9.25%

He’s got a long way to go.

For the Record

Post reporters: Do the Math.

Potts’s top campaign strategist said the senator will start with Fitch’s 17 percent of the vote and will build on that with Democrats, independents and moderate Republicans to get to the 34 percent he needs in a three-way race to win.

If Potts gets 34% he will probably win, but if elementary math serves me, he can lose with 34% of the vote, if say, Kaine gets 35% and Kilgore 31%.

Strong Women Leaders

Kaine said he believes Byrne will be a benefit to the Democratic ticket.
“She’s a woman of proven success,” he said, referring to her 10-year record in the General Assembly and stint in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995. “Democrats, and I think most Virginians, don’t have anything to fear from strong women leaders.”

Mr. Kaine, repeat that phrase, “strong women leaders,” over and over again, at every venue, at every opportunity. It’ll win you more votes than you can imagine. Women love the sound of it, and as someone who is married to one, I think a lot of men will, too, Dominionists excepted.

Kilgore the Coward

It appears Jerry Kilgore is scared to death of Russ Potts. He won’t participate in a debate that includes independent candidate Russ Potts.

Asked by a reporter at a pep rally/news conference for the GOP ticket whether that meant he would not participate in debates that included Potts, Kilgore replied, “That’s a no.”

Kilgore and Kaine meet before the Virginia Bar Association on July 16 in a debate that the lawyers organization said will not be opened to Potts because it was arranged before he entered the campaign in February.

That’s a pretty lame excuse for the Virginia Bar. If Potts should garner 50% of the vote in a poll, not including him in the debate would be ludicrous. The 15% threshold seems reasonable — to everyone but Kilgore, according to Larry Sabato.

He said Kilgore is blocking participation by Potts, even ruling out a recommendation lifted from the presidential debate commission: that a debate should be opened to independent or third-party candidates who reach 15 percent or more in at least two non-partisan polls.

Sabato said Kilgore’s resistance to Potts is an indication Kilgore fears the senator will snatch votes that ordinarily fall to a Republican.

“It says the Kilgore campaign has analyzed that in the end Russ Potts will hurt [Kilgore] more than Tim Kaine,” Sabato said.

Kaine is fine with Potts’ participation.

Run, Jerry, but you cannot hide.

Classic Liberal

It’s as if Post reporters made a conscious decision to confront my post yesterday.

If I were [Leslie Byrne], I’d be battling the media from day one whenever they write off the race as a classic fight between liberals and conservatives.

Mike Shear and Chris Jenkins in today’s story:

Voters also nominated Leslie L. Byrne, a former state senator and member of Congress, as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, rounding out the three-person ticket with a classic liberal politician.

So what is a classic liberal? If you think you have a definition that is substantive, please also give me your definition of a “classic conservative.”

They also write:

Republicans chose Sen. Bill Bolling (R-Hanover) for lieutenant governor and Del. Robert F. McDonnell (R-Virginia Beach) for attorney general. Both men defeated candidates who campaigned with the backing of centrist Republicans and moderate business executives.

So who are the classic conservatives? Bolling and McDonnell or Baril and Connaughton?

If I were Byrne’s media advisor, I would be on the phone this morning to Shear and Jenkins. The drumbeat of lazy labels will serve neither voters nor Post readers well. Already, the GOP is using the well-worn canard of accusing the Kaine/Byrne/Deeds ticket of being “liberals,” as if that’s all you need to know about them to intelligently cast your vote. That’s certainly the right of any politician, but journalists ought not abet the tactic by regurgitating it.

I’ve sent this post to Jenkins and Shear and Post Ombudsman Mike Getler, and I invite others to, also. They’ll listen if they hear it enough.

A Ticket?

I commented on another blog that talk of how Byrne helps or hurts Kaine ignores the fact that voters can vote for one and not the other. Larry Sabato agrees:

“The running mates don’t matter that much. People vote for governor. Both parties have failed in the past when they try to link the whole ticket together. It just doesn’t work,” Sabato said. “I think both Kaine and Kilgore are both relatively relaxed. They know it doesn’t matter very much They sink or swim on their own with the exception of coattail.”

Turnout is even more important in NoVa. That’s where Byrne can help herself and Kaine.

Just Wondering…

…if Joe May, now secure in his reelection, will retaliate to Dick Black’s active support for May’s primary opponent.

More Thoughts On the Primaries

Some Democrats are wringing their hands over Leslie Byrnes nomination for Lt. Governor. And as I suggested last night, even though they admit less than stellar results, some conservatives think that by raising the tax issue, they won a victory. (Read the comments.) That’s like saying that because you can field a team that gets trounced, you are somehow a winner.

Regarding Byrne, she has a lot to overcome. The impression many have is that she is somehow arrogant. She’s never struck me that way. But then except for a couple of conversations, I don’t have any greater knowledge of her demeanor than the average voter. The deciding factors will be how she handles herself in public, what strategy she employs and how the media characterizes her. If I were her, I’d be battling the media from day one whenever they write off the race and a classic fight between liberals and conservatives. She’s got to get reporters to focus on issues.

In fact, she has an opportunity to test some new positioning. I’ve heard she’s done it in some speeches, talking about Democratic values in a different way. At the very least, she’s not afraid of talking about values. Unlike Kaine, however, she seem true to Democratic principles. I’d like her to really focus on GOP women. As the only woman on the statewide tickets, she can appeal to GOP women who worry about abortion being outlawed and are turned off by the GOP’s rhetoric of intolerance. She might get traction focusing on higher ed and its accessibility. Higher income families worry that their kids can’t get into the best schools and lower income families worry that their kids can’t afford it. I don’t know if she can be a nurturing mama but it’s worth a shot. Turnout in NOVA will be the critical factor.

I worry that Kaine’s candidacy will suppress turnout. Nobody I talk to seems excited about him.

If indeed taxes are not the issue with an overriding majority of voters, what then drives them in November? For the conservative middle, if it isn’t gays or abortion, then what? That’s the critical question Kaine has to ask himself. Transportation and land use certainly are important to the metro areas, but what about the rural ones? Again, it may be education. Clearly a college degree is more important than ever. Can the Dems craft some compelling policies that provide opportunities for all? And can they acknowledge and address the values of those who find our coarsening culture offensive, without sounding condescending, opportunistic or censorial? That to me is an intriguing challenge. One can’t help reading stories like this, without thinking that TV, CDs, movies and a generally permissive society are breeding a generation of moral degenerates. But because liberals oppose censorship shouldn’t mean we can’t call upon purveyors of such trash for responsibility. Even if government can’t provide the solution, that doesn’t mean politicians shouldn’t join the chorus.

Responsible spending can still be an attractive issue, but Dems haven’t figured out how to talk about it, much less provide solutions, without sounding anti-tax. Maybe a “five-point plan” to control spending would be helpful.

But the bottom line message of yesterday’s election is that people are turned off to the current political dialogue. Turnout was less than the pessimistic predictions. And it’s responsible articulation that might engage them. That’s where Potts comes in. Even though he hasn’t offered any specifics, his “pox on both their houses” message might resonate enough with moderate GOPers and Dems alike to hurt Kaine/Byrne/Deeds. And keep in mind that money didn’t seem to matter. Petersen far outraised his opponents, but lost to two women in this paternalistic state. Connaughton lost badly despite a dead heat in money. Baril’s strong donations from business groups didn’t seem to level the playing field. Enough money is important. Winning the dollar race doesn’t translate to victory, however. I hope party officials and strategists learn that lesson.

Of course, it may not be message and platform, either. Organization comes into play (see Englin and Craddock).

But for the Dems, poor turnout means defeat. It’s time to take some risks.

As widely echoed by Dems, thank our lucky starts Connaughton lost. He’d be governor in 2010. Which may not be a bad thing, but the Dems would surely lose.


How many stories can The Washington Post use one analyst in one day? Today’s answer: three. Mike Shear, Peter Whoriskey and Rosalind S. Helderman all quoted George Mason professor Mark Rozell in their stories. His insights:

“Both candidates [for the Republcian nomination for Lieutenant Governor] have been running really far to the right,” said Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University.

George Mason University public policy professor Mark J. Rozell said Byrne appealed to “the more true-believer types” who dominate a Democratic primary. “The activist core tends to be much more liberal than the general election base.”

“The races are somewhat a test case of how viable this anti-tax movement can be,” said Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University and co-editor of “The New Politics of the Old South: An Introduction to Southern Politics.” “If we judge them by the criterion of winning primaries, we ultimately may judge them failures after tonight. If the criterion is their ability to foster debate and send a signal to incumbents, they might be considered successful.”

Gee, all of those thoughts caught me completely by surprise. What astute perceptions! (The last one seems a particularly contorted stretch to keep the tax battle alive and will no doubt be used by reporters to justify the same angles through November.)

How lazy can one newspaper collectively be to quote the same guy in three stories with comments that a reasonable intelligent seventh grader could make? This is not to bash Rozell. I’m sure he works very hard to get himself quoted: good for the school; good for him. But why can’t reporters expand their Rolodex beyond a half dozen poli sci professors? Many bloggers have had more astute comments over the past few days. Why not call upon them? Even if they are generally partisan, I think the chance of getting insight is probably better with those closer to the ground.