Independents

Dr. Bob Holsworth Interview, Part, 2

This is the second and final installment of an interview with nationally known political scientist Dr. Bob Holsworth. The former Virginia Commonwealth University dean is a regular commentator on Virginia and national politics. His writes for national and state publications, as well as on his widely read blog, Virginia Tomorrow, and is a frequent guest on television and radio. He also is an in-demand public speaker and heads his own consultancy. In yesterday's first installment, we covered the current session of the General Assembly and touched on national politics. Today, we look at Virginia's version of health care legislation, the upcoming 2010 mid-term elections, discuss U.S. Senator Jim Webb's 2012 prospects, and examine the Tea Party movement in Virginia. FamilyFoundationBlog: Which is the most interesting GOP Congressional District nominating contest — the 5th, 2nd or 11th — and why? How do you see those campaigns playing out?

Dr. Bob Holsworth: All of these races are very interesting because each of them is competitive. The number of entrants indicate that Republicans believe that 2010 may be a once in a generation opportunity, a year that could potentially rival 1994 in terms of GOP success. At the moment, the battle for the 5th District nomination to challenge Tom Perriello might be the most fascinating, if only because of the number of forces that are, or potentially are, in play, including ones that may have national implications.

There's Robert Hurt, a highly respected member of the Senate who has considerable support from the party's national establishment, but who is also being challenged largely by a set of conservative activists who maintain that Hurt has not been sufficiently supportive of low-tax, small government principles. One question that is being raised is whether the anti-Hurt forces will actually coalesce behind a single candidate or divide their vote in a primary? Recently, things have even gotten more complicated. At least one of the candidates currently in the nomination contest says that he is considering dropping out and running as an independent.

Moreover, Virgil Goode has said that he has not made up his mind about a possible challenge and could even run as an independent Republican. A poll out today says that in a three way race between Hurt, Perriello, and Goode, the former Congressman is in a tie with Perriello with Hurt running third. In any event, I think that a lot of national media will be looking at the 5th to see if the GOP can negotiate its internal tensions productively, something that will have to achieved if a candidate who is hard working and energetic as Tom Perriello is to be defeated.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Is there a credible Republican candidate in the wings to challenge Rick Boucher in the 9th Congressional District? Is Representative Boucher vulnerable?

Dr. Holsworth: It is usually very, very difficult to defeat a long-term incumbent such as Rick Boucher who has been widely applauded for his constituent service, even if a number of his votes may not be consistent with majority views in his district. But if there is a year in which Boucher is vulnerable, 2010 may be it. The problem for the GOP here is very different than in the 2nd, 5th and 11th — it's not clear that the Republicans can recruit a strong challenger. Terry Kilgore and William Wampler have said no, though Eric Cantor was in town yesterday to see if "No" really means "No." Morgan Griffith has said, however, that he is seriously considering entering the contest. If he does, he'll be a formidable challenger — he's tough, politically very skilled, and a very hard worker. But even with Griffith, this would be a tough race, because Boucher has built up a lot of support in the localities that make up the district. But if Morgan enters, it'll be a great race.

FamilyFoundationBlog: How do you see the Tea Party movement in Virginia? Are these people disgruntled conservatives who normally vote Republican showing displeasure at the party (and who may have sat out in 2008) or are they new people getting involved for the first time who can make a difference in upcoming elections?

Dr. Holsworth: I think that it's difficult to say that there is one kind of person attracted to the Tea Party. I think that there are a number of Republican conservatives disgruntled with what Glenn Beck calls "Progressives." I also think that there are many of the same kind of independents who were initially attracted to Ross Perot in 1992 — "the government is broken, we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore." And I think that there are also some people who may not have been very much involved in politics before, but have become mobilized by what they consider to be an inappropriate and ineffective response by the federal government to the economic downturn. It seems to me that they represent sentiments that are fairly broadly distributed at the moment throughout the general population and political figures would be foolish to ignore their perspective in 2010. At the same time, it is not so clear how their influence inside GOP nomination battles will play out and whether this will be positive or negative for the GOP in the general elections. This is one of the reasons why I'm watching the 5th District very closely since it has what appears to be a large and relatively organized set of Tea Party activists.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Are you surprised at how quickly and smoothly the Health Care Freedom legislation has moved through the General Assembly, especially in the Senate?

Dr. Holsworth: Yes. At least until you see that the five Democratic legislators sit in districts where (Governor Bob) McDonnell ran strong and where their own seats could be in jeopardy.

FamilyFoundationBlog: Speaking of health care, as well as all the new government spending Tea Party activists abhor, do you think Senators Webb and Warner have endangered their re-elections by voting for these programs? Will the new conservative movement stay active that long?

Dr. Holsworth: 2014 for Warner is a long, long way off. Webb will obviously have a serious Republican challenger. Webb will not be easy to pigeonhole because there will be numerous instances in both foreign and domestic policy where he will part company with the administration and the Democratic congressional leadership. A big question regarding Webb is how his progressive economic populism be viewed. Will he seen as too liberal for Virginia economically or as authentic guy willing to stand up for the voiceless?

FamilyFoundationBlog: Dr. Holsworth, thank you very much for your time. Your thoughts are always informative and I know our readers have learned a lot.

Virginia News Stand: December 2, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations The Hunt Is On

Stephen Hunt won the three-way Republican "fire house" primary last night to secure the 37th Senate District nomination in the January 12 special election to fill the term of Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli. Hunt, a former member of the Fairfax County School Board, won the heavy turnout primary handily over his two opponents. He now takes on Delegate Dave Marsden (D-41, Fairfax) who, until several days ago, didn't live in the district. He is renting a room from a friend who does in order to be eligible. Meanwhile, Governor-elect Bob McDonnell continues his PR offensive. Following up his meeting with House Democrats, he now will meet with leaders of the Senate. More substantively, he's asked for detailed reports from all state agencies in order to find efficiencies in a deficit-ridden budget. A good start. But ideas, if not money, are in large supply, and the governor-elect is getting them from everyone, from within and outside of his cadre. We post two, from Pat Nolan and Mike Thompson, both of Bacon's Rebellion

Nationally, the left is losing it, and it doesn't get any better than that as far exposing who they are. Chris Matthews calls West Point cadets the "enemy" and the liberal mayor of Baltimore won't resign despite a theft conviction. Polls show independents fleeing the Obama/liberal camp, including young voters (ask soon-to-be-former Delegate Shannon Valentine) as Matt Friedeman of Rightly Concerned Blog notes.

But it's ClimateGate that continues to expose the left, particularly for putting ideology over science. Hmmm. Where have we heard that before? Now, look, it really is true, but it's the left that's been doing it all along. Just goes to show you . . . when the other side screams loud accusations at your side, it normally means it is they who are doing that which they accuse you. In other words, they're cracking up.

News:

McDonnell asks for detailed reports from state agencies (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McDonnell to meet with Senate leaders (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

Republicans nominate Hunt in 37th senate district (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog)

'Firehouse primary' gets busy turnout (Washington Times)

Houck says localities will feel pinch (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star)

Analysis:

Common Sense Prison Reforms Will Help McDonnell Close Budget Gap (Pat Nolan/Bacon's Rebellion)

Huge Opportunities for our Incoming Governor (Mike Thompson/Bacon's Rebellion)

National News:

'ClimateGate' deception continues to unfold (OneNewsNow.com)

Global warming e-mail scandal prompts resignation (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

Tempers flare as Senate debates healh care (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

After police killings, Huckabee defends clemency for suspect (Washington Post)

In D.C., a rift over plights for civil rights, gay rights (Washington Post)

Baltimore Mayor found guilty of stealing vows to stay on (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

Commentary:

All the president's Climategate deniers (Michelle Malkin/OneNewsNow.com)

Chris Matthews Calls West Point 'Enemy Camp' (Elijah Friedeman/The Millennial Perspective, Rightly Concerned Blog)

Young People Waking Up, Turning on Democrats (Matt Friedeman/Rightly Concerned Blog)

Polls Show Democrats Are in Trouble (Elijah Friedeman/The Millennial Perspective, Rightly Concerned Blog)

Education Study Provides More Ammunition For Much Needed Reform

Here are more telling details from the education choice polling data and study of which we were a party and released yesterday: Paul DiPerna, research director for The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, wrote in his study that the research indicates:

a major disconnect between Virginia's schooling preferences and actual school enrollments. ... As in other states where we have surveyed, the implication of these results is that Virginia does not have a sufficient school choice system in place to match parents' schooling preferences. (See the entire report here.)

The survey polled 1,203 likely voters and was conducted from October 1-4. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.8 percent points. (See today's Richmond Times-Dispatch for coverage of yesterday's study release news conference.) The results illustrate the vast support in Virginia for a program of income tax credits for donations to scholarship foundations that, in turn, provide funds to qualifying students to attend a school of their choice instead of an assigned public school.

Of course, common sense and public opinion never guarantee a thing, and this issue is living proof — for years the General Assembly has refused to pass legislation to enable such foundations to fully unleash their potential to provide more students better education options. But the results of this study will be a much needed resupply of ammunition that we and several partner organizations will use this coming session and beyond. For example:

» 65 percent of Virginians support tax-credit scholarships, while only 22 percent oppose.

» 57 percent of Virginians favor school vouchers, while only 35 percent oppose.

Even when broken down by party affiliation, Virginians strongly support tax-credit scholarships and vouchers:

» 64 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents support tax-credit scholarships.

» 53 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of independents support school vouchers.

» 81 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of independents support special needs school vouchers.

Additionally, the favor-oppose margins are large among the parties:

» On tax-credit scholarships, it's +43 among Democrats, +46 among Republicans and +44 among independents.

» On school vouchers, it's +15 among Democrats, +39 among Republicans and +22 among independents.

» On special needs school vouchers, it's +67 among Democrats, +64 among Republicans and +60 among independents.

Education reform will be an issue to watch this session. With school choice a major issue in the recent campaign and a new philosophy at the helm of state government, sound ideas, such as those Virginians overwhelmingly support in this study, may have their best chance in years to get a much needed foothold in Virginia's education system.

New State Poll: Virginians Overwhelmingly Favor Education Choice

We are part of a wide-ranging coalition of organizations that earlier today released results of a statewide poll and a study on education choice in Virginia. Among our release partners are School Choice Virginia, the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of AmericaVerizon Virginia, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, The Lexington Institute, the Virginia Council for Private Education and Markel Corporation. From corporations to think tanks to religious organizations and minority advocacy groups — all agree: Virginia needs vastly more options in education that it currently provides.     The poll was conducted in October by Braun Research, Inc., and an accompanying study was authored by Paul DiPerna of The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. While it shows that while Virginians support public schools, it also shows they overwhelmingly support education freedom and choice, something clearly lacking in the commonwealth right now. (For example, Virginia only has four charter schools.)

Survey highlights include:

» Broad support among Democrats, Republicans and Independents for tax-credit scholarship programs and school vouchers.

» 64 percent of Democrats support for tax-credit scholarships.

» 53 percent support school vouchers.

» They are more likely to favor, rather than oppose, these policies by +43 percentage points and +15 percentage points, respectively.

Also, these stats are sure to blow away the educrats:

» While the survey found that 62 percent of Virginians believe the public school system is "good" or "excellent," when given the choice between sending their child to a public school or an alternative (private, charter or homeschooling) 54 percent said they would choose the alternative.

» Among parents whose children attend Virginia public schools, 40 percent would keep their children there while 39 percent would choose an alternative. (Currently, 90 percent of Virginia’s school children attend public schools.)

Poor educrat monopolists! No one wants to be entrapped by their product. When will government learn that people want choice. Choice is natural and instinctive. It breeds competition and produces better products and services. So when given a choice, people prefer choice to that which is state-run. See the complete survey and study here.

Is Sheila Johnson This Year's Patricia Cornwell?

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell received a huge boost yesterday in the form of an endorsement from billionaire Sheila Johnson, a lifelong Democrat and media mogul (see Washington Times). She is the co-founder of BET and other cable networks, among other businesses, and a big financial backer of Governor Tim Kaine's 2005 campaign. At first, this surprise and enthusiastic endorsement truly gives cover to McDonnell's umbrella group of supporters, Virginians For McDonnell. When he announced its formation in June, many Mainstream Media types scrutinized it as only a shelter for prodigal Republicans who've danced with Senator Mark Warner, but not welcome back as full partners by GOP regulars, and a few legit independents. But without visible support from true Dems, analysts said, this was a gimmick, and no proof of McDonnell's success in gaining a cross-section of support and/or middle-of-the-road and independent voters. 

Boy, does this change that. This modern-day Maggie Walker said she "did her homework" and interviewed all the candidates for governor, going back to the Democrat primary. Further, she said, she's not changing parties. It remains to be seen if the McDonnell campaign maximizes this endorsement or if she will carry enough juice to have an impact at all. But one would think she will star for him in television ads at least — pretty ironic if she doesn't, eh? — not to mention her potential financial support. 

In 1993, Virginians saw something similar when mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell, another very wealthy Virginia celebrity, who typically endorsed Democrats and who had endorsed Mary Sue Terry for governor, flipped to George Allen. Her reasons never were nearly as well explained as Ms. Johnson's, but she made a famous television ad announcing her newfound enthusiasm for Allen. It perhaps was the turning point in the campaign, and there was no going back for Allen, who stormed past a 17-point polling deficit to win by about the same margin. 

At the least, this is a momentum builder for McDonnell. A big-time businesswoman, she must recognize how desparate the economy is now, and her credibilty there is huge. But will it have the impact and result of the Cornwell endorsement of George Allen in 1993?

This year's Patricia Cornwell? Sheila Johnson stars at a news conference yesterday for Bob McDonnell. But will she star for him in campaign ads? Is this a campaign turning point or a momentum builder for McDonnell?

Ugly Numbers For GOP, But Good For Conservative Bloggers?

The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot's Pilot on Politics blog recently reported on a Commonwealth Poll (see here) conducted in late December which showed Virginians by large margins preferring Democrats over Republicans on a range of issues, such as transportation, education and the budget. The latter is a bit surprising since it is the Kaine Administration whose utter incoherent forecast of tax revenue brought us to the mammoth deficit we face today. Aside from that, however, the survey found that:

Republicans are more apt to keenly observe the General Assembly session than Democrats or independents.

We don't know how that makes the House leadership feel, but for those of us conservative state policy and politics bloggers, it's nice to know that

A. There's a large audience out there from which to draw; 

B. Perhaps we and the other conservative bloggers are the reason our universe of interested voters is larger; and

C. Conservatives are more thoughtful and interested in issues, contrary to the stereotypes perpetuated by liberals and their media allies.

As for C, here's exhibit A:

 

 

It's Official: It's "Merry Christmas" After All

Despite what the secularists, liberal media and politically correct authoritarians claim, shove at us and demand, an overwhelming amount of Americans, from all political backgrounds, prefer to say and be greeted with "Merry Christmas" rather than the offensive "happy holidays." In fact, in a recent poll by Opinion Dynamics for Fox News (see here), most people are offended when others offer the "happy holidays" greeting, despite the years-long attempt by the above culprits to indoctrinate the public and dilute the culture with the "appropriateness" of using that slogan, so as to not "offend" anyone. As it turns out, it does offend people — the vast majority who understand that this holiday is a Holy Day and who have never bought into the secular left propaganda that has tried to strip it of its meaning (see this short blog post from Wilson Research Strategies). Overall, 77 percent of the public prefers "Merry Christmas," the same number as independents, while Republicans prefer it by 87 percent and Democrats by 69 percent. So, where's the basis for the "you will offend people by saying 'Merry Christmas' hogwash"? 

It has always been a cheap canard and always will be. Now, in perhaps the most politically left age of the Republic, we still see people holding on to their core religious values. So much for the secularists.

You Know The MSM Is Unhinged When . . .

Even the local Mainstream Media is getting into the act. It can't stand the success of Governor Sarah Palin (who will campaign again in Richmond Saturday) and how she has created an immense amount of enthusiasm, not just among Republicans, but among women and men Democrats and independents of all socio-economic backgrounds to the McCain-Palin ticket (see the ticket's remaining Virginia campaign schedule here). But it's not even the typical MSM. It's the entertainment MSM. Who cares what they think? But they want in on the action, too, I suppose. After Governor Palin's last visit to Richmond, the Richmond Times-Dispatch pop music critic thought it necessary to ridicule the Hank Williams, Jr., song "McCain-Palin Tradition" that he sang as a warm up to the governor's speech (click here to hear). According to the critic, Hank Jr.'s original hit, "Family Tradition," on which the campaign song is based, has some lyrics not in tune with "family values" voters (see article here).She mentions some Democrat instances as well, but clearly aims for what she thinks is a double standard among conservatives. Apparently, we're not allowed to have a good time — or at least it has to be good as defined by an elitist standard. But guess what?Even the celebration of Christmas was based on a pagan holiday. Guess we ought to stop celebrating, then. She continues with a litany of liberal recording artists who have demanded of Republicans to stop using their songs. Hard hitting stuff.

What's funny is this critic's view of Christians, values voters and conservatives in general — a stereotypical view of the types of people she thinks conservative politicians appeal to. It's as if she is saying conservatives don't have fun and live completely cloistered lives. Maybe she's the one who needs to get out more . . . or at least to more diverse entertainment venues to learn about the folks — that there's more out there than smokey bars and concert halls — and stop generalizing.

She also needs to learn some history. She claimed Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign theme song was Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." Wrong. It was Lee Greenwood's "Proud To Be An American." Then again, he's just a values guy. No one relates to his music, right?

Just How Influential Are We?

No sooner had we mentioned earlier today that Democrat Presidential candidate Barack Obama has avoided an interview he promised Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly back in January, than O'Reilly announced tonight that Obama will be his guest tomorrow night. No question that Obama is craftily trying to steal some of Republican candidate John McCain's thunder on the night he makes his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota. On the other hand, his appearance already is irritating his far-left fringe base who view FNC as the propaganda arm of the vast right wing conspiracy. Remember, it was that fringe which vetoed the Democrat presidential candidates from debating on FNC during the primaries, even though the co-sponsor was the Congressional Black Caucus. This is a very interesting twist of the tale. Will Obama use the opportunity to win over some independents? Will he steal any of the McCain-Palin spotlight or squash their bounce? Or, will Obama trip over his tongue on a pointed O'Reilly question? Will he say anything of substance? Will he be "present"? Does he still think unplanned children are mistakes worthy of killing? Although he favors health care for infants, why does that not include babies who survive botched abortions? (He voted in the Illinois Senate to allow babies who survive abortions to die.) Of most intrigue, however, is whether he will say anything that doesn't include the words "hope" and "change."

Republican Moral Divide

A quick look at Barak Obama's campaign web site finds several references to faith and values. Unfortnately, there doesn't appear to be any such reference on John McCain's site.  This, while a new Gallop poll indicates that Republican voters are growing more concerned over the state of the nation's moral values. In just two years, the percent of registered Republicans who said the moral condition of American is "poor" has risen by 15 points. Today, 51 percent of the GOP is frustrated with the nation's moral climate, compared to 36 percent two years ago.

So, Republican voters appear to be more concerned about traditional values — not less. As such, these voters are more likely to seek out candidates who they believe share their concerns. Apparently, McCain and his advisors still don't get it.

And its not just Republican voters with concerns. Since 2002, Republicans, Democrats and Independents have grown more pessimistic about the nation's moral direction. In fact, 81 percent believe the nation's moral state is "getting worse."

So, in that context, how smart is it for McCain and other Republicans to avoid talking about moral issues? While their campaign consultants may convince candidates to avoid all talk about marriage and abortion, that appears to be exactly what the voters (and activists) want them talking about. 

Don't get me wrong. Candidates can't talk only about moral issues. They have to address rising gas prices, the economy, Iraq, terrorism, etc. But they can't completely avoid moral issues either.

The message to Republican candidates is clear — avoid these issues at your peril. Don't expect the activists and voters who got you into office to be energized if you refuse to even mention the issues they care about.