Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Eyebrows Disappear

Not Robert Roberts and his magical eyebrows have mysteriously disappeared from the Blogosphere.

NRR: if you're listening, come back! Even NLS liked you, and NLS doesn't like anybody! :)

Bill Bolling as David Spade?

You've all seen the Capital One commercials with David Spade, where "no" is the stock answer to every question. The Blue Dog has managed to put Bill "No" Bolling on the defensive in his latest Augusta Free Press column, but Bolling walked into it voluntarily. Read the column here.

We know the Blue Dog's political loyalties lie somewhat to the left of Bolling's, and we know Bolling was only answering the questions put to him about Byrne's health care proposals. But does a good candidate really let himself be cast as The "No" Guy that easily? Byrne's proposals may indeed come from an "unabashed liberal," but use the opportunity to say intelligent things about your own plan rather than wasting space with a point-by-point critique of your opponent's plan.

We still think Bolling is going to win, but this is just another indication that he's letting Leslie Byrne walk all over him in the policy debate.

HD11-20: The Unopposed Races

HD11 - Onzlee Ware (D) - Best known for his frugality and his untimely trip to Vegas during the budget showdown. His part of Roanoke is solid Democratic territory.

HD14 - Daniel W. Marshall, III (R) - One of the 17 renegades, Marshall owns a concrete business and races Porsches in his spare time. Not a bad gig.

HD16 - Robert Hurt (R) - Another of the 17, Hurt generally keeps a low profile but is extremely intelligent and effective as a legislator. Hurt is one to watch.

HD17 - William H. Fralin, Jr. (R) - Son of nursing home magnate Heywood Fralin, this guy stands about seven feet tall and weighs no more than a buck fifty. I'm not making that up. He's no dummy either.

HD18 - C.L. "Clay" Athey, Jr. (R) - The former Mayor of Front Royal is well-known but has not done himself any favors lately. This should have been contested.

HD19 - Lacey E. Putney (I) - He was originally a Democrat but is more comfortable as a Republican. He also has the most time in the General Assembly of any member (43 years), which means he gets to hog the "1" license plate. He stood in as Speaker after Vance Wilkins resigned but refused to run for the job himself. Definitely one of the last gentlemen politicians left in Virginia.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Nader's Virginia Coordinator Cops a Plea

We usually don't report on national politics, but I had a heck of a good laugh when I read this. Gil Davis is certainly making the election fraud rounds, isn't he? I'm not Steve Chapman, but if I was, I'd be looking up the term "Alford Plea."

HD20 - Elder v. Saxman

This is another easy mark for us to put on the map. The real story here is not whether Chris Saxman will win this election, but where his "rising star" is taking him.

Saxman opponent Bruce Elder has his work cut out for him. Elected in 2001 in a solid victory over Democrat Tracy Pyles, Saxman has grown into his position. He also seems to have grown on his constituency, despite early discontent with him over his straddling of the I-81 debate and a minor tiff when the state shuttered the aging prison facility in his home base of Staunton. Saxman became chairman of the General Assembly's Cost Cutting Caucus in 2003 and has maintained a fairly high visibility for a new member.

Elder, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have that much energy. His web site makes it look as if the only issue he cares about is public safety, and likewise makes his schedule look very thin. His pedigree shows Boston as his birthplace but doesn't give a lot of information about his roots in the Shenandoah Valley, a region where roots still matter.

This race is a very easy call for Chris Saxman. The biggest question is whether Saxman has his star set on a race for Lieutenant Governor in 2009. Some of us saw Saxman's out-of-place endorsement of Sean Connaughton in the LG primary as an olive branch to the most populous region in Virginia.

Caption Contest Winner

Wow so many submissions from so many people......

Good Job Will. Your caption

"The ladies at the Garden Club think you're spending too much
time out in the sticks, with NASCAR and such."

Is the winner. You should recieve your commemorative bobble head in 6-8 weeks...baring any unforseen circumstances like sunny days, cloudy days, rain, heat, cold, or alien invasion.

HD01-10: The Unopposed Races

SBE has finally updated their web site, so we're going to start the long process of updating you on the unopposed races, of which there are many. But the SBE site still isn't 100% Not Larry Sabato accurate, so please let us know if we leave any out. Our fearless webhead, Mosby's Ghost, will add these to the "race counter" in due time. That is, if Russ Potts doesn't get him spun up first.

Without further adieu, here is the first batch of unopposed races:

HD03 - Jackie T. Stump (D) - This good-hearted teddy bear of a mine worker can turn on the water works seemingly at will. He has shed tears in a multitude of public places. Stump got his start in coalfields politics by spending time in jail as a local union organizer. It seems rural Buchanan (that's "BUCK-anon") County loves their emotional delegate. The last time Stump was opposed was 1995, and he crushed his GOP opponent by nearly 2 to 1.

HD04 - Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. (D) - Why not? Someone has to sit in that chair.

HD05 - C.W. "Bill" Carrico, Jr. (R) - First elected in 2001, this former State Trooper is perhaps best known in the rest of Virginia for switching his vote on the mandatory seat belt bill after first fiercely (and publicly) supporting it. We doubt that flip-flop will hurt Carrico with his anti-government constituents in Southwest. He won re-election in 2003 by 54%. That doesn't seem like much until you consider most observers thought his opponent had a chance of toppling him.

HD08 - H. Morgan Griffith (R) - The Majority Leader. Have the Dems learned nothing? Never let the other party's floor leader off without a fight. Then he has time to circle the state stumping for his people and stomping on yours. Griffith won 59% in 2003, seemingly without lifting a finger. But that's a far cry from the nearly 70% he got in 2001.

Okay, that's the first batch. We'll be back with another batch tomorrow.

HD32: Black v. Poisson

Kenton Ngo has a post up about several races, including the 32nd district seat owned by controversial Loudoun County Delegate Dick Black. Black faces David Poisson (who we understand pronounces his name "Poison") this year. Ngo thinks Loudoun voters would "double over in pain" if presented the facts about Black. I'm not so sure. Patty Morrissey presented the same set of facts to the voters in Black's district twice - in 2001 and 2003. The second time she even had a ton of money from Mark Warner.

This is an easy call for us: Dick Black wins, probably with close to 60%. Black's district is not as full of religious conservatives as it once was, but Black still runs a formidable machine that is piped in to nearly every conservative activist in the area. And conservative activists vote. Black is also a huge fundraiser and perennial hard worker whose ground game involves papering local churches during Sunday services. It's going to take a lot more than Poisson to kill Black's chances in conservative Loudoun County.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

HD67 - Caputo v. Craddock

Not Larry Sabato posted this e-mail about a week ago from a source from within the "Democratic Coordinated Campaign" saying Chuck Caputo is missing in action. Turns out most of the substance of the e-mail is true. This race is going to be a sticky one:
  • The 67th District is home to Ken Cuccinelli, another right-wing conservative who is a perennial high-poller for the Virginia Club for Growth axis. But a few precincts are shared with moderate Republicans Bill Mims and Jeannemarie Devolites. And Cuccinelli is not on the ballot this year, eliminating any hope for huge Cuccinelli coattails. Advantage Craddock
  • The Sully Magisterial District, which overlaps much of the 67th, is a very transient area that has shown a trend toward more moderate Republicrats than in past elections. Sully elected Democrat Kathy Smith to Gary Reese's School Board seat in a small turnout special election after Reese went to the General Assembly in 2001. She won handily in 2003, a year when Sully's GOP Supervisor Mike Frey also won big. This shows some big-time vote splitting. Advantage Caputo
  • Chris Craddock has proven his mettle in a hard-fought (okay, the incumbent basically abdicated) primary. He is willing to fight his way to the top, is not afraid of hard work, and has organized legions of volunteers. Kind of reminds us of Cuccinelli and Dick Black. Advantage Craddock
  • Chuck Caputo has strong ties to the 67th and its surrounding communities. He's been fairly active in the community. Craddock is very young and has fewer ties. But remember all those new voters - will they really care who has been there longer? Does Caputo actually have any name ID or credibility with the new folks? Ever so slight Advantage Caputo
  • Craddock says odd things in public like "Jesus brought these voters to me." He is also much more conservative than the Republicrats who are increasingly populating the 67th and who like Craddock's stance on taxes but don't care much for his injection of religion into everything. Advantage Caputo
  • Caputo apparently spends the primary in Europe "recharging his batteries." Okay, so I'll admit that about three people really care if the candidate takes a well-deserved vacation. But this gives us a strong signal that Caputo is not willing to do what it takes to run an effective ground game against Craddock. Advantage Craddock

Each candidate also benefits from a level playing field since this is now an open seat, making this race the cliffhanger of the season. Chuck Caputo goes into this as a very slight razor-thin favorite. This doesn't mean we are counting Craddock out by any means. This kid works hard and he has support from what I term the True Believers, who are much more likely to show up at the polls than moderate Republicrats.

We're having a hard time making the numbers for this district crunch solidly in Craddock's direction. We're seeing blue barbarians at the gates, although we must add that Kathy Smith will not be their leader. The 42nd will be the race to watch, and the open 67th will be a close second.

Depending on what we hear out of this district in the next couple of weeks this may migrate into the Craddock category very quickly.

Hank Hill....Red-Stater?

Norman has been hitting lots of home runs lately, but we were extremely surprised to learn over the weekend that he reads the New York Times. For those who are not up on the dominant political persuasion of the media, the New York Times makes the Washington Post and the Roanoke Times look like the vast right-wing conspiracy.

At any rate, the New York Times assigned one of their staff writers to investigate the strange television phenomenon known on Fox as "King of the Hill." Since I've long been a fan of the show, I read Norman's post feeling somewhat vindicated.

Norman and the New York Times have hit on something profound. Hank Hill is both a parody and a study in the sociology of the American heartland. The Times and those Northern Virginia blue-staters might not understand Hank Hill's allegiance to his country, propane (and propane accessories), his wife, his pickup truck, his dog Lady Bird, and his kooky friends who cause him more trouble than not, but I suspect those red-state people outside the Beltway see a lot of themselves in this good-hearted family man.

Based on the Republican-sounding stuff coming out of the Kaine camp lately, we wonder whether someone on Team Kaine has gotten the cultural message that John Kerry missed...any fans of Hank Hill over there?

Monday, June 27, 2005

HD42: Englin/Werkheiser v. Albo

It looks like there was a shred of truth to the strange post by Not Larry Sabato some time back about Greg Werkheiser standing on David Englin's front lawn. On Saturday, Raising Kaine posted this call for action. It looks like the forces are marshaling themselves for the July 4th parade in Lorton, the heart of the 42nd district.

This is the House of Delegates battleground, folks. If Tom Davis really is going to be there in person, it is a good guess he is foresaking his traditional and time-honored place in the City of Fairfax 4th of July Parade, which begins an hour before the Lorton parade. For those unfamiliar with Northern Virginia topography and trafficology, it is theoretically possible for Davis to do both parades personally. It is also theoretically possible for NASA to land on Mars that same day.

This is the race to watch. If Werkheiser has managed to draw out Davis, Albo's internal poll numbers must be sagging. You can tell a lot about who needs propping up by where the big dogs show up on a major holiday. This could also signal that John Mason has a cakewalk on his hands.

I'll post an update to this tidbit once I've got reports from the 4th of July events. Scheduling for candidates is always a fluid game, so we're going to see whether the post on Raising Kaine is accurate, or whether it is primarily designed to draw out volunteers.

Potts Gets 15%!

Not Bob Roberts' eyebrows seem to have grown a bit over the weekend. He is predicting the following numbers in the gubernatorial race:

Kilgore - 45%
Kaine - 40%
Potts - 15%

We've got a couple of problems with those numbers:

1. Not Bob points out that Virginia is a conservative state. We agree. But with the totals Bob has given us, it looks like 55% of the electorate will vote for the more liberal guys. We don't understand that.

2. Not Bob's Eyebrows tell us that Potts will pull votes from Kaine, not Kilgore. Our intuition tells us the same thing, but we're not willing to go so far as to give Potts 15%. Not yet. Even with his folksy stories about burning down cornfields in his youth.

Kilgore is still the odds-on favorite, but his momentum has definitely eased lately.


Off topic...but....I'm SURE it will be revisited in the elections.

Will the Democrats run from this subject? Will the Republicans jump on it? Will Kilgore get behind a Constitutional Amendment? Will Kaine? It seems to more right Kilgore goes, the more right Kaine goes......we shall see.

This is sure to be fodder for the more conservative candidates.

HD41: Marsden v. Golden...Really a Toss-up?

Not Larry Sabato has continued his "toss-up" rating for the 41st district, where Michael Golden and David Marsden are vying for the chance to replace retiring Delegate Jim Dillard. Golden recently crushed fellow Republican Bill Finerfrock in the GOP primary, and some political hacks have taken his strong showing as an indication that Golden is a political powerhouse. I'm not sure that's the case.

NLS' rating of this race as a toss-up seems to focus more on the Dems' inability to coalesce around their own candidate, former longtime Republican and Dillard aide David Marsden. Marsden, rumor has it, decided to cut and run as a Democrat when it became clear to him that winning the GOP nomination would be difficult, if not impossible. We think it makes better sense for Marsden to run as a Dem if he hopes to capture Dillard's base. Let's be honest, there aren't many hard-core conservative Republicans who are also Dillard fans.

I too have heard a lot of complaining about Marsden from fellow Dems. The carping has led a couple of Dem party-line blogs to ask why the GOP is so much more comfortable accepting turncoats from the other party than the Dems are. The question is, will this really matter in November? With three statewide races to draw voters to the polls in ever bluer Northern Virginia, the Dems begin with an advantage since the GOP doesn't have a statewide candidate from Northern Virginia. Who really thinks all the Dems who show up to the polls will really pick Golden over Marsden?

I'm going to give Marsden a slight edge in this race. He's an old hand with plenty of experience and enormous support from Dillard, his former straight-talking boss. That edge could be erased in this district that gave President Bush the edge in 2004 if Marsden can't get past his past.

Friday, June 24, 2005

One time only caption contest.

Total props to John Behan, but I could not pass this one up.

Best caption wins a commemorative "I survived Teapot Dome" Warren G. Harding bobblehead!

Rodo-Watch Day 15

We still can't find Phil Rodokanakis anywhere. But then again, we're not Jim Dillard.

Not Larry Sabato Unveiled?

This is the only credence we are going to give to this strange thread going on over at Not Larry's site.

For the record, we don't really want to know the real identity of Not Larry Sabato. Or John Behan (although that one's a poorly-kept secret). Or Addison, or Light Horse Harry. James Young chooses to use his real name, although we've joined Virginia Centrist and his pseudonym in making light of the similarities between his posts and straw man Pastor John. Will Vehrs, Phil Rodokanakis, Jim Bacon, and Democratic Uber-Hack Barnie Day all blog using their own identities, and we enjoy their site.

Here is the way we look at it: anonymous blogging can allow people to exchange ideas free from the baggage and bias that often accompanies "identity." If I suspected Mike Shear or Ben Tribbett of being the real Not Larry Sabato, it would bias my opinion of his blog. The "alternate personality" Not Larry has created eliminates or changes that bias, and allows me to give a harder look at his ideas without dismissing them based on the personality behind them.

I just don't care who these anonymous guys are. I enjoy reading their blogs anyway - even if Not Larry Sabato occasionally gets to be the object of my good-natured scorn.

For the record, I am not Tom Davis. Not even close. In fact, the poor guy doesn't even seem to remember who I am when our paths cross up in Northern Virginia.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Shear Gets One Right...

Rarely will you see me link to the Washington Post, but columnist Mike Shear had a rare lucid moment with this piece.

It's almost as if Mike's been spending some time on my blog.

UPDATE: Norman over at One Man's Trash has devoted a little more blogspace to this one than I have. I don't agree with Norman's reasoning, but he comes to essentially the same conclusion - Act I of the Anti-Tax Revolt has failed. If the only incumbent you can knock off is Gary Reese, you had might as well go home.

Do Republicans Need More Room?

Excellent post by Virginia Centrist about the correlation between party identification and lot size. I'm not sure large lots necessarily put the GOP at a disadvantage in terms of canvassing - witness the growth of gated communities in Northern Virginia and Richmond. The GOP does have difficulty putting on a good ground game in rural areas where it can take an hour to knock on 5 doors. But gated townhome communities and condo complexes that bar any type of soliciting in urban and exurban areas hamper Dem efforts as well.

Like Virginia Centrist, I would love to see one of our political patron saints - The Real Sabato or The Real Rozell (or even The Real Holsworth) - tackle this one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Who Gets to Debate?

Will Vehrs makes an excellent point in a week where the prime political issue seems to be Debategate:

I wonder if all the editorial boards would go to the ramparts if Del. Dick
Black or Del. Bob Marshall were the independent, not Russ Potts. They've
certainly got an electoral base and proven grasp of the issues. What are
"noxious views?" Maybe, Potter Stewart-like, they know them when we see

I wonder indeed. He goes on to say this:
Jerry Kilgore should not have ruled out debating Potts, but he should have
at least referenced the "Sabato standard" as the most important consideration. We are setting ourselves up for some real donnybrooks in the future if 5% or less is the standard for getting into a debate among candidates in a state-wide general election.
Maybe the Sabato standard is the best we have, but can anyone tell me definitively that Potts is not at 5%? Moreover, can anyone tell me why we need a different standard for inclusion in debates than we have for inclusion on the ballot? If Nancy Spannaus or Bob Marshall can gather 24,000 signatures, let them in the debate.

And Yet Another Blog....

Apparently there is a growing trend of cheap Not Larry Sabato knockoff sites, of which we were the first.

Not Bob Roberts will now be using his magic eyebrows to predict the outcome of campaigns. He promises to provide percentages for each race - just like we've promised to do later in the season. Hopefully we won't lose both of our readers to Not Bob.

Potts' New Clothes

First of all I'd like to thank Not Mark for inviting me to this blog. With an introduction like that I can only hope to live up to it. Let's try, shall we?

I would like to take the time to make my first post on a topic that has been on my mind for a while.

Russ Potts.

I hate to waste good Internet bandwidth discussing this tired topic. And I know there are people (mostly high ranking GOP members) who would prefer that I ignore the little man, but I can't. I know and have seen too much to hold it back.

Russ Potts is an intolerable sycophant with little to no regard for the people, ideas, and voters who got him where he is today. I don't just say this out of my distain for his Napoleonic run for the Governor's Office, but from years of personal experience.

I have witnessed him tell someone that taxes are too high, and then turn around and tell another person the complete opposite. I have witnessed him berating and belittling his fellow Senators by name, in the hallways of the General Assembly to lobbyists, staff and constituents and then turn around and ask for their support for one of his bills.

I have seen his temper. Think Joan Crawford in "Mommy Dearest".

I know that he is one of the dirtiest campaigners out there. He has called the clients/employers/customers of his opponents and tried to bully them against said opponents. He has also attempted to have opponents audited and inspected by state agencies.

And those were the Republicans.

After playing "Mark the Tax-man" (his Democrat opponent's name was Mark) radio ads on a local radio station, he is seen on the front pages of the Washington Compost crying that raising taxes is the only solution.

He has used his power on the Education and Health Committee to win elections, but couldn't recognize members of his own local school boards if he ran into them at the local Wal-Mart. He campaigned in his last election as an anti-tax, anti-abortion candidate ONLY so he could win a fairly conservative district full of the same people for which he is now he is espousing so much contempt.

The first things he did when in session this year were to raise taxes and kill all abortion legislation. Not only did he do them, he was the POSTER CHILD for doing so. Several weeks after sending out his "I am the only pro life candidate" mailing, he was THE featured as a speaker at a pro-choice Republican women's club.

Regardless on where you stand on abortion or taxes, what Potts did was contemptuous, manipulative and deceitful.

It is quite obvious that the press in enamored with his candidacy simply to make a good story. Their constant flattery only makes him believe himself even more. The more drama there is in the election, the more papers they will sell. One newspaper is ready to endorse him, others are touting how refreshing his candidacy is. Have they ever met this man? Perhaps they have. He is great at telling you what you need or want to hear. And he comes across fairly sincere. Until you have seen it over and over, with lie after lie.

While Potts is a thorn in the side of Kilgore, and a playful distraction for Kaine, he has no real chance. Rumor has it he is working hard for the Barry/Wadell exit strategy.

His pandering and disingenuous character is reason enough to boot him out of his committee seats. But let us hope that the Senate Republican Caucus will follow its own rules and remove him the moment he files his candidacy, no vote needed. If not, I'm sure the voters of the 33rd will take care of the problem in 2007.

Are the Dems United?

John Behan thinks he has uncovered a bit of friction between the Dems on the statewide ticket. I can't figure out whether Deeds is more uncomfortable with uber-liberal and perennial loser Leslie Byrne or Tim "Not Liberal" Kaine.

Then again, the GOP doesn't exactly have a dynamic ticket itself, with Jerry "Master Debater" Kilgore.

I think I see lots of write-ins this year.

Englin v. Moran?

Not Larry Sabato made this breathless report today. The anonymous e-mail message alleges that the glamorous and intelligent Shayna Englin, wife of newly annointed 45th district Delegate David Englin, is gearing up to challenge Congressman Jim Moran next year for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional district. David Englin is also a member of Not Larry's Celebrity Blog Team.

Predictably, this was met with the requisite scoffing, as well as shouts of "I told you so" from Shayna's detractors, who we believe need to be collectively declawed. I did a little digging tonight, and I'm pretty sure I have come up with a definitive denial from the Englin camp, albeit through a supporter. We'd be happy to get confirmation either way from the Englins, unless David's Celebrity Blogger contract with Not Larry Sabato prevents his posting on our blog.

I'd like to think we'd do a bit more checking before posting a rumor about the wife of one of our blog team. In fact, we're quite fond of the wives of our bloggers, and we happen to be a fan of Shayna's too. We're sure she's got her sights set on something, but we hope it's not Moran - yet.

UPDATE: Shayna Englin has indeed posted a definitive denial of this rumor (the same denial it took me 3.5 minutes to get last night). In fact, she claims she will never run for any office. The question of the day is can you still call youself 100% accurate if your stories turn out to be bogus plants by bitter activists?

UPDATE 2: David Englin just came to Shayna's rescue over at Not Larry's with the following message: "To those courageous souls who make anonymous personal attacks on my wife and son, our address is 1505 Wayne Street, Alexandria, Va. Why not come by to state your case in person and stand by your remarks?" Englin also clarifies that he has no intention of being a celebrity blogger for NLS. Uh-oh. I hope Cuccinelli is still in the Celebrity Blogger bag or we'll have to start coming up with our own material.

Rodokanakis v. Dillard (Long Post)

A few of the junkies out there still haven't seen the testy e-mail exchange between Virginia Club for Growth President Phil Rodokanakis and retiring Delegate Jim Dillard. I guess there are at least a couple e-mail addresses in Virginia that Paul Jost doesn't have on his list. I'm going to do this without much comment, since I've already called Rodokanakis on the carpet for falsely claiming that his group had something to do with Jim Dillard's retirement. I've also pointed out that Dillard's impending retirement has been one of the most open secrets in Richmond since at least 2003.

In an effort to keep both of our readers happy, here is Dillard's original message:

Do you really feel you have to lie to get your points across. You know as well
as I do that Golden did not play a role in my decision not to seek re-election.
You may recall that I had promised my wife that I wo/ quit at 30 and only w/ her
acceptance did I run again to help get Virginia the necessary revenues to meet
our fiscal responsibilities to fund our core services. You guys don't have a
clue about the responsibilities of running a state. You may also recall that
"Republican" Golden ran against the Republican incumbent and I soundly defeated
him. One of the few things you have said about me that is correct is that I
always let my constituents know my position on issues and I thank you for that.
I told the voters that if you elect me I am going to raise your taxes .
Incidentally I never said that I wanted to raise the gas tax 10 cents and didn't
put in a gas tax bill. I realize that writing to you is a waste of time because
you guys w/ continue to distort the truth whenever it suits your purpose. Jim

To which Rodokanakis responded:

Dear Jim:

Thank you for your message. I firmly believe that we can better understand each other by initiating a dialog outlining our respective positions; in this regard, I'm thankful that you took the time to write to me.

And in this spirit, I would like to take the opportunity to answer the points you raised in your message:

1. Did Golden play a role in your decision not to seek re-election?
Well Jim, I don't profess to be a mind reader. But reasonable people can agree that we can infer things from the positions we espouse publicly. As far as the record shows, you went to Richmond in January and you had made no announcement of your impending retirement. If you intended on retiring during the 2005 term of the legislative assembly, that must have been the best kept secret in Richmond--which usually leaks like a sieve.

The facts as I recall them were that Golden kicked off his campaign in December 2004--an extremely well attended function by the way--and soon thereafter Mychele Brickner who was thinking about running for your seat announced that due to family considerations she would be unable to enter the race. When the 2005 session started in the General Assembly, to my knowledge everyone expected you to run for office again. As a matter of fact, Golden was initially campaigning against you (see my OpEd column "The Taxpayers Nemesis" at
It wasn't until early February I believe, when out of the blue Golden got a call from an aide to Speaker Howell advising him of your decision not to run again and inviting Golden to an event sponsored by the Republican caucus. This was the first time most of us heard that you told anyone you planned to retire.

So perhaps it was coincidence on your part, but from our perspective you only made this decision after you saw first hand that Golden's campaign was catching fire. Whichever the case, you certainly cannot make the claim that everyone knew that you planned to retire this last session, because that is simply not the case.

2. Your noble sacrifices in running for office with the unselfish goal of securing Virginia the necessary revenues to meet our fiscal

Well Jim, some people never change no matter what fiscal realities they face. I have to give you credit for being consistent in being a tax-and-spend liberal, a true unadulterated RINO--unfortunately, you're also consistently wrong!

It's hard to believe that you can still espouse this sort of mantra in the face of burgeoning budget surpluses. The "sky is falling" cries from your side that got us saddled with the largest tax increase in the history of Virginia last year, were completely discredited--proven to be nothing but lies. You raised taxes by more than a billion dollars in the face of a $1.5 billion budget surplus.

And did you do the right thing afterwards when the tax increase was proven to be totally unnecessary? No, you just spent it all, never bothering to return a penny to the taxpayers you stole the money from.

Jim, I'm sure you've noticed that in the last few years tax increases (both local and state taxes) have been growing at double digit rates, while personal incomes are only growing by about 3 to 4%. In other words, tax increases can't continue year-after-year to outstrip the growth in personal incomes, because if you carry out this argument to its logical conclusion, eventually taxes will eat up 100% of personal incomes. What will the government do then to feed its insatiable appetite?

3. Funding core services:
What do you define as core services, Jim? Is funding the Virginia Department of the Mattresses really essential? (Why do we need a Department of Mattresses anyway?)
How about the Wilder report, Jim? Do you recall any of Doug's recommendations to cut back spending by $1 billion? How come you always want to stick it to the taxpayers, instead of streamlining government for a change?

How can you run a $60 billion enterprise without having in place any independent auditing and investigative controls? Is it responsible to always ask from more in taxes, yet take no steps to institute any accountability in government spending?

Jim do you realize that, as my friend John Taylor says, it took Virginia 386 years to reach a $30 billion bi-annual budget, yet it took you guys only another decade to double it to $60 billion?
Will you ever reach the point to admit that we cannot continue increasing spending at the present rates?

4. "Us guys" having no clue about the responsibilities of running a state:
Do Senators Ken Cuccinelli, Bill Bolling, Jay O'Brien, Mark Obenshain, and others have a clue about such responsibilities? Or what about the majority of the Republican Caucus in the House of Delegates--including the Republican Leadership--that voted against the tax increase?
When it comes to taxes and increased government spending, I doubt that you agree with any them. Are you the only one that knows what's best? And are your only solutions based on keeping your greedy hand in our wallets? I certainly don't recall you ever talking about government accountability--just more spending and more taxes.

5. Republican Golden running against you, the incumbent, as an independent:
Jim, as the old saying goes, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!
Given the fact that you donated money to John Kerry and supported him for President over the Republican nominee George W. Bush, I wouldn't be questioning anyone's loyalty to the Republican Party.

Furthermore, when did you discover that your long time Republican legislative aide, David Marsden, had been masquerading all along as a Democrat in Republican clothing?
And what about the Republican donations you raised over the years that are now finding their way to Democrat Marsden's political coffers?

But I guess the essential question on this matter is: Will you Jim as a loyal Republican, support Michael Golden in the November elections? Will you renounce Marsden for switching parties and for hoodwinking you into giving him $10,000 from the political donations of hardworking Republicans?

6. You never said that you wanted to raise the gas tax
You know, Jim, I'm a strong supporter of term limits. I believe your statement that you never wanted to raise the gas tax makes a good case in point as to why guys like you should be restricted from serving in the Legislature for more than three of four consecutive terms.
After all the years you've been drinking the Richmond Kool-Aid you've either forgotten your own record or have bought into the many lies and falsehoods you've spewed over the years.
That's why I'm here for--to keep the record straight, so let me refresh your memory.
At an Orange Hunt Estates Civic Association meeting in late 2003, you floated the idea of raising the gas tax by up to $0.10/gallon.

In the 2004 session, you then co-patroned a bill (HB60) with Harry Parrish--another bastion of fiscal accountability--to increase taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel, and alternative fuels by 6.5 cents per gallon.

Now who is propagating lies, Jim? Did you already forget the bills you patroned in 2004? Or is it that you can't keep straight the many different versions of the stories you tell to different groups?

Since you obviously have a convenient memory, let me refresh your recollection about some the bills you sponsored/co-sponsored in 2004. You supported bills to increase the sales tax, gas tax, taxes on fishing licenses, prepaid calling cards, income taxes, and taxes on new homeowners (deed tax), among others, and to stop the promised rollback of the car tax. Now that's got to be a record, even by your own standards.

You also actively supported legislation to increase local taxes and/or increase the authority of localities to tax (e.g., hotel taxes). And you opposed legislation that would have required localities to secure voter approval via referendum before increasing certain taxes.
Do you have any other answers, Jim, other than to always propose tax increases? This one-trick pony of yours is getting kind of old, don't you agree?

I can go on and on, but I think that for our first exchange this covers all the essential points you raised in your message. I look forward to many more similar exchanges with you and debating the issues. However, I would appreciate if you stuck to the facts and didn't try to reason by asserting mendacities. Who knows, maybe some day we can publish our exchanges, perhaps under the title of "Point Counterpoint: Shining the light on Liberal Myths and Other Falsehoods."

With my warmest regards,


That last "warmest regards" part is my favorite. That's the entire e-mail exchange, as I got it from Paul Jost. I haven't added or subtracted anything. Can anyone figure out why the Club for Growth feels compelled to spend so much time debating a retiring delegate who supposedly quit rather than face their chosen opponent?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Rodo-watch....Day 11

Phil Rodokanakis, President of the Virginia Club for Growth and blogger extraordinaire, seems to have crawled in a hole somewhere. We've commented on his press releases and we've seen the testy e-mail exchange he had with retiring Delegate Jim Dillard, but we just can't seem to make Phil surface on his own blog over at Bacon's Rebellion. I'm hoping uber-hack Barnie Day will help me coax him out.

HD36 - Ferguson v. Plum

Okay, we're really going to go out on a limb with this one. Sterling Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio has farmed out his aide, Donny Ferguson, to run as a Libertarian against 30-year Democratic Delegate Ken Plum in Reston. Ferguson's campaign platform can be summed up in two prongs: "no local income tax," which leaves people scratching their heads in confusion; and "no tolls on the Toll Road," which might actually get Ferguson a handful of protest votes.

Still, does anyone see Ken Plum getting less than 90% in a district comprised mostly of the People's Republic of Reston? Against a Libertarian?

My trademark George Foreman intuition is on solid ground here. Maybe Delgaudio and Ferguson should stick to rattling cages in Loudoun County.

UPDATE: Ferguson tells us that Plum spent primary day out of the country. Perhaps he was out with fellow absentee Chuck Caputo?

UPDATE 2: Not Larry Sabato thought perhaps there were readers of my blog who would not get the Caputo reference. As if both of you don't come straight over here after reading the latest at Not Larry's. :) At any rate, here is where the inside joke on Caputo comes from.

Mosby's Ghost Joins the Eight Ball

He's not exactly a celebrity blogger, but I've asked one of my fellow hacks, Mosby's Ghost, to join us in blogging about all things politics.

Mosby promises us he has forgotten about that recent unpleasantness that some refer to as the War of Northern Aggression. He also promises to provide a needed hard-edged balance to my squishiness.

We're expecting his first post to show up any day now. He may not be Ken Cuccinelli and he may not go easy on Russ Potts or Tom Davis, but I promise you'll enjoy Mosby's brand of Bloggerism.

Kilgore, Kaine, and Kool Aid

Barnie Day thinks Kilgore has hemmed himself in and has no option but to allow Potts into the debates. A few commenters over at Bacon's Rebellion think Barnie has been imbibing the proverbial Potts Kool Aid. I tend to agree. Debategate is more a symptom of Kilgore's declining momentum than a watershed event. Maybe if Debategate had broken on October 15 instead of June 15 I'd be predicting Kilgore's demise. But Kaine and Potts still have several months to make their own screw-ups. Make no mistake: Kilgore handled this badly, but don't bring out the crown yet.

HD13 - Roemmelt v. Marshall

Bob Marshall is perennially known as one of the most conservative legislators in the House, taking on such universally important issues as whether adults on college campuses should have access to legal contraceptives. Marshall's opposition comes in the character of Bruce Roemmelt, a retired Prince William County firefighter.

Marshall has two factors going for him. First, he's a conservative Republican in a conservative district. Second, Marshall has taken on an issue that has put him at odds with many traditional Republicans: growth and development. Marshall continues to fight for growth controls such as impact fees and adequate public facilities ordinances, making him a darling of many slow-growthers, even those who can't stomach his views on abortion and birth control. He also fought a Wal-Mart in his district, making him something of a local hero. Both religious conservatives and slow-growthers are what we call "true believers," which means Marshall can usually count on his people to turn out and vote for him if they think he's threatened.

Our sources tell us that Marshall has largely been a no-show so far, although his campaign finance reports show the frugal legislator has spent more than $25,000 of his campaign funds since January. Roemmelt spent a paltry $11,000 in the same period. Roemmelt has managed to outraise Marshall for the year, even ignoring the fact that Roemmelt has jacked up his in-kind contributions to puff up his totals. Most of Roemmelt's big money has come from local chapters of the International Association of Fire Fighters union, which doesn't give me a lot of hope that the cash will continue into the Fall. The One Virginia PAC has gone in for $5,000, but Hilda Barg and Greg Werkheiser have already gotten $15,000.

Where Marshall could be in trouble is if he doesn't take Roemmelt seriously. Roemmelt has a chance to pull the slow-growthers away from Marshall since many of them are not religious conservatives. Roemmelt doesn't appear poised to do this right now, since his web site is loaded with back-slapping blog entries from his supporters and does not contain any sort of platform that we could locate. The biggest news there seems to be that Roemmelt's field director had the guts to knock on Marshall's door despite the presence of a "No Trespassing" sign (great job, guys, did you nab his lawn ornaments too?). This makes Roemmelt's presence on the Internet only slightly better than Marshall's, who doesn't have a web site at all. But who needs a web site when all you have to do to win an election is let everyone at church know you need them to go vote?

Not Larry Sabato has already chalked this up as a Bob Marshall victory, and I'm inclined to agree. But living in a conservative district does not guarantee you a victory, especially if your opponent succeeds in identifying moderate voters and turning them out. Our sources tell us the Roemmelt campaign has so far been too disorganized to accomplish this.

UPDATE: The Roemmelt folks just directed me to an archived version of Marshall's web site here. Marshall's site was originally hosted by a religious charity, and we had been unable to find it once the guys over at Raising Kaine got it taken down. Roemmelt clearly wins the war of the web, but Howard Dean will still tell you no one ever won a race relying on a web site.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Governor Potts and President Perot?

Remember H. Ross Perot? H. Russell Potts may end up sharing more than his initials with this volatile billionaire spoiler from the 1992 presidential election. What sunk Perot's star? I think it was the fact that he started talking publicly about his UFO sightings and the FBI agents that wanted to crash his daughter's wedding, causing the media that created him to turn on him with just as much vigor.

Norman over at One Man's Trash, usually an acolyte for the Virginia Club for Growth, began a very interesting debate yesterday about the legitimacy of Russ Potts. He began it all with this excellent assessment that claims that the media is trying to push Potts into legitimacy. That sparked a thoughtful debate among Norman, Barnie Day, and Will Vehrs. I don't have much to add, except that I want what Barnie is smoking if he thinks Russ Potts has a shot at winning in November. The real issue with Potts is which candidate's chances he will spoil and by how much.

Will Kaine and Kilgore eventually wrest control of this election from the pro-Potts media? Maybe they should send in a dirty tricks team to etch some crop circles in Potts' backyard. Better yet, they should just wait for Potts to say something "ill advised" on his own. Potts, like Perot, is a shoot-from-the-hip type so it shouldn't take too long. I think the Potts star will begin to fade by November, barring interference from Jerry Kilgore.

Anti-Tax Candidates Win!

Luckily for me, I have a source out there who regularly sends me the missives of Virginia Club for Growth President Phil Rodokanakis. Otherwise, I would have totally missed the big news from the recent primaries. The anti-tax side really did win, as evidenced by Rodokanakis' banner headline: "Anti-tax Candidates Win in VA Primaries."

How is that so, you ask? The VCG starts by taking credit for the statewide wins of Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell. I guess I can give them that - both of those guys pounded away at their anti-tax message, and they turned out the conservative Republican grassroots. I won't point out how easy this is to do in a "whipsaw" primary where well under 10% of the total electorate turns out.

Anyway, I'll slide away from the sarcasm and get back to the latest Rodokanakis Rant. After convincing himself of VCG's decisive victory statewide (and completely ignoring the fact that their gubernatorial candidate, George Fitch, couldn't even get to 20%), he goes on to tell us how important these results are for the future of the anti-tax cause:

And in the Delegate races the taxpayers sent another clear message. In the 67th
Delegate District, two-term incumbent, Gary Reese was trounced by Chris
Craddock, a newcomer to the political scene. Reese was humiliated by
garnering less than 34% of the vote.

This is very true. Reese got trounced, and as Not Larry Sabato will point out about every three hours, I thought this result would be much closer than it was. But could it have anything to do with something Rodokanakis pointed out much earlier, which is that Gary Reese was for the tax increase before he was against it? Most political observers agree that when you upset the people on both sides of the political divide, you've now annoyed roughly twice as many people as you should have annoyed legitimately. Unfortunately, Delegate Reese never paid much attention to who would be upset by the votes he cast, and that came back to haunt him. He couldn't find a decent block of voters who would support him because no one really knew where he stood. Reese was also politically untested. He barely won a three-way primary against two conservatives in 2001 and ran unopposed in 2003.

Next, Rodokanakis moves on to Michael Golden, who got the GOP nod to succeed retiring Republicrat Jim Dillard:

In the 41st Delegate District, Michael Golden defeated the Republican
establishment’s choice by walking way with 74% of the vote. A few months ago,
Golden was also instrumental in convincing Jim Dillard, the long-term incumbent
Delegate, to retire rather than face the anger of the voters over his
out-of-touch liberal record.

Like Rodokanakis, I thought Jim Dillard was more at home as a Democrat. But the last line in this paragraph is just plain laughable. I've never seen someone, Phil Rodokanakis included, make such a baseless charge. I've known Jim Dillard for years, and he will not back down from a fight, even one he's convinced he can't win. He is just too stubborn for that. I hate to burst Rodokanakis' bubble, but Dillard retired because he wanted to retire, not because he suddenly thought that after years of fighting with these guys he was finally going to get beaten. In fact, Dillard was set to retire in 2003, but decided to give Golden a thorough trouncing first. Dillard's impending retirement was one of the worst-kept secrets in Richmond, and it had absolutely nothing to do with a fear of Club Rodokanakis.

Rodokanakis then doubles back makes a very good point:

They [Craddock and Golden] ran classic grassroots campaigns, proving that these campaigns are only won from door to door.

This is the part of the message that shows Rodokanakis does indeed have some political sense - both Golden and Reese ran great ground games, flooding their districts with road signs and knocking on doors until their knuckles were raw and their shoe budgets were busted. Neither Reese nor Finerfrock did that, and they paid for it dearly.

Alas, we move from common sense straight back into the Spin Zone:

The PAC had also endorsed five other challengers. Although these candidates
did not enter their respective races until earlier this year, they all managed
to score impressive returns—in two cases losing by only 5% of the
vote. Also, the impact of the Democrat crossover vote cannot be
underestimated, that’s why the PAC is supporting initiatives for closed

“Defeating long-term, entrenched incumbents is a hard
business” said Rodokanakis. “Nonetheless, all of the candidates we endorsed
showed that politicians who campaign as fiscal conservatives while govern as
tax-and-spend liberals will be held accountable at the polls. At least one of
these incumbents hadn’t faced a challenge in about a quarter of a century, yet
he barely held on to his seat by a mere 4.84% plurality.”

This section of the piece befuddled me, so I went back and looked at the "unofficial" results reported by the State Board of Elections. Sure enough, Rodokanakis is using some odd numbers here. The "4.84% plurality" appears to refer to the race between Harry Parrish and Steve Chapman, where there is, in fact, a spread of over 9 percentage points. The other "close" race is Kenney v. Orrock, where the spread is a full 10 points. For the uninitiated, 10 points is the threshold we hacks generally use to denote "landslide" status.

The only thing I can deduce from VCG's numbers is that Rodokanakis was incorrectly using 50% as the magic number for a victory and pointing out that Parrish and Orrock only managed to get roughly 5 percentage points above that victory mark. This is not how the rest of us measure such things, especially since 50% is not always the point at which victory is assured. 50% is merely the point at which you obtain a majority of the ballots cast (which makes Rodokanakis' comment about Parrish's "plurality" win all the more mystifying). All you have to do in any race is get one more vote than the other guy.

I should concede that write-in ballots are not permitted in Virginia primaries, so in a two-way race one guy has to get to 50% of the ballots cast. But I still don't buy Rodokanakis' fuzzy math. These guys got 10 points, not 5.

There you have it. The anti-tax guys won last Tuesday and all of us over here missed it. According to the Club for Growth, the Reese and Golden victories were not flukes after all. But that doesn't explain why Phil has been a no-show on his blog over at Bacon's Rebellion. Maybe he'll show up over here to explain why I'm wrong.

Friday, June 17, 2005


I know it's late and my wife thinks I should be in bed, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to put in my two cents on whether Russ Potts ought to be in the gubernatorial debates. I think Will Vehrs over at Bacons Rebellion deals with it best.

Most political candidates try to control debates so that they are cast in the best possible light. They want to prevent their weaknesses from coming through, and - most importantly - they don't want to give a little-known challenger more press than he would otherwise get.

Kilgore has continued to pound hard on Russ Potts, so much so that he's starting to look like a bully. My intuition tells me that Potts' political leanings are closer to Kaine and will draw from Kaine's base. However, given Kilgore's vitriolic reactions to everything Potts, I can only surmise that Kilgore's polling shows that Potts is pulling his support from Kilgore. Likewise, Kaine seems to have embraced Potts with open arms, which tells me that both of the major candidates are in agreement about what Potts means to the outcome of this election.

Whoever Russ Potts is pulling his support from, Kilgore has made two critical mistakes here:
  1. He has publicly opposed including an independent candidate for Governor in debates. Bad move. Even if you don't want the guy in the debate, don't say it out loud. Defer to your people and let them be the bad guys. Voters really don't want to elect a guy who is stifling debate. Kilgore's remarks have only fueled the debate, mystifying even stalwart conservatives like Will Vehrs and John Behan.
  2. With his public remarks on the subject, Kilgore has given Russ Potts even more free publicity. The state GOP and Kilgore have both stumbled badly in dealing with Potts, giving him far more publicity than he would get if they just turned up their collective noses at him. They need to relearn the old schoolyard mantra: "If you just ignore him, he'll go away."

We've now had Accentgate and Debategate. At some point, we really are going to get to the issues, aren't we?

Is Jerry Kilgore Really Ahead?

John Behan at Commonwealth Conservative has this post on the latest Rasmussen poll on the Virginia Governor's race. According to the poll, Jerry Kilgore currently leads Tim Kaine 46%-40%. However, even ignoring the poll's somewhat high 4.5% margin of error, the poll has one critical flaw: the questions asked of respondents excluded any mention of "independent Republican" candidate Russ Potts.

John doesn't think the exclusion of Potts' name really affects the poll, but I disagree. I do agree with John that Potts will get no more than 5% of the vote on Election Day, but we have no way to tell how the poll would have been impacted if Potts' name had been included. Many responses to poll questions are predicated specifically on the choices respondents are given, so the poll's outcome may change significantly if Potts' name is included.

Most of us believe Potts' true role in this race is as a spoiler. But without accurate polling, it's difficult to know whose chances he's going to spoil.

Early Thoughts on the AG's Race

While we are waiting for the State Board of Elections to catch up on who is running for what House seat, we decided to start by doing brief overviews on the statewide races to get some discussion going. I know it's still early, and we'll probably change our ratings as the campaigns gear up after Labor Day.

Bob McDonnell has the clear lead going into the AG's race. Democrat Creigh Deeds (that's "Cree" for the uninitiated) has little name recognition outside of his home base in Bath and Charlottesville, and he also didn't have the benefit of a primary campaign to get his name in lights. He also hails from a rural area, while McDonnell's roots in Hampton Roads and in Northern Virginia will help him in Virginia's more populous regions.

McDonnell will need to be cautious or he'll blow his position as front-runner. He has a tendency to think everyone is as conservative as he is, and that turns many voters off. He has been known to put his foot in his mouth for the benefit of more than one reporter - such as the sordid affair over Newport News Judge Verbena Askew, where McDonnell displayed a truly Reaganesque inability to recall whether he had ever committed sodomy. Moreover, Steve Baril has already done most of Creigh Deeds' dirty work for him, going after McDonnell over ethics and effectiveness. McDonnell is going to have to put those issues to rest very early on or it will haunt him for the duration of the campaign. He will also need to put some distance between himself and the Virginia Conservative Action PAC (VCAP), whose shrill tactics turn off most voters.

Despite McDonnell's negatives, I think I'm safe in saying Deeds hasn't got much of a chance. McDonnell is extremely likable, looks you in the eye when he talks to you, and doesn't seem at all like the two-headed dragon the press presents as the Real Bob McDonnell. Deeds, on the other hand, is more reticent, known by most as a true Virginia Gentleman. As a member of the minority party, Deeds has little to show for his recent time in the General Assembly, while McDonnell seems to have had a hand in every major piece of legislation - good or bad - since the Allen administration.

Conclusion: The position of Attorney General has been squarely in the hands of the GOP since George Allen beat Mary Sue Terry, and I don't see a change coming this November.

There's a New Blog in Town

I guess I should admit it upfront. We got the idea for this blog from Not Larry Sabato, who has done a yeoman's work blogging about the recent Virginia primaries. We suspect Not Larry will also blog poetic about the general elections.

So are we trying to steal Not Larry's thunder? Yes and no. America is all about ideas, and ideas need competition. Not Larry has an excellent blog and we are not trying to siphon people from his or her site - we are just trying to give all you political junkies out there another site to add to your favorites. I'm sure we'll agree with Not Larry on a lot of races, but we'll also disagree with him.

Some of you may have noticed that Not Larry put a high number of races in the "toss-up" category before the primaries. We think that's a cop-out. We are going to pick a side in every race based on the information we have, right or wrong. We don't think you all will care whether we get a few wrong. When we get closer to the election, we will also take a stab at what the point spreads will be. Like Not Larry, we reserve the right to change our ratings as new information comes along.

For those of you who want to remain anonymous, feel free to post your comments. If your posts are profane or consist of unsubstantiated rumors designed to ruin reputations, we will remove them. This is a family blog. :)

If you want to feed us information, feel free to e-mail us at You will remain anonymous.

For those of you who don't understand the name we've given our blog: remember the little "fortune-telling" device that was popular in the 1980s and still has a high degree of popularity? For the uninitiated, the toy is shaped like an 8-ball and is meant to be shaken while you ask it a question. You then look at a little window on the bottom and it gives you its prediction. Here is an online version:

Why did we name our blog after this "magical" device? Because it says a lot about the process of predicting political victory. It's not scientific, and if it's anything like my own magic 8-ball, it's not always right. We're not going to sweat it though, because if the prognostication thing doesn't work out, we all have day jobs over here.