Rick Boucher

A Shocking Day: Chief Justice Hassell's Untimely Death, Webb Won't Run For Re-election

I was in the Senate Finance Committee this morning watching, thankfully, two good bills, which may lead to some much needed tax reform, fly through. The committee agenda was short, normal right after "crossover," and only six bills were heard, all passing on unanimous voice votes. Can't be much simpler than that. At what should've been a quick bang of the gavel to dismiss, committee Chairman Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) made the announcement, the first one in public as it turned out: Former Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leroy Hassell, Sr., died, unexpectedly, at age 55 (WTVR.com). He previously stepped aside as chief justice, but remained on the court.  Governor Bob McDonnell ordered that the flag of the commonwealth be flown at half-staff on all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds (WTVR.com). New Chief Justice Cynthia Kinser was scheduled to be sworn in officially this week. There is no word on the status of that ceremony at this point. She will be the first woman Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice.

(Updated 4:45 p.m.: The governor has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff until his burial on all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in Virginia. Additionally, Justice Hassell will lie in state in the Virginia State Capitol prior to burial. See his official statement honoring Justice Hassell)

Chief Justice Hassell was the first black person to serve in that position. He was a native Virginian, and proudly so. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli included this 2003 quote in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in his statement honoring Mr. Hassell:

I do not wish to serve, however, because I happen to be black. Rather, I desire to serve because I am a Virginian by birth who has a strong affection and love for the commonwealth and its people.

He will be missed. He was a man of great faith, intellect, warmth, stature and humility.

Later in the morning, a bombshell e-mail from a political consultant friend: U.S. Senator Jim Webb will not run for re-election in 2012 (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). Though not totally unexpected, the timing (through no fault of Senator Webb) was strange, so soon after the sad news about Justice Hassell. Mr. Webb had not actively engaged in fundraising and many thought from the beginning he would term limit himself, given the flukish nature of his election — and a possible Defense Secretary appointment in a potential Obama second term.

Now, the attention turns to who the Democrats will nominate. Early speculation ranges from everyone from former Governor Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe (if he can be pulled away from running for governor) to former Congressmen Rick Boucher and Tom Periello, to Krystal Ball, who unsuccessfully challenged Republican Rob Wittman in the first district last year.

Post: Griffith And Hurt Land Key Committee Assignments, Rigell Awaits Armed Services

According to Ben Pershing a little while ago at the Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog, Virginia freshmen GOP Representatives Morgan Griffith (VA-09) and Robert Hurt (VA-05) will land on two key committees: Energy and Commerce and Financial Services, respectively. While liberal soon-to-be former Representative Rick Boucher, whom Griffith defeated, served on Energy and Commerce, no Virginia member currently sits on the equally powerful Financial Services committee, making that a huge score for Hurt. On the downside, he'll have to put up with Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who will assume the position of ranking member (see Housing Wire) after four disastrous years as its chairman. Freshmen appointments to both committees is unusual (even Boucher had to wait a few terms before his gig started). The news especially was welcome for Hurt who made national headlines last month at the every-two-year-ritual House office lottery for freshman, where he had the misfortune of drawing the highest number and, therefore, the least desirable office space (see Jake Gibson at FoxNews.com). He needed the office karma of Kirk Cox. As for Virginia's other freshman GOP House member, Scott Rigell (VA-02) is awaiting, but expected to get, a spot on the Armed Services Committee, an assignment Virginians from either party from that district almost always get because of the large military presence in Hampton Roads.

Cox, Janis Fill Out GOP Leadership Team In House Of Delegates, But What About The Office Space?

Yesterday, the Republican Caucus in the House of Delegates elected Delegate Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights) to majority leader and Delegate Bill Janis (R-56, Henrico) to majority whip. The election was necessary (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog) after current Majority Leader Morgan Griffith was elected to the House of Representatives from Virginia's 9th congressional district, defeating 28-year incumbent Rick Boucher during last month's Republican wave. Cox was the majority whip. Both were unchallenged (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Statements from the principles include this from Speaker Bill Howell (R-66, Fredericksburg) (see entire statement, here):

Both of these individuals are trusted allies and talented lawmakers with remarkable backgrounds that they’ve used to help House Republicans offer practical solutions and deliver real results.

Kirk is an outstanding member of the House who I rely on . . .  for thoughtful analysis and strategic insights on the important challenges and opportunities facing taxpayers, families, businesses and Virginia. Not only is he a widely acknowledged "go-to" person on the state budget, education, military and natural resource issues, but Kirk also has done a superb job as House Majority Whip counting votes and building support for our ideas.

Likewise, Bill is an engaged and detail-oriented delegate who contributes so much to our Caucus and Commonwealth. His service on key House committees has provided Bill with a firm understanding of the issues and how they impact people of all walks of life. I’m confident that he will continue helping to identify policy goals and forge coalitions in support of sensible legislation that will improve the quality of life for all Virginians.

From Cox:

We have many challenging years ahead with tight budgets and a need to grow private sector jobs. I look forward to working hard with House Republicans and all of my legislative colleagues to address these challenges and the aspirations of the people of Virginia as the next House Majority Leader.

From Janis:

I relish the opportunity to serve as the new House Majority Whip. Together, we’re going to help put Virginians back to work by promoting legislation that fosters an environment conducive to more job growth, more economic opportunity and more prosperity for all Virginians.

Okay, the formalities are out of the way. Now, the question is, what will happen to some very valuable General Assembly Building real estate? Delegate Cox — now one of the most powerful delegates ever outside of a speaker as majority leader and vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee — already has a large and prestigious ninth floor GAB office per his role on Appropriations. But as majority leader, he also will have a large and prestigious suite on the sixth floor where the leaders of both parties and chambers have offices. Which will he choose? Or can he keep both? If he chooses the ninth floor, will Delegate Janis get the sixth floor office (whips don't have offices there)? If he chooses the sixth floor, who gets the ninth floor office?

These are the intriguing questions that drive the General Assembly. We'll keep you posted.

VA-9 Update: Griffith Edges Ahead In Latest SurveyUSA Poll; Independent Does Boucher's Dirty Work And Takes Free Ski Vacations?

Republican House candidate Morgan Griffith, the House of Delegates Majority Leader, continues to gain momentum Virginia's 9th congressional district race. Starting off 20 points down in its first poll a few months ago, the last News7/SurveyUSA poll released a week ago shows a change in the numbers between long-time incumbent Rick Boucher and Delegate Griffith (see SurveyUSA for analysis).

Just a few weeks ago, Boucher appeared to be cruising to another term with double-digit leads. Each subsequent poll showed Griffith making progress until he was within striking distance, and now, possibly poised to a major upset. According to the poll, the race is too close to call as independents have shifted their votes to Griffith, and Boucher's lead among women has evaporated.

Here is a look at the results (see WDBJ.com/News7 for more):

Morgan Griffith (R): 47 percent

Rick Boucher (D): 46 percent

Jeremiah Heaton (I): 4 pecent

Undecided: 3 percent

Margin of error: 4.1 percent

But there's more to the story. The independent, Mr. Heaton, isn't only a wild card, he's more like a wild man. In the most recent debate, he relentlessly attacked Griffith on personal matters, including his wife, while nary a complaint against the incumbent. That's particularly odd, since since elections are referendums on incumbents. But the out of left field attacks on Delegate Griffith's family were over the top. It led to much suspicion in the local media about not only why Mr. Heaton made the attacks, but who put him up to it (see Roanoke Times). Adding to the intrigue was Mr. Boucher's "good cop" approach, which was strange considering his perilous position in the polls. But why do the dirty work if a rapid dog is willing to do it for you? 

But it wouldn't be the Fightin' Ninth if not for still more controversy. The Washington Examiner's David Freddoso recently reported that Mr. Boucher, on top of buying a new Fordwith campaign cash (see Not Larry Sabato), he's been vacationing in plush Rocky Mountain ski resorts on lobbyists money. Seems Mr. Boucher has parlayed his sellout of the coal industry into some influence among the special interests, basically flaunting it in a district that is seeing some of the worst economic conditions in the country.

It's all a Winter Wonderland to Mr. Boucher who seems more and more out of touch with his constituents. Will he be out of a job late tonight?

Will it only snow . . . or completely avalanche on Rick Boucher and the Democrats tonight?

More Voter Guide Notes Re: VA-5, VA-9

Although Family Foundation Action released a voter guide only for the 11th Congressional District campaign, we thought we'd bring your attention to some information about the candidates running in the 5th and 9th Congressional districts. Voters in those districts can get information about the Democrat incumbents, Tom Perriello and Rick Boucher, by referencing their scores on the FRC Action Scorecard, which we wrote about recently (click here). Then, you can compare where they stand on the issues with their respective Republican challengers, Virginia Senator Robert Hurt and House of Delegates Majority Leader Morgan Griffith on TFF Action's General Assembly Report Card (click here). In sum, here's how it adds up:

FRC Action rates 5th District Congressmen Perriello at 12 percent for the last two years in the House of Representatives while TFF Action scored Senator Hurt at 91 percent for the last two sessions of the General Assembly.

FRC Action rates 9th District Congressman Rick Boucher at 25 percent, while TFF Action rates Delegate Griffith at 100 percent.

We report. You decide. Messrs. Perriello and Connolly received low marks on economic issues, as well, from The Club For Growth: 11 percent and 22 percent, respectively.

For direct, side-by-side comparisons of the candidates' positions on the issues, the Faith & Freedom Coalition is issuing voter guides in the 5th and 9th districts. They will be made available online next week, although copies are available now. For more information, click here.

Poll: Griffith Pulls Even With Boucher In 9th Congressional District

Of the four Congressional races targeted by the Republican Party of Virginia this year, the one in the legendary "Fightin' Ninth" seemed the most difficult. Incumbent Democrat Rick Boucher has held the seat for 28 years and GOP challenger Morgan Griffith, the House of Delegates Majority Leader, got a late start in the campaign and wasn't nearly as well funded. But anyone who knows Delegate Griffith knows he's a tenacious worker and despite the pile of money spent against him by Mr. Boucher and outside left-wing interest groups such as NARAL, he has methodically made his way back into the race. Starting from 20 points down, to eight, then four and now . . . according to a poll by the National Republican Congressional Committee . . . it's even at 44 percent.

The poll was one of many House Republicans conducted to gauge which campaigns around the country are now in play for them. The field is expanding, where even long-time lefties such as Barney Frank and Jim Oberstar have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money this late into the game (a sign that even Dems don't want to go down with them). The news comes from Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post's The Fix blog, where he keeps readers up to date on races across the country. The question in the Commonwealth is whether Virginians in the great Southwest want to to spend years 29 and 30 with Rick Boucher (see YouTube).

NARAL To Rescue Rick Boucher In VA-9?

They say you can judge one's character by the company he or she keeps. Not surprisingly, Virginia 9th District U.S. Representative Rick Boucher is keeping company with the nefarious, abortion-at-all-costs liberal pressure group NARAL, which works hand-in-hand with the equally devious Planned Parenthood. Not one satisfied only to guarantee so-called "abortion choice," NARAL works to make partial-birth abortion — a procedure that kills a baby near full term and able to live outside the womb — legal. Now it's come to light that NARAL is throwing in with Rep. Boucher's re-election campaign.   Mr. Boucher tries to position himself as a moderate despite his voting record (he received a 25 percent rating on the FRC scorecard and a 22 percent rating on economic issues from the Club For Growth), and the status as one of one of Barack Obama's favorite members of the House. Not calling off NARAL and the extremism it propels won't help counter that way-left-of-center record he's accumulated, nor his out-of-touch persona developed in 28years of holding office in Washington. (Did you hear about his car purchase with campaign funds?)  

Recent polls show Rep. Boucher's opponent, House of Delegates Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, who is pro-life, closing fast, which may be a sign as to why NARAL has joined the fight on Mr. Boucher's behalf. That's usually a sign, anyway: when the cover of an ally is blown, or when he or she is in desperate straights, the radical group figures it has nothing to lose and comes riding in hard and fast. The voters of Virginia's 9th Congressional district must decide how much it has to lose by having a representative from NARAL as their congressman.

FRC Congressional Scorecard: How Did Virginia's Delegation Fare?

FRC Action yesterday released its Congressional Scorecard for the 111th Congress. It was excellent for some Virginia lawmakers, a disaster for most. More about that below. First, here's FRC Action President Tony Perkins' explanation of the scorecard's methodology:

From January 2009 through August of this year, Congress voted on an increasingly bold liberal agenda that covered everything from international abortion funding and "hate crimes" to a record ten votes on ObamaCare and the confirmation of two controversial Supreme Court justices. FRC Action has compiled those votes in its annual scorecard for the 111th Congress.

Taking into account 16 votes in the House and 24 in the Senate, we honor 110 Congressmen {5 from Virginia} and 17 Senators as "True Blue" — men and women who voted consistently with FRC Action's position on a cross-section of issues affecting the family.

To download a PDF copy of the scorecard, click here. The scorecard details the specific votes and issues scored and provides an informative background on the 111th Congress itself, as well as other worthwhile information. We hope you take some time to look it over, especially during this crucial election season, to inform yourself on how your Congressman voted on issues important to the family, traditional values and economic and religious liberty. (Not ironically, see how similarly Virginia's Congressional delegation fared from the Club For Growth, which monitors taxes, spending and economic matters.)

Quick thoughts: I never thought I'd see the day when a congressman who voted against Christmas (Bobby Scott) could receive a better score from a family values organization than other members from a Virginia delegation, but both Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran got goose eggs. As for our two senators, Jim Webb followed the Connolly and Moran lead, while that self-proclaimed "raging centrist" Mark Warner had the second lowest score of the 13 Virginians in Congress: A "whopping" 4%! I guess it's true. This really is what he thinks of us.

House (see page 7)

1st District: Robert Wittman (R): 100%

2nd District: Glenn Nye (D): 37%

3rd District: Bobby Scott (D): 6%

4th District: Randy Forbes (R): 100%

5th District: Tom Perriello (D): 12%

6th District: Bob Goodlatte (R): 100%

7th District: Eric Cantor (R): 100%

8th District: Jim Moran (D): 0%

9th District: Rick Boucher (D): 25%

10th District: Frank Wolf (R): 100%

11th District: Gerry Connolly (D): 0% 

Senate (see page 11)

Jim Webb (D): 0%

Mark Warner (D): 4%

Polls Show Virginia GOP Within Distance Of Sweeping Four Targeted House Seats

In 1994, a year after George Allen led a historic landslide Republican victory in the Old Dominion, Virginia was, for the most part, left out of the national limelight in the even more historic national Republican wave that won the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate for the first time in more than 40years. Oliver North lost a hotly contested Senate race to Chuck Robb and the GOP picked up only one House seat (the 11th, Tom Davis) while Republicans were winning in all corners of America. Was reason given by pundits at the time was that Virginians had gotten the protest out of their system in 1993. This year, following last year's more-impressive-than-1993 Bob McDonnell-led-landslide, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins has been fond of saying that to take back the House, the GOP needs to gain 40 seats; 10 percent of that is here in Virginia. Now, as Jim Geraghty of National Review's Campaign Spot blog writes today, polling information shows those victories may be within reach: Three Republican challengers in those four targeted districts are leading their Democrat incumbent rivals, with a fourth closing fast. Here's the breakdown:

» In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican Scott Rigell leads Democrat Glenn Nye, 48.6 to 34.5 percent.

» In the 5th District, Republican Robert Hurt leads Democrat Tom Perriello, 51.1 to 34.7 percent.

» In the 11th District, Republican Keith Fimian leads Democrat Gerry Connolly, 42.2 percent to 36.7 percent.

» In the 9th District, Republican challenger Morgan Griffith is down to Democrat Rick Boucher only 42.6 to 39.7 percent. However, one poll had Boucher up by 20 points about a month back, then by only 8 points a couple of weeks ago. The recent fallout over Mr. Boucher buying a brand new Ford with campaign funds while Virginians in the Southwest part of the state are suffering particularly hard during this recession could easily factor into a quickly narrowing gap.

The rest of the respondents in each poll were undecided. Tellingly, though, the poll, conducted by ccAdvdertising, does not include independents or third parties. Although not a top tier polling outfit, the snapshot does provide a glimpse of what directions the campaigns are going and who has momentum.

Not all landslides are the same and electorates can swing back from whence they came in a very short time. But this year, Virginia Democrats have much going against them, much more so than in 1994. Many of the circumstances that drove people to the polls and to the GOP in Virginia and in blue New Jersey (and deep blue Massachusetts in January) last year are still around: Primarily, as in the case of Congressman Boucher, this:

This love is going to last, but that might not be a good thing.

And this:

He's doing fine, representing liberal special interests rather then his constituents.

While Life Is Tough In VA-9, Rick Boucher Buys New Car With Campaign Money!

This tone-deaf, out-of-touch, slap-in-the-face political elitism from Virginia's senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, Rick Boucher, who represents the Commonwealth's "Fightin' Ninth" district in the great southwest of our state . . .  from an alert reader via Red State's Moe Lane via Not Larry Sabato (this is what the experts call "viral"):

Via  . . . Not Larry Sabato, who cannot be happy about the fact that his fully-justified anger at seeing a 14 term Democratic Congressman use campaign finance money to buy himself a nice, new car is now showing up as yet another reason why to vote for Rick Boucher’s opponent Morgan Griffith, who is not using special-interest money to buy himself shiny new automobiles. I know this because I just called to check; and the sound of their laughter at the very thought . . .

PS: For extra giggles, Boucher sabotaged his own administration’s fiscal policies by buying a Ford. What, Government Motors wasn’t good enough for the Democrat? Didn’t the government buy that company for our own good?

PPS: Morgan is also campaigning on the idea of cutting Congress’s pay by 10%.

By the way, of the four races targeted in Virginia, this was probably rated the fourth. However, an in-the-know source told me yesterday, Griffith, the House of Delegates Majority Leader, is behind only by eight points, after starting down 20. The car purchase may be good for Mr. Boucher's comfortable rides, but my guess is that it's also good for another two-three points in the polls for Delegate Griffith.

One Down, 39 To Go?

Republicans need to gain 40 seats in November's midterm elections to win control of the House of Representatives. Ten percent of that goal is in Virginia, where targeted incumbent Democrats Rick Boucher (VA-9), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Glenn Nye (VA-2) and Tom Perriello (VA-5) are being challenged by House of Delegates Majority Leader Morgan Griffith, Keith Fimian, Scott Rigell and Virginia Senator Robert Hurt, respectively. Connolly, Nye and Perriello all are freshmen and Perriello may be the number one GOP target in the entire country given his razor thin victory in 2008 and the 5th's generally conservative leanings (Charlottesville Daily Progress). Perhaps no House win pleased liberals more. Now, according to a poll released yesterday by SurveyUSA for Roanoke television station WDBJ, Representative Perriello may be toast (see American Prospect's Tapped Blog and the Washington Post's Virginia Politics Blog). It shows the 5th to be a blowout already: Hurt up by a 58-35 margin (see National Review Online's Campaign Spot Blog).

While many GOP House candidates are polling well, few have the numbers that elicited a "WOW" from NRO's Jim Geraghty. Of course, polls this early can mean anything and the pros will say SurveyUSA is not a top tier pollster on the lines of Mason-Dixon or Rasmussen Reports. But, SurveyUSA was the first to poll Virginia last summer (51 weeks ago, to be exact) and it had all three statewide races right from the beginning to the very end, including double digit leads when all the more "reputable" polls showed it closer. In fact, one political pro told me the SurveyUSA results were "embarrassing," but the only people embarrassed last November were the doubters and the Democrats.

The numbers are even more astounding considering a hard fought Republican primary, a Libertarian candidate and some TEA Party dissatisfaction with Senator Hurt. (SurveyUSA breaks down its research here.) It admits it has factored Republican turnout to be much greater than Democrat turnout (not surprising since when comparing the U.Va. student drop-of from 2008, where Perriello benefited from a large Barack Obama student turnout, to 2009). However, SurveyUSA says even if it factors in a 50-50 Republican-Democrat turnout, Hurt still wins by 11 points. At this point. (Which would allow the GOP to focus on the other three seats.) But, if the trend holds, it's a remarkable sign for House Republicans — and one down and 39 to go.

The Score On Virginia's Congressional Delegation

In this day and age of unfathomable government largesse, and slick and sophisticated high-tech communications that allow politicians to paint themselves as anything but the people responsible for the unimaginable and crippling debt we face, it's good to know certain reliable and principled organizations keep watch on those in Washington spending America into third-world oblivion. Just as The Family Foundation Action keeps score on state lawmakers on a range of issues, the Club For Growth keeps score on the porkers in D.C.   It released its 2009 Congressional Scorecard last week and we peeked at how Virginia's delegation fared. Not to well, we're afraid. Here's the score on Virginia's 11 U.S. Representatives:

Bob Goodlatte, R-6th District: 99% (Rank-10)

Eric Cantor, R-7th District 92% (Rank-42)

Randy Forbes, R-4th District 81% (Rank-112)

Rob Wittman, R-1st District 80% (Rank-116)

Frank Wolf, R-10th District 72% (Rank-142) 

Glenn Nye, D-2nd District 44% (Rank-183)

Rick Boucher, D-9th District 22% (Rank-219)

Tom Perriello, D-5th District 11% (Rank-250)

Gerald Connolly, D-11th District 9% (Rank-256)

Jim Moran, D-8th District 6% (Rank-282)

Bobby Scott, 4% (Rank-297)

Senators Mark Warner (13%) and Jim Webb (10%) ranked 54th and 59th, respectively, which in the Mainstream Media qualifies them as "moderates." What's scary is that there are 41 U.S. senators who scored lower than Senator Webb's 10%. It's as frightening as the 138 who rank lower than resident Virginia radical liberal Rep. Bobby Scott — 138 U.S. representatives are worse than him! 

Change, anyone? With this crew actively participating in America's bankruptcy, change is about all that's left. (Click here to get the Club For Growth's score for all 535 members of Congress, the votes on which they were scored and other methodology.)

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.

RPV Plays Let It Snow For Boucher And Perriello

The Republican Party of Virginia released a new Web ad today. It has a decidedly winter theme and two specific targets. According to a written statement by RPV Chairman Pat Mullins:

Virginians all over the Commonwealth are bracing for yet another blast of winter weather, which will no doubt keep roads hazardous and schools closed for days. Forecasters from Bristol to Winchester are calling for more than a foot of snow.

With so many people stuck indoors around the heater, lots of folks will have the opportunity to watch the news. We thought that it might be a good time to remind them that Democrats Rick Boucher and Tom Perriello not only voted to make their heating bills far more expensive, but also to kill thousands of more jobs around the Commonwealth.

Dreaming of a white Valentine's? The Old Dominion is experiencing its third big snow this winter and one more may be on the way. Good thing Perriello and Boucher are working on that global warming stuff!