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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Zogby Poll

George Allen Leads Webb 49-42 in the new Zogby Poll
Its a good link, with all the competitive Senate and Governor's races on it. I am not sure I trust the validity of some of the results, but they are there just the same.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New George Allen Poll

Thanks to Not Gretchen Bulova at NLS for pointing out the new SurveyUSA approval rating poll on George Allen.
The poll shows him with an overall approval rating of 51%. The more interesting thing about it is that it has breakdowns by region, race, and issue stances.
Regionally, George Allen has an approval rating of 51% in the Shenandoah Valley, 52% in Tidewater, 57% in Richmond and central VA and 46% in NOVA.

That bodes well since I pointed out the toughest congressional race will be the 2nd in Virginia Beach. Allen campaigning for Drake should boost her numbers since his approval is above 50% in the region (my guess is that would be higher in her specific district, but thats only speculation).

One other interesting note is that he has a 68% approval rating of pro-lifers, and a 41% approval (and 41% disapproval rating) from pro-choicers. That is an important statistic. If George Allen can garner a 1-1 ratio of pro-choice voters, then get the pro-lifers 2-1; he is in a very good political position.

Lets just see if these numbers hold through the expected dirty campaign that should start around June 13th or so.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

George Allen Leads

A new Rasmussen poll shows George Allen leading Jim Webb 54%-30% and Harris Miller 56%-27%. This is very encouraging, but we still cannot let our guard down. We have to ensure George Allen not only wins, but does so with a considerable margin. To keep his presidential hopes alive, he definitely needs 55% and probably closer to 60% is needed to cement his support for a run in 2008.

Another key to this election is the congressional races. The most competitive race seems to be the 2nd district Thelma Drake race. Keep in mind, this area has a heavy military presense; so a Webb candidacy could help boost Phil Kellam's numbers. To compound the problem, Drake is from Norfolk and 2/3 of the district is Virginia Beach (Kellam is from the Beach).
Also, congressmen like Tom Davis and Frank Wolf seem remotely vunerable due to the poor GOP showing in NOVA in 2005. I do not see these races as threatened as Drake's.

Our friend Bill Carrico is running against Rick Boucher here in the 9th and needs high George Allen turnout. The only conceivable way for him to win is to capture most of George Allen's votes. Don't forget, in 2004 Bush got 59% in the 9th and Boucher got 60%. Allen is likely to have numbers around Bush's, so Carrico needs to carry more of those than Triplett did.

Just remember folks, there is more riding on this race than just a Senate seat.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Delegate in Hospital

As of yesterday I was told Delegate Harry Parrish of Manassas was in the hospital with pnemonia and is not doing very well. He will probably not be there to vote on any budget agreements unless they come much later. He was in the hospital eariler in the session and came back, so maybe he will get better again.
Our prayers go out to him and his family.

UPDATE: Del. Harry Parrish passed away this afternoon. Our prayers go out to the family.
The R-T-D has this article on his life.
He was a VT grad, a decorated Air Force pilot in WWII, and served in government for a total of 53 years (12 years on Manassas city council, 18 as mayor of Manassas and 25 in the House of Delegates).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Russ Potts Update

Not John Behan has coverage of the ever continuing Potts situation.
It is speculated within some GOP circles that Potts will take a job in the Kaine administration after the special session is over. The reasons for this are numerous and I will not get into them at this time.
Part of this speculation is that Jill Holtzman-Vogel has inside information on this and is already campaigning. Some think that her father's donations to Potts have set up an agreement that Potts will let Holtzman know what is going on before anyone else (to allow her the best chance to setup a campaign). To be fair; Bill Holtzman has given Potts $2450 between 1997 and 2004. Even so, I am very skeptical of him or Jill being in a deal with Potts. If anything, Potts would have a deal with a democrat before a Republican. Jill is probably just campaigning b/c she suspects a Potts resignation just like the rest of us. I would expect Mark Tate to begin to set his campaign plan up as well.

Another reason for people expecting a Potts retirement soon is that apparently John Chincester has contacted a few people in the Winchester/Frederick area about running a "moderate GOP" for Potts' seat. I have heard this with my own ears, so i think it is likely to be true. Kaine's secretary has been seen a few times in Potts' office with the door closed and Potts' LA has been circulating her resume lately. These also hint that something may be happening soon.

I personally think there is a tremendous amount of information to point to a Potts retirement after the session is over. I do think if he does not get an appointment he will stay in his seat, maybe even past 2007 (if he can survive another primary). Even so, I do not think he will be able to turn down this appointment. I fully expect someone other than Russ Potts to be the 27th district Senator in the 2007 session.

UPDATE: Morgan's Riflemen contributor Wild Turkey has this to say about the Russ Potts situation.

Monday, March 20, 2006

NFL Commissioner job open

The current NFL commissioner has announced he will retire in July.
Wonder if Condi will try to get her dream job?

Looking Toward 2011

With or without the effects of the impending budget battle, there are many questions that surround how redistricting will play out. As most of you know, the 2 Houses draw the districts and then the governor has to sign the drawings. In a situation like 2001, the GOP had total control and was able to basically do whatever they wanted. The big question now is whether that scenario could happen again. Many would say the House is likely to stay in Republican hands til at least 2011 due to an almost structural majority there.
The most pressing question is whether the Republicans will be able to hold the Senate majority in 2007. Many are predicting losses by Cuccinelli, O'Brien and Devolites-Davis which would leave the Senate in a 20-20 tie with LG Bolling breaking ties. Under that scenario, the '09 LG election would determine what party controls the 2011 redistricting process in the Senate. The '09 Governor's election would also set up what party has veto control of the redrawing of lines.

Most would expect that if the GOP controls the entire process a similar outcome of 2001 would occur, with numerous dems being drawn into the same districts, etc.

Also, if there is divided power (GOP House and Senate, dem governor; or GOP House and governor and dem Senate) there will likely be a stalemate with no districts being drastically changed.

The 4th possible outcome brings up this theory: If 2011 has a conservative GOP House and moderate GOP Senate with a dem governor, will the moderate GOPs draw conservative GOP senators out of their seats? Would the conservative House be able to stop it?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Senate Democrat Strategy

The Washington Times has released the Senate democrats' strategy plan for the upcoming '06 elections. It includes staged town hall events at military bases, weapons factories and other national security related facilities. They also plan to have both American and state flags at the events and have someone to do the pledge.

I have only one question, how will the dems convince any Republicans to do the pledge at these events. They will have to find our guys to do it, b/c they don't agree with it. The only thing they do with the American flag is burn it. Why not have staged ceremonies for that?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

McDonnell in Roanoke

Yesterday evening Bob McDonnell was in Roanoke for a "thank you" dinner as part of his tour of western Virginia. It was well attended as the room was at overflow capacity. He spoke about how things are going so far as AG and also pointed out his legislative successes this year (getting 20 of his 21 bills passed). There was also a discussion about the bill that wasn't passed on eminent domain. Bob assured the group that our law would be fixed eventually (maybe in the special session) but that all the sticking points had still not been ironed out.

No one publicly asked him about his ambitions for 2009, but a few in attendance could be heard privately giving their support for his impending gubentorial campaign.
In 2009 it will be interesting who the Roanoke area supports. Many would think Bolling b/c he seems to play better in rural areas, but Roanoke is a suburban area in the middle of rural Virginia. That may play into McDonnell's favor as we near '09.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Jessica Simpson at NRCC

Drudge is reporting that Jessica Simpson will be a guest at the NRCC gala tomorrow. Its great to see the most eligible bachlorette is a Republican.
I really wish I could go.

UPDATE: Jessica won't be there after all. She is concerned since her charity is non-partisan it would look bad.
Glad I didn't pony up the $2500 for it (not that I have that kinda money anyway).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Scenario 3 - New Proposal

My 2 logical scenarios surrounding the budget battle both seem unlikely to happen. We have already seen a lot of discussion over whether my list of 11 GOPs could be gathered together to vote for a tax increase under the current proposal. I also cannot imagine the Senate agreeing to not raise taxes. We have to eventually pass a budget, so my guess is there will be a new proposal.

The cornerstone of the argument right now surrounds the budget surplus being in the general fund. The House Republicans think we should use a portion of that to fund the transportation improvements. Kaine and the Senate say the general fund should not be used for transportation because it could take away from education and other programs.

Our friend
Norm Leahy has pointed out education is much more a universal issue for people than transportation. It is also an issue that affects everyone, whereas transportation is largely a NOVA and Tidewater problem.

It seems to me that Kaine, along with his willing accomplices in the Senate, will propose a new budget that uses the $4.9 billion surplus on increased education funding; at the K-12 level, higher education (in fact, Virginia21 wants higher education funding brought to "base adequacy" by spending $377 million) and maybe even Kaine's proposed 4 year old program. This would then open up the $4 billion tax increase for the transportation funds the Senate and Kaine want.

I think this seems to be the most likely scenario because it will both reasonate with the entire state and will also open up the possibility of more downstate House GOPs.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Scenario 2 - Senate Stops Tax Increase

The only other scenario for this years budget battle is a agreement between the House and Senate to not raise taxes, forcing the governor to sign or shutdown the government. The GOP has 23 members in its caucus and with LG Bolling at the podium, only 20 votes are needed to pass a budget without a tax increase. There is a slight chance that downstate dems like Puckett, Reynolds or Deeds might vote against this tax increase for the same reasons as rural GOPs. Even that is highly unlikely.

Under this scenario, all but 3 in the Republican Senate Caucus must vote for not raising taxes. Most would say Chinchester and Potts are almost guaranteed to support an increase, so only 1 more GOP can break ranks. My guess for that person would be Marty Williams from Newport News. He released a rundown of the money each area of the state would get under the Senate and House plans to try to prove why rural areas should support the Senate's plan too. Also, he can afford to vote this way more so than other "moderate" GOPs in the Senate. Guys such as Stolle, Norment and Stosch are likely to draw primary challengers next time around if they vote for this increase. Williams is less likely to be a target of a primary challenge; especially if the Senate does not end up raising taxes. Also, Norment or Stosch as members of leadership probably would not be voting against the caucus. It is very unusual to see 2 of the 3 in leadership voting by themselves.

I am not sure how likely this scenario is either, but I have heard that even some Senate dems are concerned about the gas tax rebate proposal in the Senate budget plan. Either way, its going to be a wild ride.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Scenario 1 - House votes for Tax Increase

Lots of people consider this to be the most likely outcome of the budget battle as a result of the 2004 tax increase followed by only 1 of 6 VCAP challengers beating the incumbents (that one Chris Craddock then lost in the general election). The widely held belief is that the House Dems will all vote as a block to support another tax increase, as well as independent Katherine Waddell. That means there are 41 of the 51 votes needed for passage. I personally think Lionel Spruill, Johnny Jonnau or some other dem (or Waddell) might not support a tax increase again so I will say there are 40 yea votes to raise taxes again. Also, independents Putney and Abbitt are from largely rural districts, so they would be expected to vote against any tax package that raises taxes for roads in NOVA and Tidewater. Who will the 11 GOPs be?

The best place to start is the "Gang of 17".
3 of those are no longer in the House (Bryant, Dilliard and Reese).
Nutter and Carrico of Southwest, Danny Marshall and Ingram of Southside have basically said they will not support another tax increase (again, largely because of more taxes for some area other than theirs).
Bill Fralin of Roanoke will probably be unlikely to support an increase under these conditions either.
The remaining 9 seem to be the more likely voters for this tax proposal because they represent the suburban areas of NOVA and Tidewater. Even so, Ed Scott, Harry Parrish, Joe May and Bobby Orrock faced primary challenges in 2005 and will likely have a harder time defending themselves if they raise taxes with a surplus. Even so, I think Ed Scott will be the only one in the group not voting for the increase (if this scenario plays out), and he represents the outer edge of NOVA in Culpeper/Madison.

Here is my best guess of 11 GOPs who could favor a tax increase this time around:
Chris Jones - led the fight last time, is from Chesapeake/Suffolk area
Joe May - represents the fast growing Leesburg area
Tom Rust - represents Fairfax/Loudoun, seems to be most the "moderate" in the caucus
Bob Tata - probably will retire after 2007, from Virginia Beach
Glenn Oder - from Newport News
Vince Callahan - from Fairfax, is safely in his seat, may retire in 2007
Harry Parrish - likely retirement in 2007, from Manassas
Bobby Orrock - from high growth areas of Spotslvania and Caroline Counties
*Tim Hugo - another "moderate" from Fairfax
*Phil Hamilton - from Newport News, the "moderate" GOP on the conference committee
*Sal Iaquinto - new delegate from Virginia Beach
(* were not a 2004 tax increase supporters)

Remember, these are the GOPs IF a tax increase is passed by the House that is largely like the one proposed now (raise taxes on gas, fees, etc; all goes to roads in NOVA and Tidewater).

UPDATE: Let me make myself clear, these are the 11 MOST LIKELY to vote for a tax increase if one were to pass the House. Right now it seems that it will be a very hard sell, but if leadership determines the need to pass one; these would be the 11 most likely to vote for it. I have not heard that any of these 11 have ever said they would plan on voting for one, they are just geographically the best bets for a vote.

Budget Battle Looms

I am back from spring break, just in time for the Budget Battle of 2006.

Governor Kaine has set March 27th as the start date for the special session on the budget. Some of the people I have talked to seem to think the House GOP will stand stronger and are more unified than in 2004, thereby making the session last a bit longer than before. I have also heard that some in the Senate have problems with the Senate tax plan, largely centering around the gas tax proposal that involves rebating the tax to consumers (which in essence would raise no revenue if everyone got their rebate).

I personally believe that 2 of the 3 sides (House, Senate, Governor) will agree on a plan and therefore will be able to force the third to do what they want; much like in 2004. Based upon that belief, I think either the Senate and Governor will force the House to raise taxes or the House and Senate will agree on a tax plan they can force Kaine to sign. My next 2 posts will set up first the House vote for a tax increase and show who I think the most likely supporters will be. Next will be scenario 2, a House and Senate agreement on not raising taxes and who the most likely Senate voters for not raising taxes would be (in order to get it passed).

It looks like we could be in for another wild ride.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Spring Break

I am on spring break this week so I doubt I will have many posts.
Hopefully I will have one on the special session when one is called.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bush White House Needs a House Cleaning

Chris at Mason Conservative has up a great post on why President Bush needs a house cleaning in his administration. He is calling for Karl Rove, Andy Card, Michael Chertoff, and Dan Bartlett. He claims these people are keeping information from the President which is hurting him.
I think the logic of Chris' assessment is pretty good. It seems Bush's poll numbers go up when he himself speaks to the nation, and they go down when he lets his administration officials talk to the press.