2009 VA Election

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This Virginia Beach Grassroots Activist Supports Terry McAuliffe

The time was the heat of the 2008 election. Sleep was at a minimum. Rest could come after the most important election in our lifetime was won. Until victory was certain, every moment wasted was one that could never be recovered.

The constitutional republic established by our Founding Fathers was teetering on the edge of a precipice. It was the ordinary man who succeeded in establishing our glorious experiment in government. And it was the duty of we common men and women who followed to repair that same government.

For Virginia, Creigh Deeds

He may have been elected Commonwealth's Attorney, Delegate, and State Senator in the Shenandoah Valley, but Creigh Deeds knows Virginia as well as any candidate for Governor in recent memory. Sen. Deeds passed through the Fredericksburg area many times over the years; first as House Democratic Caucus Chairman, then as the Democratic nominee for Attorney General. So when he spoke to the Stafford Co. Democrats earlier this month at their First Annual Jefferson/Jackson Dinner, he probably didn't need to stop for directions.

But not everything is about the next election.

There Will Be No Paper Trail in VA's Largest Jurisdiction This Year - Unless We Act

Due to budget shortfalls, Fairfax County cannot afford paper ballots for their optical scan machines, and will only be using their electronic machines - the same kind of machine that crashed in the March 10th special election.

What's more, they will not be opening the Satellite Locations around the county as they did last November. Only the Government Center will be open for In-Person Absentee Voting.

Dave Foster Stakes Lead in RPV AG Contest

Announcing the outcome of pre-files for the Virginia Republican Convention, a Dave Foster campaign representative told those gathered at the Virginia Beach Republican breakfast this morning that almost three times as many pre-files were submitted in Virginia Beach this year over last. Apparently wanting to clear up claims in correspondence by one or both of the other candidates, Aaron stated that the outcome ended with Dave Foster receiving more pre-file forms than any other Attorney General candidate, followed by John Brownlee, and that Ken Cuccinelli finished last.

This announcement builds upon the earlier success of the Foster campaign in Alexandria, where he filed more committed delegates than his two opponents combined. About a quarter of the City/County filing deadlines have passed. Senator Cuccinelli has made a number of personal appearances at local events and seemed to be the preference of the local party leadership. However, Foster has demonstrated strong organization and ties to and support from state and national Republican groups.

Foster was a member of former Attorney General Bob McDonnell’s Internet Safety Task Force.

Chris Rey No Longer Running for Delegate

Due to family issues, Chris V. Rey of Williamsburg will no longer be running for House of Delegates in the 93rd District - the seat currently held by Republican Phil Hamilton. He was an excellent candidate, we were blessed to have him, but we must move on and immediately work on finding another qualified Democrat.

Mr. Rey issued the following press release:

McDonnell Joins the Dump Frederick Feeding Frenzy

Much to the chagrin of Jeff Frederick aficionados in the Democratic grassroots, it appears that the Republican Party of Virginia is experiencing buyer's remorse over the selection of the Delegate from Prince William County as party chairman less than a year ago. The Virginian Pilot reports that with three quarters of the state party's central committee signing letters calling for Frederick's departure, the ouster could occur as early as the next meeting on 4 April. Quite possibly the final nail in the coffin was delivered when Bob McDonnell announced his position that the party needs more effective leadership in this coming year.

McDonnell, the presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee, appears to be using this opportunity to "run to the middle" in an effort to build his base statewide for the general election. The litany of Frederick missteps includes a number of statements that remain offensive to Democrats. By creating the illusion that he takes exception to such faux pas as comparing then candidate Obama to Osama bin Laden, McDonnell likely hopes to distance himself from Frederick's antics which at the time drew no criticism from him. Frederick also alienated a number of Republicans during the General Assembly session as evinced by his abject legislative failures. At the same time, those in the Democratic gubernatorial primary race tend to "run to the left" while appealing to the narrower spectrum of voters that will decide the June election.

Even if the effort to remove Frederick from the position fails, McDonnell will have achieved a significant coup. He will have established the basis for a claim that the characterization of him as a member of the right wing extreme is inaccurate.

Republican Delegate William Fralin to retire

(important news - promoted by code)

Delegate Adam Ebbin's Facebook status is reporting that Delegate William Fralin of Roanoke is retiring, presumably news going around the GAB today (which happens to be Sine Die - the last day of session).

Mr. Fralin is 46 years old and has served for only 5 years, an odd time to retire. But we shouldn't complain, his district is suburban Roanoke and has a DPI of 42% - certainly not friendly territory but somewhere in the middle for Republican House of Delegates seats. A hard pickup no doubt, but we would be fools not to put up a good candidate.

Democratic Delegate Ken Melvin to Retire

Portsmouth Delegate Ken Melvin (D-80) will not run for re-election in 2009, leaving an open Democratic seat.

A little bit of research leads me to believe that there is currently no Democrat who has declared to run there, but the district went 76% for Obama, it is no doubt a perfect opportunity to pick a fresh, progressive Democrat.

Keam Dream Team in the 35th

JFK inspired a whole generation of leaders to rise up and follow in his footsteps. So, for the other side, did Ronald Reagan. If you’re wondering whether Obama will have the same kind of generational impact, the place to keep your eye on is Virginia’s 35th House District, covering Vienna, Oakton, Dunn Loring and portions of Fairfax. And the campaign to watch is that of Mark Keam.

As I noted in an earlier diary , Keam impressed me and countless others with his work as Fairfax for Obama Campaign Coordinator. And now he is applying his inspiration and experience from the Campaign for Change to fire up his own quest for the House of Delegates.

Just as importantly, he is scooping up a great deal of talent from the Obama campaign, including:

• Campaign Manager Aveek Majumdar, a veteran of both the Webb Brigades and the Obama campaign, where he served as field organizer for Fairfax County and regional director for Southern Hampton Roads.
• Field Director Bridgit Donnelly, Obama field staff in charge of the Providence Magisterial District and the youngest delegate sent to the Democratic National Convention from Virginia.
• Communications Director Sarah Hoptman, former field organizer for the Virginia Combined Campaign.

To meet Mark and all of these folks, and to find out what you can do to help him win, come to the grand opening of his campaign office at 407 Church Street, NE, Unit J, Vienna, VA 22180, this Saturday, February 28th, 2:00-5:00 pm.

President Obama is going to need a lot of help to conquer the Herculean tasks facing him, and we need to put the right people in place to assist him – people like Mark Keam. Come join the team!

Brian Moran handily wins the Mount Vernon Straw Poll, & Terry McAuliffe is a no-show

Tonight was a real demonstration of grassroots retail politicking, and every single statewide candidate in the running for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General on the Democratic side, with the exception of one, was present. Almost a few hundred people packed the Stone Mansion house in Alexandria for good retail politics, Mardi Gras beading, and cajun goodies.

The Mount Vernon Democratic Committee sponsored its second annual Mardi Gras Party & Straw Poll, and for the second year in a row, it was standing room only. There was great food, a terrific line-up of silent auction items that political people loved, and the secret hit of the night: Jeff Myhre's amazing Shenandoah-home-brewed beer! The lines for his beer were the biggest story of the night!

But actually, all the candidates who came gave some excellent speeches, some of the best I've heard this year from both Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran. On the Lt. Governor side, Pat Edmonson probably made the biggest strides in terms of identifying herself as the most unabashedly progressive candidate, but it was Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner who brought home the big win, with Jon Bowerbank's cavalcade of signage taking a fairly close second.

Results are after the fold, and as soon as I can get them uploaded, I'll put some photos behind the fold too.

B-Mac’s New Campaign Chairman -- “Fast Eddie” Gillespie!

So who will be leading Bob McDonnell’s crusade to bring conservative “Virginia values” to the governor’s mansion? Why none other than the consummate Washington insider – Ed “Fast Eddie” Gillespie!

If the name rings a bell, it should. Fast Eddie came to Virginia in December 2006 to add the title “Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia” to his resume. He left to slink back inside the Beltway seven months later. Yes, that’s fast! But it was typical of a career that epitomizes the worst of Washington’s revolving door. Also telling was that he continued to work for his big-time lobbying firm, Quinn Gillespie, while serving as RPV chair.

In fact, Public Citizen devoted an entire report to Gillespie’s career in 2003 entitled The Embedded Lobbyist . This report was written to warn Bush not to appoint Gillespie head of the RNC, due to his extensive lobbying ties. A few choice examples of his career taken from this report include:

•Enron paid Quinn Gillespie $700,000 in 2001 alone to lobby on the “California energy crisis” and thwart efforts to re-regulate the Western electricity market through price controls. Before its collapse, the company also funneled money to a Gillespie-run group to buy national television ads promoting the president’s industry-friendly energy plan.

It's Official - Another Open House Seat!

Today on the floor of the House of Delegates, Jeff Frederick made official his plans not to seek re-election to the House of Delegates this year.

Del/Chairman Frederick is the gift that keeps on giving. We should all thank him for not only totally devastating the RPV, but now vacating a House of Delegates seat in Eastern Prince William County that went 63% for Obama. I would venture to call this pickup number 1 for the House Democratic Caucus.

A Fresh Face in the 38th?

Fairfax County School Board member Kaye Kory is running to unseat fellow Democrat Bob Hull as House Delegate for the 38th District. This is good news, folks.

Bob Hull seems by all accounts to be among the least popular and least respected members of the General Assembly. He’s my Delegate and I have voted to elect him because I’d rather have him there than be represented by a Repub. But it’s rare that I hear anything of substance either from or about him.

Sorry, Bob, but it’s not enough just to keep the seat warm. I want my elected representatives to work their hearts out every day for my state and for my country.

While I need to learn more about Kaye, she radiates energy, enthusiasm and intelligence.

Can Virginia Democrats win on a theme of good government?

Thinking about the fall elections, and looking for an issue or issues that might allow for a true statewide campaign...

It is said that all elections have one of two themes -- either "keep a good thing going," or "throw the bums out." In 2008, we saw the classic "throw the bums out" election. The 2008 election was unusual because the "throw the bums out" theme was so strong that even John McCain embraced it.

In 2009, I expect that Democrats will be saying, "Throw the bums out of Richmond," and the Republicans are going to have to argue, because they have no choice, "let us keep our legislative gridlock going."

Suppose the Democrats run against the Republicans and their refusal to pass nonpartisan redistricting? Or their insistence on killing early voting and no-excuses absentee balloting? Or, assuming that we end up with another train wreck of a budget, suppose we throw in their inability to figure out a way to fund government?

Of course, we have been running against the Republicans and their budgeting prowess for 8 years. The problem with that issue is that at base, the only intellectually honest answer to the budget mess is to look at tax increases, which some people will always oppose.

Looking at the polls and the editorial pages, there is NO ONE who doesn't favor the redistricting reform packages that Democrats have floated, and that the Republicans have killed in committee. And there is basically NO ONE who doesn't favor the early voting and no-excuses absentee balloting packages that the Democrats have put forward. The House Republicans have already killed the Democratic bills in committee, and even though they will pass the Senate, the Senate versions will also die in the House, at the hands of the Republicans.

Taliban Bob Benefits Early From Out of State Donors

Three newly registered committees formed during the first seven days of 2009 funneled $77,000 into the McDonnell coffers. All three hail from outside the Commonwealth. One of them also donated $7,500 to Dave Foster’s campaign for Attorney General. This is information available to the public at vpap.org. All three PACs made their donations in the closing days of 2008.

Two of the organizations are readily recognizable, but one, Eagle Forum PAC, is more obscure and hails from Alton, Illinois. The treasurer of this PAC is none other than John Schlafly, Phyllis Schlafly’s eldest son. This PAC endorsed the candidacies of Virgil Goode, Representative Cantor, and Keith Fimian. Of the three committees, the larger contributors were the Republican Governor’s Association and the National Republican Trust.

Could it be that we will see a more tolerant side of Attorney General McDonnell? Will the openly gay Schlafly campaign with him in Virginia? Politics does make strange bedfellows, after all.

Cross posted at VBDems.org - Blogging our way to Democratic wins in Virginia Beach!

My Letter from the RPVA

I don't know how Jeff Frederick, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia got my address, but I'll highlight some of the points in the letter:

It begins with "Dear Fellow American."

"No doubt, the 2008 elections were both bitter and exhausting."
"But, we have a once in a lifetime chance here in Virginia to draw a line in the sand and launch a nationwide comeback for both our Republican Party and our conservative agenda."

The Key to Virginia's Economic Recovery

Russ Morris, the President of the consulting firm CFO Partner, LLC in Northern Virginia and potential candidate for delegate in the 13th district, is reaching out to start a discussion amongst the citizens of the Commonwealth to find out how business economy is affecting them. Having served as a CFO and Senior Financial Consultant to numerous small and mid-sized companies in Virginia, Russ is keenly aware of what must be done to help privately owned businesses thrive and prosper.

No McVotes for Governor

It occurred to me today that if you vote for anyone for governor whose last name begins with "Mc," then the end result will be McDonnell as Governor.

Nothing against that particular prefix; but it's just pretty clear to me that A vote for McAuliffe is a vote for McDonnell. Our experience in 2006 and 2008 reaffirmed several things that we know about the Old Dominion:

Virginia is a fiercely independent state -as evidenced by the number of conservatives that voted for Obama on Feb. 12th.

Gearing Up In Virginia

Cross posted from www.21stdems.org/blog

Since my first day of work at 21st Century Democrats, I’ve learned that you can never underestimate the importance of local elections. I was again reminded of this last Friday, as our team began to meet with new candidates up for election in 2009. Making the short trip out to Arlington, Dan and I had lunch with Andres Tobar, a community activist who is running for the State House in 47th District in Arlington County. With five likely opponents, Mr. Tobar is revving up for his primary election in June (yes, we’re talking about elections again). Mr. Tobar currently serves as the Executive Director of the Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC), which oversees the hiring of day laborers at the SEEC Office and Pavilion. Before taking this position, Mr. Tobar served for five years as the Executive Director and CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Publications. He is also the Chair of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations and serves on various committees and boards including the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

The House Republican Caucus v. Democracy – Part II

Continuing my report from December

Late last year politicians from both sides of the aisle were shocked when a young ruffian (aged 69) named Henry Waxman succeeded in challenging 53-year incumbent John Dingell for the coveted post of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair. Everyone knows that seniority is king amongst Democrats in the US House of Representatives, just as loyalty and ideology reign when Republicans are in power.

Were such the case in Richmond…

Political gain above all else determines committee assignments in the Virginia House of Delegates. Okay – no big surprise there – what shocks newcomers to the General Assembly is that the Speaker has the sole power to assign members of both parties to committees. The whim of one member is the ultimate decider in what effectively becomes the policy of the entire chamber thanks to the dictatorial power of subcommittees.

And it doesn’t even end there…