Many of you have been bombarded with pleas for money to help Democrats regain the Virginia Senate majority; a noble cause. Well, you should ask three questions before you contribute a dime: Is there a strategy for success? Where is your money going to end up? Will you suffer remorse?
On this or another of Lowell's blogs, I asked at the end of one particularly disappointing campaign where I go to get a refund of my contributions. After that campaign I decided that I wouldn't contribute to any campaign whose candidate doesn't share my core values and doesn't have a chance in hell of being victorious. In the special election for Phil Puckett's abandoned seat, the Democratic candidate fails quite possibly both criteria. I say quite possibly because we may never know what the insiders now know from polling in the district. Frankly, if I were to venture a guess, I'd bet he is at the general starting point for the generic Democratic candidate in the region: 37%. And, we already know he is joined at the hip with coal. That's a pragmatic position; I understand that. But he is unabashedly supportive; his position is not nuanced in any way. I can tell you I won't regret not contributing on both counts.
I have also learned not to contribute to any committee that claims to support my candidate(s). There are simply too many ways my contribution won't end up in my candidates' coffers. The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus funneled $410,168 to Phil Puckett in 2011; the 3rd highest individual beneficiary. That would mean that of each dollar from that group that went to an actual candidate, 13.9% went to Puckett. Oh, and in any case only about 49% of all Caucus expenditures went directly to Virginia Senate candidates even when including a big chunk, $224,500, which went to an independent candidate in the 19th. But it's a broader issue. Your direct contributions to other candidates also ended up in Russell County: $15,000 from Chap Peterson; $5,000 from Dick Saslaw; $2,500 from Janet Howell; $1,000 from Don McEachin. I have contributed to at least one of them; I never will again. I don't need them deciding my money should go somewhere I didn't send it. Note that it is not only the Senate Caucus and not just at the state level where this is a common betrayal.
However, it is the strategy for regaining control of the Senate that concerns me most. The focus right now looks extremely tactical: fight the good fight in the 38th. But I believe Sun Tzu would advise differently. You don't reinforce failure; that is complete folly. I have met some great Democrats in the 38th, but even with the power of incumbency, Phil Puckett won that district with 53% of the vote after spending $1,365,143. He outspent his opponent by about a quarter million dollars. We Democrats are in no position to raise the amount of money that it will take to pretend we might win the 38th. And when that cash we don't have is gone, where does that position us for the races in 2015?
On election night 2015, we shouldn't be wondering if the money we wasted in 2014 could have turned a red tide in the Virginia Senate. In 2015 if we choose wisely we might even gain a seat or two for the high price of none in 2014.
So I was reading the recent post by the Virginia Democratic Senate Caucus. What Capital Square does Governor McDonnell live on? First - no one paid attention to that diary - get a better title! I posted a comment - but then thought this is so gonna go unnoticed - time for a diary
Heard on the RPV GOTV fly-around: count these as the items going to the head of the list should the Republicans take a majority: State pension "reform;" "Right-to-work" constitutional amendment; and, state enforcement of federal immigration laws. Delegate Bob Bell (R-58th) delivers the message in Charlottesville today.
What a Democratic majority means to Governor Kaine is balance. Not to give short shrift to the House and local races, he believes that races like Ralph Northam's are essential to maintain sane government in Virginia. That's why he has made some 50 appearances on behalf of Virginia Democrats recently.
"Holding on to the Senate majority is the thing we've got to go after, hook, line, and sinker, tooth and nail, every minute, every hour , blood sweat and tears between now and next Tuesday." - Governor Tim Kaine
The former Governor offered some thoughts last evening at an event for Senator Northam (D-6th) about what we can do that will really matter and why what we do matters maybe this year more than most. From his perspective, right now in Richmond, the Democratic Senate is the balance. With a Republican Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and an Attorney General who is fighting against science, arguing climate change does not exist, fighting to turn back the clock as far as protecting employees on the grounds of their sexual orientation, that balance is essential.
Myth plays a central role explaining the discontinuities of our experience. Ayn Rand's fundamental warning to check assumptions is often the first tenet ignored by her tea party disciples. Life by anecdote is so much more pleasant. The sky in Ben Loyola's world must be a pleasant azure.
One senses in Ben Loyola's quiet and gentle demeanor that his world view is very settled. The refined Virginia Beach Republican is an accomplished naval aviator and businessman. He's an immigrant success story. A regular at almost every Republican event in his now former district, he is most comfortable with those sharing his "conservative social values," calling himself a "Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Pro-2nd Amendment, Fiscal Conservative." It feels good to belong.
Senator Northam's opponent for the Virginia 6th isn't really running for the Virginia Senate; he is continuing his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives. He doesn't really want to represent the 6th District; he has no substantial ties there but it was the only one handy. The filtered lens is everywhere in the candidate's life vitae and the focus isn't on the district's issues or Virginia's. There is no concern for the Chesapeake Bay, blue crabs, manufacturing and transportation on the Eastern Shore, or anything remotely essential to the constituency beyond his uncontested support of national defense. If he can find Mobjack without a GPS or even knows where it is would be a surprise. He strums the heartstrings of the tea party (and that tune plays in some parts) but at some point Loyola is going to turn and say, "Brian, we're not in Virginia Beach anymore."
The Stolle clan boasts a crew of adequately accomplished attorneys who don't lawyer, a physician who doesn't much doctor, and private sector cheerleaders all nursing at the public teat. They may be planning to pull a hat trick in Virginia Beach that will distinguish that city for its low public service expectations.
It probably won't be at tomorrow morning's Virginia Beach Republican Breakfast that Chris will discuss Julian Walker's Virginian Pilot stories that he was considering a run for state Senate and that his brother the Sheriff, who will soon have his high three for a handsome publicly funded retirement, may want to join him there. Possibly Ken has decided to relocate ala Frank Wagner's now nixed idea to move to a Senate district currently represented by Senator John Miller (D). That could leave littler brother (also a Commonwealth employee, last I saw) a delegate seat somewhere. Maybe he can use Chris's house and run from the district he currently represents and where Chris probably lives most of the time.
A lively crowd of about 130 jammed Ikon Sports Bar in the City of Fairfax on Thursday evening to celebrate State Senator Chap Petersen's annual Young Lawyers' party. The fund raiser attracted an interesting mix of plenty of not-young and not-lawyers, as well as many independents and Republicans, showing support for their Democratic Senator. Senator Petersen spoke briefly about representing the interests and concerns of the residents of the 34th District. Below are some photos of the crowd, taken by Catherine Read.
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