November 13th, 2007

Upbeat GOP Prospects for Battleground Virginia

file under Bacon's Rebellion, Barak Obama, Bearing Drift, Democrats, Fred Barnes, Fred Malek, Governor Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, President Bush, Republican Party of Virginia, Republicans, Virginia, Weekly Standard, Wikipedia, X Curmudgeon - Fred Malek @ 4:40 pm

Fred Barnes has an interesting piece in the new issue of Weekly Standard. The headline is “Off-Year Blues… But next year, Republicans might be singing a happier tune.” Here’s one nugget from the piece that caught my attention:

“The last Democrat to win Virginia was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Bush won the state in 2004 by 8 points. ‘The right Democratic candidate can win Virginia,’ Governor Tim Kaine said last week. ‘The wrong Democrat can’t.’ Kaine, a Democrat, has endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.”

Is Gov. Kaine correct? If Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton, are they doomed to lose Virginia?

It’s an important question to consider following our party’s statehouse losses earlier this month. Democrats think what happened in the state elections are a sign of things to come. But in reality, it’s misplaced optimism by the other side to link the 2007 state elections to the 2008 presidential campaign.

This month’s state level elections were more of a house cleaning. Yes, we as a party need to cure what ills us in if we are to regain touch with Virginia voters. We need to reinvigorate the Republican brand in the Commonwealth. .

But I don’t see this being reflected in the presidential-level vote in Virginia. This was not an election based on national issues. And Hillary Clinton will not help Democrats here. Gov. Kaine is right – at least on this political matter.

I’ve been intrigued by some of the observations about the state of the Republican Party that appeared in the Virginia blogosphere after the state elections. Here are some postings that caught my eye:

Bearing Drift: “We’re in one of those change modes. It’s not an embracing of Democrat principles, because history also shows that once the voters get a taste of that, they prompt a Republican resurgence. People just want a shift, and today as long as it’s different, it’s alright.”

Bacon’s Rebellion: “The Rs have to convince voters that they’re both serious about fighting tax hikes and capable of addressing Virginia’s very real challenges. If what we hear from the Rs in 2008 is more politics of symbolism — flag burning amendments, prayer in schools, etc. — they will fail miserably. If they can advance an agenda that solves real problems and keeps spending/taxes in check, they can re-emerge as winners.”

As the finance chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, I’m keenly interested in what the blogosphere has to say about the direction of our party. I also remain both an optimist and a realist. That’s why I agree with the following blogger who smartly observed:

X Curmudgeon: “If you go to the Wikipedia entry for “United States Presidential Election–2008” you’ll already see Virginia listed as one of about 15 battleground states. With 13 electoral votes up for grabs, Virginia is worth the fight.”

Yes, Virginia is worth the fight. And we will win it.

3 Responses to “Upbeat GOP Prospects for Battleground Virginia”

  1. J. Tyler Ballance Says:

    What are the areas of growth among Virginia voters and what tangible outreach has been made by the RPVA to usher these new voters into the GOP?

    Arab outreach? Nothing.

    Latino outreach? Nothing.

    Asian outreach? Nothing.

    For example, how many guest appearances have any of our elected officials made before the Asian business community?

    Even in traditional voter outreach, we are not getting the job done. I am a member of the Henrico Committee, but not because my Magisterial District Chairwoman contacted me when I moved here two years ago. I had attended the local Committee for nearly a year before I even heard that we had a Magisterial Chairwoman. These Magisterial District Chairmen and Chairwomen need to be re-energized to get out into their community and meet and greet their fellow citizens. These Magisterial Chairmen need to realize that they are not ceremonial posts, but should be working throughout the year to recruit and train Precinct Captains and to build candidate support networks.

    I am willing to pitch-in and help to work on these problems and I have previously volunteered to do so. If I could get funding to work the Asian/Latino/Arab outreach effort, I would love to take that on as a full time assignment.

    However, getting the organization back into shape is just part of the battle. We can’t, for instance, screw Virginians with the added layer of government created by “Regional Transportation Authorities” (RTAs) or by the creation of thousand dollar speeding tickets in the form of the so-called “abuser fees” and expect the young family men and women to thank Republicans at the polls.

    If you take a look at the campaign websites for many of our candidates from the November elections, it is hard to find any tangible ideas or well thought out solutions. We have instead, pictures of candidates with dogs, candidates smiling with their families and a few fishing or hunting shots, but no real ideas for solving our energy, employment, transportation, health care problems, or much of anything that provides voters with a sense that Republicans will provide a brighter, more hopeful future.

    Many Republicans have relied upon severely gerrymandered districts to allow them to succeed with vacuous campaigns for the past several cycles. Empty rhetoric and goofy pictures with the family dog are not going to cut it any longer.

    The voter demographics in many parts of Virginia are changing. Republicans can choose to remain in our xenophobic shell and curse the changes happening all around us, or we can seize the initiative and get out in front of this changing electorate with programs that will reach out to, and help train these new citizens to become productive members of the GOP.

  2. Jerry Lester Says:

    I do not think Republican Candiates have a clue what grass roots is about.
    Grass Roots is not about attending a meeting of other Republicans. It is about meeting the voters and going where they are. Their homes, fairs,
    cancer walks, Neighborhood Watch meetings, Knocking on doors. When the Republican fianlly realize what Grass Roots is all about than they will win.

  3. Leslie Ulmer Says:

    i agree with Lester, if anything, the party should learn from watching the Ron Paul supporters. They believe in the MESSAGE, more than the candidate; thus, empowering the people to become active in the political process. People start talking and people start getting curious about who Ron Paul is. With the growing popularity of the internet, “GOOGLE RON PAUL” is really a brilliant campaign strategy. Let’s get the message out. The trend of this state is becoming more liberal and more tax-friendly. Scary stuff. Right now the election is pushing Candidates that are easily recognizable: the ex-First Lady(Hillary), the black guy (Obama), the mayor of NY/hero of 9-11(Giuliani), the pastor (Huckabee). Eventually, the people will start paying attention to the ISSUES and the voting records of these candidates. I think the people are sick of politicians flip-flopping on issues all the time. I know I am.

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