Elephant Ears

This blog is dedicated to the political happenings in the Valley and Southwest Virginia. As the the name implies, this blog will have posts based on what is heard by this elephant's (GOPer's) ears. It is also a great treat to get while at the county fair or a carnival.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My After Election Analysis

Unfortunately, Kilgore was a weak candidate. He was not a good public speaker, but worse, he was unwilling to do ads of himself. He also was not a very smart campaigner. Fighting his mother's scandal in Scott County during the campaign as well as the hypocritical final week mailer showed this. This coupled with his lack of an issue-based campaign led to his defeat. As John Kerry found out, you cannot unseat an incumbent with only an attack campaign. It doesn't work.

A "bet the farm" approach made this situation worse. Kilgore's weakness created a domino effect in almost every other section of the election. With nearly all resources being focused on Kilgore, the party had relatively low resources for everyone else. This certainly played a large role in the weak showing of our downticket candidates, and also played a role in the House seat losses.

In the house races, Kilgore's weak numbers were the main culprit of losses. Making elections about social issues didn't bode well for NOVA GOPs like Black and Golden. Stupid comments also contributed to the losses of Craddock and Marrs (assuming Waddell wins after the recount).
Even so, I think the party is still well situated for the future. 3 of the 4 House seat losses (32nd, 67th and 68th) can be retaken with candidates who know how to not make dumb comments and be less overbearing. The 37th and 41st can probably also be taken in 2007 if we recruit good candidates who do not fall into the trap of making the election about being socially conservative.
Republicans win on fiscal policy and roads in NOVA; not guns, abortion and gay marriage. This needs to be taken into consideration in the future.

As for 2009, we need to find a statewide candidates who can perform well in NOVA but still carry the conservative base in the Valley and the Richmond suburbs. We cannot afford to lose Loudoun, PWC, Henrico or lose Fairfax 60-40 again in a statewide race.

What do you folks think? Is the Virginia Republican Party in a crisis?


  • At 11/10/2005 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your analysis is very good with one flaw. The 37th and 41st seats will be difficult to retake. John Mason in the 37th certainly did not run a race on social issues. He was the perfect R for this seat and could not close the deal. No R could do better.

    I do not think the RPV is in crisis, but we do need to make some changes. First, we need to start holding primaries (not conventions) on a regular basis to choose our nominees. This would give our candidates practice in debating an opponent and would allow us to identify folks who cannot articulate a message a la Kilgore. It would also involve a greater number of people in selecting the R candidates. Second, we probably need to accept someone from NOVA on the ticket. We cannot continue to ignore this region of the state. Sean C. would have been good. Third, I would like to see an end to the insantiy of a one-term governor. We need to stop this game of musical chairs every 4 years.

    I feel good about our chances in 2009. McD (assuming he wins) will be a strong candidate who can actually articulate a message. He is also from the Urban Crescent and should inspire a good vote in Virginia Beach. As Grover Norquist would say, ONWARD!

  • At 11/10/2005 1:27 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Anon, I think we can still win the 37th and 41st. The main problem here was that Kilgore's numbers were so bad, it spilled over into those races. Without Kilgore on the ticket in '07, we can make a good run. Those seats can still be won bc GOPs, but the candidates have to run an issue based campaign about taxes, not social issues.
    As to the gubentorial candidate, dont be so sure of McDonnell. Our candidate may be someone that you havent thought of yet.

  • At 11/10/2005 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    You may be correct that someone other that Bob McD is the next nominee. Nevertheless, you are dead wrong that we can retake the 37th and 41st. I wish it were true, but I cannot see it. It is hard to unseat a sitting Delegate anywhere, especially in areas of Fairfax that are turning blue. Look at the 35th District. Steve Shannon won it in 03 by 600 votes but cruised to a 61-38 win this year. (Granted it was a bad year for us, but Shannon would have won even if Kilgore had.) Note the Norfolk district won by Paula Miller in 2004. It did not turn back to us either. The 37th has not had a GOP Delegate since 2001, and the 41st has not really had one at all (Dillard--ugh).

    I do share your optimism, however, that we WILL retake at least one or two from the 32nd, 67th, and 68th.

  • At 11/10/2005 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We got slaughtered in Richmond and Hampton Roads too, not just NOVA. We can't ignore that. The party utterly, completely failed to make serious headway in appealing to urban populations and African American voters. We had barely any poll coverage in most of Hampton Roads (putting all our troops wandering around in neighborhoods or on the phones annoying people), and the Chesapeake GOP/Forbes actually worked against Kilgore, selling him out to focus on the Commonwealth Attrny's race and refusing to turn on their powerful local machine in the same way that doomed Earley (who was from there and would have had a much bigger showing otherwise). The party needs some major housecleaning.

  • At 11/10/2005 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We need to discuss some of these matters at the Advance in early December. I know that it may not be pleasant to do so, but we need to hash out our differences and then correct them.

  • At 11/10/2005 5:14 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Amen 2:36. The advance should be an interesting place this year. I am looking forward to it.
    2:00, one of the main reasons we did so poorly in the 35th was money. The candidates spent so much on the primaries, Hyland had to rebuild his warchest in June, when Shannon already had a huge one anyway. I do agree though that it will be tough to get those seats, but I don't think it is out of the realm of possibilty if we can run one person who is a good candidate. Cuccenlli(sp) and Davis should help our numbers in some of the House seats in NOVA in '07 as well.

  • At 11/10/2005 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe Cuccinelli will help, but he will have a tough race of his own in 2007. Tom Davis is up in 2006, so they will be running in different cycles.

  • At 11/10/2005 9:25 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    I meant Devolites-Davis, Tom's wife. Sorry for not clarifying.
    Cuccinelli will have a tough race as well, which will drive conservative turnout.

  • At 11/11/2005 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why not Matt Lohr? He seems perfect!

  • At 11/11/2005 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Several years ago Matt told me it was his goal to become the youngest governor in Va's history. He's one stepping stone closer.

  • At 11/11/2005 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The fate of the party is in the GOP hands. We must turn back the tide of ideologues and push fiscal issues. This election is a blow to those who ONLY focus on those issues. We must return to the principles of the party...personal liberty and fiscal responsability.

    As for McDonnell or Bolling in '09 great guys but both more than likely will result in another loss.

    Time to start thinking outside the box and put a canidate forward from NOVA who is a fiscal conservative...most of you know the name watch out!

  • At 11/11/2005 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think Bolling would lose statewide against most Dems, but McDonnell could win. He would likely perform much better in Hampton Roads and in Richmond that Jerry. As a candidate from a region a bit similar to NOVA (similar issues of traffic, congestion, etc), he would do better in this region.

    I really like a few guys from NOVA that might throw their hat in the ring, namely Tom Davis and Sean Connaughton. I voted for Sean in the primary.

  • At 11/11/2005 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As a party we are 0 for 2 with placing a former AG on the ticket...we need to learn from our mistakes here.

  • At 11/11/2005 1:51 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Davis won't run for gov. He might even retire from the House.
    As for Chairman Sean, you just never know.
    Here soon we will have a '09 rundown.

  • At 11/11/2005 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Whoever said that we are 0 for 2 with an AG nominee for Gov missed the successful election of former Virginia AG Jim Gilmore in 1997. One can argue about his success as gov, but he did get elected directly from the AG spot.

    The future of Tom Davis is uncertain. He missed a great chance to retire from the House when he turned down a big job offer this fall. I think Tom would really like to make it to the Senate, but I do not see that happening either.

  • At 11/11/2005 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When McDonnell does have to disclose the source of all his secret money (which, let's be frank, without which he wouldn't have won) we'll see. If it's Robertson dollars, that's not going to be a good start for his public statewide image.

  • At 11/11/2005 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Jim Gilmore a success? I'm not sure what state you lived in? I'm a GOP supporter and this guy needs to go away.

    Gilmore rode in on Allen just like Kaine on Warner. So I would hardly count this as a succesful rise of the AG to the Governors Office.

  • At 11/11/2005 4:34 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    I would point out that Gilmore won largely on his "no car tax" plan.
    Thats the key for a GOP victory. Have a specific plan. Attacking your opponent and having no plan usually ends up making you lose.
    Just ask John Kerry or Jerry Kilgore.
    Or maybe its just anyone with JK intials.

  • At 11/11/2005 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was the anon (3:17) that mentioned Jim Gilmore. Anon 4:25 you missed my point: note that I said "one can argue about his success as gov, but he did get elected directly from the AG spot."

    I was NOT trying to say that Gilmore was successful, only trying to correct the point that we are 0-2 with AG's on the ticket for gov. We are 1-2. Gilmore won, Kilgore and Coleman lost. Nevertheless, some people must like Gilmore, otherwise I would not keep hearing his name for state office nor would he have been head of the RNC for a brief time nor would we have had the Gilmore commission.

  • At 11/11/2005 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rumor has it the GOP is asking Marrs not to ask for the recount. Even they are glad he's gone.

  • At 11/11/2005 7:31 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    7:10, I don't know about that. It probably has more to do with the fact we can retake that seat in 2 years and the RPV is trying to keep as many people as happy as possible in this situation. They are trying not to tick people off.
    Thats just pure speculation though.

  • At 11/12/2005 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Thats the key for a GOP victory. Have a specific plan."

    Even if that plan is incredibly stupid and ultimately extremely expensive.

  • At 11/12/2005 2:49 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Take it however you want. Our party's nominee needs a plan if we are going to retake the governor's mansion. Thats what every GOP has had to do to win the mansion in this state.


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