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, December 28, 2006

Happy New Years

Since I am headed to Atlanta for the Chick-Fil-A Bowl here in a few minutes, I will wish everyone a Happy New Year a few days early.
The bowl game will be at 8 PM on Dec. 30th on ESPN as we take on Georgia.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tidewater Effects

Last week I posted on the recent results from NOVA and Richmond and how they have changed in the past 3 elections. Today we will look at the results from the greater Hampton Roads area and then look at the entire "urban cresent" of Virginia.

First we begin in the African-American heavy areas of Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth.
The results were: Kerry +37,745; Kaine +39,811; Webb +38,131
This is in contrast to the Richmond AA areas that had smaller margins for dems in lower turnout elections. There are any number of reasons why this phenomenon happened.

The next area is the Tidewater "suburbs" of Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.
The results were: Bush +48,155; Kaine +4295; Allen +10,034
This 38k vote swing was the largest shift from Bush-Allen of all the sub areas in the urban cresent. Part of this is attributable to this area being very military and defense heavy; where they vote strongly GOP when they go to the polls. Typically presidential elections are the only time these people vote, therefore severely cutting the GOP margin. Also the thing to look at is that in presidential election the GOP is up 11k going into the exurbs and the rest of the state. By 2006 we were down 28k.

The "exurbs" of Hampton Roads are the last area. They are the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Mathews, and York with Poquoson and Williamsburg.
The results were: Bush +31,508; Kilgore +4548; Allen +12,529
This area also saw a large GOP drop, due to the same reasons as the suburbs. To show the full damage of the Kilgore downfall; here the exurbs barely were able to offset the suburbs sending all the AA locale margins west.

The total Tidewater results were:
Bush +41,918; Kaine +30,968; Webb +15,568
As you can see, the GOP dropoff here is pretty even with Richmond and NOVA if you factor population. Yet again we see evidence that NOVA isn't the only problem ailing the GOP; even though at least this area is hurting us b/c of turnout and not as much of a growing trend. We will need another presidential election to see if this area is trending dem at the national level.

The final results for the entire "urban cresent" were:
Bush +67,973; Kaine +142,614; Webb +100,770
As I explained before, the problem is that in 2004 Richmond offset NOVA and sent 26k into Tidewater, where we gained another 42k votes. With no more major democratic areas in the state, Bush cruised to a big victory. By 2006, Richmond was only able to offset Tidewater and the 100k+ dem margin from NOVA was sent downstate and was too big for the Valley and SW/Southside to counter.

Going forward people need to understand that the democratic victories have been wins in the overall suburban community and not just NOVA. That means the GOP needs to wake up and start trying to tackle that community and not harp on only NOVA. It also tells the dems that a misguided strategy of pushing only NOVA will probably still not be enough to win.

The last thing this shows is that Virginia is still probably not going to be "in play" per se in 2008 due to the large GOP margin that will usually come from Hampton Roads that is usually absent in most other elections. If the GOP can hold their numbers in Richmond and Tidewater in 2008; NOVA will have to turn even harder to the dems to "turn Virginia blue".

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Hope everyone has a fun and safe Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gilmore for President

As many of you have probably seen, the RTD is reporting that Jim Gilmore has formed an exploratory committee to run for president. Alot of blogs are weighing in on this today.

I personally think Gilmore will have a great shot at getting the GOP nomination if he can raise a decent amount of money and get a staff ad organization together quickly. He has military and national security creditials as well as name ID from being RNC Chairman. He is also one of few people who will do what they say when running for office. He is also a social conservative that is not going to be someone who will only focus on social issues; which is something the GOP badly needs. Finally, we need someone to bring the business community back to being solidly behind the GOP by actually being fiscally responsible. Jim Gilmore can do that.

Many people are questioning his ability to win when he "botched" the car tax repeal and put us into "dire financial straits". The problem with that is that he was just unlucky like any other executive who is in office when a recession hits. He cannot be blamed for the tech bubble burst, which led to the state's decline in revenue. All the while, he still tried to repeal the car tax; because thats what he said he was going to do. Not only that, it was pushed in the hopes it would help spur a better economy by doing so.

Futhermore, the same people who question Gilmore's abilities think Mark Warner would be a legitamite presidential candidate. Why? All he did was raise taxes and spending. Anyone can do that.

I think if Jim Gilmore can get some traction early, he will make this a very interesting race for the GOP presidential nomination.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Richmond Metro Effects

Last week we explored how the election results have trended in the past 3 years in NOVA. We saw that the GOP margin of loss rose from 21,877 in '04 to 103,876 in'06.

Now we will take a look at the Richmond metro area. This is a historically GOP stronghold that has been seemingly holding its ground over the past few years. Even so, we see the same problems developing here as in NOVA.

We begin in the majority African-American locales in the area of Charles City County as well as Petersburg and Richmond Cities.
The results were: Kerry +38,875, Kaine +32,986, Webb +29,078
This is interesting since you would expect Webb to outperform here due to Allen's problems; but Kaine is a very popular figure in this area and anyone would have a hard time running ahead of him (Kerry did only b/c turnout is so much higher is presidential elections). So far the GOP has effectively gained around 9800 votes as a result of lower dem margins.

Next is the Richmond suburbs of Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover Counties as well as Colonial Heights and Hopewell.
The results were: Bush +71,553; Kilgore +12,024; Allen +36,779
The Kilgore number being so low can be explained by his overall suburban weakness coupled with Kaine's popularity in the Richmond area. While Allen did swing the GOP margin back pretty substantially; he still ran behind Bush by almost 35,000 votes. Thats a bigger dropoff than the "Fairfax Suburbs" I talked about in the last post (and the areas are of comparable size). This illustrates my point about NOVA not being the only problem.

The third area is the "exurbs" of Richmond. They include Powhatan, Goochland, Amelia, Prince George and Dinwidde Counties.
The results were: Bush +15,254; Kilgore +6464; Allen +10,973
Obviously this area is much smaller than the NOVA exurbs but the GOP fared a little better here as the vote only fell off by 4300 votes vs. 25,000 in NOVA exurbs. Even so, most of that is a result of this area being more longer-term residents that aren't changing dynamics as fast.

The combined results for the Richmond Metro area were:
Bush +47,932; Kaine +14,498; Allen +18,674.
As you can see, the GOP is having weakness here just like in NOVA. Obviously the size of the vote drop isn't as large; but the area isn't as big either. The scariest number for the GOP right now is that we lost greater NOVA by 22k in '04 and won greater Richmond by 48k; thereby sending 26,000 votes to Tidewater to begin offsetting there. Fast forward to 2006 and the GOP sends a deficit of 85,000 into Tidewater. This 100,000 vote swing, as we will see in the next post, just keeps getting worse as we go down the "urban cresent".

Like I said in the last post, Fairfax County isn't the only problem for the GOP right now.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Internet Republicans?

Ben has an interesting post about Ken Cuccinelli's new proposal of a new group similar to CRs and YRs called the Internet Republicans of Virginia.
He thinks they should have seats on State Central as well as on the Congressional District committees much like the CRs and YRs have now.
Its an interesting idea, but I am not really sure we necessarily want that.

The CRs and YRs are basically arms of the RPV. They do not get involved in nomination contests and they work for any and all Republican candidates. Blogs don't operate that way.

The biggest problem I have seen regarding the blogs is that they are going to continue to lose credibility as more people see them as party and campaign tools and less as just personal opinions and thoughts. Just look at how much info is now fed to blogs by campaigns, etc (even some are on campaign payrolls).

Think about it folks. How much credibility do you give blogs now that are paid staffers of campaigns? The same will go for "high ranking" members of an IRV. Their blogs will be marginalized because people will see them as party hacks and less as activists trying to make a difference.

Blogs have a place in politics, but I am not sure it being a group of decision makers; not yet anyway.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

3rd District Chairman

As expected, Mike Wade is the new 3rd District Chairman; after the Portsmouth and Norfolk delegations were polled.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

NOVA Extended Effects

Its no secret that northern Virginia has/is becoming an electoral problem for Republicans in Virginia. One interesting dynamic is how big of a factor NOVA really is in Virginia politics, and also what NOVA's definition truely is.
Statewide results were: Bush +262,217, Kaine +113,615, Webb +9329
We will look at these numbers later.

For our analysis we begin in the DC suburbs of Alexandria. Arlington, Falls Church, and Fairfax County/City. These locales delivered a huge vote margin to all dem statewide candidates in recent Virginia elections.
The results were: Kerry +91,535, Kaine +108,109, Webb +120,721
As you can see, dems have not made huge inroads here like many people probably thought. As you can see, Bush to Allen swung 270k votes, while Allen only around 30k of that was lost from Bush here. Most of this is largely due to this area being built out and not seeing massive population growth to shift numbers a great deal (although 30k votes is still a big swing).

Our next area is the "Fairfax Suburbs" of Loudoun and Prince William Counties as well as Manassas and Manassas Park. This is another area many have pointed to GOP weakness as the results from recent elections were: Bush +23,620, Kaine +3255, Webb +2881.
Here we see the same sort of pattern develop, with GOP weakness; but not overwhelming (25k votes here). As we leave traditional "NOVA", Allen has only lost around 55k of the 270k compared to Bush. One reason for this may be a large base of soft Rs that only turnout in presidential years, thereby keeping margins high then and falling off the rest of the time. We will have to wait until 2008 to see if thats the case or not.

The third part of NOVA are the exurbs. This area consists of Fauquier, Culpepper, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Shenandoah and Warren Counties. This is an area that we have not seen alot of discussion about, but they should be getting more attention.
Results here were: Bush +46,038, Kilgore +14,216, Allen +19,726
The GOP margins here fell by almost as much as the DC suburbs and the "Fairfax Suburbs". The main reason I suppose people aren't talking about this is that the GOP is still winning these locales, whereas they have now starting losing Fairfax, Loudoun and PWC.

Overall, the NOVA results were: Kerry +21,877, Kaine +97,148, Webb +103,876. What we see here is that in 2004, the margin in Fairfax County was 167% the overall margin. In 2005 and 2006 that number was only about 60% of the margin. This is a result of less offset in the historical GOP strongholds in the area.

What the GOP needs to realize here is that Fairfax County is not the only problem in Virginia. This analysis shows that NOVA is much bigger than we think. We have to develop campaign strategies to take control of this situation. If we do that, we can actually put ourself in a great situation, since these "Exurbs" are probably growing as fast, if not faster, than Loudoun and PWC; and also have much more room to grow.

Also as you will notice, NOVA is not the total loss in any races. Bush ran at +284,094 downstate from our 3-part NOVA. That number actually flipped to Tim Kaine, as he won downstate with +16,467 in 2005 and then Allen flipped it back to +94,547 downstate this past election. Next week we will take a look at the rest of the urban cresent, to show that the suburban population in general is creating problems, not just NOVAians.

Tax Policy Explained

RightsideVA has up a great post showcasing in a very simple way how our tax policy currently works. It shows how a tax break will always largely go to the "rich", because they pay most of the taxes anyway. All the while, the "poor" and middle-class people still get a bigger % decrease in taxes than the rich.
Everyone should check it out.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

26th Senate District Rundown

Over at NLS he has been doing posts on each Senate district. His newest is the 26th district, currently held by Mark Obenshain. This is my senate district, so I probably know more about this one than any other.
In the post, Ben points to Allen and Kilgore margins being almost identical in Warren and Shenandoah Counties as being reasons this district was one of the few that Webb got a higher % in than Kaine. He points to growth of NOVA commuters as perhaps one of the reasons why.

Essentially I can explain the voting trends in every locale here pretty easily. First off is Harrisonburg city. Like most cities, it is getting more democratic as the more likely GOP voters move into the suburbs. With several high-end subdivisons being built right on the outskirts of HBurg city limits, we are seeing somewhat the same thing happen here. The population that is replacing those GOP voters are mostly hispanic and college students, who don't vote GOP nearly as often as business people and professionals.

This leads to Rockingham County. As those GOP leaning voters move to county, we will probably see Rockingham continue to vote overwhelmingly GOP (Bush got 74.4% in 2004). There really isn't a tremendous amount of growth here yet, other than the city's push and maybe some in Massanutten (which probably leans more dem). The other offset is the rural areas are becoming more and more GOP every cycle in America, and that trend will exist here as well (although less magnitude since its already so GOP anyway).

Next comes Shenandoah County. As precinct data shows, Allen ran behind Kilgore the farther north you go. This is probably due to the influx of NOVA commuters to the Strasburg area. Allen actually ran ahead of Kilgore in the southern part of the county, but lost most of it in the northern part. This follows the trend of the overall suburban vote which I will discuss later.

Warren County has the same effect, only their entire county is basically evenly divided on commuter growth. The rural areas saw a small rise for Allen from Kilgore, but was all but erased in the faster growing areas of the county. Same reasons probably apply here.

Rappahannock County was the lone locale won by Jim Webb in the district. This is largely a trend that will continue due to the county enforcing an ordinance 25 acres to build a house on. It is becoming a super rich area and retirement community for NOVAians, who are voting dem. Even so, growth is basically non-existant here and the county has only 7300 residents which will make it very tough for this area to make much difference going forward.

The last locale is Page County. This county has the dynamics of just about every locale in the district. Its northern end is seeing growth in NOVA retirees and is beginning to trend dem. Conversely, the southern end has become an exurb of Harrisonburg and Charlottesville and is trending mostly GOP. Since growth is still relatively light here, the numbers have not shifted much and maybe not for some time until growth picks up.

Overall the district is still very Republican and probably will stay that way for quite some time. Even so, some of the things we are seeing in my district effect Virginia politics as a whole. I will take a look at that within the next day or so.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

New Employer in Harrisonburg

For our local readers; a week ago Republitarian reported there was a major announcement coming about a big employer coming to the area.

My sources tell me that employer is SRI, the Stanford Research Institute. They were apparently one of the main companies that helped form Silicon Valley.

Anyway, it should be a great addition to Harrisonburg since it will bring research money to the area as well as bring good jobs. It should also fit well with JMU being close by. Sounds like this should be a addition to our community.

Monday, December 11, 2006

New Caucus Chair

NLS reported yesterday that Steve Landes has stepped down as GOP House Caucus Chairman, which means we now have to find his replacement. Ben reported that Terry Kilgore was the frontrunner for the job, and he voiced concern that someone more like Chris Saxman would be a better choice.

I have seen or heard that there are several people in the running including John Cosgrove, Sam Nixon and Tim Hugo as well as Kilgore and maybe even Saxman.

I obviously am a big fan of Saxman so I would be supportive of him getting the job. He would also pick right up where Landes was being that they are from neighboring districts in Augusta County.

I have talked to Cosgrove at both the gala and the advance, and I think he knows what is going on and has some good ideas as well. He is also from a relatively safe GOP district in hampton roads, so he could be able to help campaign around the state if he so chose.

My biggest concern for having Kilgore as caucus chair is that he is the furthest away of anyone in the whole state and I don't know how effective he could be at helping with other campaigns. Also, with Morgan Griffith being from Salem; our caucus already has a SWVa guy in the leadership.

Conversely, someone like Tim Hugo would be good being from NOVA except that he will probably begin to have tough races himself; making it hard for him to campaign elsewhere.

What is everyone else's take on this situation?

UPDATE: Sounds like Terry Kilgore is the guy.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lingamfelter for LG?

I reported a few days ago that the rumor was that Del. Scott Lingamfelter would be challenging Sen. John Chichester in the 2007 GOP primary.
It appears that will probably not happen, and instead it looks like he will be running for LG in 2009. I have heard this through several sources and that would make more sense for him to have had the suite at the advance as well as the editorial "Why Republicans Lose". This is also good news for the GOP House caucus in that it will not have another open seat to defend in 2007.

I am sure there will be a challenger to Chichester, but it doesn't sound like its going to be Lingamfelter. Over at Mason Conservative, Shaun Kenney says he knows who is challenging Chichester; so I suppose we will know soon enough (its not Shaun, he moved out of the district last year).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

SCC Appeals

Below is the actual transcript read at the State Central Cmte Meeting at the Advance regarding the 3rd and 10th District Convention appeals.
I hope this clears up any misconceptions or misunderstandings.

Convention Appeals Review Committee Report

Committee Members: Linwood Cobb, Russ Moulton, Brenda Campbell, Wayne Ozmore, and Jim Hale.

Presentation to SCC December 2, 2006.

I want to assure the SCC and the individuals involved that we took this process very seriously. We each read the appeals and the very detailed rebuttals. We had a two hour conference call; we met for two hours at the Homestead. We interviewed and questioned all of the principals in these appeals. We understand that what we do will impact future appeals so we considered all sides without prejudice or preconceived opinions. The committee felt it was very important that whatever recommendations we made it would be by a unanimous decision. I am happy to report that our recommendations are made with a 5-0 vote.

10th District Appeal

After a review of the 10th District convention we have serious concerns in the fair conduct of the convention including deviations from Robert’s Rules of Order and the State Party Plan.
However, it is clear that Jim Rich was elected Chairman by a very decisive margin.
The actual vote was 361 to 252, weighted vote 650 to 423, 61% to 39% in favor of Jim Rich. The above mentioned concerns did not change the outcome of the vote. The challenger conceded the election. In a separate District meeting the 10th District Committee denied the appeal by a 12-4 vote.

For these reasons we make the following motion:
We move that SCC affirm the results of the 10th District Convention held on May 20, 2006 and deny the appeal. We also direct the 10th District Committee to take appropriate corrective action to ensure fair conduct of future conventions.

3rd District Appeal

In the 3rd District the decision to not seat two units at the convention is a great concern to us. The vote for Chairman was very close and the two units (Norfolk and Portsmouth) not seated could have changed the outcome. Our review of the information presented leads us to the conclusion that only one unit (Richmond City) met all of the prefile requirements spelled out in the call for a convention. Several units failed to deliver to the Secretary the required paperwork (list of delegates on the prefile form and a copy of the mass meeting call) seven day prior to the convention. The call required the paperwork to be sent to the Chairman, the Secretary, and the Treasurer. The State Party Plan requires that the paperwork be sent to the Chairman and the Secretary. If the Call and the Party Plan rules were strictly enforced then only the Richmond City delegates should have been seated.
However, the call and delegate certification form had the wrong address for the Secretary. We agree with the credentials committee’s decision to recognize these delegations. In the information provided by the Chairman, Phil Bomershein, Norfolk was not seated because they did not include a copy of the mass meeting call in the paperwork. The Portsmouth delegation was not seated because the Chairman and Secretary received the paperwork late, three days prior to the convention. Only Richmond City met all of the requirements, the other units had technical violations of the call and party plan. Exceptions were made for some units and not others. The delegates from Norfolk and Portsmouth were denied participation in the convention due to errors by their unit chairs and through no fault of their own.
It is our opinion that all efforts should be made to seat delegates who were properly elected at their unit mass meetings and then take the time to come to the convention. The credentials committee or the convention can seat delegations when these technical problems arise. The appeal to the 3rd District Committee ended in a 5-5 vote.

Therefore due to the selective application of the prefile requirements, seating some units and denying others, we move that the SCC appoint two people to poll the Portsmouth and Norfolk delegates that were elected at their respective mass meetings and who attended the 3rd District Convention in Williamsburg on May 20, 2006, and add their votes to those taken on the day of the convention for electing a 3rd District Chairman. The polling of these delegates may be observed by the principals or by a representative they appoint.

Both motions were passed by a voice vote of the State Central Committee with only one no vote.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

RK on Gillespie

The old saying is that you can judge a man by the company he keeps.

Check out the pic on this post at Raising Kaine, which naturally is attacking Gillespie.

The company Chairman Gillespie is keeping looks A+ to me.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Rumors and the Advance

Over the weekend I attended the Advance at the Homestead. It was interesting to see so many people and sponsors turn out for it after the loss this year; but its also good to see everyone still staying involved.
I like the Advance b/c I get to catch up with people I haven't seen for awhile and also just talk to everyone to see whats going on.

At the State Central Mtg, the 10th District convention appeal was defeated but the appeal for the 3rd CD was "upheld" and it appears Mike Wade will be the new district chair there. Ed Gillespie was elected RPV Chair and he was seen most everywhere throughout the advance. I think he did do a good job of trying to meet everyone.
As expected, Bolling and McDonnell both had suites and were pressing the flesh to gather support for '09 (indirectly of course).
I was unfortunately unable to join the blogger meeting with McDonnell, as I was attending the 2007 Preview. I heard it was a success. Also, I was glad to hear Chairman Gillespie voice his support and understanding for the importance of bloggers when I and others spoke with him throughout the Advance. I think he will be very favorable to us in the future.

The biggest story I think was the support of many for a George Allen comeback in 2009. While I admit most of these people are older and who have been involved since his 93 run; it gives creedence to the arguement that he could make a strong showing within the party if he choose to run for governor again. I can't count how many people were saying they hope he runs again in '09, so we will see what he decides.

As to the rumors, I have heard that Scott Lingamfelter is going to challenge John Chichester. That was somewhat reinforced by the fact Lingamfelter had a suite. I did not get to talk to him about this, so it is still a rumor.

Jim Gilmore, who had a suite, when asked what he is running for replied that he "could run for senate in 08, governor in 09 or president in 08". From my discussions with him, it sounds like a run for the White House is very likely.

Other than that there was little info to report. Everyone seemed to have a good time and were positive about the future.