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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Giuliani Racks Up Cash for RPV

The fundraiser in Vienna Monday with presidentia hopeful Rudy Giuliani was apparently a major success. On the RPV website, they say that this fundraiser generated over $100,000 for the party coffers. This is interesting b/c I heard a few days ago that this fundraiser was looking like it would raise around 25-30k. Whats more, since I assume this event would be splitting the money between Rudy and the RPV; it must have raised a total of over 200k.

There are many more GOP heavy hitters coming to Virginia in the near future; so hopefully they will be as successful as this one.

What remains to be seen is if Gillespie can really deliver the massive fundraising prowess that was advertised before his election as RPV chair. The proposed staff positions and other major expenses like the new TV ad attacking Governor Kaine will cost alot more money than the RPV has spent in the past. Fundraisers like this may help him deliver on that promise; but getting presidential candidates to Virginia a year before the primaries should be relatively easy for any party chair. The key will be delivering major fundraising with some of the other lumanaries like Elaine Chao, Tony Snow and Mary Matalin and making those fundraisers as successful as this one.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

22nd Update

My overview of this race can be seen here.

Today Ralph Smith was the guest speaker at the Montgomery County GOP luncheon. The luncheon was well attended, a few new faces; most of them coming from Roanoke to support Smith.

The interesting thing from today was what Smith talked about in his speech.

First off, he began talking about how the Senate district has 2 parts; the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley; and that the Senator needs to remember that and not forget about the part they aren't from. He pointed to his election as Roanoke City mayor where he reached out and listened to the NW area that voted about 3-5% for him and how he tried to represent everyone as mayor.

He then basically spent the rest of the time on open government. He wants to see a state run website that would allow the user to look up any and all government contracts any company has as well as a detailed financial statement of where all our money is going.

What I took from this was the following: first and foremost, Smith is not the best speaker. I think he did his best when talking about the open government thing (b/c I guess he is most passionate about it) but all-in-all he isn't a great speaker.
Second, the issues he has chosen aren't that good in my book strategically. They may be good issues, but Bell is disliked for his smoking ban bill and the support for tax increases. If Smith is going to win this primary; he has to focus on those two issues and convince people that he is better than Bell on them.
Lastly, he does need to continue to talk about his background. His experience in the party and his devotion to the cause should help him. Also his story of how he began work at a gas station and built a company from his hard work should play well; especially in the Roanoke and Christianburg business communities.

All in all I think Smith needs a new strategy if he is going to win, but his story is a pretty good one.

UPDATE: At the luncheon there were flyers from Brandon Bell that listed his supporters. By my count, there were 615 names in the list (I think it must be all his donors). From what I can tell, there are some on there who do not live in the district; but most of them do. There are about 115-120k registered voters in the district. A 10% primary turnout means around 12,000 total votes. 600 votes out of 12,000 might not seem like much; but thats a pretty good bank of people to raise money and do grassroots work for you. We will now have to see how Smith's organization shapes up.

Monday, February 26, 2007

What Will Kaine Do?

Just wondering what everyone thinks Kaine will do with the new transportation agreement.

I am sure he will make a recommendation to take out the general fund money, as well as probably cut the amount of debt issued from this plan.

I am not sure this battle is really over yet. The question is whether NOVA/Tidewater voters want Kaine to agree with this plan or if they want the legislators to agree with what Kaine says.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cox and the House Leadership

I just ran into an interesting piece of info last night. While looking at VPAP, I noticed that former Speaker Vance Wilkins' Dominion Leadership Fund had been "defunded". After looking into it, he gave the remaining amount of money in the account ($77,972 to be exact) to Majority Whip PAC, which is controlled by GOP House Majority Whip Kirk Cox.
Whats even more interesting is that the entire balance of cash raised for that PAC is only about $85,000; so basically all of the money came from Wilkins' contribution.

Anyway, this got me thinking what could be going on. I have heard that Cox wants to be speaker whenever Bill Howell steps down from the position.

I have heard many GOPs complain that our current speaker needs to be more like Vance, saying Vance was much better. It seems that Wilkins is still very well liked amongst alot of the GOP faithful (at least for his leadership abilities). If this means that Vance Wilkins will be endorsing Kirk Cox for speaker, whenever that occurs; that should give Cox a huge advantage in that endeavor. Not only will people want Vance to pick his best opinion of who will do a good job; but his connections are probably still solid and would provide alot of help to whoever he wanted to get Speaker.

This falls into another larger issue that I will address either tomorrow or next week. I just wanted to set the stage for what could/would happen in the future.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Good House Race Rundowns

Thanks to Too Conservative for pointing out this site from the Virginia FREE that has pretty good breakdown of each district with a competitive challenger. It gives a bio of each candidate and also a few former election results.

It should be a pretty good site to check out in addition to blog analysis for these races.

Monday, February 19, 2007

24th Update

VCAP Blog has the lowdown on the official announcement today from primary challenger Scott Sayre. It seemed to be interesting day, having five seperate locations for his kickoff. In a district of that size, it was probably a good idea; that way he could have 50 people at each and say he had 250 total (whereas it would be very tough to get 250 to one place). It sounds like it was pretty successful, so we will see what happens next in this race.

I have not heard when Sen. Hanger's campaign kickoff will be, but will update everyone when I find out.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Governor Sitting on His Hands

As we all know, Gov. Kaine would love nothing better than to see any type of transportation proposal/solution die or not get accomplished this session. He is banking on being able to pick up seats in NOVA and Hampton Roads by campaigning on a failure of the GOP Assembly to get anything done on transportation.

It looks like some GOPs are firing back. The Washington Times has this article where it quotes a few GOP electeds that say they want Kaine to show some help in this transportation fight. All of this while our friends over at Southwest by Southeast say that Tim Kaine is "AWOL" on the transportation debate.

I was just wondering if anyone thinks the people will partially hold the governor responsible for nothing happening on transportation if that occurs? It seems that Kaine's plan could backfire; b/c the GOP can say the dems don't want to get anything accomplished.

At any rate, I still hope we can get something done this session; to avoid a major showdown in November.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Big Issues This Year

I was just wondering wat everyone thought the big campaign issues will be in this years HOD and Senate elections.

Obviously there will be transportation in NOVA and Tidewater, but will there be any other regional issues?

What will be the statewide issues that come to fruition this year?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Transportation Money Source?

The Washington Post via Mason Conservative has an article about a proposal that has passed the Senate and now moves to the House on a slot machine sized horserace betting machine that could generate $300 million for transportation.

I actually pointed this out back in September when I saw Del. Hamilton had put in a bill on it. I wondered if it would get anywhere.

It looks like an interesting idea.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Challenge in the 28th?

John Chichester is probably the second most disliked GOP Senator (after Potts) statewide amongst the GOP faithful. This is interesting because while there are already 4 primary challenges that are official or well known; and the 28th isn't one of them.

For those of you who don't know; reasons GOPs everywhere cannot stand him range from his support of tax increases for the past few years, to being the stumbling block on the budget under Gilmore and the GOP House, to getting Potts his chairmanship after 2005. Probably his biggest sin was giving cover and allowing Governor Warner to raise taxes without being held responsible by asking for a higher amount than Warner wanted; to allow him to be a "compromiser".

Chichester represents a solid GOP district that runs from Fauquier County, through Stafford, down the penisula to Northumberland.

As Senate Pro Tempe, he is essentially kingmaker in the Senate and makes all the decisions. He can pretty much be held responsible for anything that happens in that body.

With all this, why has no one stepped forward to challenge him? He should be one of the easiest targets in the state, b/c GOPs all over want to see this man ousted.

On the money front, Chichester has $336,675 on hand. Maybe thats why no one has stepped forward yet. Not only that, but he controls the Senate Leadership Trust; which boasts another $565,638 on hand. Obviously that money will be used to help all incumbents; but Chichester still has almost a million bucks at his disposal.

I firmly believe someone will eventually announce they are challenging Chichester; but I have no idea who it will be. An early rumor was that Del. Lingamfelter would be challenging, but it appears that was incorrect (he will probably run for LG in 2009). Most likely, a challenge would have to be from Stafford to have a shot. Obviously the candidate here will make the difference in a rating for this race.

I will keep everyone up-to-date on any new developments here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Potential Primary in the 13th

The 13th Senatorial district is currently occupied by 4-term Senator Fred Quayle. This district runs from Chesapeake/Portsmouth through southside areas like Southampton and Surry Counties.

Quayle has received alot of grief from GOPs for his support of tax increases in 2004 and this year's gas tax proposal (he voted against the Stolle/Norment plan). He is also one of the 4 GOPs who voted to give Potts his Education and Health chairmanship even after running as an independent for Governor in 2005.

This district seemingly has a better chance for a takedown due to it being very spread out and the ability to challenge Quayle on both social and fiscal issues. Fiscal issues being tax increases and social being that he gave pro-choice Potts the chairmanship of the committee that deals with most abortion related legislation. Quayle will have to build a general coalition to win, as opposed to most Senators we have seen who can bank on the social conservatives to carry the day for them. Whats worse for Quayle is that this district isn't nearly as solidly GOP as other seats (there is already a declared dem Steven Heretick in this race); so dems may actually support a challenger in the primary to get a better shot at a victory here. This of course does have the advantage for Quayle in that GOPs may be leary of voting against him in fear of losing the seat.

No one has officially announced for this seat, but Bearing Drift reported a few days ago that Del. Chris Jones or 4th District GOP Chair Wayne Ozmore may challenge. Either of these would be strong challengers. My guess is Jones probably won't b/c he would essentially have to give up his safe GOP delegate seat to challenge Quayle. Ozmore on the other hand could be a major force having connections throughout the district; and possibly the backing of Congressman Randy Forbes. I don't really know much more than that at this time regarding who might challenge.

On the money front, Quayle has $57,548 on hand; which is pretty low. This low money amount may be more fuel to convince someone to challenge; since they could match him in money very quickly.

Like the Watkins race, this obviously doesn't have a rating unless he gets a challenger; and even then that person would dictate some of the matchups. Even so, I think Quayle is probably one of the more vunerable incumbents this year if he draws a strong challenger.


I want to sincerely apologize for pointing out RSVP as a organization that would giving financial resources to Senate challengers this year.
They will only be helping GOP candidates in open seat nominations or GOP challenges to democrats.

Again I apologize for the misinterpretation of the group. I misunderstood all of its goals.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Potential Primary in the 10th

Incumbent Sen. John Watkins is another "moderate" Senator who may be targeted in this year's round of GOP primaries. The only potential name I have heard is David Johnson, who works in the AG's office. This is not certain yet, so it may not even happen.

Watkins' seat is a suburban Richmond seat on the west end, and encompasses alot of the same type of people as Walter Stosch's 12th. For this reason, a potential primary here would see the same issues and developments as the 12th's race. Again, this area is very heavily GOP and those GOPs are probably more fiscally conservative than socially (that is, their motivation is fiscal issues). Yet again, there would also be almost no concern for GOPs that the seat would be lost if a new candidate got the nomination.

This gives a potential challenger ammunition since the arguement against these "moderates" is their tax/fiscal stance as opposed to social issues. Watkins supported the '04 tax increase and was probably an original supporter of Chichester's tax plan last year.

The obviously major difference between this race and the Stosch-Blackburn race is that it would not involve a member of the Senate leadership.

Remember that Watkins is the other GOP who just voted against both transportation proposals in the Finance committee. This will allow him to argue that he has voted against not one, but two tax/fee increase proposals recently and that he is actually a very fiscally conservative Senator. Much like Hanger, his district does not suffer from massive traffic problems and therefore will probably not be held in contempt for voting No on proposals that raise taxes/fees but generate relatively little money for his district. Obviously there will be more concern for transportation here than in Hanger's district; but it is still not viewed as a major problem.

Lastly, Watkins has $156,272 on hand. Johnson may decide not to enter the race since Watkins already has a good start and would be tough to match this late in the game.

Obviously there is no rating until there is a formal decision to challenge; but Watkins would begin as the favorite if a primary battle develops.

Monday, February 05, 2007

24th District Primary

In the central Shenandoah Valley there will be a Senate primary this year as well. It will be between incumbent Senator Emmett Hanger and Lexington/Buena Vista businessman Scott Sayre.

Like all the other primaries, this one centers around Hanger's support of the tax increase in '04 and also original support for Chichester's tax plan in the past 2 years.
A few other things surrounding this race are that some people in this district are mad at the way Emmett handled his LG run in 2005, where he waited until March to begin gathering petition signatures (and we all know how that turned out). One other small thing was his castration bill last year has some people wondering what he is doing in Richmond.

Sayre is originally from Waynesboro, now lives in Lexington, and runs a business in Buena Vista. This should be a good set up for him, since he should know people in a couple different parts of the district starting out.

Other advantages Sayre enjoys are having the Rockingham Chairman and VCAP board member Mike Meredith in the district, as well as anti-tax millionaire Walter Curt nearby to give plenty of dough to his campaign. Many of the committee members in these locales are very ticked off at Emmett so he should also have a good base of supporters starting out. One final advantage is the solid GOP lean of the district, which like we have seen in other districts, should prevent concern of losing a seat by ousting an incumbent. A GOP will win this seat no matter who runs.

Hanger enjoys having a good bit of the business community still behind him, as well as the "evangelical" community. This area is very socially conservative, and that probably favors Hanger. Like most other incumbents, no one is questioning his socially conservative creditials. Also, Emmett has lived in Augusta County his entire life and has alot of friends there as well. Lastly, due to the strong GOP lean here, there will likely be alot of dems voting for Hanger in the primary; to get the "less of 2 evils" in office.

One final note on the campaign issues. Hanger just put himself in a pretty good position by voting against both "tax increases" in committee. Emmett can now say he voted against 2 tax increase proposals recently. The fact that NOVA won't get more road money due to his votes will have zero effect in this district, which made the vote all the more brillant.

On the money front Hanger only has $40,840 on hand, which is a drop in the bucket for a Senate race. That should give Sayre the ability to get closer to matching Hanger; especially if he can convince Mr. Curt to open his wallet for him.

Yet again, I give Hanger the early advantage here; and he is probably safer than some of the other incumbents. Even so, Sayre may make this an interesting race.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Transportation Plan is Dead

Yesterday the Senate Finance committee killed the joint GOP transportation proposal and instead passed Chichester/Potts' plan for a gas tax increase.

The original plan was defeated 11-4 with only Stosch, Stolle, Norment and Wampler voting in favor (GOPs voting against were Chichester, Hawkins, Quayle, Hanger, Watkins and Potts).

The substitute plan carried by Potts passed 9-6 with Stosch, Stolle, Norment, Wampler, Hanger and one more voting against.

This is important on two fronts. First, it will lessen the ammo for declared or possible primary challengers to Stosch, Stolle, Norment and Wampler as well as add to the ammo against the others (most especially Potts, Watkins and Hanger who already have people thinking about challenging).

The second thing about this is that now the possibility of a transportation plan is dead. I have been told that the GOP in NOVA was essentially betting the farm on this plan passing, and that they are probably all screwed since it didn't. The business community has apparently told the GOPs that they wanted to see something happen this year or they were going to be cut off.

With 3 GOP senators being badly threatened and a dem seat that is ripe for takeover, this could spell disaster for the GOP Senate majority. Also, this makes it very tough to win any dem HOD seats in NOVA and probably means Delegates like Callahan, Albo and Frederick are all toast.

Furthermore, there is always a possibility that Kaine could call a transportation special session; thereby lessening the incumbents ability to fundraise while making it look like he wants to do something (which by the way he doesn't).

Kaine is swinging for the fences in 2007; and he just might hit the Grand Slam the way things are playing out.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Primary in the 12th

The primary in the 12th is the battle between incumbent Senate Majority Leader Walter Stosch and challenger Joe Blackburn. This district runs from western Henrico into Goochland County.

As you probably know, this battle is happening over the tax increase stance that Stosch has taken in both the 2004 budget standoff and now in the transportation funding debate.

This is a very GOP area, but more importantly is fiscally conservative more so than socially. Strangely enough, this is a senate district with one of the largest Allen/No votes (or conversely the least Webb/Yes) in the Commonwealth. This makes the race more likely to favor the challenger b/c the GOP base here is Republican because of their fiscal policy stance. Moreover, there is little chance a dem could beat a Republican here; so there won't be concern that voting for Blackburn could cost the GOP the seat.

Obviously Stosch being majority leader makes him a target by the challenge organizations b/c taking him out could help diminsh the power of the pro-tax wing of the party. Furthermore, it makes it very tough for Stosch to claim "its not my fault" when he has alot of control by being in leadership. He is also a member of the hated "Gang of 5".

On the monetary front, Stosch is crushing Blackburn. Cash on hand as of 12/31/06 looks like this:
Stosch: $375,456
Blackburn: $57,366

Blackburn has some serious work to do here to make up ground if he has any shot of winning the nomination. This is largely due to Stosch still having the backing of most of the business community and also the powerful position he welds in the statehouse.

The X-factor in this race could be Blackburn's consultant, Boyd Marcus. Marcus is the consultant for most all the Richmond GOP power players from the delegate seats to Congressman Cantor and LG Bolling. One theory I have heard is that they are going to push very hard to get all these people on board behind Blackburn. I am very skeptical that this will happen (the more likely scenario is they do not support anyone), but if Marcus can deliver these key endorsements, Blackburn will have a very good shot at winning this one. Also, Marcus' connections should enable him to raise a significant amount of cash for Blackburn, thereby closing the massive gap he currently sets in.

I think Stosch has the early advantage; but if Blackburn can get closer to even in the money race and get traction, then it could get very interesting.

UPDATE: Stosch just voted for the transportation plan in committee. That will probably be helpful for him. He then voted against Chichester's plan (which passed).