central Virginia

Candidates In Crowded GOP Lt. Gov. Field Face Potential Game Changing Debate Tuesday Night

It may be unique in the long history of Virginia politics: Seven candidates standing for a party nomination for a statewide office. But that's the situation this year as seven Republicans seek to win the second spot on the GOP ticket at the party's May 18 convention. There hasn't been anything like this since 1985, when five ran for the number two spot at the GOP convention at Norfolk's Scope. But seven? There are similarities to the two campaigns aside from the large number, though not enough to draw many parallels. The one major common denominator is that both nominations were decided by convention instead of primary, drawing a lot of interest from people who would not have otherwise run.

Precisely because of that, the candidates are by and large unknown to many GOP activists going into the convention at the Richmond Coliseum. Not one has been able to cut through the clutter of an already hot gubernatorial general election campaign between Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, as well as a more easy to sort through GOP campaign for attorney general between Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County and Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg. Throwing seven candidates into the mix for a part-time position that has two official duties — preside over the Virginia Senate and fill the office in case of vacancy — makes deciding who is best a difficult task.

However, there may be a game changer in the LG race in the form of a late-in-the-process-debate Tuesday night in Richmond at Benedictine College Prep at 6:30. The Central Virginia GOP Lieutenant Governor Candidates Forum is sponsored by several of that area's GOP committees, including the Richmond City and Henrico County units. They selected the location in the middle of the city as a way to bring the conservative message to areas that don't always hear it, and reach young people and Catholic voters as well.

All seven candidates have agreed to attend and a buzz (see Norm Leahy at Bearing Drift) is building up over it primarily because its proximity to the convention could create a breakthrough wave for a candidate that impresses or sink one who doesn't. In addition, the host committee and moderator Scott Lee, a conservative talk show host on Richmond radio station WRVA and the host of the syndicated Score Radio Show (which previewed the debate with its organizers last weekend), have promised questions that won't lend themselves to campaign brochure blather. We'll see and we'll be there to report.

The event is free and, while elected convention delegates may take special interest to attend, is open to the public as well. Doors at the Benedictine College Prep gym open at 6:00. The school is located at 304 North Sheppard Street (23221). Click here for more information. The candidates are: former Senator Jeannemarie Davis, E.W. Jackson, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Senator Steve Martin, Pete Snyder, Prince WIlliam County Board Chairman Corey Stewart, Stafford County Board Chairman Susan Stimpson.

It's "Gay" Marriage, Stupid!

The normal political diatribe for years, from politicians and pundits alike, has been that the focus of nearly every candidate and elected official is and ought to be the economy. No need to be "distracted" by or waste time on those pesky social issues. Usually, that line is thrown in the face of values voters who actually care about the culture. Seldom is it used against those whose "values" are different than ours. Remember another famous line, "It's the economy, stupid"? With New York's legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo recently passing and signing same-sex marriage into law (see Chuck Donovan at Heritage's The Foundry Blog), the claim by any liberal politician or pundit — or anyone else for that matter — that the focus is, and must be, on economic issues amounts to nothing more than blatant hypocrisy. After all, during an economic meltdown in a state bleeding jobs, in a state on the verge of economic bankruptcy, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo and the entire legislature were "distracted" for days debating homosexual marriage. (Not to mention Congress and the Obama administration last December, during a lame duck session, ramming through repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as unemployment continued to skyrocket.)

Simply put, the next time someone tells you that social issues are a distraction from what's really important, they must be forced to answer the question, "What about New York?"

In Virginia, as we approach this November's crucial elections, that question isn't just for us, it's for the candidates as well. After all, as liberals across Virginia celebrate New York's attempt at redefining one of God's most basic institutions, candidates for the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate must be asked, "What about New York?"

Politicians, policy makers and pundits, academics and activists simply can’t have it both ways. If social issues such as homosexual marriage are a distraction from the important economic issues, then every candidate in Virginia — regardless of political party — must reject what has happened in New York. If taking weeks to debate the definition of marriage is a waste of time then every candidate in Virginia must be absolutely critical of their colleagues in New York.

Is the same-sex marriage debate a distraction from what’s important? Yes? Go ahead, and say so. Oh, and if it's not, feel free to run on that in Southside and central Virginia.

Virginians made it clear where they stand on the issue of same-sex marriage in 2006. While the ink on our state constitutional amendment is barely dry, we at The Family Foundation have attempted to focus on other issues in recent years, issues like strengthening traditional marriage — the best economic safety net there is — to ensure Virginia’s future economic strength. But with what happened in New York, we have little choice but to once again ask every candidate for office in Virginia, "What about New York?"

So, maybe the question isn't so much about the economy as it is about New York. We look forward to their responses.

Now That's It's Official, This Is Worth Watching Again

Now that it's official — that President Obama is running the American auto industry with his firing this morning of GM CEO Rick Wagoner (a Richmond native, by the way, who, coincidentally, graduated from the high school where Republicans Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling made their central Virginia campaign kick-off Saturday) — it's time to review the speech that is the buzz of conservatism right now. Just substitute "Mr. President" for "Prime Minster" and Barack Obama for "Gordon Brown" and you have the speech someone, anyone needs to make here before we become completely socialized.

John Cook's Win Shows Anything's Possible . . . For Either Party

(Admin's note: This was posted under a different heading on March 12, but because of a technical glitch, we lost it. It is re-posted here in an edited form, but with basically the same content. Sorry for any confusion.) Early returns often are misleading, not to mention election results themselves so soon after a major campaign. However, there are some signs GOP candidates maybe running effective campaigns in Northern Virginia and elsewhere.

First, there was the skin-of-the-teeth, 16-vote-win by Democrat Charniele Herring over Republican Joe Murray to win the lock-stock Democrat 46th House of Delegates district seat in a January special election necessitated when Brian Moran resigned to run for governor full time. Not long after that, Democrat Sharon Bulova barely defeated Republican Patrick Herrity in a special election for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman.

Moral victories for Republicans, maybe, but then came an actual win: Last week,  Republican John Cook squeaked by Democrat Ilryong Moon in the Braddock district supervisor seat vacated by Bulova (see Washington Post here). It's a district that went 57 percent for Barack Obama. His win changes the Fairfax County Board from an 8-2 Democrat majority to a 7-3 majority. Cook's win shows Northern Virginia may still be competitive and just as Republicans may have taken central Virginia and Hampton Roads for granted in recent years, allowing Democrat candidates to gain significant vote totals there, perhaps Democrats have taken its base lightly as well.

Republican statewide candidates don't need to win Northern Virginia to win elections, but they must be competitive and not get blown out, as were George Allen and Jerry Kilgore. Holding Dem victories to small margins upstate will be the test of the GOP ticket this fall; restoring large margins the test for the Dems.

Nationally, the moribund House Republican Campaign Committee may finally win a special election of its own. One indicator that it was in trouble leading up to the 2006 and 2008 campaigns were its losses in special elections in districts that had been Republican for years, including the one held by former Speaker Dennis Hastert as well as one in Mississippi.

Now comes word the GOP may be favored to pick up the New York House seat vacated by former Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. According to The Post's The Fix blog (click here), while the Democrats' House campaign kitty is more than $16 million in the red, the GOP has some money to spend. It's a district that typically votes Republican in presidential elections, but Gillibrand proved to be an effective campaigner. Pundits say victory here could create momentum for yet more fundraising, which could be directed here in Virginia, a win considered especially crucial if the national GOP has intentions of a full rebound.

Transparency: Good For The Private Sector, Not Good For State Government?

A fellow blogger gave me these lines to use in committee testimony in favor of the spending transparency bills (SB 936 and HB 2285). Thus far, the way they have travelled the legislative ladder, testimony hasn't been needed. For the record, the borrowed lines are:

"Financial institutions and publicly traded stocks, by regulation, must make readily available to the public its investments and corporate spending. If it's required of Charles Schwab, it should be required of state government."

The point being that the regulators (government) have a different standard for themselves than those on whom they impose rules. Here's a glaring and fun example. In his constituent newsletter today, Senator John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian) touts his commending resolution (SJ 394) to the crew and company of the summer 2008 HBO massive hit special event series John Adams (see our review here), much of which was filmed in central Virginia and Colonial Williamsburg. Among the reasons Senator Watkins wants to thank the crew is for the amount of money it spent in the Commonwealth:

"I previously mentioned my commending resolution to the crew of the John Adams HBO production. ... Filming a movie in Virginia is good for Virginia. For example, the John Adams mini-series spent $81,775,102 in Virginia. A few examples of how this money was spent: 

Technicians, Productions Assistants, Hired in Virginia: $9,025,750

Equipment Rental: $2,412,814

Wardrobe: $1,903,678

Car and Truck Rental: $1,141,053

Construction Supplies: $3,634,900."

Which is just great for everyone involved. But it begs the question: If we can get this kind of info out of a company doing temporary business in Virginia, why can't we get our own state government's expenditures? Stay vigilant. Improved transparency is on the way, but anything can happen. I'm keeping my testimony at the ready.