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.

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.


  • At 2/27/2007 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good take EE. I thought Smith was down right boring. He defintely didn't make the case that he should replace Bell.

  • At 2/27/2007 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yea I heard he had a prop. A toilet lid--something about his campaign being in the crapper.

  • At 2/27/2007 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Doesn't the state already have sites for viewing contracts and financial details?

  • At 2/27/2007 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Doesn't the state already have sites for viewing contracts and financial details?

  • At 2/28/2007 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The fact that BB and his supporters don't see anything wrong with wasteful governmental spending (like $640 for a toilet seat) is further testament to Bell's misguided, big government, high taxes philosophy.

    I want someone to watch over my tax money with prudence.

    Oh, one other thing, at least Smith showed up (his fifth visit to our county since January.) How many visits has Bell made to Montgomery IN THE PAST FOUR YEARS???

  • At 2/28/2007 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anom 8:31, too funny! It seems like the $600 toilet seat was from the 80's. Couldn't Smith find something from this decade to talk about!!

    How many times has Smith been to Montgomery BEFORE he announced he was running??? Bell has made dozens of trips to Montgomery every year over the last 4.

    But Smith and his supporters wouldn't know that since they were focused on Roanoke City.

    Sorry Ralph, this is another dead end for you.

  • At 2/28/2007 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Elephant Ears", I just discovered your blog. Great job with the site.

    I don't see much info here from Botetourt and wanted to give you a quick report. Last week we had our committee meeting in Fincastle. Ralph Smith was there with some of his staff members and Brandon Bell was represented by his wife and another man. The room was clearly a room full of Smith supporters as evidenced by the large number wearing Smith stickers.

    During the meeting I felt badly for Mrs. Bell and her companion. They looked so lonely among Smith and his supporters. At this point it looks like Sen. Bell is trailing badly in Botetourt. I'll report back as the contest continues.

  • At 2/28/2007 9:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was at the Botetourt meeting as well, and yea, there were a few people wearing stickers, but certianly not the whole room.

  • At 2/28/2007 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I guess Ralph doesn't need to do any polling. He must be doing well in Botetourt if a few people at a Botetourt Committee meeting are wearing stickers....good grief.

  • At 2/28/2007 12:26 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Let me caution the Smith supporters. I think many Senate challengers are going to mistake committee support for their candidate to mean they will automatically win.
    There will be around 12,000 votes in this primary; and there are maybe 300 committee members districtwide that can vote.
    That is one major misconception I see developing in all the Senate challenges.

  • At 2/28/2007 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Where was Brandon yesterday? Del. Nutter could make it. Why couldn't Bell? Just another typical Bell no-show.

    Just conjecture, but perhaps the senator was meeting with and consoling his ally, mentor, and like-minded lover of tax increases, John Chichester, as Chichester watches his empire collapse all around him. Watch out Brandon, or you'll get caught in the debris.

  • At 2/28/2007 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    No one thinks 12,000 people will vote in the primary or firehouse primary. More likely if they can get 5,000 to vote that would be good.


  • At 2/28/2007 7:30 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Ghost, 12,000 is the upper limit. You are correct in that 5,000 is the more likely number; but to be on the safe side I used the higher number.

  • At 2/28/2007 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    I think you will find that Brandon Bell's list of "supporters" contains or has contained many names that were used without the individual's permission. After the Roanoke County luncheon last month, several people angrily approached the senator after the list was distributed to those in attendance. Those protesting told him to remove their name from the list. At another recent gathering, some other people discovered the use of their names, again without their approval. I'm sure the senator will be hearing from them as well. In situations like this, the list is probably doing the senator more harm than good.

  • At 2/28/2007 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    At Tuesday's Montgomery County luncheon Ralph Smith pledged to support the Republican nominee for the 22nd Senate seat. Does anyone know if Brandon Bell has made such a pledge or if he will?

  • At 3/01/2007 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey 2/28/2007 9:32,

    How many Bell stickers did you see? Bell supporters in that Fincastle room were as lonely as the "Maytag Repairman!"


  • At 3/01/2007 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am Mike Morgan, and I am Senator Bell’s campaign director. I think we need to set the record straight on our supporter list.

    We have only had one individual ask to have their name removed from the list. After the Roanoke County luncheon last month Kathy Terry asked that her name be taken off the list as she was planning to support the challenger, Ralph Smith. She had previously signed a support list at a fundraiser last October, but as she had a change of heart, we promptly removed her name from the list. No one else has approached the campaign to have his or her name removed.

  • At 3/01/2007 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A little "truth in advertising" is what is needed here. Mr. Morgan, why were other names removed from the list in addition to the one you mentioned? And surely, you will be hearing from others who have just found out their names were used without their permission.

  • At 3/01/2007 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Boy, what a difference a little competition can make. We now see Brandon scrambling to the right in an attempt to paint himself as a conservative--when his actions have shown us otherwise. (Did he graduate from the Hillary Clinton school of campaigning? Summa Cum Laude?)

    Senator Bell has gotten so frightened that he has resorted to stabbing his mentor and sugar-daddy, John Chichester, in the back with Bell's latest barrage of e-mail trivia. I'm learning that RINOs eat their own when they are finally called to account for their actions.


  • At 3/02/2007 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I understand that Bell put peoples name on his supporter list without asking their permission. I, personally know of several people who were not asked and have demanded that Bell remove their names.

  • At 3/02/2007 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i think mike, et al, are just taking names from the phone book to include in their lists.

  • At 3/02/2007 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    don't you think if the names were coming from the phone book, the list would be a lot bigger? there are a lot of names in the phone book!

  • At 3/02/2007 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Roger. Mike

  • At 3/02/2007 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mr. Morgan, (the REAL Mike Morgan, although I'm not sure how we will know.)

    In your effort to set the record straight, would you please respond to the question posed in 3/1 3:56? It seems this list thing is stiring up all kinds of ill will.

  • At 3/02/2007 6:57 PM, Blogger GOPHokie said…

    Folks I am deleting all the comments supposing to be Mike that are not, since he has informed me they are not him.
    Please post who you really are or remain anonymous. Dont imitate other people.

  • At 3/05/2007 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mike Morgan, are you going to answer the question relating to those who have asked to have their names removed from Brandon's list? You previously stated that only one person has asked to have her name removed from the list of supporters. However, it is clear that other names have also been removed. What's the TRUE story? YOU said you wanted to set the record straight. Here's your chance. What's up?

  • At 3/06/2007 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is there any truth to the rumors about Cranwell running against the Republican nominee, once that's decided? I heard rumblings about this at a meeting tonight?

  • At 3/07/2007 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have heard that too about Cranwell.

  • At 3/07/2007 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here's some more Cranwell news: http://www.22news.blogspot.com/

  • At 3/08/2007 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mike, I'm still waiting for an explanation of why other names (other than the one you so inappropriately publicly disclosed) have been deleted from Brandon’s list of supporters. On March 1, you stated “I am Mike Morgan, and I am Senator Bell’s campaign director. I think we need to set the record straight on our supporter list.”

    Well, you’ve been given the opportunity to set the record straight, but to date, you haven’t even responded to my inquiry! This writer would contend that you had no intention of setting the record straight. You only intended to try to CYA. I guess no one should be surprised by your actions given the record of the campaign in which you’re working.

    It certainly seems that Brandon’s campaign has found it necessary to try to obfuscate its way out of a less-than-stellar performance in matters of concern to genuine conservatives. The senator says he is a strong supporter of family values, yet he killed a bill that would place Internet filters on pornographic sites on public library computers. Then, he has that gall during this election year to sponsor bill similar to the one he had previously killed, in an effort to make him look like a protector of family values. That’s a John Kerry behavior if I’ve ever seen one! (Remember Kerry’s “I voted against it before I voted for it.”?) There is no integrity in such actions! Methinks John K. and Brandon B. were roommates while attending Flip-Flop Academy together.

    Then there’s the senator’s much touted line how he opposed Gov. Warner’s 2004 tax increase. On his website Bell says, “I knew from the beginning that this tax increase was unnecessary. I was confident that Virginia’s economy was growing and additional general fund revenue was not needed. I believe history has proven me correct.” If this is how Bell felt, why in the name of TRUTH didn’t he VOTE to demonstrate his opposition! Bell DID NOT VOTE on the bill that instituted the largest tax increase in Virginia’s history!!!! My pet rock could have done that (not voted)! In fact, it did just as Brandon did.

    In closing, I must say that while we may have philosophical differences, I thought the Bell faction would, at least, be forthright—but once again I find myself disappointed by the senator and his team's lack of candor.

  • At 3/09/2007 11:06 AM, Anonymous Mike Morgan said…

    This is Mike Morgan again, however, I am reluctant to reply to this post. The last time I did so, others found it amusing to pretend to be me. I would like to note here that at least I am willing to put my name on my responses, while others on this post hide in anonymity. Since 3/8 10:23 is clearly a member of the Smith campaign, and due to the vitriolic nature of the last post I will respond this time.

    On March 1 I did set the record straight. To date, Kathy Terry is the only person who felt her name was improperly placed on our list, and asked that it be removed. This is in spite of the fact that she signed a support sheet. Her name was promptly removed. End of story. The list continues to grow everyday.

    Indeed, it is regretful that the Smith campaign has chosen to wage such an inaccurate and negative campaign. But we do appreciate knowing what to expect in the future from Smith and his campaign team. Thank-you.

  • At 3/09/2007 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh Michael (I'll trust it is really you), as Sir Walter Scott so aptly put it, "Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!"

    You stated in your latest response that KT "is the only person who felt her name was improperly placed on our list, and asked that it be removed." You are STILL NOT ANSWERING the real question. Just to make it clear to you, here it is again: Why were names OTHER THAN KT's removed from your list, if, as you say, only KT has asked to have her name removed? You know, as others know, that names have been deleted off of your lists. If only one person asked to have their name removed, why were the others deleted? It's really quite a simple question, but you keep trying to avoid answering it.

    Now on to the second issue in your latest reply. You postulate that I am a member of "the Smith Campaign." I don't know if you're sleuth have done great detective work, or if you're a McCarthyite trying to create a paper tiger. In any event, I will tell you this, I do support Ralph Smith's candidacy and there are thousands more like me in the 22nd, as you will see soon enough! One of the many reasons we support him is because he is committed to the truth and not to deceit or doublespeak. I await your reply.

  • At 3/10/2007 1:32 PM, Anonymous NOT MIKE MORGAN said…

    Mike Morgan,

    You accused the previous poster of being "vitriolic." I respectfully disagree.

    That writer simply pointed out the differences between the campaign literature and the voting record of Sen. J. Brandon Bell II of Charlottesville -- and the disconnect between his election-year actions and his non-election-year actions.

    That's not vitriol. That's Light.

    Looking back over the previous posts, these issues have been raised repeatedly, but even though you're the campaign manager, you've never answered attempted to answer them. Nor has anyone else on Bell's behalf.

    I understand. It's tough to defend the indefensible.

    And that, my friend, is why J. Brandon Bell II of Charlottesville won't be returning to Richmond on behalf of the 22nd district.

    The good news is he will have more time to devote to his company, Bell Wealth Management. If he's half as good at managing other people's assets as he is at covering his own, he'll be just fine.


    (I couldn't help but notice that while there are many Ralph supporters commenting on this blog, you seem to be the lone voice speaking out for Brandon. I admire that. You're a good man. You deserve a raise!)

  • At 3/10/2007 11:18 PM, Anonymous Not From the 22nd said…

    Hmmm....I didn't know that the 22nd Senate District included Charlottesville. Someone should let the folks up there know that Ralph will be coming through on his campaign tour. I know they will want to role out the red carpet.

    After contemplating challenges to Lacey Putney and Brandon Bell, maybe Ralph has decided to challenge Delegate Rob Bell. I believe he is the Bell from Central Virginia.

    Look out Rob, here comes Ralph!

  • At 3/11/2007 2:29 PM, Anonymous NoT MIKE MORGAN said…

    "J. Brandon Bell II of Charlottesville" refers to the fact that J. Brandon Bell II was born in Charlottesville, very far away geographically and culturally from the 22nd District that he purports to represent.

    That might be an important fact for a campaign manager to remember.

    Still no response to any of the substantive criticisms? Ouch. That's just not going to play well on election day.

  • At 3/12/2007 8:10 AM, Anonymous not from the 22nd said…

    From my experience in politics, when someone says John Doe of Roanoke, that means John Doe either represents Roanoke or, if he's not elected, he lives there. I think most would agree.

  • At 3/12/2007 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    perhaps we should throw out both bell and smith and unite behind MIKE!

  • At 3/12/2007 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, when Bell flexes his muscle, people quake--even the movers and shakers. After four years of nursing Senator John Chichester, Bell has finally been weaned--just in time for a contested race for the Republican nomination against Ralph Smith from Botetourt County.

    After taking Chichester's donations and committee assignment temptations, Bell thanked his mentor with a paragraph in one of numerous recent e-mails...
    "Senators Chichester and Potts did their best to defeat this compromise [on transportation]. In the past, they and a few other Senate Republicans would have joined the Senate Democrats and would have been successful in doing so. But that didn't happen this time. On the last day of the 2007 Session, a true Republican majority rose up, took control of the Senate and passed a transportation plan. Senator Potts, who is retiring, and Senator Chichester were standing alone with the Democrats."

    No doubt Bell's double-cross on his former friend and mentor was the straw that broke Chichester's back. As we learned today, Chichester is joining Potts, in the "great beyond" for Senate has-beens. Many of us welcome his decision not to seek re-election. Now, our task at hand is to make it a perfect trifecta so that Bell can also join his like-minded mentors as a former senator.

    Our district deserves true "rock solid" leadership in the person of Ralph Smith.

  • At 3/12/2007 8:48 PM, Anonymous Julius Chichester said…

    'Tis true.

    When I received word of Sen. Bell's blatant betrayal of my trust and confidence, I cried aloud, "Et tu, Brandus?"

    It was then I knew the empire was over.

    One parting bit of wisdom to my former protege: "He who lives by the dagger dies by the dagger."


  • At 3/14/2007 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Has Brandon Bell announced he is seeking re-election, or is that premise just speculation?

  • At 3/14/2007 9:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think Brandon is up to his ears in hairballs right now with his poor return on contribution requests, lack of support from party activists, and Dickie lurking in the shadows.

    Today, I heard a well-placed source in Montgomery County opine that Brandon might even drop out of the race. I'm not sure of his/her sources, but that's what they said. If Brandon does make that decion, I hope he does so before the taxpayers pay for a primary election.

  • At 3/14/2007 10:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anon 9:02....are you working for Bell? Just curious how you would know what kind of money he's taking in?

    Bell announced that he was running last week. I believe there was an article in the Times.

  • At 3/15/2007 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I did see a small article in the CS Connection (weekly paper). Guess I missed the Times article. Thanks for the information. They usually try to bury any Republican stories, unless it's a scandal.

    No, I don't work for Bell, but I do have lots of connections in party circles.

    Have you heard anything about Bell dropping out of the race?

  • At 3/15/2007 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    No, I don't think there is any chance Bell is dropping out of the race. That sounds like gossip the Smith camp would be spreading around.

  • At 3/15/2007 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for your perspective. I've now heard it from two sources, one in Botetourt (which might be a Smith supporter), but the other from a person appearing on Brandon's list of supporters. We'll just wait and see.

  • At 3/18/2007 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    If yesterday's St. Patrick's Day Parade in Roanoke is any indication, it appears that Ralph Smith has a commanding lead in the race for the Republican nomination for the 22nd Senate seat. Mr. Smith was accompanied along the parade route by a large contingent of supporters and was well received by the crowds along the way.

    Once again, this event demonstrated one stark contrast between Mr. Smith and his opponent, Mr. Bell--that being that Mr. Smith appears to be very comfortable in the presence of and mingling with the public.

  • At 3/18/2007 3:12 PM, Anonymous Irish Republican said…

    I assume you are referring to the St Patrick's Day Parade in Roanoke City? Smith's signs say Senate, but maybe he's running for Mayor of Roanoke City again????

    The election isn't until May 2008, so at least he will have a jump on the other candidates!

  • At 3/18/2007 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    3:12: You can read, but apparently you are having some difficulties with your comprehension. Smith is running for the Senate and NOT for mayor. That's why the signs say "Ralph Smith SENATE."

  • At 3/18/2007 7:06 PM, Anonymous Irish Republican said…

    Oh, I know what the signs say. But since Ralph is spending so much time in Roanoke City (which as I am sure you know is NOT in the district), I thought maybe he had decided to run for Mayor again.

  • At 3/18/2007 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The city of Roanoke was lucky to have Smith as Mayor, but now we're the lucky ones to have him in our district running for Senator. Roanoke can't have him back!

  • At 3/18/2007 8:23 PM, Anonymous Roanoke Republican said…

    I've been reading a lot of these posts about Bell and Smith and can't help but wish that Smith would challenge John Edwards for his Senate seat.

    As a Republican activist in Roanoke City, I think it would be great to have Bell in the 22nd and Smith running in the 21st. I just wish our party could unite behind two Repblican candidates instead of fighting over one seat. I know Smith moved to Botetourt, but it would be easy enough to get an apartment in Roanoke City and change his residency. This doesn't seem like a far fetched idea to me. Am I missing something?

  • At 3/18/2007 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There are lots of people in Roanoke City who are supporting Smith and Bell in the 22nd race. Both Smith and Bell have Roanoke people working on their respective staffs.

    However, the facts are Smith no longer lives in Roanoke city and, in fact, now lives in the 22nd. He was approached by many party people/activists to seek the Republican nomination in the 22nd because those same people were disheartened by Sen. Bell's support for raising taxes, increasing the size of government, and cozying up to Sen. Chichester, among other issues. At a Roanoke County luncheon, Sen. Bell was quoted as saying that if people didn't like what he was doing, they should find someone to run against him. That's exactly what some people did and that person was Smith.

    After Smith agreed to accept that challenge, what kind of man would he be to "cut and run" back to the city? From what I know about him, he is a man of principle. In his announcement statement, and no doubt in private conversations, he has promised to represent the interests of voters in the 22nd. Being a man of his word, I would suggest there is no chance of his moving back to the city to run as you suggest. The city people better get to work and find their own candidate.

  • At 3/19/2007 12:37 PM, Anonymous roanoke republican said…

    I don't think anyone would criticize Ralph for cutting and running. I think people would respect his willingness to do what is best for the party.

    And if he beat Edwards, I know there would be no hard feelings!

    Bell in the 22nd and Smith in the 21st!

  • At 3/22/2007 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What would be best for the party in the 22nd district, would be to have Smith replace Bell!


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